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Jack Adair, April 21, 1993

Adair Mix Headline

Philadelphia Gay News report on the death of Jack Adair and John S. Mix. From PGN, 1 September 1995, p3.

by Marc Stein. Copyright © Marc Stein 2009. All rights reserved.

Introduction

I interviewed Jack Adair in April 1993 at his home in Silverlake, Los Angeles. I believe well-known lesbian activist Barbara Gittings provided me with Adair's contact information after I expressed interest in the Radnor raid, which is discussed below. I was able to interview Adair during a research trip to southern California. Two months after our interview, Adair provided me with the following biographical information:

Date of Birth: 22 September 1938

Place of Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Place of Mother's Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mother's Occupation: Educator

Place of Father's Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Father's Occupation: Musician and Insurance Broker

Race/Ethnicity: White

Religious Background: Roman Catholic

Class Background: Upper Class

Residential History

20 Years: Rosemont, Pennsylvania (118 Hickory Lane)

6 Years: Radnor, Pennsylvania (583 County Line Road)

21 Years: Philadelphia (316 St. James Place)

5 Years (1988-93): Rancho Mirage, California

Work History

3 Years: Clerk, A&P Tea Company

2 Years: Sales Clerk, Strawbridge

4 Years: Radiologic Technologist, Albert Einstein Medical Center

2 Years: Radiologic Technologist, Episcopal Hospital

3.5 Years: Radiologic Technical Advisor, Temple Medical Center

10 Years: Instructor, Department Chair, Dean, School President, Franklin School of Science and Arts

2 Years: School Director, President, Lyons Technical Institute

10 Years: Chairman, Department of Medical Imaging, Hospital Administrator, Giuffre Medical Center

Adair and his partner John S. Mix were killed in their Rancho Mirage, California, home in August 1995. For further details, see Philadelphia Gay News, 1 Sep. 1995, 3, 8. Please note that I was not able to confirm some of the details in Adair's account of the Philadelphia homophile movement and gay organizing more generally in the 1960s and 1970s; see my book City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves for my interpretations and conclusions.

Interview Transcript

Marc Stein Interview with Jack Adair, 21 April 1993. Transcribed by Kate Wilson and Marc Stein.

MS: Can you tell me about your growing up years, your childhood, your family, that sort of background information?

Main Line, Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Main Line.

JA: Well I was born in Philadelphia and my family moved to Rosemont, Villanova, Pennsylvania back when I was about three years of age. And I always felt that I was gifted in that my father was part of the big band era and had played with Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and Harry James and Glen Miller and had his own orchestra through all of that time, right up, in fact, as part of the armed forces. He was drafted and his whole orchestra went with him to perform for the troops throughout the world. So I was of a socially prominent family in that area, on the Main Line, and grew up and went to school at St. Thomas of Villanova grade school and then high school in the city.

MS: A private high school?

JA: My family very much wanted me to have a mainstream Catholic education. And though I applied for and was accepted at St. Joe's, they really wanted me to be less sheltered, in a way, and so I went to West Catholic High School for Boys at 49th and Chestnut.

MS: So your family was Catholic?

JA: Yes.

MS: And what year were you born?

JA: 1938. September 22nd, so I'm 54 and a half at the moment. And you have to take the circumstances of the day and the times. Children were seen and never heard. I grew up with a family that was really into should and ought and would, which was a very rigid lifestyle. And though I had all the material things that any child could ask for and probably more than was needed, there was a corresponding deficit of love. I guess love was equated at that time with providing very well for your children. You could have dance lessons or piano lessons. You could be a poet because your father was a bricklayer or whatever, much like Jack Kelly's situation in Philadelphia. But nonetheless, what had happened to me in early childhood was that I was identified as a sissy at about the age of four and a half, as far as we can go back, and was given the wonderful name of Dolly when I was in grade school. And I grew up with that and I was sexually abused from age four and a half by kids that were teens. Certainly they had pubic hair and I'd never seen that before. I didn't have it, so that was something new to me.

MS: You were telling me earlier about how that first started with your friend down the street. Can you tell that story here?

JA: I had a girlfriend, Nancy Bradley, who lived down the street and we played house. And we would push her little stroller, her doll coach, up and down the street. And that's how I really got the name Dolly because of playing with dolls. The kid up the street, Michael McPike, was really the one that did all of this. Gave me the label and it carried through. He was in my class. We were the same age. And then, I guess as a result of that, I was picked up by five early teens (I would put their ages at the time) and taken into the woods. We were surrounded all around with large estates and Villanova University was mostly woods at the time. And I was made to perform oral sex on these kids. And word of mouth spread to other kids. And there was not a day, unless I was on vacation with my family, that I was not expected to perform on whomever presented themselves at the train stop. And even in high school, I'd get off the train and if I went one way up the steps, there was a group waiting, and the other way, at the end of the path, there was a group waiting. And I could never really say anything. First of all, we're talking of the '40s, late '40s, and '50s, because I graduated high school in '56. But you just didn't talk about sex. I was very fearful of my family being embarrassed and shamed that their son, the namesake of the family, of my father, that it would be disclosed that I was a cocksucker and a queer. And certainly I was not butch, but I passed. It was a very difficult time, because the one safe place that one should be able to go is to their family and to their home. And it wasn't, because I lived in fear. Even if people were to use the word "blow" in a sentence, "The wind is blowing," I would get very nervous and panicky that somebody's going to know that I give blow jobs, in the vernacular of the day. So none of this really came out. And as I grew up, very isolated, sought after when they wanted to get their rocks off, and then as soon as that happened, I was the outcast again and back into my isolation and into my own world. And I was really quite a loner and quite an introvert.

MS: You said this started when you were four?

JA: Four.

MS: And so it must have involved successive generations of high school students that lasted through your high school years.

JA: Well not only kids that I was in school with, grades one through eight, but also the public schools, because everybody intermixed and my father started the first cub scout troop in Rosemont. And then when I got old enough, he started the first boy scouts, he started the first parent-teachers association, and he organized the building fund for the chapel at Villanova. And he put on shows, entertainment was his area, to raise money for different organizations. And so we really knew everybody and so it just spread. Not only the kids that I was in school with but also Bryn Mawr, Rosemont, Villanova, Radnor, Wayne.

MS: And so adults never found out about this. Did you ever talk to anybody about this?

JA: No.

MS: Did you ever talk to the other kids about it?

JA: No, a lot of what actually took place also involved physical abuse. Either to get me to do what they wanted, I would be beaten, or I was beaten afterwards. And they would take my clothes and hide them. They would take my glasses. They would beat me up. And coming from a very strict family, it was very difficult even for me to clean up, because I didn't have a towel or napkins or anything and I was in the woods and couldn't find my glasses so I couldn't find my clothes. And it would take me hours and then I would get in trouble when I went home. "Where were you? You were due in at four and it's six." And so I got another beating. And this just perpetuated itself. Just keep quiet, be good, and that's how it progressed. And I did have some friends, or one friend, but it always came down to, eventually, a sexual advance made by that person. And many times parents would end the friendship and just simply say that we don't want you playing or coming around to see Lance or whatever.

MS: Did they say why? They never said why?

JA: They never said.

MS: Do you think they must have known what was going on?

JA: They probably saw the effeminate characteristics. And I certainly never knew a gay person until I was eighteen. I lived a very sheltered life.

MS: Do you remember anything that they ever said to you during these violations?

JA: Oh, I was a faggot and I was queer. My only salvation in those times was that I was an egghead. I had no other world to retreat into other than school. And I did not do well in grade school because of these things happening. But in high school I really excelled and in college even better because I was free at last at that point.

MS: I had asked what sorts of things the other boys would say to you.

JA: Well there obviously was much verbal abuse and much teasing, razzing.

MS: They certainly didn't think that what they were doing to you had any implications for their own sexuality?

JA: No. And I had a paper route. I only had seven papers, but it used to take me hours to complete because I would be stopped and expected to perform. And the verbal threats. And I also had a brother twenty-eight months younger than myself that was very separate from all this. He probably found out about it when I was about sixteen, so he would have been around fourteen. But he was oblivious to it all that whole time. And many time he would defend me in fights. He would take them on. Because I was not a fighter. And it wasn't until I got into high school and took up rowing that I really became interested in sports. But then again it was the type of sport that I wanted, not baseball, not football. Because my vision always was poor. And that also was a sore point because I could not play the routine sports. I would be teased and picked on. As I look back, how somebody could be in such demand for half an hour a day and then trashed the rest of the time, with no place to turn? This was an era when women didn't smoke in public and even in the '50s you couldn't use the word pregnant on television. And here you're sucking cock. And as I had said, what would have been a gay person's dream, having a steady supply and being the only gay person around, would have been just wonderful if it weren't the circumstances. It was not solicited, it wasn't wanted, and it was sixteen years filled with terror and fear of exposure. And that ended on December 2nd, 1958, when my father died. And for the very first time in my life, it's again funny how it's actually the first time I felt love for my father because he could no longer hurt me. And he was no longer a threat in my life. Whereas I'd lived in fear of him, fear of being found out, fear of being thrown out, fear of being beaten and punished. I could never express myself with him. And when he drew his last breath, that is when I felt this emancipation, this sudden ability to love him because he could not strike me, he could not threaten me any longer.

MS: You said that was when you were twenty?

JA: I had just turned twenty.

MS: But you said you first met a gay person when you were eigh¬teen?

JA: When I was eighteen and I was in school, I was doing hospital rotation at Einstein Medical Center, northern division, at Broad and Tabor Roads. And one of the people that took me under their protection, so to speak, and through the system was an x-ray tech, Lee Odell, and a black woman I still to this day call mother. She came to my commitment ceremony in September of '92, which surprised me because she must be in her 80s now. And they told me that I was not that different or that unusual, that there were a lot of people like me. But again, this was in 1958, and I was not of legal age, I did not really know the city of Philadelphia. I did not know how to get around. I knew how to get from my home in Villanova to Einstein.

MS: Is that where you were in school?

JA: Yes.

MS: What was the program that you were in?

JA: I was in radiology science.

MS: At Einstein. And were both of the two people gay?

JA: No, Hilda was married and childless and a black lady. And of course I identified. I had been a card-carrying member of NAACP [National Association for the Advanced of Colored People] since 1957. And then Lee had a lover. He introduced me to his lover. Gee, they certainly seemed very old to me at the time, and yet I was twenty and they were thirty, thirty-two. They were just very old.

MS: Why were you a card-carrying member of the NAACP? How did that come about?

JA: Oh again, it went back to the suppression or oppression that I felt in my life. Even though I had things materially very well, I had my own car and things like that, it was a heavy price tag. And I swore that I would do everything I possibly could to prevent any other kid from going through the childhood that I had. Of being trapped and not being able to express themselves, not being able to report what was going on, for just fear of everything happening. When I finished high school in '56 and went into college, I then became aware of the black civil rights movement and became very involved in it and subsequently remained very involved even through the Gray Panthers and the marches that were being held in the '60s.

MS: You mean the Black Panthers?

JA: And also the Gray Panthers. The Black Panthers in the beginning. And an attorney friend of mine and I became very involved. Steve, who's very close with me, he was a Jewish lawyer, young, I was young, and we hit it off. And we did all their legal work for the Philadelphia movement.

MS: The NAACP?

JA: And the Black Panthers.

MS: So that was later on in the '60s. So I guess getting back to the late '50s, then, had you started to have consensual sexual relations at that point?

JA: The end of '58 was when I knew that I could say no and I was not afraid. I didn't take that step until March of 1959. I finally said no, you're not going to have your way with me. And also I had been introduced to people in gay circles. It stopped around March of 1959. And my friends then introduced me to their friends that were gay, so I now knew five or six people that were gay.

MS: Which friends did the introductions? The people at the hospital?

JA: At the hospital. And this marvelous black woman, Hilda Postley, that really assured me that everything was alright and that I wasn't queer. I for the first time knew people that were like me. And people that knew that I was and liked me. And they were all of my professional colleagues and kids that I went to school with. Now that I was away from that sheltered environment, I wasn't really very different. And I was able to compete successfully, academically. That opened many doors for me. And my entrance into the movement was at that same time in 1959.

Radnor Raid Article

Report on the Radnor Raid, Suburban and Wayne Times, 25 August 1960.

MS: Could you tell me how you first made contact with the movement?

JA: Well, I wasn't old enough to get into the bars yet, though I had been taken in once or twice following a play at the Forrest Theater.

MS: Do you remember the bar? Can I just interrupt you for a second? Do you remember the bar you first went to?

JA: Oh, it was right there behind the Forrest Theater.

MS: Maxine's?

JA: No, that's on Camac. This was on Quince. Right behind the theater. And there was also a private club that opened upstairs, above it. I think it was called the Forrest Bar. And it was a gay bar. And of course it was very dressy. The casualness of today was not there. At that time everybody was in suits and ties and jackets. You just didn't wear Levis.

MS: Right. It was all men, no lesbians?

JA: All men.

MS: And was it all white?

JA: Largely, but there were some blacks there. And then there's also been a woman's bar on the same street for all these years. It's right on the corner at Walnut.

MS: Is that Rusty's?

JA: Rusty's, yes, that was there.

MS: Did you ever go in there?

JA: Yes, I went in a few times and felt very strange. But I've always felt strange going into bars. I'm not a bar person. I really didn't have time for the bars. And everyone looked at me when I went into Rusty's, of course. So I usually only used Rusty's to make a telephone call or a pit stop. But nothing else. And then my friend Lee, who brought me out not sexually but socially, gave me a flyer on the national Mattachine Society. And that was when I took the first step and contacted them to start a Philadelphia chapter. And they were advertising for people to organize chapters all across the country.

MS: So you wrote to the national office?

JA: I wrote to the national office. And really felt pretty heady. I was young and it was exciting. I felt that their goal, at least what I had read at the time of their philosophy, was to ease one's coming out into understanding themselves and seeking acceptance: "I am and it's alright to be the way I am."

MS: So this was in 1959 when you wrote to them?

JA: Yes.

MS: And it sounds like your sense of what they did was almost more about providing support resources rather than engaging in militant politics.

JA: No, they were entirely support-oriented. I actually, as it came down, brought more of that into it by the nature of what happened in my activities with Mattachine. And that was just a very interesting period of time and it was my first taste of a number of things. It was coming out publicly. It was embracing the movement. Getting something started in the Philadelphia area. And the taste of politics. That's something you have to get used to. I was used by the Mattachine people at the time, and supported, and then they all went home. But I was still in the city that I lived in and couldn't disappear like they could.

MS: Could you describe for me what initially happened in Philadelphia then?

JA: Well we had much correspondence going back and forth. I knew a person at the time. I just came across his name again after all these years: Albert Ellis.

MS: The psychologist?

JA: Yes. And he had written a couple of small books. They were actually paperback books. And he got me more involved. I had met him. I didn't understand who he was. I did not know that much about him except that this was one of the first people that I spoke to. I can remember it as clear as day, at 15th and Spruce, and the Westbury Bar was there. We were on Spruce St. That's the first person I had mentioned the abuse that took place. And he wanted to explore everything that had happened to me. And I had gotten cold feet.

MS: Could you explain to me, you met him in a bar?

JA: No, I met him through these friends.

MS: And were you looking to him as a counselor?

JA: No. He was young. He was older than I, but he was looking to do more investigative work in the gay psychiatric area. And when I told him about the abuse, he really came on very strong wanting me to come and talk to him, not so much therapy, but so he could get a perspective on what had happened to me and how it had left me. And I got cold feet. But nonetheless, I did get, along with him, involved in the Mattachine and bringing them to the area. One of our discussions was where would we meet. And that's when it came up that we would meet out at my home in Radnor.

MS: So Ellis was interested in bringing Mattachine to Philadelphia?

JA: Yes, he was part of that small nucleus of people, and I was still the kid on the block, so I would report to them what I had been doing. And they were already at work. They were finished with their education and working. And some people had an interest and others did not. But we pursued it and we were able to get a date out of Mattachine when they would send films in for us to screen. And Ellis, it's just interesting that his name popped back into my mind about a month ago, sort of coordinated the people at that time in putting up posters and sending out mailings.

MS: You know where the mailing list came from and where the posters went up?

JA: No, no. I just know that they made up the mailing list and the flyer. And that became one of the points that caused the United States Postal Service to move in and to raid the screening of the films. All the films were out of the Menninger Foundation out of Kansas. And there were four films that had been sent through the mail. And the Postal Service had intercepted the flyers or some of them in any event. And the premise of their coming in on the raid was because the United States Postal Service had been used to promote pornography. And they thought these films from the Menninger Foundation, because Mattachine was using them and was a gay organiza¬tion, must be pornography.

MS: You were just saying that the first meeting to set up a Mattachine locally was in the spring of 1960?

JA: 1959. I got the flyer on Mattachine and I explored it and read a lot of their literature, which they had sent to me at that time. And then, with the people that I had met, we had decided to have a screening of the films. And I provided the location for that. My family home was very large. It was once part of the Pew estate. And it had a large stable on it that the family had converted into recreation rooms upstairs and of course the entire downstairs was for cars. And it had pot-bellied stoves and things like that. So it was logical that we could host a large group of people. And we scheduled the Mattachine Society and they sent the films in. We screened the films and I believe there were a couple of people that spoke. Because I was running, it was my home and everything, I was very preoccupied with refreshments and things. But I did see the films. They were very primitive films. They looked like they had been made back in the '40s actually. And I really didn't think that they were very current.

MS: What kind of films were they? Scientific research?

JA: They were on homosexuality. All of them were on homosexuality. And they were discussing behavior. There was no sex involved in it other than talk of sex. But there were no graphic sex scenes or anything of that nature. Not even any touching or hand-holding or any of that. That was not the norm of the day.

MS: Can I just interrupt for a second? Because one of the things that I read says that two New Yorkers who were active in Mattachine nationally came to this meeting. And I just want to see if you remember that. Albert DeDion and Curtis Dewees.

JA: I don't recall them, but there were a lot of people that came in from out of town. And I also was not out yet. I was not into the bar scene. I wasn't old enough. All I remember is that I was very naive and immature probably, compared with these people. At least I felt that way. And I had great respect for them, but in any event we had about eighty or ninety people that came to the screening. And I can remember after it was over coming down the steps first and noticing the police were there. And I thought, "Well that was very nice of my mother to call the police for traffic control." And it was not something that I was unfamiliar with, because my family when they entertained frequently had the police come for traffic control. It was on the side of a hill and it was just something that was done as part of the day.

MS: Right.

JA: We're prominent, this is how it went. And I thought, "Well that was very nice of her." She had just been widowed a few months. And then I noticed the St. Catherine of Siena school bus. And I went, "My goodness, what's that doing here?" My mother had just started to teach for St. Catherine of Siena in Wayne, in grade school, and it was a Catholic school. "What is their school bus doing here?" And then I was immediately pulled aside and asked my name and told that I was under arrest. And everybody was shuttled onto the school buses.

MS: So everyone at the meeting was arrested?

JA: Everyone was taken in.

MS: Do you remember, was it mostly gay men, was it mixed?

JA: It was mixed, but predominanty it was gay men.

MS: If you had to guess a percentage?

JA: And they were psychiatrists, psychologists, educators.

MS: If you had to guess a percentage or ratio of men to women?

JA: Five percent were women probably.

MS: So really just a few.

JA: Yes.

MS: And was it mostly white?

JA: Yes.

MS: And would you say mostly middle class?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent]. And mostly educated.

MS: That's an awfully large number of people to come to a first meeting. How do you think you got so many people to come?

JA: Well I think this whole group that I had become involved with, they really were the ones that went out and beat the streets to get people to attend. I had nothing to do with that.

MS: I see.

JA: I only said, "Let's do it, let's try to start it." Then provided the location.

MS: I see.

JA: And this was out in the suburbs. Even in those days, an awful lot of people didn't drive or didn't have cars. And we worried about how people were going to get so far out. And people were very prone to not want to leave the city. If they could have it in the city, it would be much better. But then they thought it would be even safer to have it in the suburbs and, if there were any problems, we probably wouldn't have any.

MS: Why did you think it would be safer in the suburbs?

JA: Well, everyone was looking over their shoulder if you were gay and who you came out to in that time. The bars were being watched by Rizzo, who was head of vice. And pictures were taken of cars and film was taken of people entering the Allegro and other gay bars. So they felt that it would just be safer, probably not raided or bothered because it was out on the Main Line at a big, big home and it was in the afternoon. It would be very safe. And it didn't turn out to be quite that way.

MS: So you were all taken to the police station?

JA: The postal authorities had notified the police. The police were there. They knew this was happening. They were very well-prepared. We were all taken to the Radnor police station on Lancaster Avenue, which was in a very old building, probably a converted house. Lots of charm.

MS: What were the charges?

JA: We weren't told at first what the charge would be. They did tell us that we were being taken in for pornography and having used the mail for pornographic film. The next step was that we were all gathered in this large room. And that really was my coming out party. That was my debut. I didn't know anybody. I only knew a handful of people. And suddenly I'm in a room, and it's my home, and I'm biting my fingernails that, my God, my mother's going to find out. My brothers, who were very young at the time, I'm going to embarrass everybody. And as a result I met an awful, awful lot of people. Because it was like a gay cocktail hour but there was no booze. And the township, Radnor Township, was governed by a board of commissioners. And one of those commissioners, Frank Weighman, was my youngest brother's godfather.

MS: Could you spell his name?

JA: W-e-i-g-h-m-a-n.

MS: Weighman?

JA: Weightman.

MS: So there's a "t." W-e-i-g-h-t?

JA: May have a "t." Frank was his first name. And he had been a commissioner and he and my father were very, very close for fifteen years. And his wife couldn't have children, so they adopted. And my mother and his wife were very tight. And they were in scouts and all that routine. And of course my father's dead and here comes Frank Weightman through the door to go upstairs to view the films. They were all going to watch the films to see if they could press charges of pornography. And I guess we were there a good three hours, three and a half hours, when they came down and told us that we could go. They reserved the right to recall me. They told me that they were going to talk to my mother and that no charges were being pressed at that time. But they would have to confer with the postal authorities. They did not find pornography. But they wanted to make sure the Post Office didn't have a different definition of pornography.

MS: Was anyone held overnight as far as you know?

JA: No.

MS: And was any contact made with lawyers for all of you?

JA: No. The representative of Mattachine came in and asked me if I would go public with him and if I had any problems with that. And I figured, "Well I had already blown everything." My mother was certainly going to find out. She was just a telephone call away from Frank Weightman. And he did not call her surprisingly, because he was trying to figure out how he could put this to her. Because she was just a new widow and young. I think she was forty. And so he just sat on it for a little bit. But I didn't know that that was going to happen. I just went home and noticed that everything was alright, and mother didn't say anything, and I felt, "What's going on here? Maybe she doesn't know how to say it or maybe she's embarrassed." She wasn't crying. But then the Mattachine people also came to me afterwards and said, "Would I be willing to publicize this and go public?" And I said, "I have no problem with it whatsoever."

MS: These were the national Mattachine people?

JA: I'm not sure if they were national, but they were definitely with the Mattachine Society. And I told them I had no problem. And they arranged for a television interview at the John Bartram Hotel at Broad and Locust, a very old landmark. And it's funny that it should be there, because my family knew the Bartram family. They were all the old pal group. And how fitting that it was going to be right there in that hotel. And they picked me up and they brought me down for a four o'clock press interview in the ballroom at the hotel. And I just remember being shuttled through from the main entrance and they did have a limo that they picked me up in and came down and a little bit of prep went into what I was going to say.

MS: These were Philadelphians? Or people from New York?

JA: I think they were from New York. And I just remember the hotel corridors as being dark and lots of old wood and stuff like that. And then I went into the room and it was all lights and the cameras, the flashes went off and they asked me about Mattachine. And I explained it and that yes it was my home and why did we have it in the suburbs. That we did not feel safe in the city at that point. And there was no pornography. We had to go over and over and over that. And it did make the Philadelphia Inquirer and it made the Main Line Times.

MS: It did?

JA: That's only published on Thursdays. But then there was a big movement by the Radnor township police to suppress a lot of it because of the nature of it. They were embarrassed and they were afraid. There was talk of bringing a lawsuit against Radnor township for false arrest. And that was back and forth and that's the point at which my mother got involved. Because then the police did call my home and ask for me. And they told her that I had been arrested in a raid. And the rest went down. When I came in, I got the third degree. And I justified it, that I felt that this was a very much needed organization to help people adjust to being gay and coming out. And that no one should have to go through the horrors that I'd gone through to realize who I was.

MS: You said that to your mother?

JA: Yes.

MS: And how did she respond?

JA: I was very open with my mother. My brother Jim had told my mother about three months after my father's passing, but my father already knew because on his way to the hospital in the ambulance, he said to my mother, "As soon as I get something for pain, I want to talk to you about Jack." And he never regained consciousness and then my brother who was rebelling, he was just finishing Radnor High School and due to graduate, didn't want to listen to me. And my mother had basically said I was head of the household. So he said, "Well, he's queer and how could you make him head of the household?". That produced a little riff and then he finished, he did graduate. And he went into the Marines for four years. And that took care of that. So that got that out of the way. And I then decided that she should know everything about homosexuality. And I was just unrelenting in my zeal. I brought home everything there was to read on homosexuality. And I left it on the coffeetable.

MS: Do you remember any of the books?

JA: No. They were all magazines and a lot of it was Mattachine, ONE, there was another one. And she really felt it was a sickness at the time. It was an illness. And then we became very involved after that in working for the American Psychiatric Association to change the definition

MS: Right. That was much later, right?

JA: That was in the '60s.

MS: Can you tell me more? After that raid, what happened with Mattachine, before it became the Janus Society?

JA: I guess that was the point that I had my first lesson in politics. 'Cause I was the fair-haired prince. I had spoken very eloquently about Mattachine. I had supported it. I had been on television. They were not on television. But I was on television. And then it all disappeared. Everybody went away. And I'm in Philadelphia and this has been on television, but they're gone. And I don't even know who they are at this point. I was flattered by the limo and everything that happened, but then it just fell. And people sort of ran. They were afraid of being identified with the Mattachine Society in Philadelphia at the time. And they all went back into their closets. And I found myself out there. And not knowing where to go. Certainly everybody in my neighborhood knew what was going on. And also I was at that time running the first after-hours place in Philadelphia called the Stables. And this had started before my father died. He had been very ill, so that was not a problem. And we had a dance club very other Saturday night in the stables, and it was called the Stables.

MS: Out in Radnor?

JA: Mmhhm [assent].

MS: This was an illegal thing, right?

JA: No, this was a donation at the door of three dollars and we filled two huge bathtubs that were all redone. I knew that it was a bathtub underneath but nobody else did. They were all enclosed and inclined and stuff like that. My family had used this in entertaining. My father had left music and he was with Aetna Life Insurance Company. And for large parties they would have a ruby punch and a gold punch. And one was made with port and the other with sauterne. And then we had kegs of beer and we had a 45 rpm RCA thing and a disc jockey who was a very nice black fellow.

MS: Now how did this start? How did this start?

JA: And again just we needed someplace to socialize, so we invited people over and then they invited people. And then we decided to charge because it had just gotten out of hand so quickly.

MS: Whose the "we" that you're referring to?

JA: My friend Lee and his lover Noel. They're both dead.

MS: What was Lee's last name?

JA: Odell.

MS: And what was Noel's?

JA: Compton, Noel Compton. And he was a very eloquent gentleman. Noel Compton. His father was ambassador to the United States representing the Caribbean. And he was highly educated. Lived out here in Los Angeles, was married. He lost his wife to leukemia. His house slid down the hillside in the rains and he got on the next plane out. It landed in Philadelphia and that's how Lee and Noel got started.

MS: And he was black.

JA: He was of color. A very distinguished person, but one would have to say he was of color. Very fair skin and spoke the King's English.

MS: Lee was white?

JA: Yes. And had been in the Navy for twenty some years.

MS: Lee had been?

JA: Yes.

MS: So they were encouraging you as you started to turn the Stables into an after-hours club?

JA: Yeah.

MS: How many people would come on an average Saturday night?

JA: Well, four hundred.

MS: Four hundred people. All men?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent]. There were some girls, but by and large, it was mostly all men.

MS: And again, was it mostly white?

JA: It was a good mix.

MS: Yeah?

JA: Yeah. And it's amazing how everything was underground. Everybody was afraid if you were a professional to go into the major clubs. I was afraid. People were being arrested, harassed, in them. And they were looking for a place again that was safe. This was in the country. There was no traffic. It's on the side of a hill. There are no street lights and it was part of an estate. It was a very nice place. And this had gotten so that there were people coming from Utica and from Princeton. We had politicians coming, assemblypeople coming, priests, lawyers.

MS: Do you want to name any? Do you want to name any of them?

JA: No. I don't remember.

MS: I'm curious. The raid, then, happened after the Saturday night club had been going on for some time.

JA: Yes.

MS: So do you think that the police raided the meeting partly because they knew what was going on on Saturday nights and they wanted to put a stop to that?

JA: Well, they found themselves in an embarrassing situation with the Stables. It was so well attended and by so many affluent people that they were afraid to raid it. They didn't want it there, but they were afraid that if they opened the hornet's nest, somebody was going to get stung. How could this happen in the heart of the Main Line of Philadelphia? With all the bluebloods and priests and doctors and lawyers and married people. And this just could not be happening in their community. So they didn't want to touch it at all. They really, really did not want to. Then we had the Mattachine and they were forced in. But again, they never brought up the Stables. What they did do was, immediately after the Mattachine raid, they then began to bring pressure against us with our cesspools. And that we were contaminating. Our cesspools were not functioning properly. We were contaminating well water. And we had to rip up a huge part of the lawn to replace them. And we did that. And then they kept finding. Every month it was something else. And so after the raid, we decided that it was too hot and we really wanted to make it more private. So what we did was we reopened. We went up a dollar from three to four, we issued membership cards, and we called it Laissez Care, which is The Stables in French. And we were off and running until we closed in 1962. 'Cause I had moved on in my life, in a relationship, and actually had left home. 

MS: Right. When did you leave home?

Spruce Street and 20th Street

Spruce and 20th Streets, Philadelphia, June 1974. Photo: Stephen Shore.

JA: October of 1960.

MS: Where did you move to?

JA: I moved to 20th and Spruce.

MS: Did you live by yourself there?

JA: I had a roommate for a very short period of time. Actually I had a lover. His name was Lars.

MS: Was he the roommate?

JA: Yes. And he was studying to be a librarian at Temple. And he walked home in the snow and walked back and forth. He didn't have much money. And he caught pneumonia and had to go back to Vetnor, New Jersey, where his family was, and drop out of school for that semester. And that ended my first love. And then I had met Bob Tucker at the Stables. I was dating.

MS: Can you tell me how you met Lars? Was it also at the Stables?

JA: Yes. I met Lars at the Stables.

MS: Back to Bob, then. You met him at the Stables?

JA: Yes. And actually Lars and Bob overlapped for a couple of weeks. I knew that Lars was not going to be coming back. And he was my first love, but those were the constraints. And I had been dating another person by the last name of DePalma. And he brought Bob out. They had been at MIT together. And he was wanting to show off me and the house and the Stables. And Bob had a real crush for DePalma. And DePalma was a big name in the community. His father was the chief orthopedic surgeon at Jefferson. And as it turned out I worked very closely with John Royal Moore at Temple University and they were rivals. Each considered himself the number one. And so don't I end up dating Depalma and getting involved in all of that. They were very heavily into film and one of the people that I met through them was Dr. Land of Polaroid Land Corporation. And Bob was a brilliant electrical engineer at MIT. And he ended up starting what is known as Dynacho Hifi company and later the Haffler Company. These were the days when you filter and the hifi units. He was known as Mr. Hifi. In fact it's on his quilt, that we made after he passed, but he wrote all the manuals and he put the first kits together and built them and then wrote the manuals. And had quite a wonderful career in that as it progressed and then finally into computers.

MS: So you were together for...?

JA: Thirty years.

MS: And he just died, you said, in...?

JA: In 1991, January 1991.

MS: Did you have much of a courtship?

JA: Well, when I met Bob, there were a number of reasons why this relationship should never have worked. I was Catholic and studying medicine. Bob was a Christian Scientist and a Republican. I was a Democrat. His upbringing was very strict in Christian Science and his family greatly frowned upon his even knowing any Roman Catholics. A lot of that has changed in Science today, but back then his mother and father were actually a couple of years older than my grandparents. And he was an only child. So that when he met me and we went to bed that night, he got up the next day. I got up and went to church, which shocked him. And he went away to the West Coast for six weeks. And I started getting cards from him. One was a lollipop and it had, "Suck on this until I get back." And all these cards, which were just new to the scene. I still have a huge collection in the desert of them. I sort of hate to send them, because they're the first gay cards. And a lot of them were drawings rather than the photographs that you see today on the cards. And I guess I got one every day. And then he started to call me and when he got back in town he came over and we went to bed again. And we had a Howard Johnson's romance. We always went out to dinner at Howard Johnson's. And then he was living with a person who had brought him out by the name of Bill Phillips, in Philadelphia. And Bill moved to Swarthmore. And we ended up commuting back and forth. I would wait for Bob after school. And he was a workaholic so sometimes I'd wait two or three hours for him. And we'd go out to Swarthmore and spend the night. And finally we got our own place. I was quite the romantic. Bob did not wish to get involved in a romance. Whereas I had had sex from the age of four on, he was very envious of that. He was twenty-seven. I was twenty-two. And he sort of wanted to have those experiences that I had had. And he just was thoroughly enjoying the gay lifestyle. And it was a marvelous time to live. The '60s were extremely optimistic. Kennedy had been elected, Pope John was in the Vatican, and that was wonderful in that he was really a rebel in the church and was bringing about Vatican II. So it was just a time of tremendous political growth, personal growth, professional growth, and our movement really taking off. We had our places in Provincetown and Atlantic City that were gay, that we could go to. New York had not happened yet. They were still really enjoying much more discrimination than we were in Philadelphia, even though we did have Rizzo. And it's ironic that Frank Rizzo's son Junior is gay, was gay at that time, and here his father is taking films and photographing license plates and invading the bars. But in New York, if the bar knew you were gay and served you a drink, the police could close the bar. So they had to keep moving. And every week they moved to a different bar and that's finally how Stonewall came about, when people in the bar that night said, no, they were not going to move and that this is their bar. And that was that. And the protest came about. But all through the '60s, even before I met Bob, who was not an activist, going back to those days, I don't know how I put a relationship together given the times. And yet I knew people that were in relationships. But you just did not have the freedom. You did not walk down Spruce Street in any way other than very rigid, hidden, closeted, tight.

MS: You said you moved in with Bob pretty early on?

JA: I moved in immediately.

MS: So that was in sixty-?

JA: -one. Well I lived out of the apartment on 20th Street. And Bob would pick me up. And it would always be a joke, but I would always invite him in for hot chocolate and stuff like that. And when I was dating like that before I met Bob, I was running around with a guy, Nelson Eddy. And we were running buddies, and if he got invited to a play, then I'd have to see if I could get myself invited to a play, because we couldn't afford a play or anything like that. Times were very, very difficult. So often we would be in the Schubert Theater together just seats apart and screaming, "Girlfriend." We'd both gotten to the same play numerous times but then I met Bob and my life just changed into developing the relationship. And it was an open relationship. And I felt very threatened for the first seven years of the relationship.

MS: When he would go off with someone else?

JA: Yes. And I was of monogamy, faithfulness. I believed that you could have that in a gay relationship. That just because you were gay did not mean. And I had really had a lot of sex from a very young age and I was not looking for that. Also, my childhood experiences had left me very much a physical masochist. It took all I could do to restrain that. Bob was very butch and very masculine, could do anything, it did not matter. Anything he wanted to do he could do. And I was very much not that way. I was not mechanically inclined. I was educated, but I was not educated to hold a screwdriver. And I had always been impressed with that as I was growing up. I in fact never owned a pair of Levis. And today I have only one pair. Then we got together and we had an open relationship in which I felt threatened for the first seven years. I did not understand why Bob loved me. And I probably never did know why. Because I'm not as good looking as he was. I'm not as masculine as he was. And I was not as intelligent. He was a very gifted person and I always felt I never understood. And everybody, even at his funeral, came up and said, "You know, you got the prize. And all of us were envious of you and jealous of you back then because you got the prize that we all wanted." They told me this: "You were totally unaware that we would sit around and say, 'If we could have one person, who would that be?' And we all picked Bob Tucker. And you had him. And didn't know you had him. And he always loved you and it took you so long to realize that love is very different than recreational activities." And they said, "It took you seven years and we were all waiting for him just finally to dump you so we could get our hands on him. And that just never happened." Something happened in the seventh year and I said, "O.K., if you want to play this game, I can play it, too, and I'll do a much better job at it." And I did a much better job at it.

MS: That was in the late '60s then?

JA: Yes. It wasn't '69 yet, but it was close. It was '68, in fact. And I said, "For every one you have, I'll have fifty." An old cliche. And I went out and did it. And he stopped immediately. "He means it." And as long as he was footloose and fancy free, it was fine, but when I went out then, he sort of got a little bit insecure. And then the bathhouses were opening up. That was the big attraction of the day. So the street cruising sort of died off. And a lot of things died with that. Relationships changed, all of cruising changed. No longer did you have street cruising or the bar cruising. And people weren't going to bars any longer to pick up. They were going to the bathhouses.

MS: Really?

JA: And entertainment died off. Dinner parties died off. Because before, that was one of the only means, having a cocktail party or a dinner party, and then you would go to bed with somebody that came over. And suddenly the baths came in and everybody could pay their fee and go in and do whatever they wanted to do.

MS: When did you start going to the baths?

JA: I never went to the baths.

MS: When did they start?

JA: I guess '68. And I really was very much against the baths, because of what I saw it doing to the gay community. The social structure was deteriorating. Everything had become anonymous all of a sudden. Anonymous sex. And I could not understand or accept. I could not go to bed with somebody I did not know. And to just fling themselves with abandon for a hard cock had no value to me.

MS: It's funny, though. Don't you think some people would look at what you were doing and say, "Getting to know someone for a few hours at a dinner party, that wasn't knowing them enough to go to bed with them." Do you know what I mean?

JA: Yeah, generally, though, I really would know you for a couple of times at least. My thing was more a head trip. I had to know you and like you. I had to have something there to identify with or I could not perform. And it was very interesting at the time. I was a bottom. And I can remember, when I came out in '61, in the clubs, other gay people would point to me in the Allegro and say, "He gets screwed. He gets screwed. He takes it up the ass." And I wondered what was wrong with this, because aren't we all gay? And isn't that what you do?

MS: What was going on?

JA: And this was looked down on.

MS: Is that right?

JA: By other gay people.

MS: Because they were just having oral sex, do you think?

JA: Yes. And you were really dirty if you got screwed. And I didn't like the bars for that reason, because they were dishing. I could discuss sex very openly, but back then I didn't feel that it was anybody's business what I did in bed. And suddenly I felt dirty again. Instead of straight people poking fun at me, I now had gay people poking fun at me. And that made me angry. I can remember somebody coming up to me, and I was exploring leather at that time, and they couldn't believe that I was a masochist. And they rubbed my cheek and said, "Oh, you've got facial hair." I said, "Well yes." "Couldn't possibly be."

MS: How did you first encounter the leather scene?

JA: Well, I had this leaning because the only way that I knew love in growing up, either before or after sex, always involved a beating of some type. And in most of the latter years of my adolescence, it involved not so much a fist but a strap. And that was O.K. because I could hide that with clothes, whereas a black eye I could not hide. And they were also cooling off to that type of beating because that would get them in trouble, too.

MS: So the guys, when you were a teenager, would whip you with a belt?

JA: Yeah. And I have been discussing this in the last six weeks with, for the first time in my life, a therapist. But I can remember being tied to a tree in the woods at Villanova and being shot at with a BB gun. And back then trapping was very in, BB guns were very in, guns were in. Everybody had a twenty-two rifle when I was fifteen or sixteen. And they would just tie me and target practice with their BB guns. And the whole fear that I had that it might break the skin or get lodged in me and how would I explain this and get it out. But those feelings were always there. And before I had met Bob in '61, I had gone on to start the first gay S&M [sadomasochism] club in Philadelphia.

MS: What was it called?

JA: Philadelphia Gay S&M Club.

MS: You used the word gay?

JA: Yes.

MS: And where was that based?

JA: Well, we met in Philadelphia at different people's houses. And again these were not the type of people that you see in the clubs today, the Bike Stop or whatever. It was not that type of crowd. And for the first time in the mid-60s, the tight Levis came in, the wide belts. It was the time of what's the actor's name, Marlon Brando, and the motorcycle and all that was very exciting and titillating. And a group of us had decided. I really was the leader of that. I was pushing for it. But again it was a very taboo area.

MS: How many people were involved in the club, would you say?

JA: Oh about twenty.

MS: What would you do? Were there sex parties?

JA: No. And one of the things that bothered me about it was that I thoroughly enjoyed the aspects of leather but the people were not the type that I was personally interested in. So I didn't have the desire to engage. Also, I guess I was a clean freak at the time. And my background was such that the places that we were going for these dungeons and things like that, racks, were really the crumbling houses in Camden, right on 30, the approach to the bridge before all that new roadway went in. It was off the Atlantic City Expressway. All these rowhouses crumbling, that also were very integrated but that was more a sign of the decay. White people had moved out.

MS: Right.

JA: And so I saw things and watched things. They really were workshops and rooms that had baseboards, high baseboards, and screws in them. And slaves would be locked up to them and forced to sit. And I started something that I wasn't out enough yet into. And I put it together. I was great at organizing. And the word of mouth spread and people started to flock in. And then what I was seeing were scenes that I was not into. I loved the idea of a rack, but I was fighting with my own self at the time. There's a big difference in fantasizing and watching gladiator movies as a kid and all the cowboy movies that were real big. But actually seeing a rack and also being able to put yourself on display was not something that I could do. So between the very coarse surroundings, I was very uncomfortable by that, uncomfortable by the car being on the street and the types that I met. It was not the clean cut college leather type that today you would find.

MS: Right, right.

JA: But it was more the raunchy. And that was a great turn off. And I did that for two years. I have some friends that I met back then that were very heavy into leather. Masochists. One of them is my very dearest friend to this day. And it was only in casual conversation when he was out here in February, he's a priest, and we were talking about the leather scene here in Los Angeles, and I said to him, "You know I started the first one back in Philadelphia. It failed, but I noticed that right after I moved it started back up again." And he said, "Well, where were some of the places that you went?" And I described the Camden house. And he was the one on the rack.

MS: Really?

JA: And he was a priest. And he hadn't left yet for the Vatican and he served in the Vatican, training cardinals how to be cardinals, the protocol.

MS: Is that right?

JA: And he was with Vatican II. But here I had met him before I had even met Bob. And he was the one stretched on the rack.

MS: That's a great story.

JA: And we both, the memories just flowed back with that. After the Mattachine, I guess the next step, because that had failed, I had met and I don't remember a lot of people, but Clark Polak cottoned up to me, literally, and it was a combination of things. I was running the Stables, which was hugely popular, and I was an activist. I was out there. I was not hiding and neither was Clark. And he was really egging me on because I had more resources than he did. Not much, but I guess he saw resources that I just took for granted. But we had the meeting place. We had this beautiful home. And I was able to come and go pretty freely in that my father was no longer a threat and I had gotten rid of the others and told them if they persisted I would have them arrested. And I had met the intelligentsia of the day and I was very comfortable and Clark wanted very much to be a part of that.

MS: Can we step back for a second and just finish up on Mattachine? Because after the raid, I know the chapter got started a few months later and a woman named Mabel Polakoff was the president. Some of the other officers' names that I recall are Joan Fraser, Harold Stern.

JA: I don't remember Harold Stern.

MS: What was Mattachine doing in this period that you remember? Were there regular meetings? Were there public events?

JA: They had regular meetings, but they became very quiet. Certainly they were not going to introduce any other films. And everybody was sort of sensitive, but at that point it was really only held together by a few people. We didn't have the turnout of eighty or ninety people that we had in Radnor.

MS: Do you remember the Greater Philadelphia Magazine story that was done?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent].

MS: Were you one of the people interviewed for that? 

JA: I believe I was. There was a rush, as so often was the case, after this happened, and then, as I said, everything became very quiet because of the embarrassment from Radnor. People were really afraid to come out and jump on the bandwagon. So it really became a very quiet movement and then I moved on. I was young and they were middle-aged, maybe not quite so, but they were established and working and doing. And I was not. So that when it became so quiet and there were so few people coming in, I didn't see that it had any future. And I was involved in something else and just moved on.

Forrest Bar

The Forrest Restaurant and Bar, 1962.

MS: So did you have any connection to the Janus Society. You were telling me before about how it got its name?

JA: The Janus Society came about when Clark approached me. He was unhappy with the Mattachine. I didn't know at that time whether it was because he couldn't get his foot into the organization to be somebody. But it was a moot point because Mattachine really failed at that point. And then Clark wanted to go. And to go meant some of my resources and certainly the use of my place in Radnor. And it was a drawing card.

MS: There's mention in some of the early Janus papers of a series of large donations that someone made to the Janus Society and to Mattachine New York, each for six thousand dollars. Do you have any recollection of who might have given that money?

JA: No. I know that there was seed money. I knew of the seed money. And it was quite a lot of money for the day.

MS: Right. What were your impressions of Clark Polak?

JA: At first I was taken with Clark because of the rush that I got when he came on. He could be a charmer. But he basically was a very abrasive person. And I was looking also to get myself established and up and running in the gay community. I never hid my gaiety. It has never been a hindrance to me. And my field is medicine and education. And I have gone from teaching to president of two schools and I've been a hospital administrator and everyone has known my story and my lover.

MS: What were the two schools that you were the president of?

JA: Franklin School of Science and Arts, which was the country's largest school of allied health sciences, and Lyons Technical Institute, which is in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. And I had risen even in the CBS ranks, which was Columbia Broadcasting System and purchased Franklin School in 1970. And I was assistant director of curriculum and school development out of New York, while I was also concurrent as dean of the school in Philadelphia. And my job was to transplant curriculum from one school to another. And they owned schools throughout the country. So everybody knew my situation, and I wanted them to know my situation, so I could be comfortable. Clark, in the beginning, we were both trying to get ourselves established. And certainly there was no jockeying for political power. I didn't have that as a motive. Hindsight tells me now that Clark did. But things were so fragmented back then in trying to get the word out to people and to get an organization off the ground and keep it from internecine fighting that goes on even today in organizations but much more so back then where everybody wanted to take an organization no matter. One of the reasons I became involved in starting so many is that they all seemed to bog down in the internecine fighting. To carry an organization from here to there because that was that person's agenda. And it kept getting away from the mainstream of what it was really basically formed to do. And it was formed, Mattachine and Janus, to assist in helping people adjust to their gayness and the philosophy and easing that pain. Helping people to come out and to come to terms with it.

MS: Were there a lot of problems between lesbians and gay men in the Mattachine and Janus?

JA: I didn't see it in Mattachine, but I did see it with Clark. And I'm sure part of the reason was Clark's abrasive approach with the lesbian community. And he wasn't the only one or the last one by any means that disenfranchised so many people. The men wanted very much to have it all men. The prevailing reason came through many times because of the number of professional people, educated professional people (psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, lawyers) that could rise above that and were more integrated in their own communities outside of gay life in their ability to function in different settings. But even some of the people, Rubini, who I think is an English professor.

MS: History maybe?

JA: History. Who was back then extremely radical had no time for women in any of the movement. They didn't want women, period.

MS: You were just making a connection, though, between the men being professionals. I'm not sure I understood.

JA: Because they were professionals and, as long as they stayed in, there was a place for women in it. But as soon as the militant people of that time that were not highly educated or professional, then it deteriorated into men only.

MS: So the professional members, you think, were more open?

JA: Open and accepting. And they traveled in a circle where their colleagues were women.

MS: I see.

JA: And they were sympathetic. They weren't always gay but they were gay friendly and we had a number of those people. The women were not as strong as they are today.

MS: Could you tell me how you first made contact with the movement?

JA: Well, I wasn't old enough to get into the bars yet, though I had been taken in once or twice following a play at the Forrest Theater.

MS: Do you remember the bar? Can I just interrupt you for a second? Do you remember the bar you first went to?

JA: Oh, it was right there behind the Forrest Theater.

MS: Maxine's?

JA: No, that's on Camac. This was on Quince. Right behind the theater. And there was also a private club that opened upstairs, above it. I think it was called the Forrest Bar. And it was a gay bar. And of course it was very dressy. The casualness of today was not there. At that time everybody was in suits and ties and jackets. You just didn't wear Levis.

MS: Right. It was all men, no lesbians?

JA: All men.

MS: And was it all white?

JA: Largely, but there were some blacks there. And then there's also been a woman's bar on the same street for all these years. It's right on the corner at Walnut.

MS: Is that Rusty's?

JA: Rusty's, yes, that was there.

MS: Did you ever go in there?

JA: Yes, I went in a few times and felt very strange. But I've always felt strange going into bars. I'm not a bar person. I really didn't have time for the bars. And everyone looked at me when I went into Rusty's, of course. So I usually only used Rusty's to make a telephone call or a pit stop. But nothing else. And then my friend Lee, who brought me out not sexually but socially, gave me a flyer on the national Mattachine Society. And that was when I took the first step and contacted them to start a Philadelphia chapter. And they were advertising for people to organize chapters all across the country.

MS: So you wrote to the national office?

JA: I wrote to the national office. And really felt pretty heady. I was young and it was exciting. I felt that their goal, at least what I had read at the time of their philosophy, was to ease one's coming out into understanding themselves and seeking acceptance: "I am and it's alright to be the way I am."

MS: So this was in 1959 when you wrote to them?

JA: Yes.

MS: And it sounds like your sense of what they did was almost more about providing support resources rather than engaging in militant politics.

JA: No, they were entirely support-oriented. I actually, as it came down, brought more of that into it by the nature of what happened in my activities with Mattachine. And that was just a very interesting period of time and it was my first taste of a number of things. It was coming out publicly. It was embracing the movement. Getting something started in the Philadelphia area. And the taste of politics. That's something you have to get used to. I was used by the Mattachine people at the time, and supported, and then they all went home. But I was still in the city that I lived in and couldn't disappear like they could.

MS: Could you describe for me what initially happened in Philadelphia then?

JA: Well we had much correspondence going back and forth. I knew a person at the time. I just came across his name again after all these years: Albert Ellis.

MS: The psychologist?

JA: Yes. And he had written a couple of small books. They were actually paperback books. And he got me more involved. I had met him. I didn't understand who he was. I did not know that much about him except that this was one of the first people that I spoke to. I can remember it as clear as day, at 15th and Spruce, and the Westbury Bar was there. We were on Spruce St. That's the first person I had mentioned the abuse that took place. And he wanted to explore everything that had happened to me. And I had gotten cold feet.

MS: Could you explain to me, you met him in a bar?

JA: No, I met him through these friends.

MS: And were you looking to him as a counselor?

JA: No. He was young. He was older than I, but he was looking to do more investigative work in the gay psychiatric area. And when I told him about the abuse, he really came on very strong wanting me to come and talk to him, not so much therapy, but so he could get a perspective on what had happened to me and how it had left me. And I got cold feet. But nonetheless, I did get, along with him, involved in the Mattachine and bringing them to the area. One of our discussions was where would we meet. And that's when it came up that we would meet out at my home in Radnor.

MS: So Ellis was interested in bringing Mattachine to Philadelphia?

JA: Yes, he was part of that small nucleus of people, and I was still the kid on the block, so I would report to them what I had been doing. And they were already at work. They were finished with their education and working. And some people had an interest and others did not. But we pursued it and we were able to get a date out of Mattachine when they would send films in for us to screen. And Ellis, it's just interesting that his name popped back into my mind about a month ago, sort of coordinated the people at that time in putting up posters and sending out mailings.

MS: You know where the mailing list came from and where the posters went up?

JA: No, no. I just know that they made up the mailing list and the flyer. And that became one of the points that caused the United States Postal Service to move in and to raid the screening of the films. All the films were out of the Menninger Foundation out of Kansas. And there were four films that had been sent through the mail. And the Postal Service had intercepted the flyers or some of them in any event. And the premise of their coming in on the raid was because the United States Postal Service had been used to promote pornography. And they thought these films from the Menninger Foundation, because Mattachine was using them and was a gay organiza¬tion, must be pornography.

MS: You were just saying that the first meeting to set up a Mattachine locally was in the spring of 1960?

JA: 1959. I got the flyer on Mattachine and I explored it and read a lot of their literature, which they had sent to me at that time. And then, with the people that I had met, we had decided to have a screening of the films. And I provided the location for that. My family home was very large. It was once part of the Pew estate. And it had a large stable on it that the family had converted into recreation rooms upstairs and of course the entire downstairs was for cars. And it had pot-bellied stoves and things like that. So it was logical that we could host a large group of people. And we scheduled the Mattachine Society and they sent the films in. We screened the films and I believe there were a couple of people that spoke. Because I was running, it was my home and everything, I was very preoccupied with refreshments and things. But I did see the films. They were very primitive films. They looked like they had been made back in the '40s actually. And I really didn't think that they were very current.

MS: What kind of films were they? Scientific research?

JA: They were on homosexuality. All of them were on homosexuality. And they were discussing behavior. There was no sex involved in it other than talk of sex. But there were no graphic sex scenes or anything of that nature. Not even any touching or hand-holding or any of that. That was not the norm of the day.

MS: Can I just interrupt for a second? Because one of the things that I read says that two New Yorkers who were active in Mattachine nationally came to this meeting. And I just want to see if you remember that. Albert DeDion and Curtis Dewees.

JA: I don't recall them, but there were a lot of people that came in from out of town. And I also was not out yet. I was not into the bar scene. I wasn't old enough. All I remember is that I was very naive and immature probably, compared with these people. At least I felt that way. And I had great respect for them, but in any event we had about eighty or ninety people that came to the screening. And I can remember after it was over coming down the steps first and noticing the police were there. And I thought, "Well that was very nice of my mother to call the police for traffic control." And it was not something that I was unfamiliar with, because my family when they entertained frequently had the police come for traffic control. It was on the side of a hill and it was just something that was done as part of the day.

MS: Right.

JA: We're prominent, this is how it went. And I thought, "Well that was very nice of her." She had just been widowed a few months. And then I noticed the St. Catherine of Siena school bus. And I went, "My goodness, what's that doing here?" My mother had just started to teach for St. Catherine of Siena in Wayne, in grade school, and it was a Catholic school. "What is their school bus doing here?" And then I was immediately pulled aside and asked my name and told that I was under arrest. And everybody was shuttled onto the school buses.

MS: So everyone at the meeting was arrested?

JA: Everyone was taken in.

MS: Do you remember, was it mostly gay men, was it mixed?

JA: It was mixed, but predominanty it was gay men.

MS: If you had to guess a percentage?

JA: And they were psychiatrists, psychologists, educators.

MS: If you had to guess a percentage or ratio of men to women?

JA: Five percent were women probably.

MS: So really just a few.

JA: Yes.

MS: And was it mostly white?

JA: Yes.

MS: And would you say mostly middle class?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent]. And mostly educated.

MS: That's an awfully large number of people to come to a first meeting. How do you think you got so many people to come?

JA: Well I think this whole group that I had become involved with, they really were the ones that went out and beat the streets to get people to attend. I had nothing to do with that.

MS: I see.

JA: I only said, "Let's do it, let's try to start it." Then provided the location.

MS: I see.

JA: And this was out in the suburbs. Even in those days, an awful lot of people didn't drive or didn't have cars. And we worried about how people were going to get so far out. And people were very prone to not want to leave the city. If they could have it in the city, it would be much better. But then they thought it would be even safer to have it in the suburbs and, if there were any problems, we probably wouldn't have any.

MS: Why did you think it would be safer in the suburbs?

JA: Well, everyone was looking over their shoulder if you were gay and who you came out to in that time. The bars were being watched by Rizzo, who was head of vice. And pictures were taken of cars and film was taken of people entering the Allegro and other gay bars. So they felt that it would just be safer, probably not raided or bothered because it was out on the Main Line at a big, big home and it was in the afternoon. It would be very safe. And it didn't turn out to be quite that way.

MS: So you were all taken to the police station?

JA: The postal authorities had notified the police. The police were there. They knew this was happening. They were very well-prepared. We were all taken to the Radnor police station on Lancaster Avenue, which was in a very old building, probably a converted house. Lots of charm.

MS: What were the charges?

JA: We weren't told at first what the charge would be. They did tell us that we were being taken in for pornography and having used the mail for pornographic film. The next step was that we were all gathered in this large room. And that really was my coming out party. That was my debut. I didn't know anybody. I only knew a handful of people. And suddenly I'm in a room, and it's my home, and I'm biting my fingernails that, my God, my mother's going to find out. My brothers, who were very young at the time, I'm going to embarrass everybody. And as a result I met an awful, awful lot of people. Because it was like a gay cocktail hour but there was no booze. And the township, Radnor Township, was governed by a board of commissioners. And one of those commissioners, Frank Weighman, was my youngest brother's godfather.

MS: Could you spell his name?

JA: W-e-i-g-h-m-a-n.

MS: Weighman?

JA: Weightman.

MS: So there's a "t." W-e-i-g-h-t?

JA: May have a "t." Frank was his first name. And he had been a commissioner and he and my father were very, very close for fifteen years. And his wife couldn't have children, so they adopted. And my mother and his wife were very tight. And they were in scouts and all that routine. And of course my father's dead and here comes Frank Weightman through the door to go upstairs to view the films. They were all going to watch the films to see if they could press charges of pornography. And I guess we were there a good three hours, three and a half hours, when they came down and told us that we could go. They reserved the right to recall me. They told me that they were going to talk to my mother and that no charges were being pressed at that time. But they would have to confer with the postal authorities. They did not find pornography. But they wanted to make sure the Post Office didn't have a different definition of pornography.

MS: Was anyone held overnight as far as you know?

JA: No.

MS: And was any contact made with lawyers for all of you?

JA: No. The representative of Mattachine came in and asked me if I would go public with him and if I had any problems with that. And I figured, "Well I had already blown everything." My mother was certainly going to find out. She was just a telephone call away from Frank Weightman. And he did not call her surprisingly, because he was trying to figure out how he could put this to her. Because she was just a new widow and young. I think she was forty. And so he just sat on it for a little bit. But I didn't know that that was going to happen. I just went home and noticed that everything was alright, and mother didn't say anything, and I felt, "What's going on here? Maybe she doesn't know how to say it or maybe she's embarrassed." She wasn't crying. But then the Mattachine people also came to me afterwards and said, "Would I be willing to publicize this and go public?" And I said, "I have no problem with it whatsoever."

MS: These were the national Mattachine people?

JA: I'm not sure if they were national, but they were definitely with the Mattachine Society. And I told them I had no problem. And they arranged for a television interview at the John Bartram Hotel at Broad and Locust, a very old landmark. And it's funny that it should be there, because my family knew the Bartram family. They were all the old pal group. And how fitting that it was going to be right there in that hotel. And they picked me up and they brought me down for a four o'clock press interview in the ballroom at the hotel. And I just remember being shuttled through from the main entrance and they did have a limo that they picked me up in and came down and a little bit of prep went into what I was going to say.

MS: These were Philadelphians? Or people from New York?

JA: I think they were from New York. And I just remember the hotel corridors as being dark and lots of old wood and stuff like that. And then I went into the room and it was all lights and the cameras, the flashes went off and they asked me about Mattachine. And I explained it and that yes it was my home and why did we have it in the suburbs. That we did not feel safe in the city at that point. And there was no pornography. We had to go over and over and over that. And it did make the Philadelphia Inquirer and it made the Main Line Times.

MS: It did?

JA: That's only published on Thursdays. But then there was a big movement by the Radnor township police to suppress a lot of it because of the nature of it. They were embarrassed and they were afraid. There was talk of bringing a lawsuit against Radnor township for false arrest. And that was back and forth and that's the point at which my mother got involved. Because then the police did call my home and ask for me. And they told her that I had been arrested in a raid. And the rest went down. When I came in, I got the third degree. And I justified it, that I felt that this was a very much needed organization to help people adjust to being gay and coming out. And that no one should have to go through the horrors that I'd gone through to realize who I was.

MS: You said that to your mother?

JA: Yes.

MS: And how did she respond?

JA: I was very open with my mother. My brother Jim had told my mother about three months after my father's passing, but my father already knew because on his way to the hospital in the ambulance, he said to my mother, "As soon as I get something for pain, I want to talk to you about Jack." And he never regained consciousness and then my brother who was rebelling, he was just finishing Radnor High School and due to graduate, didn't want to listen to me. And my mother had basically said I was head of the household. So he said, "Well, he's queer and how could you make him head of the household?". That produced a little riff and then he finished, he did graduate. And he went into the Marines for four years. And that took care of that. So that got that out of the way. And I then decided that she should know everything about homosexuality. And I was just unrelenting in my zeal. I brought home everything there was to read on homosexuality. And I left it on the coffeetable.

MS: Do you remember any of the books?

JA: No. They were all magazines and a lot of it was Mattachine, ONE, there was another one. And she really felt it was a sickness at the time. It was an illness. And then we became very involved after that in working for the American Psychiatric Association to change the definition

MS: Right. That was much later, right?

JA: That was in the '60s.

MS: Can you tell me more? After that raid, what happened with Mattachine, before it became the Janus Society?

JA: I guess that was the point that I had my first lesson in politics. 'Cause I was the fair-haired prince. I had spoken very eloquently about Mattachine. I had supported it. I had been on television. They were not on television. But I was on television. And then it all disappeared. Everybody went away. And I'm in Philadelphia and this has been on television, but they're gone. And I don't even know who they are at this point. I was flattered by the limo and everything that happened, but then it just fell. And people sort of ran. They were afraid of being identified with the Mattachine Society in Philadelphia at the time. And they all went back into their closets. And I found myself out there. And not knowing where to go. Certainly everybody in my neighborhood knew what was going on. And also I was at that time running the first after-hours place in Philadelphia called the Stables. And this had started before my father died. He had been very ill, so that was not a problem. And we had a dance club very other Saturday night in the stables, and it was called the Stables.

MS: Out in Radnor?

JA: Mmhhm [assent].

MS: This was an illegal thing, right?

JA: No, this was a donation at the door of three dollars and we filled two huge bathtubs that were all redone. I knew that it was a bathtub underneath but nobody else did. They were all enclosed and inclined and stuff like that. My family had used this in entertaining. My father had left music and he was with Aetna Life Insurance Company. And for large parties they would have a ruby punch and a gold punch. And one was made with port and the other with sauterne. And then we had kegs of beer and we had a 45 rpm RCA thing and a disc jockey who was a very nice black fellow.

MS: Now how did this start? How did this start?

JA: And again just we needed someplace to socialize, so we invited people over and then they invited people. And then we decided to charge because it had just gotten out of hand so quickly.

MS: Whose the "we" that you're referring to?

JA: My friend Lee and his lover Noel. They're both dead.

MS: What was Lee's last name?

JA: Odell.

MS: And what was Noel's?

JA: Compton, Noel Compton. And he was a very eloquent gentleman. Noel Compton. His father was ambassador to the United States representing the Caribbean. And he was highly educated. Lived out here in Los Angeles, was married. He lost his wife to leukemia. His house slid down the hillside in the rains and he got on the next plane out. It landed in Philadelphia and that's how Lee and Noel got started.

MS: And he was black.

JA: He was of color. A very distinguished person, but one would have to say he was of color. Very fair skin and spoke the King's English.

MS: Lee was white?

JA: Yes. And had been in the Navy for twenty some years.

MS: Lee had been?

JA: Yes.

MS: So they were encouraging you as you started to turn the Stables into an after-hours club?

JA: Yeah.

MS: How many people would come on an average Saturday night?

JA: Well, four hundred.

MS: Four hundred people. All men?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent]. There were some girls, but by and large, it was mostly all men.

MS: And again, was it mostly white?

JA: It was a good mix.

MS: Yeah?

JA: Yeah. And it's amazing how everything was underground. Everybody was afraid if you were a professional to go into the major clubs. I was afraid. People were being arrested, harassed, in them. And they were looking for a place again that was safe. This was in the country. There was no traffic. It's on the side of a hill. There are no street lights and it was part of an estate. It was a very nice place. And this had gotten so that there were people coming from Utica and from Princeton. We had politicians coming, assemblypeople coming, priests, lawyers.

MS: Do you want to name any? Do you want to name any of them?

JA: No. I don't remember.

MS: I'm curious. The raid, then, happened after the Saturday night club had been going on for some time.

JA: Yes.

MS: So do you think that the police raided the meeting partly because they knew what was going on on Saturday nights and they wanted to put a stop to that?

JA: Well, they found themselves in an embarrassing situation with the Stables. It was so well attended and by so many affluent people that they were afraid to raid it. They didn't want it there, but they were afraid that if they opened the hornet's nest, somebody was going to get stung. How could this happen in the heart of the Main Line of Philadelphia? With all the bluebloods and priests and doctors and lawyers and married people. And this just could not be happening in their community. So they didn't want to touch it at all. They really, really did not want to. Then we had the Mattachine and they were forced in. But again, they never brought up the Stables. What they did do was, immediately after the Mattachine raid, they then began to bring pressure against us with our cesspools. And that we were contaminating. Our cesspools were not functioning properly. We were contaminating well water. And we had to rip up a huge part of the lawn to replace them. And we did that. And then they kept finding. Every month it was something else. And so after the raid, we decided that it was too hot and we really wanted to make it more private. So what we did was we reopened. We went up a dollar from three to four, we issued membership cards, and we called it Laissez Care, which is The Stables in French. And we were off and running until we closed in 1962. 'Cause I had moved on in my life, in a relationship, and actually had left home.

MS: Right. When did you leave home? 

JA: October of 1960.

Barbara Gittings

Barbara Gittings, 1970. Photo courtesy Kay Tobin Lahusen.

MS: You mentioned before we starting taping your first encounter with Barbara Gittings. Can you talk a little bit about what you knew about her back then?

JA: Well, I was doing the Stables, the raid had taken place, and I was told, again these were professional people, that there was this woman, an author, that wanted to talk to me about the raid, and would I please meet with her. And I felt very uncomfortable and I had never really known a militant lesbian before. Barbara is six years older than I am, but back then, I remember going to her apartment vividly, and she was in a rocking chair in a long dress, smoking a pipe. And I was a young whippersnapper compared to Barbara, who was very worldly and in the movement. But the movements were not joined together at that point when I met Barbara.

MS: How did you meet her?

JA: People set it up, and I don't even recall who set the interview up, gave me her address, gave me the appointment time, and I went and rang the doorbell.

MS: And was she interested in talking to you because she was writing something for publication?

JA: On the Mattachine raid.

MS: I see.

JA: And she wanted to know the details of it.

MS: I see.

JA: So I was very, very uncomfortable, because I had never seen a woman smoking a pipe. She had on these high shoes, and she was just like in her great-grandmother's clothes. I thought, "My god, this old biddy." And of course she wasn't. The apartment was dark and I just really felt very intimidated. And she wanted all the details, which I gave her, of the Radnor raid, and well we concluded our interview. And that was really the last time. I'd had some other meetings with her and some of the original people when we started the Daughters of Bilitis. And Barbara was not a real big joiner, even in those days. [She was] a supporter and she would work for the movement, but she wasn't going to get involved in the politics of the organization. And after a year of holding meetings for the Daughters of Bilitis, it had gotten to a point where the women really wanted the organization back.

MS: Can you tell me when you first started trying to establish a DOB chapter. We were talking about that before.

JA: It was '62.

MS: And it was Barbara's idea?

JA: I don't think it was Barbara's idea. But it all came out of the Mattachine, the women that were coming to the Mattachine.

MS: Thought that there should be a D.O.B. chapter?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent]. But they didn't want to be affiliated with it. They wanted it to happen, but they didn't want to. They didn't have the money. They didn't have the resources or the wherewithal to do it.

MS: So they didn't want an affiliation with the national organization?

JA: No, no. Though I know we had been in touch with the national organization. And I remember that there was a lot of talk about men. And then what we did, in our process of turning it over, we had co-presidents. It was myself and a woman.

MS: Do you remember who it was?

JA: No.

MS: So it's very surprising to me.

JA: And then I pulled out.

MS: It was two men, then, that started, you're saying, the DOB chapter?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent].

MS: Around '62?

JA: Yes.

MS: And how many women, would you say, would come to meetings?

JA: Only a handful. I think we had ten or twelve, never more than fifteen.

MS: And it would be entirely directed toward lesbian concerns?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent].

MS: Is that right?

JA: And it really turned out to be, I felt at the time, more of a social thing. And there was a lot to do with cookies and tea and crumpets and that sort of thing. They wanted to use it as a social club.

MS: Was there any hostility to your being a man and leading the group?

JA: Not in the beginning, but as it stabilized, then it was time to move on. And if, as I'd said, we hadn't gracefully moved on, we would have been bumped out. And it was disappointing. So many of these organizations would start and they would flourish for a year, a year and a half, or two, and then collapse. And it's because they got, again, away from the original mission of the organization and got sidetracked into everybody's little agendas. And people took issue with Clark, so they stopped coming to Janus and fought it. And they took issue with Mattachine and it went down, the S/M thing, the Gay Academic Union went down.

MS: Did you say earlier that Clark had a hand in starting the DOB chapter?

JA: He and I together.

MS: So it was the two of you who were leading the group?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent].

MS: Was the idea that there needed to be a counterpart to Mattachine because Mattachine was mostly men? Or what was the idea?

JA: Well it was our desire to get everybody in the community involved and this was the obvious women's group.

MS: I see.

JA: And there was no mistake about that. And we felt that if we could get Janus rolling and the Daughters of Bilitis, that we could marry the two, at least for functions and events. That we'd be talking back and forth.

MS: But now there were a lot of women involved with Janus, right?

JA: Yeah.

MS: So why have another group?

JA: Initially, yes. And then they took issue with Clark's abrasiveness.

MS: I see.

JA: And they really didn't want to come back. We had started the DOB. And his abrasiveness was taking place in Janus. And they just eventually all went over to the other and Janus collapsed.

MS: Right. What do you remember about Janus's activities? Did you go to any of the lectures that they sponsored?

JA: Yes.

MS: Do you remember any of them?

JA: In fact, I worked on getting a good many of them set up. And in that time period what we were always moving towards was the [Philadelphia] Gay Task Force. It is really where I was always headed. And we just could not seem to get there. And even today, I'm not sure that it's in the right place, that they're doing what they should be doing. But I really wanted an organization that would encompass everybody. And the other thing that we were moving towards and came about was the Philadelphia Community Health Alternatives. Several of us played a major role in the development of that.

MS: Now that was much later, is that right?

JA: Yes, that came much later, but it really is where we were headed. I saw an organization existing that would embody all the health sciences. As a young gay person, I could not identify a gay doctor to go to for me. And I wanted to put together an organization that took in everybody from every discipline in the health sciences for a referral service. And so I could go and say, "I have this problem or I had this sex last night or a piercing or whatever," but there was no one that you could go to. And if a doctor found out you were gay, many times he would not treat you or you did not get the proper treatment.

MS: Did you ever have any bad experiences with doctors?

JA: Yes.

MS: In the '60s?

JA: Yes.

MS: Well could you describe them?

JA: They simply didn't want to take care of you.

MS: Can you describe any examples?

JA: You couldn't even talk to them. I had my own surgeon, Dr. Julius Sterling, at Einstein Northern Division. And he lectured me. I mean I was at Einstein for four years and he operated on me for a hernia and then for anal warts. And he told me that it was my anal intercourse that was doing this to me and how dirty and oh just. And I walked our of his office that day and I vowed I would never see him again as a physician. And never did. And he went on to develop the first liver transplant and everything else. I highly regard him, but I could never go back to him. And you couldn't go to a psychiatrist. This was before the change in the '60s. There was just no place.

MS: Did you ever go to any psychiatrists in Philadelphia?

JA: No. I had known a lot of them.

MS: Did you know about Samuel Hadden at Penn?

JA: No.

MS: Or Joseph Wolpe at Temple?

JA: I knew him.

MS: Do you remember anything about him?

JA: Nothing remarkable.

MS: He was the one doing electroshock therapy. 

JA: Yes. And in the '60s, I was at Temple. You had Siegel and Weiss that had developed stereotaxis for Parkinson's. You had Michael Weiss, who was the father of modern neurosurgery. I worked with all these people. We developed the first arteriogram at Temple, which was way beyond the state of the art of anything else in the city. Michael Scott was the father of neurosurgery. I worked with all of these people.

Philadelphia Inquirer Bicentennial Headline

Bicenntential Anniversary Headlines. From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 July 1976.

MS: Could we maybe zoom up ahead then and talk about the Bicentennial.

JA: Well Barbara and I sort of went our different routes. I always knew of her existence.

MS: Did you participate in any of the July Fourth Independence Hall demonstrations?

JA: Yes.

MS: You were among the marchers? Do you remember anything about them?

JA: It was very exciting. We were kept off to one side, sidelined really, for a very good portion of it. And we were off of 6th Street, in fact. And there was a lot of heckling going on back then.

MS: Was there a dress code for the demonstration?

JA: Not that I recall.

MS: Do you remember who were the organizers?

JA: At that point, a number of other of groups had come into play. And no, I do not know directly the organizers of it. I was part of it, but not in that particular group.

MS: Did you march all five years that it happened? It happened from '65 to '69.

JA: Yes.

MS: And did you participate in any of the activities of ECHO, the East Coast Homophile Organizations. They had their conference in Philadelphia in 1963?

JA: No. No.

MS: So I'm sorry, I interrupted you again about Barbara. Did you have further dealings with her in the '60s?

JA: I'm sure that we did, but not anything that really stuck with me. And it was at a fundraiser for the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Task Force. They would have these gatherings, they were called, and I hosted several of them at my home. And I ran into her at one of them. And I said, "Barbara!" And she turned around and it was, "Jack!" Where have we been the last fifteen or eighteen years. And then we were just right back, fast friends again, that we had been before. It was as if we had never lost a step and we had both come along and we had both done. And it remains that way to this day.

MS: Now when do you think you became more comfortable with lesbians, because you describe your first meeting with Barbara as your being quite intimidated and being quite inexperienced dealing with lesbians.

JA: Well along the way.

MS: Where did you meet lesbians or where would you have encountered lesbians?

JA: Well, we had them in the early '60s. Some went to the Stables. Then through Mattachine and Janus, DOB. And I sort of dropped out of all that for a period. And I guess most of my contact was through my professional circles with gay women. It wasn't certainly in a bar scene. And in entertaining. Some people felt that I was pushing it too much. I would have very large Christmas parties that were trim the tree. And then they got so big that everybody brought a dish of something or another.

MS: But some people thought you went too far with having lesbians around?

JA: Yes.

MS: Do you remember what was said to you?

JA: Well, just that a lot of the men would come to the parties and it was a great place to meet people and also to carry on, because the house was very large. And they felt uncomfortable around women. That was in my own home and my own experience. And they would come and tell me that they felt uncomfortable. And why did I invite so many women to my parties? Well, at this point I was even branching out. Rather than have two parties, I was combining straight and gay at that point. I didn't care what anybody thought. They all knew, so why not put everybody together? Makes for a more interesting party.

MS: When did it come together like that?

JA: In the '80s.

MS: In the '80s.

JA: And at first I had a lot of resistance from the gay men in the group. Also, Barbara and I shared one thing in common. We consider ourselves to be gay. Not lesbian. Barbara believes man or woman that you're gay.

MS: Right.

JA: And I also believe that, too. I don't like the distinction of putting the lesbian in there, but they seem to feel it's an identity issue. I feel a little bit uncomfortable with it, because it's a more harsh word.

MS: Lesbian is?

JA: Yeah.

MS: Given that you just said that, what was your response when the women's movement really took off in the early '70s?

JA: Well I was delighted, but I also was a maverick in that I opposed clubs that prohibited women from coming in. One of my dearest friends is a woman, not gay, but her husband is. And they wanted to go dancing in the clubs and the clubs would not let her in. And this was just a straight woman and beautiful, but they even took her husband's membership away from him, a private club. Because they didn't want him bringing her. There was really a lot of discrimination against women. I think it has eased up a little bit. But also there was a lot back; women also discriminated. And very much wanted their own. And even out here, in Palm Springs for the Dinah Shore golf tournament, the women don't want anything to do with the men. They have their own hotels that they stay at and they have their own people at the door. And I went over to collect money for a fundraiser that they had put on for this AIDS organization that I headed up. And they would not let me in. I had to stand outside while they brought the money out to me. And this was in the afternoon at four o'clock. So that was as little as two years ago. So it's on both sides that you have it. I think the men are more accustomed now to the women. And I think that what women have done is absolutely remarkable. Because they have held the movement together in many key areas. And they have been there. They may not have as many resources that some of the men do, but they are there. They really hold it together.

MS: What were your chief involvements in the early '70s? How would you characterize that period of your life in Philadelphia?

JA: Well, I was teaching, I was doing a lot of corporate work. And when it came to my gay involvement, it basically was seeking acceptance of gay people in the walks of life that I was walking in. Predominantly the education field.

MS: So this was when you were involved with the Gay Academic Union?

JA: Yes.

MS: And what was your role in it?

JA: I was one of the founders of it, the Philadelphia chapter, and then hosted meetings, supported it.

MS: When did it start?

JA: In the early '70s. I'd have to go back to my original program.

MS: Who were the other founders?

JA: Lee Robbins. And we met most of the time at his place on Pine Street, around 21st and Pine.

MS: And what did you all do?

JA: Well, a big issue of the day was the safety of professors coming out and teachers coming out. And we were working with the teachers' union in Philadelphia for sensitivity training. And the teachers were afraid to come out for fear that they would lose their jobs or they'd be put into an administrative position and they really wanted to be in the classroom. It was easier on a collegiate level to come out, very, very different on my level to come out. But we were trying to pave the road whereby your secondary school and primary school teachers could be comfortable and be gay and safe within the system. That you weren't trying to convert children or molest them and that type of thing. And those were very big issues at that time. We had a lot of success. Rita's picked it up since in Philadelphia with what she's doing with the school board. But again sometimes I think her tactics are abrasive and she thwarts some of the excellent work that she's doing.

MS: Well maybe we should finish up or begin to finish up. I was beginning to ask about the Bicentennial. We were talking about that a little bit earlier. Sounds like you were wearing several different hats during the celebration.

JA: I was all over the place. I had been invited to be one of the 200 people to participate in the moving of the Liberty Bell at midnight on New Year's Eve. And that was exciting. I also, as a result of that, was able to open that up to a lot of the gay community at the time. Not only did I bring my family and my lover, but my kids and as many gay people as I could get to go. It was a dress affair, so formal attire was required and some didn't want to wear it. Nonetheless, we met afterwards around two in the morning for a gala celebration at my home. I can see Independence Hall from the window.

MS: Where was the home?

JA: 4th and Locust. And I could look right out and see the bell tower of Independence Hall. And the evening was cold. It was pouring rain, torrential rains. And we left the Mint and all of that and went down to Independence Hall to move the bell. So the women's evening gowns soaked up all the rainwater and puddles and it was just a terrible mess. We were just sponges. And then afterwards, after those ceremonies were over, we came back to the house and changed clothes and raided closets to get things to fit everybody so they could get out of their wet clothes. And that was one element. It was preceded by a fancy dinner at 2nd and Chestnut, City Tavern.

MS: So you were very much on the inside of the celebration?

JA: Yes. And then the next day was parade day. And let's see, that was the Mummer's Parade. The other thing that we had always been trying to do, could never do, was to get a gay Mummer's unit together. And I think they have one now, but they did not at the time. And we probably would have run into the same thing that New York has run into with the St. Patrick's Day parade. But the major parade then took place for the Bicentennial and that was July Fourth. And that's where the protest took place and a lot of it took place alongside of Independence Hall.

MS: Were you part of the protest?

JA: Yes.

MS: What did you do?

JA: Well, I was there. We were there in attendance with whistles and noisemakers. And basically just being out, letting people see.

MS: What was the issue? Why were people protesting?

JA: Well it was the celebration of the country. And we had initially wanted to have a contingent in the parade but that had been denied. We did not know whether we would be allowed into the parade right up to, I think, two days before. And they didn't know really where to put the group and what it would look like and what message this would be sending to the country. And largely the protest that came along afterwards on the side street was about our not being able to have a prominent place in that celebration. We were disenfranchised.

MS: So it was a gay protest? It was not a general protest?

JA: It was a gay protest.

MS: Because other people have told me about participating in a coalition of groups that were protesting.

JA: The one that I was in was gay. And I know that NOW was there and there were a number of others from Planned Parenthood. But that was another group that was just down the street from us.

Jack Adair at his wedding

Jack Adair and John S. Mix at their commitment ceremony in the early 1990s. Photo courtesy Jack Adair.

MS: Now you mentioned in describing the day that you brought your kids. Now that is something that we haven't talked about. You were a foster parent for a large number of children?

JA: Bob and I became involved actually with raising what now numbers eighteen. There were more, but they were more individuals that had a crisis at a particular point, dropped in, and dropped out. But nonetheless we played a very vital role, including their college education. The others were basically throwaway children that we took in, that came usually referred by someone else that had already been with us and then knew of someone else.

MS: Now this was not done officially, right?

JA: No.

MS: When did this start?

JA: I guess the first one was 1965. And he is a physician, Michael Lay, in Georgia. And we put him through medical school.

MS: And how many of the eighteen did you adopt?

JA: There's four that carry the name.

MS: And for those four you did the official legal process.

JA: Yes.

MS: And were they always teenagers? Were they sometimes younger kids?

JA: Well Tommy came to us when he was twelve. And he will be twenty-six on the twenty-seventh of this month. He has always been with us. Moved out here with us. We bought him a house in the desert. He pays the mortgage. And he has an eight-year old daughter that's out here, Tabitha, with him.

MS: So is he the youngest that you adopted?

JA: He is, yes.

MS: What was the oldest?

JA: Well Cale is probably. Cale's in San Francisco. He's gay, has had a lover for fifteen years. And I guess he would be about forty-four. Dale, who died in 1985, would be around that age now, too.

MS: How many of the kids turned out to be gay?

JA: Well, there was Dale and Cale, Scott. Scott has both our last names, Scott Tucker Adair. Michael Ergo. That's four.

MS: Was it all boys that you adopted?

JA: Yes.

MS: And you said you never had any trouble with any official agencies.

JA: No.

MS: The foster care was sort of more informal? You had no trouble?

JA: It was family life. That's how we always operated. We always sat down for dinner, every night.

MS: So you would have eighteen for dinner?

JA: Many times. Well, even here, and some are in Canada and a lot are on the East Coast, but we had thirty-eight for dinner for Easter. And that doesn't include all the kids.

MS: Why did you get so taken with taking care of these kids?

JA: Well, I always wanted to have children. Realizing that I was gay and that I was not going to follow the traditional marriage route, I still wanted kids. And this opportunity presented itself, the first one being Michael Luddy. His nickname was Buster and he served as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. His family had abandoned him and he rang my doorbell. That's how that got started. And it was interesting. He was older and we had been seeing each other. I had been dating him, if you will. He was straight. So when he got pushed out, he came to me. And that ended any further sexual interest in him. I could not wear both those hats. If you're going to play, then, but if you're moving in, we go back to a mother/father situation. And that's really what happened. And he's married, has children.

MS: So he was the first?

JA: Yes. And Dale came along. Dale was in college and his father had abandoned him. His mother died. I met him in Rittenhouse Square. I always had a knack for meeting people in engineering. I don't know why. And he was at Rensselaer Polytechnic. And three months later, he was in.

MS: So you had also been dating him first?

JA: Yes.

MS: Were most of the eighteen boys you fostered ones that you met first?

JA: No.

MS: Just some of them?

JA: And Dale was already finishing his freshman year and then he transferred down here to Temple. We couldn't even get his father to come to the hospital to say goodbye to him in 1985 when he died.

MS: You said before, I think, that you never had any trouble from neighbors or other parents or anything like that.

JA: No, in fact one of our neighbors is a psychiatrist with the Philadelphia family court system, and he was very favorably impressed with what we were doing. And the kids all, at some point or another, to make money--we were not a condominium, but we did have a homeowners' association and I was president of it for eight years and Bob was in charge of maintenance for the twenty-one years that we lived there–he could hire them to work, to sweep leaves and weed and garden and stuff like that and clean once a week. So all of the neighbors got to know the kids. And everybody met them at Christmas parties and everything else. They were very anxious to really come and see how well they were doing. And it's surprising. Tommy will catch me off guard. When he talks to other people--he doesn't say it to me--they'll come and they'll say to me, "He paid you a compliment that we've never heard before. He told us that he would not be alive today if it were not for you." And how wonderful that must be. And after Bob died, Tommy made an attempt on his life, because he thought I was going to go. May 25th, 1991.

MS: Tommy's the one who moved out here with you?

JA: Yes. He went into his room and he left a note and he felt that I was depressed. There were people saying that they doubted that I would last more than six months. And he was afraid and so he thought he would go first. And I discovered him. And he's really come around, but it also helped bring me around, too. But the eighteenth grandkid was born just three days before Bob's service.

MS: So you have eighteen grandkids as well as the eighteen children?

JA: Yes. There are eighteen kids and eighteen grandkids. And it was interesting. I was in here, and one of the people I know in the desert who is a social worker, lovely lady–in fact Tom has dated her daughter--called me up to say that on Geraldo there was somebody from American Family Coalition that said, "Would you believe we discovered in Philadelphia a man who has adopted eighteen kids?" And she said, "Jack, you're on television!" And I said, "Well, I've been here for four and a half years, so they're just catching on to something that went on." But even with the kids that had family, like Tommy's mother never is in touch with him, he didn't go to his father's funeral, he died two years ago. And there's just no contact.

MS: You said something earlier that it was your experiences as a child yourself that made you want to do this for other kids. Could you say something more about that?

JA: Well, I just felt that no one should have to go through the abuse. And some of them had been abused. And we've certainly taken care of that. But also I've wanted to be able to help in any way that I could. And it's ironic that you have two gay people that have really looked after fourteen straight kids and have picked up where their families left them, on the street, in the winter, at twelve years of age. They told Tommy they could no longer afford to keep him. It was a choice of feeding his sister or him. And his brother committed suicide. He died on his birthday and he died in my hospital. He overdosed on insulin and they never discovered him. And by the time they got to him he was brain dead. And then Tommy came along and we knew of that case. I didn't know Tommy at that point, but then he came as a result of somebody that we hired to clean the courtyard. And he was eighteen, Tommy was twelve. He was a tag along. The kid said, "I don't know what to do with him. He had no place to go. It's winter. Can you put him up for a couple of days?" And he just never left. In fact when he found out we were moving, we told him we were leaving Philadelphia on September 1st, 1988. He moved in on August 1st to make sure he was not left out. They've all walked in the AIDS marches, they've gone to all the gay pride events, the march on Washington. They've all carried banners.

MS: What do they call you?

JA: Well, it's a mix. Bob was really the father image and I was always mother. And now I guess they sort of don't know what to call me.

MS: So they used to call you Mom?

JA: Mom, yes. And I still get called Mom by most of them. And Tommy is very open. All of them are very open. And they tell everybody they had two gay parents. Before it was Bob and now they're getting used to John. But Tommy tells them before he brings them home that his father is gay and that he loves me very much and that's how it is. I've never had a problem with any of the girls, not any of them. The problem stills lies with the fact that most of them don't have any relationship with their real mother and father. And they suffer very badly from that. My Mark in Alameda has three kids and he has his own computer business. He's thirty-two, a beautiful person.

MS: All the kids get along with one another?

JA: Mark always considers himself number one, but basically yes. And they all pull together, and if one of them has a problem, they all do come together.

MS: Are they all white?

JA: Yes.

MS: Why is that, do you think?

JA: It's just the way it happened, it, It wasn't by any design. I certainly would have not been opposed. In fact I used to raise eyebrows because I had a number of and they had a number of black friends, who we would invite to the boat, which is redneck country. It was the Chesapeake. And they just did not want to see at the yacht club blacks coming. Bob was always sort of sensitive to other people. I just ignored them. It didn't matter to me, but it mattered to him. And girls, we had limited amount of space, even though the house was large. We couldn't. And with the hormones running, we had enough problems with girls getting pregnant in the house. And when you have kids that are under eighteen and the girls are under eighteen, it's statutory rape. And I certainly didn't want to be dragged into that as a gay male.

MS: Right.

JA: Looking as though I had condoned or approved or made it possible for them to get pregnant.

MS: On a totally different topic, did you ever experience any discrimination in the workplace in any of your jobs?

JA: Probably, but not that I am consciously aware of. I really plowed ahead and I didn't care. I'm sure that I was promoted and then people found out. But what were they going to do?

MS: Did people at work know you were gay?

JA: Absolutely. And in fact on any job interview the first thing that I usually do is get that subject out of the way. And I tell them, "I am and I have a lover and I've been in a stable relationship for thirty years. Now it's one and a half. And I have children. And if we have a problem, then we shouldn't go on any longer. I don't want to waste your time, don't waste mine, thank you very much." "No, no, stay."

MS: Did you ever get a job or help someone get a job through gay networks.

JA: I've gotten a lot of people jobs. But usually by picking the phone up and doing it.

MS: What do you mean?

JA: Calling people up and say, "I've got a great social worker here," or whatever. Certainly all my kids worked at the hospital, as well as a lot of others. I was constantly pulling gay people in. I would actively recruit gay department heads and had a number of them. My head of x-ray, my head of cat scan, my head of respiratory therapy, were gay.

MS: This is going back to and including the '60s?

JA: No, this was in the '80s when I was a hospital administrator.

MS: Did you ever do that sort of thing in the 60s or 70s?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent].

MS: The reason I ask that is that a lot of people who are studying the African American community or other ethnic communities have found that it's very common for people to use their communities to get work.

JA: Mmhhmm [assent].

MS: And I'm curious to find out whether that's true in the lesbian and gay community.

JA: I always did. And I would always tap the resources that I had available to me. And what better than to help our own?

MS: You helped lesbians as well or just gays?

JA: Yes, it didn't matter.

MS: Yeah? Do you remember any specific cases? In the '60s?

JA: Social work. And that was what I was really priming the pump for: the network of health care providers. And I was trying to gather everybody and sort of hold a team together. And in my teaching I hired gay teachers. And of course being out, I knew in my medical technology program and in my x-ray program just who to tap in the community.

MS: What would you say to critics who would say that you were showing favoritism?

JA: I think society's showed favoritism to heterosexuals for 200 years. And it's my turn. And it's part of the educational process. I use it as an educational process.

MS: How do you mean?

JA: I use other gay people. When I bring them into a hospital situation as a department head, it's a recognition of achievement. And everybody else has to work with them. I headed up fifteen departments, ancillary departments. And there were a lot of old timers there, Italian department heads that had been department heads for thirty-five years. They don't want to work with a young person let alone a gay person. And in social work, I would look for it. It was stability as far as I was concerned.

MS: Did anybody ever help you get a job?

JA: No.

MS: Or use that kind of network?

JA: No.

MS: Not even Lee?

JA: Lee, I think, yes, I'd have to give Lee credit for pushing me towards Franklin School in 1964. I went to work there in '64 as an instructor.

MS: How did he help?

JA: He saw the ad and encouraged me. And my credentials were fine.

MS: Encouraged you to apply, but he didn't have any inside role.

JA: No, they wrote letters of recommendation. My other job, at Guiffre Medical Center at 8th and Girard, I was the odd man out. I mean I was not Italian, I was not Mafia. And I knew what I was doing. I don't know how I ended up there, but they're better off for it. And many of the people that are there now, in the business office, James Estevez, whose one of my kids, he's been there for twelve years, fourteen years. Tom Toner is head of respiratory. I hired him.

MS: So it was not only gay people you were helping get jobs.

JA: Straight and gay. Tom's gay. And my head of anaesthesiology, I've always had a gay one there and would not know what to do without them.

MS: What do you mean?

JA: Because they don't carry a lot of the, "I'm off, it's not my job." If I had a problem in the middle of the night, I knew I could phone up and my CT person would show up and then everybody else shows up, too.

MS: On another totally different topic, I'm also interested in trying trace the development of lesbian and gay neighborhoods in Philadelphia. And I'm wondering, when you lived in Philly in the '60s or '70s, if there were any neighborhoods you thought of as the gay neighborhood?

JA: Well, we've always been known for gentrifying. And in the '60s, we gentrified the Fairmount section. And in fact I still own homes on 22nd Street in the Fairmount section right across from the prison. But in 1967, I bought a home there, 750 N. 22nd. Dale, one of my kids, bought the house next door, at 752. But that's Ken Parker's area. He's a very well-known architect. But that really came about, that gentrification. We did the same in Society Hill. I moved there in 1967, when really South Street was not a place you wanted to be.

MS: Where did you move in '67?

JA: 4th and Locust, Society Hill.

MS: Where did you live before that?

JA: Before that I lived in Roxborough on Leverington Avenue, 631 Leverington, corner of Leverington and Henry Avenue.

MS: Did you see Center City as a whole as Philly's gay neighborhood, like the Village in New York or like West Hollywood?

JA: Spruce Street has always been gay for as long as I can remember. And just below, not Society Hill, but I can't think of the name, but it is down there around American Street.

MS: Northern Liberties?

JA: No, that now has a lot of gay people. It's south. Society Hill.

MS: Queen Village?

JA: Queen Village, I guess, but it's in the low numbers, say between Front and 8th and just past Society Hill.

MS: What about Rittenhouse Square?

JA: That was very gay when I first came out. Rittenhouse Square was the meeting place, in fact.

MS: Did you spend a lot of time there?

JA: I did. And one of the things that Clark and I, back to that, disagreed on was our approach. In seeking acceptance and to get acceptance and recognition in the community, I was very much for a public works program by gay people. We used Rittenhouse Square. It was quite a place. And I felt that we should beautify it. The same with Washington Square. Back then it was nothing for two or three hundred people on a spring evening to be in Rittenhouse Square. And everybody had their own little clique and location and just met.

MS: Right.

JA: Why not plant daffodils and tulips and roses and clean the place up? Because also, it was getting a bad reputation.

MS: And Clark didn't like this idea? Why? Do you remember?

JA: No. Oh, we shouldn't kowtow to straight society. Let them clean their own park. I said, "Look, if you want to make an impression, clean it up. Don't ruin it. People will take notice. They see things planted and whose doing it. It's an excellent way of getting recognition without screaming." But that did not prevail. He wanted direct confrontation and then a little bit later Mark Segal came in with locking himself to the Liberty Bell in Independence Hall and we were off and running off with a whole new definition of advocacy in the movement. So some of the more gentler things got lost. But that was when everything really changed, in the late '60s, '68, '69.

MS: What changed, do you think?

JA: Well, we had the advent, as we had discussed earlier, of the bathhouses and the changing ways. Then we got into Stonewall and the movement being born in '69 and being out and open and that was very heady. So everything really, even though it was very peppy and invigorating in the early '60s, where you really felt that you owned the country and there was no end to what you could do, it took a dramatic shift with the bathhouses.

MS: Did Stonewall have any effect directly on you? Do you remember how you heard about it?

JA: Well I knew about it immediately. The network certainly made it a point. And I think we went to New York to Stonewall that next day.

MS: Is that right? You and who?

JA: Bob and Carlo and Fitz. It was only ninety miles away.

MS: There was rioting in New York for a few days, right?

JA: Mmhhmm [assent]. And they just refused, well they weren't going to let them close the bar and continue that harassment. And by the time we got there a lot of screamers were there, too. We come from all walks of life, but the newspapers, the media like to play up the radical elements more than the stable ones.

MS: When you say screamers, do you mean drag queens or do you mean militants?

JA: Drag queens. Well our movement has gotten, if we go to have a gay pride parade and it gets fractionalized into every conceivable group that you can have, rather than just being one group, homogenized, and everybody needs to have their turf and jockey for a position in the parade. And I think in doing that you lose the whole purpose of it, to me anyway. We don't need to be that fractioned all the time. And I think there's some movement about to cut down on a little bit of that now. As with the St. Patrick's Day Parade and, well, the gay pride parades that we went to in New York, they got too subdivided. And it really takes away from the whole feeling we've been trying to put forth.

MS: Well is there anything else you want to finish up on? Any concluding words?

JA: Well, I'm glad I'm gay. And I always will be gay and I do believe that my god created me this way. And I hope that what little I have done in my life has been to improve the quality of all of our lives and the heterosexuals of our community, too, to improve their lives, for having them know me and know of the work that we do. And the challenge in meeting AIDS is still a formidable one and lies ahead of us as a national horror. I hope that it's declining in our own ranks. But it's still scary how complacent people become and the rise once again of unprotected sex in the gay community is troublesome. And it is really a tragedy for the whole gay movement, if you will, I hate to use that word, that AIDS has so distracted us. On the one hand, it's very good that it did pull the community together, to unite, to raise money, to combat this, to heighten awareness. It got people working together. But if we didn't have to deal with AIDS, just think what we could have done as a movement. We would be thirty years ahead. Many of these things that are met today would be behind us. We could have devoted all that talent. But again maybe we wouldn't have had that talent unless there was a major catastrophe in our ranks to pull us together and say, "Yes, we can fight, but let's get this fundraiser done and pull together." And by that we grow and we move on. I feel that I'm a very fortunate member of the gay community, having had a wonderful relationship and well along in my second very beautiful relationship. I feel very, very lucky. And I don't have a whole lot going for me. As the kids would say, a common expression is I'm no day on the beach. But for me to be able to have this beauty in my life, that which I had and that which I now have, I think is really wonderful and I'm just very fortunate. So maybe all the work that everyone has done has brought me to this place.

MS: Well I'm very fortunate for having been able to talk to you today. Thank you.