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Interview with: Dr. Ray K. Daily
Date: December 10, 1974
I: This is December 10, 1974. Thank you very much, Dr. Daily, for consenting to this interview. We appreciate it very much. I think we ought to just kind of start out here by—are you a native Houstonian?
RD: No, actually I’m not even a native of Texas. I was born in Lithuania and came to Denison, Texas, where I graduated high school.
I: Denison, Texas?
RD: Yeah, that’s in north Texas.
I: I’m from Dallas.
RD: Oh, I see.
I: What brought you to Houston?
RD: Well, I married a doctor who was practicing in Houston, so I came here because I was married to Dr. Lewis Daily. That was the choice of the city. He was already established.
I: Now you were a medical doctor?
RD: I am one.
I: Right. Where did you get your training?
RD: The University of Texas in Galveston.
I: How did you become interested in the schools in the city?
RD: That’s a story that— The thing that got me into work of this type was the Ku Klux Klan. It was early in the ‘20s. I don’t remember the exact date. The Ku Klux Klan had taken over Houston and the public schools. I had a lot of friends who were not (s/l Catholics), and all of a sudden, all of it cropped up. Your friends were members of the Ku Klux Klan and you just couldn’t understand it. It was not only a disappointing explosion of something, but it was something that was 01:51 (unintelligible) to understand the possibility of people who were your good friends and suddenly you find out that they’re working for the Ku Klux Klan as organizers.
I: 02:03.6 So the Ku Klux Klan was involved in the schools too, right?
RD: They took it over. Every member of the board was Ku Klux Klan. Everybody was—mayor of the city, Governor Sterling. His sister, Florence, who was a very good friend of mine, was head of the Ku Klux women’s division. And all this happened, and then I got into it—the feeling that we just had to do something. So we first nominated a friend of ours to be appointed. My first hard work was in electing Mr. Halcombe. But we worked for him very hard because he did not support the Ku Klux Klan.
I: Mr. Holcombe—Oscar Holcombe?
RD: Oscar Holcombe. And he was a friend of mine. I knew him very well. And then when he was elected, we got him to appoint— At that time the school board was appointed; it was not elected. So we got him to elect a friend of mine. That was Mrs. Goldman. She’s still alive, and she’s in San Francisco now. She was the first member of the 03:13 (unintelligible), and they appointed her on the school board. She was on the board until 1928. She was there 6 years. And then the school board changed to elected. In the meantime, they changed to an elected board instead of an appointed board. Then she didn’t want to run anymore. Then we had to find somebody who would run. So we tried to find someone to run. It was very difficult, so I decided to run myself.
I: So when the board was appointed, the mayor appointed the members.
RD: The mayor appointed members of the school board, that’s right.
I: So you decided to run then, and this was in 1928.
RD: Right, in 1928.
I: What sort of campaign was it?
RD: It wasn’t that hard because it was very small. It wasn’t nearly as large as it is now. We didn’t have as many people to get in touch with. I was very fortunate at having newspaper friends. We had the Houston Press, which is nonexistent now, and a man for whom Houston should really build a monument, which he deserves, but he never got. He was the director of the Houston Press, which was probably a Hearst publication. He fought the Klan. He was the only one who fought the Klan. And those Klan people tapped his telephone and did everything. He had to be protected from being killed. He was a good friend of mine. He supported me. The first support I got was from the Houston Press.
I: 05:02.3 What did one have to do in those days to get elected to the board?
RD: But there wasn’t too many people. Now it’s easier, perhaps, in a way, but you have to have a lot of money. At that time, we didn’t have any money to spend. I think three or four—three people there on the ticket, then we got elected and we all got together and beat the Klan. Now there was also Dr. Lee, who had died, and Mr. Hudson, who was the brother of (unintelligible). And I think each one was (unintelligible) a hundred dollars, and that was (unintelligible). We had a lot of volunteers that worked with us. But money wasn’t the problem.
I: Was there as much interest in the community in the school board then?
RD: Well, the Ku Klux Klan had plenty of interest. And the sad thing was that they had taken over the PTA. The Parent Teacher Association was all Ku Klux Klan. They had gotten a judge, who I knew very well. They just took the city. And it was a frightening experience. I was afraid of damage. You couldn’t understand how people that you thought were thinking—people who used judgment had become— And you know them. You think back about it, it was all fear, because they picked up people on the street and took them out. People were just afraid. One of the things we did at that time—there was one 06:35 (s/l morning). It was whites willing to work with us. It was Judge Love—we called him Judge. I don’t think he was really a judge; he was a lawyer—and Mrs. Love. Then we tried to get people who would come out in the paper and endorse us on the basis of being opposed to the Ku Klux Klan. And people were afraid to give their names, but they all will work for you. But people put our names in the paper, which was the nerve. They had everybody get fired.
I: So there was definitely a climate of fear?
RD: I think it was just fear, because those people were friends of mine for 10 years or longer. I was with them, they were at my house, and all of a sudden they were afraid to let me use their names.
I: How much connection was there between the Klan and the police, do you think? Do you think there was any—?
RD: Oh, I’m sure there was. (unintelligible) a job. It’s just like (unintelligible) or those people. When the head of the department is (with?) them, he holds his job.
I: Okay, so you won election to the school board.
RD: That’s right.
I: You were a school board member.
RD: First election.
I: What sort of things, in those days, did you concentrate on when you were on the board in the early period?
RD: Well, during the early period I was just very quiet and trying to find out what it was all about, which was easy. I think the (unintelligible) school board have had difficulties. (unintelligible). They were just young and inexperienced.
I: How many years was a person—? How long was a term then, do you remember?
RD: I’m trying to think now— I remember it was 2 years. At first it was 2 years, and then it was 6 years, and then it was cut down to every 4 years. I don’t remember the exact dates when the laws were changed.
I: In the late 1920s, when you were first elected—
RD: In 1928.
I: —to the board—
RD: I think it was for 2 years.
I: —was the school board—? Was school politics, in those days, split up between factions like it became in the ‘40s and ‘50s and ‘60s?
RD: Not quite the same type. You’ve got to remember that the school politics involves—not politics, but the school administration—involves a lot of money, and there’s a lot of money that doesn’t go the proper way. People go in—I mean—the real estate people are interested in the schools—where they’re built and how much they get for the land. The insurance people are interested because it gives an opportunity to a lot of people who will take out insurance (unintelligible). I don’t know. It’s business of that type. It has that future money in it.
I: 09:45.1 Were people as involved in the political ideologies of education as they were?
RD: I don’t think so, at that time, because it was established. It was an old pattern. The schools, up to about 19—when my friend was elected, she was the first—I don’t know. She was either 23 or 24 when she was—that was the first. Until then, the schools weren’t very good. The colored schools weren’t anything at all. The superintendant of education at that time didn’t believe in an awful lot of education for everyone. And most people of means sent their children away to prep schools. And the schools are— Basically, the whole game is the game of money. It costs money to run schools.
I: Now the business manager at that time, and for many years later, was Mr. Mills, right?
RD: Mr. Mills had been appointed during those years. He was appointed during those years.
RD: He was a friend of Mr. Holcombe’s.
I: Of Mr. Holcombe? As in the mayor?
RD: That’s right. The board was appointed by Mr. Holcombe.
I: What was Mr. Mills’ position in the schools in that early period? Was he a power in schools?
RD: He was very smart. He was a brilliant man. He was very smart, and he knew how to handle things. That’s the reason he was always on top.
I: Would you say that any particular faction of group controlled the schools at that particular time, other than the Klan period?
RD: No, but you see, we voted the Klan out.
I: Oh, I see.
RD: 11:37.2 They were not elected. We voted the Klan out. The four of us were elected at that time. That settled the issue of the Klan. The Klan was still very powerful, and they had a lot of members, but as far as the schools go, that didn’t go on anymore.
I: Did the Hobby’s have any role to play in this anti-Klan fight, as far as being governor?
RD: I’m just trying to think if they had—I don’t think they had the paper yet. I don’t think they had the paper yet. I’m sure I can’t tell you that.
I: What about Jesse Jones, do you know?
RD: Mr. Jones is a very good friend of mine. I wouldn’t say anything derogatory towards him because I understand people, and I can understand that Mr. Jones’ interest was politics that were going to help what you wanted to do. He wasn’t a man of ideology.
I: More of a pragmatic, practical type?
RD: That’s right. I can’t remember now. We had to use the press at that time. At one time, Mr. Jones owned the Chronicle. But I don’t know at that time whether he already owned the Post. Eventually, he sold the Post, or whatever arrangements were made with the (s/l house).
I: Did you know Mr. Cullen? (Speaking at same time)
RD: Oh, very well.
I: Was Mr. Cullen active in this period?
RD: I don’t think he was in at that time yet. Mr. Cullen, I think, at that time was still a very poor man just (unintelligible) for what he can. I don’t think his money came in until quite a bit later.
I: I see. Well, now—
RD: You have to remember that— You will let me cut out what I’m telling you.
I: Sure. You have complete control over everything you say.
RD: But you were dealing with people without any education at that time. But I was on the school board for many years. Most of the school board members felt that the man with a Ph.D. was a fool—that the master’s wasn’t worth 100 dollars more a year than anybody else. And the education was worth that much, because actually, the money that made Houston prosper was oil, and the oil people went to the third or fourth grade. (unintelligible).
I: 14:12.9 And still became wealthy?
RD: And still became wealthy. So it was that sort of appreciation of value. You could make a lot of money and didn’t need an education. (unintelligible)
I: You were on the board in ’28, and shortly thereafter, of course—
RD: The paper supported me. The Post supported me at that time through the advertisements. The Wiengarten establishment took care of advertising. So they were very influential. So I did get the support of the paper. And they had somebody always on the paper that was intelligent and understanding and perceptive of what was going on. But I came to—I don’t remember if Mr. Jones was interested in that election.
I: Well, now—
RD: He supported me all the time. I knew him after that very well.
I: Oh, really?
RD: And he supported me until the last election. But I was defeated and that was my fault because I should have gone up and seen Mr. Jones. I always felt like I should go see— I always went to see the editor of the Chronicle first, and then I’d see Mr. Jones. When I came to the editor of the Chronicle, he assured me that I had his support. Mr. Jones said, “Well, (s/l if I’m going to support like that, I’m going to have to pay my bills?).” Somewhere abouts like that. (unintelligible) and then I felt, why should I go bother Mr. Jones? And I didn’t hit him up since.
I: Very interesting.
RD: Just the little mistakes.
I: Right. Let me ask you this: No sooner were you on the school board in ’28 than, of course, the Depression began.
RD: We hit the Depression; that’s right.
I: How was it to be on the school board and trying to make policy for the schools, and money, during the Depression?
RD: 16:25.6 It was very difficult. Of course, you were controlled by the banks. You have to realize that I think now that if I was a municipal expert— if my degree was that instead of medicine—if it was in government, I probably would have known about this. Every city—not only in Texas, but I think everywhere—there’s a lot of money in interest to pay—the taxes, because you’re borrowing money all year, then our taxes come in in January and they would pay things. But in the meantime, we paid a lot of money in interest. Now if it was set up to earn money that we collected, we’d save a lot of money. But I wouldn’t know how this would be done because I’m just not an expert on governmental management. But I believe that every city in the United States (unintelligible) all the money they have. We’re always running our cities on bonds, which is future payment, and that carries interest. And the government that owes a lot of money, they’re paying interest, and the school did the same thing.
I: Was there a great shortage of funds for running the schools?
RD: To the point that they were borrowing money, you see. We came to borrow money—it was in 1930 or ’32. The bank informed us they were only going to lend us so much, so our budgets were established not by us, but by the banks.
I: I see.
RD: The banks had all the—(speaking at same time).
I: According to how much money you knew you could borrow?
RD: But I don’t know that— That’s right. We figured we could get more money on our taxes, but most people didn’t pay their taxes. That’s what the bank said, which is possible. So they set our budget. They cut us, I think, for—you see, the reason I want to check on this before I want you to use it is because I don’t want to give you false information. I’m not sure whether it was five and half cut to four million or whether it was six cut to four million. When you suddenly have to make a big cut like that, you have to decide how you’re going to do it.
I: Where do you cut?
RD: Where do you cut it? And I thought it was terrible because our teacher’s salaries are the first thing. I talked to Mr. Johnson about it, and that’s the thing, I had to tell him myself. And you see, Mr. Jones just couldn’t. He’d tell us to fire him. For people had a lot of money—didn’t have it. He thought it would be easier on poor people, the cuts, than it was for the people that would suddenly find themselves without money. Now (unintelligible) put in that position, but that was just (s/l an adjective). And then, of course, we exploited the teachers. We made them work longer hours. And the greatest exploitation was the colored people, to whom the shorter hours were to come to school at 9:00 and work until 11:00 and work from 2:00 to 4:00. The two middle hours, they couldn’t go home anyway, so they stayed. They stayed the whole day.
I: 19:54.0 How much did—? While you were on the board during the Depression, were you forced to cut back on books and materials for the schools and everything?
RD: I don’t remember that particularly because as a member of the board, you can’t afford to spend all your time on those details.
I: The (unintelligible) really takes care of things like that.
RD: That’s right. (__ merger?) They don’t want to decide what you’re going to do. But when it comes to general policies— And then, they paid men higher salaries than women, which I objected to all the time, naturally.
I: Did you object to—?
RD: Oh, yeah, I objected to all of that. Of course, you had several people on the board, so one vote carries the decision.
I: Do you remember what was the explanation from your other colleagues?
RD: Well, we just didn’t have the money was a good excuse, but it was just an excuse.
I: And excuse for paying women less than men?
RD: Well, they didn’t need so much.
I: Oh, the women didn’t need so much?
RD: They didn’t need so much. Men had families to support. Most women didn’t have families to support. And they paid colored people only two-thirds of the salary.
I: Two-thirds of the white salary?
RD: The white salary.
I: I see.
RD: 21:08.1 That was just a policy I found on the board when I came there. It was a policy when I came on the board, and then when I questioned it, nothing was being discussed about it as we went on, but eventually we changed it.
I: How would you evaluate the treatment of the black schools during this Depression period?
RD: It was more different than the (s/l different black people at white schools that lived here?). It was a pattern in which everybody grew up. It always irritated me when we’d have a Ph.D. on the school who was black and they’d have to call them by their first name. Nobody ever called a colored person mister or missus. It was Mabel or Jim. It bothered me. As a consequence, whenever there was anything to be presented in a colored school, I was always assigned to do it, and I was glad to do it. I dedicated Wheatley High School.
I: Oh, you dedicated Wheatley High School?
RD: I shook hands with the colored teachers (unintelligible) school board.
I: Oh, you mean the other school board members wouldn’t shake hands?
RD: No, they didn’t shake hands with colored people.
I: Very interesting.
RD: Where were you born?
I: I was born in Dallas.
RD: Wasn’t it the same thing?
I: Oh, very same thing, and will even—
RD: I thought that Dallas was worse than we were.
I: Oh, even up until very recently. It’s still latent.
RD: 22:38.8 I think that Dallas is worse than we were. I have nothing against Dallas.
I: Okay, now, after the Depression years, how did the war affect the schools?
RD: 22:58 (unintelligible) the Depression.
I: Well, how did the war itself affect the schools? Oh, you mean the money?
RD: The money. Actually, I think it was all the United States. It was the game of money. If you wanted to have an education, you had to pay for it. If you don’t pay for it, you just don’t get it.
I: During the Depression, do you recall any cooperation with any of the New Deal Programs with the school board—any WPA or any of this?
RD: WPA? Let’s see. We didn’t have anything to do with the WPA related to us. Yes, we did. I’m sorry. We had a very good horticulturist—landscape architect—. And she came to the schools and offered to landscape our schools. We had a lot of fighting about it, because she was a divorced woman. One of the members of the board objected to divorced women.
I: Do you remember who that was?
RD: (Laughs) I think he’s died since. He was a big man. And there was something about some Catholic (unintelligible). I can’t remember. But she did some of our schools. She did some of them, and some of the schools she did were very nice.
I: Was there more of a criticism for doing that because of her personal background or because it was WPA?
RD: No, not WPA, I don’t think. Mostly it was largely objected to the (s/l Catholic) part. And I don’t know exactly where that came in. I don’t think she was. I don’t think she was (Catholic??). But the fact that she was divorced and her husband was in the war. He sent her a telegram that he wanted the money that she was earning, which had something to do with the position of women. Women didn’t have any rights in those days either. It was some obligation of this sort. I’d have to look somewhere before I can really go into detail.
I: 25:28.5 During the war—during the ‘40s—did the board—do you recall—?
RD: They were not cooperating. There was a fight on the board, because they didn’t like Roosevelt. There were three or four members that were fighting. I remember one of the (unintelligible) they had no intention of accusing anybody of anything. I said something about (unintelligible). We were supposed to establish a class for cooks(?), and board members didn’t want to cooperate with Mr. Roosevelt. I said something about it. Mr. Mills supported it too. There was a big headline, “Dr. Daily chooses Mr. Mills not supporting the war.” I felt very badly about that because I didn’t really accuse anybody of anything. I think I was president of the board at that time. (Unintelligible)
I: Did you serve on the board at this time? Did Mrs. Hogg—?
RD: She came in—let me see. She was elected in ’48. I’d have to check and see. She was elected after the war.
I: But she was on there during the ‘40s?
RD: It was ’42, I think. I think it was ’42 that she was elected. She was elected for six years, so it was ’48. That’s right. Then she didn’t run anymore.
I: Was she identified with any of the factions?
RD: No. Mrs. Ima Hogg is still alive. I don’t want to say anything about her. She’s a very fine person. She’s a very, very fine person, and she’s very generous to things she believes in. She deserves a lot of credit for the Houston Symphony. But she’s not capable of working with a group where there’s a lot of difference of opinions, where there is a lot of very clever maneuvering. They just took her in. She was taken in. She ran against the group, and then when she was elected, she decided—turn this off if you don’t mind.
I: Oh, okay. Now, for many years, you served on the board with a gentleman by the name of Dr. Henry Peterson.
RD: Oh, yes. He and I are very good friends. He was a very interesting character.
I: This is what I wanted to ask you about—an evaluation of Dr. Peterson.
RD: He came from the state of Maine. Maine didn’t have any medical colleges. He was educated at Johns Hopkins. He was very well educated. He was educated to be a brain surgeon. And when he came here, we didn’t have any brain surgeons; he was the first one. I think if he would have stuck it out he would have done very well, but there just wasn’t enough brain surgery at that time. (Phone ringing) And medically, I think he was disappointed in his career. He didn’t make a living so he went into general surgery, and he did very well. But to me, he was always frustrated. He was always frustrated, so he was also aligned with a group of frustrated people.
I: 29:27.0 He was originally a brain surgeon then?
RD: He was trained in brain surgery at Hopkins, and I think if he came here today he would have been very successful, because brain surgeons—we have several and they are doing very well. When he came here, he was the only one who wanted to start it. His technique wasn’t developed yet as well. It was a new field. So he became a general surgeon, and he did very well.
I: But he wasn’t happy with what he was doing?
RD: Well, I think he would have been— I don’t know what else would make him frustrated. It was interesting, though. At the end of all these years, his son-in-law and his daughter voted for the liberals. But when you talk to people, he was himself. We had lunch together in the lunchroom—you know—lunch hours. We were in the same building—the medical building. It was mostly doctors in the lunch room. He was always liberal, and then when it would come to a vote, he voted a different way.
I: Why do you think that?
RD: Well, because I think he was just frustrated. He became a great friend of Mr. Mills, and he supported— There was big fight there for a long time with the superintendent and the business manager. Now I don’t think the superintendent had made (unintelligible). The money part, the inspectors(?) always dealt with the business manager. And actually, The Post had finally just exposed Mr. Mills and he resigned and all this. Now we knew about it before.
I: But you just—?
RD: We couldn’t do anything. At least—I can’t tell you how many years it was, but it must have been— I’d have to check. Mrs. Coop(?) was elected at the same time that I was. We were good friends while working together. And she was always voting with the liberal side. And Mr. Mills was smart enough to get rid of her, offering her a job in his office. She wasn’t poor, but the income meant something to her, and she didn’t think that she could turn it down. So she resigned from the school board, and started working in his office. Then she found out everything that was going on. Is this going down?
I: Okay, Dr. Daily, could I ask you about the ’52 election in which you were defeated?
RD: I was running against—she was not Mrs. McGregor yet; she was unmarried.
I: 32:18.2 Mrs Dale Dyer?
RD: That’s right. There was a third man running—a third member running for election. When we came to collect our places(?) we never saw him. He never showed up, attended meetings for election—you know—where you make speeches for people. Nobody have ever met him. When the vote was— I had 80,000 votes, she had 85,000 votes, and this man had 17,000 votes—who never existed. Now this had to be done by the people that counted the votes.
I: You mean you never knew the person who was running?
RD: He never existed. Nobody ever knew him. Nobody ever found him.
I: He had no address?
RD: Nobody ever found him.
I: Who filed for him, do you know?
RD: I think Mr. Mills handled all that, I’m sure.
I: Very interesting. And he never surfaced?
RD: He never surfaced.
I: And he drew 17,000 votes?
RD: He drew 17,000 votes. You know when you count your votes— When I first ran for election in 1928, one of these constables was supporting me said, “Now don’t you worry about our district. I’m counting them.”
I: That was a very interesting election anyway. The campaign itself was very interesting.
RD: Well, it wasn’t really such a strong campaign. I was so sure of my election because, as I said, the editor of the Chronicle, Mr. Jones, said they were going to elect him. I never bothered to go him, which I think was a trick(?) because then they didn’t support.
I: 34:25.0 Did school board candidates have to go and pay their dues and their respect to Mr. Jones?
RD: Well, everybody—I don’t think if they weren’t introduced to him, no. But everybody went to the papers to ask for support. That was just routine if you were running for election. Today, everybody— Because the important thing is to know—if your papers are going to support you, there’s so much you don’t have to do. If the papers aren’t going to support you, you maybe spend money on television or on radio or you go see a lot of people. But if you know the papers are going to support you and you feel I’ve been here so long and have always been elected with the top votes, well, I didn’t think I needed to do anything, and I didn’t. I had some personal trouble. My husband died that year, and I was depressed, but I don’t think that kept me from working for it. But those 17,000 votes—you know—votes were taken from me. I know that.
I: At the time, you were running on slate with other candidates. The paper referred to it as the “Daily Slate.” The slate you ran against was referred to as the “Peterson Slate.”
RD: It was Mr. Mills. He didn’t run at that time. He didn’t run at the same time.
I: I was thinking that—
I: Jim Hippard ran against Dr. Peterson.
RD: He was elected. No, maybe not.
I: It was my understanding that Jim Hippard ran against Dr. Peterson—(speaking at same time)—and Peterson defeated Hippard.
RD: That’s right. But it was Mr. Mill’s slate he was running against.
I: Were the candidates on the Mills slate Dr. Peterson and Dyer, Mrs. Earl Maughmer and Audrey Calvin?
RD: That’s right. Aubrey Calvin was running against me. No, that was the year before. That was the election before that. But I ran against Aubrey Calvin before. One year you ran three and one year four.
I: As I recall, the ’52 election was Calvin, Maughmer, Dyer, and Peterson against yourself and Mr. Hippard. I don’t recall if—
RD: Mrs. (unintelligible) was running. She was elected. Now, Mrs. Maughmer was running against us. But Mrs. Maughmer was elected.
I: Much later.
RD: Much later. Next time. That’s right.
I: 37:19.5 This campaign was very interesting in that during this period—this was the same period that the post World War II Red Scare was in full—
RD: That’s true. That was a good thing. But they always used that against me. They always accused me of being a Communist because I supported adult education for which the state doesn’t pay, I supported vocational education for which the state doesn’t pay—you know—all these.
I: There was quite a bit of talk about creeping socialism.
RD: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Mrs. Maughmer was (unintelligible). She would stand up there and she would say that we believed in— I can’t quote her. But whatever it was that we believed in, it was socialism and socialism was communism. That was always the gist of whatever she was talking about. She was a very ignorant person. There was just nothing to criticize her for. She had something to say and she said it. She had no education.
I: But you think that the others were not sincere in their Red Scare?
RD: They knew exactly what they were doing. They knew what they were doing.
I: You said that you were friends with Dr. Peterson. Did you ever have conversations with him about that Red Scare thing?
RD: I talked to him all the time. He just laughed at it.
I: And he would laugh at it personally?
RD: Yeah, he laughed at it personally.
I: But he knew it was a very impractical thing to be doing?
RD: I just said, “Well, Pete, how could you do that?” Well, to me, I don’t take things personally. Anything I didn’t vote for—you know—I did vote for, I didn’t take it personally. Now some board members took all these things personally. If you didn’t support them, they felt that you were voting against them. But I wasn’t that way, and I don’t think Pete was that way.
I: 39:23.2 You had— Some of the school board meetings were pretty combative and argumentative.
RD: Oh, yeah. Those last few years it was terrible. If we didn’t, we’d just give up everything we did in the schools. We got a board, like Mr. Delmont who was presenting (__ Company?) and they wanted to eliminate visiting teachers and (unintelligible). It was just a matter of cutting down expenses and spending money. And Mr. Jefferson was just interested in the athletic department. That was the most important thing to him, was football.
I: This is (s/l Hoger) Jefferson?
RD: That’s (s/l Hoger) Jefferson. (unintelligible).
I: Stone(?) Wells took over after you left the board?
RD: That’s right. I wasn’t there at the meeting. He was a lobbyist for (unintelligible). Oil represented big money. They just didn’t want to pay for it.
I: Well, you were on the board when the board hired Dr. George (Eden?), were you not?
RD: Yes, but he was on the board just before the 1952 election. He was there, I think, maybe 2 years.
I: But he was hired that summer before he ran for election in November?
RD: That’s right.
I: But you were on the board. You were the one— You voted for his contract?
RD: I voted for his contract, and I voted for him when they attacked him.
I: 41:05.07 What do you think that was all about?
RD: That was Mrs. Dyer and her group. That was the men at work. I think some of them are probably— I can’t believe— She was educated, you know. I’m not sure, but I think she was a Rice graduate. And she knew better, but some of these other women with her were just uneducated people. You could scare them easily enough. They took out all the good books we had in the school. They just took them out of the school.
I: And there was controversy—?
RD: For the experience, just for the fun of it. (inaudible; noise on tape)
I: Let me ask you about this 1952 election, all this talk about creeping socialism and red books in the schools you feel was just a practical, pragmatic, political maneuver?
RD: People were just using something against you. (Unintelligible) these stories spread about you—you know—was that I was a Jew and Ms. Ima was an old maid.
I: Did you have a lot of anti-Semitic—?
RD: I don’t think it was. It was just something like this other story. I think it was the same thing as the political thing.
I: Did you ever have any idea where that type of thing originated—the anti-Semitic part of it?
RD: That was just something to use against you because you were Jewish. But it all came— I think it all came from the people that don’t want to pay for their education.
I: Are you acquainted with the Ross Biggers—or Anne Biggers—the printers here in town?
RD: No. Let me see.
I: Mrs. Biggers was the chairman of—(speaking at same time).
RD: Mr. Biggers did all the printing. His printing company did all the printing of this stuff. They handled all the printing for this group. These were all the people for better education—American education.
(Speaking at same time)
I: You mean to establish American education?
RD: That’s right. This was a group of people. And they were financed. They didn’t have any money. They were financed by some people who had money. And the people that paid for these things just didn’t want the taxes raised. They didn’t want any money to spend. I don’t feel it was anti-Semitism, actually. I think it was just a protection against spending money.
I: 43:40.6 Now, Mrs. Dyer ran against you. One of her charges in that campaign was—
RD: Was that I didn’t attend the meetings, which was just a joke.
I: Do you want to elaborate anymore on that?
RD: I was there all the time, except when I went to medical meetings. I was practicing medicine, and I went to a lot of medical meetings, but I didn’t miss many meetings at the school.
I: This was one of her main criticisms.
RD: Well, she just said that—(speaking at same time)
I: True or not—
RD: I’m trying to think of what else she said. She said that they believed in American education.
I: Did you ever try—?
RD: They accused me of going—I did; I went every year—to the National Education Association because I enjoyed it. I went there for pleasure. You heard people—you know—bring up intellectual. I particularly enjoyed Mr. Dewar(?) at the conference, the superintendent. When you went through in detail, all the education that’s required of teachers and superintendants and you (unintelligible), I’d see why the differential was so great. Because their education was very different. The superintendants, they got 80,000 a year and the teachers got a thousand. I thought that was (unintelligible). I remember that.
I: 45:11.6 How would you evaluate Mr. Oberholser as a superintendant?
RD: Well, he was a good superintendant. He wasn’t as smart as Mr. Mills, but he wouldn’t have let them get away with all of that. See, he came here as superintendant of the schools (unintelligible). And while he was here, they gave him enough time—that was before I even got on the board—to pay someone(?) at Columbia University, where he got his Ph.D. (unintelligible) as far as he’s concerned. He’s responsible for the University of Houston. That was his idea. We had a hard time putting that over.
I: What part did you play in that?
RD: I played a big part in it. I lost very badly, because I supported—of course, I won University of Houston. We had to fight first for having it. And then we didn’t have any money. (uintelligible) The teachers would (unintelligible). The people the public school employed (unintelligible) for teaching. First it was a junior college, and they gave the time free for the junior college, which was very a generous contribution, but there were a lot of teachers with very poor education. There are still teachers (unintelligible) about where they come from. And not on their education, not on their qualities. So it was good. The junior college really helped a lot. And then when we made a four-year university out of it, it gave them a degree with some standing. That was the purpose of the university, from his point of view. And then Mr. Cullen got into it. That’s a nice story, too, that I wouldn’t like to publish just yet. Mr. Cullen’s daughter went to Rice. She told Mr. Cullen that they were teaching atheism at Rice. That was a teacher of philosophy. Mr. Cullen thought it was a terrible school. Dr. Oberholser assured him that we wouldn’t be teaching atheism at the University of Houston. He was ready to help. And so he paid for the first building they had. The first building was—The man who was killed in a wreck—an oil wreck.
(Break in tape)
RD: After we established the university and Mr. Cullen gave us the money for the building, he just wanted to separate the university from the school—you see, it belonged to the Houston School District. He wanted them separate. So the University would not belong to us. And the land for the university was 150 acres. It was given by Mr. Ben Taub. (Unintelligible) people gave us all the land. (Unintelligible). And then he paid for the building. And that (unintelligible) for a couple of years, but then they wanted to separate it. The board supported him and so did the Chamber of Commerce—to separate the university from the public schools. That was after we had gotten the—Channel 8—the first fight on Channel 8 was a fight about that. This was afterwards. And that had to be done through Austin—through the legislature—to allow the separation. And in the article, which (unintelligible) the separation was that the board would hire the other teachers—the professors. Myself and some people interested in education thought that that was not a safe thing—that they should be hired by the superintendant. So we went to Austin, and we all spoke in front the legislative committee. The Chamber of Commerce presented Mr. Cullen’s idea—that the board should be responsible for the teachers—for these professors. And there was a group of us who went up there and talked against that. We felt that the board was not qualified to judge the qualities of educators. So we were opposed to the separation for that reason. Well, it carried anyway. But I’ll say this of Mr. Cullen, he never took it out on me at all, because after the election in ’48, he (inaudible; noise on tape).
I: Oh, did he?
RD: That’s right. And he called me up the morning after the election and he said, “From now on you’ve got to fire Mr. Mills.”
I: Oh, Mr. Cullen was for firing Mr. Mills?
RD: Mr. Mills was cutting us, you see.
I: Oh, I see.
RD: And he wanted me to fire Mr. Mills. Well, it wasn’t my idea. But he was—
I: What kind of man was Mr. Cullen?
RD: Well, he was very kind and nice and very uneducated. (unintelligible). He was afraid. One of the cutest things I’ve seen was when he got up when one of the platforms were making speeches when they inaugurated universities. (Unintelligible) what to teach. He said, “You teach the people.” He thought—“Well, what did you teach?” But he was basically a very kind person.
I: Who did he—during the—?
RD: But he was very prejudice. He was anti-Semitic, basically. He was just afraid of them. He thought that all Jews were liberals. But he was very nice to me.
I: 51:28.1 Did he believe in this Red Scare thing?
RD: Oh, yes. He was scared. Oh, yes. He really believed it. It was just not a political tool. He really was scared of it. You could see that. If they want something, they are poor, but I first knew them when they couldn’t pay their bills. I think he (unintelligible). He just got tremendous wealth.
I: This sudden wealth?
RD: 51:59 This sudden— Then again, when you get (unintelligible) just like a volcanic—explodes like this.
I: Was Mr. Cullen one of your patients?
RD: No, he was not, but I took care of his daughter.
I: Did you know the Hobbys?
RD: Oh, very well. I knew them very well. Mrs. Hobby came here first as a secretary for Mrs. Florence Sterling before the Ku Klux Klan. Florence Sterling was very active in the suffrage movement and so was I. And after we were established, then the Humble Company was—Florence Sterling was an executive for Humble, which was actually a part of (uintelligible). And she came here first as a secretary. I’ve known her ever since.
I: What about Governor Hobby himself?
RD: I know he was a very nice person. He supported me all the time.
I: What about his politics? How would you characterize them?
RD: Well, he was a typical Texas politician. I don’t know enough about state politics and how they work, but they all tend to come in poor and get out rich. I don’t know about the politics or which part brings you money. I know how it does schools. It’s the land you buy for schools. You support the bond issue and then you buy land. There is tremendous (grant?) in that part and other places.
I: What about superintendant Moreland?
RD: He was just really not qualified. He was a nice person.
I: Not qualified in what way?
RD: I mean he was not qualified to be superintendant of schools. He wasn’t educated enough for that. He had no training in administration. He was a principal, and he was a good principal. And he’s a very fine person. But to run a big school system, which has a budget of 6 million dollars, or 8 million dollars, you have to have some training.
I: Why do they call him a weak administrator?
RD: That’s why he was weak, because he didn’t know anything about it. He just didn’t know, you see.
I: Why did he continually receive the criticism of the (unintelligible) which is he was constantly called a liberal. Was he really al liberal?
RD: 54:24.2 No, he wasn’t. Mr. Moreland wasn’t liberal. He just tried to run the schools to satisfy several people which were (unintelligible). It was very difficult. He was very badly treated.
I: Did you know Mr. Alvis Parish with the Houston Lighting and Power Company?
RD: Yes. Oh, sure. He was a friend of Dr. Peterson.
I: Did he have any role whatsoever in the school policies or running the schools?
RD: All big business did. All big business—
I: What was the connection between big businesses in Houston and the schools?
RD: They distributed the money for the campaign for (unintelligible) education. They paid for all of it.
I: And Mr. Parish was Dr. Peterson’s patient?
RD: A friend of his. I don’t know if he was his patient or not, but they were good friends.
I: But you don’t know that Mr. Parish directly involved himself in school policies?
RD: 55:27.5 I don’t think he directly involved himself in school policies. Do you know anything about our Tax Research Association?
RD: Well, they were being supported by the same money. It was their job to see the taxes were low.
I: What about Mrs. Rogers? What was her school board—?
RD: She was a part of the school board. She didn’t have any money. She had nothing to lose. She was not obligated to anybody. She was very liberal.
I: She was quite active in democratic politics, wasn’t she?
RD: Oh, yes. She was very much for Lyndon Johnson. She was interested in that. She was very liberal. She came from—where did she live? I can’t remember now whether it was Mississippi or—
I: I think it was Alabama.
RD: Alabama, that’s right. She ended up being a big Baptist. (Unintelligible).
I: Wasn’t she very active in the YWCA or something like that?
RD: I don’t know whether she was ever on the board of the YWCA.
I: But she was an activist also, I think, wasn’t she, in civil rights?
RD: She belonged to a liberties union. And let me see—she was a liberal in everything. She wasn’t obligated to anybody. She wasn’t afraid. There was nothing anybody could do to her.
I: What about Jack Tucker? Did you know Jack Tucker?
RD: He was on the school board. But I never knew him well enough to know— He didn’t stay there long. (Phone ringing)
(End of interview 57:20)