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Title: Roger Daniels Interview II
Narrator: Roger Daniels
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 21, 2013
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-415-6

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TI: Before we go there, I'm curious, with your union work, what were views about different races during this time, in the labor unions and how they dealt with this?

RD: I had some learning and unlearning to do. We didn't get into the family moving around, but we had moved to Arizona, that was for my father's health. My mother couldn't stand it, so we then moved to Coral Gables, Florida, bought a house there. And this was in 1933. The only thing... I have vague memories of living in Tucson. I remember the mountain outside the town with a big A on it for the University of Arizona. Did I say Phoenix?

TI: You said Tucson.

RD: Yes, I should have said Tucson. Good. The only thing I remember about the trip to Florida was that we crossed the Mississippi River not on a railroad bridge, but on a barge. And my father went into the train, we had a compartment, and my father woke me up out of bed and took me out so I could see the river, the huge river, which was foggy. It could have been an ocean as far as I was concerned. But I somehow have a memory of that. And I have a couple of memories of him. The most important thing that happened with my father -- but I don't have a memory of it, I've just been told about it -- was that he took me down to Bayfront Park, which was a park in Miami, in 1933, in January, to see the President-elect. And we were there -- remember, I have no memory of this -- but I've written about it. Because that was when this man took a shot at Roosevelt and managed to kill the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak. The one thing I remember was after Roosevelt was serving as President, and all the banks were closed, my father driving his tremendous car -- we'd just, had not been long in Coral Gables -- driving this tremendous car, nine-passenger touring car, a little gas station, and my father didn't have any money. And the banks are all closed, and the guy in the gas station doesn't know him. And he's negotiating and willing to leave an expensive watch there for a little gas. The guy looks at him, looks at the car, looks at me, asked my father's address, and he gives it to him, that's in a fancy neighborhood in Coral Gables. So the guy eventually gives him gas, and it doesn't seem to... my memory is that he didn't take the watch. And, of course, the banks were open soon and my father could do that. And shortly thereafter, he went into a hospital and then never came back. We moved from that big fancy house to a smaller but still sizeable house in Miami itself, right in the middle of what's now Little Havana. And the house had a small apartment attached to it, and we rented that, usually in the winter, and that was income. My mother had, my father had life insurance, pretty good life insurance. My mother got a check for a hundred and twenty-three dollars every month, and in 1933 that was pretty good money. The average income was much less than that. And she owned property, income-producing property, so we were clearly reasonably well-off, middle class. She never drove a car, so we had no car. I guess we sold the [inaudible], probably for a good piece of money.

And then I was sent off to prep school for a couple of years. I think she had been persuaded or maybe persuaded herself that I needed some discipline. Be that as it may, I don't know, but I had two good years at that place, and then started school in New York, high school in New York, which I didn't like. And the war was on, and I was interested in doing something, so I just... I assumed it was legal to do so, tenants laws were only 'til sixteen. So I dropped out of school and had some jobs, and then we talked about the rest. I'd made arrangements, or had introduction, to people in the warehousemen's union, that's one of Harry Bridges' unions. And they worked out a great deal for me, a job on the docks, on the raw docks where the sugar boats came in, where I'd work three ten-hour night shifts a week and on weekends, and take home about seventy-five dollars, which was very, very good money in those days. And that meant I could study. And the third day on the job before the university opened -- I'd gotten in with an entrance exam -- there was an industrial accident. I walked away from it, no problem, and then three days later I went down with a bad back. Had problems with the... had to have an operation for a disc. Couldn't get it there, we didn't have the money. So I took a bus back to New York, went out to a hospital on Welfare Island, now Roosevelt Island, and I was in the hospital there and had an operation from a fine surgeon. But I could no longer do that kind of work. I went back to San Francisco, and I'm now, actually, an adult. I turned twenty-one about the time of my operation, but I hadn't been able to vote for Truman because my birthday's the first of December, and I was twenty-one on the first of December, 1948. So I couldn't vote in that election. So it was a long time before I was able to vote for a candidate who won. I later lost my political heart to Adlai Stevenson.

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