Fred Brode

Duration: 2hrs 22mins
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Interview with: Fred Brode
Interviewed by:
Date: November 25, 1980
Archive Number: OH 291.1

I:          00:01  —Research Center on November 25, 1980 with Mr. Fred Brode. B-R-O-D-E. Mr. Brode, you were—you have long been associated with the Left Wing in Houston, and your association with the Left, in fact, goes back much further than that. You, yourself, were born, I guess, in what? In Prussia or what is today, East—

FB:      It is today the Democratic Republic of Germany.

I:          The GDR.

FB:      GDR.

I:          Right and that was in 1907.

FB:      1907.

I:          Is that right?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          Your father was a skilled leather craftsman—

FB:      Correct.

I:          —all of his life, and his income, as I recall from earlier conversations, was sufficient, I guess, to send you through the—sort of the equivalent of high school—

FB:      Yeah.

I:          —in the United States which was not entirely normal for kids in those days. I guess a lot of kids had to quit school before they got into high school.

FB:      01:18  The German education system is entirely different. It's composed of 8 years to public school and then you—about 14 or 15 years old—and then you either apprentice yourself out to—become an apprentice regardless, whether you work in a grocery store, you’re an apprentice.

I:          Sure. Sure.

FB:      And that's one of the cheap—the tricks of getting cheap labor.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      But anyone of us to go to a higher education and that still is the same way—you know—you go either 3 or 4 years to public school and Volksschule, and then you pass an exam—have to pass it if you want to go to a school of higher learning—high school—at Gymnasium—3 hour Gymnasium or 3 hours schule—and you have to pass an examination. And then you go either 6 or 9 years. Nine years entitles you to go to a—if you graduate after 9 years—entitles you to go to a university or technical high school.

I:          I see. In fact, when you left school, what year was that?

FB:      I left school in 1923.

I:          1923. The economic climate in Germany and pretty much throughout Europe at that time was not a happy one, and you took employment in a bookstore—a mail order bookstore.

FB:      No, I took—no, it was a bookstore in Munich—bookstore and art gallery.

I:          I see. A combination. And you worked there as an apprentice learning the business.

FB:      Yeah.

I:          For between, I think, as you said, about 15 months, is that not right?

FB:      It was for 2 years.

I:          And then you determined that your economic future in Europe was marginal at best and decided to go to the United States. Did it ever occur to you to go anywhere other than the United States?

FB:      03:35  Yeah. Before—of course, there's from '23 to '29 when I finally arrived there, I worked as a volunteer in a mail order bookstore in Leipzig in the center of the, at that time, the German book business or industry were __(??).

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). The Wall Street of the book business

FB:      Wall Street of the book business.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      And then—and after that, I worked for nothing, and my father supported me while I was working for that man. And after about 15 months or so, I asked him what about giving me the job as the first journeyman. Of course, I did the work of a first journeyman. He said, "Well, I don't have to do that. I can get people like you—

I:          For nothing.

FB:      —for nothing any time." But there I was.

I:          Did you feel like punching him out?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          I mean, you were right and he was wrong. I mean, it was a classical case of exploitation.

FB:      Oh yeah, definitely. They had only one man was older. He was middle aged in comparison to us snot noses.

I:          Yes.

FB:      Barely 20s you know. And there was two women that he paid that did the typing and bookkeeping and whatnot. They were paid. There was three paid employees and two or three unpaid employees.

I:          So when you decided, though, that you didn't want to stay in Europe and started thinking in terms of going some place else, was there any place besides the United States that was—that you considered?

FB:      05:29  Well, not really. I mean, at that time, not really. I had two uncles in the United States.

I:          Where? In New York City.

FB:      In New York City and that was a possibility. One was a citizen and he could sign an affidavit—blah, blah, blah—whatever it took at that time. So that made it possible for me to come to the States.

I:          So you made the trip to the United States in 1929.

FB:      February 1929.

I:          What—you came by boat.

FB:      By boat, yeah.

I:          Were the passengers on the boat predominantly other immigrants from Europe?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          Were they?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). What was the consensus of those immigrants—probably it was kind of a skewed consensus, because they were the ones who were leaving Europe. But nevertheless, what was the consensus aboard—your companions on the boat—regarding National Socialism—the rise of the Nazi Movement in Germany which you had seen as an individual and which I'm sure many other people on the boat had some familiarity with?

FB:      There was no—it was never even discussed—it was never even discussed.

I:          Because it seemed to be—

FB:      06:54  We left that behind, period. The heck with that.

I:          In your mind, did you—were you fearful for Europe and Germany?

FB:      Well—

I:          Or did you think that this Nazi Movement was a marginal thing that would evaporate?

FB:      No, I wouldn't say that. I knew that it had come to a polarization.

I:          Between Left and Right.

FB:      Left and Right.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      And who would win, and of course Hitler won because of the errors of the Left.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). You were—

FB:      Or a capitulation of the Left.

I:          Capitulation, okay. You had not, however, in Europe, become—you had not joined any Party.

FB:      No, no, no.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Uh-hunh (affirmative). In the United States, when you got here, what was your impression of New York City as somebody who just was stepping ashore for the first time?

FB:      Well, I liked New York and I still like New York in spite of everybody else in the United States, I still like New York.

I:          It may be the only city on the East Coast that's interesting enough to be worth living in.

FB:      It's the city.

I:          Yeah, it is.

FB:      08:12  It's the city and at that time, some of the benefits of New York have been—the time has __(??) For instance, free concerts in Lewisohn Stadium—you know—symphonies you know or stuff like that. That's the cultural aspect. There was many, many others. But then for a person destitute, you know? Well, there was bath houses you could keep clean.

I:          Yes. And there was also the New York Public Library.

FB:      Yeah.

I:          Where you spent a good deal of time, as I recall.

FB:      I most certainly did—most certainly did.

I:          And there were a lot of people who had a lot of time to spend in those days.

FB:      Yeah. During the Depression, yeah.

I:          In fact, that was where you really became involved with people who had a passion for politics—many of them Europeans who were concerned about developments in their country and who kept a very close eye on those developments on a day-to-day basis. Would you say that the sentiments of those who you argued with in the New York Public Library were generally leftward leaning or were there some fascists there who were speaking for the Nazis?

FB:      No, it was generally leftward leaning—quite a few tendencies—you know—represented there. Political tendencies were represented there. I remember one—he was of Irish origin. He was a teacher in a private school, and he belonged to the SLP—Socialist Labor Party—and he took a trip to Germany. And of course, when he came back, we all, "What's gonna happen?"

I:          "What's gonna happen?" Sure.

FB:      Everybody said that. I hate to say it and I hate to see it—Hitler is gonna win. And I just forgot, was it—was it '30—but it was at least '32.

I:          1932. Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      10:37  Hitler was gonna win.

I:          What was the man's name?

FB:      Murphy.

I:          Murphy. Well, that's a good—

FB:      Irish name.

I:          —a good Irish name if there ever was one. Nevertheless, did any Right Wing people ever show up?

FB:      No, the only Right Wing people to show up was the cops who chased us off the Plaza. I got arrested there twice.

I:          Did you?

FB:      Yeah, for not moving fast enough to vacate.

I:          I'll be darned. Was it a quite, nonviolent arrest?

FB:      Oh yeah, it was a quiet, nonviolent arrest. Of course, the first time I got stuck, and the second time I made a fool out of the cop.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      In front of the same judge who had given me 2 days.

I:          I'll be darned. So you spent jail time in New York City or—?

FB:      Oh yeah, I spent jail time.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). The cops, I guess, were mostly Irish in those days or Italians.

FB:      No, that particular cop was—had a Slavish name.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      11:37  So I don't know really—it was Czech or Polish or whatever.

I:          In New York City, you did join a political party—you joined the Communist League of America which was an anti-Stalinist and anti-Soviet Communist Party whose—

FB:      No, not anti-Soviet. No, definitely not.

I:          Well—

FB:      Well, let me explain. The Communist League is the successor to the Left Opposition within the Communist Party or the Communist International—The Left Opposition.

I:          And the hero and theoretician of—

FB:      The platform or the criticism of the Draft Program of the 5th Ward Congress in '28 was written by Trotsky. So Trotsky be connected with the Left Opposition. And the Left Opposition, after going by that name, adopted the name of Communist League of America. But he always considered them a faction of the Communist Party even though—

I:          The Communist Party didn't recognize them.

FB:      Even though they was outside. The program was to bring the program of the Left Opposition to the attention of the membership of the Communist Party members. And of course, they wouldn't have it. They wouldn't hear of it.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). At that time Trotsky was leading a very peripatetic existence—almost a human ping pong ball bouncing from Turkey in—

FB:      Turkey to France—

I:          To France to Mexico.

FB:      To Norway—

I:          To Norway.

FB:      13:40  —and then to Mexico.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Did he ever come to the United States?

FB:      Well, the only time that I could say Trotsky was in the United States was in—during or prior to the entry of the United States in the World War I. It was 1917.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      He was thrown—no after the February Revolution, he left New York City and I don't know how long he was in Europe, but he left.

I:          He was—the Communist League was, I'm sure, in pretty steady contact with Trotsky.

FB:      Oh yeah. Yeah.

I:          Was the contact purely literary or were there actually couriers that visited him?

FB:      There was people that visited him quite often and as far as while he was in Europe, the European followers—you know—the Europeans—Trotsky was furnished with assistance. I mean, secretaries, translators, and all that sort of stuff. The only time—when he got to Mexico, that's when the United States—the people in the United States—I mean—this whole thing is in the United States to be exact—you know—furnished him with secretaries and guards and stuff like that.

I:          What would you say the membership of the Communist League of America was during the 30s when you were a member?

FB:      At the time of the merger, there was over a hundred, and at the time of the merger with the American Workers Party—

I:          In what year was that?

FB:      That was in—the merger was in '35.

I:          1935.

FB:      '35.

I:          And membership then was between 100 and 150?

FB:      15:39  Maybe the merger diffusion was earlier than that—I mean—'34, '35. Of course, in '35, we was already engaged in a faction struggle within the Workers fight.

I:          Aye-aye-aye-aye. Let me ask you if there was not the feeling, even though perhaps it wasn't expressed, that the Communist League of America was much ado about nothing, because here you are, a hundred people—the Communist League of America—a hundred people—that would fill a medium size room.

FB:      Yeah, but in New York—in New York—we was just cafe house revolutionaries.

I:          I see.

FB:      Now for instance, Minneapolis, there was some people—we had foot on the ground and there was embedded in the class.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      And we was able to organize the Minneapolis—open up Minneapolis for union organization through truck drivers.

I:          Were the actions of the Communist League in New York City similar to the actions of the members in Wisconsin in any way or, momento—

FB:      Minnesota.

I:          Minnesota. Or were the actions of the Communist League in New York pretty much confined to discussion groups, lecturers, intellectual, and idealogical debate, and so on and so forth—inner directed in other words rather than outer?

FB:      No, there was attempts being made. Now, for instance, we tried to intervene in the hotel strike, but there are person—you know—who was the—he's assigned and wants to do that—you know—to work in that, and he found himself picketing the organization, so he was gonna do it his way. And of course it was failure.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      17:59  Well, subsequently, he was expelled—that was B. J. Fields. He was expelled from the organization.

I:          The Party, though, was sort of not only the political center of your life, but I suppose too, it functioned as the social center of your life.

FB:      Oh yeah, definitely.

I:          You met most of your friends there, and when you did social things it was usually probably with people that you—

FB:      Yeah. Well, we went out and drank beer on Saturday nights. (coughs) It was with co-thinkers.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). And you met your wife to be in the Party.

FB:      Yeah, my wife to be—met her in—she was active in the Unemployed Movement, and I was asked to be in the Unemployed Movement there.

I:          I see. And she was Canadian.

FB:      Well, she didn't know what she was at that time. She thought she was a citizen.

I:          That she had been born in Canada?

FB:      Yeah. That she had been born in Canada.

I:          So that was a good Leninist internationalist marriage, was it not?

FB:      Oh yeah, definitely.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). The economic reality that you encountered in New York City was a fairly desperate one relieved, as you said, in some degree by all of these social services that were available.

FB:      19:28  Yeah, it was desperate.

I:          How many jobs did you have, and what kinds of jobs did you have the first year you were—?

FB:      The first year I had a job as a pot washer in a country club, but there's jobs you bought. Or then—

I:          You bought it?

FB:      No, you went to an agency and you paid for the job—you know—and they send you out, and so and so, and you paid so much—10% of the first month's—

I:          Salary.

FB:      —salary. But anyway—

I:          Well, that was good proletarian work though.

FB:      Yes, it was. But when that petered out—it is only a summer job—then you relied upon on delicatessen—working in a store—delicatessen store. And then I had to rely on my countrymen which was—they all was from the North—you know—they spoke—besides speaking German, they spoke Platt—Plattdeutsch—you know—that's a Low Saxon language which of course had no literature and wasn't written.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). So you stayed no only within an idealogical community, but also within a linguistic and ethnic community as well.

FB:      Yeah.

I:          That ethnic linguistic community helped you in some ways like, for example, it got you jobs.

FB:      It got me jobs, yeah.

I:          And did it hurt in any ways? Did it, for instance, did it stand between you and Anglo-Americans? Did it stand in the way of you learning the language?

FB:      21:41  Oh no, no, no. Because I did not socialize with these people—it only was on the job in the store, and I had to speak English to do my job.

I:          I see.

FB:      Wait on customers. As a matter of fact, no, I never socialized with the German societies or anything like that.

I:          Most of the members of the Communist League of America were not of European origin?

FB:      First generation or immigrants as children.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      None of them are so far my particular national origin.

I:          I see. I see. All right. The German Community in New York City, did they share your personal antipathy for Hitler and the Nazis or how would you say the German Community—?

FB:      Oh, the German Community lagged behind in—for instance, I remember one—of course, my own first through __(??)—one of my uncles took me around to some ex-German Society in the large room or whatever it was. Who's picture was on the wall?

I:          I'll be darned.

FB:      Kaiser Wilhelm's.

I:          Ah.

FB:      So I mean that's—stuff like that. Most of them fell behind. Those who was active in that particular community—you know—they followed the people in power or something like that. Well, who was in power—something like that. So there was the—of course, there was also the German Worker's Clubs at that time in the 30s which, of course, I had no access to meet at them, because there's talk about politics. My particular Left Wing Communism came out and then—

I:          That was that.

FB:      23:55  —yeah, that was that. I was lucky to be asked to leave—

I:          To leave politely.

FB:      —politely. Yes.

I:          So they were pretty Right Wing.

FB:      Yeah. It was for them to talk about racist Communism. It was during the late 30s. But first of all when they advertised for help they would say, "Not German Preferred." I know a German who was a countryman from around Bremen or that particular area and anybody from the South and besides I had brown eyes. Well that's a crock of (inaudible).

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      24:49  As a matter of fact, my brown eyes got me, one time, a job with one of them guys. But of course, it was in the village just a block off of Sheridan Square, and that store in no longer there, it's a watch store now and not a delicatessen store. But, of course, he no longer was German; he turned Norwegian, even though his name was Schmidt. (laughter) So he hired me because I had brown eyes so it wouldn't be so obvious.

I:          Yes. Yes. Right. The economic situation then in New York was then, as you discovered, unsatisfactory.

FB:      Oh yeah. By '39 I know that New York—I could not—at that time the  __(??) worked. My views was either known—not that known, but it was suspected—they had the conception of my views or whatever they was. So I could not no longer rely on getting jobs there.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      So I would go somewhere else through the paper, but somebody would come visit somebody and—

I:          The word got around.

FB:      The guy seen me and stuff like that.

I:          So you paid the price for being a Communist—

FB:      Oh yeah, definitely.

I:          —in the United States, even among ethnic communities in the most cosmopolitan city in the Untied States—in New York. So you decided to leave.

FB:      Yeah.

I:          And did leave in '38 or '39.

FB:      I left in '39.

I:          For Houston.

FB:      For Houston, yes.

I:          Why Houston?

FB:      Well, I—

I:          Did you have uncles in Houston?

FB:      No, I had no uncles in Houston. I had—during the activities in the Unemployed Movement—I had met one who was very active—was as a matter of fact, was one of the leadership of the Unemployed Movement, and he had moved to Houston and he was no longer active in the Unemployed Movement. Then he was active in the Steel Workers here in Houston. And he told me what's going on here in Houston. To make it short, that wasn't __(??), but it was an expanding economy—a city of growth—not of contraction or of stagnation, but it was a city of growth, and that's why I came here to Houston. Well, of course, being a city of growth then, still it is—in 1980, it's still a city of growth. It didn't do me much good there. It was—it took from '39 til about '43 that I got a halfway decent job.

I:          What did you—what, in fact, did you do during those years from 1939 say to late '42 or early '43. For instance, what did you do when you came here? How much money did you have? Where did you stay?

FB:      28:01 We had quite a stake you know—$300 or $400, but you know, you paid room rent, you ate—you ate out and stuff like that, and that finally went away, and I got a job at a certain supermarket chain in the delicatessen department—again.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      Actually I wanted to get a way from that.

I:          Well, you'd become a specialist by then, Fred.

FB:      So anyway, so I did—but, of course, they would only give me a part time job, and they wouldn't give me—and that petered out, because it got around that I'm not a citizen. So they wouldn't give me a job for that. One joker just flat told me that. So—

I:          So you did different things. You picked up odd jobs.

FB:      Odd jobs—you know—I mowed lawns with a sickle and all that sort of stuff.

I:          That must of made you feel close to your idealogical origin, right?

FB:      Yeah. So stuff like that.

I:          Was your wife able to work or did she—?

FB:      My wife one time got a job, at that time, working—taking care of the books and the material for a second-hand car dealer, and we had already moved out in the country so to speak.

I:          Where to?

FB:      On the North side. There's an addition called Timber Acres, and we lived in a Hoover Shanty. I don't know whether we have to describe what a Hoover Shanty is, but anyways—

I:          Yeah, right. No, we don't.

FB:      So she managed to get to town to do the job and I—by that time, I had worked for some people who was truck farmers in the area. I could walk there easily—it was not less than a mile away from there.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      30:17  I was a truck farmer—farmhand.  Well, we later had bought the lot and we finally—the '41 Hurricane was a terrific hurricane. We made it in that Hoover Shanty, but the it broke down a number of—uprooted a number of pine trees and we went to the owner and asked him whether we could have them.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      So my wife and I got the—borrowed a saw—a two-man saw?

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      Well, it was used by a man and a woman—we cut them into logs. After we had all that done, I hired a team from my employer to drag—

I:          To haul them.

FB:      To haul them—to drag them through what is referred to as a peckerwood sawmill.

I:          Let's stop at this point and flip the tape over cause it's about to go on us.

[291.1_01 audio ends 31:28]

[291.1_02 audio starts 00:09]

I:          And so those pine trees became your home.

FB:      Pine trees—we sawed them into lumber and I wasn't—I have no skill as a carpenter then whatsoever. I know a man retired at the time—he said he would build me a 20 x 24 house. Well, we had enough to do the framing and the roof, and we managed to buy some siding and shingles.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). So you learned a bit about carpentering.

FB:      Well, in that incident, I started to learning the carpentry for finishing the sides. Put the second wall in there—you know—the inside wall—and the ceiling and stuff like that. When we moved in there, we looked at the shingles—we could see the shingles—the rafters and the shingles, and in '42, we moved in there in September—no, the end of September of '42—or was the beginning of October. And I remember the first Norther blew but there was still a window missing on the north side. So a neighbor of mine, we went down to the lumberyard, and we had the money to buy a window and he put it in there.

I:          01:30  When did you finally connect with steady employment?

FB:      Well, I got the—connected with steady employment in '43.

I:          1943. How did that come about?

FB:      Well, I listened to a neighbor's radio that—

I:          Why was it a neighbor's radio?

FB:      Because I wasn't allowed to have one as an enemy alien.

I:          You were an enemy alien.

FB:      So that the Railroad Retirement Board—the employment agency of the Railroad Retirement Board—number so and so on Preston Avenue—it was Preston and Milam—no, Louisiana, whatever.

I:          Louisiana. Wherever.

FB:      I went to apply there, and I inquired there. I went there and I said, "Well, I heard your announcement over the radio." And announced—anybody who had worked for the railroad previous years and stuff like that, come work for the railroad.

I:          Did you tell them that you were an enemy alien?

FB:      I said, "I don’t know what you can do for me. I'm an enemy alien, but I need a job and you looking for men." "I see you walking around here, so you must be all right." So he sent me down to the car foreman, Mr. Elegance, at the MKT Railroad which located on—is located at the—under the viaduct going over the Buffalo Bayou, and so I went there and I told him the same thing. I was sent down there by Mr. McNabb from the Railroad Retirement Board and I just wonder whether he give me a job—an enemy alien—away from Germany. "Oh, there's a guy who chased your kinfolks around there in First World War, and we're gonna take his stuff.'" He filled out the application for me.

I:          03:48  And that was it.

FB:      That was it. Then they sent me—"Well, you go to the doctor and get—"

I:          An examination.

FB:      —examination and then you come back."

I:          So you worked then for the railroad from 1940—

FB:      '43 to '46 til the end of the war.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      I mostly remember—it all came to a screeching halt when they laid off the—the railroad also would work on cost plus. So the more employees they had the more money they made.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Well, what happened in '46? Why—?

FB:      They end the war. There was—

I:          And the soldiers came back home.

FB:      The war was ended and the movement of goods diminished. We be run every hour an oil train out of that yard—that little yard down there below what is now—the M&M Building at that time, and now it is just the uptown college of the—the uptown—the University of Houston.

I:          The University of Houston. I see. That's where it was. So what did you do in '46? You were unemployed again.

FB:      Unemployed. So I—and they were telling me, "Why don't you come down to the waterfront?"

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      05:10  Just go down there and stand there. So a longshoreman there for awhile.

I:          How long?

FB:      Oh, well, off and on for about a year. Then a friend of mine got a job in an industry on the ship channel which was called, at that time, Southern Acid and Sulphur Company which became—while I was there, it became Olin-Mathieson.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Olin-Mathieson.

FB:      But now it's Olin—just Olin.

I:          You worked there for awhile also.

FB:      I worked there from '47, '48, '49.

I:          What did you do there?

FB:      Well, I was an operator in the chemical plant. We made fertilizer there.

I:          Okay. And what ended that job?

FB:      Well, that job ended because the location for a new contract and the company wouldn't negotiate and we—while we was on the job, we didn't go out on site when we was locked out.

I:          The company locked you out?

FB:      Locked us out, yeah. And then the—after the war I lost my job there. Hardly anybody ever got back there.

I:          Did you lose your job because you were identified with some unrest among the workers or—?

FB:      Yeah. A friend of mine became a grievance man for his department, and the funny part was this, in operation it is not like standing in front of __(??) you either—you watch a board with the various dials on there or see about a certain thing—flow of this and that. So there's lots of sitting time and conversation.

I:          Talking.

FB:      07:31  It's a time for conversation and some of the people would come visit each other, and they would always seek me out, because I used to be one time a railroad man—that got around—so I must be knowing something about unions.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      So in that respect someone would either pump me this way or that way so I had no compunction not to give forth my wisdom or ignorance—whatever you want to call it.

I:          Now all during this job and the one with the—the ones that proceeded it in Houston—you considered to be, yourself, a Communist.

FB:      The whole time, sure.

I:          Did you make that fact known to people generally or specifically?

FB:      No. Not particularly, no—not particularly.

I:          You just felt it would be unwise to do that or were you under discipline to operate—

FB:      Well, at that time, that little organization which existed at the arrival here in Houston had fallen apart. There was only three people left in 1947.

I:          In Houston there were member of the—

FB:      The Socialists Workers Party. But, of course, I really lived so far away—without transportation, I could never hardly ever participate—just on special occasions I would come around.

I:          Were in fact those three people meeting or those two people?

FB:      Remember those three people were members left by '49—we was in the same unit and two in the same plan.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      09:19  But at that time we made it a point not—so and so. They would just advanced our certain ideas on a certain point day by day or whatever. And of course, that was interpreted in certain quarters as being Communist. Same thing on the railroad—they did the same thing for the sliding scale of wages. But the funny part is this, the Communist Party USA was opposed to the—to ask for the sliding scale of wages and so was the union bureaucracy, but nevertheless, the people called that idea Communist. Well, of course, people just don't know—

I:          What's going on really.

FB:      —what Communist means. I had a later experience in later years when I worked for—oh, it was in the 50s and 60s when the big deal was made by some conservatives about the income tax—the income taxes. They catch you at income taxes and they come and it's  __(??).

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      Well, it's been Communism and stuff like that—they came out against Communism.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      So I got literature off the—against the Graduated Income Tax—that group—you know—Conservative Party or whatever it was. Well, that's nothing but Communism—being against it. They don’t know what you are—it's total ignorance.

I:          Sure. Sure. Absolute and complete. So your job with Olin-Mathieson lasted from—

FB:      From '47 to '49—August '49.

I:          And then—

FB:      I was unemployed.

I:          Again.

FB:      Again for '49—the whole year of '50. I decided to go down there and apply for a job at Olin-Mathieson. "Why do you apply for a job here?" "Well, you do not let me get a job anywhere's else, so I thought I might as well apply here." And of course they said they'd let me know and from then on I had no more trouble. When you apply for the railroad, they give you—you know—like an application from previous employment—

I:          Sure.

FB:      11:55  —and nothing was--nothing stood behind me. I got a railroad job for the Houston Belt and Terminal in '51.

I:          For the Houston Belt and Terminal?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          And you were employed by them from 1951 until—

FB:      Until 1973.

I:          1973. And all during this time you were really connected emotionally and politically to the Left Wing. But on a day-to-day basis you were pretty unattached.

FB:      Yeah. Day-to-day basis was unattached and un-active until the mid 60s.

I:          Well, when did you—yeah, all right. What was it that enabled you to realize yourself as a political activist again?

FB:      Of course, the political climate had changed—

I:          Yes.

FB:      —and the antiwar movement was budding, and people had organized the ACLU here, and some person had called himself—they called themselves the Socialist Forum and, of course, I did not—I heard about it, and they had a symposium on Cuba. At that time the Jewish Community Center which was on Almeda there, and they had a big crowd there—they was invaded by Rosanos(??) and was broken up and they called—

I:          What year was this? This was in '65?

FB:      That was in '64—'64. That's what I heard about it through the paper. But afterward—months later I met these people—who was engaged in it—and then in '64 when these people brought Norman Thomas to Houston to speak at Rice University.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      14:06  Invited by the proper student and faculty organizations, and both papers was screaming headlines—this dangerous red's read was coming to town and at one of our universities besides.

I:          Yeah, the University of the elite.

FB:      The elite and stuff like that. And of course Norman Thomas spoke—called himself a Socialist and he spoke for the re-election of LBJ. To my notion it's a contradiction in itself. But of course one person made the remark about Norman Thomas. Norman Thomas calls himself a Socialist due to a misunderstanding.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). How did the—did the Communist League which later transmogrified into the Socialist Workers Party—what was their stand on Norman Thomas?

FB:      Well, he was a reformist—he's a reformist.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      He's not even a Marxist. I don't think Norman Thomas ever claimed to be a Marxist, but it would have been hard for him to become a Marxist—from a clergyman to a Marxist—it's a—

I:          Difficult.

FB:      —it's a tough road to hold—it's a tough road to hold for a nonreligious person—

I:          Yes.

FB:      —to understand Marxism. Mr. Aristotle had the last __(??) on many people's minds.

I:          Yes. That's true. That's true. During the 1950s, then, you really kept a low profile.

FB:      Low profile—political profile, definitely, yeah.

I:          Did—was Marxism an important part of your domestic life? Was it a thing that you and your wife discussed? Did you have literature that you could read and talk about with each other?

FB:      16:23  Oh yeah. Of course, we—no, in our travels, I lost about 2 libraries—Marxist Library—and the one I have now is not even complete yet. But when that started and the antiwar movement began then, there was a committee here. They called themselves Citizens for Actions in Vietnam. They didn't call themselves the Houston Committee Against the War in Vietnam—that came later—about a year or a year and a half later.

I:          What are the years that we're talking about now?

FB:      We're talking about '65.

I:          '65.

FB:      With the March in Washington which was called for by the Students for Democratic Society.

I:          The SDS.

FB:      SDS. And locally this committee in conjunction with the Krakows(??)—that was around Easter the time that that marching was around—Easter, I believe.

I:          Yeah, in '65.

FB:      We organized the original LBJ Ranch. Of course LBJ was there at the time so we couldn't be right in front of the ranch house, but we were a mile away from the access road. Of course, we all got soundly photographed and all this stuff.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). But the vigil was allowed to proceed, was it not?

FB:      Yeah, it was allowed to proceed and that of course was totally pacifist. Some of them people were fasting and all that sort of stuff—you know—fasting. One woman even declined to drink water. I don't know, with actions like that, how you persuade somebody else to protest—

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      —or make use of his democratic right to criticize his own government with actions like that. I don't see how you can persuade anybody to do that.

I:          18:52  Do you think that's sort of a dramatic gesture?

FB:      It's self indulgence—you know—self satisfying. It has nothing to do with propaganda or agitation.

I:          During—going back in time before the 1960s—during the 1950s, there was in the United States a conservative political environment—

FB:      Yeah.

I:          —exemplified by McCarthy. Were you personally frightened during the 1950s? Were you afraid that some how in some way you would become visible to the police apparatus?

FB:      Actually the police apparatus did not—did not—

I:          Or were you afraid that someone maybe would inform on you in New York City or that your name would be on a subscription list to the newspaper or that—?

FB:      I was careful about receiving papers. I received papers through first-class mail in a closed envelope and all that sort of stuff. That's how they went through there, because I would not—not like I today—subscribe to a paper and just my name label is on there and stuff like that, but everybody would know what kind of a paper it was.

I:          So the Socialist Workers Party understood that the distribution of its newspaper should be done discreetly for the safety of those who subscribed to it.

FB:      Yeah. Those who asked for it. There was a special person in New York I contacted—I sent the money.

I:          But did it not occur to you that probably it would have been a fairly—well, certainly not an impossible task for the SWP—the Socialist Workers Party—to be penetrated at some level and for the names of all the members to be known? And you after all were a founding member of the party in 1937 or '38.

FB:      Uh-hunh (affirmative).

I:          Did you not feel—I mean—what would you have—were you not fearful that there would be a knock on the door and people would flash a badge?

FB:      21:33  I don't think it got that bad. It only got—the persecution was more surreptitious. Anybody who got himself a job. Now people who was in a union position, the FBI would go there and see that he was eased out or he would lose his job, and therefore, cut out of the union.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). So they tried to decimate the union movement by just kind of systematically chopping the leadership of it.

FB:      That's the way it was done. Anybody who didn't work—you know—or had a—I wasn't active in anything. Actually, I wasn't active in anything.

I:          In the 40s and 50s in Houston.

FB:      In Houston I wasn't doing anything so there was—

I:          But you still had this connection to the SWP in New York City.

FB:      Yeah, through the—

I:          Through the paper.

FB:      —the paper and in communications and stuff like that, yeah, but—

I:          Well, what would you have done? You and your wife—

FB:      We had a branch here in Houston—you know—we only had 12 people in Houston, but we only met amongst ourselves. We never engaged in public action at that time.

I:          When were there 12 of you and when did you meet?

FB:      Oh, in the 40s—the early 40s—'39, '40, '41, stuff like that. There only was a few of them could—got together and they had the same occupation to become brothers in the shipyard and they formed a a Welder's Union. The irony of it is that all of them—the industrial unionism—there they go ahead and form a Craft Union. But due to particular—the other Craft Unions—you know—for instance, when a welder or burner would burn a pipe, he would have to belong to the Pipe Fitters Union. And for the iron workers who are boiler makers—they worked for the boiler makers—you know—build it for them he had to work for the Boiler Makers Union, so he had to pay dues to—

I:          Several different—

FB:      24:09  —different unions.

I:          But actually the SWP members in Houston got together and formed a union on the Ship Channel.

FB:      Yeah. They had helped form.

I:          They were in the leadership of—

FB:      Yeah, they was in the leadership.

I:          Do you know the name of that union?

FB:      It was the Welders Union.

I:          The Welders Union?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          Do you know the local number of it?

FB:      No, I don't know. Well, the person was most active in—is now deceased so—

I:          What was his name? Do you remember?

FB:      Yeah, I know his name, but—

I:          Okay. All right. That's no matter. What happened to these 12 or roughly a dozen SWP members? Some died, some moved.

FB:      Some moved away and some—

I:          Became inactive.

FB:      24:58  Inactive and stuff like that. Some of them discovered their—re-discovered their Judaism and all that.

I:          I see. And so gradually that group just dissipated.

FB:      Dissipated until three people and one—two of them—the three of us decided that one day and then was worst part to go into business. And of course I did not—I had certain ideas and the other two didn't jive, and so I never became part of that business.

I:          What kind of business?

FB:      It was rust proofing.

I:          Rust proofing.

FB:      And making signs—metal signs. As a matter of fact—

I:          No, I understand.

FB:      Tell you—

I:          Yeah, I'm sure. I understand that. So that group was pretty—that initial group of SWP people was pretty well dissipated by the early 1950s. Or not.

FB:      Middle—the middle 1950s. Yeah.

I:          Did the group ever—did the group or did you and your wife, between yourselves, ever decide what you would do, if indeed, you were approached by the FBI or the local Red Squad or anything—I mean—did you just decide maybe it would be a good thing to have a plan of action?

FB:      No, it never occurred to us.

I:          You didn't really then feel that personally jeopardized?

FB:      No. No. Of course, in a case like that you play that stuff by ear.

I:          Well, you could play it by ear or you could have a plan—you know—one or the other. But in any event, the knock on the door never came and so that was not a matter of concern.

FB:      26:57  No.

I:          Then in the 1960s the political climate changed—liberalism created a kind of tolerance that the Conservatives in the 1950s had not permitted and you became active once again. The Socialist Forum was probably active from '63 or '64 onward. Was it Socialist?

FB:      Well, I made a wise crack about that. Socialist Forum is a place where seldom is heard a Socialist word.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). And what did the Socialists at the Forum have to say about that criticism?

FB:      Well, of course, they looked down upon me. Of course, I was known as a __(??) case.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      And most of us became active then in '65 in the antiwar movement.

I:          The Socialist Forum—the focus of that—I guess, probably was the antiwar movement, was it not?

FB:      No. Well, yeah. The Socialists—Norman Thomas—they had a different position than from mine. They was exclusive—you know—Norman Thomas or Michael Harrington and all these people—they had a different position. There was a plaque on all of your houses—you know--they was against violence.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      Members of the—you would not want to have the—according to them; the Communist Party could not be a part of just any one movement. And, of course, on the part of the Communist Party USA, the Trotsky's could not be—

I:          So you were neither fish nor fowl.

FB:      So anyway—but anyway, Norman Thomas got defeated first and then the second—the CPUSA was defeated first—the second—on that deal. It was—the antiwar movement was—became all inclusive and the SDS raised a slogan for the '65 Demonstration "Bring the troops home or bring the boys home or bring the troops home." I mean withdrawal—the withdrawal. Well the CPUSA at that time was against the withdrawals—nobody was for negotiations. Well, there was nothing—the argument was there's nothing to negotiate. You ain't got no business there. Let's get the U.S. out.

I:          29:32  Declare a victory and withdraw as one U.S. Senator recommended as I recall.

FB:      So I, of course, in the—the sentiment in the—I was a minority of one—no, not minority of one—the irony of the deal was that I had—the red guy had the support of the Krakows(??) and some Catholic pacifists on the question of withdrawal. That was was within the antiwar movement here in Houston. Eventually, I became Chairman of the Antiwar Committee.

I:          What year was that?

FB:      That was in '69.

I:          Okay. How large was the Committee?

FB:      Oh, we always had a membership of—active membership—of about 30 or 40 people that did all the work.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). They were the hardcore.

FB:      Hardcore. They would come to the monthly meeting and stuff like that.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Meetings were held monthly.

FB:      Meetings was held monthly even during—the antiwar movement always experienced a lull during election years—you know—they each had to please candidates.

I:          Yeah, that's right. That's right. Let's—this tape is about to go. Let's go over to another one and continue.

[291.1_02 audio ends 31:08]

[291.1_03 audio starts 00:05]

I:          This is a continuation of an oral history interview with Mr. Fred Brode. B-R-O-D-E. Conducted at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center November 25, 1980. We were talking about the antiwar movement. Was there police opposition to the antiwar movement?

FB:      Yeah. I would say yeah. There was opposition. They had 1 or 2 agents attend the meetings. Of course, it was wide open.

I:          In Mufti or were they pretty obvious?

FB:      Well, if anyone used to give his name and address and gave a post office box number that's how we know.

I:          Yeah.

FB:      We knew what the score was.

I:          Yeah.

FB:      We would—

I:          You were just under passive surveillance.

FB:      Yeah. But we could be less concerned. We wasn't doing anything illegal. We we was asserting our First Amendment Rights.

I:          Well, but you were not operating in harmony with the received wisdom of the community.

FB:      Oh right. True enough.

I:          And in that community, as you know, has a very limited commitment to First Amendment Rights or anything else. So they did not harass you other than just to observe what was going on.

FB:      Yeah or photograph it when we had a ritual or anything like that.

I:          What about opposition from the Paramilitary Reich like the Ku Klux Klan or—?

FB:      True. There was opposition. There have been people's residences was shot up—shot up. As a matter of fact, we had made a deal that if anybody got shot up, call up the others regardless what time of the night, and warn them what happened because they may hit 2 or 3 people at the same night.

I:          02:28  Uh-hunh (affirmative). When did that—when did the shooting start? Was that in '65 or later?

FB:      No. The shooting started later. I cannot give the exact time—dates—you know—when the others were shot up. I wasn't the first one that got shot up. I got first shot up in '69 at the time of the Moratorium.

I:          The Antiwar Moratorium.

FB:      Antiwar Moratorium. Of course, it was prior to the—

I:          What happened that night?

FB:      Well, I went to bed like I usually do—late.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). What time is late, 1-o'clock?

FB:      One o'clock, something like that.

I:          This was in what month and when this—?

FB:      That was in—the Moratorium was in October—late September or beginning of October I believe.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). In 1969.

FB:      '69.

I:          Right.

FB:      I went to bed and I heard some noise and I couldn't make out what it was. At first I thought it was a bat—you know—hanging on the screen. And so I took my flashlight and my and went outside and looked around and couldn't see anything. But I shone the light at towards the house, and my wife was in the bedroom—our son's bedroom—who was at that time in service—'69—he might have been in Vietnam at that time.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      04:12  So, "Oh, yeah," she hollered at me. She called at me. "I know what it is." She saw my light shine through the wall. So it must have been a .22. At first it sounded like a—I figured that it must have been automatic rifle fire, no? But it's not that big blast. Automatic rifle fire to my knowledge is more muffled.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      That's why I thought it was just a like a rattle and must have been a small caliber. Somebody must of fired this automatic—semiautomatic .22 made a—automatic .22—

I:          How many rounds did the house take?

FB:      Oh, I counted at least 20 holes.

I:          My gosh. In the front of the house, huh?

FB:      Yeah, in the front of the house did—I mean—to be exact the northwest corner of the house.

I:          You think it was done by an auto—from people in a car?

FB:      People in a car passing by, yeah. That's the first shot up. Well, I called on my friends, "I just got shot up, so be careful," and let it go at that. By that time an organization had come to town—started to come to town.

I:          Right.

FB:      Started to come to town by '69 or '70. They said, "Well, you should have called the police." Well, of course, one person made a joke—you know—whoever was in charge down there said, "Well, it's 3-o'clock now and we shot them up at 1-o'clock, and the son-of-bitch hadn't called in. He's not a loyal citizen."

I:          Yes, that's right. That's right.

FB:      06:20  Hasn't—

I:          Was the house shot subsequent to that again?

FB:      Oh yeah again—again. There was three more times shot up. The second time there was—

I:          All in 1969?

FB:      In '69 and '70—'69 and '70. There was the one time in '69—all the other times was in '70.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Likewise with small caliber weapons?

FB:      No, it was with a magnum—

I:          Revolver?

FB:      Magnum revolver.

I:          Put big hole, huh?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          And sounded—it must of sounded like a cannon going off.

FB:      That sounded like the McCoy then.

I:          Well, that must have scared the hell out of you.

FB:      Well, one night I was also in bed and they shot up the house at various heights. And some of the bullets went through all walls.

I:          Went in one side of the house and out the other?

FB:      It went through—let's see—it went through the outside wall, through the bedroom, two walls into the kitchen, and from the kitchen into the—I have sort of a alcove in my living room—it's behind the kitchen between the outside. It came out there.

I:          My gosh.

FB:      07:59  So of course, then upon the urging of the Organization—

I:          The SWP?

FB:      SWP. Well, you should report it even though I know what you—we know what you're doing. You're laying—sometimes you're laying out there in your front yard with your shotgun there. But if—to protect yourself. You have to report that you're being harassed and—

I:          And did you do that?

FB:      Well, then I started that. Well, the second time there was two SWP persons who were living here to come into town and they get located there.

I:          Was the Party sending them down to Houston or did it just happen that they were—?

FB:      No, that was some people—it was strictly colonization down there.

I:          I see.

FB:      Well, then I reported it, and the house was full of deputy sheriffs—you know—they came in. That was the second time. The third time I was not home.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      I had to deliver the antiwar newsletter to a place where—I run it off.

I:          I see.

FB:      Yeah. The mimeograph—the Antiwar Committee's mimeograph machine was located in my house and I did the running off for the antiwar newsletter which came out at least 8 times a year. So I had delivered it to people, and while I was there handing it out—you know—and the person give me—it was all held in the private home—got me a cup of coffee—a telephone call came from a person I knew—a Party member—and said, "Fred, well, Laura didn't know where you were, but she called me, but I happen to know where the mailing party is so I called you. The house was just shot up again." And if she wouldn't have been under the weather—you know—physically speaking—that particular afternoon we had went to see the doctor and she took some kind of medicine in a shot which made her—

I:          10:33  Sleepy.

FB:      Sleepy and drowsy and stuff like that. She laid down on the couch in the living room, and if she wouldn't have done that—probably messing around out in the kitchen—she wouldn't be here today.

I:          I'll be damned. So these were big guns—this was the third time and they used big stuff.

FB:      The second time they used big stuff.

I:          Was this during the day?

FB:      No, at night.

I:          At night. Always at night.

FB:      At night. But that was earlier. The other times was—

I:          Late.

FB:      —late at night, but this must have been about 9, so I said—well, I called—"Okay, thanks a lot," and I'd go home right away. That was over __(??) somewhere. So I called the Sheriff's Department and said, "Well, I will not be there if you come out there." Of course, when I got there, the Sheriff's Department was there, but he was standing in the yard. Laura wouldn't let them him.

I:          She wouldn't let then in. Why wouldn't she?

FB:      She said, "I don't know who you are or what you are. You might be. My house has been shot up." Of course, she wasn't aware that I had—

I:          Called.

FB:      Called.

I:          11:47  What did your—did the shootings up of your property and home in 1969, 1970 cause your neighbors to have any particular attitude towards you?

FB:      Well, they of course were aware of it. The people across the street—another shotgun blast—the woman across the street was coming home and they passed by them, but it was too fast so she could not get the license number or anything like that. But all this—there was a committee formed on the University of Houston to collect money to sandbag the house—the house was sandbagged—the front of the house was sandbagged. It was sandbagged from '72, '73 until I retired then I took them down.

I:          I'll be darned. But your neighbors were supportive of you or were they—?

FB:      Well, I would say neutral. One person sometimes had called upon us to—her husband was World War II Veteran and he could not drive and stuff like that because of her head injury.

I:          I see.

FB:      She call upon us sometime when the to do some favor—came to the store and stuff like that. And she told us one time she reported to the authorities. That man can believe whatever he wants to. My husband fought for that.

I:          What address was this house at?

FB:      5522 Olana.

I:          Spell.

FB:      O-L-A-N-A.

I:          O-L-A-N-A. Did the shootings receive any press attention in Houston? Did the Chronicle or the Post—

FB:      Oh, yeah. The Chronicle was out there—they took pictures.
I:          Took pictures, interviewed you—

FB:      Interviewed me and—

I:          13:57  And did you at that time indicate that you were a member not only of the antiwar movement but were a communist and were a member of the Socialist Workers Party?

FB:      No. I did not play that up. The only thing was one person has written in this account that Brode who got shot up—he's the picture of Ho Chi Minh on his wall.

I:          Was that true?

FB:      No, it was not. I had a big old poster from Berkeley when they had the big deal—big poster business—

I:          In Berkeley, yeah.

FB:      It was a very big poster of Leon Trotsky.

I:          I see. Well they probably didn't even know who Chi was.

FB:      No, I haven't got LBJ—I mean Ho Chi Minh's picture on my wall. I have a certain other person poster—picture on the wall. I don't know who is it, but you make a guess.

I:          He probably didn't—

FB:      He guessed.

I:          Did he? Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      He guessed and I said, "That's right."

I:          What did the—did you receive at that time—at the time you were coming under fire—I'm sure that you discussed that with your comrades in the SWP. Did they give you any advice or instructions?

FB:      Well, they went along with the idea of sandbagging the house.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Were you explicitly told by the SWP to—

FB:      No—

I:          —to not play up your association?

FB:      15:47  No. Most of the people in the antiwar committee knew where I was—where I stood. And I never made a big deal of it. Sometimes when I want a big Trotsky painting so the heck with that.

I:          You mentioned—I'd like to get back to this—you mentioned that the SWP made the decision to colonize Houston in—sometime in '69 and that that colonization was in process by late '69 and 1970. How did that happen? How did the SWP determine to go to Houston rather than Boise, Idaho or Des Moines, Iowa?

FB:      See now I was the contact so to speak for the SWP—for the national office in—

I:          New York?

FB:      —New York and I had made—got speakers—audiences for speakers—for SWP speakers—candidates for office in '68 and certain prominent people—good speakers and on certain issues over the years—brought them to Houston.

I:          How large would the reception for these people be? Was this during the early 60s or the 50s?

FB:      No. Late '69—'68 the presidential campaign. The presidential candidate had a speaking engagement in New York.

I:          What was the presidential candidate's name?

FB:      Fred Halstead. He was also active—prominently active in the antiwar movement.

I:          Spell last name.

FB:      H-A-L-S-T-E-A-D.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Okay. All right. And so in the process of hosting speakers and making arrangements for speakers it occurred to the party leadership that there seemed to be fertile fields.

FB:      No.

I:          And so they began to send people down to Houston?

FB:      18:25  Well, there was some people in that area of Texas who was willing to join the YSA—the Young Socialist Alliance.

I:          All right. Which was the youth branch of the SWP?

FB:      Yeah. Youth group of the SWP.

I:          Yes.

FB:      And once that they came about some people from the SWP moved to Austin and formed a branch there and—I mean—the SWP started in Austin rather than in Houston.

I:          I see. I see.

FB:      But of course until the organizer found a certain resistance around a certain part of the radical movement to turn to YSA or anything like that, and I couldn't join the YSA. (laughs) for obvious reasons.

I:          Yeah.

FB:      So that's the way it came about until those—that bottleneck—informed them that that bottleneck was broken—the resistance was broken—I informed the person in Austin and he came to Houston and started organizing the YSA and subsequently people moved in there and we started a party branch.

I:          The organizer who came from Austin was a fulltime organizer?

FB:      Yeah. He came out—at that time was member of the National Committee.

I:          And was on salary from the SWP.
FB:      Yeah, well, yeah. Of course, he got it while he was here he got himself a job.

I:          So he organized on a part time basis then.

FB:      Yeah.

I:          20:16  Was it a man or a woman?

FB:      Man.

I:          A man. A married man or a single man?

FB:      No, he was at that time single and subsequently he—a year and a half ago he committed suicide.

I:          Can we mention his name?

FB:      Oh yeah. Dan Styron.

I:          Can you spell that?

FB:      S-T-Y-R-O-N.

I:          Okay. Styron—the first name, Dan.

FB:      Dan.

I:          And he committed suicide a year and a half ago.

FB:      Yeah.

I:          Did you know him at that time?

FB:      Well, I—yeah, I knew him well. Of course, once I got expelled from the SWP and he had moved away also—you know—once he done his job here, he went to someplace else.

I:          I wonder why he committee suicide?

FB:      That's a mystery.

I:          There's never been any suspicion that it wasn't a suicide?

FB:      21:11  No, it's unmistakable that it's a suicide—a man locks his house and tapes all the door and the window and turns on the gas and take all kind of sleeping pills—he's determined to die.

I:          Yeah. Yeah. Far as you know he never left a note or any explanation?

FB:      That's a deep, dark secret. I know that his subsequent companion which I claim to have brought to SWP and—

I:          I see. It's a mystery to her also?

FB:      I don't know. There are moments to work there.

I:          How many people came to Houston as a result of this man's efforts and your own assistance? Say in 1969 and 1970.

FB:      Oh, about 20.

I:          About 20 people? Mostly college-age people or some older than that?

FB:      College people—all young people—college.

I:          All young people? And they immediately, as soon as they got situated on the ground, likewise tried to recruit and become involved in different organizations whether labor unions or antiwar movements or—?

FB:      At that time the main orientation was the antiwar movement at that time.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      And the campus—while they're staying on campus.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). They were recruiting for the YSA or for the SWP?

FB:      For the YSA.

I:          How successful were they?

FB:      22:47  Well, they was able to successfully to recruit some people in the YSA on campus—I must say so—they got some new people there. Of course, then in 1970 the SWP held their conferences—their educational conferences—and then the conventions in Overland and I went to the first one—conference in—we both went to the first conference in Overland.

I:          You and Laura?

FB:      Yeah. In 1970. I did not go to the convention in 1971 even though I am—a minority tendency had developed by that time.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      Of course, I read their documents, and I could not go along with that.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). Those conferences that began the Socialist Workers Party Conferences that began in Overland in 1970, they have become an annual affair of the party, have they not?

FB:      Yeah, it is. The SWP gathers annually at Overland in the month of August. Now it's either for educational conference or for a convention.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      I did not go to the convention in '71. I went to the conference in '73 and I sought out people for the—

I:          Of your tendency.

FB:      There was no tendency—that tendency dissolved after the convention after '71. But there was still—and then the—ostensively dissolved—but there was a—by the time '72 came around, another tendency had developed out of that—proletarian tendency—Proletarian Orientation Tendency was called—that's the one in '71. They call themselves the Leninist Faction and they left the SWP.

I:          What percentage of the membership?

FB:      Oh, about 60 people I believe. I would think so.

I:          25:06  Out of a total—

FB:      I don't know. I can't give you the numbers of the people. For some reason, I never belonged to it.

I:          But they represented some very talented people.

FB:      Oh yeah. Represented some very talented people. But anyway—

I:          How did that split affect the local here in Houston?

FB:      The Leninist Faction walk out didn't cause a rippling in Houston. The only thing is we—there was dissidence—unorganized—you know—and it was through the efforts of one or two people that—

I:          Of which you were—

FB:      I was one of them.

I:          Yes.

FB:      I was one of them. It became—we got—people they got to know misgivings about this and about that and we trashed it out. Of course, we—that was all illegal activity according to the SWP. We—

I:          You couldn't discuss things?

FB:      Amongst ourselves, no. It has to be discussed on the party branch floor, but the discussion is closed so you couldn't discuss.

I:          Now how many people were showing up at these—at SWP meetings in Houston in the early 70s? When you got together, how many people were—?

FB:      Of the tendency?

I:          No, of the total branch.

FB:      The total branch—let's see—in round figures, we had about 40 people—40 people.

I:          26:43  What percentage of those 40 were college age and what percentage of them were older?

FB:      Well, I was the only—two of them was older—I mean—two couples was older than college age or was just recently out of college.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). So most of the members were not only college age but were probably in college?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          And the only time that you were allowed as a member of the SWP—as a founding member of the SWP—the only time that political discussion was sanctioned was at the meeting and the meetings were controlled by people who did not want to give your tendency an opportunity to present itself.

FB:      And only the—

I:          And that seemed to you to be kind of a Stalinist thing to do I'm sure.

FB:      Oh yeah, definitely. Only during the preconvention discussion, you can discuss.

I:          And after that—

FB:      Three months and after that you disciplined your own the parties—it's not a discussion club—it's not a discussion club, but if you—

I:          But there should be room for discussion.

FB:      Room for discussion, yeah. In the early days if we didn't like a decision of the political committee which runs the party and makes the political decisions for the party between conventions. Well, if we didn't like it, we got up on the floor and passed a motion to—the political committee should reconsider the opposition for such and such and such and such reasons.
I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). When you say the old days—

FB:      28:41  That was legal at that time.

I:          At what time?

FB:      Oh, in the early 30s—in the 30s after the founding. It was positively legal within the Communis League or the the Workers Party. It was legal even in the SWP in '37, '38' '39. It was legal. As a matter of fact, the—

I:          When did that shift in policy take place?

FB:      Well, it must of took place in—

I:          From being permissive of discussion to being—

FB:      No, that was actually put in effect, I believe, in the mid 60s—yeah—with about every day expulsion of the Spartacist League. At that time which they called themselves the Revolutionary Tendency. The Spartacist group—which later formed the Spartacist group.

I:          Okay. And so when differences between members of the SWP developed in the early 70s, and the minority viewpoint was basically not given an opportunity to present its views. I guess at locals all around the country including Houston, those who subscribed to that minority tendency began actually to break party discipline by talking about things amongst themselves—

FB:      Yeah. That's the way they have it fixed. Yes.

I:          What was the big issue that defined your minority status?

FB:      Well, the big issue it got defined and came to a head by us writing a counter document to the political resolution of the committee.

I:          In what year?

FB:      That was in '73.

I:          '73.

FB:      Prior to the pre-convention discussion. Of course, at the same time was an international faction fight going on between the SWP and all the European sections.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      And we—

I:          And what happened in '73 when you presented this—

FB:      We got 9% of the membership and of course there always used to be one delegate for every 5 members prior to that. But once they found themselves in opposition, they made it 15 members and all of the major part of thereof.

I:          Let me flip the tape over. We're about to run out again.

[291.1_03 audio ends 31:38]

[291.1_04 audio starts 00:06]

I:          What was the disagreement between the majority and the minority? What was the issue?

FB:      Well, the SWP has a theory of the combined revolution.

I:          Would you explain that?

FB:      Well, first of all, I want to say that all revolutions have a combined—there's not only the working class active in a revolution, there is—in underdeveloped countries there's the peasantry and there is the middle classes—you know—involved too. So the way to lay it out here for the United States, there was the Black Movement—you know—and the SWP promoted the idea of a black party. Lots of people were black but that doesn't mean that they are all proletarians. Well, lots of people are brown—the Chicano Party they was—they was for the Nationalist Movements of these mixed groups, and they supported uncritically—uncritically—you know—uncritically and we opposed that. We used the dictum—we always through the dictum of Lenin against them. We support these cultural petty bourgeoisie nationalists, like a rope-hanging man.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      01:46  In other words, they cut their working class so tight, they cut the working class support out from under them. The SWP supports something uncritically, you don't—of course, it didn't help the—I did not—that uncritical support by the SWP did not have that particular nationalist movement—the Black Nationalist Movement went down the drain—so did the Chicano.

I:          As a matter of curiosity, could you ethnically describe the membership of the SWP nationally as well as the local branch here in Houston?

FB:      Well, it was definitely was Anglo—definitely was.

I:          Hundred percent in Houston or not?

FB:      Yeah, except if you take me out—an Anglo—make me an Anglo.

I:          Sure, okay. All right.

FB:      Well, I think I explained enough what the combined revolution is.

I:          Yes.

FB:      The sectoral and all these movements combine, and then the Permanent Revolution takes over according to there. Of course, that is all nonsense. The Bourgeois Revolution is completed in the United States. The bourgeoisie had triumphed—a long time ago.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      Well, the excuse was democracy has to come to blacks and browns. Well, the Bourgeois Revolution was not made for democracy—hell no—it was made for exploitation.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      03:41  They changed the property rights from futilism and over in the United States they instituted them. The bourgeoisie came over here and instituted bourgeois property rights or laws—something like that. So I meant in far as saying—well, that was futile remnants—well, that was no futile remnants—while they call it slavery, is it? Well, chattel slavery is a bourgeois institution. It had nothing to do with futilism—that the human being became a commodity. That’s definitely mercantile capitalism.

I:          Did the differences that you had with the majority of the membership here in Houston over the nature of revolution and also on the question of internationalism, trouble your personal relationships with people or—I mean—could people still talk even though they disagreed or did they begin to feel estranged from each other?

FB:      Oh no. There was your dissident in the SWP __(??) slandered. They even dug up my association with a factionfied—where I was admittedly on the wrong side in 1935—in '36—during the entry of the Trotsky's and the socialist party of the world. They did whatever they could and we really did it in Spain and that's where—they didn't do it in Spain—and that's what convinced me that the entry was correct.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). So people like Debbie Leonard was around at this time, was she not?

FB:      She came here. But she had only minor differences on whether the European comrades—was referred to as the European Document. That concerned the revolution in Europe which of course was a concession to the SWP majority—in a way—not deliberate. But internationalists—you write a internation document.

I:          Yes, that's true. So you would actually then go to meetings and feel unwelcome and unwanted.

FB:      Well, we—the first thing we opposed bureaucratic tactics. One person was elected to—organizer—you know—that was paid position at that time. What you well afford it to be without being paid. But then she felt she wasn't—not her cup of tea to be organizer and stuff like that.

I:          Can we mention that person's name?

FB:      07:06  Yeah, her name is Ann Springer.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      So they made a telephone call where we sent Nelson Blackstock down there. We said, "Well, Ann is gonna resign from organizer and let's elect—we recommend that Nelson Blackstock—

I:          Could you spell his name?

FB:      Yeah. B-L-A-C-K-S-T-O-C-K.

I:          Okay.

FB:      —become organizer.

I:          And he was a minority tendency?

FB:      No, he was not a minority. He was a stronghold—I mean—he was—he had proletarian tendency who had a big strong hold in the Bay Area.

I:          I see.

FB:      And he was sent out there to combat them and he came to Houston. But before—

I:          Was he successful in California?

FB:      Yeah, he was hated there in California. Yeah, I say he was successful. Of course, his success was also in the eras of the dissidents at that time—you know their political position and all that sort of stuff. When we started out we started to correcting that and anyway, we—

I:          So he was nominated as organizer.

FB:      Organizer and we said, "Well, that stuff don't go." We should have been informed—we could have had a hand in selecting an organizer.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      08:49  So they made a motion that he be organizer and there was a division—Seventeen to seventeen—and their motion lost.

I:          The minority had become—

FB:      We won a victory and of course that went all over the dad gum country.

I:          Did you really organize for that vote—I mean—did you make phone calls and say we got to be there?

FB:      Yeah, sure we did that and said—

I:          And you came up with a seventeen/seventeen tie.

FB:      Yeah. So they lost. So the guy had to wait about 4 weeks or 6 weeks before we asked somebody, "Well, do have any objections of being organizer?" And, "No, we have no objections." So—

I:          He became the organizer.

FB:      —he became the organizer. But he had an uneasy time here.

I:          And how long did the minority—was that the high-water mark of the minority?

FB:      No, that was the beginning of the minority—that wasn't all minority votes you see. There was some people which agreed with the national committee politically or with the PC politically, but you would not go along with such slipshod tactics.

I:          I see. They were not idealogically united with you, but tactically, they said this kind of operation is not good, and so we're gonna vote with these people because of this kind of tactic.

FB:      Of course we was not declared—we had not declared ourselves as a tendency.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). When did that happen?

FB:      10:31  That happened just shortly before the pre-convention discussion in '73 and we was sure of our document. Of course we met in my house—12-o'clock at night or 6-o'clock in the morning or from 12-o'clock to 6-o'clock or—

I:          You had to do this secretly?

FB:      Yeah. Secretly. So we—

I:          How many people?

FB:      Well, it started off with—well, there was the remnants of 4 from the old POT tendency—the proletarian orientation tendency.

I:          The proletarian orientation tendency.

FB:      And then there was some other people around and we—well, of course, I was not part of that particular—I was not privy to their conversations when I only come to branch meetings and raise holy hell.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      I went to the election campaign. Debbie Leonard was the candidate for governor, and their program was no different from Sissy Farenthold. For instance, abolish the Texas Rangers.

I:          Sissy Farenthold was the Democratic candidate.

FB:      Democratic—the primary—

I:          For governor in '70-what?

FB:      Well, in '72, she tried to be a—no; she went on for the primaries. Well, anyways, so I raised a point—you know—abolish the Texas Rangers. Well, what kind of nonsense is that? That's a part of the state—how do you expect that—you know—you want to call for revolution, okay, say so. But abolish the Texas Rangers is nonsense.

I:          Well, it might have been a nice symbolic.

FB:      Well, anyway, Sissy Farenthold had the same—

I:          Yeah, that's a problem.

FB:      Same position—you know. So I'm of course people who was dissidents and they felt that they had the vote with me, but in order to get me—so they approached me to join their—

I:          Their group.

FB:      12:49  —their group to partake of their conversations. Well, that was heated conversation amongst ourselves before we—while it became a document. So talking about the—it took a long time for that to straighten in some people who wasn't even in the leadership.

I:          Hold on just a minute here. Okay.

FB:      So we had these discussions and the—well, to straighten our political—know what we want our political position was. It finally was put on a document, but that was a composite of all of our discussions and was given to a person to write it and then we had one person in New York who was an editor—she edited it and had it typed.

I:          Now was the tendency in Houston connected to a similar tendency in other cities or were—

FB:      Oh yeah. We—

I:          It was a national—

FB:      This was a national deal—yeah, national deal.

I:          And did, at this time, did the majority or leadership of the SWP—did they even suspect what was going on?

FB:      Oh, they knew what was going on. Once we declared a tendency—you know—with signatures and the declarations—personal declarations. They knew—they knew.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      So that was in the fire then.

I:          And when did it come to a confrontation?

FB:      14:31  Of course it came to a confrontation at the convention.

I:          In 19—

FB:      '73.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      '73.

I:          And what was the result of that confrontation?

FB:      We only—through the maneuvers, we only got 3 delegates—Two from Houston and one from Chicago.

I:          Out of how many? Roughly.

FB:      We had over 150—no—to be exact, the party members—we had over 100. And YSA members—we had about 30 or 40.

I:          And only 3 people were selected to represent those?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          Out of how many were at the convention in '73, though? How many delegates? You had three out of how many people there?

FB:      I cannot—

I:          More than a hundred delegates?

FB:      No, less than a hundred.

I:          Less than a hundred?

FB:      Oh yeas, less than a hundred.

I:          Less than 70?

FB:      Oh, I would say about 50 or 60.

I:          15:42  Fifty or sixty. And each one of those 50 or 60 theoretically represented 15 cadres?

FB:      Fifteen members, yeah.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). So from that we could deduce what the total membership was.

FB:      Well, they claim there was at that time—it was 1400 or 1500.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). So what happened? Were you one of the 3 who went up there?

FB:      No. I was up there, but I wasn't a delegate.

I:          I see. What happened? You got—

FB:      We had three delegates and we had—they were so kind to make our—no we had five—we opposed five resolutions to our own—you know—the European Document, the Document in Latin America—three—yeah, three—all of them delegates—make the presentations.

I:          I see. I see.

FB:      Of leaning or  __(??)Democratically.

I:          Yes. Uh-hunh (affirmative). Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      And after that—

I:          The tendencies got voted down?

FB:      Oh yeah, we were voted down.

I:          And then what did you think was going to happen?

FB:      Well, of course, they did not demand that we dissolve like they did—

I:          Oh, in earlier occasions?

FB:      The proletarian orientation tendency. Of course we had people from Europe over—

I:          17:22  At the convention.

FB:      —at the convention.

I:          And they wanted to put on a pretty Democratic face for the Europeans. I see. How many Europeans were there?

FB:      Well, the Europeans—well, one speaker was__(??) and—

I:          From France?

FB:      No, from Italy.

I:          Italy. Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      And he spoke and I don't know whether Pat Jordan from—comrade Peterson from Britain was at the convention, but he was—prior to that made it two of the party branches.

I:          So you came back from the convention defeated on the issues.

FB:      Well, yeah, we knew we were gonna get beat—you know—we knew we couldn't even win with 27%--at that time 27% of the membership of the party was on the party payroll.

I:          Twenty-seven percent?

FB:      Yeah.

I:          My gosh. Where was the money coming from?

FB:      Contributions from the—sustain us. Well, yeah, there was some people in the office (inaudible) give $40 a week to the organization.

I:          From their salaries and—

FB:      Yeah.

I:          But you say ostensively. Do you think money was coming from someplace else?

FB:      18:43  Well, I should not say that. This is only speculation.

I:          Well, that's all right.

FB:      Speculation.

I:          Speculate.

FB:      Speculate—you know. But I mean it has to be claimed by one person who was on the National Committee at one time but became a dissident—and then he became a dissident—he got thrown off, but is at the National Committee has all the income then—

I:          Membership.

FB:      a—membership to sustain us or dues from the membership.

I:          Was he particular?

FB:      No, he—well, of course, we knew that he had some—that was a millionaire—

I:          Some members were millionaires.

FB:      They was not members.

I:          Well, but they were supporters.

FB:      Supporters, yeah. They was not members.

I:          Well, do you suppose that those were the people that your informant was suggesting or do you suppose that the money came from still other supporters?

FB:      That is even wilder speculation.

I:          Well, wildly speculate.

FB:      Well, no, I really—

I:          You don't want to.

FB:      19:50  No, I don't want to do that, but I mean that—in other words, the whole organization was top heavy.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      I mean big on top but not on the ground. The party—it's of course we—I don't know whether we discussed it on these tapes that the whole Left has no constituency—

I:          Yeah, yeah. That's a problem. It has been a problem. So what happened subsequent to that '73 convention? You came back to Houston then—

FB:      We came back we recouped and we met at the branch meetings and we also had our tendency meetings.

I:          Was there any pressure on—by the other members of the Houston branch? Did they suggest, "All right, you people had your opportunity in the National Convention and you presented your points and your points got voted down. Now why don't you just shut up?" Was there that kind of—?

FB:      Well, that was usually the case but they did not put us—give an alternative. They did not pressure us. Well, of course, we organized—we kept on meeting and discussing and stuff like that and a fusion was taking place with two other tendencies—you know—being a national tendency def—or they had people end the internationalist tendency, which was the June 10 tendency, write their documents out.

I:          That is to support revolutionaries abroad and so on and so forth?

FB:      Well they had a different—they had a similar position on the national question—similar.

I:          Oh, on the black groups and the Chicano groups and so on.

FB:      So they would all be joined in one tendency from around the Palestinian question—they joined. There was sort of agreement. (inaudible) Then we—the question of Vietnam came up—we organized a conference. Of course, in the meantime, the people in Europe—there has been a shift away from us, and the point was we was ready to condemn the SWP as a worthless organization, but they said it's essentially a revolutionary organization. That was one point of contention within the tendency at the conference for which we got expelled. That whole deal proved to be the undoing of the whole expelled tendency.

I:          22:52  You got expelled when? In—

FB:      In July 4, 1974.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). How were you notified of that?

FB:      By hand-delivered letter.

I:          At your home?

FB:      Yeah. We found it sticking in the screen door.

I:          What did it say?

FB:      It said that the breakoff commission with political collaboration—I was no longer considered a member. This legal mumbo-jumbo—I was not a member of the SWP—I was a collaborator cause of the McCarran Act. Because a foreigner couldn't belong to any organization because they was attorney general's list.

I:          I see, but that was—hell, you'd been a member under those circumstances from the beginning.

FB:      Yeah. So anyways, that's—but we still have it laying around. So—

I:          So all of the Houston members of the tendency got similar letters or letters of expulsion.

FB:      Yeah.

I:          And then—this happened after or before?

FB:      It happened in 1974.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      24:34  In July of—that means—

I:          Just before the convention in August.

FB:      Before the educational conference—we couldn't go to the conference.

I:          You couldn't go?

FB:      No, we was no longer members. You had to have a—it was in the—'68 or something like that they—if you wanted to send in a coupon—if you wanted to attend the educational conference—send in a coupon and they sent me it back, "Yeah, glad to know before you request a party branch." And the party branch wouldn't recommend to let me go.

I:          So what did the members of the tendency do then when all of these hand-delivered—?

FB:      We met. We intervened on whatever struggle there was taking place on our own.

I:          25:37  But you never again attended a local SWP branch meeting?

FB:      No.

I:          Did your association with SWP members cease? Did any of them call you up to express their—?

FB:      No, no, no. There was some people who had also dropped out but they didn't agree with us, but dropped out.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative).

FB:      Over the period of years I kept—we was able to keep touch with—I got some people—one was an artist—I was able to badger him to do some certain kind of work for us or the committees I engage myself in.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). But the activities that you engaged in as individuals like the antiwar movement, occasionally, and probably more than occasionally, the SWP was also involved in those activities.

FB:      Oh yeah, but at that time—

I:          What happened when you ran into an SWP member?

FB:      26:49  At that time they—

I:          Would they smile? Would you shake hands?

FB:      Oh no. We'd barely say hello. But at that time the antiwar movement was already—

I:          Well, yeah.

FB:      by the board.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). So how did you feel? Was Laura a member of the SWP?

FB:      Yeah, the same as I.

I:          And she got this—the letter was to both of you.

FB:      No, either one of us—separate letter.

I:          Separate letters. Uh-hunh (affirmative). How did you feel about that, you and she?

FB:      Well, as a matter of fact, I felt sort of relieved—you know—I felt sort of a relief. I don't have to apologize for their—or explain away or keep my mouth shut if somebody says so and so and so and so. To me it was a relief that I never reapplied. Well, of course, the international told us to reapply for membership.

I:          When was that and why did that happen?

FB:      That happened in '76—something like that—you know—that the struggle turned out. The question was collectively or individually. Well, we would have heard if it would have been a collective decision—you know—that we was being accepted on behalf of—to the pressure of the international, then I probably would have gone back.

I:          Do you think it was international pressure that got—?

FB:      28:16  No. Well of course there was not enough pressure. It was done—anybody who went back to the SWP did it on an individual basis and he changed—

I:          Why, though, do you suppose that the SWP even give individuals the option to come back? There must have been a decision.

FB:      Oh there was—there was—it was negotiated and then that's the way the SWP interpreted that the agreement they made that the individual basis come back, and then when the people applied, they was put on probation. They changed the law in the meantime. Any member who had dropped out—was expelled or dropped out—for whatever reason—applies to the local branch—that application is forwarded to the Political Committee, and the Political Committee makes a decision whether the person is again subject to rejoin.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). But—

FB:      But there are penalties. In this case, for us, they changed the law—changed the rules and they put everybody on 3 months or longer—

I:          Probation.

FB:      —probation. So some people did that and on behalf of 4 of us, or 5 of us, I went up there and inquired about it.

I:          To where? New York City?

FB:      No, to the local organizer. He explained it to me and we be about 3 months but of course that would not guarantee the—

I:          Final acceptance.

FB:      —final acceptance. To make a long conversation short, I thanked them for it and back home and some of the people wondered why I never came back.

I:          Uh-hunh (affirmative). That's a good point to take a break. Obviously, we're gonna have to continue this again. I've enjoyed it very much as I'm sure the people who will subsequently use this tape for research.

FB:      30:33  There ought to be an addendum on the ending—activity antiwar.

I:          Oh yeah, I want to get into Blacks and Chicanos and the antiwar and other things as well, but we'll do that subsequently. In the meantime, thank you very much again.

[291.1_04 audio ends 30:49]