Camera Rolls: 102:12-17
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Interview with Horace Carmichael , conducted by Blackside, Inc. on June 14, 1990, for The Great Depression . Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of The Great Depression.*
I'd like to ask you-
-about, how you came to Washington, when you came to Washington, and, and what your impressions of Washington were.
Well, I had been going to Washington quite a bit. I was stationed in Quantico, Virginia, in the Marine Corps, I had four years in the Marine Corps, and I used to go there quite freq— go to Washington. In fact, I had a motorcycle, and used to ride to Washington, and have to stop at the old Hoover Airport, where the Pentagon building is now, to let the planes land, and then cross the old 14th Street bridge. Washington at that time, actually, the boundary, the main part of Washington only went up to what is Florida Ave., now, the rest of it was- well, Griffith stadium was up there, but, on Georgia Ave., but it was a relatively small town in 1928, the 20's.
How, how did it, how did it feel as a small town, like, what kind of evidence was there that it was a small town?
Well, for one thing, people would speak to you on the street, especially if you were in uniform. Everybody was friendly. It was a small town that, in my opinion, tried to be big because the government was there.
That's great, thank you. You said, earlier, that when the Depression hit, there were a lot of unusual sights on the streets. Could you describe some of these sights?
Well, of course, you could see people that were dressed up in pinstripe suits that had come from the bank or come from the courts, they were lawyers... they didn't have any money, so they sold apples on the street-corners, people would sell pencils, anything they could to make a nickel or a dime.
Great. Now, what kind of, like, unusual professions would participate in that sort of thing?
I—I mean, want more?
Well, lawyers, or bankers, or musicians, or- I don't think I ever saw any undertakers in, but, almost anybody that couldn't earn money any other way would go ahead and sell the apples or anything else they could do to earn a penny.
OK, we're going to skip now to 1932, to the area that we had talked about before. There, you, what were you doing in 1932, in Washington?
Well, in 1931 I got out of the Marine Corps. While I was still in the Marine Corps. I had taken an examination for the police department. I got out of the Marine Corps. in December of '31, and managed to get a job at the Piggly Wiggly store as a stock boy, and finally, I had gotten in touch with a Senator from West Virginia, and he moved my name up a few notches on the police department application, so I became a member of the Metropolitan Police Department.
So you became a rookie cop at that time?
OK, could we cut for a second?
I'm sorry, [inaudible], Joe interrupted.
I, I don't know that I had much of an impression of Herbert Hoover. I came from Indiana, a long way from the government, and this was my first introduction to government activity at all, so I don't know that I had formed any impression at all of Hoover, as a man or a president.
Did you think he was good for the job, though?
Well, I'm afraid I'm prejudiced, because when a, when a man becomes president of the United States, in my opinion, he's the man for the job. They all make mistakes, they've all made mistakes, right from George Washington on down, but I think that, I have always felt, that the president of the United States deserves the strongest support that he can possibly get from the American public. Until he really gets caught doing something very bad.
OK, that's great, I think we should—
Mike, what I'd like to ask you here, is, how you became, how did you personally become aware that the Bonus March was beginning?
Well, of course, it was in the newspapers, and I was able to read [laughs]. But it had been rumored around Washington that there was going to be a gathering, and since I was still in police school, they talked about the Bonus Marchers and the effect it would have on the police department. Although we didn't receive any special training, I did know that people started coming into the district- oh, I would think about the last of April or the first of May.
OK. Were those steps OK?
I don't hear the steps, but, can we cut for a minute?
Oh, no way.
I'm sorry, sir, can you start that again?
Do you think the police were equipped to handle something like the Bonus March?
Oh, no way. At that time, if I remember correctly, we had only about thirteen hundred people on the force. I may be wrong with that, but I think the number was about that. We had no special equipment,
we had no training, special training to handle riots. I don't think anybody on the police department had any idea that we'd be, including, especially, the officials, that we would be faced with anything like finally came up [sic].
Great. When, could you, could you describe Pelham Glassford's role, what he was trying to do or what you perceived him trying to do with the veterans?
Well, I didn't really come into contact with General Glassford until they moved the, the training school down on Pennsylvania Ave., about three, about three or four days before they tried to move the veterans out, but General Glassford was always, in my opinion, a man that looked after his troops. This was brought about later, when we were on duty down there, he tried to come by, he would come by and try to make us as comfortable as he could. He would relax the regulations. We had one inspector that was called handlebi—'Handlebar Hadley', because he had large, long mustaches, and he was a stickler for regulations and made us stay with our—
I'm going to interrupt you, because, he only had one mustache, right?
You said, long mustaches-
No- long, handlebar.
Oh, OK, so, could you start, could you tell me the story about Handlebar Hadley?
Can you mention his name, and start out with: 'He had one-?'
When Handlebar Hadley would come around, he would be sure that everybody had their ties tightened and their clothes, their jackets buttoned, their caps on straight, and General Glassford come along, and ask us- oh, he wasn't, Handlebar wouldn't let anybody smoke. I didn't smoke, then, but it was tough on the other fellows. General Glassford came along and wanted to know what we were doing with our ties fastened and our coats buttoned, and he said, 'Take your hats off, loosen your tie, take your jackets off if you want to. Relax, enjoy yourself as much as you can. Be comfortable.'
So, he was, he was someone that the police officers, how did the police officers feel about that?
Of course, I can't tell, can't tell you the feeling of the older policemen, but the younger, the group that I was with, were all younger fellows, and we felt that he was a good man to have as chief of police.
Why? Why was that?
Well, because, he would come around and talk to you. He would explain things to you, tell us what he expected of us, and, he just seemed to know what was going on and how to handle it.
Would the police, could you describe how the police handled the veterans? Did they help them, did they, how did the, how did the police deal with the veterans?
Well, the policemen, up until the time the real incident occurred, when they started to move them up, the police were, the majority of them, and I would say a big majority, were all in favor of the veterans. Of course, some of the police were veterans themselves. We would,
the police department would try to get food from grocery stores that was going to be thrown away, or any food left over at the restaurants, they would call the police department and they would send a paddy wagon around and collect the food, and bring it back and distribute it
** among the general— among the veterans. A lot of people in the country would do the same thing,
** they would bring food to the police department. The police department would assist the veterans as much as they possibly could.
I was going to ask you that next, in fact, I am. What was the, how did the residents of Washington react? To the, in what you saw, how did they react?
Oh, up until the time of the incident, they were as helpful as they possibly could be, with the veterans. They were, I don't know that they gave them any money, but any food that was available, they would turn it over to the veterans. Some of the women would even bake cakes and cookies and bring down, I'm speaking now of the residents of the District of Columbia, they would aid every way they possibly could.
I wonder if we could just ask that one more time, because I think I stumbled on your words. Could you tell me again, how, how did the residents in Washington treat the, and would you mention the residents of Washington? How did they, they deal with the veterans?
Well, they were sympathetic with the veterans. They would assist in any way they possibly could. I don't know that they gave them any money, they would give them food, some of the women would bake cakes and cookies and bring down [sic] to the kids that were, the young kids that were there in the camps. Up until the time that the incident occurred, I would say that they were behind the veterans at least ninety, ninety-five percent.
That's great. Now, let's skip to—
You know, ask you, where were you standing, and—could you just tell me that story, what you saw?
Well, what they did was to bring the entire police school down, on the north side of Pennsylvania Ave. We were more or less to be used as a reserve or backup for the older policemen that were going to go ahead and try to move the veterans out. I was, just, on the north side, just a short distance from the old building that they had, they called it their fort. They were getting ready to demolish the building, and this was the reason the government said they wanted to get the veterans out of that particular area.
What did you see that day?
Well, about, early in the morning- I might be confused about the chronological events, but at one time, and if I remember right it was around one o'clock, they were trying to move some veterans out of what they called the fort, that old, 'used car' building. We heard a shot, and we found out, I was told later, although I didn't see it, that one of the veterans had been shot by one of the policeman. His name was 'Two-Gun Cooper', because he had his own revolver in addition to the service revolver. The story I had, was told, was that he and another officer were trying to bring this man out of the building, and the veteran grabbed Cooper's service gun out of his holster, and was getting ready to fire it, when Two-Gun pulled his own private pistol out, and shot the veteran. Then, later on, General Glassford decided that they would try, the police department would try to move the veterans out. So, they got together, and started on 4 and a Half Street, and this was where the brick battle occurred, and several of the veterans were injured, and some of the policemen were injured, because they had absolutely no riot protection. So, then General Glassford saw that the police department was ill-equipped, poorly trained, impossible to move the veterans out without some kind of help from someplace else. So he called all the policemen back onto Pennsylvania Ave., and this is where they stayed, until about four-thirty that afternoon. We looked down the street, and here came the troops from Fort Meyer. I don't know who had called them. We had heard all kinds of rumors, we had heard that the commissioners of the district decided that they could call in help; some people said that the President had asked for troops; some people said that members of Congress had put pressure on the President to use troops to move them out, so the government could go ahead and clear this mall area. Coming down the avenue was the cavalry, small tanks that were called 'Whippet Tanks' from World War I, they were a small two-man tank. Behind them came the troops. The cavalry-
-lined up on Pennsylvania Ave., right in front of where we were stationed.
[camera and audio cut]
OK. How did, how did the veterans feel about that the, the veterans were still in town, even though Congress had ended its session?
You mean, how did the police feel about it? Actually, I don't think that there was any hard feelings. They still continued assisting the remaining veterans, although there was a different feeling among the veterans at that time, because after Congress left, they had, Congress had, or the government, had given money to the veterans asking them to leave, and the ones that took advantage of that were more or less the quieter group of veterans.
I think the feeling began to change after Congress adjourned and the veterans stayed on, because there was no reason for them, as far as we could figure, no reason for them to stay there. They would gain nothing with the Congress out of town.
OK, let's, let's try that one more time. Congress adjourns; how did, how did people feel about the veterans lingering on?
They didn't feel that they would gain anything by staying, and I think the feeling began to turn against the veterans that were left. They appreciated the fact that some of the veterans had left, at the government's request, and the government aided them to leave, and the government had asked all the veterans to leave. So, I think the feeling began to build up a little bit, toward, or against, the veterans.
Now, who was feeling this, who, who started, who resented the veterans? Did anybody resent the veterans?
Oh, I don't think so to start with, I don't think anybody resented the veterans. I don't think, I think the only people who resented them were the officials- now, this is my opinion- were the officials that wanted to get the area cleared. This was their final excuse for trying to get rid of veterans, but I don't think the police department, up until the final day, had any animosity for the veterans. They, they felt that the, an activist group had taken over, after Walters [sic] had more or less lost control of the group when his, most of his people had left at the request of the government.
OK. I'd like to go back to something we were talking about earlier, and that is, here, here's a short form of the question: why was the control of the situation passed from the Washington police to the Army, and how did that happen?
Well, of course, being a rookie cop, I wasn't aware of all that went on behind the scenes, but the stories we got while we were on duty, was, that after Major Glassford felt, knew, after trying to move the veterans out, that he would have to have some help from someplace else. I was of the opinion that he threw it into the hands of, there were still some congressmen left in town, and I was of the opinion that he got in touch with them and the commissioners of the District of Columbia. Some people say pressure was put on President Hoover, and that's the only way I know that it passed away, that the government wanted the veterans out, the police department couldn't do it, they had to get help from someplace else and the only place left was the, were the troops, the Army.
Now, could we go over again the sequence of events? Could you start by saying where you were standing when you saw those, those incidents on July...?
I was on the north side of Pennsylvania Ave., between Third and what was then Four and Half Street. Four and Half Street is no longer there. I was seated on a bank. Just, we were just waiting, that's all we were doing. After the brick battle, all the forces, all the police forces had been drawn back to Pennsylvania Ave., and all we were doing, or told to do, was to keep the veterans from getting out of that area and mingling into the rest of the District. So, I was seated on a bank on the north side of Pennsylvania Ave. when the troops started coming down the avenue from Fort Meyer. The cavalry was in front, the-
Could we hold on a second, we're getting a jet or something.
I'd like to go again over that, that point, that, what did you see when you, where were you and what did you see, when the...
I was on the north side of Pennsylvania Ave., seated on a bank with the rest of the fellows from the police school. The old-timers, the veterans on the police department, were also on Pennsylvania Ave., they had been pulled back after the brick battle. There was no action going on, the only thing we were told to do was to keep any of the veterans from coming across Pennsylvania Ave. and going into the rest of the District.
We heard this noise coming up Pennsylvania Ave. looked down, and here was the troops coming from Fort Myer. In front was the cavalry, followed by the little Whippet tanks from World War I.
** They were two-man tanks and according to what we have now, they were very, very small, and in back of them came the, the troops, with General MacArthur and Major Eisenhower leading the way.
** The troops came up and stopped just before they reached Fourth Street. General MacArthur and Major Eisenhower came up and talked to Major Glassford, and there were some other civilians there. I don't know who they were, whether they were Senators, whether they were from the White House, or whether they were commissioners of the District. I couldn't tell you because I didn't recognize any of them. They talked for about a half an hour, and finally, evidently, a decision was reached. The cavalry came up, and I can remember it well because the horses lined up right in front of me, and I got to see the rear-end of a horse real close. The troops moved in, section at a time, and they lined up, so that they went from Fourth Street, or Four and a Half Street, down to Third Street. The tanks moved in ahead. The cavalry pulled, the off— the cavalrymen pulled their sabers out of their scabbards. The troops fixed bayonets,
** the tanks started moving forward, and when they did, the infantry started throwing gas grenades and gas canisters. But when this happened, these were slow-burning canisters, and some of the veterans would pick them up and throw them back at the troops, but of course they had gas-masks on. The tanks moved forward, the troops moved forward, and the cavalry followed behind. They chased all of the veterans out of the area; anybody that was lagging back or didn't want to move, the cavalry would smack them across the butts with their sabers. I don't believe, or I never saw the soldiers use any bayonets, other than just at port-arms in order to push people forward. So they moved on out, and the people that were in the encampment there went across the bridges into the Anacostia camp. This was later at night, beginning to get dark; somebody set fire to the camp over there. Some people said the veterans did, some people said the soldiers did, and some people said the police did. I don't know, because I wasn't there. Anyway they burned the camp, they demolished the camp on Pennsylvania Ave., and all, there was not a veteran left there, there were no shacks left standing, and they went into the Anacostia, which was their main camp. I imagine there was about seven thousand people in the Anacostia camp when they moved into that. They said that the Army had furnished tents to the veterans in the Anacostia camp, and the soldiers, some of them, had been directed to try to save all the tents that they possibly could, but the majority of them burned. Then the veterans, then, were straggling out of the District.
Do you remember what you felt, about...?
Well, they moved us out of the police school down on Pennsylvania Ave. about three days before this event occurred, and we had pretty tough duty: we were only allowed to go home four to six hours a day in order to wash up, changed clothes, and then we'd come back on duty. So, we were just a little bit frustrated, and then when the Army moved in, there was a mixed feeling. I had been in the service myself, I hadn't seen any combat, I had an uncle that was in World War I. You had a certain amount of sympathy for the veterans, but they had been given every chance to move, they had a logical excuse for moving, moving them out, in our opinion. We had been told, and as-
Mike, could you, could you descr—tell me how you felt?
Well, having been in the service myself, and having had an uncle in World War I, it was a feeling of... it's really hard to explain. You were in sympathy with the veterans, and I think that if they had gone ahead and followed the government's request, and moved out, everybody would have been behind the veterans one hundred percent. But when they were antagonizing the Army, and
here were young fellows, of course a lot younger than most of the veterans, were charged with going out and actually using force against people that had fought for the United States in World War I.
** There was a mixed feeling of sympathy for the veterans, sympathy for the troops that had to do it, hoping that no one would get hurt, knowing that the veterans were overpowered, knowing that eventually they had to leave, knowing that the Army was going to go ahead and follow their orders. It was a feeling of, I wish I could help, but I can't.
Can we do that again? I'm sorry, we've just got this jet.
Speeding. One second-
Mike, how did, how did you feel, seeing this rout?
Well, having been a service-man, having had an uncle in World War I, being a rookie cop, had never been on the street, had never been faced with anything, had never even imagined anything like this... it was sympathy for the veterans, sympathy for the young men in the Army that had to go ahead and work against them, they had orders, Drive the people out. They knew they had to do it, the veterans knew they were going to do it. The veterans were completely out manned, they had no weapons, no protection.
The Army had the tear-gas, the tear-gas confused the veterans...it was a feeling of frustration. You wanted to help both of them, you knew you couldn't do anything, it was something that I'll never forget.
OK, that's great. All right, can we cut for one second, [unintelligible].
You got it? OK. Could you, who was this guy, Pelham Glassford?
Well, of course, I had never seen him before, until that day of the incident- well, I had to, because he did address our police school at one time. He was a, he was, had a very military bearing, he had a stern face, which hid a lot of softness, as far as I was concerned, after the way he handled the troops, I mean, the police department, during this incident. He was down there during the brick, brick battle, he came around to see if everybody was comfortable. He was just a man's man, as far as I was concerned.
OK, let's cut, 'til the plane—
Could, could you describe Pelham Glassford to me?
[clears throat] Major Glassford, of course that was his title [clears throat].
Let's, let's clear your throat. So, let's cut.
OK. Could you, who was Pelham Glassford, what kind of image did he cut?
Well, of course, he was a general when he was in the Army, and when he came in the police department, the highest rank in the police department at that time was 'major', so he became Major Glassford, although everybody that addressed him said General Glassford, but he only wore the Major's leaves on his shoulder. He was a man that, that liked to get out among the troops. Before the Bonus people came, he was always visiting the different precincts, he was always looking out for the men's well-being, he liked to ride a motorcycle. In fact, that was how he did most of his traveling, he didn't have a chauffeur to chauffeur him around. He was a, I think he was well-liked by the majority of the police that were on at that time. Some of the older men resented having a military man being head of the police department, but as far as I was concerned, he was a good Joe.
That's great. Thank you. OK, let's cut for one second. That-
So, can you tell me, what, what kind of rumors did you hear about who was in those camps?
Well, when the Bonus March first came here with- I think his name was Walters, Walter Walters [sic] I believe it was, or something like that, that, that organized these marches- at the, with the support of the American Legion and other veterans' groups, the people that came at first were home-like, they made homes, they had their children with them, they had their, their families, they cooked, they... it was just another home to them, and this was the way they were accepted. Then later on, it seemed as though, after the Congress adjourned... well, let me give you an illustration. Before, before these people, the first group, moved out with the government's help, the news-reel men would come down in their trucks, and no one ever said anything to them, no one ever prohibited them from taking any pictures. And yet, the day before the event, there was a Pathe news truck came down with a camera up on top, and the cameraman was shooting the pictures, and as soon as the veterans saw them, they were on Ohio Ave., as soon as they saw them, they picked up bricks and started throwing them at them. The man that was driving the van put it in reverse and the cameraman was hanging with his arms hanging on to his camera, which was bolted to the top of the van. They chased them completely away, and wouldn't allow any more newsmen. This gave us the idea that it was a different group of people that were really in charge, or a different group of people that were antagonizing, or getting the people to fight against the movement away from the Mall.
OK, can we cut for one second?
-so, were there a lot of, were there a lot of Communists in that camp?
Well, there was [sic] a lot of, of activists, a lot of people that, that wanted to cause trouble, whether they were Communists, whether they were people who wanted their Bonus pay right now and were willing to fight physically for it. I couldn't say whether they were Communists, this is what people told us. Whether they told us that to get us worked up and make us a little less sympathetic with the veterans, I don't know, but the mood of the veteran organization, of the BEF, as they were called, certainly changed in the last, oh, in the last three days that they were in the District.
Great. Let's cut. That's-
I, I believe that after the first group, or the group moved away from Washington and went home, that Walters [sic] lost control, or was taken over by the majority. I was even told that he came across the street from the camp, and this was the day before the event, and set in a coffee shop, and told people that he would have no more to do with it, that he had lost complete control, they paid no attention to what he wanted, and so he was leaving completely, to that group.
I wonder if you could say that again, and say, 'Walter Waters', consistently.
Just, just start again, you had heard that the day, the day before the event. Of course, it hasn't happened yet, but you could say, 'On July 27th', or something like that.
OK. On July 27th, I had heard that Walter Walters, Walter Waters, had left the encampment and crossed Pennsylvania Ave. to, and was seated in a coffee house, drinking coffee and had told people in there that things had gotten completely out of hand, that he had no more control over the group, that he didn't want anything more to do with them, that they were going to hurt their goals if they went ahead with what they were planning.
OK. I'd like to-
Ah, we have to change.
Let's, let's start out with the Had—with the Handlebar Hadley story. Could you please start out by saying who, what his relationship to you was?
OK, when, when they moved the police school-
I'm sorry, as you shifted around I saw the mic shadow. Just start again.
When they moved the police school down to the, Pennsylvania Ave., three days before the incident occurred, before the evacuation took place, we were under Captain Callahan, as a police school, but when we moved down there and were put on active duty, we came under an inspector of the police department. His last name was Hadley, and they always called him Handlebar Hadley, because he had a mustache that would stick out about six inches of each side of his nose, and he kept it twirled up, so they looked like handlebars on a motorcycle. He was a stickler for regulations, and he would come by and make all of us keep our coats buttoned, our ties tight, our caps on straight, and when he came by we would have to stand at attention. He was really a, a, yes, he wasn't very well-liked by the troops at that time. General Glassford came along day and saw us standing there with our coats buttoned, and he said, Unbutton your coats, loosen your ties, take your hat off, sit down, relax, because this is going to be a long, drawn-out affair, and I want you to be as comfortable as you possibly can be. So this kinda took the starch out of Handlebar Hadley's mustaches.
[laughs] OK, could you tell me the story again about the Pathe news truck?
The—up until about three or four days before the evacuation occurred, the news-reels were allowed to come in and take pictures of the encampment, and of the various activities that were going on. Then all of a sudden it seemed to change, the people that were left there seemed to have a different attitude toward things, and they seemed to be more antagonistic. I can re—just to give you an example, about two days before the evacuation, a Pathe news truck came in with the camera bolted to the top of the van, and came down Ohio Ave. to take pictures. When the veterans saw them, they picked up bricks and stones and started throwing them at the van, and the Pathe news man that was driving the van put it in reverse, and got out of there as fast as he could, because they were really trying to hurt them. From then on, no news-people were allowed in the encampment at all. [pause] At the encampment, where I stood from the north side of Pennsylvania Ave., the one big building that was scheduled for tearing down, had been partially demolished, but the veterans had moved in there, and they called this their fort. But outside of that, within the whole block from Fourth Street to, from Four and a Half Street to Third Street, was made up of shacks, thrown up with corrugated tin, with packing boxes, wooden packing boxes. A lot of them had gone to piano stores and gotten piano boxes and made houses out of them. Some of them had merely made them out of cardboard boxes, but this whole block was made up of an encampment of make-shift shacks.
What, do, you saw a brick battle. Could you describe that brick battle?
This happened in the morning, when General, Major Glassford decided, or General Glassford, decided that-
You could call him Major.
Major Glassford decided that—
Could you, could start at the beginning, 'This happened in the...'?
Yeah. This happened in the morning, when Major Glassford decided that he would try to carry out his orders, and move the veterans out of this area. So he got a group of the older policemen, a contingent, I don't know how many, maybe fifty, a hundred of them, and they moved into the area, to force the veterans out of the shacks, and to get moving on out of the District. Well,
the veterans refused to move. They got bricks and started throwing at the policemen, several of the policemen were hurt, and some of the policemen picked up bricks and threw them back at the veterans,
** and several of the veterans got hurt. This is when Major Glassford- Major Glassford was there at the time, and this was when Major Glassford decided this was beyond the capabilities of the police.
OK. Now, later on, you heard some shots, right?
That was about one forty-five, or so, somewhere around early afternoon.
About one forty-five, they were carrying veterans out of the building, bec—out of the brick building that they called the fort. They were carrying them out because they refused to leave without being carried, and the lift of one of the men, one of the veterans, there were two policemen trying to pick him up. This veteran grabbed a policeman, his name was Cooper, they called him 'Two-Gun' Cooper, grabbed his pistol from his holster, was getting ready to shoot him. Two-Gun Cooper was named this because he always carried his own pistol in addition to his official police revolver. Two-Gun pulled his gun out, and shot the veteran. We had heard that the veteran was wounded, we had heard that he died, I don't know. I found out later that there was one veteran possibly killed. I don't know whether this was the one or not, because I was not there. I just heard the shots.
That's great, let's cut.
It was probably a different place. We— you know, in your estimation, in your opinion, how had Washington changed in those four years?
Well, I don't know, in the four years time... I guess the word that I would use, it seemed to have become more cosmopolitan. It seemed that the government had more influence, the federal government, had more influence over the District government, than they'd had up to that time. I don't know, of course, when you're, when you're on the police department, you look at things a little differently than when you're a civilian. I could, I, well, this was a time when a policeman, if a juvenile did something, you didn't take him to juvenile court, you either took him home to his parents and let them spank him, or you took behind in a back alley and hit him across the rump with your billy-club, and let him go. So, that, that, of course, had changed in four years' time, but as far as the city itself was concerned, it was growing at a very, very rapid rate.
And its power over the country was growing, too, wasn't it? It's more a focal point, now, [inaudible].
Oh, yes, yes. The government had been gaining more power since World War I, and new agencies were being formed. The federal government was growing at great strides. Veteran's Administration came into being, and I forget how many thousand people they employed, and this brought an influx of people into the District.
OK. Now, I wonder if you could describe- well, hold on, let's cut for a second.
-like to ask you about, what, was there a difference-
We got to- [inaudible].
What, what was Washington, what was happening in terms of marches in Washington?
You mean after the Bonus riot?
No, before, leading up to it.
Before, leading up to it—well, it seemed that the federal government was growing. The federal government was taking over more and more land; for example, the Pennsylvania Ave. development. All this required more people to come in. They were forming new committees, new agencies, and all this required backup people, required people to support the government, so it ceased to be a small town, and it became more cosmopolitan, it spread out...
Were there marches? What was happening in terms of activism, with people?
We're still up between...?
End of, beginning of '32.
Beginning of '32, then you started getting more marchers. We had one big march at the- I remember distinctly, they called, they were calling for unemployment insurance, we didn't, the workers didn't have any insurance for unemployment, and we had a... well, it reached a point where the police department finally had-
So, let's start off by, what was your greatest worry, at that time?
Well, during police school, I worried that I might not be able to pass the final examination to be accepted. Then I went to, to the number one Precinct for three months, I was sent from police school to the number one Precinct. I was driving what they called an emergency car, at that time. We stayed in the station 'til we got a telephone call, and then we would go answer that telephone call, complaint. And then I got on a motorcycle, and I rode a motorcycle on the police department 'til I finally retired from the police department. My worry was, that I wouldn't do a good job. My worry was, that something would happen to me. I wasn't afraid of it: I broke a leg in three places on a motorcycle spill; I took a spill at seventy-mile [sic] an hour chasing a stolen automobile, didn't hurt myself; I jumped off of a bank, twenty-five feet high, after a fellow that had jumped out of a stolen car, broke my right arm. But these things had never worried me. I just, I guess I was worried more about what other people would think of me than, than the job, and, I was never afraid. I was worried, but I don't think I've ever been afraid.
OK. Let's go on, I wanted to ask you this, this question about the marches.
What was happening with these marches?
Well, of course, every march that came to Washington, always had to march around the Capitol, always had to march down Pennsylvania Ave., around the White House. These marches, although they accomplished a lot for the, the working man, they accomplished a lot for the farmers, but it reached a point where the police department finally had to give special training, and this is where they formed what was known as the riot squad. It's your SWAT teams, now, but we started getting prepared for these marchers, and were able to control them, keep them within the bounds of their permits. They had to have a permit, for their marches. But I can remember one, at that time none of the workers had unemployment insurance, and they had this march, and this, this one fellow, I kep—he couldn't speak English, he was yelling: 'Ve vant unemployment insurance'. You couldn't even understand what he wanted, but they got it, and they needed it, so the marchers helped a lot. I think a lot of it was brought about by activists, Communists, if you wish. Somebody was trying to rile the government. A lot of the marchers were, did a wonderful lot of good for the poor people, did an awful lot of good for the population. I think the marchers probably helped the working man more than anything else.
Did it feel in the, in that, those early months of 1932, 1931, 1932, that the pressure was building, that something was going to happen?
Oh, it had to be building, it was building within everybody, even, even, it was building within the policemen.
I went on the police department at a salary of nineteen-hundred dollars, a year, and in two months after on the police department, they cut us ten percent. But I was drawing a check every two weeks, and there was millions of people in the United States that was not drawing that. I was happy, I was ecstatic, I could pay for my clothes, I could buy my motorcycle shoes that I had to buy. Other people couldn't do this,
** there were millions of people in the United States, there- my mom and dad didn't have a nickel. They had the farm, they had enough to eat, but these people that, that, that made these marches, it was terrific.
** I don't know how they did it, but, how they did it, but, when you look at what some of the other people of the world have gone through and are going through at the present time, especially World War II... it was nothing, but at that time, it was the worst that had ever happened, in the United States.
That's great. OK, let's cut.
So, did you meet any-?
Oh, before, before things got tight, I'm speaking now of when the marchers first came. It was nothing unusual for a policeman to walk down among them and talk to them and play with the kids, and, and... it was just, the police department, the policemen themselves felt that this was just a group of people that were hard-up, that were after something that they felt they deserved, and this was the way they were going about it. As long as they had that attitude, the police department would do anything for them that we possibly could. It, it was, it was, well, it was enlightening to walk down among these people that didn't, you'd say they didn't have a cent in the world, they'd come from a place hoping to get some money, and have their kids playing down there. Most of them were just as clean as pins, their mothers took care of them, and their fathers were nice to them, and the police helped all the could, up until the time that, up until about three days before the evacuation. Then the whole tenor just seemed to change, and we weren't even allowed into the area anymore. We, we were, actually, the police department became enemies to the people that were left in there, and of course, when the troops came up, then, they were enemies to the veterans. And the veterans were enemies to the police, and to the troops.
Mike, is there anything else that you'd like to say about, about that time?
Well, at that time, I hardly realized the effect that this incident, this evacuation, the troops and all, would have on the world. The veterans had established the fact that military people, all military people, were to receive a certain amount of money, if they served properly. Up until that time, the only thing that, the only military people who got any money for serving were the ones who were wounded or the widows of the one who were killed. So, actually, the Bonus Marchers accomplished that much for the same people that were driving them out of the District. I have benefited by it, because I was a service man in World War II and during Korea. So I have benefited from the Bonus Marches, and when you look back on it, you wonder if it could have been handled a different way, but I don't think it could have been, because the people that were left were determined that they were going to get their bonus now, and they were going to show the government that they didn't have to move until they got good and ready, and that's the reason the troops were called in.
OK. All right, Ritter, do you have anything?
No, I think you've covered it.