as an Urn
led to sett'
i which 1^
■ry walk I
cas on ** .
en. as aoM
"'fleet the character of the people. I lie simplest shopgirl
poked like one of Raphael's models.
I Was continually amazed to see the diversity and the
beauty of the past culture of the cities of Italy. Venice
*as unlike Florence. Verona and Bologna were a world
"Part from Rome. In this day, when there is so much talk
*boiit mass culture and so many worship, or are frightened
'"to, an acceptance of the idea of world government, I
'ook back to the joy I had in the past culture of these little
"ty-stalis and wonder if the art and architecture of our
"•ty will ever achieve the beauty of that of earlier times.
Beatrice and I went to Paris, where I picked up my mail
« the American Express office. Ruth fa classmate] bad
Cabled, "You passed both parts of the bar exam." My
"•Other and father wrote, "Come home. We are lonely
V-^ the boat returning home I met a group of New York
;;'ty schoolteachers, who told me they belonged to the
faclieis Union. I promised to join as an evidence of mv
JTUingness to throw in my lot with the working class, even
""'ugh I did not think the Union could be of help to me
hi New York I went to meetings of the Teachers Union.
"ere was much strife between groups seeking control.
, did not see why intelligent adults should struggle so
''"'d to control an organization which was in numbers
'"•'Il and insignificant. I was dumfounded to find distin-
sOished professors such as John Dewey and George Counts
"volvcd in the controversy. Later, when I understood
''it-Wing politics, I became aware of the significance of
The collapse of the stock market did not immediately
"'et my laniily for we had no money invested in stocks
lr bonds. Therefore it was not difficult for me to leave my
)st -it Hunter College in 1930 to serve a clerkship for my
. Jnission to the New York Bar. I worked at a nominal
,, was >"1
Ml'"'y in the office of Howard Hilton Spelhnan. who was
•Excellent lawyer and was writing several texts on corpo-
p saw a great deal of John Dodd whom I had met in
'"'"pc. John's family lived in Floyd County, Georgia.
"ne morning in late September, John and 1 were inar-
<('- I knew how devoted he was to the South and its
,°"ple. We went to visit his home. I had never been South
0rked jf themselves. The women worked as bard as the
i. People. Never after that Erst visit did I read morbid
those *>*! |
,o stand*'' I
was a le";"
'0re. John's people were not plantation owners nor did
ey have sharecroppers. They owned a lot of land and
0rkc-d it themselves. The women worked as bard as the
.i "• I was struck by the independence and stiirdiness of
)ple. Never after that first visit did I read morbid
ie '"'"-'I u re on the South without a sense of resentment at
e twisted picture it gave of a section which has great
., etvoirs of strength, based not on material wealth but on
integrity of its people
, ,y 1932 mv family felt tin
'art,,.. , . •
of the depression. My
. *-er's business had come to a standstill. John, too, was
(06etinK financial difficulties. I therefore decided to return
|. | '" '■■>• post at Hunter College.
"as stunned by the Fur) of the impact of the depres-
<>n my family and (hose around me. I watched the
P*ol pal,'-, pinched laces of people who stood before the
."S(d doors of the Bowery Savings Bank on Forty-second
■' ('''t- The) reminded me of the anxious faces I had seen
E Hamburg and Berlin a few years before. I saw men
°)vi"iisly once in good circumstances line Up around the
I obi Ivl Nl ws. September. 1956
block for soup and coffee at mission houses. I saw them
furtively pick up cigaret butts from the streets.
I had not been back at Hunter long before I found myself involved in discussions on the economic problems of
the staff below professorial ranks. Many instructors and
other staff members were underpaid and had no security
of tenure or promotion. We organized the Hunter College
Instructors Association and I became one of tbe leading
forces in it.
The election in 1932 of Fiorello LaGuardia as mayor was
to New York City what the Roosevelt administration was
to the country.
The recognition in 19-33 in Washington of the USSR
brought a tremendous change in the activities of the Communists on our college campus. Recognition brought respectability; it led to the organization of such groups as
Friends of the Soviet Union, which was led bv engineers
and social workers and which soon extended to the world
ol art and science and to education in general.
One hears a great deal about the influence of teachers
on their students. During this early period of communistic
influence on the campus, Hunter students and City College
students had a much greater effect on their teachers.
Almost overnight and seemingly from nowhere organization arose. Groups of the Young Communist League and
the League for Industrial Democracy — an organization
originating in England among the Fabians — appeared in
our midst, small dedicated bands of young people. This
soon led to mass groups.
I was very conscious of one thing: These organizations
were not springing up spontaneously; some creating group
w as behind them. But the student answer was spontaneous, immediate.
In the early thirties, people who were in unorthodox
movements, or who had lost their ties with society, were
pulled along bv the cyclonic fury of the Communist
movement. Without a positive program of their own, they
were drawn into thc well-integrated, well-financed move-
men! which was suddenly legalized with the American
recognition of the Soviet Union.
In preparing a country for revolution, the Communist
Party tries to enlist the masses, the unattached people;
they have less to lose and are first to capitulate to organized excitement. Many who were caught up in the Party,
either from need or from desire, included the unemployed,
the fighters against fascism, the foreign-born, the racial
and religious minorities. Even today I can understand tbe
at traction it had for intellectual proletariat. It was as if a
great family welcomed them as members.
I often marveled at the sacrifices made by these Communist Party members. In my classes at Hunter were
Young Communist Leaguers who would go without lunch
to buy paper and ink and other items for propaganda
leaflets. Their emaciated faces made my heart ache. Their
half-hearted participation in their studies, their frequent
cutting of classes, their sacrifice of academic standing to
fulfill some task assigned, were sad to see. I saw college
girls exploited by cold Party backs. Thev were expendable
— in their places would come other wide-eyed, eager
young people with a desire for sacrifice.
It was an infectious thing, this comradeship; it often
helped in dire need such as "rent parties," where Communists gathered money to pay the rent lor some comrade.
Personal aid did much to overcome the doctrinaire aridity