Joseph McGrory (1937-2014), Interviewed October 19, 1993
by Marc Stein. Copyright © Marc Stein 2017. All rights reserved.
I interviewed Joseph McGrory in his home in Center City, Philadelphia, in October 1993. I do not recall the circumstances that led me to interview him, but the transcript suggests that we may have met at a public lecture given by James Woods, whom I had known when he was a Ph.D. student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania; Woods was the author of the 1994 book The Corporate Closet: The Professional Lives of Gay Men in America.
This was perhaps the most difficult of my interviews to transcribe. The sound quality of the tape was poor; McGrory may have been too far away from the microphone; and he mumbled. This is why the transcript below contains various gaps. It also might explain why McGrory’s was one of only two interviews from which I used no quotations in my book City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves.
According to an online obituary, McGrory died after a brief illness on 9 May 2014.
Date of Birth: 8 February 1937
Place of Birth: Philadelphia
Place of Mother's Birth: Pennsylvania
Mother's Occupation: Clerical Worker, Hospital Administrative Staff
Place of Father's Birth: Philadelphia
Father's Occupation: Truck Driver
Race/Ethnicity: White, Irish American
Religious Background: Christian (Raised Catholic, Became Episcopalian)
Class Background: Working Class
1937-40: Water and Tasker Streets, South Philadelphia
1940-43: 1624 Bailey Street, South Philadelphia
1943-60: 1602 Bailey Street, South Philadelphia
1960-63: Girard College, North Philadelphia
1963-64: 1602 Bailey Street, South Philadelphia
1964-68: 111 S. 21st St., Center City, Philadelphia
1968-72: Logan Street, Woddbury, New Jersey
1972-76: 2738 Island Avenue, Eastwick, Philadelphia
1976-93: 506 S. 11th Street, Center City, Philadelphia
1954: Mail Clerk, Distillery
1954-59: Lab Technician, Franklin Institute
1959-60: Trainee, Monastery, Springfield, Illinois
1960: Biological Lab Technician, Smith, Kline, and French
1960: Air Force Reserves
1961-63: Student, Temple University
1963-64: Graduate Assistant, Temple University
1964-68: Psychologist, Girard College
1968-69: Assistant Professr of Psychology, Atlantic Community College
1969-74: Dean of Instruction (Liberal Arts), Spring Garden College
1973-91: Professor of Psychology, Spring Garden College
Marc Stein Interview with Joseph McGrory, 19 October 1993. Transcribed by Lisa Williams and Marc Stein.
MS: This is Marc Stein and I'm interviewing Joseph McGrory at his home in Center City on October 19th, 1993.
JM: Right in the middle of the Swish Alps.
MS: And I just thought I would start by asking you to say something about your childhood years, your family, just the basic sort of information about how you grew up.
JM: Well I had a mother and a father and seven brothers and sisters. One died in childbirth so we didn't count that, but mother would. And my father was alcoholic so there was a certain hecticity to the household, which I didn't realize at the time. In fact, I didn't realize it had any impact on me until I was postdoctoral, because I thought I was above all that, but I'm still scarred by being the fixer [?].
MS: So you were born in Philadelphia, right?
JM: South Philly.
MS: And South Philly is where you grew up? And so you had six brothers and sisters?
JM: Seven, but one was stillborn, so mother counted it. We didn't.
MS: I see, O.K. And anything particularly interesting about your childhood, would you say?
JM: No. I mean I kind of enjoyed it. I think I was lonelier out of it, in the sense, again, of being in the alcoholic household you have to be careful who you're going to bring home, if you're going to bring anybody home. So there were some issues there, I'm sure. But my father was sober later on.
MS: You said before that you really came from a working-class background? Was your family doing O.K. financially or were there difficult times?
JM: Pretty much. But again, that alcoholic issue comes up, so that, for example, if your father is paid on Christmas Eve and loses his payroll that day in a bar, that creates some significant deprivation. I don't think we were really aware of it, because we grew up during World War Two and everybody was deprived. So I was of a split mind. I went to a school taught by German sisters and when their convent was bombed we were collecting money to get their convent repaired as well as we were collecting lard and metal to build bullets for our troops to go over there with. So it was really interesting. But everybody put cardboard in their shoes and wax paper [?] because you were rationing leather and stuff. So mother would trade shoe things for coffee. We didn't need coffee, so she'd trade that and get shoes for the kids. I don't know what other things they traded.
MS: What kind of schools did you go to? Did you go to private Catholic schools?
JM: Parochial. Yeah. It was very good and strict. I was saying to my class the other day that my best teachers were my strictest teachers, even though I didn't like it particularly at the time.
MS: This was Catholic school?
MS: And it was in South Philly?
JM: Right. And a political statement, too, is that in that period of history, public school were strict, too. They didn't put up with all the shit that they do today. So in my class today, I have the gentlemen remove their hats. I mean it's unheard of to think you have to ask people, the gentlemen, to take their hats off indoors. Yes I think it's sexist, but I find out that a lot of teachers are doing it. The reason for that is because I think you look stupid when you wear a baseball cap. And you're twenty degrees lower in IQ when you wear it backwards, so I can't lecture in front of that. So that's that.
MS: Now were there any signs that you were aware of at the time that you were growing up to be sexually different in any kind of way?
JM: Oh well, now I knew I wanted to be wanted by a man and I can identify a specific day, passing Franklin Field, the arches. I had gone to the world hobby show. I was perhaps precocious. Neighbors would give me tickets to things that they had bought and didn't want to go to and so I'd go to high school concerts and recitals, whatever. And this was the world hobby exposition and I liked puppets at the time, marionettes. And so I went there and I hung out at this one particular booth. It was a woman who raised blue babies. In those days, that’s what we’d call babies who had heart defects and she would take them in, nurse them, and raise them into children. And so there were a lot of children hanging out there. And I'm sorry I ever lost contact with her, but she invited me to work at the booth and she called my parents and said, “Is it all right?” If I can get there, meaning walk there, she'd take me home and give me an evening meal, which every night was chop suey or some awful thing. But I liked to play with the marionettes. And it's interesting that my mother, my parents, sight unseen, would say it's O.K. for you to do that. That's an interesting point.
JM: Whether it's a compliment to my precociousness or maturity. I was a big kid and a little chubby. And that fits in with wanting to be wanted, because I wouldn't be the type that people would be making a pass at historically. So I would walk from home there, which was in South Philadelphia, cross the Schuykill Bridge, at maybe Convention Center that used to be Civic Center up that way, and Philadelphia General Hospital, and then I'd pass through Franklin Field. Remember those arches across from the University Museum? Saying I want to be taken, but I had no idea what that was. And there was a retarded man who worked at the church, the school where I went. And he would chase after everybody, particularly girls, like at the dance, and the teenage girls would give him a hot wet kiss, a sloppy wet kiss. And one day I remember he exposed himself to me and I found that delicious and forbidden. So the first time was an accident. Today people might call this sexual abuse. I still don't label it as that.
MS: How old were you when both of those things happened?
JM: Fourth and fifth grade.
MS: So the hobby exposition was...?
JM: Yeah, in fact I think the incident with this man, I mean he may have only been a twenty year old of course, but he didn't shave, he was grubby. But he worked, did little chores. He was mentally defective. Everyone could see that he was mentally defective.
MS: So when you say that you decided walking past the arches that you wanted to be taken by a man, this thought just came over you?
JM: There was not even a necessarily overt sexuality to it, but something like wanting to be held, wanting to be hugged, wanting to be cared for.
MS: And was there anyone who you knew in your mind when you were thinking this?
JM: No. No. I do remember in the very early years going to visit my Aunt May back at my roots, like down on Second Street [?]. And sometimes I would stay overnight and I would supposedly help dust and things, but I know that she would make a sandwich and we had a good time. And she even took me to her job [?]. I remember being a little child, being taken to different peoples' workplaces as a very small child. In any event, my Uncle Joe, who drank a lot, and the story was that his heart was broken after World War Two by a Dear John letter and never recovered from that. And we shared a bed. Nothing ever happened, but I always wanted to like be bumped against him or something. Again, without any clear saying what was going to happen or what should happen. So I knew I wanted the tissue contact, the fleshly contact, in a very overt way. And I can attribute that, in hindsight, because of the alcoholic father being emotionally absent and physically absent except when he was drunk. And to this day, in my adult life I didn't like sloppy wet kisses because I would associate them with out of control behavior.
MS: I see.
JM: So my drunken uncle would be there in the same bed and I knew I'd be asleep and I knew that he'd come in at some point. So there was a certain tension.
MS: But nothing ever happened there?
JM: Mmmmm [dissent].
MS: And did you ever hear about homosexuality in schools or in the church when you were a kid?
JM: I really can't say I ever did, because sexual sins would be discussed in a very broad sense. It wouldn't matter who you were with. The point was it's a sexual sin.
MS: I see.
JM: And I don't remember any distinction. I'd have to think of the issues around the sacraments of confession if you confess a sexual sin. People think of it as a joke, but there's a reason for it. They actually ask for specifics. A child might say the priest is getting off by getting an actual telephone picture of it.
JM: But that's not the issue at all. In fact, in moral theology there's a whole list of sins and there's a gradation of them, so if you spill your seed all by yourself, that's a sin, but it's not as bad as spilling it in Madonna's vagina.
JM: And somewhere men might or might not be in there.
MS: Now moving into the early '50s, then, as you became a teenager did you start finding people who were similarly different? Or did that come later?
JM: No, but I was a cock-sucker, certainly in high school, of some sort or other.
MS: Can you tell me about that?
JM: How lascivious do you want to be? You already told me you had a lover so this is not a jerk-off conversation. Take that down, I don't care. But it had to do with the whole political consciousness really. So there was, starting in freshman year of high school, a boy who I think only was a year ahead of me, but he was bigger and hairier and meatier, in a cock-size sense. Well, how would I know about his cock size? Because one time we were working at a church dance dispensing soda. We were both soda jerks and wore long white aprons like French bistro workers. And we worked for tips is what we would do. And I remember one time he said he made some little poem up about one time there was a man named Harry who sat down and played piano, one day his hand slipped his pants [?] and a hairy banana. And that's pretty much what the poem would be [?]. And he pulled up his apron and there was his cock, a gigantic, hairy cock. So I thought that was rather interesting, as did other people there, which is an interesting point. Other people would be seeing that scene and it would be considered no more than anything else. But I wanted to see more and up closer at another time, you see. And he and I had various encounters for several years.
MS: Is that right?
JM: I would call it an affair.
MS: Through high school?
JM: And it would pretty much be one-sided. I mean I would be, as people in the jerk-off phone calls would say, the receiver. And people get all confounded in the language of the passive. Well, I was hardly passive, but I was the receiver. And actually I loved to stimulate him when other people were around. One time we worked as hat check guys and my nickname was Tex. And so the girls would say, “Would you check my coat, Tex?” That's a high school joke. So we'd both be working there together and I'd be massaging him in his trousers to the point of orgasm. What's he going to do now because he has to go take care of business. I mean he didn't fight it, but I knew he was kind of interested. But he was interested in the girls. And he was not the only one. There were other boys.
MS: Would this happen in school mostly or at night?
JM: No. There was a song a little bit later in the '60s called “Sweet Cream Ladies.” You don't know that, I'm sure, young whippersnappers. But it was about prostitutes and there was a line that said, “You'll be my lover in the night, but not recognize me in the day.” And that would be the case in high school.
MS: So where did night happen? Was it at home? Was it at school? At gym? Bathroom?
JM: Home. No, it wouldn't be at school. His house, my house.
MS: Did anybody ever come close to discovering you?
JM: I can't remember.
MS: And you never talked about it with him or with the others? Would there be a lot of teasing about it?
JM: No. One of the stupid things when I look back is I would trade comic books. And this is high school. I mean I know that people are into comic books, but I really wasn't. And that was [?].
MS: Well what did that mean?
JM: To me? Well it would be we had arranged something. He would have called me and said,
“Come on down.”
MS: And trading comic books would be the way you'd talk about it?
JM: The reason why he would walk down the street to see me. So it was odd in a lot of ways, because see we didn't socialize, but we would have intercourse. Social intercourse. I'd go over to his house or he'd come up to my house.
MS: And you said he liked girls?
JM: The neighbors never noticed anything. Yeah, he liked girls. He eventually married. [?] And I'm always amazed in my adult life. I mean married men are out there swinging. It's just amazing to me.
MS: Now did you get teased about any of this in high school?
JM: Not directly. It seemed to me in freshman year of high school, I was playing basketball, shooting a foul shot. And this guy Alfred Marx, this guy who had been making sexual innuendo with me. And we were supposed to get together one day and I don't remember whether he didn't show up for this little trick or we had arranged to meet at an offbeat place or something. Or when he did show up, I was not interested in participating for whatever reasons. But anyway, when I was shooting a foul shot, as you know in basketball, the point is to distract the player. You're not supposed to talk during the shooting of the foul shot, but if you can get away with it, you do. And so he called me “sissy” and I threw the ball down and strangled him. It was my last basketball game.
MS: Is that right? You didn't play basketball anywhere after that? Why not?
JM: Well there is a reason going back historically. When I was fifth or sixth year old, somebody, as I say, threatened me or beat me up. See little boys, if somebody threatens them or just pushes them, they’d call it, “I got beat up.” And I didn't remember that until I was in my thirties and I was teaching. I remember there was a little incident that happened. And I don’t think anything happened, but it was in the playground, a public playground, and I was looking for one of the, we called them teachers in the old days, playground teachers. And I was friendly with them. We all were at the playground, the whole neighborhood and the family. And so I felt like abandoned and there was never anybody I could tell about that. So that kind of a shameful event was then paired up with physical sports and stuff. Freshman year you had to be on a team and you had to do something. So that’s what I did. And I may have gotten thrown off the team, I don’t remember. But I remember we had green pants and a shirt, probably nylon or something. I did run track just to collect points, but I didn’t care for sports. And it wasn’t until later that I realized what the connection would be.
MS: Now was there anyone later on when you became an adult that you looked back on and thought, “Oh, that adult must have been gay or lesbian”? Teachers or family members?
JM: Yeah. I don’t know how far, but when I was in the religious order, while I knew, I believed, as I said, my consciousness would be a queer cock-sucker, all of which is a sinful phase you go through and eventually you come out the other side being the heterosexual type.
MS: That’s what you thought then?
JM: That’s what I would think. And that the more you pray and abstain from sex, which is interesting [?], and while he wants to cure homosexuality, I think he has some good things to say about helping a homosexual be a better homosexual, more relaxed than driven [?]. But I was the last of my class to leave and I remember we were called postulants [?] and I eventually became a novice, a brethren, but I was the last of my class to leave and Postulant Thomas and Donald, we were in Springfield, Illinois, and each week we would drive over to this boys school that the senior brothers ran. And we would be the cleaning guys. We’d come and clean. And Donald would be driving us and the senior brother with us. And Thomas had left and he was then hired by the senior brothers to work in the barn or something. And eventually, then, we’d go over there and then I had to go look for Donald and I’d find Donald in Thomas’s place. And that’s forbidden by religious custom for two people to be together. It’s called particular friendships and you can see that’s about sex, too. If you’re always in groups of three, chances are good you’re going to have somebody who’s true to their vows. Two you can’t be sure. A stiff cock has no conscience [?]. But it wasn’t until later that I realized that they were lovers. And then before I left, I realized what had happened. They had left the employ of the brotherhood and took an apartment together.
MS: I see.
JM: And so when I think about that, that’s what was happening.
MS: Now this was when you were in Springfield.
JM: Now I was twenty-one years old at that time, but I still did read people carefully.
MS: Now you were saying before the tape started that you did know something about the controversy surrounding the naming of the Walt Whitman Bridge? You would have been seventeen or eighteen at the time?
JM: Yeah, since you bring it up, I do remember, but I also am confounded by the memory that the whole Whitman controversy went on for some twenty years, preventing blacks from moving into that area. So that looms bigger in my mind than the Whitman-naming bridges.
MS: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
JM: Whitman Park is the section just off the Walt Whitman Bridge, where I was this morning, and told you that the statue of Walt Whitman stands there on a pedestal.
MS: I see.
JM: And so they built some government-subsidized housing and for twenty years they blocked the project from being completed because they didn’t want blacks to move in. They wouldn’t say it quite like that, but it was a pretty awful, long, ugly period.
MS: I see.
JM: So that is much more overwhelming than the Walt Whitman thing.
JM: So I was amazed to think that the church would really get all bothered by it. And I may have heard it and said, “Who cares?” It was such a non-event.
MS: O.K., well then you also said that you knew something about the city’s coffeehouses. Were you going to those?
JM: Yeah. I mean, as I say, I lived in the ‘60s in Center City, so the Gilded Cage was one, which later became Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or whatever on 21st and Samson. And there were very prominent names there and that’s why I’m disputing whether it had that big a gay influence. I think that any demimonde, yes, it would be a place for gays to be there, because gays are artistic-looking, long-haired types. So in the coffeehouse setting, that’s all I would see.
MS: But before you dispute, why don’t you just tell me, though, a little bit about your memories of going there and what it was like and what it meant to you.
JM: Well, I just went to listen to folk music and I’d listen to the schizophrenic poets read things that they thought were meaningful.
MS: When did you start going there? As a teenager?
JM: No, I would be a little bit older, because I went to college, although I didn’t graduate with my bachelor’s until ’63. I remember it was after high school [?]. But I also was drinking at the time, so I wouldn’t spend much time in the coffeehouses.
MS: Was the Gilded Cage the only coffeehouse you remember?
JM: No, no, there was one on Samson Street. There were a couple on Samson Street at the 20 hundred block.
MS: Do you remember the Proscenium?
JM: The Roxy was one.
MS: The Artist’s Hut?
JM: Yeah, I just remember the names.
MS: The Humoresque?
JM: Yeah, I just remember the names. I don’t remember which one was where.
MS: But the Gilded Cage, it sounds like that was your favorite one?
JM: Well I thought you got more. It was nicer. Some of them were just kind of scrungy looking places.
MS: What kinds of people hung out at the coffeehouses?
JM: Well, to me they just looked like various regular people, men and women. Really I didn’t see any same-sex couples type thing.
MS: Do you remember the Rizzo raids on the coffeehouses?
JM: Well I remember the raids after that. I remember the raids on the coffeehouses, which I just thought was silly. I couldn’t see the point. Now the issue at the time was because of the pot smoking supposedly there and the LSD type thing. That was in the ‘60’s, the Ira Einhorn era [?].
MS: So you do remember the raids, but understood them at the time to be primarily drug related? Is that what you think?
JM: I think it was later. I remember when he was stationed, he was Cisco Kid. I guess he was captain in the Center City district. And it was later, in the early ‘60s, when the bars were raided. That was more pertinent to me. Because you see there wouldn’t be anything I’d be doing wrong in the coffeehouses, so if they were raided it was of no interest to me.
MS: Where were you meeting other men after you finished high school? At work?
JM: I’m trying to think. Well at work, yes, at the Franklin Institute. And there was a man there. I really lament that I did not know what to do about it, but I really liked him. Russell was an older guy and I used to hang out in his lab. I mean this woman called Mary’s lab. And he was friendly with her and Mary was a single woman who lived with her mother in South Philadelphia. And she was too pious to be interested in sex. But Russell was a single man. And I knew I wanted to be with him and I invited him for coffee or something, but I couldn’t approach him. I do lament that.
MS: Were you going to any cruising areas? Rittenhouse Square or any other places in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s?
JM: Rittenhouse Square, but it would be more early ’60s, because late ‘50s, I can’t remember late ‘50’s. Of course, being in the monastery in the year ‘59, that would be like a vacuum. There was no sense of music or anything like that [?].
MS: You mentioned that the Philadelphia Magazine story at the end of ‘62 was pretty important for you. Could you tell me something about that?
JM: [?]. The magazine story, yeah, I can almost picture it, because it was like rough artist’s sketches and they mentioned the different names of places. Specifically I remembered, when I had the need to remember, the Allegro.
MS: Now this was the first you knew about the city’s gay bars?
JM: Yeah. I think the first that I would have, perhaps I might have known of a bar. Well to show you the naiveté, I feel like I’m lecturing. I had a boyfriend, Don, and this is really moving up into the ‘60s. I had met him when I was a sophomore in summer camp, sophomore year of high school. And we were very, very, very good friends and he integrated into my family. He dated my sister. My sister broke off with him because he didn’t kiss. But we were best friends. We would be sending the equivalent of love letters to each other, even in the service. And one time he told me about, he had gone to a bar where they wouldn’t serve him because he was a guy. And I said, “I can’t believe that. That’s ridiculous.” And so we went. He took me to show me this. And he never indicated one way or the other. And I don’t know what the downstairs room was called then, but upstairs was women’s stuff. And then we went downstairs and in my naiveté I noticed they were all men, but I had interpreted that as it’s a sportsman’s bar where they’d come to talk about horses and gambling and stuff like that. So I was in a gay bar and did not recognize it.
MS: Now why did your friend take you up to the lesbian bar?
JM: Because I didn’t believe it. He never said it was lesbian. Neither did I.
MS: But you knew it?
JM: I just, somehow, now I do, but I mean then, somehow they eventually served us, but they were not very hospitable.
MS: Where was the bar?
JM: And frankly I am pretty sure I was underage and I only got carded when I was like two days before my 21st birthday at a cheap old sailor bar. During that period and when I was in the reserves, when I knew the bar scene, I would then check what was off limits. And usually people say that they were off limits because they were queer bars. Oops, I meant gay bars. But I was in the medical corps. And what’s off limits is how they attract them. Now this might be a cover story. Read the incidents. You could quarrel that and [?]. But that’s usually the guise under which the military lists off-limits bars.
MS: I see.
JM: Or if there’s actual dangers.
MS: Just to go back for a second to this first lesbian bar, do you remember where it was?
JM: Yeah. Actually it was on top of the Forrest.
MS: On top of the Forrest?
JM: It would be one of those.
MS: Was it called Rusty’s?
JM: I don’t know.
MS: Variety Room?
JM: No, it would be that. See those were all together-like, right there. And where the Bike Stop is now was the Forrest Bar then. You don’t know it, but it was.
MS: I’m just asking for your memories.
JM: Right, well right, but on the second floor, see eventually when I was in the gay world in the ‘60s, then it was the PBL, which was the Protective Benevolent Policeworkers Association, which was a gay club. And I remember that was one where Rizzo raided.
MS: So it was in that same space?
JM: It was. It was upstairs.
MS: And then you went downstairs and there was a gay men’s bar, but you didn’t recognize it as that. Do you remember what the name of that men’s bar was?
JM: I was going to say the Forrest, but it might have been called the English Tavern or something like that at that time.
MS: And did you stay there for long?
JM: No. It didn’t impress me one way or another. It didn’t raise my thinking, “Oh, well this is where to meet men.” And my consciousness may have been that I didn’t particularly want to meet men. A la, in Russia they’re not homosexual just because they sleep with men. They would just sleep with men. They don’t do homosexual stuff. Maybe I was thinking along those lines.
MS: So to go back again, because I feel like there’s a lot of threads I want to pick up, the Philadelphia Magazine story. Because it described a lot of bars in the city, you were saying to me before the tape went on, that was your information about where you could go.
JM: Right. That was the Allegro. Now there was the Collegiate Guide to Philadelphia of 1968, which is somewhere in this pile of debris here. It’s a shame. If I had it here, you’d probably want to have that.
MS: What’s it called?
JM; Collegiate Guide to Philadelphia in 1968. I just picked it up for old times’ sake not so long ago. If I think of it, I’ll send it to you.
MS: What does it have that would be of interest?
JM: Well I don’t think it mentions gay bars, but it mentioned the Venture Inn and the reason I remember that is the Venture Inn had the meanest bartender in town. And so I went to that bar, too. Not as a gay bar, but he was. If he didn’t like you, he would not serve you. And eventually the Venture Inn became a gay bar, which it still is today. And the name changed once or twice. It didn’t have an eating place then. So the Allegro was the first one I went into.
MS: It was? After those two others that you went to with your friend?
JM: Well those I didn’t count because I didn’t know that they were.
MS: Right. When did you go to the Allegro for the first time?
JM: I don’t know. Well, I mean it was like February something.
MS: After that article appeared? ’63?
JM: 1963 or ‘64.
MS: And what was it like? Do you remember what it looked like.
JM: The Allegro? Well of course I was thinking, “Oh my god. You have to get across the door and go into a gay bar.” I know I wanted it, but I was afraid because I knew I’d be a little drunk. And of course I’d think you were going to be ravished as soon as you come in. Everybody’s waiting to grab your clothes and do violence to you. And as you know, you can go to a gay bar for two years and nobody’s going to tell you the time of day.
MS: O.K., so we were talking about the Allegro, your first time there.
JM: The Allegro, what it was like, what it was like. So I go in and it’s a dark, very dark place. And there were not many people, I have to say. I did not know and I think I still want the gay world to go according to my terms and that means that the gay world still doesn’t start until late at night because of the double, triple lives that people lead. So I was there around eight or eight-thirty and eight or eight-thirty in the gay bar in those days was barely open. So it was pretty much like nobody was there. But it was that very night, there was somebody who came in who I saw. I think it was the very night or the next night. I went back once more and this guy came over, Ed Clitch. And I said, “Oh, shit. What’s he doing here?” He was in my military unit. So I said, “What the fuck. He’s here, I’m here, we’re both looking for the same thing, whatever that is.” So he came over and he was kind of cute anyway [?]. And he said, “Well, did you see Joe Joskowitz or Bill Miller here tonight?” I said, “No, I guess they haven’t come in.” Well Bill Miller was my officer in the military unit. Joe Joskowitz was somebody I was a friend with. He’s still around in the city [?]. So at the formation the following Sunday, or whenever that was, we were sitting on the ground. So at the next meeting, we’re sitting outside waiting for something to happen. We were sitting on the ground and I said to him, “I understand we’re members of the same fraternity.” He said, “What fraternity?” I said, “The Allegro.” [?]
MS: I know you told me also before something about when you entered the military reserves.
JM: Oh yes. Well on your draft physical, question number forty-seven, that golden number, said, “Do you have homosexual tendencies?” And I said, “No.” Because I was sure I was something else. In fact, I had gone to my physician at that time and I knew enough about pharmacology, a little bit. And so I asked him to prescribe Librium. He knew that basically I was of a gay persuasion. I think he tried to help me. Like I’d be his last patient and sometimes I suspected [?]. And the fact is that he eventually went into psychiatry. So he would be talking to me about my predilection for men. I don’t remember what that was about.
MS: This was your doctor?
JM: Yeah, my physician.
MS: And he was trying to discourage you?
JM: Yeah. It was not a real overt discouragement, but like caution, because I was active in scouting and I certainly don’t want to be doing it with the boys [?]. I mean in the military I was afraid that I would have a reaction, like I was afraid of walking around with a hard-on being with all these men. And so I had him prescribe me Librium, which has a side effect of decreasing your libido sometimes.
MS: Is that right?
JM: So I thought, “Well that’ll work.” And of course in the military what they do is they search you and confiscate. They confiscated my book, which I had, The Fifty Minute Hour by [?], which had a nude on the cover.
MS: What kind of book was that?
JM: Psychoanalytic history, it’s a classic. And so I was going to read that and my Librium. And then what they’d do is if you need anything, you’d go to the military physician and they’ll prescribe it. So I was concerned that I’m now going to be hot and horny with all these guys [?].
MS: And were you?
JM: No, I didn’t, and there were other gay people in my unit, one of whom would be a faggoty gay person, who was picked on by the drill instructors, really only because he was rebellious. And I didn’t see it, but somebody said he wore silk pants or something. And this was back in the days before men wore nylons.
MS: Wait, to go back to your answer to the question, though, you said you knew you were not someone with homosexual tendencies.
JM; Well I was sure I was. I didn’t have a label for it at the time, but I was whatever that was. So my joke is I didn’t have any tendencies.
MS: Was that a joke at the time?
JM: I don’t know whether that’s the mind of a more mature person after the fact. I was not interested in going into the service at all.
MS: But at the time, why did you answer “no”?
JM: I didn’t think I was in some kind of classical way. In other words, “I don’t know what that means. It doesn’t seem to be me, but I know what I do.” And I think at that particular period I still think I would grow out of it.
MS: So you were answering, as best as you could, honestly.
JM: Yeah. The reason I mentioned that is they did not ask you directly “are you homosexual” or “do you have sex with boys or men”? See they never asked those questions. If somebody marked it yes, then I’d imagine there’s a more extensive interview because people, even in World War Two, I knew, would get 4F. I’m not clear why I would know that, but there were 4Fs, draft dodgers.
MS: But you didn’t think of yourself at that time as having homosexual tendencies. That’s why you said no. Is that correct?
JM: Yeah. I don’t know how to interpret it at the time, because my joke about it is that I know exactly the number question at the time. The old documents could verify it. But I doubt that I was that sophisticated at the time.
MS: So I want to ask you a set of other questions, too, because I know you were telling me before the taping started about trouble that you had with some of the jobs that you had in the early ‘60s.
JM: Late ‘60s.
MS: That was late ‘60s?
JM: Oh actually no, I had an incident when I was at a job in high school. I got fired from a job in high school.
MS: That was a job at the Franklin Institute?
JM: No, it was like sophomore year, junior year. It was an odd job [?]. It would be a kind of office job and you had to do things by hand. There was this kind of really weird old man that was there. And I remember there was a joke. The other young men who were working there were high school students. And it would be today called making a pass, but in high school kids would say things like, “Eat me.” And I’d say, “I don’t eat no baby food.” “Yeah, well take a man-sized bite.” This kind of discussion among high school students. I don’t know if they were gay or not. And so I had that kind of discussion with this kid. And so actually I said, “Take it out or show me,” or something like that. And the joke was what you’d do is you’d pull your zipper down and you go like that with your thumb type thing. It was a gesture he made with a thumb through his fingers. And so then he told the boss. And my recollection, I don’t know if it’s true or not because I didn’t really work much for the guy. He kept calling me to come and do some work for him, but I was busy in school activities and I decided to just go do some work and then not work for him anymore. So I don’t even know whether we just drifted apart, but I know there was some interaction with the boss, that this guy told him that I had made a pass at him. I don’t even know how sophisticated it would have been said or whatever, but it might have been, could have been very crudy, making dirty jokes or something.
MS: I see. But then maybe just to jump for a second up to the late ‘60s.
JM: Yeah. That was when I left Girard College to take a job at Gloucester County College. I had bought this house in New Jersey and there was this friend of the family who came to visit, who wanted to come to visit. And I said, “Oh.” And we had a couple of beers and there was conversation and he decided he was going to stay over or something like that. And I said, “Well you know I only have the one bed.” And my interpretation was that that’s what he wanted, to have some activity. So that wasn’t what he wanted, so he fled in a panic. And he was going to go to that school that I had just gotten a job at.
MS: What school was that?
JM: Gloucester County College.
MS: And what year was this? We figured it out before.
MS: Around ‘68?
JM: It was August of ’68. Well then I remember calling him back the next day. And it was a very odd, chilly conversation. There was no conversation. And then I got a call the next day. The president of the college wanted to see me or the dean or somebody. And I remember how it was posed because I was in my other office and it’s the secretary and I said, “Can I arrange it for next Tuesday” or something. “I’m going away.” She said, “No. So and so wants to see you now.” Or something like that. So I went down there and I guess the dean or the president said, “There’s nothing we’re going to do about this, but this is the report we got. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
MS: So he had called your school?
JM: Yeah. It was the man. And the guy was like twenty-one and whatever the level of maturity told his father. So it would be clearly some panic reaction. And so the offer was an offer to resign in the sense that we will honor your contract, but you will not teach or be in the same building as this student, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
MS: What do you mean?
JM: I had a contract.
MS: They wanted you to resign?
JM: Well, they made the suggestion, and if I don’t, the point is I will not teach and I will not be assigned anything in the same building as that student. In other words, I could be put in a closet somewhere. And after the end of the year, I assume, the teaching year, I had a contract for two year tenure. So there was little point in fighting it at that time. And I don’t have regrets of that resigning. It would have been a waste of time just trying to fight on that year.
MS: And you then moved on and got the job at…?
JM: Well, yeah. I then started looking around for another job. Also, I wanted a vacation. I had a vacation scheduled [?]. And I hustled out looking for a job, which I was able to do at that time.
MS: You got a job at Atlanta Community College next?
JM: Mhmmm [assent].
MS: And was that where you told me that as you were starting that job, you ran into the president?
JM: Well see I didn’t even know what he looked like really anymore. But he was at the convocation and he contacted the president of Atlanta Community College and told him his version of the story. And then the president of the Atlanta Community College wanted to see me and I don’t know what that was about. I mean it was also one of those chilly summons things. But I don’t remember what that interview was about. See there wasn’t anything that I did wrong in the sense in relation to the school.
JM: It so happened it was somebody I knew before they applied to go to that school. And that followed me. That came up later on when I was at another college. This man came as a consultant, the former dean at that school.
MS: At which school?
JM: At Gloucester County. And he was now an educational consultant. He’s still around, I think. So afterwards he asked to see me. He said, “I just want you to know that there’s nothing about our past incidents [?].” And I wasn’t smiling, but I was polite, but I said, “I really don’t give a fuck what you do.” I didn’t say that, but that was my attitude at the time. “Do what you want. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
JM: It was sensible for me to leave at that time.
MS: You said something about the guy who had been a family friend but he was about to become a student at Gloucester Community College?
JM: Right. They’re friends of the family and he was twenty-one.
MS: I see.
JM: He had been at Drexel. He had been talking to me on the phone about school and stuff. And then he invited himself over.
MS: I see.
JM: I was still moving in. I had  in boxes.
MS: I see.
JM: That’s why I only had one bed.
MS: I see. Well to go back, then, to the period from let’s say ‘62 when the Philadelphia Magazine story came out to, say, the late ‘60’s, you were going to a lot of the city’s gay bars? Is that right?
JM: Well as I say, one of the first attractions that took me back to the Allegro was discovering all the people from my life who were in fact in the gay world. People on the dance committee at school and learning why they were on the dance committee. I thought they were sort of ultra-straight and they were on the dance committee together with their so-called lovers in high school. But I didn’t even know how to cruise, so when I learned how you cruise, like you looked at somebody and then look away. Of course I used to say, “I look back and he’s gone.” But to start conversation, “Do you come here often?” “What time do the bars close?” And I remember this really nice guy said to me, well he was polite, I eventually shared with him the true story about this because we went out together, not sexually, but he was a very nice southern gentleman. And he said, “Well, I’m going to go now.” See I had learned to cruise. If the person says they’re going to leave, you say, “May I join you” or something like that. So he said, “Well I’m going to go now.” And I said, “Do you mind if I join you?” And he said, “Well I’m going over to the DL.” And I said, “Well I’d like to go along, if it’s all right with you.” Not having any idea where the DL was. And that was the Drury Lane, which was on Drury Street next to McGillin’s. Straight, mixed, I don’t want to say straight because all the places are mixed once I show up. McGillin’s Ale House.
MS: And you went there with him? And was that the first time?
JM: Yeah. And then as it turns out, I didn’t give up because then there were obviously people who we joined in repartee with, some people I didn’t know. And finally I didn’t get what was happening. I knew they were interested in him, but I’m interested in him. I want them to get the fuck out of the way. And so he said, “Well I think I’m going to go now.” I said, “Do you mind if I join you?” We walked along a bit and we exchanged phone numbers and we did go to the movies together once or something like that. It was years later that I told him this is the only cruising I knew. That’s how I learned the other gay bars. I didn’t carry the article around with me.
MS: Which were the ones you went to most frequently?
JM: Well the Westbury used to be at 15th and Spruce. And we’d kind of go Allegro, Westbury. I seem to think there were a bar, the Mystique, for a little while between 15th or 16th and Spruce or something.
MS: Did any of the bars have lesbians as well as gay men?
JM: I would say almost never, except the bars that had a dining room, like the Drury Lane had. The Drury Lane was the elegant one of all of them. Maxine’s was second level, but Maxine’s would be a place you’d go to celebrate your birthday. People dressed in those days for cocktail hour and [?]. I believe that meant there were executives [?]. I had one business suit that was clean.
MS: So at Drury Lane you would see lesbians, you think, in the restaurant?
JM: In the dining room, but I didn’t go there to the restaurant very often because it was [?] expensive.
MS: And what about the after-hours clubs? Would lesbians be there?
JM: I never ever was big on the after-hours clubs, but that would be more in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
MS: Did you ever have any friends during the ‘60s who were lesbians? Or were you mostly circulating with gay men?
JM: Well in the ‘60s, I wouldn’t have been all that circulating. It was only ‘65, around there, that’s when I think of Barbara Gittings, of course the grande dame of gay liberation. And see that was the Homophile Action, I don’t remember the name of it, but I know I used to go out leafletting or putting up posters or something.
MS: You got involved with that?
JM: Yeah. Just as I said the other night, I just did little bits of things [?].
MS: And the group was the Homophile Action League?
MS: Because I know that group started in ‘68. Does that sound about right?
JM: Was it?
JM: I don’t know. Well then maybe when I came back from [?].
MS: The earlier group was the Janus Society. Were you ever involved with that group?
JM: Yeah. I knew of it. I knew of it and I actually had some periodical which I hope I gave to the library. I had some stuff from that period of time.
MS: Were you a reader of Drum magazine, the Janus publication? Do you recall?
JM: Yeah, but I don’t remember much about it other than the Janus.
MS: Do you remember Clark Polak?
JM: By name, yeah.
MS: And what had you heard about the Janus Society? Do you remember anything at all?
JM: Well, I’m thinking of him in a suit and tie. He’d be one of those people who’d be sort of doing activist, contacting other people outside of the gay world and making a point about something, but politely [?].
MS: Did you ever go to a gay lecture during those years? The Janus Society had some big lectures in some of the city’s hotels? Nothing like that?
JM: No. Janus Society seems like 16th Street or something, but I don’t remember.
MS: They were on 17th Street, yeah.
JM: Was it?
JM: I don’t remember much about it.
MS: And so Homophile Action League, you said you were doing like leg-work and soldier work. Do you remember some of the other people who were involved with it?
JM: No. That’s the only one I really remember and I told you about it the other night, that whole lack of continuity. I mean they mention names like Harry Langhorne. Like he was around and then he wasn’t and then his name pops back up again. I have no idea what he did or didn’t do.
MS: I see.
JM: The other one, Wilson Weinberg or whatever.
MS: Tom Wilson Weinberg?
JM: I guess his name was around [?].
MS: So you socialized in bars in the ‘60s. Where else would you meet gay men? Did you go to house parties? Did you have people over to your house?
JM: Yes. I mean parties, little parties. With people in the military, I would travel in that crowd with Bill Muller. And I didn’t get to tell you, but I think the other name that was mentioned was Jim Thomas. He was a good friend of mine. And when I called Bill’s house, he answered the phone. That’s when I discovered that I didn’t even know they were lovers living [?]. Pretty soon I’ll be living several blocks away from them [?].
MS: Both of those guys were in the military?
JM: Yeah. One was an officer and one was my friend, an enlisted man.
MS: I see.
JM: And they were lovers [?].
MS: What were the neighborhoods in Philly that you would have associated with gay life?
JM: Well the only after-hours club I remember, well two, but one was the P.B.L., the Protective Benevolent Association. Most people didn’t know what that meant, but I actually saw the charter.
MS: Is that right?
MS: What was that place like?
JM: Well men danced.
MS: They couldn’t dance in the other bars?
JM: There wasn’t any real. The Allegro had a little place. Dancing spaces?
MS: But the P.B.L., you could dance?
JM: That was the major feature, yeah.
MS: Lesbians there also? Do you remember?
JM: I would say no. My main focus was looking for Mr. Right always, so I really didn’t notice anybody. If I saw Mr. Right, I’d only notice him.
MS: Were you ever in a bar raid?
JM: Yeah. The P.B.L., well bar raids, I remember the Westbury. That’s when they’d throw the lights on.
MS: Could you describe some of them for me? One was at the Westbury?
JM: Well the first time I’d gone to the P.B.L., it was raided.
MS: Really? What would happen?
JM: I went with Billy D., who still lives on Lombard Street and I was in love with him. And he got arrested because he mouthed off to this cop. What you generally do is you don’t say anything. I probably was afraid, but actually the custom was, the joke was, you didn’t carry identification and they also talked about you having bar names. And this person I remember being in an academic profession. He was a librarian [?]. And he stood behind me and he said, “Crystal said to say hello.” [?]
MS: What year was this raid at the P.B.L.? Do you recall? Was it in the ‘60s?
MS: But you weren’t arrested?
JM: It was the middle-’60s, because I was living in Center City. And that’s why I had met this guy Bill Dietrich. Took him home and did him in my mother’s living room. I remember having a couple of costume parties there [?]. And we met and got into this club and eventually I took this guy who told me about this club, because the P.B.L. was then that original place where I went to find the women who [?].
MS: I see.
JM: I just didn’t know what to do.
MS: It had been a lesbian place and then it became this after-hours club.
JM: I had invited this guy. I was supposed to meet him that afternoon and meanwhile I had fallen love with this other guy. Don was a straight guy and I told him. He knew I was gay, but I wanted to tell him my story. I said, “I really want to go to this bar.” He said, “Do you mind if I go?” So here’s this straight guy now going with me to this bar. And I was pissed because he let somebody grope him and he wouldn’t let me at that time. Eventually I did have sex with him [?].
MS: The bar raid, how did your friend mouth off? Do you remember?
JM: Well I think he was arguing about somebody else who was being taken out for maybe having no identification. The harassment would be like even just police parking their car. For example, they had two police cars or three at the closing times. Now their justification was the local police enforce [?]. So they’d be there at closing time to make sure that the closing did in fact take place. But if you were coming around down the street and see a couple police cars, you wouldn’t bother going to that bar.
MS: Right, right.
JM: So they’d just be parked outside and of course [?].
MS: You said the Westbury was also once raided when you were there?
JM: Right, which was an I.D check, I recall. They’d just turn up the lights and they’d ask some people for I.D. They’d look for underage [?].
MS: Did you get arrested there?
JM: No. I never was arrested for being in a bar.
MS: Only those two times? Only those two raids?
JM: Two raids that I remember.
JM: There may have been other light checks, but if one’s drinking, you’re not always cognizant of things.
MS: Do you have any sense of who owned the bars?
JM: [?]. Well, the P.B.L., I was smart enough to joke, “When do they have a membership meeting,” because there was no such thing. I truly had for a moment believed it was a gay club. But it wasn’t [?]. I’m trying to think who owned the Venture Inn, couple of different people, the Drury Lane?
MS: Who owned them?
JM: The Venture Inn?
MS: Any of them.
JM: Well, Hans [?]. Hans, I don’t remember his last name. But Hans, his lover’s name was John.
MS: He owned what?
JM: Well the Venture Inn. He used to be an associate of, I forget his name, John something, Irish name. They owned the Drury Lane. Hans was the number one honcho there [?] and then he bought the Venture Inn. It’s confusing, because there was a Leon Covallo’s on 12th Street, which became the Pepper Box. I think they called it the Carousel, the Pepper Box. It moved around the corner to what is now the Venture Inn. What is now the Venture Inn was the Venture Inn, but it was a straight bar back then [?]. On that street was also Maxine’s [?].
MS: Were the bars racially integrated as far as you remember in the ‘60s?
MS: Was it mostly white?
JM: Well it was an unfair thing to have done. I happen to enjoy men of all kinds. So I had at least two black friends, two black people that I knew and hung out with. So I wouldn’t even notice how many others were there [?].
MS: During the ‘60s?
JM: Mmhmm [assent]. Presumably I know very well because when we had the Columbia Avenue Riots, I guess that was ’60-, I don’t know, ‘64, ’65, because Jimmy Page, who [?]. He was the lover of [?].
MS: He was black? Is that what you’re saying?
JM: Yeah, he was black.
MS: So he was part of your social circles?
JM: Right [?]. See when the speaker Tyrone was speaking, he was talking about a different kind of life.
MS: I’m just asking about your memories, though.
MS: You remember a few black friends that you had in the bars?
JM: And of course Sarah Vaughan. Everyone knows Sarah Vaughan. [?].
MS: What did you know about Sarah Vaughan? Did you know Sarah Vaughan?
JM: Flamboyant. Everybody knew Sarah Vaughan.
MS: Well tell me something.
JM: I don’t know whatever happened to her [?]. I don’t go to the bars anymore.
MS: So can you give me any detail on Sarah Vaughan?
JM: He was like a cook or something in a kitchen or restaurant or something?
MS: I know where he is now. I just wanted your impressions from the ‘60s.
JM: Oh, do you? Then tell me where it is. All I remember is that flamboyance [?]. He wouldn’t take any shit from anybody.
JM: That’s odd. I don’t know. I mean like he was just somebody to talk to. He was not part of my [?].
MS: Was he also a drag queen?
JM: No. Sarah Vaughan came in and out of drag. When he wasn’t in drag, sometimes he was.
MS: Do you remember the Halloween night parades? Drag queen parades in Center City?
JM: Well I never called them parades. What they would be was parading or sashaying from bar to bar, doing the competitions, which still pretty much happens, although they’ve spread out a little bit more.
MS: So did you used to go to the bars those nights?
JM: Oh yeah. I mean that was really wonderful. I mean for me, the creativity of the people. Fred Payne was one of those. He was marvelous. Fred I believe is still alive.
MS: Do you remember where you would situate yourself? Which bar?
JM: Well I know mainly this side of Broad Street, so I liked [?] and I’d go to more than one and sometimes an after-hours club.
MS: So when you were saying it wasn’t really a parade, because they weren’t really marching outdoors? Is that what you were saying?
JM: Yeah they were, but it was to go from one place to another. I mean I didn’t see it as any intention to make a statement.
MS: And when would you have been seeing these? Late ‘50s, early ‘60s? Do you recall?
JM: I don’t recall not seeing them. As I said, I don’t go to the bars very much [?].
MS: Rizzo stopped them in about ‘62. That’s what I’ve been told.
JM: Well I don’t know what that would mean by stop. I never saw it as a formal event. I always just saw it as just happening [?].
MS: Bitches Christmas? Does that sound familiar?
JM: I never heard that. There was a name, but I don’t know.
MS: So I want to know, then, do you think you saw the ones in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s?
JM: No. Early ‘60s, but not late ‘50s. I’d be pretty much around in the ‘60s, because as I said I lived from ‘62 to ‘68 in Center City.
MS: Well maybe I’ll ask you about that. Was Center City a gay neighborhood in the ‘60s?
JM: There were gay pockets. I mean Spruce Street was surely somehow known for people to gravitate there, certainly for cruising. I called it the Carousel because people were cruising the Merry-Go-Rounds [?]. And I also am glad that the neighbors have [?] because you were looking at a mess.
MS: Any other neighborhoods that you thought a lot of gay people lived in in Philadelphia?
JM: Well it would be in Center City. I think this side of Broad Street became the Swish Alps in a later period. I think Rittenhouse Square West section was more gay populated.
JM: ‘60s and ‘70s [?]. But I lived here in ’76. I don’t really think that I came here to be in the gay scene directly. I don’t mean to say I don’t want to say that, but I mean I don’t know if it had [?]. I like to go to music and I like to walk.
MS: So the fact that it’s in the center of the city?
JM: Yeah, I had a therapy group near here and I taught at Jefferson, but I mean I also thought you’d meet Mr. Right better in the city. So if I had missed Mr. Right in hand, I don’t know that I would live in Center City or take him out off to the suburbs.
MS: You would meet people more easily here?
JM; Yeah, I mean the bars were everyone’s living room. And then unfortunately it gets associated with alcohol and alcoholism. It was just part of being there. But in any city, gay people needed a place to congregate and the bars were their living room. There were always, not always, but there were alternatives that popped up at different times. Like the gay community center [?].
MS: Any other neighborhoods outside of Center City that you’ve ever thought of as gay-friendly areas?
JM: Well, a section in Germantown, but I remember I was puzzled by that. The Attic was a bar up there [?]. But I don’t really think that I ever thought of it as such [?].
MS: Can you talk a little bit about what you remember about how things were between lesbians and gay men in the late ‘60s and the early ‘70s. I don’t have a sense of whether you had a lot of close contact with lesbians, if they were pretty much in a separate world as far as you were concerned, and if anything changed with the rise of feminism in the ‘70s.
JM: Well I don’t have any great impressions, though I’m thinking of the different women that I knew. But it didn’t matter to me if they were lesbians or not. I mean I knew they were in different other settings, like there were nurses and I was friendly with them. I don’t remember going out with any, as others do and did. It’s called wearing a beard, I understand, when you take a woman so people don’t find out you’re gay or something like that.
MS: Oh, is that right?
JM: That’s what I was told it’s called. And maybe it’s a black thing, but I don’t remember doing that [?].
MS: So you didn’t socialize much with lesbians.
JM: Well I’ve been to parties in their homes and there were two women. I knew them because they were lovers and they were the aunt of a former student of mine and I met them at his wedding or something and then I socialized with them for awhile.
MS: When was that?
JM: This would be early to mid-’70s.
MS: Did you experience any hostility from lesbians in the ‘70s? Do you recall?
JM: Yeah. It’s just that I always got a sense that at group functions, it was just sort of not getting along. There were women in different groups, all these political groups, and I was thinking later I couldn’t remember if it was the Gay Liberation Front or the Gay Activists Alliance I was thinking about when I said to you before that every week there was a different chairman so it never went anywhere. It seemed to me there were women there.
MS: Where was this group meeting?
JM: I don’t know. I just know it was sort of down on a low-numbered street in Center City. I’m thinking it was some very crummy little place. It might have been the early Kater Street place [?]. Kater Street was a garage anyway sort of thing, a carriage house. I’m thinking that people I knew were active and immersed in politics. And that’s why I knew them. I knew they were lesbians, but that’s not what we talked about [?].
MS: Why don’t we talk a little bit about the places you lived because we haven’t talked much about that.
JM: Well, they were just neighborhoods. Did I cruise in those neighborhoods? Yes. I’ve never not cruised. And I’ve never not been fortunate in different times. The problem were those were too isolated and that’s part of why I moved to Center City, to be in a more social circle, which is more, if you want to put it, gay-friendly. But when I lived down on Island Avenue, I disliked the site, the real estate’s location, which ended up being a state penitentiary.
MS: That was in?
JM: Woodbury, New Jersey, was for work reasons and you have to come all the way to Philadelphia and all the way back, especially if you’re tricking.
MS: Did you have favored cruising areas or was it pretty much everywhere?
JM: Yes, pretty much everywhere. I’ve done my research, too, and I’ve never found anybody who would say this is the right place to go, because it could be walking in Rite-Aid. I remember once coming back on a plane from Holland with this guy. The guy in the seat next to me was a student at Penn. He had another year. Fumbling under the blanket, we were keeping warm [?].
MS: So there were no places that you would go to if you wanted to cruise and weren’t having luck anyplace else?
JM: No. I know it’s not politically correct, but I’m also reading an excellent book, if you don’t know it, The Culture of Complaint. Well written, an excellent book. A lot of it is about political correctness being a problem. And it’s not politically correct, but one of the places I didn’t go to cruise would be the various gay liberation movement places.
MS: You would or wouldn’t?
JM: Would not. No.
MS: Why’s that?
JM: It was this certain focused intensity and a sort of bohemian frazzledness about most of the people there.
MS: Is that right?
JM: I was interested in developing a career and I don’t know what they were interested in other than the movement [?].
MS: What spaces are you thinking of when you say that? What sort of groups? What sort of movements?
JM: Well, it’s either GAA or GLF [?]. The Homophile Action League, whatever it was I hung out with. Then there was another one called Homosexual Information Service?
MS: Yes, that’s right. Jerry Curtis?
JM: Yeah, I don’t know if I ever met anybody, but I was on that list of people to contact. And it’s through that list I found out I also was on another list with Dr. Hadden name [?].
MS: At Penn, yeah.
JM: And he was going to cure homosexuals. And some people would call me and say, in fact one of the famous leading lights called me, this was [?]. In the early Eromin days, too, I was involved with that. I got thrown out of that.
MS: Why did you get thrown out of Eromin?
JM: Because they didn’t like my attitude. There was a certain person who came to Temple and was making some comments about what if somebody finds out and you better. I don’t know. I’m very actively paranoid about these types of things. So I said, I told him [?].
MS: I’m not understanding that at all.
JM: Well he was saying I had to be careful coming down here because some people might see me and this and this and Temple’s so homophobic and so on. And I’d just graduated from Temple and I said, “I don’t think that’s true.” And I may have been rather forceful with him and two people, I don’t know their names, they summoned me [?]. And they said, “We don’t think you have the right attitudes.” Now whether I got fired or not, I don’t know, but I mean I mailed the key back.
MS: I see.
JM: And basically I said, “Shove it.” So my career would be the first thing. I believed in giving it back, but I also didn’t believe in giving it all.
MS: It sounds like you knew a lot of gay people at work at the various jobs that you’ve had.
JM: No. I wouldn’t say I knew a lot of gay people as gay people. There were sexual encounters that I had at work, but they would not necessarily identify as gay. So I wouldn’t say a lot [?].
MS: Were there gay contacts that you helped get jobs or that helped you get jobs ever?
JM: I don’t remember anybody helping me as far as getting [?]. In that case, I’d helped them get jobs [?] solicitous. And I also would, with a gay student, make myself available.
MS: For what?
JM: Well for minor mentoring and because I just think that we have enough of a row to hoe. We have difficulties [?]. I don’t know how I’d choose if two people were equally qualified. Would I choose the gay man over the gay woman or choose a gay over a straight? I don’t know.
MS: So that situation didn’t present itself as far as you recall?
JM: Well you heard me at The Corporate Closet. I had some questions there that didn’t suit their majesty [?]. I didn’t hear the last question you asked.
MS: It didn’t happen as far as you can remember, that you helped someone or that someone helped you.
JM: Not just for being gay, I don’t think. I did know a teacher at the school who I knew was gay and he was after me at the time. Well he was after me historically. And he did a suicide attempt. It wasn’t the first one and I interceded for him. And he’s still alive. He did get treatment and stuff, but I don’t think [?]. But that wasn’t.
MS: So you helped him?
JM: Well I don’t know that was because he was gay actually. And maybe I’d help another person. I don’t know.
MS: Well, is there anything else you think you should add?
JM: I don’t tell who’s gay very well, frankly. Never did. All this gadar stuff just confounds me. And I think even at church, as far as I can tell I’m open, but there are people who still will talk about another person saying, “I can’t stand it.” “What do you mean?” “Oh here comes another one, you know, the gay people.”
MS: Have you always been church-going?
JM: Yeah. Oh well, no. About twenty years I was mad at god in the middle or late '60s and '70s, I think it was.
MS: So you weren't going to church in the '60s and '70s?
JM: Only to hear music or for social reasons. But I was not a believer. I mean I was not a not believer. I was just mad at god. “I gave you the best years of my life. You still don't bring Mr. Right.”
MS: Right. So have you had relationships that lasted significant lengths of time?
JM: Mmhmm [assent].
MS: In the '50s and '60s? Early '70s?
JM: No, in the '70s. I don't remember in the '60s having any long-term relationships.
MS: But when in the '70s did that start?
JM: I had friends, but they were not sexual friends. '70, '72 maybe.
JM: Oh no. Actually '69, he was a former student of mine and we sort of had a hot little affair. And eventually I invited him to live with me. Mainly, he happened to be black and mainly I didn’t want him to Rutgers in Camden. I didn’t want him to live where he would have to live. I didn't plan on living with him as a lover. Nor did we. Soon after he moved in, shortly after, the relationship changed and he was a roommate.
MS: I see.
JM: Yes, very nice, and he eventually married, I understand, and kind of drifted away. And I tracked him down and [?]. The nicest man I ever knew was in the early '70s [?].
MS: How long were you together with him?
JM: Well we didn't live together, but just two or three years, two or three. Maybe just two, I think. I don't remember. He's with a lover now who's some fifteen years younger, much younger than [?]. Because I was a bit of a jerk, so I was trying to sort of make amends about [?]. And then there were two other ones. The last one was a guy I dated for like three years and then he turned out to be [?]. He sort of drifted away, no quarrels, just drifted away. And I didn't pursue him as much [?]. He's still a sweet boy, but I don’t have anything to do with him. And he's tried and I’ve tried to forgive him [?].
MS: Is there anything else you want to say before we wrap this up? Any large reflections on gay life in the ‘60s and '70s?
JM: Yeah, but you know my position is that there are some people who if they [?]. Remembered even if you don’t know who they are [?]. So you have to thank your benefactors. [?].
MS: And who would you thank?
JM: I don't know how far ahead we are really.
MS: Who would you personally thank if you could thank anybody?
JM: Well of course Barbara Gittings is outstanding in her perseverance. I still remember a remark she made to me: “Oh, if you want to still keep your mask on, go ahead.” Of course, as I understand it, she lives somewhat [?]. She never was bothered to [?]. So she supported herself through some family, I heard, or something like that. There are other people. I mean like some of the people who have been written about, people who have done professional work, paving the way for some things. I don't think of anyone in particular. I mean some of the old names go around, like the Japanese guy.
JM: Yeah, and how he varied with certain behaviors and other times. So I'm sure there was tension there. He was going to do his thing and everybody did their thing. But he's been around. And some of his later stuff was more a contribution than some of his earlier stuff [?]. Just like Segal’s early stuff was necessary to do for him to be where he is today, too. I don’t know. He’s unpopular, but he did some great stuff. Zaps, I guess in those days [?]. But he would be one that I think there would be a significant amount [?].
MS: Right. Well thank you very much for this.
JM: O.K. You're welcome.