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Anti-Semitism and Racism

John Simkin

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In April 1937 Hank Rubin was approached by a member of the Young Communist League and asked if he wished to join the International Brigades. He added: "I must tell you that the casualties are very high... about 50 percent mortality, and a high percentage of the survivors are wounded." Rubin, who was deeply concerned about the growth of fascism in Nazi Germany, decided to accept the offer.

Hank's father, who was a lifelong Republican, was completely opposed to the idea of him going to Spain. However, as he explained in his autobiography, Spain's Cause Was Mine (1997):

One of the strongest influences operating on me at the time was my relationship with my father. In my middle to late teens I was in a very active and very unpleasant separation struggle. Struggling for my independence, I hated him and wanted to get out of the house. I didn't want to have to accept anything from him or be dependent upon him. Yet, despite all of these antagonisms, I also had a strong sense of family and a deep attachment to my mother.

In so many respects, Dad was a very strong negative role model. His sense of family line and the Rubin name, most particularly his name, was almost an obsession. Since in his mind the succession was only through the male line, his focus was on my carrying on the family name. What he wanted most was for me to join him in his Los Angeles insurance agency, eventually taking over and perpetuating the firm name of Benjamin W Rubin and Associates making it "Benjamin W Rubin and Son." That I had set my scholastic goal on being a doctor was about as much as he could possibly stomach.

He was a lifelong Republican-an affiliation that held no attraction for me, since it represented standpattism, resistance to change, the hopelessness personified by President Hoover, and a heavy tilt toward the rich. But even if I had agreed with his politics in that moment of my active separation struggle, I would have been unable to accept his values. His conservatism and my antipathy to almost anything he stood for pushed me further along the path to the left on which I had already embarked. The way he laid down the law in the house, how he dictated what my mother might or might not do, his unwillingness to accept any of my struggles for identity, were part of what I hated (and still do).

I had nothing but disdain for his hypocrisy of decrying anti-Semitism and then in the next breath railing in a racist way against blacks. I believe that this was my first ideological conflict with him, back when I was only twelve or thirteen. A still-vivid memory is that first time I challenged this contradiction during a dinnertime conversation. He was telling; mother about a business meeting he had had that day at which one of the participants was blaming everything on the Jews. He described how mad he had been and how impotent he felt, because he was trying to sell the man some insurance and felt he could not speak out A moment later, Dad started to talk disparagingly about the blacks in much the same vein that his potential client had attacked Jews.

"Dad, why do you talk about how the Jews are talked about and then talk in the same way about the blacks?" I fearfully asked. "That doesn't make sense to me, and it doesn't seem fair."

"Henry, you don't understand. You just don't know what you are talking about. It's two different things. Blacks are different." Then he snapped, "Mind your manners. And don't you dare be disrespectful to me."

There was no arguing with him. His word in the house was law.

But my movement leftward was also motivated by my search for something to believe in, a system of ethics and morality and a way of life that I could honor. I knew that a society that suffered from wars, unemployment, and poverty as well as racial, religious, and sexual discrimination needed change. But just what that meant or how we might bring that change about was still unknown to me. The image of the United States as a melting pot that would boil down to form a single nation of Americans seemed right to me. The idea of Jewish separateness, centered in a unique country such as Palestine, was just unacceptable. While keenly aware of anti-Semitism in the United States, I did not know or, perhaps, want to know or want to believe how deep-rooted and vicious the practice of anti-Semitism was in other countries, how widespread it was, or even to what degree it existed in my own country.

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Having grown up in South Florida in the 1950's and the 1960's, a veritable hotbed and lightning rod for persons with strong xenophobic attitudes including anti-Semitism, Racism, anti-immigrationism, homophobia, teetotalers, Atheists and anti-Atheists, Communists and anti-Communists, Fascists and anti-Fascists and even anti-Catholicism and anti-Protestantism as well.

Sometimes it is very difficult to shed attitudes and habits built up and nurtured over a lifetime of influences by friends, family and associates. If I had not been brought up within this xenophobic environment, I would never have been able to solve the JFK case in such a short time period. By looking into the statements and attitudes of those involved with the JFK assassination, it became quite apparent that only among those who shared at least 5 or 6 of the aforementioned ISMS would you find those with the vehemence, the vitriole and the venom required to act on their death wishes against JFK. My parents were both anti-Communists, anti-McCarthyists and anti-Fascists for obvious reasons. So when remnants of pervasive xenophobia rear their ugly heads during my postings, rants and revelations you have to take it with a grain of salt.

I can see where Rubin's father would lash back after decades of being subjected to anti-Semitism by lashing out at persons who were also victims of persecution for their racial background. Not to justify his actions, but in an attempt to rationalize them away perhaps.

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Here is an article posted at http://www.hope1842.com about Growing up in Paradise on the Wrong Side of the Street

It documents the level of racism, xenophobia and hate prevalent in Hopedale, MA over the decades as typified by

the Drapers and their friends. Wickliffe Draper will someday also be known as the biggest stereotypical racist

in the history of the world. Here are the Draper racist campaigns:

1) The Back to Africa Movements in the 1950's

2) The Funding of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission

3) Funding the murders of Medgar Evers, Jr., Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner and others.

4) Sponsoring the research behind the publishing of the Bell Curve 20 years after his death.

5) Funding the Johnson Anti-Immigration Act of 1924

6) Encouraging Eben S. Draper, Jr. to organize riots against Dr. Ossian Sweet near Detroit Michigan in the 1920's or 1930s

7) Funding resistance to Brown vs. Board of Education (Integregation of Schools) and The Civil Rights Act of 1964

8) The persecution of Sacco and Vanzetti

And here is a first person account of life in Hopedale, MA, the FIRST COMPANY TOWN IN AMERICA, which apparently did not

permit any blacks to live or work in the entire town. Those of you who insist that Wickliffe Draper had NOTHING to do with the

JFK Assassination should be ashamed of yourselves after all the mounting evidence has been accumulated. It is just pure

and deliberate obstructionism to make that claim with NO SUPPORTING EVIDENCE.

Growing Up in Paradise

(On the Wrong Side of the Tracks)

By John Cembruch

Where is Paradise? What is Paradise? Is there a Paradise? The dictionary defines Paradise: "A place or state of bliss, Heaven." If those words are true, then the only place Paradise can exist is in the mind of each one of us.

Sitting here in my office on a cold winter day, December 2000, reading an old Milford Massachusetts daily newspaper, an article caught my eye. It was asking the question, "What was it like to grow up in Hopedale, Massachusetts in the 20s, 30s, and the 40s. They call it the "Draper years" after the Draper family who started the Draper Corporation.

According to the article, the Government is giving a grant to the Blackstone Valley Region to put together articles on this area of which Hopedale is a big part. They want to preserve its history on the Internet.

The article states that they would love to have people that remember the "Draper years" come forward and tell what it was like to grow up and live there. Since I have been blessed with a mind that doesn't forget anything, I sat there and thought about those years from the 30s to the 60s. My mind started acting like a 4th of July rocket display; a big explosion falling off a lot of little explosions, all memories of things that happened in those years coming to my mind's eye like that huge fireworks display.

The very first thing that came to mind was of the few people who would step up and tell their story. They would look at only one side of the story. How good it was to live in Hopedale. (Most people who lived in Hopedale then had a pretty good life.) So with this in mind, I wiil try and give you the view of Paradise from the other side of the tracks.

The Dale of Hope was founded in 1841 by Adin Ballou. He was a Socialist and an idealist. Paradise lasted for fifteen years and, for reasons unknown to me, went down from there.

The Draper years (1886-1970) consisted of an idea to build a mill that would make machinery to make cloth. The mill was built. The original building, which still stands, was approximately 20' x 90' but later it would turn into hundreds of thousands of square feet, and with it came the homes that were built for the workers. This was common practice in those days. Finally, a full-blown town emerged with amenities not seen in most mill towns. A river is dammed, a pond is formed (300 feet wide and two miles long), schools are built as well as a company store, an ice house, an streets. A really beautiful town now existed; the Draper family's idea of Paradise.

On a cold, windy February 8, 1927, I was born. Not in a hospital, two miles away in Milford, Massachusetts, like most of the townspeople. No. I came into the world at 121 Freedom Street, better known as the "Seven Sisters." This makes me proud in a sense because my birth certificate shows Hopedale as my birthplace. Most of my generation was born in Milford. This would make me a charter member of Paradise, right?

Not so fast! Did I mention "Seven Sisters"? These were seven identical houses, each with five rooms per side (duplexes), three small bedrooms upstairs, small living room, kitchen and a pantry. Also a small room the size of two telephone booths with a toilet only, and a cellar. No central heat. This was Paradise. And so it was. Every house in town at that time had central heat and a full bathroom. Quit nice for the times except for the Seven Sisters.

The Seven Sisters were alongside the railroad tracks. If you crossed the tracks and walked a quarter of a mile, you were in the middle of my future play yard, the town and company dump. While it was only a quarter mile, to walk to the dump, it was also only a quarter mile walk for the rats to come to live in our house. For years, until I was sixteen years old, I would lay in bed at night and listen to the rats running in the walls and ceiling of my bedroom. It always amazed me that they very seldom came into the house. I always assumed that they didn't come into the house because they could always go to the dump and get all they wanted to eat. Those days people didn't have a lot of food hanging around in the house. In the winter it was probably warmer in the walls than in the house. The only room that was heated was the kitchen. On weekends the living room was heated by a separate small oil stove and that depended on my brother, Frank, who was ten years older than me. Since Frank knew about electricity, on most weekends he would jump the electric meter with jumper wires so we could use the lights and play the radio.

It may be hard to fathom, but before 1939 and 1940, the Depression was ending. Hardly anybody worked after 5:00 PM, or nights, or weekend. Most people in Hopedale at least had a job and through the Depression most of them worked at least three days a week.

Around 1941/1942, the Drapers finally brought in a company that exterminated the rats at the dump and in the Seven Sisters.

Paradise came with a set of rules, some spoken and a lot unspoken. To live in a Draper house (over 90% of the houses in Hopedale were owned by Drapers), someone in the family had to work for the company. In the 30s, the price of a Seven Sisters rent was $.75 a week. This included light bulbs and electric fuses. The houses were painted outside every five to seven years. The inside was papered or painted (one room) every year. In the early 40s my sister Stella, who was working in the shop, was paying $2.25 a week for the rental. She broke one of the rules by getting a petition signed by the fourteen tenants in the Seven Sisters. This was to have a full bathroom built in the houses. No other improvements were ever made until the company sold the houses in the 1950s.

The names of the families that lived in the Seven Sisters were the Nurses, Inghams, Hoaglands, Hollands, Barrows, Rowes, Cembruchs, Blisses, Bouviers, Costellos, Kunzs, Reillys and Roberts. They all lived there when I was eight to twelve years old (1935-1939). As the years passed, some of the names changed. Around 1939 the company started moving widows into the Seven Sisters. Draper was good to the people who worked hard and kept their noses clean. You must remember there was no unemployment or welfare from the Federal or State government. The only time anyone received any aid or help was on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, (i.e. Salvation Army).

Most of the Seven Sisters had small gardens behind the house. Some had extra gardens behind the old ice house. There were several large gardens. The ice house was torn down in 1943, and several years later Tom West built a mansion on that property. Tom West was the president of Drapers. Hopedale was a truly beautiful and clean town. Even though we were poor, we were clean because our parents insisted on it.

Was there discrimination in Hopedale? You better believe there was. Big time!!! Everybody discriminated against everybody else because of their ethnic background. The pecking order, or place of importance, was obvious. Those who ran the shop such as bosses were English. Then people from western Europe came, the Swedish, Danish, etc. Italians, Portuguese, my own people, the Polish, and the Russians came last.

If I had a dollar for every time I was called a "Polack," I would be living on Easy Street today. The reason I have not mentioned blacks is because Hopedale did not have any. The first black person I ever saw, when I was about nine or ten years old, was a man who was a chauffer for a rich family. The other kids didn't call be "Polack" but it was their parents and people who ran things in town. It wasn't really that bad because everybody was from different ethnic backgrounds. It even amused me when I was young. When some grown person would call me "Polack," my response was, "I'm an American since I was born in Hopedale, Massachusetts. Where were you born?" Most of the people were imports.

I mention rules spoken, and rules not spoken. One of the unspoken rules was that there were no registered Democrats in town until after World War II. When President Roosevelt died in 1944, Draper Corporation did not lower their flag on the shop and town buildings to half-mast. This drew criticism from Walter Winchell on radio, and from people all over the country. Walter Winchell was the biggest news person of our time. The reason this stayed in my memory is that in the spring of 1943, Hopedale had a serious crime problem.

Draper was going to have a big political rally for the Republicans that was to be held between the schoolyard of the Chapel Street School and the main office of Draper Corporation. The schoolyard was four feet higher than the street surface. The dignitaries could stand in the schoolyard and address all the people at the 12:00 to 1:00 lunch break who were on the road below. The keynote speaker was going to be the Republican Governor of Massachusetts, Governor Saltonstall. The night before the rally, someone painted "Roosevelt" down the middle of Chapel Street in very large white letters which were approximately 15 feet high and 10 feet wide per letter. A pretty impressive sight! [i asked John for more details on the prank. Here's his reply. "The way we painted the ROOSEVELT sign was, we stole 8 or 10 gallons of paint and I walked with cans and formed the letters. Four or five kids with brushes painted out the letters.They were 15 ft h and 10 ft or so w .This was around 9 pm .We had one kid on Hopedale Street as a lookout. The brushes were stolen also."]

By 10:00 PM Drapers had a gang of painters from the shop trying to clean the letters with paint thinner. In those days, roads were not as smooth as today. The cleaning crew found it impossible to remove the painted sign. After several hours, they gave up. By 6:00 AM they had an asphalt truck come from Boston and they covered the sign with tar and sand.

John Cyr and I were picked up and questioned most of the next day. John and I grew up as buddies and hung out together a lot. It seems we were suspects and were questioned for hours. Whenever there was a problem, we were singled out, most of the time with good reason. As kids we learned all the tricks the cops used to get kids to confess. We knew the Draper Corporation was really upset since the paint used was taken out of the Little Red Shop on Progress Street. Supplies were stored there to repair the houses. Of course this made the crime serious since this would include breaking and entering. (Plus this was bucking the "Man," an unwritten law.) The Red Shop now stands on the other side of the pond. It is the original Draper Company building, and is an historical landmark.

Well, to this day they never could prove we were the culprits. This type of thing today is nothing, but in the 20s and 30s this was serious stuff. You did not buck the "Man." If you check the Milford Daily News from that time period you will never find any negative article about Hopedale. If you can't comprehend the points I'm trying to make, read the story of Sacco and Vanzetti. They were a couple of Italian boys that tried unionizing some shops in the Boston area. One of them worked at Drapers for a while. They were framed, and both were hanged for killing a cop.

John Cyr was questioned just one time about this incident. I have to mention that John's father was boss on the paint crew that spent the night trying to clean up the sign, so you can figure out John's dilemma. I was picked up every day for a couple of weeks after school. I never admitted anything to Chet Sanborn, who was a patrol officer when this happened. Later, when he was Chief of Police, and I had bought a house at 116 Freedom Street (this was across the street from where I was born), he drew me aside one night at the Town Hall Spa and asked me again if we had painted the sign. I told him "no," but I guess in his mind, he knew it was us. To this day I'm sorry I didn't tell him we had done it. Don't get me wrong. I didn't lie to him out of spite or other psychological reasons. It's just the way I grew up, protecting my butt. For the record, as a kid and later as an adult, I always though of Chet Sanborn as a fair and good man.

Before I go any further, I must explain my position of last on the pecking list. When I was eight years old, my father contracted tuberculosis. He worked in the brass foundry at Draper Company. He was sent to the Boylston Sanitorium for five years. When he got out, he divorced my mother for reasons unknown to me. This left me fatherless, and with a mother who was shy and unassuming and spoke no English. When she died in her 80s, after living in the country for some 60 years, I don't think she know 50 words of English. We always had to speak Polish at home. This left me completely on my own at the age of eight in a town where all the people were always sucking up to the people in charge. Most of these people had kids, and all kids get into trouble of some kind. So what can be better than having a scapegoat? Any problem that comes up, "The Polack did it"

By the time I was ten I was constantly in trouble and had an ongoing battle with Draper Company, the police, and most of the adults. I'll never forget when I was fifteen. A couple of days after Halloween, the Chief of Police, Tom Malloy, brought me into the police station. He must have felt sorry for me and his words were, "John, you've got a serious problem. We've gotten calls from people all over town swearing they saw you breaking this or damaging that. I know you're a trouble maker and I know you can run pretty past, but I know you can't cover the whole town on foot in a few minutes."

Between the years when I was ten to eighteen, to this day I really believe they were the greatest days of my life. You probably think I'm nuts. Irrational thinking! How can someone think they are living a great life with the whole town on their case? In those days, the movies came out with a revolutionary new move about the street gangs of New York City. Basically it was what life was for kids with the country in a deep depression. They were called the "Dead End Kids." These kids went from getting into minor problems with the authorities in their early teens to serious problems in their late teens, to killing and getting killed. From the time that movie came out, the kids of the Seven Sisters were named the Seven Sisters Gang. John Cembruch was named "Shampoo." In those days, if you were in a gang, everybody had a nickname. I was the leader but I don't know why. I wasn't the biggest kid. As a matter of fact, I was small for my age. Like the kids today, we were always bored. All the kids in the Seven Sisters, and from across the street, would hang out in my yard. Guess it was because there was no man in my house to throw them out. It wouldn't take me very long to come up with something to get us into trouble. I don't know of one kid in town that wasn't told not to play or hang around with me. Kids being no different than they are now, I always had plenty of them hanging around.

Earlier in the story, I mentioned the dump being my play yard. Today, if you go into the old dump area where the Little League field is now, that was the center of the dumping area. Just as you go into the dump now on the left, we had a ball field. My brother's group, ten years older, had made and abandoned it, so we took over. All the kids that lived in the Seven Sisters were excellent ball players from the ages of seven to sixteen. We played ball in the summer from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. We played non-stop, and everybody played. No supervision. We played, we argued, we had fistfights, and we played. When we had eight or ten kids, we'd pick sides and start to play. As a kid showed up, he would be placed on a team that was short-handed. When kids had to go home for lunch, or if their sisters would come and get them to go home, whe they came back, the could be on the opposite team. At times there would only be four or five kids on a team, and sometimes there would be as many as sixteen to eighteen kids on one team. No relief players. We all played. Most of us learned a great lesson from this - how to stand up for yourself. If you got into a fight, when it was over, win or lose, we'd forget about it. We would go home still friends. No the dump, my paradise. One afternoon around 5 p.m. all the kids had gone for supper. I had an hour to kill until the kids came back. I was ten years old. Without a father, I did pretty much what I wanted to do. I used to come out in summer at 8 a.m. and go home around 9 p.m. Draper had a steam whistle that blew every day at 8 a.m. when the factory opened. It also blew at 12 noon for lunch, at 1 p.m. when it was time to go back to work, and at 9 p.m.. The 9 p.m. whistle meant all kids sixteen and under had to be home, or on their way home. You could not hang out on the streets.

To kill some time, I went big game hunting in the dump, killing rats with 10" x 10" pieces of steel. Drapers used to throw the pieces of steel away. You would throw them at the rats, trying to spear them. This was big sport for years. Some of the boys and a lot of men had .22 rifles and spent hours shooting rats.

To get back to my story, Draper had a man in charge of the dump. He had a small garage with a stove. He was there 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. His job was to tell the trucks where to dump their loads. The trucks that hauled the foundry dirt from the molds would cover the garbage. We called this man “the Russian.” He could not speak English. I guess the dialect of Polish that I spoke was common in Europe and I could converse with him. The Russian was talking to Mr. Sniderman. Mr. Sniderman could speak Polish. They were making some kind of a deal. Mr. Sniderman was Hopedale’s junk collector. He would ride through town with horse and buggy and call out, “Rags!” He would buy any rags or metal that people were throwing away. Just the year before, he sold his horse and buggy and bought a truck. He had a young guy drive it. This was the first time I ever saw Mr. Sniderman in the dump. [The Snidermans lived at the corner of Freedom and Williams streets, at the five-corner intersection. They had a small dump behind the house and a small grocery store out near the street.]

The wheels were turning in my 10-year-old mind. Remember, it was 1937 and we were still in the Depression. There were no jobs for kids. After speaking to me in Polish, Mr. Sniderman and the Russian explained their dilemma. The Russian worked for the company and was not allowed to pick junk as they were paying his salary. Mr. Sniderman was not allowed in the dump at all, so the Russian would gather rags and Mr. Sniderman would sneak into the dump after hours and buy the rags. They knew I saw them dealing so they asked me not to say anything. That’s when I made them a deal they couldn’t refuse. I would get some of the kids to help me pick scrap metal, barrels and rags. We would throw all the rags behind the Russian’s shed so that made him happy. Mr. Sniderman would show up after the Russian went home for the night. Mr. Sniderman would buy the junk from us. Now this went on for eight years, until I went into the Army. I know that Drapers knew what was going on but they never once tried to stop it even though they could have because it was private property.

Nineteen thirty-nine and the war was coming. Scrap metal was constantly going up in price and we made a lot of money, plus when the war started we were considered patriotic. Mr. Sniderman made tons. I was stunned in the early 60s when the Russian who retired in the 50s and probably never made more than $25 a week. He died and left an estate of $150,000. Mr. Sniderman was my mentor. We fought like cats and dogs. He was constantly trying to cheat us on the weights and what category certain junk would come under. When I felt cheated, I would ask him for a ride out of the dump on the back of his truck. I would have a couple of kids stand in front of the back window of the truck. Then I was stand on the back of the truck and throw stuff off. Then I would go back and pick it up and put it with the metal we gathered for the next day. This went on for years with no animosity between us. It was just doing business. What this gentleman taught me about business I could not learn in college. Not even come close.

Fall, 1938: I got up, dressed, had breakfast and walked to the Dutcher Street School. Kids were talking about a bad hurricane with winds over 100 miles per hour crossing Long Island. Did the town officials send us home? No! Like every other day, we went home for lunch and had to come back for the afternoon session. By the time school closed at 3:30, the winds were blowing 45 to 50 miles an hour. I got home, changed my clothes and went out. Kids in those days were always outdoors. By 5 p.m. the wind was really blowing. Standing near the Freedom Street gate of Drapers, I saw a large section of a three to four stories high wall come crashing down. Some kids told us the bridge over the railroad yard was swaying in the wind. This was the bridge that spanned the railroad yard starting at the Coal & Ice Company to the library on Hopedale Street. The bridge had a hot top road. The sidewalks were made out of boards along the bridge. I was trying to entice guys to go on the bridge with me. In a few seconds the winds really started blowing. Then came a big gust. That gust lifted the wooden walkway from one side of the bridge to the other. It lifted it up over the railing. A quarter mile of the walkway laid destroyed on the railroad tracks, 25 feet below. It had been raining and we were all soaked. It was 6:30 so we decided to go home. The storm ended that night around midnight. In the morning just about every tree in town had been blown down. Wires were down everywhere. A lot of chimneys were down or hanging over the edge of roofs. Believe it or not, school was in session. Did I go to school? No way! There was gold lying in the streets. I got a hatchet out of our cellar and started working my way down the street pulling the copper wires out of the trees that came off of the light poles. I cut them in long lengths, rolled them up, ran home and threw the wire into the cellar window. I also stripped the lead flashing off the chimneys that fell to the ground. Four or five weeks after the storm, things got back to normal. No officials came knocking at our door so I sold the copper for close to $125. That was close to six weeks pay for someone working in the mill. To this day I never understood why grownups didn’t take advantage of making extra money by gathering up copper and lead. I guess it was the fear that they might lose their jobs at Drapers because the unseen “them” might not want anyone picking up the copper.

The Seven Sisters gang was not all bad. As we were getting older, we were betting more and more in trouble. One hot summer day, 1940 or 1941, we were desperate for a new idea for something to do. We were hanging out in the woods between the Seven Sisters and the dump when someone found a dead cat. That’s when I suggested we bury it properly. Someone went to the dump and got a large glass jar and cover and we buried the cat. This was with full honors, the Seven Sisters gang standing at attention. That’s when the idea struck me. Let’s make a pet cemetery. The gang spent the next two days cleaning a small patch in the woods, making pathways with white painted stones. We busted our butts. A beautiful cemetery for pets. A couple of guys were sent to the dump for gathering caskets – glass jars or tin containers. Some guys were sent to the dump to look for customers for our cemetery. They came back with a couple of dead rats, a dead dog, and one more dead cat. Another group went over by the ice house near the pond where the German lady, Mrs. Kunz from the Seven Sisters, used to feed the birds and they brought back a half dozen birds. We buried all these animals with little white crosses. This was very impressive. Then someone told his parents what we were doing. The next day a couple of disbelieving parents showed up. When the word got out, all the women from Progress Street and Bancroft Park and other surrounding streets came. After work, some of the men showed up. By the next day a couple of town officials were there. The best surprise of all was when the Milford Daily News showed up and took pictures. They printed a story about what these wonderful kids were doing, not wasting their time that summer.

Most of the kids by then either owned a .22 rifle of a BB gun. The dog and cat that we first buried died of natural causes. The rest came with the help of the Seven Sisters gang.

The town had a lot of great programs for kids. I think that just about every kid in town knew how to swim. Once the gang learned to swim, we never went to the town bathhouse, because of the segregation. We swam at the old icehouse. Town officials tried for a couple of years to get us to stop and finally gave up and let us along.

There is something I’d like to inject here because the more I write, the more I remember. All the years growing up in Hopedale and the bad things that people did to me, I can’t remember any animosity, hard feelings, or hate for anyone. As a very young boy, all I remember is having this feeling of being free. Regardless of what someone said or did, no one could make me lose that feeling of freedom. That feeling is still with me to this day, and because of that feeling, I am living a great life. The only regret I have is quitting school. I believe the four years of high school that I gave up took many years out of my life. Now I keep reading and studying to make up for those four lost years.

We had no school buses. Everyone walked to school. If my mind serves me correctly, the kids that lived a certain distance from school brought their lunch and stayed in school all day. The rest of us had to go home for lunch.

All of our regular teachers were spinsters. Married schoolteachers were used to fill in part time. The 8th grade had a male teacher, Mr. B, who was also the principal of the lower grades. One of his jobs was to kick butt of the guys and troublemakers. And he did. I only had one or two minor problems with Mr. B. He took me down to the boys’ room and shoved me around a little. I don’t remember any kid complaining about him, because when he shoved you, you definitely deserved it. When I told him six months in advance that I was quitting, he tried to convince me not to leave school.

In the 7th grade we had a 4’8” teacher at about 85 pounds. This lady would have walked away with any honors for “Teacher of the Year” award. You must remember that when you marched into the classroom in the morning, you stayed in that room all day and Miss Cressey would teach you every subject. The only subjects she did not teach were music and art. Someone else taught those subjects. If you went into her class at the beginning of the year and didn’t understand any subject she taught, by the end of the year you definitely understood all the subjects. Miss Cressey was one of the hardest driving and no nonsense persons I ever came in contact with in my whole lifetime.

When WWII started, I was 15 years old. Almost nothing changed in Hopedale. Drapers was still producing looms. The war effort needed cloth, so Drapers wasn’t converted into some other industry. They did add on a four-story addition to the shop on Hopedale Street. That part of the shop was used to make howitzers. After the war it was converted into the shipping room. But everything else remained pretty much the same. Drapers ran the shop and the town and the people had no input into running the town. Drapers, to people then, was like the Federal Government is today. People want “Big Brother” to take care of them. In any election in Hopedale there were five positions open and only five people ran and never two for the same position. Remember, that up until the war started, no working people paid income or sales taxes. I guess Drapers paid for the beautiful par with tennis courts, baseball fields, Community House, bathhouse and ski hill. They had the right to run them.

1943: I was 17 years old and just about everybody in town told me I would either be dead or in jail before I was 21. In the fall of 1943, I finally got caught. Two other guys and I stole a car battery out of the motor in the ski hill hut. We tried to start an old car. The battery was dead so we threw it away. The cops found it and got one of the guys to rat me out. I was told that the police wanted to make an example out of me. I got one month in jail. But was sentenced to one year on probation. On the day of my 18th birthday I sat in the police station being offered a deal I couldn’t refuse. They could not draft me while I was on probation and I had nine more months to go. They would drop the charges, and if I went into the service and came out with an Honorable Discharge, all the charges would be erased. Two weeks later I was in Boston for my physical, and four weeks later I was on the troop train to Fort McCullen, Alabama. In seventeen weeks, the Army turned my life around. After one and a half years in Germany, I got out with the Honorable Discharge. The Army taught me something I lived by all my life. Three words: “No excuse, Sir.”

Believe it or not, when I got back to Hopedale two years later, nothing had changed. They refused to clean my record and finally I threatened that I was going to the Veterans’ Administration. They backed off and cleaned up the criminal record.

1946: The war is over and the whole world is changing. Unions have gotten footholds into large corporations. How were the people of Hopedale progressing? Not too good. (My opinion.) They settled right back into the old routine. Drapers would say, “jump.” The people would say “how high?” My reply was “why?” With this attitude, the people, Drapers and town officials had a new name for me – “troublemaker.” My mother still lived in the house in Seven Sisters because my sister was working in Drapers and paying about $2.75 a week for rent.

Between 1946 and 1950 I worked for Drapers three different times. Once for a week, the second for one month, and the third time for one year. (1949 – 1950) The third time was working in the maintenance paint gang. (The same group that tried cleaning up the Roosevelt sign a few years before.) I must be truthful here. Because I could draw and sketch somewhat, Drapers offered to send me to night school at Worcester Trade to learn to be a sign painter. This meant a job for life in Drapers. I was predicting that Drapers would be closed in fifteen to twenty years. People called me nuts.

I quit my painting job and went trucking for the next four years. In the mid-50s Drapers sold off the houses, and you had to be there to see it. People turned on each other over a few inches of land between their houses. Like other houses, the Seven Sisters had a hot top road that went behind all seven. This was for the garbage men so they could pick up and it wouldn’t have to sit in front of the houses. This made it great because everyone was purchasing a car and they could drive on the road and park behind their houses. Because the road went over a few feet of the two end homes’ property, the minute they took ownership of their homes, people in the two end homes dug up the road. So now, the only way people could get to their backyard was to dig up their lawns. I am sure if those fourteen families could have worked out some way of leaving that road there, a road that had been there for years, it would have benefited everyone. Most of the people who lived in Hopedale walked to work for years. If there was an empty lot, people walking to work would cut across it to save steps. When these empty lots were sold with a house, within a short time there was a fence to stop people from walking there. Up until this time, Drapers was still running the town. If a town position was open, only one person was running for it. But things were starting to change. There were a few people starting to question – “Why?”

From 1950 to 1956: I had been married and lived in California one year and then in Milford, Massachusetts, but I was still connected to Hopedale and Drapers from 1952 until 1957. I worked for Hopedale Coal & Ice, driving an oil tanker from Providence, Rhode Island, to Hopedale. My job was to keep the million-gallon tank in Draper’s lower yard near the foundry full of oil to heat the factory. Hopedale Coal & Ice was owned by Bill Gannett. The Gannets were tied in with the Drapers through marriage. [bill Gannett’s mother was the daughter of Gov. Eben Draper.] Between the Gannetts and Drapers, they held controlling interests in Draper Corporation. To give you an example of how much Draper still tried to control people, from the day the coal company hired me, my job was part-time. I worked five months through the winter and worked for Rosenfeld Ready-Mix six months in the summer. So every year everyone in town knew I got laid off from the coal company in April.

1955 – 1956: Drapers was having problems. They had let the Japanese in the 40s see how the looms were being made; now they were cutting into Draper’s market. Sitting in the town hall spa having coffee, people were talking rumors about Drapers selling or closing. Someone asked me if I heard anything. I answered that all I knew was that I was getting laid off in a week. The floodgates were open and one guy says, “If they’re getting rid of John, they’re not buying any more oil to heat the plant so they must be closing.” This was after my first trip to Providence for oil. I used to make three trips a day, six days a week. When I got back from my second trip, and had lunch at the spa, the rumor was, “Some big shot at Drapers let it slip out that Drapers wasn’t buying any more oil and the million-gallon tank was empty.” (It was full to the top.) “They must be closing.”

When I got back from my three trips and was pulling into the yard to park my truck, Mr. Hall, the boss of the coal company, came out of the office like he was shot out of a cannon, screaming that I was getting him fired. When I got him settled down, I took him to the spa and Norm Hanley, the owner, backed me up in what I had said. With the big shots in Drapers, it was still the same. The “Polack” was to blame. Drapers had a new approach. If someone uttered or thought the word “union,” they would say, “We will close Hopedale and move to Spartanburg.” (Spartanburg, South Carolina, where they had a large foundry.) In years of questioning, I could never get an answer as to who “they” were.

I quit the coal company in ’57 and had bought a house at 116 Freedom Street. This was across the street from the Seven Sisters. I got a job as a long distance truck driver.

Around 1958 the country was in a recession. There were a few large trucking companies that were unionizing the long distance truckers and the independent owners. These were having a hard time. I had borrowed money on my house, bought a tractor and went into business. After a few weeks, the truck engine blew up and I was out of business. Several months later I lost my house. There was unemployment insurance and some welfare. All over the country people were struggling. But Hopedale was proud and took care of their own. But like everything, you didn’t get anything for nothing. There were always strings attached. At this time, one of my sons had pneumonia and had to be in Milford Hospital. No money, no job. I was talking to the Veterans’ Administration in Milford and was told that the V.A. would help in cases like this. However, I would have to talk to the V.A. man in Hopedale. W, the fire chief, who was approved and appointed by Drapers, was the man. Explaining my case, W came up with a big “no.” He would not help, the reason being that there were jobs open at Drapers. It was a definite “take the job” because the V.A. would not help. I know that W lived to regret the day he forced me to take the job in Drapers. I had my choice of two jobs. Drill press operator or inside transportation, which was moving parts from one department to another with fork trucks and jetty.

I loved the job from day one because you had freedom to think and you worked all over the shop. The best part was working with the millwrights, moving and installing machinery from 500 lbs. To 50,0000 lbs. Four months after starting my new job, I was sent by my boss to the foundry storage room. Orders were to transfer 400 or 500 cases of emery cloth from the foundry storage to dump station. You put the cases into dump trucks and took them to the area which used to be my old stomping ground, “the dump.”

Drapers had a policy. Anything they were throwing away you could buy for a token dollar amount or the price of scrap. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Four hundred cases of unopened emery cloth. Observation and a quick count told me only twenty cases on the bottom of the huge pile were wet. They stunk to high heaven. Knowing human nature, and thanks to Mr. Sniderman, I made a deal with the gentleman in charge of the storage room. If I could buy the cloth, I would load it on pallets myself. Otherwise, it would go to the dump. He would have to help me load. I was broke and in debt for $9,000 to $10,000. At this time this was two to three years salary from my trucking business. Not knowing what it was going to cost to purchase the cloth, I went to two of my neighbors who were bosses. They both rejected my offer to make them partners for half the payment to purchase it. My offer to Drapers was going to be between $250 and $500. After talking to a half dozen other people to come into the deal, and listening to all the old excuses that they wouldn’t be throwing it away if it wasn’t any good, nobody would buy it, I thought to myself, “To hell with these people.” I went and saw the engineer in charge of the emery cloth. The fellow in charge of the storage room timed it right so he could help me purchase the cloth. We showed up at his boss’s office. He told his boss it was junk and they had no need for it anymore. This guy wasn’t here, I found out a couple of days later, to help me but to help himself. He thought I was an idiot. The way he was thinking, if I bought it, he wouldn’t have to repack the boxes onto the pallets. I had promised to do it myself. He was glad to help me. Well, I almost fell out of the chair when the engineer told me it would cost me $5.00 for the lot. I rented a truck and hauled my cloth over to an old garage on Lake Street. Within three months, I had sold all of it.

Purchase cloth $5.00

Rent truck 50.00

Rent garage 40.00

Run ad in paper 100.00

Salesman commission 8,000.00

Total cost 8,195.00

Sold cloth for 25,000.00

My profit $16,000.00

In the months to follow, every time the story was told, the numbers seemed to get larger. I had a new nickname – “The Sandpaper King.” And, believe me, the company did question me on what happened. My lesson in life from Mr. Sniderman, two years in the Army, and being a road scholar (driving a truck all over the country), was paying off. From all my observations, people in Hopedale were different in the way they thought about life.

Just about everyone that lived in town and worked at Drapers really believed that the sun rose and set on Draper Corporation. In the 50s, the unions were knocking on Draper’s door. Workers at large companies were striking to unionize. I actually had people telling me that they were glad other companies were being unionized and out on strike because it would make the pay go up in Drapers. When I asked if they would like to unionize, the answer was “no.” They couldn’t see paying some gangster to ride around in a Cadillac and represent them. Then I would ask if they were willing to donate a couple of dollars to help some people who were on strike a long time. In the long run, this would help us. The answer was “no.” They didn’t want to get involved. This was the same kind of mentality that went on during World War II with the Jews. Being able to speak Polish fluently, and being in Germany in 1945-46, I was able to translate for the Army. I talked to thousands of Jews and displaced persons. One question I always asked was, “How could a handful of soldiers herd hundreds of people into a given spot and shoot them when all these hundreds could have overwhelmed the few soldiers? This way the majority could survive.” I have never gotten an answer to this question.

Two and a half years later, I get up and go to work one morning and, lo and behold, who’s standing at the entrances to the shop? Steel Workers of America, passing out leaflets! I accepted the literature and put it into my pocket, figuring I would read it on coffee break. My neighbors took the leaflets and were thanking the gentlemen from the union for being there and for coming to Hopedale. But once inside the shop, they all to a man did the same thing. They looked around to see if there was a hidden camera or a boss standing around watching. With great pride, they threw the leaflets into the garbage bins. Again a question. If they are the enemy (the union), shouldn’t we read what they have to offer? I must admit that the few women deserve a pat on the back because they flatly stood up to the union guys and refused it.

I mentioned earlier that W, the veterans’ agent, forced me back to work in a degrading way. Well, payback time, W. Most people running things or having jobs with some authority love to shove it down other people’s throats. These people are called middle management. My point here is that two people out of two thousand came forward to work for the union. One of the two, was forced to work for Drapers by W, the VA rep…me! I went to a union meeting in Milford. There were only about a dozen people there from Drapers. Up until a few years before this, any company could fire an employee helping to unionize a shop. The law had changed and now the Federal Government protected you from this old practice. You had to be careful. The best way was to come out in the open and the way to do this was to stand in front of the main door of the shop. This was the area that the big shots used and the leaflets were passed out there to be very visible. Out of the dozen at the union meeting, only two of us opted to come out in the open. Myself and another man of my age, Joe DeRoach, were the ones. I was astounded that only two guys out of about 2000 eligible to vote for the union came out in the open.

This was the time I called it the lay down time for the American male. What happened? Hopedale only a few years earlier had their share of World War II heroes and people who died for the cause of freedom. Were we going backwards? I stood out in front of the main door every morning for months. My job was to make sure that all the big shots who ran Drapers got their copy of our literature. All the highest-ranking people were very polite and thanked me. A couple of middle management people gave me some derogatory remarks. I told them to take the material home and go into the smallest room in their house and do what they saw fit to do with it. And again, almost all the women refused to take the pamphlets and told me to my fact that they were not interested in unions. This made me admire these women very much for standing up for their beliefs. Through this period, most of the men in my neighborhood would not walk with me to work or stop and talk with me. They labeled me “Trouble Maker” again.

The union lost the election that year. The afternoon we lost the election, I was summoned to the main office. At this meeting was the President of Drapers and several other high ranking Draper people. The man from the steel workers union and the government officer running the election were there also. This government attorney informed Drapers that even though the union lost the election, Drapers had two people who had better than union protection. We had the United States of America’s government protecting us. Those two people were Joe DeRoach and myself. The next year and a half, Drapers treated me with kid gloves. I swear I could have gone to work in the morning and laid down on the boss’s desk and taken a nap and no one would have said a word. My direct boss’s name was “Goodie.” (Cannot remember his last name.) Goodie didn’t have a good reputation in the shop because he treated everyone in the department the same. (25 people in all) This was not the Draper way. There were certain people who thought that because of certain circumstances, they should be treated better. They really believed that jus doing your job had nothing to do with earning your way in life.

A year and a half after losing the election, I quit Drapers and went back to long distance trucking. A year or so later, the union got into Drapers. Now, all the people in town who would not talk to me were running around saying the union this, or the union that, or our union. The union did absolutely nothing for the people in Drapers. Remember, the union is not “they.” The union is the people who work in the factory.

A couple of years later Drapers sold out to Rockwell. It did not take long to realize what a loser they had bought. Rockwell International, a worldwide conglomerate, snuffed out Drapers like a match in the wind. They closed the doors and left town. I think I was a year off my prediction, fifteen years earlier.

Rockwell took over Draper Corporation in 1967. The plant was closed in 1980.

About the Author

John Cembruch

Born February 8, 1927, Hopedale, Mass.

Lived in Hopedale 1927 – 1945

U.S. Army, Germany, 1945 – 1946

Hopedale, 1946 – 1951

California, 1952

Milford, 1953 – 1956

Hopedale, 1957 – 1965

Millivlle, 1966 – 1978

Clinton, Connecticut, 1978 –

1968 – 1987 CEM Trucking, operated trucks hauling chemicals all over the U.S.

1985 – 2000 President of Connecticut Tank/Trailer Repair, Inc.

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Wonder why some entire newspaper chains engaged in the JFK cover-up? Well wonder no more. Bill Gannett was related to the family that owned the Gannett Newspaper Chain. And several other major chains had links into the right wing extremist crowds of the time. The Hearst Chain and Scripps-Howard among them. What was the chain that Hal Hendrix went to work for after The Miami News, I forget right now. Was it NANA? The North American Newspaper Alliance? There were about 5 newspaper chains that controlled the news and many of them were sympathetic to the Drapers, the Gannetts, the Cabots and the Forbes. Just more evidence of the psychological warfare operations run by the Drapers and their friends. Control the news and you control what goes into and out of the minds of your readers. The seeds of Operation Mockingbird were sown by C. D. Jackson, Wickliffe Draper and others of their ilk. The biggest mind control publisher in history was Regnery Press later Henry Regnery Press. They published Isolationism titles before World War II, Holocaust Denial titles after World War II and Nazi War Criminal exoneration titles at about the same time. Who was their publisher? William Regnery of the America First Committee who was one of Draper's biggest clients as a textile manufacturer for decades. Want to know who inserts multiple mind controlled deliberate propaganda concepts and distorted ideas and concepts into your brain? Look no further than the Gannetts, the Regnerys, the Westbrook Peglers, the George Sokoloskys, the Edward Hunters, the Limbaughs, the O'Reillys and all the others like them. Half of what you think you know about the JFK case, about Clinton and about Obama has been wedged into your head by these stooges and dupes of the Drapers.

Richard Condon even named Westbrook Pegler, George Sokolosky and others like them as being "in" on their little mind control, propaganda and media control joke and yet you swallow their stuff hook, line and sinker. In the battle for the hearts and minds of America they are winning hands down. I just love it when one of their easily duped stooges, parrots the line of The Pioneer Fund: "Wickliffe Draper had NOTHING to do with the JFK Assassination!".

Why would they even bother to make that posting on their web site? Because of me, that's why.

Believe what you want until the day you die, but don't call yourself a self-proclaimed expert on the JFK case if you can not readily discover what the Drapers, the Prestons, the Cabots and the Forbes had to do with the JFK hit, with their 75 year battle against the Communists, their battle against slaves and blacks which lasted over 150 years and their campaigns against Judaism which lasted well over 100 years.

You think that the Drapers with their friends at Scripps-Howard, NANA, Gannett, Hearst, Time-Life and elsewhere could not be responsible for the "media cover-up" of the entire JFK hit? Well guess again. Guess again. "I don't do no guessing!" said Joe Milteer. And neither do I.

Edited by John Bevilaqua
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