Interview with Cortland Dugger

Kristina Ceruzzi 2005

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Interview Participants
CD
Cortland Dugger, interviewee (male)
KMC
Kristiana Ceruzzi, interviewer (female)
KMC
Ahm I'm gonna start out with asking you about your first memory of Madeleine or Mrs Andrews.
CD
My first memory?
KMC
Like your earliest memory of your sister.
CD
Oh I guess I was about ah, 5 and a half, ah, when she became focused, she was always in the family I knew that, but my focus was the fact that she was quite an outgoing person, quite an athlete, and that's what I noticed most. She was, at that time, I should have thought about this before, Matt is about, was about four years older than I am.
CD
So, she, ah, like, in years that passed we could swim in that river, that's the Mystic River. It was not polluted when we were kids so we could fish and swim, either that or go up to the Mystic Lakes, and Matt liked to swim.
CD
And so I was a little set-back because I couldn't swim at 6 or 5 whatever it was and I asked her to show me how to do it and so she would show me, but nothing happened, you know. My ability wasn't that good or my propelling in the water wasn't that good. Any case, over time, I learned how to swim through her efforts.
CD
And then she went to a girls' camp in some part of Massachusetts and she became the bugler, she used to play the bugle from the girl scouts.
CD
And as a result of that, this is now about oh four or five years later and there was an island in the camp, and they had living quarters on the island, in addition to the mainland and Matt chose to be a resident of the island.
CD
And often she would just each morning go out and swim a mile around the island and became, quite needless to say, a very, very good swimmer as well as, you know, athlete. So that was I guess my very first, you know, focused kind of thing.
KMC
Ahm what other, what other athletic things was she involved in?
CD
Oh, she was involved in something called the red, I can't, red girls club or something like that.
CD
There was a formination, it was a formation about when she was in her oh, 12 or 13 year old time frame. The girls would run, they were track, indoor and outdoor, well mostly outdoor track because in those days they didn't have indoor track areas, except for Tufts Customs, ah, ah, Cousens Gym. In those days they didn't allow people to, other than students, to use those.
CD
There was this and she and my sister Portia, who is now eighty years old, used to run on the team and they would do rather well for girls, and I guess it was one of the very few girls' teams at that time.
KMC
And was that an all African American team or integrated?
CD
No, no, no, we've been very fortunate, we came, when we came along much of this, these first, these three streets were mostly African Americans and now, with a few white families onboard so to speak, but that has never, never bothered us as to what a person's color was, our concern was are they decent people.
CD
My closest friends even to this day are Caucasian fellow, who I knew when I was this high. And ahh, seldom have we, that has never been a differentiation if you will. Although we have experienced a lot because of the differences but those are negative things, we don't discuss those in too great a detail.
KMC
Uhuh. I understand.
KMC
Ahm and you mentioned that she was in the girl scouts?
CD
Oh yeah, she was a girl scout, she was very active in the community and community work, and she did just about everything that the young ladies today, I guess they still do, I don't know.
CD
But ahh, we were very fortunate. Again my dad was a military man and served in World War One in France. In fact, unfortunately, he was gassed because in those days they used gas for fighting ah, fighting, for fighting Germans.
KMC
Was that how he passed away?
CD
No. Well, that, that contributed to it. Ah, but the other fact was he had inherited something called poly-cystic kidneys from his parents, and was carried through and that's what he died from at the age of 43 or 44.
CD
I was 12 years old at the time, and then my sister, my brother Ed died of it also and he was 55, my sister Barbara also passed from it, as did Matt. So luckily the last three of us kids didn't get that. But, ah, we were very fortunate we didn't inherit that.
CD
But, ah any case, being in this military family, my Dad was, spoke softly and carried a big stick as Ted, Teddy Roosevelt would say, and so we knew when and when not to do what we're not supposed to do and so forth and so on.
CD
But what I'm trying to get at is he was the commanding officer of the African American, Third Battalion of the Massachusetts National Guard which composed of, I have the picture in the other room I might show it to you, about 300 or 400 fellows, and they went up to what was then called Devins, Fort Devins. Fort Devins is now closed as a military base.
CD
But this was back in the 30s; '32, '33, '34. Any case he was what I always considered number one because when you see his picture, and they're all lined up, in a line of march, he was a, he was leading the group you see. And, ahm, so he was quite an inspiration to me because I just knew I was gonna go to West Point. Because what else.
CD
And I used to ball my brother out for not going because he was quite an athlete and he never even tried to go to West Point, he didn't want any part of West Point. And of course I was behind him by some six and a half years and Matt used to sit there at the table and tell me how I should prepare myself for West Point, and improve your table manners and learn how to sit correctly and talk correctly and eat correctly and she'd show me how the West Pointers did it; this, that and the other.
CD
But she was a reader also, we didn't have TV in those days, it was either radio or reading, so that was the way it was. But ahm, ahm, I never went to West Point, I went in the service during World War Two though. And also I was called back for the Korean War.
CD
But, ahm, ah, it was still, it was an interesting experience with Matt showing us how she thought we should do things. Matt, we used to call her the sergeant. Because.
KMC
The Sergeant?
CD
Yeah. Because you see my dad died in '39, my brother finished Tufts in '41 and went to Ohio. My mother went to, in the same year '41, she went to Fort Devins as a senior hostess, so that left not too much of a framework.
CD
And so somebody had to be in charge, and Matt, though she was the younger to my oldest sister, she kinda took over the household. Even though she was hardly here because she was going back and forth to school, as I think Ione mentioned to you.
KMC
Ahm did she ahm give you advice at all? Other than for how to deal with the West Point thing? Or?
CD
Not really, she ahm, because you know, we were all, ah, we were all, we were all pretty well aware of what we should be doing.
CD
Our parents taught us early on that we had chores to do. That was the way it was. And ahm, so as far as doing what needed to be done, ahm I knew when my mother said, "Well Cort, you're gonna have to continue."
CD
In those days we didn't have a washing machine, We had the washing, they had a washing sink, and we wash everything in the washing side of the sink; for clothes and so forth and so on.
CD
Getting ahm, we were on what was called WPA, Work Project Administration because we didn't have. My dad was gone, ma wasn't making that much money at Devins, and ah, so the state helped us out from the standpoint of providing milk each morning.
CD
I'd go up to the firehouse to get 6 quarts of milk a day and free of charge by the way, plus food and so forth and so on down Medford.
CD
I'd get on my bike and every Tuesday I'd have to go down there and pick up the food that was allocated to our family. That was how it was during the depression; we were just coming out of the depression after, well after '41. The country was, everybody was not doing as well as they'd like to. But that was what it was.
KMC
Was this a common thing for this neighborhood?
CD
Common thing of the whole nation! [chuckling] WPA was, President Roosevelt, ahm Franklin Delano Roosevelt was responsible for that because the depression started in '29 or 1930 and it ran for at least till '41.
CD
And with the war in a sense that brought us out of the depression, sadly as it sounds, but that's the way it was. Because people were able to get work and so forth and so on that making munitions and what have you so they had a place to go to work and make some money, everybody did.
KMC
Ahm. Can you tell me a little bit about her like typical day as you saw it when you were young?
CD
When we were young?
KMC
Yeah. Did she do chores, or very studious in homework, and things like that or?
CD
Well Matt, Matt wasn't, Matt was not, ahm she was a good student in high school, junior high and well junior high, Harvard Junior High and Medford High School.
CD
In fact, but ah, she always wanted to go to Sergeant College, which at that time was owned and operated by, I guess it was, BU. I guess it still is I don't know.
CD
But in any case, Sergeants College was a physical ed. school, because of all her athletics involvement she thought she would like to be a phys. ed. teacher.
CD
But ahm, so she, she got, in those days again one didn't take an SAT like we do today to get into college, you had to have a B+ average to get into college and ahm I guess that's, I don't know what that is numerically, but I imagine it's about a 3.4 or 5.
CD
Ahm, so she made sure that she got her grades in and every time she really wanted to study, we knew when Matt would want to study, 'cause she would go up into her room and clean it of.
CD
The four girls had to share one bedroom. Four women in one room like that I never understood how they did it, but they did. But I'm using that bedroom now and the closet space, there's only one good size closet and they had four sister that were doing this you see.
CD
In any case, they ah, she would go up there and clean up the room and get it all set. Then she would go for maybe two or three days or however time it was necessary to do what she had to do you know, for extra work. And nobody would bother her except for, you know, time out for sleeping and the rest of it.
CD
She was a decent student, and she didn't get there, she got down to Bridgewater because we didn't have any money to send her to Sergeant College, and that broke her heart because she wanted so much to go to Harv., I mean to Sergeant over at BU, yes it was BU. Yeah, but instead she had to go to state college.
KMC
Ahm, Did you go into Boston at all as a family?
CD
Seldom, we all had, my Dad had an old car. In those days nobody had new cars and so everyone vied for the windows when you went out, there's six, there were eight of us. And so everybody wanted a seat at the, by the window but.
CD
My dad would take us from place to place wherever we went. But going into Boston, there was no attraction there because Boston was Boston it was far like, unlike it is today.
CD
And so we have, we were community people and so we involved ourselves in the community as well as, we liked to mostly go sightseeing. And that was the situation.
CD
We went down the Cape a couple of times and visited Indian tribes and things of this sort. And ah, then we'd go up to Concord to see where the British and American forces fought during the Revolutionary War, things of this sort, that kind of thing.
CD
We never had a lot of time. My Dad, first of all, he couldn't do a lot of driving because he was working two jobs, plus he wasn't, he was told the year that I was born he wouldn't live the year out and he was sick most of his life that I knew him, so as a result, I didn't ever try to push him to do anything that was, you know, strenuous, or anything of this sort.
CD
I understood a little bit about, I was a history buff when I was very young and I had read a lot about World War One. And ahm, so mostly the troups, who lived in trenches all that time, do you see. There was no indoor fighting, it was all out in trenches.
CD
And so, ahm, he didn't do much at all with this whole thing of travel and then again it was a, it was, it was a depressed time in America, so we didn't have money to go do a lot of things that you wanted to do.
CD
Movies cost a dime up in Arlington Center at the Reagent theatre, and you'd go there at one o'clock and you'd see about four or five different movies and then two majors and two comic strip ones. And you'd walk up there and walk back and that was it for your socialization or your, your entertainment, if you will.
KMC
Ahm, I was going to ask you something again. Were those mostly day trips? Like to Concord and stuff like that, day trips?
CD
Oh yeah, oh yeah, yeah mostly day trips.
CD
At nighttime there was a family thing if you were going to do anything at night time, play games or. My family loved to play games. And, ahm, so between cards for the older folks, and ahm monopoly and dominoes and oh.
CD
I still got a lot of the games down cellar; I used to play a little bit. In fact my sister Ione, in the interview, she wants me to send them down to her in Philadelphia.
CD
But it was mostly, that's, the family, we had no television as I stated earlier, as you well knew where everybody at this time. So the family had to make their own entertainment.
CD
And you would listen to radio programs, like on Monday evening at nine o'clock, the older folks would listen to something called Lux Radio Theater that was one of the producers of the movies, ah I can't remember his name it will come to me after you leave here.
CD
But he used to put on an hour show, radio show, and there, that was so much nicer in, in a sense than the TV because it left a lot to your own imagination. And you had to form your pictures of how you saw it in a sense. And it turned out to be much better, than I think, a lot of this TV. I'm a little biased.
KMC
Yeah. Ahm what other job did your father have, other than being in the army, you've mentioned that?
CD
He was in the post office for quite a while. Ahm, they didn't ah, Dad never went to college.
CD
He went through what was then called, well I guess it's still around Boston English which was a high school. And that was a very good high school, and he did well.
CD
When he came out of the high school he joined the National Guard, it wasn't really the National Guard then, because it wasn't, it wasn't really organized, it was just an organization.
CD
But, ahm, before the war I can't really tell you what he did because ah he went into the service I guess when he was about 17 or 18.
CD
And though he had no college degree behind him or any college, he qualified in his examinations, for officer's training school which was again segregated at that time.
CD
And all the African Americans were sent to Fort Des Moines in Iowa, where he went and the others went wherever else they went.
CD
And ahm however, he did so very well academically that on graduation he was promoted not to a second lieutenant, but to a first lieutenant. And there was only one or two other persons who were promoted to that level.
CD
And most of the persons who he went to officers training school with had had a lot of college and so forth, and so with that soon thereafter they shipped overseas. And ahm, the rest is history in a sense.
KMC
Ahm, do you know anything about like, how would you ahm, portray her relationship with her husband and her children. What did you see of that?
CD
Well, I knew it quite well, I knew it better that I wanted to in many cases because I knew her husband and he had ah, a nice person to a sense, but he also, he was in active duty too long, quite truthfully.
KMC
Too long you said?
CD
Yeah. He was under, he was under, he was in World War Two and he met Barb, Madeleine met him up here at Devins, at Fort Devins.
CD
Three sixty-six infantry was the name of the organization that he was part of and they were shipped overseas, and he was under fire for almost close to five years, and it affected him very definitely.
CD
And he was not the person when he came home that he was before he left, and I knew him before they left because there was about a year, year and a half to two years because they were at Devins before they shipped him overseas.
KMC
Were he and Madeleine married at that time?
CD
Madeleine got married just before, no, no, ah Madeleine, Madeleine is only come to think of it; Madeleine was only 19 when she did marry him. But she ah, no I think, I'm trying to think exactly, I don't recall.
CD
But ahm, she wasn't married while he was overseas. No, no I guess she did, they got married just before he went overseas. Yeah, yeah.
KMC
So she was in college while she was married to him and he was not here?
CD
Right, right, exactly. And then when they came back, when he came back he was able to, another house, they got a house down there on Arlington street which is, now the son has.
CD
And ahm, it ahm that's when the family started you see. The three boys, in fact the oldest son is retired as a lieutenant colonel in the air force. And, ahm, Mabray is here, I don't know if you met Mabray yet?
KMC
Oh Yeah.
CD
Mabray and Malcolm live here in Medford.
KMC
And what are all their? What are the other two men's Professions.
CD
Phew, you'd have to ask them. I just got back from Maryland and I never really check what everybody, everybody is doing and so forth and so on.
CD
Ah I think Malcolm teaches in one of the schools in Boston, public schools. Mabray works for a private concern, he is a technical writer, plus he's an expert in Computer Technology, Computer Science. And what he does, I can't tell you what he does.
CD
And I've seen Mabray since I've been up here, almost six months now; I think I've seen Mabray about three times. And, and in yesteryear you'd see each one every day. But you know everybody has their own agendas today, so you're going your own direction. Yeah.
KMC
So what were your perceptions, perceptions of her as a wife and mother?
CD
Madeleine was an excellent wife, excellent wife and an excellent, I'm a little biased you understand, but she really was.
CD
Madeleine, Madeleine always gave more than she ever received, and while she did that in most things and it wasn't until after she passed that the city, as well as the family and the church recognized that. Because that's why the school's named after her.
CD
Because she used to give, she would give 110% most of the time in making sure that, looking out for other people rather than herself. If she'd taken better care of herself, she'd probably be alive today, I mean she did all the right things medically that she could do. But, you know, when your kidneys fail, that's it, it's all over, you know.
CD
But I saw Matt the day she died, my mother and I went to the hospital. Ironically it was at the hospital that all 6 of us kids were born in Boston, New England Hospital, New England Baptist, off of Huntington Avenue, South Huntington Ave.
CD
And ahm, even then she knew she was passing, but she had the prettiest smile for me and it was a moment you know.
CD
I, I had no knowledge that she was passing until after we were home. My mother said "Hey, you know, I want to tell you, I want to tell you something." She said "I don't think Matt's going to make it through the night." I said "Well, why didn't you tell me that while I was at the hospital." They knew what they knew.
CD
But ahm, Matt knew and I just didn't know. Again, she seldom ever whined or carried on about you know, how unfair life was to her.
CD
I only heard it from her really once when she came home from something, like maybe a school board meeting when she was on the board of, on the school board.
CD
And she said, "people certainly do have a tendency to lie a lot or not tell it like it is and so forth and so on and she says that really disturbs me," and she was telling the truth because she was always a very straightforward person.
CD
And a lot of times you wouldn't like what Madeleine said to you about a given situation, not people she didn't talk about, negatively about people, she talked about situations, and it wasn't necessarily on a racial basis, it was just a behavioral thing, they didn't do what they were supposed to have done, you know.
KMC
And she didn't try to please you with her answer?
CD
Oh no, she wasn't trying, she wasn't trying to meet your, be your, she wasn't trying to win a personality contest, in a sense. She would just tell it like it is and a lot of people got rubbed the wrong way by that, they didn't like it, and didn't appreciate it, a lot of it until after she was gone, you know. "But Matt had been here, Matt would have said" I've heard that expression so many times, you know.
CD
Well I was fortunate because I had the opportunity of, as she was coming along I stayed, we stayed very close.
CD
Because ahh, even when I finished Tufts and I was working elsewhere, I went to Washington, ah to finish up my government time, I was working in headquarters at the Air Force.
CD
And ahm, but I needed, I got a job at GTE, which was in Waltham at the time, the laboratory; GTE labs. Which is now part of Verizon, at least GTE merged with another company and they became Verizon.
CD
Well, I stayed at Matt's house, I lived at Matt's house because my family was still in Milton and I certainly didn't wanna try to buy another house or anything else.
CD
So I said "Well, I need to bunk in with you?" and of course she had, all her boys were gone by that time. She was living by herself, she said "I don't want you living with me, I enjoy living by myself." And I said, "I don't care if you do or not, I'm coming to live with you."
CD
She said, well she did it begrudgingly at first. She said "I really don't want you Cort." I said "Well Matt, you know with my charming personality and all the nice things I can do for your house and you," I said "you'll be very happy that I came."
CD
So anyway I, I moved in, and sure enough I did a lot, I do a lot of electricity, plumbing, things of that sort and ah, because when you have houses that's what you gotta do.
CD
And so anycase, Madeleine realized hey you are, you can be some help can't ya. And I said "yeah um." She said "I'm a great help to you."
CD
So anyhow that was how that went. Those kind, those were some of the relationships we had.
CD
And I remember these front stairs, going up the stairs many years before, I don't even know the time frame, the time, time kind of thing. But the stairs always had a problem of cracking for one reason or another, I guess it was just too much stress on it, too many people in the house, I guess.
CD
Any case ahm, I was "So Matt, let's fix this, I'm gonna fix this chair, stair, once and for all." So I got all this stuff out and started working on it and I was trying to do something, and she said "Well that's not the way you do it, if you do it this way you'll make it work better for ya, it will be a much better job," and then she said "well, you know, with your brawn and my brains, we can go places."
CD
And so to this day, I looked at death a lot differently than possibly many people. I don't look at death as final, I look.
KMC
I was gonna ask you about any hobbies that she had, that you remember either when you were a child or as an older person?
CD
[chuckles] Well Matt had lots and lots of hobbies, that's the problem. And I don't know how she kept up with them.
CD
And I acquired some of, one in particular, she liked rabbits; and when she was this high she would always have a rabbit around.
CD
And so trying to emulate her in one sense or another, I didn't go for rabbits, but I decided I would have chickens, so I built a chicken.
KMC
[laughing] This isn't the hobby I was expecting, I was expecting like cards or something.
CD
No chickens. So we had chickens. We had a chicken coop out there and Matt was the only sister who would work with me on that chicken coop because the others wouldn't even eat the eggs that the chicken laid because they knew where they came from. I said well what's the difference you go to the store your gonna go get it, you know. But they couldn't conceive of, they had a, they had a cultural problem you see.
CD
And so but Matt and I would eat the eggs together and enjoy them. And ah so she, that became also a hobby with her.
CD
And of course gardening was another hobby of hers, very mundane kinds of things. Nothing, first of all money was always, we didn't even worry about the fact that we don't have money, just do what you gonna do, that you can do it. And not worry about this thing about having the finest of clothing or whatever else, enough, get whatever you need.
CD
So we, we, we, we made up a lot of our own kinds of things to keep ourselves busy. Because of that quite truthfully as I look back now a lot of those kinds of things is the reason that I became a pretty good scientist, at least experimentalist anyhow. I don't know about the theory but the theory hangs in there enough to let me do what I need to do.
CD
But we learned how to use our hands along with our minds, and that was, come from having to work around the yards and all these kinds of things so.
CD
At the time we didn't enjoy it, but on the other hand, because we all, we all, all of us had to take dirty, dirty jobs along the way.
CD
Come springtime or summertime, between school years, summer session we all had to find a job, to so something to bring some money into the house and either that or to save it for education.
CD
So as you drive back up towards Tufts you'll see at 200 Boston Avenue, that used to be a box factory and that's where a lot of us worked.
CD
But ahm, those are the kinds of hobbies we did mostly. And again, community work, it's always, it's always so many things to be done, community-wise.
CD
And so you get involved through the church or through the community center, which we had, that my dad helped form and so forth and so on. And that ah, that kept you busy.
KMC
Ahm do you remember some specific things she did within the community or with the church?
CD
I think she had just about every role in the church save of pastor.
CD
She was superintendent of Sunday school, she was a Sunday school teacher, she was on the board of trustees, ahm those are the three major ones I guess.
CD
But then in the community she was president, I believe, of the West Medford Community Center. Also there was another one, I can't think of the name of it, which was a community action kind of thing.
CD
The community used to be a rather adhesive, pretty good adhesive group. And ahm it's not that way now but one day we hope it will be again. And therefore this is why, you know, we never the, we've never had the capability of the kind of help we're going to get now.
CD
The Mayors of the City of Medford have always been pretty good for overall doing what they could do under their administration. But, ah, the rest of the city never responded as they have in the last ten, fifteen years here.
CD
We have something called Doc Kountze's festival, it's something that's held every year, and that's ah, that's a Medford, a Medford thing now, but he was my uncle, my mother's brother. And ahm, that is respond, the response has been very good around the city, artwise and otherwise.
CD
And then there's been so many different kinds of things that have happened that ah, in the last ten or fifteen years that made this place, that's why I came home. I said, "gee I aught to go back and enjoy some of the fruits of the labors." So that's why I'm here.
KMC
Can you tell me any more about her relation with Christianity? Or her religion, her religiosity? Her faith?
CD
Well see, hers would be more of a practical type. She certainly, Madeleine liked, liked gospel music very much.
CD
Ah, she would, it was ah, she, Matt couldn't hold a note and everyone used to laugh about that, she, as much as she liked and enjoyed gospel music she never joined the choir in the churches because they wouldn't let her do it.
CD
[laughing] You know so, so she would ah, ah, but she would, but once they got her foot padding and so forth and so on she could get the crowd moving in that direction.
CD
But ahm, Matt, Matt's Christianity was that of, was done on a daily basis. That was practicality, that is, meaning that she, she knew her Bible, because in fact I have it packed in my luggage downstairs right now and ah, 'cause I got it when she passed, ah when, yeah when she passed I got her bible.
CD
And I kept it in my house, at my house in Maryland and Matt, it's well-thumbed and you can look at a lot of the things she, where she made marks and so forth and so on and everything.
CD
So she knew her Bible quite well, not only from the reading but from what she did, she, she was a, she was truly an example of, of religious thinking aah, of a particular feeling of ah, of goodness, and her whole thrust was, "how can I make this situation better?"
KMC
Can you give me an example of that?
CD
Oh boy, that's difficult. They run together there's so many, there really are; one more outstanding than the next, I don't know though how you interpret it. Ah, but she was a, to my way of thinking, course you know you're getting it from maybe a biased standpoint.
CD
But Madeleine was all, as great an objectivity as I can produce, she was a pretty straight person and, and a fine figure of ah, of ah, forwardness in the sense of being able to, she was a mentor without having to throw it around if you will.
CD
You knew that when Matt walked into the room she was gonna sit and listen very quietly for most of the meeting and then ahm, before dismissing they would as for comments on one thing or another, and Madeleine had thought what everyone had said and decided "well, I've heard each of you and here's the way I see if from what you've said and maybe, maybe this should be the way we should go. Not saying we gotta go that way but this is the way I would suggest we do this."
CD
And course there'd be oppositions to it because someone over there said, said one thing or someone over here said just the opposite, but then, but Matt was able to bring the forces together in a sense, and I've seen that work many times that ah, they decide; hey her judgment is sound and it's on good footing, and let's try it, what do we have to loose.
CD
And she would try to point up to you the pros and cons and she went through her discussion why, "I can understand why you wouldn't see it this way, but on the other hand had you, did you, did you consider this or that," you know. So it worked out quite well ahm, and now she was, when she was wrong, we would tell her you know, particularly her family, her own family, we were hard on each other.
CD
Because, starting with my brother who was such an athlete, and when he first started becoming, beating everybody in track, from junior high on out, he would come home bragging about how great he was. We'd say "You're not so great," you know, and, and pointed out that there's always somebody better. By the time he got to junior, ah Medford High School he was one of the most modest persons you ever want to meet. But the family beat him up in that sense about learning humility, you see.
CD
And he never, ever became ah, ah; he'd go out and do what he had to do and would; you go up at Cousins Gym you'll still see records that he made that haven't been broken. But he, he accepted it very humbly and I was lucky. It wasn't luck, it was just hard work. [laughs]
KMC
Ahm, do you have, do you know of any close friends that she had? Either other family members or?
CD
Her community, the community, the community was, they were all. They had several girls' ah, female groups. And ah, most of them are not, are no longer with us.
CD
But it was a really tight community because everybody ah, came together and recognized the strengths in each other, and the weaknesses and didn't play to the weaknesses so much as they did to the strengths.
CD
And they became, she had many, many ah, females for friends outside of her family. And ah it was a different world and ah, I wish we had that back, I guess we do, I just don't know what's going on anymore, you know.
KMC
Ahm, as like as a young person did she have girlfriends over?
CD
Oh yeah, yeah.
KMC
What kinds of things did they do?
CD
That I can't really say, much of it revolved around what was going on in the Girl Scouts, things of this sort and so I wasn't privy to that kind of information.
KMC
She didn't let you in?
CD
No. She ah, she, she kept, she, you know, she let me know when I wasn't wel., wasn't welcome you know. It didn't take a rocket scientist to let you know what that, what that meant you see, but no.
CD
But ah, as far as her ah, involvement with other girls of her age group and so forth, they had a strong relationship ah, my sister Barbara even more so than Matt. Barbara was even a much more sociable being, she was the senior sister.
CD
But ah, Matt always had, had plenty enough friends to call upon. And yet, in too many cases Matt, particularly when she got sick, she wouldn't call on them, and I used to yell at her.
CD
Because I used to, she used to have a, years ago they had a great big tank to, for your dialysis, you had a home unit and I would go down and relieve my brother-in-law for a period of time because, you needed someone to help put her on and take her off.
CD
Dialysis in those days was 6 hours a day 3 times a week, now it's down to something like 3 days a week and 3 hours a day, which is very nice and you can get a portable unit, but those, that wasn't there then.
CD
And so I would say to Matt, "well you know Matt because your, your handicapped for these six hours, maybe you should call upon some of your colleagues to do x, y, and z you know; community-wise, church-wise, or otherwise, academically or, or other school wise." But Matt said "No. It's not their problem. That's not their problem."
KMC
Were you like, so she never called people to have come sit with her or anything?
CD
Hardly, hardly. Because first of all a lot of people didn't like seeing a lot of blood you see, but I'd been in, in the service so you know, that didn't bother me in the least.
CD
But ahm, ah, she just figured this was not something that people would like to sit and, and watch, talk to her back and forth while all this blood is flowing through ah, tubes of, of, of ah, plastic tubes and so forth and being cleansed and all.
CD
So, no, she, she never brought those, to my knowledge now, I never saw her. But ah, she didn't have, ever have any of her associates ah, in. But now if they were having a whist game or a bridge game downstairs and so forth, oh yeah, everybody would be having a good time.
KMC
Uhuh. Ahm, so you saw her as a friend as well as a sister?
CD
Oh definitely as a friend, she was one of my best friends. I guess for a long time she was my very best friend, now that I think of it.
KMC
What period was this do you think? Like you mean when you were children or?
CD
Well, mostly when I was, well lets put it in her age terms, and I think, I would say from the time she was 11 to maybe oh I would wear on and on. Ah, maybe till she was about 30 we'll say, because Matt used to ahm, she was very good to me about, on a lot of things.
CD
I was working in the post office. Unfortunately, when I was going through Tufts, I didn't have the privilege even though I had the GI bill of rights, I didn't have the privilege of not having to work, ah, while I was in Tufts.
CD
Because my sister Ione, who you've interviewed, she was behind me in high school and age and she was a good student, very good student out of Medford High, which I was not. And ah, so she deserved to go to college as far as I was concerned and of course she didn't have anyone to help her.
CD
Ah, my brother was living in Ohio and he had gotten married and had kids and all and my mother wasn't making that kind of money and to go to Tufts. So I decided in my second year at Tufts, I would go back into the Post Office and work. So I was working 8 hours, 40 hours a week ah. And so my marks suffered considerably because I always had an 8 o'clock chemistry class. I'll never forget it, that chemistry, we only.
CD
And ahm, I wouldn't get through until about 1:30 in the morning, come home, try to get a little bit of studying in, go to bed and make that 8 o'clock class. And ahm, so my grades weren't too good but on the other hand Ione did get to Tufts.
CD
And at that time she went into Jackson, that's why I was asking about Jackson. And she did quite well there she's, not only as a student but she was into something called the Odikon and she was a very popular young lady on campus ah, on, on Tufts campus, and actively involved in many programs.
CD
Well that, after that she decided she needed to go graduate school so she went to the university, the University of Chicago, or the University of Illinois, I forget which of the two. Anyhow it was in Chicago, somewhere in Illinois [chuckling] and ah, you got a map?
CD
But the ahm, I guess the point I was, I was trying to make is that ahm, ah, but during that time Matt was, my working in the post office meant that when I get through a chemistry lab. at Tufts, which ended at 4:30, I was supposed to be punching in the clock at Central Square at 5 o'clock.
CD
And I had a superintendent who didn't like my going to college, going to college and pointed out the fact that he was going to give me enough demerits so that he told me get pulled out of the post office. So he'd be standing there at that time clock when I got in there each night, which would be about 5:30, quarter of six.
CD
But Matt would make sure that I had a meal before I would go in. I had a piece of a car, which I could run around to see her house and she'd have dinner all ready on the table for me. All I had to do was eat, get in and go over to, over to the post office.
CD
And that went on for as long as I wanted it to happen but and the guy tried very hard to get me out but finally ah, I asked for a Board of Appeals and ah, they told him to leave me alone, I was a veteran, I had every right to do whatever I wanted to do in that regard; I'm trying to go to school and work too. So they, he have, but he put me on dirty details after that since he couldn't push me out the. So it wasn't an unfair, it was a situation that you know, it was all part of growth.
CD
But ahm, Matt was there for me then and that was good because I wasn't eating correctly ahm, that was my real only meal of the day was that one and that was after 12. But that was just one of, of many things, and, and there was no big fanfare, it was just done you know. And ahm, I never paid her a dime for it, come to think of it and ahm, she always had the food there.
KMC
Did she have special relationships with your other brothers and sisters?
CD
Only had one other brother, Ed. No, Ed was out in Cali., out in Ohio. And Ed seldom got this way after he left Tufts, in a sense. And there's only other, and you had, she had special relationships with ah, Portia, Ione and Barbara possibly but I'm not in a position to you know, to attest.
KMC
Ahm, before we close up are there any other overarching things you want to be known about her? Or any other?
CD
Well all I, well I'm a little ah, you know as I, I.
KMC
It's okay to be biased.
CD
Well I, I yeah, I, I am that way, principally because when I stop to compare her with so many people that I've met in life, and I've met some very, very so called important people in the United States, particularly having lived in Washington DC. area.
CD
Ahm, Madeleine stands head and shoulders above just about everybody I've ever met, quite truthfully, she, she's, she. And they did the right thing. I had anything to do with, of course the school being named after her, but once I found it was gonna happen, I said well I'm gonna put, get as large a picture as I can and put it in the school.
CD
So Adele Travisano, Mrs., she did the painting and there it stands, and I had never seen it till I came back up here just ah, ah 3 or 4 months ago. And, cause, but Adele would send me pictures of that which she had done and so forth and I would tell her "Well yeah I like this, but I don't like that" and so Adele would try to accommodate me. And finally she got the picture up and now as I said I'm proud, I'm so pleased and proud that it's there and ah.
CD
But Matt was just a good human being, she listened to her God every day, and she prayed religiously, she would ask for deliverance in doing things she had to do, and she went through some pretty tough times in her life which ah, I haven't enumerated but on the other hand ah, there's nothing to be gained for all of the suffering that she, herself had to suffer by herself.
CD
But I knew of those circumstances and we would discuss them, and so I had a feeling that ah, she taught me a lot by how she handled her situation which was so adverse that anybody of lesser character or lesser strength ah, would have done a lot of different things differently.
CD
And I, I'd sometimes revert, revert, revert to that kind and, "why don't you do such and such and such if that's the case." And she said "that's not the Christian way, I have to follow my God and Jesus tells me not to do it that way." Amen, I can't argue with that, you know [chuckling]
CD
"Okay but Matt, it seems so much easier to do it my way" because it's in everything, you see. But that's of course I, of course again I was a fighting man so I looked at life a lot differently than, and I, I took an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth attitude, and she would say "no, turn the other cheek" attitude, you know.
CD
So as I say, she was quite a lady, and I think the world will be even more enriched as they learn more about her and how she did life, she did lead her life and, and tried to help guide others in their lives, it's been a wonderful journey.
CD
And I, and I, I meant to say just as you left to go in the other room I still talk to Matt because, ah, very briefly in, one day I was doing some, this, this, this last patent was a difficult one for me because I'd been away from academia for quite a while. Ahm, I'm a class of '50, you see.
CD
And I've done graduate work and so forth and so on but Tufts was of course, my alma mater. Ahm, and Matt had an education major with a chemistry minor at Bridgewater State Teachers'.
CD
And so I had said to Matt earlier ah, look. And she became, she went in the classroom and taught in Boston because discrimination wouldn't let her teach here in Medford. So, that guy went away luckily, well I shouldn't say luckily, Caddes died and he was the superintendent, but he was the one that prevented Barbara and Madeleine and Charlotte Pairn, and so many other African Americans from practice teaching even though they, everyone went to the schools here.
CD
He said we won't have any African Americans teaching here, not while he was in, under his administration, well, that happened. But, ah any case the ahm, the, the ahm, I forget the point I was going to make. It was something to the point that ah.
CD
So Matt, oh, oh Matt, Matt would, since she was a care miner I asked, she used to, she elevated to, or at least moved out of the classroom and went into vocational guidance. And with the vocational guidance she used to take kids from the Roxbury schools, where she was working ah to, over to MIT.
CD
So I would say "well Matt, you go to MIT." And she would tell me the libraries they were going to be visiting and this and that and the other. I'd say "here's a set of questions I want you to get some answers to if you will." So she did.
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