Richard Schlegel (1927-2006), Interviewed May 10-11, 1993
by Marc Stein. Copyright © Marc Stein 2016. All rights reserved.
I interviewed Richard Schlegel during a two-day visit to his home in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, in May 1993. He had written to me in March 1993 after reading about my Ph.D. dissertation research in Philadelphia Gay News. Schlegel was familiar to me because of his high profile roles in Schlegel v. United States, 416 F.2d 1372 (1969) and 397 U.S. 1039 (1970), which addressed the wages he had lost after he was fired from his position as a civilian employee of the U.S. Army based on allegations of homosexual conduct in 1961. I also knew from earlier gay history scholarship that Schlegel had founded a central Pennsylvania chapter of the Philadelphia-based Janus Society in the mid-1960s and that he had lost his job as the director of finance for the Pennsylvania Department of Highways in 1965 after his superiors learned that he was gay and active in the homophile movement. In addition to agreeing to be interviewed, Schlegel encouraged me to examine his papers, which he had donated to the Mariposa Foundation in California. I subsequently learned that his papers had been transferred to the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (see rmc.library.cornell.edu). Schlegel also supplied me with a detailed inventory of other materials that he had donated to the Institute for Sex Research (the Kinsey Institute) at Indiana University, but when I contacted the Institute to ask about this I was told that it did not have any record of Schlegel’s donation. Toward the end of 1993 I sent Schlegel a copy of our interview transcript, which he extensively annotated. Over the next eleven years he wrote many letters to me; I plan to deposit his annotated copy of the transcript and his letters to me in an appropriate archive in the future.
After retiring in 1979, Schlegel became a successful financial investor. He died on 25 February 2006. His will provided for the establishment of several gay/lesbian/bisexual awards at American University, where he had completed his M.A. degree in political science and public administration. The following biographical information is based on the interview transcript and other materials supplied by Schlegel:
Date of Birth: 11 February 1927
Place of Birth: Berrysburg, Pennsylvania
Place of Mother's Birth: Pennsylvania
Mother's Occupation: Schoolteacher and Housewife
Place of Father's Birth: Pennsylvania
Father's Occupation: Road and Home Construction Worker, Prison Guard, Steelworker
Religious Background: Protestant
Class Background: Middle Class
1927-1943: Berrysburg, Lewistown, Millersburg, Milroy, and Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
1943-45: State College, Pennsylvania1946-47: Texas and Florida
1947-49: State College, Pennsylvania
1949-55: Washington, D.C./Bethesda, Maryland
1955-58: Battle Creek, Michigan
1958-61: Honolulu, Hawaii
1962: Schoolcraft, Michigan
1962-63: Washington, D.C.
1963-65: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
1966-67: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
1967-70: Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1943-45: Student, Pennsylvania State University
1946-47: U.S. Army Air Corps
1947-49: Student, Pennsylvania State University
1951-55: Intern and Civil Servant, U.S. Federal Civil Aeronautics Administration
1955-58: Civil Servant, U.S. Federal Civil Defense Administration
1958-61: Civilian Employee, U.S. Army
1963-65: Director of Finance, Pennsylvania Department of Highways
1966-67: Staff, Laventhol, Krekstein, and Griffith, CPAs
1967-69: Proofreader, Writer, and Editor for Guild Press, Potomac News, Drum magazine, and
Trojan Book Service
1970: Publisher/Editor, PACE magazine
1972-79: Staff, Paul Brooker Sales International
Marc Stein Interview with Richard Schlegel – 10-11 May 1993. Transcribed by Marc Stein and Kate Wilson.
MS: Why don’t we start off by talking a little bit about your background: when you were born, where you were born, your family, and your childhood?
RS: First of all, let’s get the middle name and initial in there: Richard Lamar Schlegel. I don’t know where the Lamar came from. It just pops up there, but it’s kind of distinctive.I was born February the 11th, 1927. I was born in a very little village in upper Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, called Berrysburg, named for Berry’s Mountain. And other than that I don’t have any other reason to think it was distinctive. Little town, maybe stretching, 500 people even today. And we’re talking sixty-six years later.
MS: And your parents?
RS: My parents were named Roy Fredrick Schlegel and Margaret Annetta Deibler Schlegel. Both families settled in Pennsylvania and became Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch. The original Schlegel, who came over from the Palatine region in Germany, landed in Philadelphia sometime in 1734. We have that documented and we have the name of the ship that brought him over. He also brought with him a deed or else he acquired it here, I’m not sure, from the Penn descendants. And that deed is still visible and available for inspection down at the original homestead, which is at Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, a small village very close to Reading, Pennsylvania. The original homestead has been preserved. The family cemetery is there and tended. And the property is still in possession of one of the descendants of the original Johann Chrischa Schlegel. We are proud of the family history. It’s been Germanic all the way. And in Germanic families, the position of the father is never contested. That custom was brought over intact from the old land when they came over to this country.
MS: Did it remain intact in your family?
RS: Yes, yes, but ineffectively so. My dad, at least in his early period, was bombastic and tried to be authoritarian. But unfortunately, he didn’t have the personality or the mental resources to back up his authoritarian disposition or his authoritarian objectives. And I sensed very early in my life that my mother was really running this roost. So my mother was the more dominant personality of the two, primarily because she had more formal education. My father never completed high school. He went somewhere in the grades, and I’ve just now forgotten what grade he finally got up, but I don’t think it was even the eighth grade. My father came from a family of ten children and my grandfather was the old pater familias. He was the undisputed head of that family of ten children. My grandmother, although capable and competent, reminded me something of a battleship, because that’s the way she was physically made, and would labor without any complaint from before dawn to well after dusk. Remember ten children over a span. For example, my father was born in 1901. He was the second of the family. He had one elder brother. My uncle, who was the next to the last of the ten, was born in 1922 and there was still one coming and I believe she was born in 1924, my aunt. So you see there was a span. This was a birthing or life-giving span of over twenty years. And if you remember, for most of that time my grandmother never even had a washing machine. It wasn’t until later in life. First of all, there was no electricity on the farms. They were farmers. There was no electricity there. No telephone, none of the modern utilities, so my grandmother had to do all of this laundry and then later on she was assisted by the girls when they became old enough. But she did this laundry on washboards. And it wasn’t until—I remember this very vividly--later in her life when she finally acquired a gasoline powered washing machine. I remember that vividly because this was the type that went putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt, putt. And of course you had to operate it someplace where it was vented because you couldn’t operate it in a closed kitchen. So that was the kind of family they had.
MS: Did your father remain a farmer?
MS: What was his occupation?
RS: My father never was a farmer. My father did road construction work. He was primarily a builder and a carpenter. And then later on he would work on building houses and did a lot of road construction work. And what brought us here to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, was there were openings at our Northeastern Federal Penitentiary. And a neighbor of ours in Mifflin County who had already been hired over here told my dad of the opportunities. So my dad came over and inquired and was hired. But this was during World War Two and their regular cadre had gone into the military service, so these were fill-in replacement workers to keep the institution going.
MS: So he was a guard there?
RS: He was a guard. They called them custodial officers.
MS: And did your mother work or did she work in the home?
RS: She worked constantly but never in terms of a career, never paid positions. She was a volunteer. She was very active in all of the church functions. The only paid job that she had was here. Before she and my father met and were married, she had been trained as a public schoolteacher. And she graduated from what was then called Shippensburg State Normal School, which is where would-be teachers went in those days. And so she got her teaching certificate and she taught in one-room schoolhouses. And just by chance one of her pupils became very well-known in Pennsylvania because he became a state senator from the Harrisburg district and was extremely well-known. And one of the high points of my mother’s life, and my dad’s life too, was when this state senator gathered together his former teachers to be honored, first of all, by giving the honoraria that the State Senate is capable of giving but then also to be guests of the Senate on the day. This was printed up in the Harrisburg papers and photographs were taken and they’re still here. It was really a great time for my mother.
MS: How did your parents meet?
RS: I want to tell you this. It may not be relevant, but it certainly had an impact on my life. My dad was a gold-digger. My dad was ambitious. He knew his own limitations in terms of education and he rose—I’ll give him full credit--above those limitations later in life. After we leave the penitentiary I’ll get back to the form his own career took. He did want to be a farmer. He had this inborn urge to be a farmer. There was a very wealthy family in Berrysburg who owned a number of farms. They had a fifteen or sixteen years old daughter. She was the only daughter they had. They never had any others. And I’m sure that possibly, besides being attracted to this teenager, my dad also was attracted to this real estate, which at that point must have been five or six farms, if my memory serves me correctly. I mean these were people of substance. My dad allied himself with this family and in the process also became the expected husband of the teenager because he was very well-liked by both her father and her mother. Especially her mother liked my dad. They also owned a rowing mill, the only one in that area. So all the farmers had to bring in all the wheat and whatever else they milled there. They were dependent upon this one facility. It was one of the early monopolies there. I don’t know if my dad was ever technically second in command, but he was the paymaster. He was the ad hoc manager of this and that and even carried the business purse in order to pay the bills. That much confidence they had in my dad, the family that owned this. It did not occur to me later, but I’m positive, I’m 100% sure of this, that in addition to having their respect, my dad was also bedding the mother. I’m sure of that. He was going with the teenage daughter, but he also was sleeping with her mother. This friendship with this couple went on until they died. They remained close and my mother had to swallow hard and put up with this. I don’t know why, but she did. This daughter at seventeen died. It was a flu epidemic. And in Berrysburg this took quite a few. No, it wasn’t influenza; it was the disease that you get from tainted milk: TB, tuberculosis. It was an epidemic of TB. I’m not 100% sure; it was either one or the other. It was either flu or TB. She died at seventeen; of that I’m sure. So that left that family first of all with no heir and secondly it knocked my dad’s ambition into a cocked hat. I learned this from my mother and she never would tell me anything more. She was designated to take their daughter’s place with my dad. Their daughter’s name was Dartha. Their last name was Dockey. She said, and she just let it slipped out and then she shut up and wouldn’t tell me anything more, that she was designated to replace Dartha. She was to be my father’s either lover or wife, I don’t know. But the understanding was, and I don’t why she was chosen, except that the families lived adjacent to each other, with one house in between in Berrysburg. My mother was outgoing. She was an attractive lady. She was obviously someone on the go, because by that time she was about to graduate from college. And it was hard to go to college from Berrysburg because people didn’t have a lot of money, with the exception of the Dockeys. Somebody chose my mother to be for my dad. He was supposed to make her pregnant. That’s all she’d say. He was to make her pregnant. Well my dad got his signals from somebody, whether it was from Mr. Dockey or Mrs. Dockey or the two together I don’t know. I can’t fill in that part of the puzzle. But he got his signals and he started courting her. She was going with somebody else. She did not consider my dad or his family to be equal to her station. And the Schlegel family, as she knew it, was not equal to the position that her family occupied in any way, shape, or form. She was above that. My dad started courting her and this went on for six to eight months. I have her diary here and so I know what happened and where they went and what she was recording at least. And all of a sudden the entries stop. No further entries at that point. And the rough interpolation is that that’s when she became pregnant. And her life, not literally but figuratively, stopped. This was the last thing that she wanted. And all she ever told me during the years was that she begged him to use protection when this was going on. It wasn’t until she was in her final week in life in Williamsport Hospital that she confided to the chaplain there that my dad raped her. He was strong. He was well-built. All of the Schlegel brothers were extremely well-built. They were short, but they were well-built and very, very masculine in their physique. My mother was tall, but she was slight and she was no match for his physical strength. She told the chaplain just the minimum details about that pregnancy and that it was the result of a rape. I knew that there was something crazy in there. I could put half of the jigsaw together, but I did not anticipate that it was that cruel.
MS: And they married nevertheless?
RS: They married because that was the thing to do. And that was the thing that evidently this property was dependent on. First of all, my mother’s pregnancy was involved. And I don’t know what other conditions there were, but he was promised a farm. And therein also lay another of the things that they could never agree on. He wanted to farm. She couldn’t be caught dead on a farm. It was the last place in the world that she ever wanted to be. And it was a point of continuous contention.
MS: But he did get the farm?
RS: No. He never got the farm. That family then went down to the point of Texas, Brownsville, the very southernmost point of Texas. And they went into citrus farming down there and every Christmas, like clockwork, we always got a bushel basket of their own citrus, delivered by railway express. They would winter down there, but then they would return to Berrysburg to summer. And again, regular as clockwork, they always visited my parents, this Mr. and Mrs. Dockey. And they stayed doing so until their deaths.
MS: Now was that pregnancy the one that resulted in you?
MS: Did you have brothers and sisters as well?
RS: No, no. I was an only child and that was the reason for it. This trauma, this inner psychological block, translated into asthmatic attacks. And I didn’t correlate those until later on. But these came at my mother’s menstrual periods or before. At the time of her fertility, she would have these attacks, which made her bedfast and incapacitated her. There’s another part of this story. She was ill, very, very physically and obviously visibly ill to the point we thought where she couldn’t continue to breathe at all. So what happens? There I am. The work is not being done and the household is a mess when she’s ill. So who steps in and starts cleaning the damn place? Who starts taking care of the housework? You can guess. I started taking care of the housework.
MS: At what age?
RS: Ten, maybe before, because my dad was working and was a very, very hard worker, worked to the day he died.
MS: This was where? Where were they living through your early childhood?
RS: They went to housekeeping. Now get this. This house where Mrs. Dockey’s parents lived, they were really the ones who owned the farms. They had a substantial house in Berrysburg and the first place that my parents went to housekeeping was in that house where it was just kind of a little hallway, a vestibule type thing. That’s where they started living and they had a bedroom upstairs. And that’s where, I suspect, whatever was going on between my dad and Mrs. Dockey, I think, continued. And for how long afterwards, I don’t know, but she was very, very fond of him. Other than the mercenary aspects of it, she was not an attractive person. Later on, when I knew her, she was a two-time Annie. She was not facially attractive at all, but it was just the fact that she represented all of this property and she was the only heir. And in turn her only heir had died in this epidemic. And so there was nobody else. As it turned out, and it’s not really relevant, but the property was just all frittered away. And she was killed on one of their trips back to Pennsylvania from Texas. A truck hit them and she was decapitated and she died instantly. He died many years later in a nursing home. And as far as anyone knew there wasn’t a cent left.
MS: So you spent your first years in that large Dockey home. When did you move?
RS: I don’t think it was a lot of years. Because then my dad went on what they called road work, road construction, and they then lived in the adjacent town called Millersburg, which is also in Dauphin County.
MS: And was it while they were there that you started doing housework?
RS: No. I was too young, because at first grade we were living in Mifflin County in Lewistown. I went to first grade when I was five years old. And they lived by themselves in a house. And then my mother had certain relatives and possibly my dad had certain relatives also who were doing road work. And this is what I meant by my mother continually working but being unpaid. All these men who worked on the road had to have lunchboxes prepared. She of course had to do all the baking in order to feed this whole crew. And then there were also people, other than people living there, who came to the table. I remember them. And this was my mother. And she sometimes had help from her sisters-in-law and her sister and so forth. But we lived in Lewistown. That’s when I first started school. I was kind of precocious because first of all my mother could apply some of her teaching talents to me. And my dad, he was also quite affectionate and took an interest in reading the comic strips to me, but only when he was there. And my recollection of that early time is that he spent so much time away that it was an event when I saw him. And again, this just opened up to me within the past several years, especially since my mother’s death in 1985. My mother was the fondest niece of her aunt and uncle also who lived in Berrysburg. They were childless, so my mother was raised in part by these older people. We called them Sudy and Ed. And their last names were Deibler. And so she lived most of the time with her Aunt Sudy and Uncle Ed. And I, in turn, lived there as well. I spent most of my summers with them, too. They were closer to me than my own grandparents. Obviously Sudy knew the story because Sudy had no truck with my dad. She was civil, period. But she knew what had happened with my mother, although never a word was ever spoken. But this rubbed off to me. I knew this friction, this wall of separation between my Great Aunt Sudy and my father. Although at a certain temporary time, when they had to leave Lewistown, when the job had stopped, they moved back to Berrysburg and lived at that point with Sudy and Ed until my dad went on another job. So he was gone. It was just then my mother and myself and these two older people. But I could sense, and I know full well now why, there was this great antagonism between my great aunt and my father.
MS: During these early years, did you have any sense that you were sexually attracted to men or to other boys?
RS: In second grade, no even before then. When we lived in Lewistown, the people who lived next door to us had a son and a daughter. Natalie Brotemarkle, of all things, was the name. I remember getting along very well with Natalie, who was maybe a little younger than I. Her brother was older than I and I remember very clearly today feeling attracted to that boy for whatever reason. I mean he was boyish and he didn’t give me the time of day, but I certainly was aware of him. And this was prior to my being five years old. My first boyfriend was in second grade, at Berrysburg, Pennsylvania. After we pulled up stakes in Lewistown and moved back to Berrysburg, I went to Berrysburg Elementary School. This was one of those consolidated schools where grades one through eight, I believe, or six, were all conducted in the same room. So all the kids of the different ages were there and I was able to listen to some of their lessons. Plus the teaching that my mother was doing and the extra attention that my father gave me—he would read the comic strips to me--I learned to read before I went to school. And I advanced very rapidly in the first and second grades, first being in Lewistown, second in Berrysburg. But to answer your question, it was a minister’s son, who may have been either my age or a bit older. I don’t remember what grade he was in, but he was in the same room. And I remember thinking, “Oh, is he good looking?” And we played together. We went down to the parsonage. And he was a good buddy of mine, but I remember thinking “Gee, he is so pretty to look at.” And he was. I remember that to this day. And we were buddies for awhile.
MS: But you called him your boyfriend?
RS: No, no, not at that point.
MS: I mean you called him it now.
RS: Oh yes, the two of us. I remember the parsonage had one of these outdoor pumps and we would play around that. I mean nothing sexual, but I certainly remember the attraction, just as I had remembered the attraction to the Brotemarkle boy.
MS: Did anything physical ever happen with any boys when you were growing up?
RS: No, nothing whatsoever, but I remember the feeling. I had the feeling inside, absolutely. I singled them out. Then we moved to Mifflin County, another place called Milroy, and that’s where I started third grade. I was at that point eight years old, maybe not quite eight. I was put into third grade. I was already advanced and I was in a new situation. The teacher was an endearing old maid, Elsie Rierick. I remember her vividly to this day. And I wasn’t in the third grade I don’t think even a week, or possibly into the second week, and she said, “Tell your mother and dad I’d like to come down and talk to them. I think I have something important to ask them.” So I told my parents and she came down. And she said, “Richard is too far advanced for third grade. I’ve questioned him and he already knows the subjects.” I had it just from observation.
MS: So they advanced you?
RS: They advanced me. I skipped a grade, which was a grievous error; should never have happened. I was first of all too young for my classmates. All these people were older. It was a mistake to advance me and then we were in a facility in Milroy, which was a very old school building. And the thing that it had was a circular fire escape, which was completely unclosed. It was a terrifying thing to me. I was first of all too young and I’m sure I was a sissy. I’m sure of that, because this is when I was going through the housekeeping phase as well. I was also physically not strong and masculine, never have been. And I never learned how to throw a ball. My cousins tried to teach me. They went out of their way. My muscles and my coordination simply would not work the same way that theirs did. This maybe doesn’t surprise you. It sure as hell surprised me, because they found it so easy. My Sunday school classmates had to teach me how to make a fist. And I remember I didn’t know whether I was supposed to put the thumb in or out and they reminded me, “If you don’t put it out and you hit somebody, you’re sure as hell gonna’ knock a few knuckles of your own in there.” So they taught me. I learned how to throw. They tried to teach me how.
MS: So did you get teased a lot for that by the other kids?
RS: Yeah, although I don’t remember it causing an awful lot of anguish because that’s when I started to withdraw. Like this fire escape, I wouldn’t go down that fire escape. And that set me apart: if my age didn’t, the fact that I was considered a coward at this point because I wouldn’t go down that fire escape. Eventually I did, but it took awhile. This is where you popped into this closed aperture and you circled around. Someone caught you down at the bottom. It just frightened me. And of course that put me apart. Plus the fact that I think this was the first male teacher I had and he terrified me. So all these things came together and I was already getting the reputation: “Well this is a real oddball and sissy.”
MS: Were you called sissy as far as you remember?
RS: Not at that point. I don’t think so.
MS: So little name calling, but you had a sense of being different?
RS: Yes, I was definitely removed and I remember wanting in the worst way to have a little corner to myself and being closed off so that I would not have to be part of this class. I didn’t like that class. I didn’t like that teacher. And I was really starting to be set apart. Sexually I don’t remember having any feelings whatsoever for anybody.
MS: Did that change in high school? Where were you in high school?
RS: I was still in Milroy in high school. I remember being attracted to certain other boys, but never acted on it, never acted on anything with any of the classmates.
MS: Did you ever date any of the girls?
RS: No, no. In desperation, at the time of the prom, and I don’t know whether this was a junior or senior prom, I was the class president and I announced that I couldn’t dance and I saw no reason for going to the prom and I wouldn’t like it anyway. And our class advisor just simply wouldn’t take no for an answer and he came and picked me up and practically physically took me to the prom. I had a miserable time. And here again, because I couldn’t learn to throw, I couldn’t learn to dance. Girls tried to teach me to dance. No boy ever tried, but girls did. They went out of their way and all I would do was stumble around and step on their toes. And so they gave up in no time at all because I was just so inept. I don’t know whether it’s a matter of a lack of coordination or that the muscles aren’t in the right place. I have no sense of rhythm whatsoever.
MS: Is there anybody from your childhood, looking back now, that you think maybe was gay? Maybe you identified with them?
RS: Not a one. Not a one. Not a single one.
MS: Was homosexuality ever talked about?
RS: Now remember, our graduating class was sixteen. I was one of sixteen. That shows you the size of this establishment. It was out in the wilds of Pennsylvania. The closest town was Lewistown on the one side and State College, Pennsylvania, on the other. Lewistown I don’t suppose had more than 12,000 people at that time. So we were really, really isolated. The reason we were there is my father then went to work for the Bethlehem Steel Company. They maintained a limestone quarry close to Milroy. And so that’s when he went into the steel business. I stayed in Milroy and they did until I graduated, which was 1943 and I was sixteen years old. I had a couple you might say peripheral sexual experiences. I was the aggressor. This was a farm boy, a neighbor of ours. We lived along a stream in the southern part of town and across the stream was a farm. And this farm family had a number of boys and girls. Many of them were real beauties, both boys and girls. I mean raving beauties. This was the youngest of the family and he was, for his age, a raving beauty, a little blond.
MS: Was he your age?
RS: No, he was younger than I.
MS: How old was he?
RS: I was sixteen. His name was Bob Reed, Bobby Reed, and I’d say he wouldn’t be more than eleven, twelve maybe. I don’t remember what grade he was in, but he was just a youngster and pretty.
MS: What happened?
RS: We were playing up in the barn and I thought it would be a good idea to take off our clothes. We also had another neighbor boy, a little Italian family, and he didn’t like that idea much either. So I don’t think he stayed around. But anyway that left Bobby and myself. And Bobby shucked his clothes without any hesitation whatsoever. And he was old enough that he got a pretty nice hard on, a pretty nice erection. And then some way or another he decided that it would be nice to try to pee with a hard on. He did that. I don’t remember whether I got my clothes off or not. It seems to me I didn’t. I think I was just orchestrating the whole thing. Well O.K., that started a little scenario then and whenever we could arrange I played with him. Sometimes in the living room, sometimes out in the hill, sometimes in the farm, over a period of some months, I don’t remember. And he wanted to play back. Even at that age, he wanted to play back. I wouldn’t let him.
MS: You mean he wanted to touch you?
RS: Yes he did. Yes he did. And I wouldn’t let him do that. How crazy. Boy I was a real mess at that time. I certainly wouldn’t make that mistake twice, because he was so cute.
MS: Did anybody ever catch you?
RS: No. One of his brothers came up to the barn one time when we were up there just to get us to come down for supper, but we had already finished at that time. There was no orgasm; it was just a nice feeling. Loved it, just loved it. I didn’t know anything about orgasm. I knew virtually nothing about sex at that point. And I was a teenager.
MS: So you ended up in the military, right? How did that happen?
RS: Yes, yes. I had two years of college under my belt at Penn State. I was in a fraternity house and I made the mistake of confiding to my roommate, a Catholic boy from Pittsburgh, who now has a medical degree of some kind and a passel of kids. I mean really, really the dyed in the wool Catholic progression. I confided to him. It was late at night. It was bunk beds. He was above me and I don’t know the reason other than it seemed to be the right thing to do at the time. And I told him that I was gay. Only I didn’t use the word gay.
MS: What did you say? Do you remember?
RS: I don’t know. I don’t remember what I used. I don’t remember the verbiage.
MS: Where had you gained the knowledge to think that you were gay?
RS: Where did I ever learn about homosexuality? You could hardly find it in any dictionary at that point. The only availability of any nude photos of any kind was in medical books. And the reason I knew that was before I joined the fraternity I was living in a rooming house and I had a single room. There were two double rooms and Joe Vispy, who’s still alive, had one of the other double rooms. And Joe, good old solid Catholic Italian, had squirreled a medical book from the library, I suppose. I don’t know; it was there. And he showed me these nude photographs. I guess that’s the first time I had actually seen either a male or a female naked. Oh I thought this was so exciting. And they were just standard and I don’t remember the people who posed for these things as having anything to recommend them at all. But they were naked. Naked! To look at this cock naked! And he would keep it under his bed. I knew where he hid it. And so when he wasn’t there I would go in and I would look at these pictures again. No masturbation. I had had an orgasm and I had learned how to masturbate by accident. No one taught me how to do this. The first orgasm came with Chester Leach. He was from the University of Michigan. And that’s a story by itself. Chester was heterosexual.
MS: How did you meet Chester?
RS: The Leaches lived side by side in Milroy. We lived here; the Leaches lived right next door to us.
MS: How old were you when this happened?
RS: Well Chester would be two or three years younger. He died at age fifty-nine in 1990 so I was three years older. I was sixty-three and he was fifty-nine. That was the age range between us. We would sometimes sleep together. He would come over and sleep at my place; I would go over and sleep at his place. He never played with me, but I loved to play with him while he was asleep. Chester was 5’5” stretching, but he was one of these men who grew muscles naturally. He was a natural athlete. His father was a natural athlete. He had muscles growing on muscles. Marvelously put together. He played football here at Bucknell. He graduated from Bucknell because the story was that his father found out about the openings at the penitentiary. He got his job, he went back home, told my dad, who was living next door, about these opportunities. My dad came over and he was hired. And so the Leach’s moved over from Milroy. We moved over from Milroy. And that’s what brought us to Lewisburg.
MS: So you had some sexual experiences, but not really mutual ones, with Chester?
RS: No, No. First of all, it was just feeling. He didn’t reciprocate. He was sleeping supposedly. And my first orgasm happened when we were playing in my bedroom in Milroy. And I was instigating some kind of little sexual escapade here, which caused us to undress. And he went that far and I got so excited that I came. And my god I thought, “What a mess!” I had no idea what was involved.
MS: What was his reaction?
RS: He was entranced. Later on, when we repeated the process, he wanted me to do it again and I told him “I don’t know how” because I had not yet learned how to masturbate. But he wanted to see what he called the white stuff. “Make that white stuff come.” I said, “I don’t know how.” And I really didn’t. It was that silly how I learned about climaxing.
MS: So we were back in college and you were looking at the medical books. But you didn’t have sexual experiences at State College?
RS: None, none. I went all through two years of Penn State—and subsequently part of these two years came back to haunt me later on--without any sexual experiences whatsoever except masturbation. My only sexual outlet was exploring the gym. And that’s when I first became aware that I had a jock strap fetish. That somehow or another, there was some sexual symbolism connected with jock straps, particularly the ones left over by the football team. Oh boy. Or any other teams. Whoopee. Because they would wash them or sometimes they didn’t wash them and hang them out to dry and I knew how to get to them. So I would explore the gym, but never had any sexual contacts whatsoever, except I was caught once by two boys who were in the rooming house where I was serving meals.
MS: They caught you doing what?
RS: Just being in the gym. But I’m sure now they were there for the same reason. Because I know now, with hindsight, that they were just a bunch of queens too. But I didn’t connect it at all. But oh I was embarrassed. They blabbed.
MS: What did they blab? You could have been in the gym doing anything. What did they find you doing?
RS: I was going from locker to locker looking for jock straps or any leftover paraphernalia.
MS: So what did they do when they found you?
RS: I was embarrassed by the whole thing and I made up some kind of excuse. And we parted but they went and blabbed. This was the group that later on, after the war was over and the fraternities went back to their own houses, took over their fraternity Pi Kappa Alfa. I went in to Delta Tau Delta and the reason it came back to haunt me was that that’s when I first acquired the reputation of being the most flaming queer in all of Penn State. That’s when the seeds were sown. And also because when I was a waiter in this boarding house, I had designs on one particular boy who reminded me for all the world of this first lad in second grade: looked a lot like him, combed his hair the same way. And foolish me, stupid me, I would take the first plate, and although he wasn’t next in line, I made a point of serving that first plate to him. Shelley, Shauley? I can’t think of his name now. He was killed in the war. But anyway, I remember his looks. I can’t quite put the name together.
MS: Did anything ever happen between you?
RS: No, not a thing. Oh, no. He was embarrassed by the whole thing. But he was part of that fraternity and again that’s when the reputation started.
MS: I see. But the reputation happened after you came back from the military?
RS: I went to Penn State two years and I just knew that I had to get out of there, because after I had made this revelation to Summerfield, my roommate, and he blabbed around the fraternity and possibly elsewhere, the attitude changed. Because I have no reason to think that any of the other boys were gay. My hormones were charging up. I was eighteen at this point, maybe barely, and my grades were failing. I was working not only as a waiter, but I also had a night job at a drugstore there, which kept me going until midnight or afterwards and then I had to walk way back to the fraternity house. And I was just physically exhausted and things were going very badly at the fraternity, although I had never propositioned anybody. It’s just that they now knew because of what Summerfield had told them. And I could feel things were really bad, so I withdrew and came back home to Lewisburg after completing two years. And that was the time when, if you were in college, you got a deferment, but when you were no longer a full-time student, you had no deferment and in no time at all I was snatched up by the draft board here. I was drafted from our local draft board in Mifflinburg and sent to the assignment center down at Fort Mead, Maryland. And wonder of wonders, primarily because I had two years of college under my belt, they sent me to the Air Force, the Army Air Corps.
MS: Were there any questions about homosexuality?
MS: Nothing like that?
RS: No, the point was never raised. And just as an aside, I now know from stories that other people have told that, for example the bar of the old Aster Hotel in Times Square in New York City was flaming. That is, the old queens and the young military men, they knew that if you wanted to be picked up or you wanted to pick somebody up, all you had to do was go to the Aster Bar. I heard about that when I was either in the service or after the service, I don’t remember.
MS: When did you go in the service? What year?
RS: I went into the service in January 1946. And then I was discharged in July 1947. I put in my eighteen months. I had been selected an officer candidate and that didn’t go well because of a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. I requested to resign. They didn’t request that I resign, but I just didn’t feel I was up to going through that regiment down there. So my enlistment was an eighteen-month enlistment and it expired and then they sent me back home with an honorable discharge and all the credits and all the awards and ceremonies that you got for eighteen months.
MS: Any sexual activity in the military?
RS: None, none whatsoever.
MS: Where did you serve?
RS: First of all I served in Texas. I served on two bases in Texas. And then I finished my service in Florida. I flew as often as I could possibly bum a ride in any aircraft I could get onto because I just had this real liking, this love, this devotion for flying. Loved it. And I was delighted with the Air Force because it gave me a lot of good opportunities. I got as high in rank as sergeant and I could have been a staff sergeant. I was put in for it, but there just wasn’t an opening. And this was right after World War Two. Europe was already finished, but I think that there were still things going on with the Japanese area. But they were already downsizing and so when my enlistment was up, my colonel solicited me, tried in the worst way to get me to re-enlist, wanted it badly, but I thought I’d had enough and so I was finished. I had a love affair. It was unrequited. He was a captain. I had been mustered out. My resignation was accepted from officer candidate school. And so then I was reassigned to the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. I had been, from the very beginning, right after basic training camp, assigned to legal work, Judge Advocate General’s Court. And so I was in that office in both places in Texas and also in Florida. One of our trial judge advocates was a captain in the Signal Corps, Baird E. Harkins, I’ll never forget him. He was a strapping man. He would have been somewhere in his thirties, I suppose. Straw blond hair and I want to say blue eyes, but I don’t really remember his eyes. He was built and I tumbled for him the minute I saw him. He wasn’t with us full time because he had a Signal Corps assignment. But then we had roving trial judge advocates and so he came in for certain trials and certain preparations. We became very friendly. We went off base. We spent weekends together, one weekend in particular in Atlanta and other times we went to other places, one time in Alabama. He had a car, a convertible. Most of us didn’t have cars in that time. He came originally from California. He had been to college and had played football in college. Get the football connection in all of this, including Chester. We had good times together. We slept in the same room. We never slept together. We changed, when we were swimming or something, in the same locker room. Never any overt expression whatsoever. I was desperately afraid to make any kind of move, although I was terribly attracted to this man. I could have gone and just taken him in my arms and hugged him, although he was stronger than I. But it never occurred to me to make a move. And obviously I was not pretty enough for him. He liked me and we had good times together and we went to restaurants and we took trips together. Always had great times, because his sense of humor and my sense of humor complemented each other. We had wonderful times together. My enlistment was up. He drove me from the base to the railroad station, the main station, which was some miles away. He drove me up, helped me check my luggage and so forth, and we shook hands and said how wonderful it was that we’d known each other and that we’d keep in touch. I came back to Lewisburg and I wrote him. Got no answer. And I found a record that I thought he’d like and I packaged that up and sent that down to him. And one way or another, something eventually came back: “Deceased.” I thought, “Gee, this is strange.” But just about the same time, my colonel, who was the command judge advocate, and several other personnel had been killed in a plane crash because they were en route or returning from a trial site at one of the installations in the command. And I knew about that plane crash. His name was Colonel Elie, so I had known he was dead, and there were other personnel and I just assumed that Baird Harkins had also been killed in that crash. If you don’t think I was crushed to get the package back with no information from anybody. “Deceased.” It wasn’t until I was in graduate school at American University in Washington and I resumed a friendship that I had with a first lieutenant, William Kenney, who was securely heterosexual, son of a general and no question, but we were friendly. He was a trial judge advocate, as was Baird a trial judge advocate. And we saw each other then off and on for a number of years afterwards. I was going with Bill Kenney from the base at Washington, Boeing Air Force Base, to their home. They lived in Maryland, farther out. And we were crossing a bridge, I remember, and I said, “What happened to Baird?” Or “Tell me about the crash that killed Colonel Elie.” And I presumed that Baird Harkins died at the same time. He said, “Oh no.”
MS: What had happened?
RS: There was an investigation because an enlisted man had made accusations that Baird had taken this enlisted boy to his BOQ and had his way with the boy. I don’t know what kind of sex was involved. Bill Kenney didn’t offer the information if he knew. Obviously something had happened in Baird’s room. The boy described it much too vividly and it was obvious that he was there. So this fell upon Colonel Elie then. Colonel Elie had to order an investigation. The day that the investigation started, Baird drove out into the pine scrub that they have there in northern Florida, parked the car, attached a hose from the exhaust and killed himself. He was found I guess some days later. I was in shock. And I said, “I never imagined. I never even had a suspicion.” I remember Bill, he was driving, but Bill looked over slightly and then back to the road again and he said, “Wasn’t anything like that going on with you, between you two?” I said, “Absolutely not.” Which was the truth, but it surely could have, except I was not pretty. I was not sexy. Obviously this enlisted man he must have found to be more appealing than I, because at no time, and we knew each other for going on eight months and were intimate, never a pin was dropped. I never even gave it a thought that he might have been homosexual. That was the time that I learned that you don’t have to look homosexual to be homosexual. Because I had somehow picked up the idea that homosexuals were sissy, that they were flits, queens.
MS: Where do you think you got that idea?
RS: I wonder where I got that idea. I cannot tell you where I got that idea.
MS: I wonder if part of the story is when you went back to Penn State after the military. It’s then that you said that you acquired the reputation that you had.
RS: I’ll get to that in a minute. When I was there for the first time, I had been in a rooming house and I had made friends with three other men. I was in chemistry at that time and these men were in chemistry. As it turned out, one of these men, I know now, was gay. I didn’t know at the time. Earl McKinstry was his name. Earl was a very fastidious person, very good dresser, always immaculately groomed. Nothing that I would recognize now as gay ever passed between us until one time, when I was visiting at his home outside of Pittsburgh, we were sleeping together. I had no designs on him. I did not feel attracted to him. But we were sleeping together and I was awakened by the fact that he was playing with me. And first of all I was surprised, and second I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want to reciprocate anything at all. And so all I did was turn in such a way to give him the impression that I wasn’t interested in pursuing this thing. We never spoke of it, but I then learned that he obviously had been gay. He and I would talk on the telephone and the telephone in this rooming house was on a wall between the stairway and the landlady’s kitchen. And I don’t know why I did this; I thought it was cute or original or whatever; I would call him sweets. No endearment mentioned, but this was overheard by the landlady and she prattled. And she told the landlady of this place where I was serving as a waiter and where I was foolish enough to make a fuss over this Everett--Everett was his name--serving him first and making it obvious that I was singling him out for special attention. That was the first knowledge that I had that there was something wrong with a man expressing any kind of affection for another man. Because I could tell that I was being discriminated against by this landlady and also by the other landlady. And then the guys, who were all there from this one fraternity, they started calling me Homer, close to homo. And I guess I knew the word well enough to know that connection. And so that became my name whenever I was in the dining room. And I figured out just what they were doing. This was after I had more or less exposed myself in showing I was interested in Everett. So does that relate to why I thought that homosexuals had to be sissies and flits and fairies? I think it was either something that my dad must have said to me or maybe one of his brothers must have said to me, because I did dress up with my female cousins, just one time when we were putting on some—these were just dress-up clothing--long dresses and high heels. And my dad was there. And I don’t remember him making any kind of fuss about that because it was just a transient thing. We made one parade. I think they were on the front porch and my cousins and I made one parade and then we went back and took off the clothes. But either it’s something about that episode or just the fact that I really was a sissy. I must have been so terribly effeminate that it was obviously noticed. And I still don’t understand why the Air Force didn’t make any kind of fuss about this, but they never did, never raised a question ever. One time, only one time in the Air Force, we were barracked together in a big room, at this point in Eglin Field, and double decks, and maybe there might have been eight of us in the same room. And I was in my bunk, a lower bunk, and this was late at night. These guys had been drinking. They came in and one of my roommates, good-looking boy, really good-looking chap, came over and banged my bunk. He kicked the prop on the bunk and he said, “I think you’re a queer.” But I was sleeping; I was supposed to be sleeping, so I didn’t make any response to that. That was the only overt exclamation that I ever encountered in the Air Force. We had a marvelous master top sergeant who was a large man. And he had all the stripes down. He had all the awards you could ever get. But he was so effeminate. Made no bones about it. He was just so effeminate. But no one—first of all he had the seniority—dared. And second, I never heard anything said that he’d made a move on anybody. So maybe he was just effeminate and celibate. I don’t know. But he was just such a wonderful, wonderful person. I just loved him dearly, to this day, in a good way. So I don’t know how I got this idea that a homosexual could not be masculine, except using my father and his brothers as a guide. They were all masculine, all of them. And I picked up the idea somewhere along the line that well if you’re going to be sissy, you can’t be masculine and you have to be homosexual, something like that.
MS: So let’s go back to these years at Penn State.
RS: O.K. The last two years at Penn State. O.K.
MS: Any sexual activity with other men during those two years?
RS: None whatsoever.
MS: And you were in your fraternity?
RS: I was not. I was not. After I got back from the service I wasn’t going to go back to those bastards no matter what. So by that time the university had erected veteran’s housing units. These were nice. They were far from campus, but so were the fraternity houses. So I checked into veteran’s housing. Glad I did, because those sons of bitches in Delta Tau Delta could go to hell as far as I’m concerned. Only one of them ever came to visit me and I certainly loved him for that. George Smith was his name. O.K., so I went to veteran’s housing and the guys in my barracks, the guys in my unit, were top notch, really top guys. They accepted me, no questions asked. They were heterosexual. They were always going out catting and telling me about the advantages of wearing a condom, putting it on before you even go out on a date so you’re all set. I remember thinking, “Gee, what if you have to take a pee while you have it on and wouldn’t that be a nuisance.” But there was this one guy, a little Italian boy, who was a real tomcat. So we had a really good unit there and had lots of fun. One of our diversions was bridge playing of all things. We had almost, what do they call this in one of the plays, a floating crap game? Well we had a floating bridge game, which was going on practically twenty-four hours a day. But we had good times there. We were all veterans. You had to be. Secondly, we were under the G.I. Bill of Rights, so we all had practically the same amount of money, you see, because this was a monthly stipend plus tuition and this and that. And nobody had any more money, although one of our roommates did have an automobile. That was a rarity, too. And so he would treat us. We would go down to the college diner at night when we were hungry and he would drive us. Good guys. I remember them as beautiful, but no sex.
MS: You don’t remember at this point in time having ever stepped foot in a gay bar?
RS: I didn’t even know there was a gay bar. Now remember this would have been 1947 to 1949. I never heard the word gay bar. Didn’t know they existed. And I would have been age twenty, I guess, at this point. Twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two.
MS: What was your degree in?
RS: First of all, it was Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts and my major was political science, government, which I finally fell into. I started out in chemistry, went through some others, tried language, French, because I always excelled in that, failed German, tried other things, psychology, landed in political science just out of desperation, by total accident. Lapped it up. Loved it. There’s a story at Penn State. O.K. we were in one group of veteran’s housing. There was another. We were in Nutny dorms. There was another group of veteran’s housing, Polak Circle. Here we had all veterans, all fiercely independent. And opposite us were these nelly fraternity boys, prissy boys we thought. We also had two political parties at Penn State. We had the State Party and the Lion Party. I became friendly, by design, with the person who led the State Party, who also was a resident of Polak Circle. I went out of my way to become friendly with Ed Banyon, friendly with him, and he was due to graduate. He was the head of the party. So what did he do? He nominated me to take over the head of the party. Fine, fine. I was all set. I was a political science major and I was gung ho, boy I was ready to go. I also had a nice captive electorate right there. We couldn’t win the all-college officers alone. We had to get some support from the fraternities. We had to. We simply couldn’t take the offices ourselves. But we had the option, the way we parceled it out, to designate the all-college president, the all-college secretary-treasurer, and the senior class president. That was for the independents. The fraternity men could take the others, the other offices. O.K., so I designated the president. I didn’t want to stand for office, but my electorate in the dormitories said I must, although I was afraid of this gay thing. I then was afraid—although we never made a test of it—that this was going to be made an issue, although the guys in the dormitory, at least, we’d never talked about it. I had selected someone else to serve as the secretary-treasurer. They talked me out of it and put my own name up in nomination. It was accepted by the party. And then we went ahead with the other offices. We took every goddamn office in that election except for my own. And these guys from Pi Kappa Alpha and my own brothers in Delta Tau Delta worked against me in spreading the gay issue. They were the ones. I know that. I would swear on a stack of bibles, because I have enough evidence from what other people have told me. I lost that election simply because of the rumors that had started when I had been there four years earlier. Boy what a disappointment, because with the all-college offices came the Lions Club, the Skull and Bones, I mean key after key after key after key after key. Plus all the honors and everything that Penn State could heave upon you, plus whatever help you might get post-graduation in employment possibilities. I lost that one office, my own, whereas if I hadn’t put myself up but had put the other independent up, it would have been a shoe in. We would have taken the whole slate. But those sons of bitches, my own brothers, could not afford to see a person who had denounced them, by not being with them, standing for office and standing a good chance for election because of being a homosexual. I will never forgive those men in Delta Tau Delta and PiKA for doing that to me, because I thought that was so unfair.
MS: Sure, sure.
RS: It fell on that issue. If we hadn’t taken every other office and I could tell by the votes. All of the independents voted for me, some 2200, but we just didn’t have that edge that those prissy things in the fraternities had to give us in order to put it over. O.K., no sex, no sex whatsoever. I never met another gay person that I was aware of on campus at the time. Never propositioned, lord no. Went to the movies, went to the restrooms, my one outlet. Do you know what a watch queen is? Do you use that term today?
MS: Why don’t you explain?
RS: You never heard of a watch queen?
MS: Why don’t you explain for the tape what it is?
RS: Do you know? Have you ever heard it?
RS: You know what a watch queen is. I didn’t know if it was still in the jargon. A watch queen is someone who likes to watch, likes to look, gets his jollies by being a peeping tom. Or if you’re at an orgy of some sort and everyone else is going at it, the watch queen just stands on the side and watches and gets his jollies evidently just by watching other people get theirs.
MS: Is that what you were?
RS: I was a watch queen.
MS: Where did you watch?
RS: At the swimming pool. Penn State did not have its own swimming pool at that time. We used Glenland, which was commercial. It was privately owned, but under lease to the university and to the V12 program. Seafood. You call them seafood anymore? Sailors. The V12 program was a remnant of the training program that the Army or the Navy had had on the campuses during the war. These units were still there. They paraded around in their thirteen button uniforms. They were sailors in every sense of the word and looked like them. And they went swimming and they practiced their lifesaving techniques and so forth at Glenland swimming pool. I discovered that there was a way that I could take the elevator down, go through some kind of janitorial vestibule or something, and I could find a door that looked right into a portion of the locker room at Glenland swimming pool. And I knew when the sailors were scheduled to have their swimming sessions. And if I didn’t have any classes, I made a beeline for Glenland Pool and I positioned myself where I could watch through my little peephole into the locker room. If I were lucky, I saw two or three and maybe their backs would be to me, so all I could see would be guys changing from these sailor uniforms into their swimming trunks. Or no, they didn’t use swimming trunks; they swam naked. But it wasn’t all that much. I never masturbated. I didn’t use this as a masturbation fantasy. I didn’t think that far. I guess I was too scared. Trespassing was bad enough, but then also being caught flogging would have been worse than I could stand. Plus my jock strap fantasy continued. And my god I was accumulating a mountain of jock straps. I didn’t know what the hell to do with them. I finally burned them, most of them. But this was pure thievery. I stole them. Because I didn’t get the same charge out of buying a jock strap as I did out of taking somebody’s.
MS: It prepared you to become a really great collector of gay materials.
RS: Oh yes. Oh yes, yes. But I stole the jock straps and collected them and I used them for masturbation. Usually with a jock strap, that was where my masturbation outlet was. Just like in the service. I went through the service. No one propositioned me. I attribute that to the fact that I must have been effeminate. Secondly, I was tall and very angular, very skinny. I have had, always, all my life, facial features that I think must be quite ugly because I am not attractive to 99.9% of prospective sex partners. I know that. After sixty-six years, that’s a fact. So with all these things put together, no one propositioned me. Boy I was willing. If someone would have just said, “Hey, let’s do it.” I slept one time in the same bed with one of my fellow airmen. We were visiting Washington, D.C., together and we ended up in the same bed. But he was straight. Foote was his name and he didn’t make any move. I didn’t make any move. I didn’t know what to do. So I ended up just as virgin at the end of my four years at Penn State and going on two years in the service, as I was when I went in. No one propositioned me and I didn’t know how to do any propositioning. I didn’t know any other gay person.
MS: Should we move on to American University?
RS: I graduated February, midterm, and went immediately to American. The head of my department at Penn State, when I solicited his advice, said: “American University, Catherine Seckler-Hudson.” Head of the department; wonderful, wonderful lady; in her mannerisms very masculine. Married, seemingly in a loving relationship with her husband. She was a professor at American University; he was a professor at the University of Maryland. I have no reason to think that they did not have a good marriage together. But she was very masculine in her appearance, diminutively so. She was a tiny thing, but she wore spike heels and she was never seen without a hat that had some kind of elevated decoration on it so she practically doubled her height, especially when she was on the podium before a class
MS: What department was she in?
RS: It was at that point political science and I don’t remember if she was also the head of the department of public administration. While I was there the two were merged, political science and public administration. Eventually it became a school and she became, ultimately, a dean, through various reorganizations. So she was a department head.
MS: You were there from 1949 to 1954. Why don’t you tell me anything that’s specifically gay-related about those years in Washington.
RS: I fell in love. I never told him that I was in love. He was a captain in the Army. And as often happened, military people would come and take night courses at American University. He was married and I don’t know whether he was even perhaps bisexual or even moderately interested in anything gay, but he appealed to me. I found him so attractive, well-built. His coloration was somewhat on the order of the first boy, my first playmate when I was in second grade. He was dark complexioned. He was a captain. We double dated. He had his wife and we made up bridge foursomes and had quite a few of those.
MS: So you were dating at this point?
RS: I was dating superficially. The women that I was dating were either fellow students or later on fellow workers when I then went to the federal government. This is going to sound braggy, but without exception, just as the gay men were turned off by me, I couldn’t turn these women off. They would wait long enough until their patience was exhausted and they would come on to me. And I didn’t know when this was going to happen, but I knew the signs. And I would get all flustered and embarrassed by the whole thing and I’d put them off and then they would be embarrassed. This happened three specific times just when I was at American University.
MS: Did you ever tell any of the women that you were interested in men?
RS: No, no. No, I never articulated that. Never did.
MS: Did you tell anyone during those years?
RS: No, no, when I was at American University, no.
MS: Did you ever encounter any gay people during those years?
RS: Not at the university. Not at the university. When I first went down there, I took a room in a rooming house right at the corner of 21st and F Northwest. The graduate school at that point was between 19th and 21st. I lived in a rooming house. No gay episodes whatsoever. The guys, first of all, weren’t pretty. And there was no cruising, no nothing. And I would go to the downtown theaters and I would check out the restrooms. I checked out Lafayette Park. See I was adjacent to Lafayette Park, which is just across from the White House at 1600 and I lived at 2100. So I’d go down to the park. No problem at all. Never, never, never, once. I left the rooming house. I was one year from the Master’s degree, but I got a fellowship. The fellowship was awarded, the one and only that Catherine Seckler-Hudson had, she gave it to me because she really admired my work, respected me, and felt she really wanted to push me on to the doctorate. So she gave me this fellowship. It had a $1500 stipend plus free tuition. But 1500 was 15000 in those days; 1500 and it was payable monthly, which allowed me to rent an apartment at 705 18th Street, just down toward the White House The White House is at 16th; the Executive Office Building is 17th; I lived on 18th, 705 18th St. just up 18th, across Pennsylvania Avenue, at the big Roger Smith Hotel. And we had a little park there along Pennsylvania Avenue. I would cruise the park without knowing I was cruising. I was looking, looking, looking, looking. And I was cruising Lafayette Park, looking, looking, looking but never saw anything. But right around the corner from the Roger Smith Hotel, on I think it’s H Street, was the Lafayette Chicken Hut, one of the two best known and most blatant gay bars that were functioning in Washington at that time. I didn’t notice. I lived right around the corner from a gay bar. No one ever told me about it. Never saw any mincing, sissy little things coming in or out of it that I would associate. There I was, a couple doors you might say from one of the best-known gay bars in Washington, D.C., at that time and didn’t know it. We had no guides. The only way that anyone learned about a gay bar was from somebody else. It was word of mouth.
RS: So I did not connect. I was still a virgin, now remember, and by this point I was twenty-three or something like that. No one had asked me. So I guess the hormones were really charging up one night and I just happened to live across the street from the Metropolitan YMCA. And on weekends this was chock full of sailors in uniform and marines in uniform and airmen in uniform. I mean this was military city on weekends. And I had something going for these uniforms. So one Friday or Saturday night here was this sailor: tight pants, blond, ho, ho, ho. Looked sexy to me. And I said, “Why don’t I ask him.” Wasn’t sure what I was going to ask him but I’m going to ask him something. And I said, “You doing anything.” He said “No,” because these guys were just loitering around aimlessly. He said, “No.” I said, “You want to come up for a drink?” And somehow or another I conveyed to him that I had sex on my mind, because he said, “It’ll cost you.” I said, “How much?” He said, “Twenty dollars.” Twenty dollars. I paid this goddamn sailor to take my cherry. Twenty dollars. And boy it was about as uneventful, unexciting, blah. He fucked me. First time that I knew that anything like that was possible.
MS: He knew though.
RS: He knew. Oh did he ever know. But no affection, no caressing, no this, no that. He gave me the option. We’d had our drinks and then he I guess was getting anxious for his twenty bucks because he made me lay it out on the dresser. I had a nice apartment, as I told you. So I had to put the twenty dollars on the dresser. And so he came over to the fold out bed and he then laid back, put his arms back and opened his legs and he said, “What do you want to do?” I guess he expected that I was going to blow him. That’s the way I read it now. I didn’t know anything about that. No one had blown me. I had never seen anybody being blown. And maybe I’d heard about blow jobs or whatever they’re called, cocksuckers, but I never took it literally. No one had ever demonstrated this to me, whoopee. But I guess that’s what he expected, and when I demurred and didn’t show any interest in that activity, why then he said, “O.K., take down your pants,” and he took down his. And I lay on my stomach and he fucked me. And it took a little while for him to come and I wasn’t feeling all that much, but it wasn’t all that great. I just wanted it to get over and done with.
MS: Was he using any lubrication?
MS: So was it painful?
RS: No, no, it wasn’t painful. It wasn’t any great pleasure, but it wasn’t painful, because I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t tense. I just simply didn’t know what was happening. Somebody’s sticking this thing up my ass? Well? It’s instructive, I guess. Finally he came and cleaned himself off, took his twenty dollars, and he left. I don’t know that we spoke two or three words, but then the following weekend he called me. He called me from the base down at Norfolk. He called me. He wanted me to send him the money to get up from the base so that we could have a lot of fun together. He called me collect and I refused to take the call. But then he prevailed upon the operator and made me think that well this was urgent. He really wanted to talk to me, so I accepted the charges. And that’s when he told me, “We can have this great fun together” and so forth. Well that ended that sailor, because he wanted so much money and I was supposed to send it down to Norfolk so he could come into Washington. And I mulled this thing over and said, “Oh what the hell? I’ll send him five bucks.” So I wired him five bucks. Did I hear anything from him? No. I think that was good riddance. But it wasn’t too long after that that I was out. I was looking, I thought, but I was really cruising without knowing the term. And I was over in Lafayette Park. Well Lafayette Park is just across the street from the White House. But at that point, it had in the middle the old Belasco Theater. It’s been torn down years ago. But that was something like a USO. It was a meeting place for servicemen. And so I was meandering around the square and I looked over on the steps of the Belasco Theater and here stands a sailor in full regalia and skintight uniform. And as much as I could see of it, he was blond. And I was hooked. I didn’t care what it took, I was going to go and make a bead on that sailor. So I went over and started talking to him. He was very agreeable and very responsive. I didn’t know whether I sensed that he might be gay or not. But anyway, we got along. And I invited him back to my apartment, which was only a couple blocks away and took him up on our roof garden, if you can call it that. No plants, it was just an enclosure up there, but it looked out over that part of the city and down toward the monument and over toward the White House and also overlooked the YMCA, which was across the street. And we talked. It was a summer evening and it was cool up there because the breezes always made it cooler. And it got later and later and later and so finally, I guess at midnight or so, I kind of got the idea that maybe he’d like to spend the night with me. So we went back to the apartment. And I guess we had a couple drinks, just light drinks. Neither of us was affected that I could tell. And I said, “Would you like to spend the night?” And he said, “Yes, but I have to get up fairly early to be back at the base.” He was stationed at Anacosta Naval Air Station at that point. So we got ready for bed and we got in bed and it happened. Responsive! All of a sudden, I find someone who will make love back. And that was a revelation. It was kind of nice. Because here I was in, by that point, practically my mid-twenties and had never had anybody to either make love to me or have anybody to make love to. His name was Larry L. Loeker. Three L’s. And it turned out that Larry knew the gay scene inside out. He was not especially flippant, but it turned out that he certainly was well-versed in the gay line. Although he was a little intrigued by my near virginity at the time, that grew sort of tiresome, because I wasn’t nearly experienced enough for him. But he at least took me around. The one gay bar, which was practically around the corner, was the Lafayette Chicken Hut. Right around the corner from the Roger Smith Hotel, known throughout I suppose the East, for people who knew of such things. And the other one was, of all things, the Redskins Lounge. And why is it called the Redskins Lounge? The Washington Redskins. It had trophies lining the walls. And I guess, originally, it was meant to be a sports bar, but somehow or another it had metamorphisized into one of two gay bars in Washington, D.C, at that time. If you can imagine, two gay bars.
MS: So you stayed in touch with the sailor?
RS: For a little while. He tired of me and he didn’t like my inexperience and he eventually stood me up. And I swallowed my pride and I gave him a call. But we never did get together sexually. One time in the McReynold’s apartments, the night it happened, and then another night after I had moved out to Bethesda. I was living with another person whom I did not know to be gay, a fellow employee of mine in the federal government, CIA, and did not learn until years afterward, because he never dropped a pin and I never knew how to drop a pin. And it was just in a casual luncheon conversation years afterwards that somehow or another the pins were all dropped all at once. “You’re gay?” He wasn’t sure of me and I certainly wasn’t sure of him, although I can’t imagine anyone not being sure of me, but they weren’t. So there it was.
MS: Did you start going to the gay bars?
RS: No, no. First of all, I tried once or twice, but it was a madhouse, particularly on the weekends. And the way it was arranged, the Redskins Lounge, there were long tables as a booth, so that maybe six or eight people could fit, but people all seemed to be in groups. And I was alone. And boy, unless you’re a raving beauty or unless you’re wearing black leather and have a big bulging crotch that’s going to promote an appeal, you’re just overlooked. You don’t know that because in this day and age there’s somebody for everybody, I’m sure, but in those days there weren’t. So I tried it a couple times and then thought it was a lost cause. It wasn’t until I was exploring this and talking about this with Jimmie Mitchell and I said, “Well how do you know? How do you connect in these places? How do you know if someone’s cruising you or if you want to cruise somebody else?” And he explained, “It’s all in the eyes. It’s all in the look that you get.” I did not know this. And anyway, it wouldn’t have done me any good because nobody was looking at me. I was positively part of the scenery. I could have been a potted plant for whatever anybody paid attention to me except one person ever during that time. And he was seated at the bar and I was seated away from the bar. And he kept staring at me and it made me uncomfortable because he was not pretty. Isn’t that terrible? I was doing exactly the same thing that everyone has done to me all my life. And here was a chance when he was expressing some kind of interest in me and because he wasn’t pretty and sexy I couldn’t care less. Reverse discrimination, I guess. Well that’s where I learned about gay bars. And Larry Loeker, he was transferred to Naples, Italy, afterwards, but then I saw him just socially a couple times afterwards, years later.
MS: So you finished your Master’s degree at American University?
RS: I got my Master’s degree at American University. I was already employed by the federal government. Because of my credentials and also the good recommendations I got from Catherine Seckler-Hudson, I was accepted in one of the real top intern programs that the federal government, the executive office, was offering at that time. And it was just more by chance, but partly through also an Arthur Godfrey Heir Fellowship, compliments of Arthur himself, which made available to a certain number of students the training program leading to a private pilot’s license at our airport, close to Alexandria. And so I applied and I was awarded one of these fellowships. I went and I got my pilot’s license. And it was partly that, plus the references from the university, I was then chosen by the U.S Civil Aeronautics Administration, which today is called, I think, the FAA, but at that point it was CAA, Civil Aeronautics Administration. It was part of the Department of Commerce. So I was accepted into the internship program. I was still taking courses, got my graduate degree. I don’t think I applied; I think they just chose me. And I went to work full time for the CAA in 1952.
MS: So this was just the time that McCarthy was starting his witch hunt?
RS: In full flower.
MS: Were you aware of it then?
RS: In full flower. It was headlines in the newspapers. We couldn’t miss it. I mean the nest, the hotbed of homosexuals and queers in the State Department. My god, they’ve giving away the country on a silver platter.
MS: Did it make you frightened for your own job?
RS: I was terrified. And I knew also, even while I was in college, and don’t tell me where this knowledge came from, that certain vocations just would be very sensitive. I should really shy away from them, teaching most especially, where I probably should have gone into. I really should have gone into teaching. But I just had this idea that that’s too hot for you to handle. Because I guess we got some stories in the newspapers about teachers molesting students and that type of thing.
MS: So did you know gay people at work in the CAA?
RS: I did not know anybody gay. I worked constantly with Harry Pickering. Harry held an executive position and Harry was somewhat older than I. Harry must have been in his forties. He was a very well turned out man. A little on the heavy side, but very, very likable and very knowledgeable of things to entertain, the right way to do it. He lived a good life and knew all the right buttons to push. We were in constant contact at work. And then we got to know each other. We didn’t go out that I know of, but we just grew closer. And as it turned out, his roommate, who was a teacher, took a teaching assignment overseas. And there was a vacancy in this house in Bethesda, which Harry owned. I learned later that he and Van had owned it jointly, but I thought at that point that he himself was the owner. And one day he asked me if I’d like to share it. No gay overtones or undertones that I suspected. It never occurred to me that this man was gay, any more than it occurred to me that Baird Harkins was gay. Never entered my mind other than he was a bachelor. But that didn’t speak volumes necessarily, because he wasn’t the gay pixie, fairy kind of gay at all. We moved in. And I still was seeing Larry Loeker from time to time, nothing serious. Through Larry, I got to be in the circle around Johnnie Ray. Johnnie Ray was a Marine queen. You put a Marine within smelling distance of Johnnie Ray and the poor guy had an orgasm right in his pants. I mean he just was gung ho for military seafood and especially Marines. He was appearing at the Casino Royale in Washington and Loeker had this entre into the New York theatrical drama crowd and so he was part of that circle. And through Loeker, then, I got in that circle, although I never got to meet Ray himself.
MS: What kind of performances did Ray do?
RS: He was excellent on stage if you liked his style. You remember he was bubbly and crying and it was I guess dramatic singing you’d call it. But no, he was quite accepted on stage. I liked his movies and thought he did a credible performance there. He had a hearing handicap. You knew that. It ended up that he was not totally deaf, but practically so.
MS: So you started having some gay social circles at this time?
RS: No, sorry, did not, because for whatever reason, Harry kept his gay friends to himself, because he was afraid. First of all, our bridge foursomes were still going on. Harry would join also and we made a foursome. It was Harry and myself and two married friends who had lived beside me in McReynold’s apartments, a married couple. And that made a foursome. And other times we had ladies to make up foursomes. Two of whom were the ones that tried to rape me and I had to fight them off, much to my amazement, because honest I didn’t know what to do. They came on to me, they were on my lap, they were pawing me, they were holding me. And obviously one said, “Stay the night, spend it here.” Well that was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. And they were rather attractive young ladies, too; nothing wrong with their appearance. They just weren’t my cup of tea. Harry had his friends and he did not introduce me. Through the crowd around Johnnie Ray and Larry Loeker, I met the first Marine queen. And boy, what a dish. Blond, strapping, he had just come from overseas. He I guess made Miss Ray turn inside out because he would talk me into paying for the gas and expenses and the hotel and so forth to put us up in New York City. And then he’d go over to Johnnie Ray’s apartment. I wouldn’t see him then until it was time to go home. That didn’t bother me so much as the fact that he stole right and left. You turned around and he’d steal something
MS: He stole from you?
RS: A number of times. I thought it was a characteristic of only straight Marines who were pieces of trade. You use that term today? Use trade and rough trade? Whereas this guy’s name was Pat Jordan. Harold Hilton Jordan from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
MS: Did you ever have sex with him?
RS: Yes. We had sex twice. Wasn’t anything to brag about really. He was too stuck on himself. He was really god’s gift to queers. And he was queer as a three dollar bill. No question about it and he knew it. But he was also self-hating, hated himself. And he was as homophobic about being queer as I think anybody could be, because he did it only under extreme duress and motivated by money, I’m sure. And if he couldn’t get the money that he wanted, he stole it. So he stole from us out there when I lived at Harry’s place. He stole from me when I lived at the apartment before I went to Michigan. He never had an opportunity to steal money in Michigan, but he stole tricks that I hadn’t quite got around to bedding yet; he just waltzed in because he was a living doll. Beauty to look at, but so selfish.
MS: Tell me how you ended up in Michigan.
RS: I was minding my own business in CAA, getting promotions as fast as the law allowed. By that time I was a GS11. And that was within less than three years and that’s pretty rapid. Because at that point there were only fifteen GS’s to be had and I was an eleven at that point. And I had made friends, of course, in the aviation safety divisions. And I was on field trips and I was getting to know people all throughout the agency and they me. I was involved in professional associations and evidently creating fairly decent impression, because one day, out of the blue, I got a call from a man named Frank Starr. He identified himself as the chief of the budget division at that time. He was the national budget officer of the Federal Civil Defense Administration. He said they had a vacancy and he told me the name of an aviation safety agent who had recommended that he call me and ask if I would be interested in leaving Washington and going to Battle Creek, Michigan, which was the end of the world, practically polar circle. Because who in their right mind would leave the good concentration of Washington and FCDA? Except for the VA facility and some leftover Army facilities, it was the only thing available for federal employment in Battle Creek, Michigan. They had trouble getting people and they made it worth the people’s while to go there.
MS: Financially, do you mean?
RS: I got a twelve on the spot and I couldn’t have gotten a twelve in CAA, because I was right up against the twelves that there were. So someone would have had to retire and move out before I could get a GS12. I was given a twelve on the spot. When I said I would agree, I was promoted to a thirteen as rapidly as they could make it. I was made, under Frank, the chief of the budget division, which was the national budget officer for the organization. And Frank himself moved on as a regional administrator and one of his Navy cronies then came in as chief budget and fiscal officer. And if I had stuck it out, I could have gone into the GS14, but I was, by then after three years, so sick and tired of those Michigan winters. And I’d been to Hawaii on a field trip, twice I believe. And Hawaii beckoned. I just wanted to leave the ice and snow. And this was the worst career choice I possibly could have made, because I threw a GS14 away and eventually the organization moved back to Washington as the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization. It operates now out of the Executive Office of the President. And the people who were thirteens with me all ended up eighteens, the super grades, with all of the military benefits and pensions and health benefits and you name it. And I just threw all of that away by going to Hawaii. Plus it was with the Department of the Army in Hawaii that I really met my downfall.
MS: What was the job in the Army?
RS: Well first of all this was part of the Pacific Command. It was situated in parts of the island of Oahu. The headquarters of the U.S Army Pacific, which included the units stationed in Korea, all of Japan, Okinawa, and various points scattered throughout Asia, we were the theater headquarters, at Fort Shafter, outside of Honolulu. They had an opening there. It was just a GS11, but it was an opening. Usually in a military headquarters you have the military officer, who is the chief, and you have the civilian, who is his deputy. When the military officer is away or moves on to another job, then the civilian takes over, but only until another military career officer. There’s this line of delineation. A civilian can attain only such a position but you always have to give way to a military career officer. This job was in the transportation office, again including aircraft, and we had also hovercraft and sea transportation and ground transportation, all of the motor pools, and all of that heavy equipment. This was the chief of the control division, which is just a fancy name for controller of all the transportation branch in the Pacific theater. It was a responsible job because we passed on everything that came from all the commands before they were forwarded to the Pentagon. I took it and I had a secret clearance. The secret clearance worked fine for me in most everything, except when I pulled staff duty officer. This was a job that rotated equally between military and civilian officer personnel. And so every so often, I’d pull duty officer. And one time, I was on duty officer. A message came in, “Top secret.” Of course I wasn’t cleared for top secret. So I had to, in turn, call a lieutenant colonel to come down--it was over the weekend--in order to look at this top secret message because I wasn’t cleared for it. He came down. He wasn’t very happy about coming down. And then I don’t know how long it was, a couple of months afterwards, the transportation officer himself, a full colonel, was reviewing the security clearances of his personnel and decided that no matter what everybody needed top secret. So the application for top secret clearance was put in.
MS: What year was this now?
RS: 1960. McCarthy is gone full fire in Washington.
MS: You had gone to Hawaii in 1958, right?
RS: 1958. I had already beaten off one attempt to dismiss me.
MS: Why don’t you tell that story first?
RS: O.K. We had, as part of the Army facilities, Schofield Barracks, a big military installation in the middle of the island. I was rambunctious and I was I guess frustrated and hot one day. I thought, “I’ll go cruise the bathrooms and the restroom in the library. I’ll check out the library at Schofield Barracks.” And I had on my car a decal, which gave me immediate admission into all the military facilities. All the guards had to do was look at the decal and pass me through. I had no problems getting in. So it was a nice Saturday day and I found the library and moseyed around, I guess, the book stacks and so forth and found the bathroom. I checked out the partitions, and lo and behold, not one glory hole, but two. And I thought, “Oh gee, now this is a surplus of riches.” I went in there and took my position in a stall.
MS: How had you learned about glory holes, can I just ask you that?
RS: That was before the Florida report came in, which had the picture of the glory holes, because that came out in 1964 and this would have been 1959 or 1960. I don’t know. Isn’t that funny? I don’t know. I don’t even remember when I found the first one. But I can tell you it would have been an accident. No one would have instructed me, “Go and look for holes that are drilled in partitions.” But anyway, I don’t even know if they were called glory holes, but that’s what I was looking for. I checked out the men’s restroom and lo and behold I found them. And it wasn’t too long before there was movement in the next stall. And it wasn’t big enough. I really couldn’t get any idea of what kind of person this was except the color. I knew this was a white man. But I figured, “Well this is the 25th Army Division and these are butch soldiers. Chances are it’s a pretty good looking guy,” I thought. Well it turned out to be a little squirt with sandy blond hair and not particularly well-built. And pretty gay. I mean kind of fairy like. I don’t know what possessed me, except that maybe I just felt like making friends that day. So we became friendly and he wanted to come back to Honolulu with me. We didn’t do anything in the restroom, you understand, just got acquainted. Maybe we exhibited. There must have been some kind of signs given, but there was no overt activity. He came back to Honolulu with me and at that point I have this great compulsion to settle myself, when I can do it, up on the heights, looking out over the world. And this was situated at the highest point, just before you go across the poly to the windward side of the island on top of Aleita Heights. It took in all of Honolulu: the ocean, Diamondhead, panoramic view, magnificent location. We went there and I was living with two roommates, Dr. Frank Bruce and Jack Lewis. Frank was an MD at the hospital in Honolulu. Jack Lewis was in charge of one of the airline stations. I’ve forgotten which airline it was, but he was the Hawaiian representative for the airline. That was the best time of my life. The three of us, we had the best times because, first of all, Frank was a cook and loved to do it. Didn’t want to clean up. Jack could alternate, but Jack mixed the drinks. We had a maid come in on a regular basis. We had a lawn man gardener take care of that problem. So the only thing I had to do was wash up. And I was glad to do that. But we had such good times together, the three of us. And they had friends and they had a pretty good decent group of gay friends, too. So all right, I take Private Irvin. I can’t remember his first name now, went back there and I introduced him around. We did spend that night together. We went to bed, spent it together. I don’t think the sex was all that memorable. He was responsive enough, but I had a problem because we were not compatible in terms of size. And as it turned out, he gave me a case of crabs. Of all things, here he’s supposed to be inspected as military personnel are, but I learned later, when we had instituted the court proceedings, that first of all he was flamboyant on the base and he was sleeping around on the base. He had obviously contracted this case of crabs from somebody else on the base and he passed it on to me. But I didn’t know; the germination time hadn’t come. And Frank took a ken, he liked this guy. Frank Bruce. Why, I don’t know. And Frank and Jack were planning a party, a gay party, the first gay party that I had attended in Hawaii. This was after Private Irvin and I had our one-night-stand, the only time we ever had anything, and I got the case of crabs. But Frank took a liking to the boy. And he was just that; he was a boy. Played a guitar; he stored the guitar at the house. And Frank had invited him to come to this party. So the party was held. We had the military personnel that I mentioned. We also had other gay civilian people. I would say all told maybe forty people there, just a nice social time. I had no sex because I had to have my wits about me and I was on call by telephone. I might have had to go back to headquarters at any time. So I left the party, let’s call it a gathering, a social group. I left the group early and took the telephone with me and so I don’t know what happened afterwards. Gary Irvin, Gary was his name. Gary and Frank spent that night together because I saw them the next morning. And then we didn’t see or hear anything from Gary except maybe once or twice afterwards. And then out of the blue I got called by the Deputy Civilian Personnel Officer, telling me that they had something important they wanted to discuss with me. And I believe the Deputy and the Civilian Personnel Officer both came up to the Transportation Officer. They called me in and this is when they presented to me a notice of proposed removal, which is a firing. I had civil service status and still have to this day. I had all of the supposed protections built into the Civil Service Commission, so there are prescribed procedures, quite rigid, that have to be gone through to kick somebody out. Well they were making sure that they were going to follow these rules. So this was my notice of proposed removal, specifying that I had been in attendance and party to a gathering of homosexuals and specifying the approximate time and where at our home on Aleita Heights.
MS: How did this happen?
RS: I did not know at the time. I had to surmise later, because the one and only time that I ran into Irvin, other than when we subpoenaed him, was at the airport at Honolulu. And I had so many things I wanted to ask him at that point, I forgot to ask him that. And I never did learn from him the exact procedure that they employed on getting the statement from him. But it’s pretty standard: intimidation, threats, threatening to give him a dishonorable discharge. These military interrogators have this thing down pat. They use it today. The routine hasn’t changed one bit. And when you talk with Frank Kameny, Frank can regale you for a week on everything that’s wrong with the military intelligence system when it comes to rooting out homosexuals, because he’s the country’s authority. And he deserves all the accolades that he gets. He’s made himself the authority. I did not get from Gary just what they told him, but this is the impression I got. First of all, he was sleeping around. He was blatant and pretty well-known at Schofield Barracks. He had slept with other military personnel. There was something of a ring or network of investigation going on. And in this process he mentioned that first of all he knew something about military procedure. And I may have told him a bit about my own position, so he knew where to place me on the echelon. I was a pretty big fish. And I guess he thought maybe he could get some kind of preferential treatment by exposing one of the biggies. So that came out. There was a statement. He has a sworn statement, which they had attached to this proposed removal. It’s been years since I looked at this, but I have to look at it. It’s the only thing they charged me with as I remember: going to a gay party. Now nothing said about any homosexual activity, because I’m guessing that Gary just didn’t tell that aspect of it. The one night that we spent together would have been very mild homosexual activity. Seem to me there was just mutual masturbation as I remember. It was nothing approaching sodomy. So that was all. It wasn’t all that fanciful. But Gary gave them a statement and that’s all they charged me with.
MS: How did that turn out?
RS: That’s the first exposure that I had to the McCarthyism, institutionalized McCarthy terror, although at that point, for that, I was very courteously treated. There were no threats made to me then or ever. See this is only the first action. The big one, Schlegel v. U.S., came later. I was always courteously treated, whether due to my position or what I don’t know, but I was never either mishandled or intimidated or threatened in any way, shape, or form. It was very definite that they were going to proceed with this and I, at this point being totally alone, not even ever had any reason, except for some corporation matters that I had used another attorney for, had no knowledge of the legal community in Honolulu at that time. There was no such thing as lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union available. I mean all these things came later. So I looked in the phone book and I found Howard Hottack, who enjoyed a large reputation because he had once been, I believe, a federal prosecutor. I learned of his credentials and I figured, “I’ll go see him.” So I laid this whole thing on him. He was very, very accommodating and very responsive. He said, “I think I know what to do.” So he went, in short order, back to a court and asked for a writ, which would have Irvin produced. It was directed to the Army. Have Irvin produced—and I’ve forgotten what the writ’s called--for interrogation under the auspices of the court. This was done. Irvin was produced under guard. He was brought to the building. Howard Hottack and I were there. He had no representation from the Army whatsoever. The poor guy was there alone with his guard. So Howard started taking the deposition. There was a stenographer there. And he really got into the core of it and demanded that Gary name names. “Who else was at this party? Now you insist that there was this party. Who else was there? I want names. I want specific names.” All Gary could come up with was, “Well, there was a Jack, there was a John, there was a this or a that.” He wasn’t able to produce one name. Now this could have been partly deliberate. I don’t know. The guy could have thought that he’d spilled his guts enough and so why tell about the other military, particularly the military officers. So either he was playing dumb or else he was dumb. He couldn’t name a name, not one complete name, to justify the fact that such a party ever took place. And since he hadn’t made any allegations of any homosexual conduct to me, we didn’t explore that at all, because that wasn’t germane. O.K., we finished that deposition and then Howard asked if Mr. Lewis and Dr. Bruce, whether I thought that they would make a statement. And I did not ask them to perjure themselves. Howard dictated the statement and they were both given it to read and asked if they had any objections. Neither of them had any objections and so the statements were signed.
MS: What did their statements say?
RS: There was no such party. They were certain that there was no such party.
MS: And so on the basis of that you got off?
RS: Charges were removed, but I was—what do you call that when you have a stigma, that kind of a man?
RS: Marked? That will do, but I’m thinking of something else. You know what I mean.
MS: Now you had started telling me this because of the later incident when you were up for top secret clearance. What happened there?
RS: O.K., and there’s a slight corollary here, too. The man that I had worked with in the Federal Civil Defense Administration, who was our executive assistant administrator, had in time moved down as deputy director of the budget office; they call it OMB today. It’s the budget office of the President. He was in one of their top positions, a man that I had worked with and knew well. And so one time when I was in Washington I went to see him. And I said, “Will you help me get back?” because I knew of this mark, the marked man that I was. So I said, “Will you help me get back to Washington?” He said, “I don’t have any openings on my own staff, but I’ll give you a referral and I’ll send it to aid to oversees, the Agency for International Development,” or something like that, because he had some personal contacts over there. So I, not knowing any better, said, “O.K., do it.” And that was done. And they started a full field investigation because of the type of clearance their positions required. Now that was before the application for the Army clearance was put in. I was still working on the secret clearance. So here was this investigation going on under AID full field and that took the investigators back to Michigan and they found Marguerite Lenars, who had been my landlady in Battle Creek, Michigan. They were referred to Vincent, who was the most flamboyant queen mother of the state. They found Ralph Deel, who had been a good compatriot of mine, who took over my apartment when I left it. And Ralph was not so flamboyant, but you didn’t have to be in Ralph’s company too long, if you knew the signs to look for, to know that Ralph was gay as pink ink.
MS: Who was Vincent?
RS: Vincent Welty.
MS: You mentioned something about him in your letter to me.
RS: Oh god, right. It was his collection of erotica that Clark wrote about. He’s the subject of the “Interview with a Pornographer” that was in Drum. That was Vincent Welty. These men really started tracking me down and soon the pink ink was available. And so they made up a report to satisfy them and they also sent a copy to the Army. I didn’t know that this was available. It came out later when they told me. That was either in the middle or they had already received it at the time when Colonel Sams, the transportation officer, decided that my clearance had to be elevated from secret to top secret. Now you understand that when I was with the FCDA, I had nuclear clearance. I mean I had access to every secret the agency had simply because no one was trailing me. There were no questions raised. But then, once I transferred from FCDA to Army, I don’t know how the clearance got downgraded to secret, but it happened. Well Colonel Sams decided I needed top secret clearance because of this weekend mishap and then also he didn’t feel that having people with secret clearance dignified the office. I mean you had to have top secret because of all of the classified information that they processed. That was a crock of shit too, but all right. What was going on, and the third aspect I didn’t know until later either, again through professional associations, meetings of civilian professional associations mostly, we had two GS15s, only two in our whole Army headquarters there at Fort Shafter. Now I had been slated for a 14 in FCDA, but I didn’t stay around long enough so I was knocked back to a GS11. But I was paid at the top of the grade, so that was above a GS12. That’s the way it works. But here there were two GS15 chief planning officers. I had evidently made a favorable impression on the one man who was to be rotated and replaced. And he nominated me as his successor--I didn’t know it at the time--for this one GS15. A GS15 in a field Army headquarters, I guess even today, is something to be savored. So this hit the fan at the same time: first of all, the request for top secret clearance, the full field investigation report from AID, this prior action trying to get rid of me for going to a homosexual party, the AID report certainly showing that if I weren’t homosexual I certainly did have an awful lot of homosexual pals, and then one of the two GS15s in the headquarters. My god this was too much for the Army investigators. “We can’t have a queer going into a position like that, with all of this.” It took them no time at all to put a tail on all of my contacts. I must have been investigated twenty-four hours a day, because they finally came up with three Marines: Francis Deller, Harry Jordan, and the third one was Freddy Riltz. All Marines. Freddy was blond, Francis was dirty blond, and Harry was dark haired. Harry reminded me an awful lot of my first boyfriend back in second grade.
MS: You had had sex with all three of them?
RS: I had sex with them, if you call it sex. They had the same problems with gay sex that the other Jordan did. They loved it, enjoyed it, looked forward to it, but hated themselves for doing it. You know this or you’ve heard this before if you haven’t experienced it. One of the favorite indoor sports of a real Marine, if he gets around to having sex at all, is to be screwed. They’re very anal. They were. Now remember this is back in the ‘60s. I don’t know what the hell they are now, whether they still enjoy it or whether they even know what sex is. They were, a great number of them, very anally oriented and whether they liked it they certainly held still for it. I had in the meantime also acquired Tahiti U Drive. After the narrow scrape of being tossed out on my ear, I thought, “Well gee, I better cover my backside here and get another income.” So it turned out that by chance I learned that Tahiti U Drive was up for sale. And I met with the proprietor and gave him a blinder and then in turn took over the corporation and incorporated it. Rent a lot of automobiles is what it was. At our high point, we had sixteen automobiles. We started out with six and then added on another fleet of ten so we had a total of sixteen. It went bust, but that’s another story, just went bust for reasons that aren’t relevant here. Mismanagement and I couldn’t give it time and we were undercapitalized, really undercapitalized. That took me down to the U Drive office almost every night. And very often I had one of these kids with me. They were teenagers. I don’t know if anyone was even twenty yet. They were not especially good looking, now that I remember. They were sexy. They had some sex appeal, but they certainly did not cause me to turn cartwheels. But I had met them individually and they never met. This was not a threesome. But we were tailed. And of course, it was very easy for the military investigators to find out who they were. So when the charges were eventually proffered, again another notice of proposed removal from the civil service, it was for, under the Army Civil Service regulations, “immoral and indecent conduct.”
MS: When were those charges brought?
RS: 1960 or early 1961. I was dismissed in June or July of 1961.
MS: So those charges stuck?
RS: They stuck and we appealed and we appealed and we appealed and finally got into the U.S. Court of Claims, had hearings before the administrative law judge there. The decision went against us there. Now at this point there was only one precedent and that was Kameny’s. Kameny had already been to the Supreme Court, Kameny vs. Brucker. Kameny was discharged from the Army Map Service. Brucker was the Secretary of the Army. Now Kameny can certainly tell you about Kameny vs. Brucker. The three men named in the complaint for immoral and indecent conduct said nothing about us being off base, which it always was. There was no sodomy. You could read into it one time, possibly an attempted sodomy with Jordan, but it certainly never went past the attempted stage. I tell you, truthfully, there was no sodomy. The best we ever got was mutual masturbation and we shared the same bed, but I didn’t even fuck any of them, I don’t think. I don’t think so.
MS: The appeals took place later, right?
RS: Howard Hottack again represented me in Honolulu. We processed it through as many levels as we could there. And I told him, “Absolutely I want to persist with this and we want to take it into whatever federal court is appropriate.” And we settled on the U.S. Court of Claims because there’s no secondary court between it and the Supreme Court. And I knew that eventually, if god was willing, I would take this to the Supreme Court. I thought I was alone. I knew of no precedents. Nothing like this had been attempted. So through Jack Emmerson back in Michigan, even before I went to Hawaii or else on one of my trips back and then returned to Hawaii, Jack had found out about ONE and he had one or two issues of ONE magazine, which you have seen.
MS: It was a groundbreaker. It was just so fantastic. It was pretty blasé, pretty nothing, but the fact is that it was aimed at homosexuals and was, for its time, pretty blatantly homosexual, full of literature and poetry and drawings. But Jack had sniffed out one or two copies of ONE, which I saw at Vincent’s in Schoolcraft, Michigan. And I guess I must have copied an address or else asked him for it, because I got the address for ONE through Jack Emmerson and Vincent. And I wrote ONE a letter saying, “I have this case and I need some help. Can you tell me anyone who can give me any assistance?” Dorr Leg answered it. Dorr said, “I know of another gentleman in Washington, D.C.,” who I guess at that point had not yet been resolved. But he gave me Frank’s name and maybe his address. It was through Dorr Leg that I was introduced then to Frank Kameny. So far as I knew at the time, there were just the two of us in the whole country. In the meantime, Kennedy had been elected, but McCarthy and his sidekick, Roy Cohn, that unreconstructed homophobe bastard, and his minions were holding court. And you’ve seen his so-called autobiography? Well that’s a scorcher. But here he was, obviously fit the exact same mold that Edgar Hoover was in and Roy Cohn and you name them. You know them better than I do. So we were riding the crest of that. Roy Cohn and his minions were holding court. McCarthy was running rampant over the whole goddamn federal establishment and leaving his trail of blood dripping everywhere he went. And I got caught in that. I learned of Frank. We took the case as far as we could administratively and then through another precedent, somewhat related, I learned of a law firm in Washington and then I in turn contacted, came to Washington, met Frank that way.
MS: This was all in 1961?
RS: From I guess mid-1961 and into 1962. I’ve forgotten when we filed the action in Schlegel v. United States.
MS: When were you officially terminated?
RS: I think it was June or July 1961.
MS: So why don’t you tell me where you moved to then at that point. Did you stay in Hawaii or did you move back to Pennsylvania or move to Washington?
RS: Tahiti U Drive had gone belly up. We finally had to return the cars. I lost my own personal automobile because I had pledged that as a loan for some of the financing. I had absolutely no resources, except my retirement fund, my pension fund, in the Civil Service Commission. And so I withdrew that money. I can’t tell you the exact amount. It was either 2600 dollars or 4600. Seemed to me it was 4680 dollars, which doesn’t sound like much, but in currency and purchasing power those days, would have been ten times as much. So I had a kitty here of about 50,000 dollars in today’s purchasing power.
MS: You pulled out your whole pension?
RS: Pulled it out, absolutely every amount of money that I had.
MS: And moved where?
RS: I left Hawaii, but I left the furnishings over there and sublet the apartment. I was by then living in another new apartment, but only by myself. I subleased that and came back. I made a stop in Michigan to see Jack and Vincent up there. And then I touched base at home here and then went down to Washington. I had no car, lost the car. I stayed, at that point, with a friend whom I’d met from Michigan, Ken Curtis. Ken lived in an apartment on Connecticut Avenue, a nice apartment. And Ken was the night manager of one of the hotels on Connecticut Avenue, Carlton House or something like that. And we were good friends from Michigan days, so at least I cut my lodging expenses, but then I tried to pick up the slack and the meals that we had and stuff like that. Ken and I were not compatible and I overstayed my welcome and I’m sorry about that because his courtesy was really worn to a frazzle. But in the meantime, I had engaged Shipley, Ackerman and Pickett as my attorneys in Washington. They required a retainer. It seemed to me it was a 1200 dollar retainer, and so there went 1200 of my assets plus I had my living costs. I had gotten to know Frank Kameny and had acquired quite a respect for him. He has foibles, as don’t we all. But Frank and Clark Polak were not easy people to know and work with. You know this. I mean they were, underneath all that crusty exterior, worth their weight in gold, but they are not easy people to work with.
MS: I know that around this time in 1962 you wrote a piece for Mattachine Review.
RS: It was at their convention in 1962. Not on this trip. It was after I had returned to Hawaii. I went back in the spring of 1962, after I had initiated the appeal action. We filed in the U.S. Court of Claims and I had done everything I could do. So I had to go and try to get my person effects back in Honolulu. I had an airline ticket. This is the way I travelled. When we had Tahiti U Drive, we made automobiles available to radio stations in exchange for what they called “contra,” meaning you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. They gave airline commercial advertising space in exchange for tickets. We gave automobiles in exchange for tickets. That’s the way it went. That’s the way I got my airline ticket for that round-trip trip. We made arrangements to have the action initiated in the U.S. Court of Claims. I chose Carl Shipley because he was, and for a long time afterwards was, the Republican Party chairman for the District of Colombia. And I had hoped that his political connections might come in handy. In the back of my mind I was banking on that as possibly an ace in the hole. Plus his firm had just won a personnel action case in one of the federal courts. It did not involve homosexuality, but he had won, and there was a legal point there that I felt that he was skilled at and could present it for us. I paid him his retainer and I went over with the attorney who was to take charge of the case. This was in 1962. I left Washington and flew back to Honolulu. I had left all my personal possessions there when I had gone a couple months before. So I started making preparations to have all these things shipped back. And I was staying at that point in the two different YMCA’s. First the Armed Services Y.M.C.A. in downtown Honolulu, which is kind of bare and inactive the early part of the week, but from Friday night through the weekend it really livens up. And this was one episode and I don’t know who it involved, because I didn’t see in the booth, but I walked into one of the restrooms on one of the floors and there was a line. And a number of these men were still in uniform, some of them were wearing civilian clothes, but you could tell from the haircuts and the shoes that they were GI’s. They were lined up and the line was moving slightly toward one of the booths. And then something would happen and then the guy would turn around and go back. I did not enter the line, but I was a watch queen enough to stay and watch for a little while. And I knew that someone in the booth was servicing each one of these guys. And they were just waiting very, very, very carefully for their turn. It was almost like a gay Mamie Stover episode. That was in the Armed Services YMCA. And then they had a public restroom, which was on the mezzanine floor, and there the partitions were marble. And what do you suppose someone had done to that marble? I didn’t figure out how they did it unless they took a drill in there. But somebody positively had drilled through that marble. And the same thing happened in the old Moana Hotel on Waikiki. Those partitions were also marble and somebody, in this two case two partitions, had made glory holes. And I would visit these, but I don’t remember any sex partners that I got out of them. I just went more for watching. The expectation never realized or never resulted in anything. I got back and stayed at the Armed Services YMCA, but then I transferred to the YMCA, which is just on the fringe of Waikiki. And that’s where I really began the earnest effort to start arranging for the packing and the sorting and the shipping. Some things I had shipped here at home to Lewisburg. The others I shipped directly to Vincent Welty in Schoolcraft, Michigan. Schoolcraft was just a little village of a couple hundred people south and right outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was the site of the big raid, which got television coverage and newspaper coverage and they hauled Vincent off and cartons after cartons and cartons of erotica and pornography and art and you name it. That’s the subject of that “Interview with a Pornographer.” So I knew then that I would be returning to Michigan once I got back to the mainland. But I planned a trip through San Francisco. And in San Francisco I made it a point of seeking out Harold Call. Now I already had met Dorr Leg. That must have been on the incoming trip. I had stopped at ONE, Incorporated, following up a lead that he gave me and also just to get to know him. And that’s when I saw the archives that were on Venice Avenue at that point. And there was a large file room and this was cabinet after cabinet after cabinet. The files were in immaculate shape or seemed to be. Lots of files. And of course they had an aggressive and active publications program going at that time. ONE was a pretty swinging outfit at that point. I had already made that contact, but I had learned about the Mattachine Society and Harold Call. And so I made a point of getting to know him and I went to the offices. And that’s when Harold told me about his forthcoming Mattachine conference, which was scheduled for maybe three or four weeks hence. And he asked me if I would be able to present anything about the research that I had done on any of the prior court actions, including Kameny v. Brucker, and also my own plans for pursuing Schlegel v. United States. I did this. Evelyn Hooker, for example, was one of those in attendance. Harry Benjamin, as I remember, was there. There were a lot of leading lights. It was in one of the leading downtown hotels in San Francisco, which I thought was remarkable, and it was well attended. My presentation, I thought, was well-received. Harold then took the manuscript and had it set in type and it was published in the Mattachine Review. Unfortunately, that issue I sent out I think either to California or New York, but I do have a kind of faded photocopy of it, pretty poor, which was included in the government’s presentation at the time we were arguing in court on Schlegel v. U.S. So my copy of the article in the Mattachine Review came to me compliments of the U.S. Department of Justice. You talk about ironies there. Anyway, I had set out then as many of the precedents that I could find either that were directly related or nearly so, I thought. And I didn’t know anyone else who had done that, possibly excepting Frank Kameny in his own case. But his citations and precedents were more nearly focused on the points that he was trying to make. He did not cover the field, I didn’t think, as well as I did. I did take him somewhat to task in Kameny v. Brucker. He in turn took me to task for writing him off so cursorily. And that was a point of some friction between us.
MS: Why did you take him to task?
RS: Well my conclusion was that his case was long on emotion and short on law, which of course I realize that it was the only thing he had to rely on because there weren’t the precedents that we would have now. I mean string after string after string of all the different courts that have heard cases like this. But there was Kameny v. Brucker and coming up Schlegel v. United States and you’d be hard pressed to find any other that were destined to go to the Supreme Court. O.K., Harold and I, we had a good sympatico. And this was the time of the Seattle World’s Fair. So I said, “Harold, I’m going to drive up there. I’m going to go, rent a car.” And I said, “Do you want to go along just for fun?” He thought that was a smashing idea. So I rented the car in San Francisco and we drove up the coastal highway, magnificent highway, all the way up to Seattle. Had a wonderful time and checked in to the YMCA naturally. Seattle had and I guess it still has a quite acceptable YMCA. No sex running rampant in the corridors there, but Harold was a bath queen. Maybe still is. There were gay baths and this was in 1962 in Seattle. Harold decided he was going to look in and see what the local product was like. I didn’t. I was sightseeing, looking around the fairgrounds or something, I think. Well I saw him that early evening, later afternoon, and oh he was telling me what he found. A Marine, a blond Marine, a tall Marine, who liked sex, really liked sex. Well of course I was gone, sight unseen. I had to get to know this man. I was already fallen without having ever seen the merchandise. So he had gotten the telephone number. I dialed the telephone number and that’s the way Kenneth Victor Doolan III and I came in contact with each other. We set up a date and met at a restaurant and stayed at the restaurant and talked and talked and talked and talked and talked and talked and talked. He had been a Marine, but only for a very short time, and then I think was kicked out on either unsuitability or a medical problem of some kind. He was not an intellectual giant, but he was willing. Bless his heart, he was willing. So we came back to the YMCA and I had my way with Kenneth Victor Doolan. That was 1962. And that, from time to time, has continued up to the present time. The last time he was here was not last summer, but summer before last. He’s in Buffalo, New York, now. I thought that this was going to be made in heaven. I was all ready for this. He was very agreeable sexually because Ken is, down deep, a very accomplished hustler of older men. And he knows how to work his tail. I say this not maliciously. I’m stating a fact that with Ken this is a science and he has worked it very, very well. He was at that time one of the chefs of the Space Needle, which had just started, still there. And my God he was making an astronomical salary. And me, meretricious me, looking for a lover, let’s say, who can stand on his own feet financially, that I do not have to subsidize. I thought, “Oh gee, all this and a piece of Marine tail at the same time. What could I ask for anything better?” And I thought with the salary that he was making, that certainly he had a car, not all that great, but he had a car, and he certainly had something set back. Well I just let things go and I was carried away. And then we saw each other all the rest of the time that I was in Seattle. There’s Kenneth Victor Doolan III in the flesh. And the one opposite is Robert Marsden. I guess I sent you a photocopy of that in Gay magazine. So I raised with Kenneth that I was going to be in residence at Schoolcraft, Michigan, with the queen mother. And as soon as he could see fit to do that, he was to come east and join me there. He did, except I got a collect call from Chicago. There was Kenneth Victor Doolan in Chicago penniless. Couldn’t even afford a bus ticket the rest of the way from Chicago to Kalamazoo, Michigan. And boy, when he called me collect and penniless, all of my fantasies just went down the drain. Everything went from all technicolor, wonderful colors, to [sound]. I soured on him right at that point. And we went through the paces. He came to Schoolcraft. We went through the paces there. We incorporated the American Academy for International Morality. He was one of the three incorporators.
MS: Who was the other?
RS: Vincent Welty.
MS: And what was that group all about?
RS: I had hoped to set up a base, a research base, an academic base, in the mansion at Schoolcraft. It was big enough. And Vincent’s position at that time was that he would welcome having some kind of external support like that. So I had hoped to contact, and did contact, such people as Wardell Pomeroy, Margaret Mead, Harry Benjamin, the leading lights in the field at that time.
MS: What was the scope of the research to be? Homosexuality?
RS: Yes, yes, but even broader. I thought that I could include other aspects of sexuality as well. But the main thrust was going to be homosexuality, study of the legal system, particularly enforcement of sex laws. I wanted to create a conference foundation center right there in Schoolcraft where we could bring together thinkers. And I was going to then contact the different foundations that were known to make available grant money to underwrite these academic conferences, think tanks. So I put together the articles of incorporation. They were so vague as to be utterly meaningless. And I knew it because I could not bring myself to use the word homosexuality. Nowhere did that appear. And it was that old dowdy crusty Margaret Mead that wrote back after I had written her. And she was the one that said, “These articles don’t mean a blasted thing. I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about.” And of course she was right. One of the narrow points that I wanted to research was the federal government ban, the discharge of homosexuals. It had been the result of a series of hearings. This is the Senate document number 131 that I told you about. I had it and I sent it out probably to the gay archives out there. They had held a series of hearings. The hearings had been sealed and had never seen the lights of day since that law had been passed as a result of the hearings making homosexuality unacceptable as a condition of federal employment. I wanted to use the American Academy as the vehicle to pry open those hearings. I did, but then my own personal situation had soured. I had left Michigan. Ken was elsewhere, as he usually came and went. And I was here at home. I contacted Senator McClellan using the auspices of the incorporation to ask permission to have these documents unsealed to me and giving him the listing of my steering committee, the committee of experts who would be assisting me in this. The Senate Committee was impressed enough to give me approval. They gave me permission.
MS: Who was on the steering committee?
RS: Oh the people that I mentioned. I had nominated Wardell Pomeroy, Margaret Mead, the leading people.
MS: They had all agreed?
RS: They hadn’t agreed at all. No.
MS: Oh, so you described the people you had asked.
RS: I said I intended to nominate is the way I expressed this to Senator McClellan. I intended to nominate these people to the committee. But I got permission. But this, like a number of other enterprises in my sixty-six years, just bottomed down. Nothing was ever done. I sent some of the Academy papers to Ken. Adlai Stevenson, I’d contacted him, because we had heard the rumors at that time that possibly Adlai was one of the sisterhood. I think it’s been proven since then, or at least generally acknowledged, that Adlai was gay. Margaret Mead, too, and a number of the others. I think Harry Benjamin I heard from. I don’t know whether I got anything from Evelyn Hooker or whether I had asked her. But it was a whole listing. Some of the Academy papers I sent to one of the archives. I would have to look to see which one got it. Others, which had the autographs and so forth, I gave or sent to Ken Doolan. He was back in Seattle at that point. His sister supposedly has them now, but who knows? They’re probably tucked away in some out of the way place and never going to see the light of day again. So here again, under the banner of the Academy, while I was in Harrisburg and I had this idea, “Gee, it seems that every fork in the road we take we run up against these biblical restrictions about thou shalt not and those terrible admonishments in Leviticus.” And maybe if we approached this from the religious standpoint and just expressed as a church the conviction that all these things aren’t worth the paper they’re written on and making that one of the official postures of the church. And so I wrote up this thing about the Universal Church of Brotherhood.
MS: When was this?
RS: It was after I went to work for the state, so it would have been after 1963. I was in Harrisburg at the time. So I wrote it in Harrisburg. And I sent it two ways. I sent it to Clark. He published it in Drum. And I sent it to Bob Marsden. He published it in Gay. And it created quite a stir. In fact, I first had used 205 State Street, which is where we were living, and of course it was a mystery to the post office. So that mail was returned and the writers were eager enough that they contacted Drum and said, “Hey, what goes here?” and then they were redirected to post office box 737.
MS: So did that church exist?
RS: Didn’t exist. Figment of my imagination. I just wanted to see. I saw. So it was the Senate committee hearings and the availability of those documents. I was the only one ever to be given permission, to my knowledge. But of course, I didn’t follow through on it. One thing that you will know about me is I have these inspirations. I burn very hot for a little while and then either I lose interest or I go onto something else. My follow through is absolutely piss poor, terrible.
MS: How did you end up in Harrisburg? Is that where you moved after D.C or after Michigan?
RS: Oh yes, yeah. We left Michigan later in 1962. Foolish dispute. Vincent interpreted it as just a fit of jealousy. He was carrying on with Ken and I couldn’t care less at that point because I was having sex with Ken and having more of it and enjoying it less because I had lost interest in him as a potential soul mate when I saw just how absolutely dependent he was. And I didn’t want that at all. I wanted to be dependent on someone else. I didn’t want someone dependent on me. And besides, remember, I was still existing on what I had withdrawn from my civil service pension fund. I had had no income from mid-1961. This was a year and a half later and I was still paying my bills and his too out of my little reserve and it was getting lower and lower and lower and there was nothing coming in.
MS: You said we moved to Harrisburg. Who did you mean by we?
RS: At that point I meant Ken and I. After this mistaken fit of jealousy, and it just got completely out of hand, I thought we’d better leave Vincent alone. So we packed up, left him in Schoolcraft, and Ken and I then traveled by bus here to Lewisburg. And my parents were wonderfully receptive. I mean the old Pennsylvania Dutch hospitality came into full play. And they accepted Ken. They had learned about me in the meantime because they read a letter they weren’t supposed to.
RS: They opened a letter that they shouldn’t have, which came here. And it was from the young sailor whom I had met in Chicago on the way to Honolulu. And he left the Navy then. He allowed himself to be found out and so he was discharged because then he could then come to join me in Hawaii, which he did. For the moment, I can’t remember his name. Isn’t that dreadful?
MS: It’ll probably come back to you.
RS: Lordy, well yes. He may still be Frank Bruce’s lover. Dr. Frank Bruce, from my term in Honolulu and San Francisco, and they’ve been together for years and years and years. It’ll come to me.
MS: But what did the letter say? Do you remember?
RS: It was a love letter. His handwriting was quite masculine in appearance and that’s what gave them suspicions in the first place. But one or both of them or together they opened that letter, which they should never have done. And it was expressing love for me from X, for want of recall here. So the cat was out of the bag. And I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t learn until later, when they did indicate to me that they had read X’s letter and had drawn the conclusion there.
MS: But they were very welcoming when you and Ken came?
RS: When we came, they were very welcoming.
MS: Did they allow you to share a room?
RS: Oh yes, yeah, but twin beds. And we never did anything or demonstrated in front of them, but both of them knew about our homosexuality and figured that. The only thing that my mother ever ventured an inquiry about was, “Well in a case like this, which is the wife and which is the husband?” And I said, “Well it doesn’t work that way.” I said, “Sometimes you trade places, but there’s no designated role. It depends on just how you feel at the time.” But she was curious about that. She also asked me a number of times, “Well what do you do? How does this work?” And I would not give her details. I never explained the methodology of it, but she was very curious about how two men make love or have sex. She figured it out. Edna’s daughter, the relationship that her daughter has with her present lover, she knew that that was a lesbian relationship. She didn’t tell me, but she told another classmate friend, Catherine Lupole, and Catherine one time then, later on, told me. She said, “You know that Shirley’s a lesbian.” I said, “Oh yes, I’ve known that for years.” I mean I didn’t know it for a certainty, but all the earmark signs are there.
MS: So you’re in Lewisburg in ‘62?
RS: Yeah. Ken and I came here. And I had all the mail, the Academy mail, redirected then from Schoolcraft here. And I was writing letters on Academy stationary. And this is where I got permission from Senator McClellan to have access. And he, in turn, wrote a letter to the Archivist of the United States, informing me of the committee’s approval to grant me permission to have those records unsealed. What I should have done is just merely gotten on the horse and gone down to the archives and said, “Well I’m on a preliminary mission here. I want to just get affairs in order, but I’d like to see these transcripts.” So at least I could have viewed them, maybe made some copies or notes or something. But stupid me, I never did.
MS: You never actually looked at them?
MS: You had permission, but you didn’t?
RS: I had permission. I did not go down to the archives. One of the reasons was that I never asked my parents for a cent. I think they would have been willing to, but they wanted me to ask and I did not want to be reduced to that position where I had to ask. So I was financing my own expenses. I didn’t pay anything here, but I was financing my own expenses, as well as Ken’s because it wasn’t until we together went down to Washington, D.C., and set up shop in the YMCA and Ken then got a job in a restaurant. And I was beating the bushes. I couldn’t work for the federal government because I thought at that point that my civil service status no longer applied because I had been officially removed. And I thought that also took my civil service status. I was mistaken, although if I had inquired at the time, I’m sure I would have gotten a negative reply from the U.S Civil Service Commission. I mean they weren’t going to, after they went to this trouble of getting rid of me, they certainly were not going to allow me to make an application to come back again. As a matter of fact, Kameny and I forced that. I gave you some of those documents; I have more here. We forced the commission to give me reinstatement rights. And Kameny was my agent and representative at that point and Kameny gives no quarter. He has never taken anything from any official in the U.S. government and he wasn’t about to take it now.
MS: When did you get the reinstatement?
RS: I’d have to look.
MS: It was later in the 1960s, though?
RS I’m thinking about 1964.
MS: So you moved to Washington and then to Harrisburg?
RS: Moved to Washington, set up shop in the YMCA, and I was beating the bushes. I was putting out resumes. I was trying to find an opening, never did. Even went to an interview at a cemetery to sell cemetery lots one time. And I thought, “My God, am I reduced to this?” Because I would never have been a cemetery lots salesman, a salesman of any kind, let along cemetery lots. And I thought, “Boy you’ve really hit bottom, Schlegel.” But going to one of these high-priced cemeteries down there. Well I was down there and the money was getting less and I was getting sort of frantic. And I was coming back through Harrisburg and I had a resume with me and I said, “Oh, why not?” I stopped in the governor’s office and asked, “Where do I go to find a job? Or where can I make application?” They directed me to the governor’s personnel office.
MS: Who was governor at this point?
RS: William Scranton. Bill Scranton had just recently been elected and he was putting together his administration. So it was one of those fortuitous chances of fate. I was there at the right time. He needed people and my credentials, so far as my academic and professional competence, were unquestioned. I mean I had all the degrees I needed and experience. This was over ten years of experience with the federal government under my belt and pretty responsible executive positions and this was apparent. And it was a factual and true resume, except that the reason for the dismissal was never mentioned. So I walk in from the street, sight unseen, and I’m directed to the governor’s personnel secretary. And he in turn directs me to the chief of the accounting division of the governor’s office. And I learn from him that there’s a situation in the Pennsylvania Department of Highways that badly needs correction, that that whole fiscal and budgetary situation needs to be tightened and improved and brought under control so that the governor has a tighter control over that department. And he said he’d like me to talk with some highways people. And in turn I met with the comptroller of the Department of Highways. I met with the Executive Deputy Secretary of the Department of Highways and ultimately then I had to go to Philadelphia to meet with the Secretary of Highways. These were all recent appointees because the administration was just young and fresh.
MS: Who was the Secretary of Highways?
RS: Henry Harral. Henry D. Harral. Probably now retired professor of the Fells Institute of State and Local Government at the University of Pennsylvania. Henry D. Harral is a well-known name at the University of Pennsylvania, if he’s alive. And bless his soul, he turned out to be one of the most homophobic individuals I probably will ever meet. And I didn’t expect that because he was a grandfatherly type, just homespun. And we got along famous and very, very well until the queer issue surfaced. And then Henry flip-flopped.
MS: You got the job in 1963?
RS: I was acceptable to all of the officials. This was early, maybe late ‘62 or early ’63, whenever Bill Scranton took office. I had to wait and wait and wait because the departments were taking an awful long time down there. But I was acceptable and one of the conditions of my appointment was I had to be endorsed by the Republican Party here, Union County. I was not a Republican. However, I was not registered in the county and so this is one of the times when I really compromised my principles. I did not want to register Republican, although in order to be hired I had to register Republican. And I had to receive the endorsement of the Republican Party chairman here for Union County. So I did that and, through help from my parents who were rock red Republicans, I then secured the necessary signatures on the endorsement forms. So that hurdle was cleared. And then I waited, waited, waited, waited, waited, waited, and finally I took the initiative and I went down to Harrisburg and settled in at the YMCA and called the Executive Deputy Secretary and I said, “I’m here and I want to go to work.” And that did it, because then my appointment came through shortly thereafter. It had to be approved by the governor. And William Scranton was right on it. I saw the appointment papers.
MS: Did you move down there?
RS: Moved to the YMCA, on the fifth floor, Ken and I. And again, Ken was here, then he was off. He is very peripatetic. He doesn’t like to stay in one place too long and he has this infallible characteristic of always being able to find another source of support. He knows where to look. He knows exactly the things to say and he knows how to weave his web. He can always find someone. I don’t know that, except for maybe temporary jobs for short times, he’s worked a day in his life since he left the Space Needle and that was in 1962. He was on welfare here. He’s a good worker when he wants to be, but he just doesn’t like to be tied down. Ken would be this year, in I guess a couple weeks, he’ll be fifty-two. So you see there was this difference. He’s fifty-two, I’m sixty-six, so there was some difference in our age. I was finally hired, given an office, went to work. Everything went fine in terms of our professional achievement. We got consulting contracts out and we started really ripping that fiscal house apart and putting it in order. Made some real headway, new milestones and computer technology, by trying to marry the programming of highway construction projects and bridge projects with the fiscal side of it, so that you got coordination between the two at every stage of the way and all this spilling out in reams of computer paper. No problem with the profession, but in the meantime I had met Polak, met him in 1963. Polak had this desire to broaden out, to get into Harrisburg because it was the state capital. I suppose in the back of his mind, he eventually wanted to do some lobbying with the legislature. He wanted a base in Harrisburg. There was an ad in the paper mentioning 205 State Street. It was called an apartment, but really was a townhouse. Two top floors, mammoth place, and the rent was quite reasonable. State Street is the boulevard leading from the state capital to the river. I was less than a block from the state capital. I walked to work, a very, very prominent location. Nice townhouse with all the room that we could ever use. And opposite us was Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which was a location I’d rather not have because of the ultimate witch hunt that the D.A. Zimmerman put on down there.
MS: How did you meet Clark Polak?
RS: Bob Marsden had got wind of a lecture that was scheduled in Philadelphia. Bob was either at that point planning to buy out the present owners of Gay Publishing in Toronto, Canada, or possibly had already done so. But Bob was quite involved in keeping tabs on whatever resources and faculties and forums and lectures were available at that time, and there weren’t that many of them, with the subject of homosexuality. Whether the Kinsey Report had been out by that time or not, do you remember?
MS: The Kinsey Reports were in 1948 and 1953.
RS: ‘48. Oh yeah, so it was well on its way at that point.
MS: Do you remember what the lecture was?
RS: I’m trying to think of the place. The lecturer was Donald Webster Cory. Donald Webster Cory had written a book, The Homosexual in America.
MS: Had you known the book or did you know Cory’s name before you went to the lecture?
RS: Yes, yes I learned of the book while I was still in Washington, before I even took the job in Michigan. I knew of the book. I had the book. So I knew of Donald Webster Cory. I had read the book more than once and in abject amazement that I could see this in print. This was the first time that I could see this, as if I were looking in a mirror. It was a breakthrough for me. So I revered The Homosexual in America. And I’m not 100% sure that he was the lecturer, but I seem to think that he was.
MS: He did give a lecture that year, so it seems very possible.
RS: I’m fairly sure that this was.
MS: Do you remember where the lecture was?
RS: No. No I do not.
MS: You and Bob drove in?
RS: We drove down to Philadelphia.
MS: How many people? Do you remember?
RS: I don’t know whether Ken went with us or not. But I’m 100% sure that Bob Marsden and I went to Philadelphia.
MS: How many people at the lecture?
RS: Oh at the lecture. Well the lecture hall was not gigantic. It was medium-sized, but there was a very good attendance. I’m guessing that certainly minimum fifty, possibly over a hundred. And he was well received. There was no badgering, no heckling that I remember. No negative discord whatsoever. He was, in his own limited way, a pioneer. And he seemed to be accepted by the people who had come truly to hear him, what he had to say. I remember being favorably impressed with the lecture. I thought it was wonderful to meet this man in person.
MS: And you said earlier today that you met Clark Polak at that time?
RS: Clark was in attendance and I don’t know but he may have been one of the sponsors. But through just circulating with the crowd or else I had gone up to the main table, the podium, and introduced myself, or Bob had possibly introduced us. I don't remember. But somehow or another, Clark and I came face to face. And I was immediately thinking, as I often do, I am shaking hands with this man who is a very little man, but he has bushy hair, lots of hair standing up there, and it had a tendency to curl. And so that made him seem taller. But I had just a vague idea of Janus Society and what position Clark was in. He was in somewhat of a prominent position in what gay circles there were in Philadelphia at that time. So here I had a sense that this man was probably in his own way a pioneer and I respected him, but it was a little difficult for me to feel a whole lot of awe because of this predilection I have for people that I have to look down on. Excuse me for this, it’s just something that I have, and I felt that way with Polak. And that was something that influenced our relationship all the time afterwards, our disparity in size, because I simply could not give him the respect that he seemed to want and demand and the subservience that he wanted from all of his minions because I could not get over this difference in our sizes. And while I was with the state and occupied a certain prominence in the state government, he was in turn very, I don’t know subservient, but he certainly was respectful toward me. And of course that was before he came into this cash cow scheme that he had down there, so he was on shoestrings, too.
MS: You told me earlier today that you ended up staying the night at Polak’s place?
RS: Clark was very hospitable and Bob and I had made no plans. And Clark invited me. He said, “I have room.” He said, “Come on over and spend the night with me.” And I didn’t know whether this was an invitation to sex or not, but it seemed to be a decent thing to do and he seemed to be hospitable. So we went to his home eventually. And he lived on Addison Street at that time. He had taken over what must have been a flea trap of some kind. It was not a good neighborhood at all. And he had started to tear it apart. And we found, or I found, places where just the studs were showing, where the partitions had been ripped out. The place was an absolute mess. His bedroom consisted of, as I remember, a pretty big bed and pieces of plaster. He was a slob. He threw clothing everywhere. And this is not a place where I feel comfortable. And I didn’t know just what was expected of me sexually, whether there was going to be aggression or just what, but as it turned out, when I finally found a place to put my duds and we finally got into bed, the night went uneventfully. There was plenty of room for us both. And I got awake and still I was unmolested and as virgin as I went to sleep. I did manage to get cleaned up in the bathroom and then we separated the next day
MS: You said you eventually ended up there. Did you go out after the talk?
RS: I think we just went out for something to eat. And I would guess that it was probably at Dewey’s, because Dewey’s was sort of a late night, in quotation marks, gay or semi-gay hangout, those two Dewey’s in downtown Philadelphia. I would guess, although I don’t really have a recollection of doing that, but it would be logical that we went there. I don’t remember where Marsden ended up.
MS: If we could backtrack a second and if you could tell me the story of Marsden. How did you know Marsden and what was the background to his buying of Gay Publishing?
RS: O.K., Bob Marsden, his home was in Middletown, Pennsylvania, which is just south of Harrisburg along the Susquehanna River. Bob came from a distinguished and old family. It was the Mish family. That was his mother’s maiden name. And they occupied a large and quite prominent colonial mansion in Middletown. It’s impressive to see. Bob was the elder of the two sons. He was the oldest. Robert Mish Marsden. And he had a younger brother George Marsden. George eventually got a Ph.D. on his own in some sort of field in theology and he took a position on the faculty of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The last I heard he was there, although I don’t know if he’s still teaching. I was trying to pinpoint how I got to know Bob and I can only rationalize that Ken Doolan was a great circulator. Ken was here, there, and everywhere. Great talker, he could charm the pants off the pope, I think, if he chose to. So he circulated and he circulated in the bars, gay and straight. Somehow or another, Bob Marsden and Ken came in contact with each other. Bob had known Donald Stewart and I in turn was introduced to Donald Stewart by, I believe, Ken, and Donald Steward then turned around and introduced me to Bob Masden. Or the progression could have been that Ken Doolan first met Don Stewart. Don then introduced both of us, maybe, to Bob Marsden. Donald Stewart was the intermediary to Bob Marsden.
MS: Now Gay Publishing was in Toronto. They had been putting out a magazine called Gay, is that right?
RS: It started, first of all, like a newspaper. It was on newsprint. And they would vary their colors, which I thought was kind of kicky. Some would be on blue paper, some would be on pink, some would be on yellow or green or whatever. And some of us went to Toronto. Now we made so many trips and the grouping varied. Clark went sometimes, sometimes not. Bob Marsden sometimes. Sometimes Don Stewart. Ken, yes or no. Anyway, we discovered Gay on the newsstands, open, in Toronto. We thought this was remarkable, because we always bought copies. And we thought, “Oh lord, look what they’re doing in Canada.” And it seemed to be published with some regularity. I think it was supposed to be a weekly.
MS: This was in 1963?
RS: Or ’64, yes indeed. ’63 or ’64. It was just a newsprint type thing. What do you call it? Tabloid maybe? And we thought this was great. Bob Marsden must not have been along when we discovered it, because I’m sure I told him about it. And either he went along on the next trip or he went independently, because he was a great traveler and he had the resources to do it. Just a sideline: for some reason or another, he liked a hearse as a conveyance, so he bought an old Cadillac hearse, primarily because it was a sex wagon for him. And he was a chicken hawk. He liked his chicken and the younger the better. And I guess I’m sure there was a mattress and I don’t know what else was in there. But anyway, he also liked the notoriety and the public relations aspect of cruising across the border in this old Cadillac hearse. Well either with us or independently, Bob saw this marvel called Gay Publishing. I don’t know whether I sent my copies of that anywhere. I’d have to look. I didn’t save a one, except those printed smooth copies that I sent to you, the later booklet forms. I don’t think I have one copy of the newsprint left. Well Bob was quite intrigued. Bob had a trust fund that was a beneficiary from, as I remember, an aunt or a great aunt and uncle. And so he had resources. And I must have been able to inspire him somewhat that this is the socially correct thing for a homosexual to do: step in here and let’s get this thing on the road and not limit it to Canada, but let’s expand the distribution. I’m sure I planted the idea. Now whether there were other factors involved, I don’t know, because Bob was resourceful on his own and he knew how to spend his money. So, as it turned out, he came to terms with the owners. They existed. He borrowed against his trust fund. He had how many thousands of dollars, I don’t know. But he went up there and he told me later that this turned out to be a money sieve, that the more he pumped into it, the more leaked out.
RS: And it really impoverished him.
MS: How long did he run it?
RS: Only at the most a couple years. I can show you. There’s a date on the last little Gay International. If we look at the publication date of that, then we’ll tell.
MS: He was running it out of Toronto or out of Pennsylvania?
RS: He was first of all a photo bug. He had some of the best camera equipment, like the Hasselblad camera, and this gave him an excuse for getting these kids to undress. When we’re not taping I’ll tell you what I mean, but I can point out the backgrounds on photographs and tell you where they were taken, as I knew them. But this little Miller kid, he started out with Bob, he couldn’t have been more than ten or eleven years old. You can tell from the photograph.
MS: I was going to say: the photos I’ve seen in that magazine are of quite young boys.
RS: Young, young, young. Of course, there wasn’t this national or international obsession with molesting kids at that point.
MS: Did you have any sense at that time, though, that he was interested in boys too young?
RS: Oh I knew it. I met Stan. Stan Miller was part of the team of Alex and the other guy. I’ll have to look to remember the other guy’s name. Stan was from Middletown. The other guy was from Middletown, too. And I was aware, shortly after I got to know Bob, that Stan was only a little boy. And his parents trusted Bob, partly because of the Mish reputation and the fact that they were known to be people of great substance in the city. And so Bob was able to get away with a lot of stuff that he wouldn’t have if he hadn’t had the name Mish.
MS: So you thought the boys were too young?
RS: Oh I was sure of it. I was absolutely outraged.
MS: Did you ever tell Bob that?
RS: Yes continually, continually.
MS: And what did he say?
RS: I told him, “The damage that you’re doing to Stan is incalculable.” And as it turned out, I’m not saying I told you so, Stan has gone through one or more divorces. The guy’s been in trouble. I don’t know whether he’s been pushing drugs, but he certainly has alcoholic problems. The last time I heard, which was years ago, he was just a total mess. He was a pretty boy, a pretty and really, really innocent kid. Bob would take him up to his room and he had a private wing of his own. And I’ll show you from the photos just how this was laid out when we’re not taping. And Bob started out just doing the massage operation. He would get the boy to shuck down for part of the way and then he would start massaging him and then he’d get Stan to massage him. I don’t know just what form the sex act took or when it started, but he was diddling this poor kid when he was just, just too young. And he loved this. I mean the younger the better for him.
MS: So there were quite a lot of boys, right?
RS: Continuously, both in Middletown and in Toronto.
MS: What kind of boys? Were they runaways? Were they boys from the area?
RS: The boys in Toronto were hustlers, but young hustlers. The boys in Middletown were poor boys, kids whose parents lived in the trailer courts. They were not runaways, although he might have had runaways. I don’t know that. But the few that I met were from decent families, but they were poor, whereas this is this rich kid. And I don’t know now whether he was paying them. I don’t know what the quid pro quo was. Or else they were just so glad. There was beer involved sometimes. He did use that, because ultimately Bob became a full-fledged alcoholic as well as a druggie. And I told you his ultimate end, after Gay Publishing Company went under, he lost an awful lot of his own money there. His mother had reached the end of her tether. And so things were very, very pressured and unpleasant at home there in Middletown. So one night, I guess when he was drunk or drugged, he decided, “Well tonight’s the night I’m going to jump in front of a locomotive.” He did. There’s a whole series of tracks there by the international airport down in Harrisburg. And I don’t understand, because I didn’t see the news reports, but my understanding is either he was on the level of the tracks or he jumped down in front of the locomotive, surely thinking this would kill him. It didn’t. He lost a leg. Of course they took him to the hospital and patched him up. And I did never see him, I just heard later because I was, at this point, traveling around and never got back there. They did patch him up and he walked with a crutch. And it wasn’t too long after he was discharged from the hospital that he called Doc Martindale, our good veterinarian friend in Harrisburg, and asked Doc if he would take him to another friend, somewhere around Middletown, in the fields, to get a gun, a hunting rifle. He wanted to do some hunting. And Doc fell for it. I had never known him ever to handle a gun before, least of all ever to go hunting, with one leg, on crutches. But Doc was a darling and he was so agreeable. He was really, really sorry about Bob because Bob had really gone down from the Bob we had known. So he went and he took him. They went out to a place, a friend who got a shotgun. And Doc brought him back to the home in Middletown and they said goodbye, waved goodbye. Bob took the gun and a crutch and went in. And before Doc got home, or he was just barely home, the police were on the phone summoning him back to the house at Middletown to testify on how Bob had gotten the rifle that killed him. So Doc told the truth. Bob had evidently gone up to his wing, from what I understand, laid in bed, somehow or another propped the shotgun in such a way, pointing at his chest so that he could pull the trigger. I don’t know how he did that, but he rigged it up. He pulled the trigger and shot himself.
MS: Do you remember what year that was?
MS: So that was quite a bit later.
RS: 1975. Buried in Middletown. That was my connection with Bob, but it was so interesting, because he exhausted his own resources, but he was willing to use them in order to put a gay publication on the scene in the United States, as well as Canada. I admired him for that. And there’s another story about how he was sentenced to the penitentiary, because of his photographic activities. You want me to tell that?
MS: Yes, please do.
RS: Well I told you that he was a photo bug, loved to photograph boys, did it, used his own photographs in his own publications, and then he made his photographs available to other publications, and he also sold photo sets. He got away with that. There were no obstacles that I was ever aware from the U.S. Postal Service. Although a lot of this was just kiddie, it wasn’t called kiddie porn, but it was just kiddie nudes. There was no pornography that he ever photographed to my knowledge. It was all, at the worst, the softest of soft core.
MS: What’s the distinction you’re making? They’re nudes, but not porn. You mean they weren’t having sex?
RS: I never saw him photograph two boys having sex. They were in a position where they could have had sex, possibly before or after. They were juxtaposed in such a way. They were both nude. There usually were not erections. Sometimes there were, but usually not. And so these were two boys who were just reclining together, you might say. Or most often, they were standing. Or he had constructed a ratskeller down under one of the wings of the house. This was part of the old basement. This was a very, very old house. And you can see some of the accouterments, because some of them show up in the photographs. He had made this into an old German beer cellar. And he had fitted it out with some mild S&M stuff. The reason I’m dwelling on this to such length is the sources of photographs were few and far between. It was still very difficult in this time frame to buy or secure anywhere a nude. They weren’t allowed in the country. There were even fights against allowing bonafide and nudist magazines to come in from Denmark or Holland or Norway. Those were continual fights with the U.S. Customs authorities. So there was this pent up demand to look at naked boys and men, a demand that I personally have always had. I’ve always been turned on by photographs. I think probably more so than the actual flesh, because it’s safer for me and I find less threat in looking at the photographs or the videos now than I have of dealing with someone with flesh and blood who’s going to do me in in some way or another. We all felt it. We all had this compulsion to create where there was nothing before. And so Bob had the equipment, Bob had the time, and Bob had the money. And he had the way to talk these kids out of their pants, the same way with Jack Emmerson in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Bob Emerson had a way of getting kids out of their clothing faster and with less hassle than I ever thought possible.
MS: You said Bob Emmerson?
RS: I’m sorry, did I say Bob Emmerson? Jack Emmerson. His real name was John, but everybody called him Jack Emmerson. He was a colleague and compatriot of Vincent Welty’s.
MS: You were telling me, though, about the trouble that Bob Marsden had with the legal system here in Pennsylvania. I want to make sure we finish up that story.
RS: Bob and I had made a trip to Toronto. I think it was in connection with the last issue of Gay International, the one that was such a sensation, which was the small one and which the book services couldn’t get enough of. I think that we were up there working on that. And Bob drove back with me. I took him down to Sunbury. He said he wanted to go to the YMCA down there because he liked the swimming pool or the weight room or something, but he also wanted to cruise in the Y. I said, “Don’t you want me to drive you down to Middletown?” “No, this is fine, I’ll take the bus down.” So I left him there and came back home. And I learned later, then, that he was using a cottage in Perry County, which is around our little village of Duncannon, outside of Harrisburg, north of Harrisburg, in this direction. The cottage belonged to Ray Craig or his brother or his family in some way or another. Ray was a friend of both Don Stewart’s and Bob Marsden’s and mine and Doc Martindale’s. Bob picked up two boys on the way to the cottage, or else picked them up and then decided to go to the cottage, because Bob had the use of the cottage. He had cameras there and I guess lights or whatever. So either he photographed these two boys, now remember they were underage. One was at least, and I’m not sure of the second one, he was under eighteen. They photographed them both. One had to go and he left or Bob took him somewhere, so he was never in the picture. But the second boy remained and Bob took some pretty kinky photographs, including a series that they got out of the Hasselblad, where Bob took a broomstick and, whether lubricated or not, I never asked, he stuck this broomstick up the kid’s ass and photographed that. That’s what done him in. The other photographs were fairly mild, but the fact that he was underage and these photographs were blown up in the Perry County Court. Bob had good representation from the best lawyer in Harrisburg, if there were any good lawyers for this type of thing, a man named Goldberg, who came over to Perry County. The trial was, I think, aptly handled, but Bob’s goose was cooked when the jurors looked at this naked kid with a broomstick sticking out of his ass, a series. The kid didn’t seem to object, but that didn’t make any difference. I mean Bob simply had no defense. He was convicted. He was sentenced to the maximum, which I believe from memory was for five years. And he served them in the penitentiary out at Pittsburgh.
MS: What year was this that he was convicted and that all this took place?
RS: If I had to guess, it would be the late 1960s or early 1970s. I was not in contact with Bob after I left him off at the Sunbury YMCA and then through the papers and through things that Don Stewart told me I did learn of the difficulties. I went over to the jail to see him. I went to talk to the District Attorney. Don’t ask me why, except I went to complain because Bob had not been allowed to have access to representation from Harrisburg to get over to Perry County and I complained to the D.A. about that and just made a mess of things there because I didn’t help Bob’s cause in the least. But he was convicted. He served his time. He was never the same. He got out and that’s when his decline started. I don’t think he was into photography, because the Hasselblad, among other equipment, was confiscated. And it ultimately would have been returned to him, but I don't think he ever went over to pick it up. He lost that much interest in it. But that’s when he discovered the solace of alcohol. He was a drinker, but not to excess. And then he went into soft drugs and I guess harder and harder and harder. It got to the point where this house full of antiques that had come down through X generations, when he needed money he would choose this silver trinket or that or whatever and take it and sell it or pawn it or whatever. His mother, I guess, was just driven to distraction. Finally there must have been some really big battle royal, because she must have given him another of her continual ultimatums, which really meant nothing to Bob, but there must have been a crisis of some kind leading up to the shooting. 1975 is when he done himself in. He was a good buddy of mine.
MS: If it’s all right, maybe we could spend the next while talking about Janus Society and Polak specifically and then maybe tomorrow come back and talk about your case in 1965?
RS: Well no, let’s talk about things now that you need. We can forget about anything else right now.
MS: One thing I wanted to ask you about was this very early letter that I have from Clark Polak to you that’s dated December 26th, 1963, on Janus Society letterhead. If I could, I’d like to just read it to you and ask you a couple of things about it.
RS: Go ahead.
MS: It goes: “I certainly hope that this letter reaches you. In case it doesn’t and you are not reading this now and it is in the dead letter office, I just want you to know I was thinking of you. Assuming it does reach you, I would briefly like to discuss something with you that I feel is of great importance. I feel that there should be a homophile group in the state’s capital and would like you to start one. Oh by the way, I’m talking as the newly elected president of Janus. Don’t congratulate me, please, send condolences because it is a great deal of work. But back to the subject or rant, as the case may be, I’m going to do some deep investigation in Philly into the matter of the possibility of a law change. All of this is in the strictest confidence. But I feel that we have at least a ten percent chance of effecting said change within three years and I’ve been given to believe that said change might be possible to buy for cold cash, donations to the right campaign funds. But who knows? Certainly it is too early to make any kind of prediction. Since this letter might not get to you, I don’t want to spend any more time on it. If you do get it, write me as soon as possible and let me know your thinking. Address me at 1508 Pine Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Best wishes, Clark Polak.” There are so many things about this that are interesting to me. It seems that it was probably during that time that you were just starting to work for the state so he didn’t know exactly where to find you.
RS: It could have been, no it wasn’t until 1965 that I was ordered to close the post office box and not accept any more Janus Society of Central Pennsylvania mail. I got that order directly from the Secretary of Highways.
MS: This was even before the chapter in Harrisburg got set up. So this was the end of 1963. One question that I had is this: do you know what he was talking about, buying the law change, contributing to the right campaign funds?
RS: Except for what you’re reading, he never mentioned it thereafter. No, but I’m sure the idea that he has was amassing a war chest to make contributions to political campaigns in the state. Nothing really revolutionary about that, except for its time it had never been done.
MS: That’s right.
RS: And there was no way of communicating with any masses of homosexuals, because the big Drum mailing list, in fact the mailing list for the Janus Society, probably numbered less than fifty names. I’m being generous. Jack Ervin certainly would remember.
MS: There’s a reference to an initial mailing list of 150 names when the Mattachine chapter got started in 1960.
RS: So they had 150 names, active or not we don’t know, but at least they could put out 150.
MS: And Clark was elected in December of 1963. Maybe you could just tell me what you know about Janus Society and Clark in those first couple of years. One of the things I want to ask you about is whether you think Clark used the model of Gay when he started Drum magazine. But really I’m interested in anything you can tell me about Clark and your meetings with him and your knowledge of the Janus Society and the chapter in Harrisburg. I know that’s a lot.
RS: No, no. This is a good time and we have until nine o’clock, so maybe enough tape for that. We’ll pick up tomorrow. O.K., after the initial meeting with Clark and I of course went down there. I already had the gubernatorial appointment. That impressed him. Oh, did that ever impress him. And I hate to get back to the size, but I think that that was a factor in our relationship, because he was looking up to me literally. He was relatively poor, he was on his own, and he was self-sufficient. He had the advertising agency. Or no, I thought it was a personnel agency. Northeast Advertising didn’t come until later.
MS: Tell me about that. What do you know about his previous history before he got involved with Janus?
RS: Just the connection. Well this I do know: he had enrolled at Penn State, in what course I don’t remember, and I only ever saw one picture of a function that involved him at Penn State. He didn’t complete more than two years and possibly less. And I don’t remember the circumstances of why he chose to drop out or why he was made to drop out. I don’t remember that. He may have told me. But I do know with finality that he never graduated from Penn State and completed, I’m guessing, less than a full two years. So he had that exposure, but he, on his own or because of forces outside of him, terminated it. And then, when I got to know him, he had this personnel office, an employment agency it was, out with the Frankford address. And I’m just thinking that that was the Frankford Personnel designation that I sent in my notes to you, because I have that in my notebook. Although this Northeast Advertising Service, I don’t know if that was an offshoot or an affiliation or just what that is. I’d have to think about that because that kind of caught me by surprise. I remember the designation, but I can’t put it together.
MS: You told me he ran one of those with Lou Coopersmith?
RS: Yes, absolutely.
MS: He ran which? The personnel agency?
MS: What was it called?
RS: I thought it was called Frankford Personnel.
MS: You mentioned something in your letter to me about something called Lark Enterprises?
RS: Yes, but that was after or about the same time as he took over Janus, because even in this issue containing Vincent’s article, I see the advertisement for Lark Book Service. Lark taken from Lou, the L, and then ark, from Clark. Lark Advertising. That was the forerunner to Trojan Book Service, the very beginning. Now he kept up the employment agency after he had taken over Janus because Janus produced no income for him. And the potential of Drum and Trojan Book Service hadn’t even appeared yet. It took Clark, I’m sure, as much by surprise as anybody else. Then when the money, hundreds of thousands of dollars, rolled in, of course Clark was “Wow!” He was getting his due and he had achieved his destiny. He knew that he had a golden touch and this was proof positive that he had. But this time he was a poor boy and he was living off, I think, the income from the employment office.
MS: Do you know about that business?
RS: Whether he was a good employment technician? I don’t know.
MS: Do you know anything about his family?
RS: I visited his family once. For one reason or another, I was in Philadelphia and I had a car. Clark had none. And he wanted to go home and asked me whether I would drive him out there. It was not in Center City and I can’t tell you which section of town it was. My recollection is that I met his father and I met his stepmother. His own mother had been dead for quite a while at that time. She committed suicide and my recollection is that she chose the Christmas season to do it. And from thenceforth forever, Clark never wanted Christmas to come around. He steeled himself for it because of this connection with his mother.
MS: Was the family Jewish?
RS: Oh yes, solidly, a hundred percent.
MS: Do you know how old Polak was when his mother committed suicide?
MS: Was he a child?
RS: I don’t know. He may have told me.
MS: You mentioned he had a sister?
RS: In fact, he never told me that story. I learned that from Jimmy Mitchell. I never heard from Clark’s own lips that his mother died a suicide. I knew Clark was suicidal. He told me so himself and especially at the time when he and Jim had one of their blowups and Jim would have moved out and Clark was left alone. And there he was rattling around the apartment and he confessed to me without my even asking, because I had no reason to, that he had very definite thoughts of suicide.
MS: That would have been in the late 1960s, right?
MS: What about this visit with his family?
RS: I went to visit his family and I remember meeting his father and I think I met his stepmother and I met other relatives there. It was a very, very accepting and very sociable short time that we had together. Clark had me as exhibit A. And he made it very definite that this was a Harrisburg state official that he was having with him. And he designated my position and he wanted to show me off to his family because boy I was a real top fish, you see, being in cahoots with Bill Scranton. We did whatever he went to do and I was welcomed and I was greeted. Otherwise I don’t remember a thing about it except it wasn’t an elaborate house. It was very commonplace, comfortable, didn’t stand out in any way, shape, or form. His family certainly was agreeable enough.
MS: Do you think his family knew that he was gay?
RS: Later on. Later on they had to. Maybe his father may have died by that time. I know nothing about his stepmother. But Clark had very bad experiences. His first policy was to hire gay. Once he took over Janus and he hit upon the photo success, the success of Drum was not due to its editorial content. The success of Drum was due to the photos, especially that insert. The nude photo insert in Drum magazine was the thing that swelled the mailing list. When he took that step, again with legal advice from Norman Oshtry and I’m sure that Spencer Coxe and some other people from ACLU advised him on this, this was a quantum leap for Clark. This was the first time that a nude insert had been knowingly put through the mails. Now remember, think of that. Womack never went that far. Clark took the die first. Womack followed. Clark put the nudes in Drum magazine. Womack was still publishing the physiques, which were covered. O.K., about his family, did they know? Clark initially was hiring all gay. And he really had some bad experiences with his gay employees.
MS: This was not Janus, because Janus didn’t have employees. You mean Trojan, right?
RS: Well now wait, Janus first of all got an office. I guess they already had an office. Clark and I together attended one of the meetings in this little office of the building at 34 South 17th Street, nondescript building. It was downtown, it was convenient. But the building itself had been not abandoned, but kind of let go. It was kept clean, reasonably so, but it wasn’t a modern office building in any way, shape, or form. And this little office, you went up to the second floor, you went down a corridor, and you turned right and there, in the middle of that corridor, was this single office that had a window, but it didn’t look out on anything. It was just on an airshaft. Dismal, depressing, but this was a wonderful thing that Janus, first of all, could find a landlord willing to rent space and that there was no pretense involved. Janus was Janus. And the landlord, the managers of the building, let’s put it that way, knew of the thrust of the Janus Society of America. So there was no subterfuge. They were allowed to rent the office and I don’t know of anyone else. Well of course Hal Call had space for the Mattachine. ONE had its own space in California, too. I don’t know about Mattachine in New York. But this was unknown to Philadelphia. Heretofore, the meetings had been held I guess in members’ homes. I never attended any, but my understanding is that. So Janus had an office. It had some hand me down scarred furniture. There was a desk, folding chairs, and somebody donated either a sofa bed or a sofa of some kind, pretty ratty, as I remember. And the room was so small this thing took up much more room than it should have. That was the Janus office. Maybe a file cabinet or two or maybe that came later. I think first of all the papers were just stuffed in the desk drawers. But someone, either Mae or maybe Barbara Gittings and certainly Jack Ervin was involved in that phase, had taken the bit and had secured this office space because Clark walked into that. Clark had nothing to do with that except possibly he might have been a member. But I’m not aware that he was instrumental in making that transaction. There was no telephone, though. Clark’s big contribution at that stage was getting a telephone installed and getting someone to pay the bill and getting a number that people could call. I mean this was amazing. But it was listed under Janus Society of the Delaware Valley. And there was nothing to indicate from the name Janus, unless anyone knew of the Roman God that had the double face, looked both ways. That’s where the name came from.
MS: You had written to me in a letter that you saw Janus as a one-man operation once Clark took it over. Do you know anything about the lesbian involvement with Janus before Clark took it over? You just mentioned the name Mae and Barbara Gittings.
RS: Mae I know was very active.
MS: Is this Mae Polikoff?
RS: Mae Polikoff.
MS: Did you know her?
RS: Just passingly. We may have been in each other’s company at a meeting once or twice.
MS: Did you know Joan Fraser or Joan Fleischmann?
RS: Again, she would have been in concert with Mae and I’m sure we were in each other’s company and I’m guessing it might have been at a public meeting, because a few of those were held. But remember they were in Philadelphia; I was in Harrisburg. I was frying my own fish and I was keeping the governor happy and trying to keep a Secretary of Highways happy, too. And so my frequency in Philadelphia was pretty limited. But the times that I was there, these were public meetings and there were indeed both men and women, not only in attendance but I think on the board or on the panel. So there was this mix of the sexes, but after Clark had the telephone installed, his abrasive personality then started turning people off. You didn’t discuss with Clark. If he made up his mind, he told you. And that was the end of it. Did you hear that before?
MS: Yes, once or twice.
RS: This was after he felt his own confidence and after the money started. The money was the key to the whole thing.
MS: Was he with Jay Mitchell at that early point in time?
MS: That happened later?
RS: Mitchell didn’t enter the picture until the move had been made from this dinky little corridor office. Then the space opened up. It was the first corridor, closest to 17th Street. And this was a big room, because Clark had it partitioned and he bought very up to date modern office furniture for the reception area, including the desk maintained by the Janus clerk. The Janus clerk was also the receptionist.
MS: Do you remember when the office moved? I could check that in the publications because the address is listed.
RS: ‘65. I can tell you almost to the day, because I made phone calls from the old office to Carl Shipley in Washington, called him from Philadelphia, trying to get Carl, my attorney, to intercede with Governor Scranton’s Executive Assistant, a good old solid Roman Catholic Republican, to try to sidetrack this forced resignation that I was facing, requested by the Secretary of Highways. I tried to play my trump card, taking Shipley’s political associations, talking politics to politics with this Catholic man. The name escapes me, but it’s one of the accepted Catholic names. Murphy, Murphy, Murphy. So I was calling back and forth, with Clark’s permission, from the Janus phone. And this was prior to the acceptance of my resignation then and I’m thinking June or July 1965. All the stuff had been moved except the telephone and the phone books and stuff and we were sitting on the floor.
MS: So why don’t you finish describing the new office? You said the Janus clerk who worked as a receptionist was at the front.
RS: Yeah. This was all new office equipment. And he had the ceiling dropped and he had inset lighting, recessed lighting, and so forth. He had carpeted the reception area. Not the work area now, because see this was partitioned off. The Janus reception area would have been at the most one-third of the space that he was renting. The door between the two was either kept slightly ajar or closed completely. So any visitor coming in didn’t see the Trojan area back there. It was a very, very acceptable and fashionably outfitted reception area. Going back to the employment situation, Clark had intentionally hired gay, but gay males, all males. He didn’t have a female at that point. But he had encountered indolence, he encountered thievery, pettiness, and he was sort of souring on gay employees. And then he eventually got to the point where the gays were in the minority and the straights then were in the majority after they had moved to Arch Street.
MS: When did that change start to happen? They didn’t move to Arch Street until 1969, right?
RS: Yeah, they stayed on South 17th Street from 1965, mid or later 1965, until it could have been ‘68 or ‘69. Because when I came back from Washington, after severing my connections with Womack and Guild Press, I returned to the Arch Street location. That’s where I went to work. It was only ten weeks that I worked for him before we had our falling out.
[The interview with Richard Schlegel continued on 11 May 1993.]
MS: We decided we were going to start off by talking about the case against you when you were working for the state. And I guess the background to that is the establishment of Janus's Harrisburg chapter.
RS: Yes exactly. And yesterday we talked about the letter that Clark Polak had sent to me where he had the idea expressing the intent of starting a Harrisburg chapter. I had secured Post Office Box 737 in Federal Station, which is in the federal building in downtown Harrisburg, while Ken and I were living at the YMCA. I knew that there would be mail that I didn't want to have come to the YMCA and be sorted there. And so I secured Box 737 and Clark knew this. And Clark asked if I would permit Janus mail to come to P.O. Box 737. I already was having the American Academy mail redirected from Schoolcraft, first to Lewisburg, but then I changed that so that it would come to P.O. Box 737. And I saw no particular harm in allowing Janus to use 737. In hindsight now, it was a very bad decision and one which cost me my job.
MS: What was the other mail that you were receiving that you were concerned about? Was it physique magazines?
RS: Yes, a lot of the flyers from organizations such as Guild Press or Guild Book Service and some stuff from photographers in California or the West Coast. And I'm sure that there wouldn't have been any particular harm in this coming to the YMCA. I just didn't feel comfortable with it coming to the YMCA. Figured that it would be more direct and more private. So I got 737. Clark asked if Janus could use it. I said “O.K.” In one of the early issues of the Janus magazine, he announced the formation of a central Pennsylvania chapter of the Janus Society, listing the address as P.O. Box 737, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Either that same issue or the one following it had a particular letter in it and my response. The letter raised a question. The letter came from an anonymous source who had read about the central Pennsylvania chapter in the earlier edition of Janus magazine and raised a question, something, as I recall, about gay life and how to handle it. Perfectly reasonable question and I felt that my answer was perfectly reasonable too, had nothing whatsoever to do with erotica, pornography, this or that. It was a straightforward question. It received a straightforward answer, I thought. The fatal defect in my thinking, or my performance, was the fact that I signed the letter. I signed it with my own name. Now most everybody in the movement, in quotes at that point, was using pseudonyms. Clark himself was using Charles Phillips as his pseudonym. And people throughout at least the eastern part were more pseudonymous, more inclined to use pseudonyms. But I signed my letter because I thought I was brazen enough to just stand up and face whatever there was without hiding behind something. I used my own name. Well my answer was published with my name and I didn't think anything more about it, because Janus at that point distributed in Harrisburg at the most twenty-five copies. I can still see Clark himself taking this little bundle and the magazine would have been slightly larger than Drum. And this issue that I'm talking about--I remember very vividly--had a reproduced photograph of a statue of a horse. I'm not quite sure what the connection was, but Clark thought it was either artistic or perhaps he was thinking it was a stallion and the stamina and masculinity or whatever connected with the stallion. I don't know, I never asked him. But anyway, this had a picture of a horse. He took a handful of these things, I can see him now going up and down Second Street, which at that point contained several dirty bookstores, at least if you can call anything in those days dirty books. This was 1965, either late 1964 or early 1965. Clark himself brought the booklets to Harrisburg. I didn't want to go into these stores. He said, “I'll do it myself.” So he would go and he would ask whether these storekeepers would give shelf space to Janus. There was nothing else that was even remotely gay except physique magazines. And they were not fully nude; they were not frontal nudes. They were all draped in some way, posing straps or something like that. There was nothing on any of these stands that was at least overtly recognized to be homosexually oriented. Clark got it placed in at least one bookstore, maybe two. I don't remember. But remember this was just a handful and as I say I don't think that he ever succeeded in placing more than twenty-five, if that many. We both forgot about it. I didn't give it any more thought. I had my own cabbage to cook there in the state Department of Highways. I never gave it a second thought until I was summoned out of the blue one day to see the Secretary of Highways. Now this doesn't mean I had a long distance to travel, because I was already part of the executive suite. My inner office was adjacent to the Deputy Secretary of Highways, so all I had to do was go two doors up. And it was not unusual for me to be summoned, but when I got in there, I was alone. Now that was unusual, because usually these were staff conferences and I don't think we ever had a private, one-to-one conference between the two of us before. I sort of was uneasy; I didn't know what was coming on.
MS: This was in early 1965?
RS: It would have been early 1965 when this happened. The Secretary of Highways, who was Henry D. Harrell, was a grandfather and he was grandfatherly. He was kind of roly-poly and had a nice sense of humor and was very easy to talk to, to get to know, I thought. And our relations for the better part of almost two and a half years had been one of easy professionalism. We traveled in the same elevator, for example, and we had been to public forums together and had gone to professional engineers’ banquets and Atlantic City conferences and this kind of thing. So I mean by that time we were comfortable with each other. And I was kind of apprehensive, but for no particular apparent reason. That's when he told me that he had been visited by two postal inspectors. He didn't tell me their names. I didn't ask him for their names. I learned later who they were. Turned out that this one inspector was from Harrisburg, from the Postal Service, and the other one was from Philadelphia. So the two of them, I guess they felt strength in numbers, paid him a visit without, I don’t believe, an appointment. I think they just appeared. And they proceeded to tell them that here was this homosexual magazine, which had my name in it and so obviously I was supportive, if not homosexual myself, and they thought this was a scandal. Because they had already found out that I was a state employee and I occupied a certain position in the Department of Highways and they wanted to bring this to the attention of the Secretary of Highways for whatever action he thought appropriate. They were outraged. So Henry Harrell said he was very concerned about this. I didn't realize the depth of his concern at that particular time, because he said he did not think that this was appropriate behavior and he would like if I did not persist with it. And he would like if I closed the post office box down.
MS: Do you remember what you were feeling in the office?
RS: Astonishment, shock. I didn't know what to say. First of all, I was outraged because I felt that this was a terrible invasion of my privacy. And second, that there was a tampering with private communications. That the U.S. Postal Service had absolutely no business in doing this, least of all going to my employer, a cabinet minister of the state of Pennsylvania, to bother him when we were in the midst of the biggest road building interstate program in the state's history. To take up his time to say one of your employees might be a queer. Can you imagine? Do you see the irrationality of this? Bill Scranton had been elected governor because he made certain promises to the electorate. He chose people to carry out those promises. We were spending millions of dollars a day in just putting out contracts in order to get the interstate system going plus keep up the other road-building program in the thousands of miles of roadways in the Commonwealth. And they would take up the time of the Secretary of Highways to say, “One of your employees might be queer”? That's what I was feeling. I could not articulate this. There's no way that I could tell Henry Harrell about this.
MS: Did you have any sense then or later on that Harrell had talked to Scranton about this?
RS: He never did. I never felt that he had. Henry did not mention this to the governor. Henry's intercession through his deputy Wilbur Webb was with Murphy, the executive assistant to the governor. I have no information that Henry Harrell ever mentioned this to Bill Scranton. Nor did I have any indication that even Wilbur Webb, who was the Chief Deputy Secretary of Highways, ever talked with the governor. I have no information. And I didn't ask, although I should have.
MS: Did you have any sense that this was a party-based or intra-party-based effort to embarrass either Harrell or Scranton?
RS: No, no. There was no sense of that whatsoever. Politics did not enter into it ever. Except in the final outcome and Bill Scranton's presidential aspirations figured into it quite prominently.
MS: How do you mean?
RS: He was just at that point forming what later became his presidential campaign. It was too late. Let's see, this would have been 1965 and into 1966. He started too late; he pumped a lot of his own money into it. He went on an airplane campaign to various cities. But he got in too late and he didn't make a splash at all. He didn't announce as early as he should have announced and he might have had a chance at the presidency.
MS: But how did it play into the campaign?
RS: This is ahead of the story, but I'll answer it while it's on our mind. Bill Murphy, Tom Murphy, I don't remember his first name, but anyway I'm sure of Murphy. I'm putting thoughts into his mind. They knew that Scranton was going to announce for the presidency. He kept saying he wouldn't, but they knew that he was going to. And all the signs were there. A queer on his gubernatorial staff, appointed by him, was not considered an asset. The word got down from Murphy. Here again I don't know this because I didn't see the paper. Sorry, there wasn't a paper. It was by telephone. The word got down from the governor's office, meaning Murphy in this case, to either Henry Harrell or Wilbur Webb or possibly both of them, “Get rid of this guy. He's an albatross, sooner the better.” Now that's the end of all this, but I'm saying leading up to it there's an awful lot.
MS: Did you want to go back then? You were in the office?
RS: I was in Henry's office. He told me about this visit from the postal inspectors. He said that he thought that I should first of all close the box. And it was a request, but I'm sure that it was a demand. And I said, “I will no longer receive Janus Society mail.” That's the commitment I made to him. I went to the federal building; I immediately put through a change of address form, redirecting all of the Janus Society mail back to Philadelphia. I did not close the box. Possibly if I had closed the box, maybe it would have been easier. But subsequent developments probably made that unnecessary. But I did. I followed his direction and I redirected the mail. Meaning that, at least in terms of that, I had ceased association. That might have been the end of it, except Zimmerman entered the picture, the District Attorney of Dauphin County, which is the county in which Harrisburg is located. Zimmerman had just been recently elected or anyway he was I guess feeling aggressive. And I'm trying to think what triggered this whole thing; it just seemed to me that probably it was a hustler situation involving underage boys. Harrisburg had its own hustler streets, State Street being one of them. I lived at that point at 205 State Street. State Street is only two blocks from the Susquehanna River to the State Capitol building anyway, so there's not much room there, but this was one of the thoroughfares for hustlers and parts of Third Street right in front of the Capitol and Second Street. If you knew where to go, you could usually find a boy. Either it involved a hustler who was underage and the parents might have kicked up some fuss, somebody was arrested for something and my clipping file on this went to the archives, too, and I can't tell unless I really searched hard which archives had it. But there was a complete file of all of the headlines from the Harrisburg papers, two of them at that time, the Harrisburg Patriot and the Harrisburg Evening News. And there was a big brouhaha. And Zimmerman picked up on this and saw the political potential for himself obviously. I am concluding that. To me the conclusions were obvious. I don't know what went on in his mind, but anyway he saw this to his political advantage, that here was a ready-made issue, so he started arresting people. Until it was all over there must have been several dozen arrests.
MS: This was in 1965?
RS: Yeah, ‘65. And the papers played up on this, “Homosexual Nests” or “Homosexual Rings” or this or that, the usual palaver. And Zimmerman would start the justice wheels going and these people were arraigned and they were charged with this and that and the other thing. Some of them eventually came to trial, a few of them as I remember. Some of them skipped. Some of them pleaded guilty. My god they did. They pleaded guilty and I don't remember what the sentences were anymore. These were older men sometimes, sometimes still in their twenties, but for whatever reason they had to make their own decisions about that. And I was involved in only two of the cases where I did intercede with a local Harrisburg attorney to try to give them the standpoint or the viewpoint of the Janus Society on how at least the professional homosexual groups might look at this type of thing. And I don't know who was with me when I went down to see this man. Somebody was with me and I've forgotten who it was. Well this went over a space of a couple of months. As I say, some were tried, some skipped, some pleaded guilty, and some killed themselves. That one suicide that I will never forget involved a funeral from St. Patrick's Cathedral, a young man, and I did not know him, but I assume that he was in the full bloom of life and had no real reason to be doing this, other than having this inflicted on him. The funeral was held from St. Patrick's Cathedral. I looked out of my living room window when I saw that casket being hauled out. And I will never forget that. At that point I swore eternal hatred to this man Zimmerman, because I thought that this was so totally unnecessary. It was only for his political aggrandizement. And I will never say anything other than that. He used this to advance his own political career.
MS: We should make sure we get his first name on tape. Do you remember?
RS: I wrote it to you. I can't remember. Remember I have this block about Zimmerman because I thought of even killing that man. And I think I would have the capacity, even today, if the opportunity was presented, to kill him. And I don't say that of very many people. Is that a threat? Is that libelous?
MS: No, I don’t think so.
RS: Well you can let your editors decide that, but that is the depth of my hatred for that man. He's a big fat slob and I haven't seen his picture for quite a while now, but he then later on became the State Attorney General.
MS: Is that right?
RS: State Attorney General.
MS: Under which administration?
RS: Oh god, I can't tell you. One of the later ones. And he had aspirations for the governorship. And I guess he made announcements, trial balloons, and certainly no one considered him. He was a buffoon, I felt. But certainly no one saw him as gubernatorial material, except himself. We'll make a footnote here that these are all my attitudes or these thoughts. I have no facts to base them, but this is the way I feel. I believe I can say that without being libelous. I hated him! I still hate him!
MS: Why don't we go back to your own story, your personal story, with your employment situation?
RS: Yeah right, O.K. The witch hunt was going on and I was incensed by this and I articulated my outrage and Kenneth picked up on this. Kenneth Victor Doolan III, we're talking about, who was in residence with me at 205 State Street at that point, picked up on this and Ken decided that he ought to be doing something about this himself, that he wanted to express his outrage. In a fit of temporary insanity, that's the only way I can explain what happened, he got dressed one morning and he went with me to the State Office Building and he said, “I'm going over to the governor's office to complain about the way homosexuals are being treated in this witch hunt.” And it was a nice spring morning and I don't know why I ever concurred in this. I raised no objection whatsoever. We walked together up North Street. I went into the North office building. He headed over to the main Capitol. And I to this day cannot remember why I didn't say to him, “Kenneth that's ridiculous. You simply have no business being over there.” I can't explain it, temporary insanity, but that's the way it happened. He told me what he was going to do. We walked together. I demurred not at all. He went to the governor's office and the fat was in the fire and the shit hit the fan. I never could pin him down on precisely what did he say to whom. But whatever he said, as a result of this, a state police investigation was initiated against me. They went to my neighbors at 205 State Street. These buildings abut, as they did in colonial days and these were left over, and at 205 State Street, on one side of us, we had a town house occupied by two, let's say, unclaimed blessings, I believe, or maybe one was a widow. Anyway they were two women of uncertain age, who were highly respectable I'm sure. They took in roomers, but no reason to suspect that they were not upstanding citizens. The state police interviewed these two and what put my head on the chopping block was the fact that Doolan must have said something about John Seilhamer living with us. John Seilhamer was a high school student of eighteen years plus. He was perfectly legal. I ascertained that before the arrangement was ever made. But John Seilhamer was living with us because he wasn't getting along with his parents and he wanted to finish his high school education without the distractions of being at home. Donald Stewart had interceded with me on whether I would take John in, because we had the space and John, I thought, was a sexy young man. He was first of all legal in terms of the law of Pennsylvania, so I saw again nothing wrong with this, although I was again in a fit of temporary insanity.
MS: Were you all having sex?
RS: No. We were all not having sex. John was sleeping with me. Ken at that point was sleeping over at Doc Martindale's, who lived just around the corner from us. And Doc and Ken Doolan had something going there, because they supplied mutual needs. John Seilhamer and I shared the same bed, but we very infrequently had anything to do with each other. Johnny had his own fish to fry. He was attracted to people other than myself, and so, let's say, whatever sex we had was few and far between. But anyway, he was technically a resident. Something about Doolan's visit to the Capitol, it came out during the police investigation that here was an eighteen year old or eighteen plus boy living with this man. And what also complicated the omelet was that I had another roommate named Bob Feree, Robert Feree, who had previously lived in Lykens, Pennsylvania, but wanted to settle in Harrisburg. Donald Stewart again was the intermediary. Donald Stewart introduced Bob Feree to me, as he had introduced John Seilhamer to me, brought them down when we were just getting 205 State Street fixed up. The furniture was moving in, the carpets were being laid, and it was big townhouse. We had room enough, for example, in one of the rooms to put in a pool table. So you can see it was a nice place and the rent was very reasonable. I think I was paying $85 a month, if you can imagine, for the two full stories. Plus we could go up on the roof and there was a nice view of the Capitol dome up there. The police investigated. The state police, this is the Pennsylvania State Police, not the Harrisburg or the Dauphin County Police, were conducting this investigation. I knew nothing about it until they called John Seilhamer in for interrogation. Then I either learned indirectly through Ken or John told me himself that he had been asked. I said, “What did you tell them?” And he said, “I told them that nothing was happening, that I was living here for my own best interest (words to that effect), and that nothing of a sexual nature was going on.” I believed John when he said that. I think in terms of what he told the state police was that everything was on the up and up. What was the coup de grace was dressing up in drag. Get this: Bob Feree had two friends, also from the Lykens and Wiconisco area. These were two queens, young queens, flitty, and both of them loved drag. So they would make plans that they would bring their drag with them when they came down from the little towns of Lykens and Wiconisco, and they thought it was a hoot to put on their drag and go parading up and down State Street in full drag. I only know of this happening once. It may have happened more, because I was not always there. But I knew once that they were putting on drag or had been in drag. I don't remember if I saw them in drag or if I learned about it afterwards, but anyway I was aware that they liked to do this, and I don't know that I raised an objection to that either. I probably could have thrown a fit, I guess, but I don't know that I should have, even today. I mean it was their life and they liked to do it. And they both were, as a matter of fact, more handsome in drag than they were as males. I don't know what they did in drag other than show themselves off. I don't know if they went into any of the partly gay bars. We only had one in Harrisburg at that time, the Clocks Bar, which was just around the corner on Third Street. I didn't know that this drag had been witnessed, but it obviously had been witnessed by the two ladies who lived next door and reported during the state police investigation, because the upshot of whatever report was finally presented to the governor's office, the word came over to the Department of Highways, “Get rid of this man. He's a menace.” Was it in writing or verbally? I don't remember. I think I learned about it from Wilbur Webb and I think that it was verbal, to the effect that "the secretary has decided that he would like to receive your resignation." I demurred. I wanted time to think because there were stirrings within me to the effect that I thought I should fight this with whatever resources, whatever weapons, were available, although these were limited because I was a political appointee. I had no civil service benefits, no civil service rights. I served at the pleasure of any other gubernatorial appointment. I had no entitlement to office whatsoever. When the governor, in this case through the Secretary of Highways, decided that he was finished with me, that was it. At the same time that I got the message from Wilbur, I called Clark in Philadelphia and I told him that I had to resign or that they told me I had to resign. Clark was in shock because he did not expect this. Neither of us really expected that it would be carried to this extreme. I did not know at this point about the police investigation. No word was told me about this, other than that John Seilhamer had been interviewed. But I thought that he had come through smelling like a rose. I'm not aware that they interviewed Ken Doolan. It's possible. When I've tried to pin Ken down on these details, Ken can be very flaky and very elusive and very indefinite sometimes and I never really got the full story on how he knew it. So Clark was in shock and he said, “Well let me think about this for awhile,” and then he decided to come to Harrisburg. And he did. He had no car himself at that time; he had to come by bus. So we met and he was trying to figure what to do, what to do, what to do. And he thought. Well he said, “I think I'd like to mount a demonstration. Get some pickets.” This had not been done before. This was before the demonstrations in Washington, which were orchestrated by Frank Kameny. And the two of us were seated at this one restaurant, which is on the other side of the river, looking out over the river, on a hot, hot day. He said, “Would you allow me to do this?” And I thought for a minute, “Oh my god, there goes publicity.” They've got to know what they're demonstrating for. So far it was something private between the Secretary of Highways and the governor's office and the people who had been interrogated. My parents had by that time learned of my own homosexuality by opening a letter they weren't supposed to. But other than that, my private persona was not public. And so I debated for ten, fifteen minutes, I guess, while I thought, “Do I really want this to happen?” I said, “O.K. Go along with it. Let's do it.”
MS: This was still in 1965?
RS: Yeah, 1965. So I gave Clark permission to do what was necessary. And something happened, I don't know what happened, between the time he left Harrisburg and he got back to Philadelphia and maybe he talked to certain people. Nothing happened. There was no demonstration ever made.
MS: Do you know anything about how the ACLU got involved?
RS: Yes. Yes, I do. Because Clark had connections with the ACLU and this was after the initial visit of the postal inspectors to the Secretary of Highways. I told you of my outrage, and I had told Clark of that, and he shared my outrage, the fact that we felt this was a flagrant invasion of what we thought the postal code should be. Not what they are, what they should be, and also what my privacy rights were and especially to be secure in my own employment. They felt, and I too, that they were being absolutely violated. So Clark first presented it to ACLU and I went to Philadelphia and I made a personal presentation as well.
MS: To whom?
RS: I don't remember. Perhaps I have it in the records.
MS: But to the ACLU?
MS: Was it at that point that you met Spencer Coxe?
RS: No, never met Spencer, but I remember somebody else. Spencer does not enter this picture. And in fact, did we meet in Philadelphia or did we meet in Washington? Anyway, there was an ACLU publication that was the result of this and which wrote up this action. I had sent my one or two copies to one of the archives.
MS: I think I've seen this, I think it's the publication called Civil Liberties?
RS: Yes, yes. The case was written up, as we knew it at the time, but that was before my dismissal or let's say my presentation of a voluntary resignation, which is what finally resulted. That was orchestrated through Clark. And it seems to me that the meeting was in Washington, D.C., rather than in Philadelphia and I don’t know exactly why. Anyway, that's the way it happened. The case was written up and so they put it on a shelf and so did I until it was stirred up again. Now I have to backtrack. While these arrests were going on, Clark came to Harrisburg at that point as well and we met with one, possibly two, of the hustlers, who were involved in the cases, making some statements against some of the accused. I remember one boy in particular was a very, very good-looking young man, sexy as all hell. And he was in a particularly delicate position, because we agreed, between Clark and myself, that he had to get out of the county. And I drove him down to York, Pennsylvania, which is away from Dauphin, in another county, York County, and we put him up at the YMCA. And he called me the next day at my office in the Capitol complex. And I was so startled that he knew how to get me in my office. I was practically speechless and it turned out that he was concerned because the maids and the maintenance workers, the custodians down there in the YMCA, were rattling around and I guess knocking on his door and trying to make up the bed and this kind of thing. He was genuinely concerned because he was in a particularly sensitive position in Dauphin County. He expected to be arrested. He thought they were on his tail and that's why we thought we had to get him out of the county. But this scared me, first of all receiving the call on my office phone from him in York, Pennsylvania. I immediately put two and two together that this was a frame up. He was set up to entrap me some way or another. Otherwise how could he know that I was working where I was working and get through to my office phone? Again, it was the whole atmosphere there. It was an atmosphere of fear, intimidation. We didn't know who was going to be arrested. I didn't know whether they were going to charge me with doing what I was doing with John Seilhamer, for example, although that was always indoors and it wasn't that intense, but who knew what kind of case Zimmerman could make out of something like that? So I was afraid. Polak was afraid. He was fearful, not for himself but for the whole scene in Harrisburg. It was a mess. It was a total, absolute mess. And I'm sorry that I gave away all the clippings. They're in the archive somewhere, but where I don't know. O.K. He called me on my office phone and I again thought, “This is a frame up. I just better withdraw myself from all this.” So Clark was still in Harrisburg and we had arranged that somebody would pick up this boy down at the York YMCA and arrange for transportation to get him out of the area. I was afraid to go down and the time came and went and a couple of hours passed and I was afraid to go down. Either Clark had stayed or he was back again, because Clark then volunteered to take my car and to go down and pick up this young man at the YMCA in York, bring him back to Harrisburg, and we subsequently decided to put him on a bus to New York City. We sent him to Neil Edwards, who was in New York City at that time.
MS: He's the photographer?
RS: Who was the photographer, right. Neil and another man, Walter Kunzig, who was a photographer, and if you look through the files you can see a lot of his work that I still have here. So Walter and Neil were professional colleagues, although I don't know that they lived together, but they associated. We sent this young man with a grubstake. Clark I think had a five-dollar bill. We paid his bus transportation and we sent him to New York City, consigned to either Neil or Walter or jointly. And that was the end of that. I did subsequently run into him, but that's another story, some years later. Now getting back to the investigation, my resignation was requested, Clark wanted to mount a demonstration. I gave him permission. For reasons known only to himself, that never materialized. I left the office complex with Ken and we drove down to Washington. I'm not sure why I thought I needed to go to Washington, except in the back of my mind was some kind of connection that I could work through Carl Shipley, my attorney, handling Schlegel v. United States, back to the State Capitol through the Republican Party. I had this in mind that possibly we could work some kind of political deal. I was counting on Shipley to produce more than he was capable of producing, as it turned out. Anyway, I saw him in his office and explained the situation and asked him to use his wiles to get back to the governor's office, Murphy in particular, to see whether he could not at least talk this thing out on why he didn't feel that I was obviously the threat, the political threat, that Murphy and his colleagues did. I have no information that Bill Scranton himself was ever personally involved in this, but Murphy carried the ball in the governor's office. So I wanted Carl Shipley to be my intermediary. He said he would try. At that point then Ken and I got in the car and we headed back to Philadelphia to the Janus offices, which were in the process of being moved from the little side office up into the bigger quarters toward the front of the building. The phone was still active back in the old office. All the furniture had already been moved and we sat on the floor and the phone was propped on phone books. I kept calling from Janus. Clark was there only when we got there. He gave me permission to do this. Then he was off somewhere. Seemed to me he was going to Fire Island or he was going somewhere. He was not present. But I masterminded the telephone, tried to get through to Shipley periodically to see whether Shipley had been able to contact Murphy or anybody else. Finally he was able to tell me that he presented my case as well as he could to Murphy. Murphy made no commitments, but he at least heard Shipley out. We ultimately came back to Harrisburg on the following day. I heard nothing. I heard nothing. I did not tender my resignation. I was still waiting for some kind of minor miracle to happen. I heard nothing. And I don't know why, but I sensed that the jig was up and I wrote what I thought was a nice letter of resignation. I'm not so sure I could even find a copy of it anymore. I suspect probably I did not keep it. I received then, practically by return courier from the secretary's own private secretary, his acceptance letter.
MS: Do you remember what time of year this was? What month? What year?
RS: Hot part of the year, June or July.
MS: Of ‘65?
RS: 1965. Very hot, I remember that. I got the letter on the secretary's own personal stationery. It was a very nice letter of acceptance. I had only that copy and to this day I don't why I didn't make copies, but that letter is now in the archives of the state of Michigan somewhere because ultimately I went and applied for a job as the executive secretary of the Michigan State Highway Commission. And I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting accepted there and I used this letter from the Secretary of Highways in Pennsylvania as one of my backup credentials. I didn't make a copy of that doggone thing. So I don't have it today. It was a courteous letter and a rather nice letter, a polite letter, for someone who would not have known any of the anguish and the background that went in it. I then made arrangements to terminate at the end of that week, which was just a day or so later, and Wilbur Webb, the chief deputy secretary, wanted a private conference with me. We arranged it the last evening I was there. He waited for me. I was holding conferences with the consultants who were then in the process of redoing our whole computer configuration for this new programming system that we were going to install and this conference went on and on and on. Wilbur waited, which was unheard of, because here was the second man in the Department of Highways waiting for me, and finally then he couldn't wait anymore. And he came to my office and he saw that I was meeting with the consultants, Ernst and Ernst, and so he said, “Can you come out a minute?” And I went out in the hallway, outside my own office door, and this is when he told me the scant details of the state police investigation. And the whole thing that ditched me was the drag episode plus Johnny Seilhamer's age. But the drag episode, that was something that evidently must have made a big impact on everybody who heard it. And it involved me because it was my house, although there was no evidence presented that I ever participated, but I obviously must have known it was going on and that was scandalous. They just could not quite accept that. That was the thing that pulled the rope around my neck. So Wilbur did tell me that much. I did not press him for details, because he had done me the favor of waiting for me, but I really had dragged my feet. I did not want that conference. That’s when he told me about the drag episode. And so it was Bob Feree's friends, one of them named, would you believe, Butch something or other. That was a misnomer if there ever was one. And the other person's name, just at this point I can't think of it, but I will another time.
MS: Did you ever appeal the forced resignation?
RS: There was no appeal possible. A political appointee has no appeal rights. We serve at the pleasure of. And the pleasure had been withdrawn.
MS: But in the meantime you were pursuing the appeal for your federal case?
RS: The federal case was ongoing. Oh yes, the federal case was going through the mill down in Washington at this point. That wasn't resolved until 1969, I don’t think. I want to give you some background that nobody knows but I think that it’s at the very least interesting and certainly it gives you an insight in the political process. No one would know this who wasn't there. We were in a national conference in Portland, Oregon. All of the state highway officials were congregated, all forty-eight or maybe fifty states by then. I knew of Governor Scranton's private desires to make a stab at the presidency. The Governor of Oregon, at that point, is presently one of the U.S. senators from Oregon. Not Packwood, the other one. He was the Governor of Oregon, a Republican. He impressed me mightily with what I'd read about him. I called while I was in Oregon attending this conference. On my own, I picked up the phone and called the chairman of the Republican Party of the state of Oregon. I identified myself and why I was there, and I said, “I am on the team of Bill Scranton in Pennsylvania. I like what he's doing in Pennsylvania. That's the other side of the country. I like what your man is doing here. Is there any possibility that if Governor Scranton announces for the presidency whether your man, the present Governor of Oregon, would be interested in balancing that ticket as the vice president?” The effrontery of making such a call as that still astonishes me. And he took this thing with the greatest of grace, and he said, “I'll ask.” And we arranged where I would be to receive a return phone call. I received this return phone call from the chairman of the Republican Party to the effect that this then Governor of Oregon, would be very pleased to be on the ticket with Bill Scranton. Now stupid me, and in another fit of temporary insanity, I did not take this message personally to Bill Scranton, as I should have done. That could have given me leverage, I think, if he had known it. Rather than going to the governor with this myself, which I certainly could have done, or I could have gone to his own aide de camp with a private political matter like this, I went to our political liaison in the Department of Highways, a deputy secretary who was a close compatriot of Bill's. This was the first appointment that he made in the Department of Highways, Deputy Secretary Les Berline, who was appointed to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission after he left Highways and he served in that long after Scranton's term expired. I thought Les was in cahoots with Bill about this type of thing. Certainly if I told Les, the message will get to Governor Scranton. I told Les, hoping that certainly the message would get there. I have no information that that message was ever delivered. And certainly the way I was treated from the governor's office did not give any evidence that I was given any special preferential treatment whatsoever. So that was a gross mistake. First of all, the insanity of allowing Doolan loose to rummage around the governor's office himself, and secondly not going myself with this important political information that could have changed an awful lot of things, not only for Bill Scranton, but certainly for me. I don't know that he ever got the message, but there it was. It was a pregnant thing and god I had a gold mine by the tail and didn't know what to do with it. But I packed up then. Luckily the one-year's lease at 205 State Street was just coming to an end. We had a secondhand furniture store outlet across the river. I arranged that they would come and sold most of the furniture to them. I have some things, some few things. This tall lamp is still left from 205 State Street and a few other things around the house. I put an ad for some of the brasses that I had brought back from the Orient. I sold things. I spent the last night in Harrisburg in a lawn chair. Everything was packed and the place was empty. I had one lawn chair and my own personal toilet articles and stuff and the clothes. Spent the night alone. Ken by that time had gone over to Doc Martindale's and he was living over there. I don't know where John Seilhamer had gone to by that time. I was there alone.
MS: Where did you move to?
RS: This was 1965. I was just on the road. I went from Harrisburg and I was really pretty despondent. So seafood beckoned. I went to Norfolk, Virginia. I went to the Navy YMCA and I stayed there maybe a week or more. Loved the view, checked out the tight pants, the sailor outfits, and no sex that I remember. Looked an awful lot. Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, but that's not germane. It did involve a sailor. We don't have the tape for that. Another time. Eventually I came back. I've forgotten just what the itinerary was, whether I came back home or whether I went round about and went to Vincent in Michigan. I don't know.
MS: Where did you end up settling?
RS: I ended up in Atlantic City. I don't know why exactly, except that Atlantic City had a YMCA. Usually I planned my itineraries around YMCAs for several reasons. Partly the cost, the cheap expenses. Also the fact that the YMCA’s, to me, offered the only potential sex outlets that I could muster. Usually if you knew how to do it and you knew the right signals, sometimes, not usually but sometimes, I could find partners. I was on an extended itinerary and to this day I don't know where I went and what I did. I was in Atlantic City and at the YMCA there and I came back by way of Philadelphia. And there was one particular well-known national employment agency and I had copies of my own resume with me and I thought, “Oh, what's to lose?” So I went and was interviewed and left them a resume. And I came back to Lewisburg at that point. A day or so later I got the call from someone at the employment agency, a national outfit like Robert Half Employment Agencies. And this man was really quite surprised, because my resume had circulated and this one particular partner of Laventhol, Krekstein, Griffith, and Company, the very well-known CPAs in Philadelphia, had never expressed an interest in interviewing anybody before. But they saw my resume. He was the partner in charge of their management services department and he said through the employment agency that he wanted to meet me. We met. I had to go to Philadelphia. We met. Subsequently he became the managing partner in terms of the whole outfit, but we worked together. He hired me. And I worked for a bit in Philadelphia on a management survey of the city. The CPA outfit was one of the firms participating, but the main thrust was that he wanted me to go to Washington to try to solicit business, management survey accounting type business, from the government agencies. That was the tie-in there.
MS: So did you move to Washington?
RS: Yes. Yes, I did.
MS: When did you live there, from what year to what year?
RS: Part of 1966 to mid-1967.
MS: Can we stop here for a moment and backtrack a little bit? I'd like to hear more about the Janus Society up to this point, up to 1967. We left whatever had been happening with Janus and Clark and Drum back in 1964. One set of question that I have is about Drum magazine. How did Drum get off the ground? What methods was Clark using to sell Drum? What was the connection to Acme?
RS: I don't know how he fixed on the name Drum except the quotation from Thomas Carlyle. He chose that name himself, I don't think with any collaboration from anybody. It was not in being prior to the creation by Clark. The only predecessor was this little thing called Janus magazine. There may have been a newsletter then or later. I'm sure that there were some issues of a members-only newsletter and I think I had some in the files, but they were just kind of more in the nature of the stuff that ONE, Incorporated would put out and some of the Mattachine Reviews. And it was just about meetings and forums and academic discussions and this kind of thing. Clark conceived Drum. Whether alone or with the help of anybody else, I don't know. He was the one that first hit upon subscribing to the clipping services. That's what put Drum over in terms of editorial content. I don't know of anyone having done that. I don't know of anyone having the money to do it. And I'm not sure where Clark found the money for it.
MS: Would you know the name of the clipping service?
MS: Was it based in Philadelphia?
RS: There were two of them. He subscribed to two separate ones. I don't know. It's possible that the materials from Bill Damon might have addresses or something. Here's what they looked like. They would come in long envelopes. Periodically, I don't know whether weekly or semi-weekly or whatever, these would come in long envelopes and they would have the clippings themselves with the sources taped right to them. And they were pretty extensive. It was really a revelation to me, when I just looked at one batch, that so much was being written, in so many places, about what I thought was a very, very secretive or unpublicized topic. But here, because Clark had sniffed out clipping services and was able to make known the categories that he wanted clipped, he was getting this material. Two separate ones, I remember that, but can't tell you the names.
MS: What was the arrangement with the photographers? Who would pay what for the appearance of the photos in Drum?
RS: At first, there was very meager photography available. Photographers themselves were afraid. They were very limited on where they were going to get any film processed because photo studios wouldn't touch it if they knew what they were doing. And there was always this feeling that my god if you put anything in the U.S. mails and you could end up in the hoosegow. The clipping services were what gave the content of Drum magazine its zip and zest, because Clark had the eye that he could take a clipping and he could see the humor in it. Clark could be a very humorous person when the dollar sign didn't get in his way. If he could put the dollar sign out of his consciousness, he was a very funny person, and in his earlier days we would laugh and laugh and laugh at some of these ridiculous observations. The one thing that sticks in my mind was he took a clipping about someone who had jumped out of a window. And this was an absolute quote from this, that this person was known to be homosexual and he had jumped out of window and he was considered a menace by the police department because of the fact that he might land on somebody when he fell on any bystanders or passersby. Well Clark made a real hoot out of that and I still think it's funny. Just as the clipping service fed this creativity, and Clark provided them the catalyst and got it down on paper, he had to beat the bushes for photographs. They were really hard to come by. Just as Vincent Welty, for that great collection in Michigan, he had cultivated his own homegrown family of people who produced nude photographs and porno for him and they had their own developing facilities. They not only took the photographs, but they developed them and printed them and enlarged them and copied them and whatever. So Clark let it be known that he was in the market for photographs. Neil Edwards was practically the resident photographer as it developed, although Neil started out in New York City and then eventually resettled in Philadelphia. Clark would tell Neil the kind of pictures that he wanted. Walter Kunzig in New York City, these are just two names now that occurred to me. He also put out feelers on the West Coast. He knew what a picture queen I was and he knew how I loved naked men, pictures of them. So whenever he'd get a batch or whenever I went to Philadelphia for one reason or another--maybe once he brought something to Harrisburg--but I believe it was mostly in my visits down to Philadelphia from Harrisburg, and he would say, “I've got some goodies.” And that might have been even before he set up his own executive office. He was still occupying a desk in the workroom of what was the Trojan portion versus Janus, which was in the front. So he would take out of his desk drawer a box and these were almost always enlarged photographs and we would ooh and ogle. I mean some of the boys were really pretty, but it was all tame stuff at that point. There was no porno. At the worst it couldn't even be considered soft-core porn. It was just naked boys. But he knew how I loved to watch and see naked boys. So he always had some goodies for me.
MS: Did he pay the photographers or was this sort of free advertising for them?
RS: Maybe in the beginning, because the photographers were struggling as well, maybe in the beginning this was a contra deal. I don't know that for sure. It eventually evolved, however, as Drum became more and better known and Clark had more and better money to work with, that he paid his photographers. He paid Jim Mitchell, for example, for all the photographs that he bought. And he might have a selection of twenty-five or more photographs to choose from. He might choose only one out of that, but he would pay for that. And he paid good money. I don't exactly remember now what his pay scale was, but he paid a certain amount for a black and white glossy versus a certain amount for a color slide. So I mean he knew what he was willing to pay for.
MS: Can you tell me something about the distribution set up?
RS: Of Drum? Drum, throughout its entire life, was distributed nationally by Acme News Company. The address of Acme, which you have in your files, as I remember was someplace on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Acme News Company was, whether an incorporation or not, presided over by a man named Louis or Lou Elson. Lou was kind of a friendly, likable, roly-poly kind of guy and very easy to talk to. And I don't know how Clark and Lou ever got together, but my guess is that it was either by way of Walter Kunzig in New York City, maybe it went that way, or possibly by way of Lynn Womack, Dr. Womack, from Guild Press in Washington, D.C., because Acme distributed the Guild Press materials as well.
MS: Elson was gay?
RS: I did not know Elson was gay. I saw no signs anytime that I was with him that he was gay. But Jim Mitchell certainly told me that Lou was gay. Clark may have told me that Lou was gay too. I got the impression from other sources that Lou was gay. I do know this, that Clark treated him very respectfully. Clark listened to his advice. Clark followed his advice. And it could well have been that Lou Elson was the genius behind the nude insert that went into Drum magazine, which was the making of the whole circulation of Drum magazine.
MS: One other question about Acme. Do you know what they distributed other than Drum and Guild Press?
RS: The one thing that comes in mind is Real Life Guide. They had physique magazines. Real Life Guide was basically like Sexology. It was a serious tome. It was a monthly.
MS: Did they distribute non-gay-oriented material as well?
MS: They were an upstanding distribution company?
RS: Oh yes.
MS: Do you know what sorts of things they distributed?
RS: Real Life Guide, which would be a magazine like Sexology and which had quite serious and not academically kind of oriented things, but popularly oriented and serious articles. And also at least at that point a lot of the physique magazines put out by Guild Press. They would have handled other studios' outputs, too, but honest I don’t know what.
MS: But did they distribute non-sex related material?
RS: I don't know. I do not know. They might have had paperbacks, but I'm not sure. I can't tell you.
MS: Do you know what the financial arrangements were for the distribution company? How much did Acme get and how much did Drum get?
RS: I do not know the percentage. There was a cover price on each issue, of course, that went out. Then there was always a two to three month lead-time involved here. Clark had to produce the magazines; they were consigned directly from the printing plant in Buffalo, New York, to the warehouses and the shipping points of Acme News Company.
MS: Was Drum always printed in Buffalo?
RS: Always. Oh no, sorry, I take that back. Earlier Clark and Dr. Womack, who had his own in-house printing establishment, a very well-developed and quite an elaborate series of printing presses in southeast Washington, D.C., Clark had evidently come to some agreement with Dr. Womack that the manuscript would come from Philadelphia and be printed on the presses at Guild Press and then either go directly to Acme or go back to Philadelphia. I don't know the route.
MS: There's some mention in some of my materials that Clark discovered that the initial printers, maybe it was Womack, were printing many, many thousands of extra copies and not giving Drum's share to Drum.
MS: Does that ring a bell?
RS: Possible, possible. I heard the story. I can't document it. I would not be surprised if it happened, because there was a terrible amount of cutthroat competition and thievery among the few people or the few institutions that were involved in producing gay publications. There weren't that many and there was such a pent-up demand. Clark was forever beating the bushes trying to find paperbacks. I mean just--what do we call it--erotica. We call it erotica.
MS: Do you have any guess about how many copies of Drum were being printed?
RS: I don’t. If I ever saw the statistics, I don't remember. But getting back to the lead-time, Clark had to produce the issues so far ahead. And it was O.K. after the pipeline was already primed, but he had to wait for his money three issues back. But then once the checks started coming in, they came in regularly, like clockwork, from Acme News Company. Plus he got the returns and the returns then could be sold as back issues. He promoted those in Drum itself. He promoted them through Trojan Book Service. And there were always the requests that would come in through the mailing list.
MS: Could you tell me something about Trojan Book Service and how that got off the ground?
RS: Drum was still practically in its infancy and Clark had an idea modeled from GBS. GBS was Guild Book Service, which Womack already had in operation. It was at that point the biggest mail order outfit handling gay materials. GBS. And Clark saw what he thought Womack was able to do with GBS and he was sure he could do it better with TBS. So he chose the name Trojan Book Service and he got the post office box 2222 in Philadelphia. And he thought that was easy to remember. Well it was. And he started then creating the brochures. Womack had his printed right in his own plants, on slick paper, never more than one color and contrasting color. I don't know who was the first to use color. Somebody did, but of course color printing is so much more expensive, on brochures especially, than just black and white. But anyway Womack had this system going. Womack was on the GBS mailing list, as was I, and we would get Womack's output periodically. Womack did a lot of his own book reviews. He was skilled at that, great writer, knew how to review a book. It may have had two erotic passages in it, but boy Womack could certainly inflate the significance of those passages. Womack wrote great book reviews, capsulized. And he would put these in his own brochures, of course, and he was promoting some of his own physique magazines and whatever photographic things he had, like that guide to drawing that I showed you, which had nude males, and then beside it, drawings, supposedly taken from the nude. Womack was the one that seized upon the “Purple Report” from Florida. We all recognized it as official pornography, officially sanctioned pornography, by the state of Florida because it had the glory hole scene in it. Here was one man sitting on the pot. The glory hole was there. Obviously a cock was sticking through the glory hole, although they had masked that out, but here was this guy in a position about to take the cock in his mouth obviously and this was in a publication of the state of Florida. It created a sensation in its time, not only in the gay press, but also in the straight press, about this being put out under the state seal of Florida. Womack got it from somewhere, reprinted it.
MS: So Clark got the idea from Womack.
RS: I'm sure of that. I’m sure of that. Womack put out his brochures, Clark put out his brochures.
MS: Didn't you say also, though, that Trojan was preceded by Lark Book Service?
RS: I don't know that Lark Book Service sent out anything to anybody until it took out that first ad in Drum magazine. I have no information that it existed even before that. But somehow or another, Clark had the idea, if Womack can do it, and here he had at least the blank pages of Drum available to him. I don't know that he ever sent a mailing to anyone prior to what he used Drum for.
MS: But Lark was the business of Clark Polak.
RS: Lark was a partnership. Lou Coopersmith provided the L part, and then ark came from Clark. Lou Coopersmith, again, I'm not a thousand or a hundred percent sure of this, my memory says to me that Lou and Clark had been partners in an employment agency in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. That had been Clark's source of income before he was able to develop and expand and capitalize on Trojan Book Service. Trojan provided Clark's money. Drum provided enough to subsidize itself, but it also was a great ego thing for Clark. As Drum grew and grew and grew and grew, Drum did not produce the money that Trojan Book Service ultimately produced.
MS: If you had to guess, what would you say the profits from Trojan were annually during these years?
RS: Pure profits that went into Clark's own pocket? No less than quarter of a million dollars. No less.
MS: Each year?
RS: Each year. No less.
MS: Do you have any evidence of that?
MS: You said later on you worked for Clark.
RS: I did on occasion. Now his sister Roberta, Roberta Weber was her married name, Clark had implicit trust in Roberta. He put her in charge of receiving the mail as it was delivered on the trucks from the post office, taking out the checks, taking out the cash, accounting for that, and then making up the deposits. The deposits that I, on occasion, not often, because this is a ten week time frame for me only, two and a half months
MS: In 1969?
RS: In 1969. The deposits that I took to the post office and the Janus or Drum deposits would be segregated from the Trojan deposits. There were always separate ones. But I never made a Trojan deposit that was less than $1000 ever. And the deposits were made at certain time every week, whether daily or twice a week, I don't know, but the times that I made those deposits, I made in the thousands of dollars. And that did not include the peep shows. This was only the money that came in through the mail from Trojan.
MS: Can you tell me about the peep shows Clark owned?
RS: Now there's confusion in my mind as to whether Womack got the first peep show machinery or whether Clark got it. One copied the other. And one found a better maker. The machines were more dependable. The earlier machines operated on a film loop, as a continuous film loop, and these were black and whites. They were mostly hetero, naked hetero stuff. I don't know whether they were porno or not. I just can't remember whether these people were doing things because I never watched that many of them. Whether they were hard-core or they were just on the edge of it, I do not remember. In the very beginning, it was nothing but nakedness, because this by itself was such a sensation.
MS: When did Clark get into this business?
RS: He was in it in 1969 when I got there.
MS: Do you know how early?
RS: And it would have been, I'm guessing, 1968. Conceivably ‘67, but I doubt it.
MS: So he owned how many places?
RS: He owned two that I am personally aware of.
MS: Where were they?
RS: The Book Bin was on Market Street, just some distance up from the Greyhound Bus Depot at that point, somewhat semi-sleazy part of town. But he was able to rent space. It was a store. And he only used, I would say, one third of the full store, and it was partitioned off. The front part contained merchandise that was stocked in the warehouse at Trojan Book Service. These were nudie magazines, straight and gay. These were paperbacks, erotic type of paperbacks. These were some perfectly harmless, although maybe on the edge, romance novels and stuff like that, just to give color and balance to the thing.
MS: Would you say an even mix of straight and gay or was it more gay oriented?
RS: It was more on the straight side of it because the customers were, I would guess, 85% straight. It was not known as a gay bookstore.
MS: What was the other one?
RS: There was the Book Bin and it seems to me there was the Book Nook, the Book Mark.
MS: That was also on Market Street?
RS: No, no. The other one, and I'm not a 100% percent sure of that title, was down off 13th Street. A little side street off 13th Street, in a brick building, and I want to say it was on Camac, but I'm not sure of that.
MS: You were telling me the lay out of the Book Bin. You said the first third of the store was the books.
RS: The front part, you walked into the store, and there were a couple of displays in big windows there and the clerks there would, I guess, every so often put a couple of different books there. So if you wanted to buy a nudie magazine, fine and dandy. But the big draw for these places was by that time somebody had come out with the peep shows. Now these were individual booths. They were self-contained booths, self-standing booths, and you plugged them in. There was a projector inside and this operated this film loop. Clark, then, in addition to beating the bushes for the other merchandise at Trojan, had to find new sources of supply for films, because he was astonished at how these took off. And there was a readier source for hetero films than there was for the gay films. He would call and he would spend an awful lot of time trying to rustle up new merchandise for the peep shows.
MS: So it was financially successful?
RS: Oh beyond anybody's imagination.
MS: Was sex going on in the booths?
RS: I don't know if it was going on, but there was an awful lot of jack offs, because when I emptied the coin boxes, the semen stains were quite visible. Remember these were mostly straight guys, at least they were watching straight films, but they were jacking off to them. And the coin boxes, they took quarters. And the machines could be timed, depending on how much anybody wanted to give for that quarter. I mean you could give a few seconds or you could give a couple minutes, I guess, for that quarter. But you had to go into these booths with a handful of quarters and the clerks in the bookstore were supplied with bags of quarters, just to keep operation. Because we didn't know that there was such a frustration that could be vented in these little peep show booths. So as I told you, somebody came out with a new improved model. And I don't know whether it was Clark who got them first or whether Womack got them first and the one heard from the other, but they did improve them and they were more reliable. The film didn't break as often, because when the film broke, why then it was out of commission. And Jim Mitchell was servicing these, would you believe.
MS: When did Jim come on the scene?
RS: Jim? I don't know. I don’t know. While Clark was in the front office there at 34 South 17th Street, before he had created his own executive office, Jim popped in. Jim lived in the State College, Pennsylvania, area, a little section right outside of State College. And he told me the story one time about how he learned about Janus. He didn't come out until after he himself had been in the service and his job in the service was a military investigator of all things. He was hunting queers. And just when he came to the realization himself that he should be hunting himself, somehow or another he learned about Janus. He learned about Clark. He appeared on the doorstep of Trojan. And the two of them had some kind of meeting of minds.
MS: Do you know how old Mitchell was or when he was born or anything like that?
RS: He died in either 1982 or 1983 and he was 41, just barely. So figure it out. He was not old. He was I, I'm guessing, in his twenties. Jim was one of these natural builds. He had a really, really nicely developed physique. He had a sexy face, a lot of people thought. You can judge for yourself. He had one defect that he hid quite successfully. He didn't have any back teeth. So in any of the photographs, the many hundreds or thousands that he had taken of himself, he never smiled because he had no back teeth
RS: I don't know why he never got dentures.
MS: Why didn't he have the teeth?
RS: I don't know. I don’t know. It wasn't for a long time before he told me that. It came up in the fact that he always ate hamburger. Clark would treat himself to steaks and expensive dishes and so forth. Jim always had his hamburger.
MS: When did Jim and Clark move in together?
RS: I don't know that either.
MS: Do you know where they lived?
RS: Where Clark was first living, I want to say that it was farther down 17th Street toward South, Clark had his own apartment. It was on the second floor, above some kind of commercial operation and I can't tell you what was going on the first floor, but Clark's entrance was on the side. You had to go up a flight of stairs. He had the second floor, comfortable, but small, one bedroom. That's when he started showing his inclinations to collect art, because there was some very nice artwork on the wall. That's when Jim moved in with him. I visited them. They were together. They occupied the bedroom. There was a pullout kind of sofa bed in the living room and that's where I slept. And that's where I saw them first together, but all the years, off and on, when I saw them sleep together, I never saw them have any sex. I never heard them. Do you want to talk about his sex life a little bit now or later?
MS: Why don't we hold for a second, because I have a couple of follow up questions.
RS: This was either South 17th or South 18th. If I were in Philadelphia, I'd show you. But then after that the two of them took an apartment in a semi-high rise at the corner of 15th and Pine Street. His apartment was elevated, I don't know, fourth or fifth floor. It had a balcony looking out in the direction of City Hall. And Jim would sometimes take pictures at night toward City Hall. And so I knew where they were and I was there. I visited them and stayed over at the apartment.
MS: Roberta, who you mentioned before, you don't remember exactly when she came on the scene?
RS: Roberta was not present while they were at 34 South 17th Street that I remember. It wasn't until Clark moved the offices to Arch Street, maybe like 1420 Arch. It was a corner building, kitty cornered across the street from the Trailways bus depot.
MS: 1230 Arch Street. How many people were working, combined Trojan, Janus, and Drum, when they were at South 17th Street? What was the largest number of people?
RS: At South 17th Street Janus had only one paid employee, who was a gay man. And it was always male while they were still at 34 South 17th Street. There was a part time employee, Jack Ervin, who was paid partly for the clerical and stenographic work that he did out of Janus money. I suppose for the work that he did on Trojan Book Service he was paid partly out of Trojan too. I mean Clark kept that division carefully. He did not merge the two funds that I'm aware of.
MS: How many people worked for Trojan?
RS: You had the office staff of Trojan and then you had the warehouse crew. The accommodations were physically separated. The office staff was at 34 South 17th. The warehouse was again in a building by itself farther down towards South Street. Clark had to barricade the windows. He had to put bars and security measures around.
MS: When did he get this warehouse, do you know?
RS: No. Whenever Trojan took hold, whenever the volume and particularly the inventory. See he was stocking not only the mail order portion of Trojan, but also selling stuff to other dealers like Womack. Womack had all of his own mail order demand, but then he also by that time had created his own bookstores in the Washington, D.C., area. So he was buying from Clark, Clark was buying from him. I mean it went that way.
MS: How many people worked at each place?
RS: In Trojan, the office staff, and some of these doubled in doing work for Drum, six, seven, eight possibly, just in 34 South 17th Street, plus Clark, not including the full time paid receptionist for Janus. The warehouse: seven, ten, twelve maybe. I don't remember.
MS: Quite sizeable though.
RS: Sizeable. You know it grew and grew and grew.
MS: You said it was mostly gay men until it switched at a certain point?
RS: While they were at 34 South 17th Street, it was exclusively gay. There wasn't a straight person there and no females.
MS: Do you ever remember seeing lesbians in the office at all? At Janus?
RS: No, except just in passing by or for some particular reason.
MS: Did you have a sense that Janus was doing anything else other than putting out Drum in these years?
RS: I was just on the periphery.
MS: You mentioned the Boutilier immigration case.
RS: As I understand it, this was subsidized almost totally from one fund or another that Clark was controlling at that time. He paid for the attorney's costs. He paid for the printing of the briefs and whatever else was involved. I don't remember the outcome. I believe it was successful.
MS: It was unsuccessful at the Supreme Court.
MS: He also financed a case, Val's, in New Jersey.
RS: Right, right. That was a gay bar case.
MS: That was successful.
RS: That was subsidized. Clark was using whatever assets he chose to draw on. Remember he was the one and only keeper of the books. I mean he didn't physically keep them. He wrote the checks. Roberta wrote them. He signed them. In a pinch Roberta had check signing privileges too. She could sign the payroll. But Clark signed the checks and Clark decided who got the money.
MS: What else was Janus doing in these years? Was Clark meeting with any local officials, police, or elected officials?
RS: I don't know. I was not involved in any of that. I was still working full time in Harrisburg, so I can't tell you that.
MS: Were there public lectures that you ever attended?
RS: ECHO. Now he was very definitely involved in the East Coast Homophile Organizations. They had perhaps annual conferences, as I remember.
MS: Yes, the first one was in Philadelphia. I have a lot of documentation on that.
RS: There was, I guess, a regional conference and then, I guess, a national conference. Clark was very much involved in that. And I believe that brought him into contact with his lesbian counterparts. I'm sure of that. And the lesbians were very directly represented in the conference program and in the attendance. I did go to some of those and I was very favorably impressed. I thought they fulfilled their purpose and left a very good taste in my mouth. And I was more comfortable with our lesbian counterparts there, I believe, than in anything else that I had done.
MS: How did the people from New York and Washington feel about Clark?
RS: I don't know. What is the expression? Don't bite the hand that feeds you, because Frank Kameny was receiving some subsidy. Whether regularly or not, I don't know, but Clark was contributing to Kameny's upkeep and expenses. That I know. Kameny can, if he chooses to, elaborate on that. Clark possibly was subsidizing others, too. I don't know.
MS: So you weren't aware of hostility toward Clark in the movement?
RS: Yes, I was aware of hostility toward Clark. Clark was very easy to be hostile to. From starting out as a very humorous and very easygoing and laid back person, a person that was a joy, a pleasant person to know, he developed into a driven, irritable, domineering, Napoleonic little son of a bitch. And I say that with all the love that I can muster, because there is a very definite love in my feeling for Clark. But he had hateful moments and hateful characteristics about him. He could be detestable. He was short, I mean short-tempered, in addition to being short in stature, which of course I'll never get over.
MS: So you think people's feelings about him were primarily about his personality and not about the sex that he was so celebrating in Drum magazine?
RS: I guess it would be jealousy if anything. First of all, why could anyone take exception with the content, the columns and the humor of Drum? It was a very funny magazine. And secondly, he made the decision--it turned out to be a very right decision in terms of commercial and profit making--to put the nudes in. Nobody else had done that.
MS: I ask this because there were a lot of people who felt that this was not putting the best face forward in terms of the gay community.
RD: They were right. They were right. It was flying in the face of respectability that they, like ONE, Incorporated, had been trying to nurture with their ONE Institute Quarterly and this and that. Clark came along and just slammed that to the ground and went charging ahead. Clark made them laugh, gave them pretty naked boys to look at, if you subscribed to the magazine. Remember the format was this: the issue that Acme got directly from the printers, distributed directly through Acme, contained no frontal nudity. It contained pretty boys in a semi-state of nudity, but no frontal nudity. I think it was Lou Elson who inspired the stapling of this particular nude insert right in the middle, so that it could very easily be pulled out if you wanted to. I mean it kind of was like Playboy. That put Drum across.
MS: That went to members only.
RS: Just to members. You had to subscribe. You couldn't buy it in the newsstands either.
MS: So if you had to guess which people were more hostile to--the nudity and physique photography or Clark's personality--would you say it was both or one was more responsible?
RS: Let’s say Clark kind of flaunted his money. He used his money as a lever to back up his Napoleonic basic lack of self-esteem, I'm sure. But it made him irascible. He was short-tempered. He was argumentative, but don't argue back. I think that kind of abrasiveness must have been the father to all the hostility. I think if Clark had been, in terms of personality, a more likable person and had kept quiet about the money that he had available to him. Now perhaps I'm projecting my own personal bias here. I will admit to that. This was the way I was sizing it up. I don't know whether others sized it up or not. You talked with Barbara Gittings. Did you ask her?
MS: Yeah and we can talk about that after the tape.
RS: Yeah, after we tape. It would be interesting. Or you'll have to ask Frank’s attitude.
MS: Right. Did you have the feeling in these years that Clark was pocketing the money that he was making from Trojan or from Drum?
RS: He had access to everything. If he did, no one would have known. It was absolutely available to him. This I do know: an anonymous donor had made arrangements to have a $6,000 check sent to Janus Society of America. He also had a like amount sent to Mattachine Society, Incorporated, of New York and maybe Mattachine Society of Washington. Seemed to me they got a like amount. Clark moved heaven and earth to find out who this donor was. He wanted to thank him. Maybe get some more. He simply could not crack that security. He never did find out. You know that $6,000 check went to Mexico. It was put into a certificate of deposit in a Mexican bank. That's when I first challenged Polak to cease and desist from trying to dissolve Drum and Janus Society of America. That's where I found it, because I found the records in Clark's own desk. I spied on him. I found where that money was and where other deposits were made in Mexico.
MS: Why don't you tell that whole story now and then we'll come back to your own personal case.
RS: I want to finish the 6,000, because this stuck in my craw. It was there when Clark died so far as I know. It was never touched. When Roberta Weber went out to claim the assets after Clark's suicide, maybe she found the money in Mexico, maybe she didn't, because she put in a frantic phone call to Jim Mitchell. “Do you know where there's any money?” Clark hid money. He hid it around the house or who knows where he hid it. But I found it in Mexico. And so far as I know, that money might still be unclaimed in Mexico, having accumulated interest all these years. Because he challenged me and of course he had the resources and the money to back it up and he intimidated Jack Ervin and made Jack back down. And so the whole thing went to pieces at that point. That's the money.
MS: Could you describe that story, the ending of Janus? That’s right after the period when you worked for him.
RS: While I was working for Clark.
MS: How did you end up working for Clark?
RS: After I finished my tour of duty with Laventhol, Krekstein, Griffith, and Company, they put in a full twelve months in trying to promote and exploit government business. We were simply not able to produce anything, partly because I was a fish out of water and secondly I had to fight the name. Nobody could remember Krekstein, Griffith, and Company, CPAs. If I were Smith and Company, yes, but Laventhol, Krekstein was impossible. And besides I was not outfitted to do this kind of work. I really hated it. But they paid me for a year and I did the level best I could within that year. So then I was unemployed. I was on unemployment compensation. And I had, in the meantime, through Bob Marsden, learned the type of person and particularly the physical characteristics of Lynn Womack. I had not met him at that point. However, I made it a point to meet him and I think I must have sent a copy of my resume to him. He had already known of me through my conference and the report of it printed in the Mattachine Review. So he knew who I was and when my resume came to him and the phone message following it up, he really expressed a desire to see me. I had before then talked with his second in command, Angela Grimmer, and asked where he would be going on vacation and whether he would likely be interested in making a trip together or something like that. I was greasing the pole. So he invited me to come over. As I remember, our first meeting was in a restaurant and he treated. Close to Guild Press. And we talked about lots of things and I don't remember whether he invited me back to his own mansion that night or later. But anyway, we had a meeting of minds. He saw something in that resume that he could use. So he said, “Come on and work for me.” And so I did. We agreed that he would pay me up front with no Social Security deductions, no nothing else, $125 per week. The first project that I worked for him was in writing all the instructions and checking this out legally with his attorneys on creating Rick Sampson's Friend-to-Friend Club, a pen pal club.
MS: What year was this now?
RS: Either later in ‘68, no late in ‘67. Either late ‘67 or early ‘68. We put the Rick Sampson's Friend-to-Friend Club together.
MS: And what was that all about?
RS: Pen pal, gay pen pal, I mean male. This was male-to-male pen pal. We used the Guild Press mailing list, which at that time was the most extensive in the country and maybe in the world.
MS: How large was it?
RS: In the thousands.
MS: As many as ten thousand?
RS: Possibly. I don't remember. All I know is that he used addressograph plates. This required a machine to punch these plates and it made a terrible racket. We knew when the clerk that was doing this was updating the mailing list. And when he put out a mailing he used the plates and this impresser--the mailer would impress the address on the envelope--went on for hours. I can hear it to this day.
MS: Now how did this work? Was it a publication or a flyer that you would put out with people who were interested in pen pals and a way to reach them?
RS: Yes, we put out an announcement through the mailing list and we also promoted the Friend-to-Friend Club through the other publications. Guild Press by then had a whole family, and you'll have to look, I sent you the letterhead, which listed them and this and that and the other. Grecian Guild Pictorial, I remember, Trim, and Manual and the list went on and on. At least a dozen publications distributed not only through their own mailing list but through Acme News Company, at least I think in the East. Maybe he had other distributors. Central Sales Company in Baltimore handled some of the distribution. I mean this was a big operation and Womack was a real entrepreneur. I give him that full well. Womack personally was not so easy to take. He was corpulent, let's put it that way. He was a fat man and he was an albino. Everything was white and his eyeballs were pink. I had been primed for this because Bob Marsden by that time had become a good buddy to Lynn and I think Lynn liked Bob Marsden. They got together often. That was another entre that I had. But it took some getting used to. He had a marvelous wit. He had an intellect. He had been a college professor. He was a Ph.D. and just wonderful, wonderful credentials. But you just had to swallow hard in order to get used to his appearance. I grew to love him too. And I say that with everything I can say. I went to work and he had conceived this idea of the Friend-to-Friend Club and we promoted it primarily through the resources of Guild Press. It took off. It took off because it was the first
MS: How did it make money?
RS: O.K, this is the way it made money. First of all, we designed the vehicle for it. We called it The Male Swinger. I've forgotten what it was called.
MS: The Gay Swinger?
RS: Swinger. Swinger was in the title, because swinger was big in those days. And there were a lot of hetero swinger magazines, where people would write in response to ads. So we modeled it somewhat after the heteros, but it was exclusively male gay oriented. Or possibly some bi in there, I don't know. The people would submit their ads and a lot of my time was spent in soliciting photographs. Trying to get these guys to send in photographs, particularly if they were appealing sounding. We hoped that they looked as appealing and very often they did.
MS: Were they nude photos?
RS: No. They could submit nudes if they wanted to. Some did. But some were posed and some just candid shots, but we were really looking for the good lookers. And so I would, if I sensed it from the ad copy that they sent in, fire back. There was more correspondence between Guild Press and the advertisers on the Friend-to-Friend Club than I think on anything else, because we were trying so hard to get those photographs. The photographs sold the ads.
MS: Was the business successful in the sense that a lot of men met other men through it?
RS: I don't know if they met, but they wrote an awful lot, because again, like they handled the Trojan vault, the mail came into a series of post office boxes. And there were only those certain designated people who had keys to the boxes. So the mail would be brought in and Angela and other people would be prepared then to start processing the mail. The money passed all through Angela.
MS: Was she a lesbian?
RS: No, she wasn't. No reason to think so. She had been a student of Womack's and evidently was quite entranced by him, as I was.
MS: Where did he teach?
RS: Either George Washington University or one of the universities in Virginia.
MS: Was he still teaching when he was running Guild?
RS: No. Oh no.
MS: What was his field?
RS: I'm sorry I don't know. I'm sure that you'll find printed biographies and if you look or ask about the files of the Washington Post or wherever the files of the Washington Evening Star are, there was feature after feature, particularly when he got involved with the law. There were profiles and photographs.
MS: When did he get in trouble with the law? In the ‘60s or later on?
RS: Constantly. Constantly, because he pushed the limits. The best known was Manual Enterprises v. Day. Manual Enterprises meaning Manual the magazine. Enterprises was the corporate name. And Day was the Postmaster General.
MS: So that was a Guild magazine.
RS: Womack through and through. Womack instituted it.
MS: Was it a separate company?
RS: Manual Enterprises. Each one was a separate company, but it was all controlled by Womack. Womack had all the stock. He would share some with his tricks or his so-called lovers. I guess he'd give them pieces from time to time. But Manual Enterprises, Inc. v. Day. This blocked, finally, the Post Office from raising such stink about putting male nudes into the mail. We benefit from that even today. It was a costly thing, but Womack saw it through. And Stanley Dietz, Esq., his own attorney, who I think still practices in Washington, saw it through finally into the Supreme Court. And this was precedent making, still cited I'm sure, Manual Enterprises v. Day. Womack got personally involved in a number of criminal actions brought by, I guess, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Post Office for what he was putting through the mails and finally for publishing underage photographs in some of the magazines.
MS: Did he go to jail?
RS: Several times.
MS: When was the first time? Do you recall? In the ‘60s?
RS: Sure. ‘60s and ‘70s. It's hard to think. You’d really have to look in the file. I don't remember. I visited him one time in the D.C. jail. Went to visit him, but I didn't have access, so I was turned away, but I wrote to him afterwards and he wrote back from the jail.
MS: How did you then end up working for Clark?
RS: By the Friend-to-Friend Club. We created the Swinger Magazine as the vehicle for the Friend-to-Friend Club. And I never saw the figures. I just knew of the volume because part of my job was to re-address all the mail. After it processed through Angela, I got the stacks and then I had to use the codes in order to, and I sometimes had to call upon others to help me, re-mail them. People writing to people. These were all sealed. I didn't know what was being involved. That was part of the protection.
MS: So people didn't write directly to one another?
RS: No. They always had to go through us for a fee. We charged, I think, a dollar a letter and then we also evolved the coupon system where they could get six coupons for $5 or something like that. It was a moneymaker. The exact dollar amount I don't know, but from Womack's own testimony I think it was probably in some meeting with Sam Boltansky of Central Sales in Baltimore, Womack bragged that the proceeds from Swinger Magazine bought him a new press. Now whatever presses cost those days, I don't know, but this was, he thought, a success. It was the only one. There was no competition until Clark came along. Friend-to-Friend Club was the only one. We used as Rick Sampson I thought a particularly pretty boy. He was blond, kind of a brownish blond boy, but oh the profile on his face, Turned out that he had been a sailor, wouldn't you know. He was photographed somewhere by a photographer in Ohio. And we had lots of photographs, so we'd have plenty of things to deal with promoting Rick Sampson.
MS: So Clark decided to create some competition?
RS: At the same time as I was working for Womack at $125 a week with no deductions, I was also working for Clark, because I was the only proofreader that read well enough to satisfy Clark. Clark would take the copy, have it photocopied, mailed to me, and I did the proofreading in my apartment in Washington or I would go to Philadelphia on occasion and do the proofreading up there. Nobody else could do it as well as I could, he thought, and so he was willing to make this routine work. And it did work. He didn't always follow my proofreading instructions, but that was his business. So he liked when it was done. I received no compensation for that. It was done just out of a labor of love. But Clark depended on me for that. And I was in Philadelphia one time and he had become aware of the Friend-to-Friend Club by that time and he was asking me the same kind of questions. “What kind of volume is this generating?” We were in a restaurant. We were having supper. I told him the same thing I told you, that I don't know the facts, I don't see the money, all I see is when I have to send out the orders for the coupons and also the number of letters that I have to forward day by day by day. That in Womack's own word this was enough to buy him a new press and boy I could see the dollar signs light up in Clark's eyes. “Whoopee, I'm missing out on something!” He said, “How about coming up and creating one for me?” He already had his own Swinger, which was presenting nudes as borderline porno, because Womack hadn't even gone that far quite yet. He did eventually, but Clark was in the lead in terms of pushing the porno limits in Swinger. Not in Drum. Drum was still pretty respectable as far as nudes go, but Swinger was not because Swinger was strictly Trojan Book Service. Had no connection with Drum. So he said, “How about doing this for Swinger or for Trojan Book Service.” I said, “Well, maybe. What's in it for me?” He said, “Well, maybe we can work it this way.” He said, “Take a draw. Take a hundred dollars a week.” And he said, “I'll have Roberta keep day by day accounting for all the income generated from Swinger magazine and the club.” Eventually we called it the Chuck Phillips Swinger Club? Whatever we called it.
MS: Using the old name?
RS: Oh yeah, new sets of photographs. I mean this was a pretty Philadelphia boy that we were using down there, rather than Rick Sampson, because Rick Sampson belonged to Guild Press.
MS: I mean using the old name that Clark had thought up?
RS: Oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely. He came up with that. And he said, “I'll have Roberta keep an accounting and then after expenses we'll split whatever's left over fifty-fifty. You take fifty, I'll take fifty.” I said, “I don't have any place to live.” I had the apartment in Arlington Towers at that point and I didn't want to give that up because it was quite desirable. He said, “No, plan to pull up stakes in Washington. Come up here.” He said, “You live with me.” He and Jimmy had separated. They had given up the apartment at 15th and Pine Street. And with his new station and his new money, this is when Clark had moved by himself to the digs just off Rittenhouse Square.
MS: Where was that? Do you remember?
RS: I don't remember the address. I never had the address. I knew where it was, but I never wrote the address down.
MS: It was on Rittenhouse Square?
RS: No, not on Rittenhouse Square. There's a street that bisects the park. You come out of this street and you're right at the park at the middle. Whether this is Locust or what, I don't remember. Clark's apartment house was just off that intersection. Nice high-rise, full-time doorman, 24-hour doorman, and security. His apartment had three bathrooms.
MS: So Clark was doing quite well.
RS: Quite well. Monstrous apartment. And he was occupying the master bedroom farther back. He stuck me, oh wouldn't you believe, in what had been the maid's bedroom. With my own bathroom, but it had been the maid's bedroom. And he went out and bought some furniture, because it had been unfurnished. I mean there certainly was a difference in status here. Here was Polak in his big king size and I was stuck in. It reminded me for all the world of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor, if you've ever been to Hyde Park, where here is Eleanor in the little side room. Franklin has the master bedroom overlooking the Hudson Valley and all this and little Eleanor in her trundle bed. So anyway, that's where I got stuck, but no charge. I didn't have to pay rent or anything. So I got my $100 a week and we started work, then, on the Trojan Swinger Club. It was not a resounding success. It was a success, but remember all this was in the timeframe of ten weeks because at that point, somewhere along the line, Clark out of the blue said, and I don't know what disappointments preceded this. I can guess at them. Clark out of the blue told he me one time, “I'm dropping Drum. I’m dropping Drum.” He had moved the files down, of course, from South 17th Street. They were in one corner of this great big open space on Arch Street and there was no separation now. I mean all the separations had disappeared. The files were just in boxes and they were around the wall and he had employed Pearl as the Janus clerk, whose last name now I can't remember, but I told you in my letter. Pearl somebody.
MS: A woman?
RS: Yes, Pearl. She was a straight lady. Nice pleasant person, but as far as I remember the first straight lady to occupy that position. And Pearl didn't make any trouble and she was pleasant and she would always help out where she was needed. Pearl was here, right inside the door, and opposite Pearl, then, was Bill Damon occupying the editorial desk.
MS: He had become the editor of Drum?
RS: Yeah, Bill was the editor. Tried awful hard to please Clark. Never was able to.
MS: Can you speculate why Clark was doing away with Drum?
RS: He had too much money otherwise. He had to parcel out his 24-hour day. He did not like to come in in the mornings. He and Roberta would do their business by telephone, Roberta in the office, Clark in bed, in his king-size bed, back on Rittenhouse Square. And so he did an awful lot of talking by telephone. I would get up early and come in, so I knew. I don't remember whether it was in the office itself or it was a time when Clark and I were alone at the apartment, but he told me he'd already made the decision to kill Drum magazine. From the conversation, I don't remember that he gave me any particular reasons, because that was a shock, was out of the blue. There was no preface to it at all. I may have heard just snippets of his discontent with Drum or Janus, one or the other or both, but I had never had anything to believe that he was just going to flush it down the drain. But in this conversation, that was his intent. That was quite definite. His only question to himself was what to do with the assets. He wouldn't continue publishing, of that he was sure. The thought didn't seem to occur to him that anyone else might be able to publish it, because he thought no one was as competent as he was. I don't think he wanted to entrust it to anyone else. He had tried. Bill Damon was only one of several so-called editors, whom Clark had brought in as a paid position. And Clark tried to get him to take editorial control and supervise the preparation of a manuscript. For one reason or another, they did not meet Clark's standards, whatever Clark's standards were. He did not find these people fitting and he did not think Bill Damon himself was fitting. Although Bill tried hard, really tried hard, I don't think that he really knew what Clark's standards were. I don't think Clark would take the time or was able to tell him. Clark knew what he liked and when he liked it, but he didn't quite know how to explain why he liked it so someone else could do it. I had that problem with him myself. So he told me of this decision. And he told me also that he was going to meet, or had already met, with some ladies from the HAL, the Homophile Action League, or I hardly think that there was any remnant of the Daughters of Bilitis left. It was somebody. I remember specifically he met with the women. He had either a sit down luncheon or anyway he sat down and in an unhurried situation told them of his decision to flush it down the drain. Or no, not flush it down the drain, offer it to them. Probably not the magazine, I hardly think he would have offered that away. I think probably the mailing list, the correspondence files, etcetera, etcetera, left over from the Janus Society. I believe that he drew this dichotomy in his mind, Drum versus Janus. Drum was to be destroyed, chucked. Janus Society, however, could continue under new management.
MS: Do you remember any of the women specifically? Was Barbara part of it?
RS: No, no, no, I do not know that. I don't know that Clark identified them to me and frankly I was in such a state of numbness because I was drawing in my mind the corollary that here, because I had sacrificed what I had sacrificed in Harrisburg, plus an awful lot of voluntary personal effort, to try to bring this thing up to the point where it was the recognized worldwide leader of gay publications, as far as I knew, and here Clark was, because of his personal egomania, just going to chop it off. My thoughts went back to the day in Harrisburg when I was forced to resign because of what I had extended as a gesture on my part to make available the P.O. box to Janus. And all the work that I had done on behalf of it, including hosting the several meetings of groups of individuals that might be interested in forming the nucleus of Janus Society of Central Pennsylvania. I had two meetings in my own house at 205 State Street. We invited our friends and they came.
MS: Do you know what transpired at the meeting with the women?
RS: I do not. I just know what impression Clark communicated to me afterwards.
MS: Which was what?
RS: The women were wishy-washy; they hemmed and hawed. They didn't know whether they wanted to or not. And they didn't know at the time that that was the only opportunity they had. Clark wanted them to be definitive. Clark wanted them to be, “Yes, we want it, we'll take it, we'll come in and remove the files tomorrow.” They were wishy-washy and said, “We just don't know. This may not be a good idea.” This, that, and the other thing. Clark put thumbs down on that project right then. As far as I know, there were no further overtures made.
MS: Was there a board of directors of Janus operating at this time?
RS: No. There had been one elected prior to Clark's appointment or election, I don't remember, as the executive director. He was never an officer. He was only the executive director, responsible to a board on which Jack Ervin sat. And I don't remember the other members because we'd have to go into the minute book in order to see. But I remember specifically that Jack had been elected to an officer position, because I relied upon that, then, in trying to initiate the court action to force Polak to turn over the whole assets of Janus to its duly constituted elected member.
MS: So you went to court over this?
RS: Never got that far. First of all, Clark told me of his decision and I said nothing. Although here again, fit of temporary insanity, at that point I should have thrown a fit and told that cocky bastard, reminded him of just what it had cost me to try to promote Janus in Harrisburg and that I wanted my due. I think I could have gotten it because there were just a few episodes when Clark could be malleable when he met an irresistible force. There were a couple of times when he could be unbelievably tender, at least to me. He had the quality of tenderness, if it ever could be poked and get to respond. And if I had thrown a fit and said, “You son of a bitch, you know what this cost me and now you're ready to throw it away? For what?” I didn't. I don't know why I didn't. State of shock.
MS: But you went to talk to Jack Ervin, right??
RS: I talked with Jack Ervin privately and I took a trip to Harrisburg. I asked Doc for money. I asked Ray Craig for money. I asked Don Stewart for money. I got $400.
MS: For what?
RS: As a loan to me personally.
MS: To use for what purposes?
RS: In order to initiate, through the attorneys, an action to bring this to a head, forcing Clark to account for his sinecureship before a court of some kind, to see who was the true owner of all these assets, including the $6000 and more that was sitting in Mexico. I just knew of two accounts down there and I was sure of where the $6000 came from and I thought probably the other account was truly Trojan Books rather than Janus. But I knew of the $6000. Plus the mailing list and Drum magazine was an asset of incalculable value if anyone wanted to exploit it.
MS: Which lawyers did you contact?
RS: I don't even think I have the name.
MS: You didn't talk to Norman Oshtry?
RS: No, I couldn't. Conflict of interest. Norman wouldn't have taken up the cause because Clark had him sewn up. Besides, Clark had supported him handsomely over the years. I did talk to Spencer Coxe of ACLU and got a hem haw and a very, very negative backing off kind of thing over the telephone. So he wouldn't cross Clark either. I don't know how I chose this particular firm, but I took my $400 and I sat down with this particular attorney. Maybe there's some correspondence in one of the records that I sent. I don't even remember his name. With some research maybe I could find it. We agreed that the best course of action would be to initiate a letter to be signed by Jack Ervin as the one surviving duly elected officer from the last election that was held by Janus.
MS: What office did he hold?
RS: I think either secretary or treasurer or combined, but he had been duly elected. I had the minute book in hand at the time this was done. The letter would constitute Jack Ervin as a logical possessor of the assets of this thing. I said nothing to Clark about this. I didn't know how I should or whether I should tell him. He gave me some opportunities because he sensed that there was something, particularly when I took the truck to Harrisburg. And when I got back he said, “Does this involve me in any way?” And I said, “Yes.” But he dropped it at that point. Maybe if he had persisted I would have told him. No I didn't say “yes,” I said “maybe.” “Did this involve me in some way,” he said, and I said, “Well maybe.” So I had the meeting with the attorneys and the letter was being drafted. And I saw the end coming, so I started cleaning out all my personal files and any personal materials, 99% of the stuff that I had in the office at the time, because I thought the bomb was going to go off. And Jack signed the letter or else it was signed for him by the attorney, I don’t remember which, but it was obvious that Jack was acting. Clark was still in bed when I left that morning and I said goodbye to him because he was awake. And I said, “Maybe this is going to be a special day for us both.” And he got back in or else Roberta had already opened the letter and informed Clark of the contents, because by the time I got to the office, he said, “Give me your key, pack up, and get out of here.” Of course I knew why and so did he. I had a stack of magazines. I will hold this to that son of a bitch to this day. I had a stack of Life, Look, and other magazines that had come through the mail forwarded, because I had my mail forwarded to Janus at the time. I picked up these. I had taken everything else. I had this stack of magazines and he said, “Let me see. You can take anything that you brought in. Let me see what you have.” So he took that stack of magazines right from under my arm and rifled through it just to see I wasn't trying to sneak out with anything, that old son of a bitch. So I left and went back to the apartment and I had started to open up the kitchen cabinets, because I had spices and all kinds of things that were mine. I was just retrieving my own. Even before I'd started packing, I was on the telephone talking with Jim Mitchell, asking him to get the car and come over and get me and my belongings. In sashays Polak. He goes through the entryway and back to his bedroom where he kept his own private film collection. These were, for that time in 1969, pretty tame, but hard to come by. And he knew what a great big picture queen I was. So he obviously had in mind “She's going to walk out with all that!” There was some value there. So she waltzes back into her bedroom and a minute later she comes back. She's holding this box of the films. She thought I was going to try to steal those films out from under her. And I looked. I was still on the phone with Jim, and I looked up at him through the entryway and I smiled at him and he knew exactly what I thought. I smiled at him and the goddamn son of a bitch smiled back at me and that smile spoke volumes. I mean that was one of those unspoken communications because it was a game. It was a game. He knew the kind of game I was trying to play, but he didn't know why. And I knew the game he was playing, but I didn't know why either, because he never articulated to me why he decided to ditch Drum, other than dissatisfaction, personal, with the quality of the people and the product they were capable of producing. But in my own view, the magazine never did for him what he wanted it to do. And what he wanted it to do was make him another Hugh Hefner. He wanted to be the gay Hugh Hefner with all of the assets, money, notoriety, publicity, all of the mansions and this and that and the other thing that Hugh Hefner had. He wanted to be the gay Hugh Hefner. I'm sure of that. Janus never attracted other than a mere smattering of advertising. It just wasn't the time for it. The only full-page spread that was ever sold for the magazine was a questionnaire form put out by a gay matching service. That was paid. There were ads, of course, for the photo studios, which were not paid. And I don't remember really any other commercial advertisers where the ads were run. I'm sure Clark wanted that to be an advertising medium.
MS: So you didn't follow through, then, with the court action?
RS: Followed through as much as we could. The letter was delivered. Bill Damon was in on this and assisted us and supported us. He immediately redirected the Janus mail out from the Arch Street location. So he had control of the incoming Janus mail. Clark was in Acapulco when this was being hatched. Jimmy was in on the plot. I told Jim what was happening. He at that point was anti-Polak and so he supported it. Jim and I were alone in the big warehouse floor with the mailing list. There it was, spread out. His mailing list, unlike Womack's list on addressograph plates, Clark had mimeographed cardboard holders for Janus and Trojan. There it was for the taking. Jim said, “You want me to run it off?” because he knew how to run the machinery. And boy the temptation. In retrospect, I should have taken the goddamned mailing lists, Trojan as well as Janus. First of all, it could have put Clark out of business. Second, he had to buy it back and it sure as hell would have been costly. But I could not bring myself to do it. Jimmy waited for me to say start. All he had to do was to get three by five cards, thousands of them, and we could have done it the whole night, if need be. There the mailing list was mine for the taking, but I could not violate his trust to that extent. The only thing I asked Jim to run off was this. Janus was segregated by we call it zip codes now, but locality. It was the Philadelphia section. I said, “Jim, run off the Philadelphia names from Janus. That's all I want.” That's what he did. I don’t know; 50 names maybe or 100. That's all I took. I should have played Clark's game with his own rules.
MS: Was that the end of Janus? Did you do anything with the mail or the mailing list?
RS: Clark, of course, went to his attorneys. Oshtry and another firm were involved. And they started making threats to Damon. “Stop tampering with the mail and let it go as it should.” So Damon felt intimidated. After the letter was delivered and I moved my stuff out over with Jimmy on Lombard Street, I had to go to Harrisburg. I had to come home. One reason or another called me home. I was out of Philadelphia. Whether Clark knew this or whether he just chose to act in that way, he found Jack Ervin unprotected and unsupported and by telephone he said, “O.K. Jack, you persist with this, I'll see you in court.” And Jack was scared and easily intimidated. Jack caved in. He signed the letter to the Mexican banks. We had a hold on those deposits down there, subject to this resolution of who the owners were and at that point had stopped the mail. And we would have proceeded one way or another. I even asked Nelson Galloway, the Deputy State's Attorney General, who was a good friend of mine, also gay, wonderful person, quite competent, whether he would unofficially on the sidelines help me pursue this in the Philadelphia courts if I had to do it myself. I still needed legal advice, and if we couldn't afford any more, maybe Nelson would do it just on a friendship basis from the sidelines. He could never surface on this because he was a state official, his official state position. He was willing to counsel me. We did this in the law library of Harrisburg. Jack caved in unknown to me and he didn't tell this to me to my face. He wrote me a letter to that effect, which I then received a couple of days after I got back to Philadelphia, explaining to me that he had acceded to Clark's demand, threat, intimidation, call it what you will, and had prepared the letters to the Mexican banks releasing the funds out of Mexico and whatever else he had done.
MS: So that was that.
RS: That was that.
MS: Do you know anything about the circumstances surrounding Polak's departure from Philadelphia?
RS: Only hearsay. Clark was either approached by, or solicited himself, buyers for Trojan. The main asset was the mailing list, plus whatever inventory was in stock at that time. But the mailing list was the asset. He was just renting the space there on Arch Street. He was well enough known in the industry and knew enough of the industry. Oh pardon me, the leases for the bookstores, plus the peep shows, which were still going. The leases for the bookstores were valuable, too Clark was a bargainer. Clark knew the value of even a fraction of a cent. He had a Midas touch and if there was a difference of an eighth of a cent, he could make that in his favor. I mean the man knew the value of money, no question about it.
MS: Did he sell?
RS: He sold Trojan.
MS: To whom?
RS: I don't know. I've heard that it was a New York outfit, but then it evidently was moved to Los Angeles. I thought that was the reason that he went to Los Angeles. He himself bought a piece of hilltop property out there that he told me himself was the choice location in the whole county. Frank Kameny visited there at least once, so Frank can tell you what the place was like. He moved his art collection down from Philadelphia. He kept that and expanded it. And he acquired quite a reputation out there as a collector of contemporary art.
MS: Do you know anything about the obscenity prosecutions or just what I’ve told you on the phone.
RS: What prosecutions?
MS: The obscenity prosecutions in Philadelphia.
RS: Only before these final phases. I don't know anything that happened after we parted company. There was this period of silence, a ten year period of silence between us, when nothing passed other than I would on occasion send him a card and it ended up in the wastebasket. Jimmy Mitchell was hauled in on some kind of obscenity charge. I don't think Clark was personally involved in that. Norman Oshtry took the position that whatever raid there was, confiscating the materials was illegal and the evidence couldn't be presented to the court. That's one time I know and that only involved Jim. Neil Edwards was himself raided because he had created, by that time in Philadelphia, a film-processing laboratory and was getting orders not only from individuals but also from other photo studios. And he had machinery and it was in a rowhouse.
MS: Where was that?
RS: Somewhere in Philadelphia and I don’t remember the location anymore. I'm guessing north of Center City. He had all the machinery to do not only black and white, but color.
MS: So he was raided as well?
RS: He was raided over a silly dispute with the landlord involving a certain kind of front door that they had. It was the silliest dispute, which escalated then. The landlord must have tipped off the police. They raided it and everything was confiscated. And Neil Edwards I guess got jail time, as I remember.
MS: When did this happen? Do you recall?
RS: About 1969, while I was in Philadelphia.
MS: Now you told me that Acme went bankrupt in 1970?
RS: Or thereabouts. We had no tip off of that. Perhaps Clark knew something about it. But he was always getting the Acme checks, or Janus was getting them, regularly from Acme and that always kept the bank account fluid. Acme was always good for its money. Acme was used by Bob Marsden to distribute Gay magazine in the United States.
MS: Maybe we should spend five minutes on PACE before we finish up. How did PACE start?
RS: In the stuff that I took out of the Janus office, I had the last couple packets from the clipping service. I had secreted those away. I don't remember doing it, but I had them available. It could be that I got them through Bill Damon. I don’t just exactly remember how. But anyway, I had them. This was at the apartment on Lombard. We had all the photo stock from Jay Mitchell Studios, which was ample, and we could look at the stuff from other studios, too. The day I left Clark Polak I had less than $75 in cash to my name and around a $100 or so in my checking account. And I was still paying copying costs and so forth to Shipley, Akerman, and Pickett to pursue the case of Schlegel v. United States in Washington. But my total assets, other than my Corvair automobile and the clothes on my back, were less than $200. You can imagine what I was facing. Jim was giving me shelter. Jim by that time had opened Jay's Place. We have to do something with Jay’s, but not today. Jay first opened up his own little bookstore in the space in 34 South 17th St. right opposite the Janus and Trojan offices. It had been, I think, a tailor shop. A man had made custom made suits for years and years and years, and for whatever reason he went out of business and there was the shop. You never heard about Jay's Place?
MS: I have an address for it on Pine Street.
RS: Oh that came later! That came later.
MS: That was called Jay's II.
RS: That's right. The first Jay's Place was there. One door opened into Janus and right opposite the hall went into Jay's Place. Well Jay had not only his own photos for sale, but he had access to all the Trojan stock. And then there was a closet. And in that closet it was big enough for a peep show. He had a peep show installed and it was nothing but these old gay film loops. I don't know what ever happened in there. I only ever saw it once. He was enterprising enough to put in the peep show. He had also maintained his own studio, which was in another part of the building, and that's where he took a lot of his interior shots of Jay Mitchell Studios.
MS: So you’re saying that all this was the material you could use for PACE.
MS: What did PACE stand for?
RS: Jim chose the name itself: Philadelphia Action Committee for Equality. We just abbreviated it as PACE. I threw in the Fast PACE for whatever reason.
MS: What was your title for PACE? You were the editor?
RS: I was editor and publisher. I was the whole shebang.
MS: What was Jim?
RS: It was myself and Jim and just a few volunteers and I put them on the masthead.
MS: I’m going to go back for a second. Jay's Place was Jim Mitchell's?
MS: What was his role with PACE? Did he have a title.
RS: We gave him a title, but I don't remember what. I'd have to look on the masthead.
MS: Just two issues came out?
RS: One issue we had printed in Buffalo by the printers for Drum. They gave us the same service, and in order to pay that bill I asked Bob Marsden to see if he could get a check out of Lou Elson. Elson owed him some back money from Gay magazine that Bob had never collected. A check came out for some $400 and I believe the printing bill was $600 and we talked Rosen Printers into giving us credit for the rest.
MS: That was the Buffalo printer.
RS: That was the Buffalo printer. They printed PACE number 1 and it was distributed by Acme News Company. We got the returns and it was not a sensation, but it sold some.
MS: And it had a slightly different editorial orientation?
RS: It had a different editorial bent. I was thinking maybe this was a way to merge the male and female nudie demand together, if that was possible. I mean here we have the gay nudes going one way and the straight nudes going another. Maybe there was some way we could combine them and maybe a lot of these gay readers had never seen what a female looked like.
MS: The idea was for straight and gay men.
RS: Yes, I would say so. I didn't draw that line in my mind, but I'm sure it was there. I felt no kinship whatsoever with the females, other than to show the female nude. But as I remember, the picture series that I used had two males and one female possibly. But the female was well displayed and she was an attractive Philadelphia girl. So I didn’t know if this would work.
MS: PACE lasted two issues?
RS: One issue was processed by Rosen and handled by Acme News Company.
MS: And the second?
RS: In the meantime, while we were waiting payment then and working on the second issue, we were informed of the bankruptcy of Acme. Out of the blue, Acme went bankrupt, belly up. I never did understand that, because Clark had always said that Elson himself was a multimillionaire. Why he would elect to bankrupt Acme never was clear to me and I've never talked with him. But anyway we received the news and we'd never get any money. I mean we put in a claim and Jimmy handled that through Norman Oshtry and Oshtry then put in our representation to the bankruptcy judge. Never received a cent for it. Then we were at sea. My intent was try to keep the idea of Drum, perhaps in another form, but try to keep it alive, without any of the assets or the tangible resources that were available to Drum. But I had this idea that I wanted to still keep some life into it. When we got PACE number 1 back, we immediately gave them the first copies that we had and the chief artist looked at it and said, “Well, this sure looks like Drum with another cover.” The straight guy who did his art layout. We hoped that there'd be other similarities. I talked Womack into printing a promotional flyer, trying to get him to print one. He promised he would, but he never got around to it. So finally I had those printed in Philadelphia and we used the Jay Mitchell Studios mailing list to promote the new PACE. Acme went bankrupt, so there we were without assets and without a printer. So I went to Sam Boltansky of Central Magazine Sales in Baltimore and I said, “Sam, this is what at least we put out.” He knew, of course, Lou Elson and knew the problems of Acme. I said, “Can we work out a deal at all?” Central Sales distributed a lot of stuff for Guild Press. They had their own bookstores as well. They paid for the typesetting for the second issue. They paid the printing. And the arrangement was that we would get all the copies we needed for our own distribution at no cost. They took the rest and kept the money. That was the arrangement. However, when we were formatting Gay Male Swinger, which Jim Mitchell had brought back from California when Clark was removed, he took the files and the masters for Gay Male Swinger with him. They had it in the car, which was a great surprise to me. Jay and Clark were lollygagging across the country and went to the Grand Canyon and had a spat. When we were formatting the next issue of Gay Male Swinger in Baltimore, we chose the small format, whereas the industry by then had gone to the larger size. And they didn't tell us they wanted it. We never even thought that they wanted a change in format, and my god, when it came back, it was the wrong size. And the bottom fell out of everything. That was the end, finis, for us all, because of the lack of communication. I want to get back to Clark. I told you that Clark had this idea of being the gay Hugh Hefner. Clark by that time was reaping the money, stacks of quarters, from the peep shows, the money coming in from the Trojan mail order and from whatever sources he had. He was rolling in money. A lot of it was not accountable to the Internal Revenue Service. Bear that in mind. He had an arrangement with one of the banks in Philadelphia on how all these quarters in particular should be handled. They, for all intents and purposes, were tax-free. Clark could not allocate any amount of time to the worries of Drum magazine and Trojan when everything else that he did was so much more profitable for the same amount of time or less. Follow me? He allocated his own time in terms of profit making potential, I'm sure of that, and Drum and Janus came up short. He pulled the noose and I got sucked in and went down the drain at the same time. I have a hard time forgiving him for that. I mean as much as I, and I’ll admit it, loved this guy, I hated him for some of the things he did and I hate him most for killing off Drum magazine.
MS: Well it seems like there was some rapprochement ten years later when you wrote to him again shortly before he died, but maybe we should save that.
RS: Let's save that. That's a story in itself.
MS: Thanks so much for this.