The Whole World Was Watching
an oral history of 1968

Marshall John J. Leyden
Interviewed by Keith Traver and Rebecca Dangelo
April 30, 1998

KeithTraver/Rebecca Dangelo: This is an interview with Mr. John J. Leyden for the 1986 [1968] The Whole World Was Watching oral history project at South Kingstown High School. Where were you and when were you, where and when were your born?

John Leyden: I was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 3, 1931.

KT/RD: Where did you grow up?

JL: I grew up in the Smith Hill section of Providence which is up by the State Capital on Smith Street, in that neighborhood for twenty-four of my years of life, until I joined the United States Navy in 1951 until 1955. And I got married in 1956, and we moved a short way up the street to Mt. Pleasant. And then, we started our family and remained in the city of Providence and raised five children. My wife, Beverly Leyden, who was Beverly Bowen, and we have four daughters and a son.

KT/RD: Briefly describe your family and your neighborhood.

JL: My neighborhood in Smith Hill was, consists of two and three family dwellings, single family dwellings, a very close knit neighborhood. Working class, blue collar people, many of whom were employed by Brown & Sharpe's Manufacturing which was located then in the city of Providence, in our neighborhood.

KT/RD: Can you describe the atmosphere of your neighborhood, what it was like?

JL: Everybody in the neighborhood, and it was made up of Irish, Armenian, Jewish, French, and some Italian people.

KT/RD:What were your parents' political views and affiliations?

JL: My parents were born in Ireland, came to this country in 1918. And they were strong Democrats, and very strong in what we referred to as a ward in our neighborhood. The city of Providence divided up, at that time, into twelve wards.

KT/RD: Where did you and your family get information about politics and other events?

JL: In those days we got the news, actually, from the newspapers and radio. There was little TV, television, in those days, so we relied on radio and the newspapers.

KT/RD: What did you think you wanted to do when you grew up and how did that change over time? Or did it change over time?

JL: Probably I didn't. After, while in high school I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and I went to work for a year at the General Electric Company in Cranston, Rhode Island. And I joined the United States Navy in 1970, ah 1951, during the Korean conflict. And it was while in the United States Navy that I had some thoughts about law enforcement and being a police officer. I had an older brother who was a police officer, and by the time I got discharged in 1955, a lot of my friends that I had grown up with had joined the Providence Police Department, the Rhode Island State Police, or some other agencies.

KT/RD: How did your parents feel about that?

JL: Oh, because of my brother and because it was a good job in those days, and it was a steady job, which they were thinking of so much, and it was low pay, of course, but it was still a worthwhile and a, and also a satisfying job, where you, you know, helping people.

KT/RD:Were you aware of any discrimination against people in your family or neighborhood?

JL: We had no discrimination whatsoever in our neighborhood. We did come in contact with minorities in school and in the, on the athletic fields, but it was just not a, any discrimination among any of the people that we grew up with. And there were Jewish people, Italian people, Lithuanian people, Armenian people, and as I said, some minorities, but it just wasn't even mentioned, everybody was taken the same way.

KT/RD: Where did you go to high school and college and what did you study?

JL: I went through St. Patrick's Parochial school in Providence up until the ninth grade. And then I went to LaSalle Academy and then from there, of course, I went to work for a short period of time. After being discharged from the Navy and joining the police department, law enforcement in those days started a continuing education for all police officers, so at Bryant College, at that particular time was the college that started the continuing education in courses in criminal justice. I ended up graduating from Roger Williams, I transferred to Roger Williams because it was more convenient for my work `cause I was working nights and was more convenient for me to get to Bryant College, which was located in the city of Providence in those days, oh, Roger Williams I should say.

KT/RD: Describe your extracurricular activities in high school and college.

JL: Athletics. I played basketball and track, and softball in the summertime, and, working part time, various jobs, paper boy. You name it, I did it. I worked as a, with a peddler, worked in a market, you know. All those various jobs you can do before you're eighteen years of age.

KT/RD:Who were your best friends?

JL: My best friends were people in the neighborhood that I went to school with, that I played ball with. And we are still the, good friends today.

KT/RD: Did you, what was your dating like in high school?

JL: Oh, interesting. I went out with a few girls, and you know, in those days we had dances, neighborhood dances, so you got to meet a lot of people from other neighborhoods. And plus playing ball and also the proms we were invited to. There was all girls schools then and all boys schools, for example, LaSalle academy was all boys, St. Xavier's, St. Patrick's, St. Mary's, Bayview, were parochial schools, were all females. So they would invite you to the proms and whatever, but I didn't, wasn't serious with anybody all through high school.

KT/RD: No serious relationships really?

JL: No. Not in those days.

KT/RD: Did that happen more in college, you got into more serious relationships?

JL: After I was, come out of the Navy in 1955, I met my wife. And we got married in 1956. And it's forty two years later.

KT/RD: What about the dating amongst your friends. Was it pretty much the same as yours?

JL: Same, yeah. We met the various girls through the dances and the CYO [Christian Youth Organization], and through school, and athletics. And then, you know, the neighborhood too.

KT/RD:In your school, were male and female students treated differently?

JL: As I mentioned earlier, LaSalle Academy was an all male school. Although I did have some experience with the public schools, Hope and LaSalle, I beg your pardon, Hope and Mt. Pleasant, and, no, pretty much, there wasn't a lot of athletics for girls in those days, except for the gym class, but there wasn't organized athletics, it started to prevail in basketball, in volleyball, and just probably after I got out. My class graduated in 1950 from high school.

KT/RD: Of what you know, do you know if there was any academic differences, like were there any academic advantages for a boys, all boys school or an all girls school? Were they the same?

JL: Pretty much the same with the curriculum that was offered. Naturally, college preparatory courses and business courses, both in the parochial school, high schools, and the public high schools.

KT/RD: So girls were encouraged to go to college or some kind of, after high school?

JL: Oh, yes. Everybody you know, naturally, had a guidance counselor and there was encouragement for people to pursue their education. Course there wasn't a lot of money in those days, so a lot of people depended on financial aid or scholarships for college.

KT/RD: Do you feel that there was a generation gap in the late Sixties?

JL: Somewhat by virtue of the fact that there were a lot of people going into the military, in and out of the military. So by the time they got out they had matured and there was a, but then there was a catch-up because most of the people who were service, you know service connected, came out back into the neighborhoods. And now they were grown people and more mature, and men and women.

KT/RD: Describe your wardrobe in the Sixties.

JL: Very interesting. Of course I was a police officer, so I had a uniform that I wore daily, which I took a lot of pride in. We wore a lot of jeans, white bucks, and sneakers. However, anytime there was a dance or anything of that nature, everybody had to dress up, you had to have a shirt and tie on, and in, in some cases a jacket. And in most of the places that you went to, that were, where there was dancing or anything of that nature, you had to be dressed in a shirt and tie and a jacket.

KT/RD: What did you, what did clothing styles reveal about, like, say, other people? Some of the eccentric clothing styles.

JL: We, in the Fifties and Sixties there was a, what they referred to as a `zoot suiter.' I don't remember Elvis Presley, but he had a, sort of peg pants. And you know the three button or four button and then they went into the casual clothes, casual jackets besides the regular suit jackets that we are wearing today. But there wasn't a lot of sports clothing that we have today, the various, which are, some of them are very dressy and some of them are very casual.

KT/RD: How do you feel about the use of drugs that was going on in the Sixties?

JL: The Sixties were not as bad as they are today. In the Sixties we probably, in the city of Providence, which was a metropolitan city, would count, could count the number of people who were on drugs. And being a police officer, we had a pretty good handle on the people who were trafficking in heroin in those days, which was a popular, most popular of the drugs that were using, besides of course marijuana. But we didn't have the use of marijuana in the Sixties as we have today.

KT/RD: It's a lot stronger today, isn't it?

JL: A lot stronger today, yes.

KT/RD:Did you know anybody personally that you found out was using an illegal substance, drugs, or?

JL: As a police officer, I investigated, unfortunately, a lot of people who overdosed and died. I found, I was as, responding as a police officer, I found people dead from overdoses of drugs. And it was just devastating. But it was in neighborhoods, and the particular neighborhood that I traveled in was South Providence. And I got to know most of the families and whatnot, so it was, and I was the one that had to go to notify the parents or the loved ones of a person who was deceased.

KT/RD: Describe how you felt the first time you had to do that.

JL: Probably my first sudden death, I probably turned a hundred colors, although I didn't know it myself, upon responding, but naturally, when you see a dead body, and I had seen others, but when you see somebody who has overdosed and, it's just really traumatic for the person, even though you're a police officer and you probably experienced this in the past, just coming upon it, it really is devastating.

KT/RD:Which were your favorite musical groups in the 1960s?

JL: Well, of course, we go back to the, you know, the Bing Crosby songs and the groups that were slow music and, but there was some, what we referred to as Jitterbugs was a little faster, Perry Como and all of those good groups, the Wiz Kids. There were other groups like the Diamonds, and you know those singing groups that used to appear at various locations, both while I was in the service and then when I got out. And you would go to those places where, in Pawtucket or in Providence, where they had these groups come in to play.

KT/RD: Did your family watch a lot of TV?

JL: No, they didn't, because as I said, growing up, we didn't, in the Fifties, we were just starting to get black and white TV. And then, of course I went in the service, and came out, and then we, when I got married then probably watched more TV then I did when I was single `cause there was so many other things going. You know, so many other activities, you just were so, too busy to watch.

KT/RD: What instructor or course do you most remember, say, from high school?

JL: Franciscan, I beg your pardon, the Christian Brothers, who are now at Ocean Tides here, their headquarters, they were the teachers at LaSalle academy. And I had a Brother Frank who was about six foot, six inches, an imposing figure. And he was also the moderator on the basketball team, too. So he used to accompany us on trips, and he taught, not only did he take the pains to teach us his main course which was history, but he also taught us etiquette, he even sat down with us, put knife and fork and spoon, and he took really the pains in his homeroom and he impressed me very much. Just by virtue of the fact that he took the time to do other things while in the classroom.

KT/RD:Did any of your other teachers do similar things?

JL: No, but what, I think the confidence that we had in the teachers was the fact that you could go to them with a problem and they would listen to you. And if you needed extra help, it was there for you.

KT/RD: Did you think about the threat of nuclear war at all?

JL: Didn't even enter my mind, no, not at all.

KT/RD: Do you recall your understanding of the Cold War?

JL: Yes. And naturally, being in the Korean war, and the Cold war, you know, in essence, it's just one of those things that you just didn't ever think that we'd have to be dealing with it.

KT/RD: Was, was the opinion of, like, your neighbors and your family was it all like black and white, like US versus the Russians? Was it all that extreme?

JL: Pretty much cut and dry, yes.

KT/RD: Cut and dry. Did you participate in the Peace Movement or the anti-nuclear movement? I assume not the second.

JL: I was present when it was taking place during the Vietnam situation, by virtue of picket lines that we had to monitor as a police officer. Both the Federal building downtown, the places of business, at City Hall. And the protesters would naturally march and we'd try to keep them in an orderly fashion. Some would just lay down, and if they were obstructing business, so that people couldn't even leave, go into their place of business, then we had to bring them, apprehend them and take them before the court.

KT/RD: Did that happen a lot?

JL: Several times, yes. More then we wanted because it tied up your, your day with the activities of that as opposed to doing your regular job.

KT/RD: Right. Was 1960 and the election of John F. Kennedy an important turning point for you?

JL: Yes, very much so, Civil Rights Movement took place. We saw the law enforcement, by virtue of the Miranda decision, change dramatically, where every person that was, whether they were an adult or a juvenile, were afforded the constitutional rights before we could even talk to them. We could ask a juvenile for example their name, their date of birth, and their home telephone number, because we had to contact their parents and the parents had to be present before we could even talk to them. With adults, they could have an attorney. It really dramatically changed because there were a lot of old timers on the police department, who were not really people looking for the future and motivated to any change. And in law enforcement, people have a very difficult time with change.

KT/RD: How did you respond to JFK's assassination?

JL: I was devastated. No question about it, I was really taken aback by it, he was one of my, people that I, you know, one of my heroes.

KT/RD: Did you think that discrimination against people of color was a problem, did it grow as a problem?

JL: It was a problem, it was a problem by virtue of the Civil Rights Movement in the Sixties. I was deeply involved in that Civil Rights Movement by virtue of the area that I traveled in as a detective at that time. We had large scale disturbances in the shopping area in South Providence, we had firebombs, we had shootings, it was a very, very busy time. We were, that's where we concentrated our efforts in law enforcement. Because we gotta to be there, have a presence in that particular area, and so consequently, there was other activity in your job that you couldn't do `cause you had to pay attention to that.

KT/RD:Was discrimination against women a problem?

JL: Not much, as much as it was against minorities. Women were, not that many in law enforcement, there wasn't, we had a few in the City of Providence. There were, the job was there for them, but they weren't applying.

KT/RD: Did you follow political and social issues while you were in high school and college?

JL: More so while I was in college after I got out of the Navy as opposed to when I was in high school. I knew what was going on locally, but I didn't know nationally, only from reading the newspapers, but I did know, naturally, paid attention to the Presidents and the people being elected, and what was happening as far as the world itself was concerned.

KT/RD: Did you join the ROTC?

JL: No, I did not. I joined, I was an enlisted man in the United States Navy during the Korean War, there was, a draft was on. And I was more than willing and able to join the Navy.

KT/RD: Were there any rallies, teach-ins, or demonstrations on your college campus?

JL: No, but there was rallies in, at Brown University. There were some sit-ins at Brown. I don't know of any other college where there was a sit-in, Brown University sticks out in my mind.

KT/RD: Did you have to deal with some of those as a police officer.

JL: Yes, I did. We were called to assist the University Campus Police with those sit-ins to help them out when, most of the time, it was when an arrest was made. And we had to bring them in to custody, and the charge would have been disorderly conduct at the tops, or trespassing, or obstructing.

KT/RD: Why did you choose the service you did when you enlisted?

JL: Why did I what?

KT/RD:Choose the service you did?

JL: The United States Navy was always in my mind. I had an older brother who was in the United States Navy during the World War II, and a brother-in-law. So I thought of the Navy and I thought of the ships, and I thought it would be a good career for me, you know, part-time career.

KT/RD: Do you recall how you felt as you left home?

JL: I was homesick. I hadn't been away from home at all, really, just in the State of Rhode Island, maybe nearby Massachusetts. I was homesick for, through boot camp, but I got over that after going aboard ship and adjusting.

KT/RD: What was your experience at boot camp?

JL: Quite a, a really, from civilian life to being in, in a military and guided by a Chief Petty Officer who was really a drill instructor and having to do things by the numbers, it was quite an adjustment. Keeping, doing your own laundry, shining your own shoes, pressing your clothes, and keeping the barracks clean, making your own bed, all of these things that your mother took care of before you left.

KT/RD: What was your family's reaction when you had to leave?

JL: Pardon me?

KT/RD: What was your family's reaction when you had to leave?

JL: Oh, they were crying. You know, one of their sons was going away and, but after being in boot camp and whatnot, there was adjustments, but each time you came home there was always crying when, when you were leaving to go back.

KT/RD: Where did you serve?

JL: I served in Europe, in the Caribbean. I was in Europe twice for six month tours of duty with my ship. We had an anti-submarine ship with depth charger and we did plane guard for the carriers, so that we were always in drills being prepared for war.

KT/RD:Were you engaged in combat? And if so, describe that experience.

JL: No, I did not, I was not engaged in combat, they stayed, our ship stayed in Europe. Although I wanted to go over to Korea, but the skipper of my ship would not let me off.

KT/RD: What was your relationships with the other soldiers?

JL: With the soldiers? Very good. We all, sometimes there were talking, the Marine Corps and the soldiers who were on our base. And naturally I got, had contact with them, although the Navy pretty much stuck with the Navy. And Marines and the soldiers stuck with, because there were different locations and different camps for them.

KT/RD: Who were your best friends and why?

JL: My best friends were people that I grew up with in the neighborhood who I had played ball with, went to school with. And that relationship still prevails today, even though we're in different locations in the state and some are out of state, but I also developed some good friends while I was in the service, and that prevails today also.

KT/RD: What kind of conflicts arose between people in your units?

JL: Really, no conflicts. Everybody got along pretty well for the most part, because we were living, there were three hundred of us aboard ship, and we were living in small compartments. Naturally there were personalities sometimes that clashed, but other than that, we really didn't have any big problems.

KT/RD: What was your personal view of the War and how did that change over time?

JL: I felt that WWII [World War II] was necessary, Korea we could have done other things, Vietnam became a real problem. And I think by virtue of Vietnam, we are very, very hesitant in having another war, because there was a lot situations where innocent people were hurt. And mostly our people, and also the people we were dealing with.

KT/RD:Did you lose friends?

JL: I lost friends from the neighborhood. There were a couple of people who, during the Korean war, who got killed in action that I knew personally and had gone to school with.

KT/RD: Were you injured during the [Korean] war?

JL: No I was not.

KT/RD: Was racism or conflicts about race an issue?

JL: Could you repeat that, please.

KT/RD: Sorry, was racism or conflict about race an issue?

JL: During the service or generally?

KT/RD: Generally.

JL: No. By virtue of my law enforcement and the area I traveled as a police officer, I came in contact with many, many minorities and I built up a rapport with them so that when, and they, everybody was treated fairly. And it reflected back on the person you were dealing with by virtue of the fact that they knew you were gonna, they were going to get a fair shake from you, even if they did have a problem.

KT/RD: What about in, while you were in war. The people in war with you, did they have any conflicts about it?

JL: I don't understand you.

KT/RD: When was racism a problem with the other people in your unit or whatever, while you were in war?

KT/RD: In the service.

JL: Oh, in the service, there was really no racial situations that I came across. And I also stood, I was a shore patrolman in the Navy, but really, no problems.

KT/RD: Did you receive letters from, or write letters home?

JL: Oh yes. All the time.

KT/RD: Have any of those survived over time? Do you still have them?

JL: Yes, I do, I have, yes.

KT/RD: Describe your living conditions.

JL: In the service or?

KT/RD: Yes.

JL: Okay. Aboard ship, and it was a fairly new ship, we slept in what we referred to as bunks with a very thin mattress and there were twenty-four people in my compartment, you had a locker, you also had showers available to you. So it was, and you had plenty of good clothing, clean clothing, everybody was pretty clean, and kept it, in the military, you have to keep yourself clean shaven, and your hair trimmed, and they made sure of that.

KT/RD: Did you approve or disapprove of the military tactics that were being used in Korea?

JL: I approved of it.

KT/RD: Did that opinion change over time?

JL: Never changed.

KT/RD: What about in Vietnam?

JL: Vietnam after thinking about it and whatnot, my views on the Vietnam War you know, changed a little bit, that our presence probably, the sooner we get out of there the better.

KT/RD: What do you think they could have done to, do you think they did anything wrong or do you think that it was just fate?

JL: Probably I think the governments could have dealt with it, with the Heads of Staff of the militaries in a different way, with probably more negotiations and whatnot.

KT/RD: How did you feel when you went home?

JL: Wonderful. After I was discharged? Is that when you're talking about?

KT/RD: Yes.

JL: Yes, yup. It was a nice feeling, I got discharged in June of the year. And I met my wife in July. And then I went back to work at General Electric for a short while. And I started the Police Academy in September of 1955 in Providence.

KT/RD: Are you still in touch with anyone whom you met while you were in the service?

JL: Did I what?

KT/RD:Are you still in touch with anyone who you met while you were in the service?

JL: Yes, I am. I'm in touch with probably three or four people who were aboard ship with me, that I went through boot camp with. Some in, one was in law enforcement, the other is in banking, and other, sales, and whatnot.

KT/RD: Looking back, how do you feel about your military service?

JL: I think it was a great experience. It's a great experience for any young person, because it teaches you discipline, and taking orders, and understanding the people, and getting to live with people, you know, in a close, close quarters, and association is always good.

KT/RD: How do you think it affected the rest of your life?

JL: Probably made me a much better person.

KT/RD: How would you describe the relationships between men and women in the 1960s?

JL: Well, I think there was a good relationship. Probably, the Women's Movement probably started in the latter part of 1960. And equal employment, equal opportunities, started to prevail, and we saw a change in what we referred to as `Women Libbers', but I didn't have a problem with it. I felt that everybody should be given the opportunity to shoot for whatever they wanted to do in their lives, and there was a need, there was a, and there's still a need, naturally, for women in law enforcement, and women in life, it's changed for the good.

KT/RD:Do you think women's discontent was becoming an issue in your neighborhood?

JL: Not so much in the neighborhood, but I could see it, you know, in traveling as a law enforcement person, and running into different organizations and whatnot.

KT/RD: Was music a big part of your life?

JL: We always naturally liked to listen to the records and the, that they had in those days, and then of course, the stereos. And we always liked a good group to listen to. We'd go to that group, we didn't have the rock music that you have today, but, and the rock concerts.

KT/RD: Did you go to any concerts?

JL: Yes, I did. Are you talking about rock concerts?

KT/RD: Or classical concerts. Any kind of musical.

JL: Oh yes, yeah yup, yup. The Boston Symphony, the Pops, yeah I liked all those. I also went to rock concerts, too, but as a law enforcement person, at the Civic Center.

KT/RD: Where did you get most of your information about the outside world?

JL: From reading and from school and newspapers and television.

KT/RD: What did you think of the TV news?

JL: TV news has improved probably a hundred and fifty percent. They just cover everything. There isn't anything that they miss today. I mean, you've got your investigative reporting. Actually, and when you look at it, the media is part of the government, if we didn't have the media, probably President Nixon would probably, been still in office, and wouldn't have had to resign, but as a result of Watergate, and the media, which did the investigating, it `caused it, and that's why we have ethics today, probably better then we've had in many, many times, in years.

KT/RD:Did you participate in any political community or religious groups?

JL: No, I did not.

KT/RD: Why didn't, were there groups available you could join?

JL: Being a law enforcement officer, we were supposed to be nonpartisan. So we had to even be careful, we couldn't put stickers on our cars, we couldn't endorse people who were running for political office. So you more or less stayed away, you had people that you favored, but I just as soon, I kept a low profile as far as that was concerned. There's rules and regulations on affiliations with political parties, and being affiliated with them, even, even contributions.

KT/RD: Who did you favor?

JL: As far as, well, I was born a Democrat, and so naturally, but I still like some good Republicans. And we had some good Republicans in this state, as Attorney Generals, that I, and US Attorneys that I looked up to and thought they were very good people too. So even though I was a Democrat, I still favored, and I have friends that are Republicans, and know them well, and have worked well with them.

KT/RD: Did you know anyone who served in Vietnam or was killed in the War, or was a POW [Prisoner of War]?

JL: I knew people from the neighborhood, naturally, and from the State of Rhode Island who were, served. And then I, of course I got to know them better as a result of them being discharged. The ones who were lucky enough to survive and become police officers. Some were in, joined in my family, so we go to know them pretty well.

KT/RD:Were some of the people that went drafted from your neighborhood?

JL: Some were drafted, some enlisted.

KT/RD: How did you feel when you just started, you started to see one day some people just disappearing `cause they're going off to war?

JL: Well, you know, we favored it in the beginning, because we felt the military was the place to be, and to, for your country, to serve your country. I mean, that was just above it all. A person that had the courage to join, naturally, into the service, we always felt that as a favorable situation. I recommend military for anybody today, men or women. There's a lot of people who graduate from high school and don't have an idea of what they want to do, I would say the military is the best place for them `cause they get structure in their lives, they learn discipline, as I said earlier, and to be on their own, and to become adults. Some people don't make it, unfortunately, some people, they can't take the military. And today, in the military, you gotta measure up, or you're out, because there's too many people that are waiting, you know, to go in the military.

KT/RD: When you saw Vietnam vets coming home in wheelchairs and on crutches, and in body bags from Vietnam, what was your response to that?

JL: Oh, naturally, devastated and just, heart goes out to them and their families. And you still, some of them are still living today that are in wheelchairs. It's just a sad, sad situation. And also as a result of Vietnam, we've had many, many people that had breakups, nervous breakdowns, and have not, are not, not right today, after all those years.

KT/RD: Do you feel that veterans were treated with respect and courtesy?

JL: They could have been more respect, for all the veterans, more things going for them, especially Vietnam. They were not entitled to, to some of the benefits that people from the WWII and the Korean war. Such as education, and the GI bill, things of that nature. This, the GI bill helped tremendously, people furthering their education. A lot of people could not afford from the WWII, Korean war, to go to college if it wasn't for the GI bill. You wouldn't have the amount of people, that you know, attending college, and continuing education as a result of people who had those benefits.

KT/RD: Were people generally, though, appreciative of what the Vietnam veterans had sacrificed?

JL: Oh, by and large, sure, ninety, I would say ninety-eight and a half percent of the people appreciated what went on. Appreciate the individuals' efforts for the fact that they were over there defending their country.

KT/RD: Did you ever as a police officer have to go, I guess, calm a group of people that were being, acting in a negative way towards the Vietnam vets?

JL: Oh sure, yeah. On a couple of occasions, there was a disturbance, and it wasn't a large scale disturbance, but we went in to intervene. We got called on all the time, not only for that, those situations, but other situations where we had hostage situations or people feuding, domestics, and whatever. That was our role, to be the person to negotiate and to settle things down, and suppress whatever was happening.

KT/RD:How did you feel about Lyndon Johnson's announcement on TV that he would not run for the presidency a second time?

JL: I was not a big fan of Lyndon Johnson. He had taken over from John F. Kennedy and although he did some good things, I wasn't taken aback by it at all. I felt as though there was room for improvement as far his Presidency was concerned.

KT/RD: Were you surprised that he, that he decided not to?

JL: I was, I felt that he had a big ego and that he would continue to be the President.

KT/RD: What about the assassination of Martin Luther King?

JL: I thought it was terrible, I thought that we had made some inroads into the Civil Rights Movement. And I felt as though he was effective in trying to do the right thing. And naturally taken aback by it because of, naturally, the unrest that that `caused here in the United States with the Civil Rights Movements and the racial equality. And people, in far as fair housing, the whole nine yards in discrimination was becoming more of a factor.

KT/RD: Did the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy affect you?

JL: Oh yes it did. Yes, I, a big fan of the Kennedy family. And Robert was a, really conservative and he was helping definitely with the criminal justice system. Also with the Civil Rights Movement, he had made some inroads into it. And I thought that he would have been an excellent President.

KT/RD:Did the Columbia University sit-in and other students' agitations against the War and the draft impress you, or make an impression on you?

JL: Well, I naturally followed it, it didn't have an effect on me there, but I just felt as though there was other ways to do things. And at that particular time, it could have been taken care of in a better fashion, but you had to have people communicating. And when you don't have people communicating, then you're gonna have, and in getting the responses, naturally have the sit-ins.

KT/RD: Did you support Senator Eugene McCarthy's campaign for President?

JL: Um, I didn't campaign for him, naturally because of my law enforcement. And I followed it, but I wasn't either a pro or con on his.

KT/RD: What about Governor George Wallace's campaigning?

JL: I happened to meet George Wallace, I was an escort for him when he came to Rhode Island. And I had a lot of respect for him. I wasn't, I didn't like some of his political views, and also naturally, coming from the sovereign state, naturally of where he came from, he was a little controversial, but I think as a man he was a good person.

KT/RD: So all in all you kind of supported him?

JL: Pardon me?

KT/RD: So you were basically supported him?

JL: Would I support him?

KT/RD: So you, all in all, you did?

JL: I don't understand.

KT/RD: In general, did you support him, though?

JL: Yes, in some of his, yes.

KT/RD:How did you feel about the Democratic Convention in Chicago?

JL: I thought it was an unfortunate situation, when we had the situation that went down in Chicago, and I think we probably had to live with that for a long period of time, and the demonstration went on there, and it was unfortunate.

KT/RD: Did Hubert Humphrey's candidacy make an impression on you?

JL: Humphrey, Kennedy?

KT/RD: No, Hubert Humphrey's candidacy.

JL: Oh, Hubert Humphrey, yeah, I liked him, I also had met him and through my job and I thought he was a good person. And I thought that he had some good ideas as far as the Presidency is concerned.

KT/RD: How did you feel about the election of Richard Nixon?

JL: Richard Nixon? Naturally, I wasn't one of Richard Nixon's fans. And as to what went on afterwards, there was no need of it. There was no need of Watergate, there was no need of a break-in, but I had the, when I was going to the FBI National Academy, he gave the key-note address at my graduation. And when they, even though I'm not, he wasn't, I wasn't one of, I should say, he wasn't one of my favorite people, when they played Hail to the Chief, a chill went down my spine, as well as the other people who were there when they played that. So, and of course, that was before Watergate, so the respect was still there.

KT/RD: Were you affected by the Women's liberation demonstration at the Miss America Pageant?

JL: Well. Not at all. Matter of fact, my oldest daughter was in the Miss America Pageant in 1978. And so, I had the, I was down, in, what year was, I don't know what year that, whatever, but no, I wasn't affected by it.

KT/RD:How did you feel about expulsion of the Olympic athletes for their Black Power salute during the playing of the National Anthem at the medal ceremony?

JL: Totally against it. Totally. Never should have been, and that's unfortunate. And even, we had the situation right here in Rhode Island, Brown University cheerleaders wouldn't even come out on the floor during the National Anthem. I totally respect the National Anthem, I think everybody should be at attention, their hats off. I, even though I'm in civilian clothes, I still give the salute on my chest during the National Anthem.

KT/RD: Did you support the Space Program and the circling of the moon of the US astronauts?

JL: Yes. Matter of fact, I just met one of the astronauts, just a couple of, I was in Palm Springs at a convention, the Marshall's convention, and I met one of them and he gave a, gave us a beautiful talk and showed us slides and the whole nine yards, I was very impressed. And now, also, this was a person who was thirty-seven years of age and had a family, and decided he always wanted to be an astronaut, so then I went up to meet with him and had a picture taken with him.

KT/RD: Overall, how would you say the Sixties affected you and the United States in general?

JL: The Sixties were an important time for the United States and for myself, I think it helped us by virtue of the Supreme Court decision of Miranda, giving people all the rights, their constitutional rights, although it changed law enforcement to some degree, I think it was in the right direction. We needed it, we needed some change. And the Civil Rights Movement, we needed that. We still need it today, there's still some prejudice that are out there, and it's unfortunate that some people are prejudiced.

KT/RD:Some people feel that drug use and the counter culture was the most important aspect of the 1960s, and others feel that the aspect was overplayed in the media. What do you think?

JL: Not overplayed at all, I think we should have paid attention back then before it got to the where we are today. We need, definitely need medical help for these people, there's got to be programs for them. Locking everybody up is not the answer. Matter of fact, it's not the answer at all, we've got to have a preventative. The DARE program is an example. They say it's not working, but the reason it's not working is that we are only dealing in the fifth grade, in which there's no follow-up for middle school and high school.

Now in North Kingstown, we've added, when I was the Chief, I added an extra police officer to follow-up for the middle school and the high school. Whether it's effective today, I don't know, because naturally I've been out of there for four years. But definitely the drug epidemic is the reason that crime is increased. Ninety percent of the crime committed today is committed by druggies, because they have to support their habit. A druggist, a druggie cannot work and support their habit, especially if they are on cocaine or heroin. So, what do they do? They end up breaking into people's homes. Which is very devastating, when a person enters your home, which is your palace, there's nothing more traumatic. Or probably, other than rape, probably the most traumatic that could ever happen to anybody. And, most of the people that we have in our institutions today unfortunately, are all there as a result of a drug problem. And that is both in the State system and in the Federal system.

KT/RD:How would you compare the presidencies of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon?

JL: Presi, Kennedy's was short lived. And that was unfortunate, because I think he really was trying to do good for the country, naturally, and he was the one that started the Civil Rights Movement and also equal rights for the people, Johnson followed up on it. Nixon was only interested in his own career and his own person, he could have had more programs going, especially for the poverty stricken people, helping with the welfare system, getting people off welfare, giving people welfare is not the answer. What's happened to people who are on welfare is they end up having their families do the same thing. When they see what's happening in the family, in the house and there's no structure, when they become old enough and they start having children, they go on welfare. At forty-two years of law enforcement, I'm dealing in third generation, not only in the criminal justice system, but in the welfare, people that I know that are unfortunately on welfare. They've got to be educated and they've got to get out and get themselves a job or, then they could be supplemented.

KT/RD: With all the changes that have happened with women's rights and the advances they've made over the years, do you think things went too far or not far enough, or do you think we're at a level where we should be?

JL: I think we're pretty much not at a level where we should be. There's still some, more opportunities for women in other fields, I think we're making inroads as far as the criminal justice is concerned, on the amount of judges that we have. We now have two females on the Supreme Court here in Rhode Island. We have one in the United States Supreme Court. They probably need one more there, or at least another, maybe three. In our Superior Court we're now, I think, close to a half a dozen here in Rhode Island, and in the district court and family court. `Cause they have their views too, and naturally there's a place for them. Law enforcement, we're increasing tremendously. Not enough probably in the small towns, because naturally the competition being what it is, because there's so many people out there looking for a job in law enforcement.

KT/RD:What do you think African-Americans have accomplished since the start of the Civil Rights Movement?

JL: As far as their movement, there has been a lot of good improvement, and it comes naturally from education. It also comes with being more accepted into jobs, but there's still, still a little prejudice, naturally, with some people. Because they see a person coming in, and they're saying, well he advanced because of the color of his skin, or whatever. So I think they're, they're learning that too, that they have to respect and do their thing to get along, and I think the majority do. We're always going to have that small percentage of people that are gonna be causing problems.

KT/RD: Have you visited the Vietnam War Memorial, or seen a replica of it?

JL: Yes, I have.

KT/RD: What was your response to that?

JL: Oh, I was down in Washington and this was when I first saw it. And of course, it's beautiful, I think it's a great tribute to them, to the Vietnam vets. And I think it, rightly so.

KT/RD:How do you feel about young people like us still striving to answer the questions about, answer questions about American involvement in the Vietnam War and the whole decade of 1960s.

JL: I think it's great for the young, the youth of today to be researching it and be finding out all of what went on, it shows that there is an interest. And it shows also that they you're looking back at history, and you can take and judge the Vietnam War as opposed to the Korean war, or the W, World War II, and know what we gained from it, which was not a lot. So, I think that's a good effort on everybody's part.

KT/RD: What advice would you give the youth of today?

JL: My advice, just like I would give my own children, is to respect all of your peers no matter what color, what creed, get along with them. To get an education, get an education to provide you with, so that you can go out in the world and make a halfway decent living, and upon, excuse me, naturally, when you go to work, to give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. And to try to help each other and treat the people that you come in contact with like you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. In other words you, everybody that you see you try to be friendly with, `cause people, if you say hi to a person sometimes they're surprised. And if, you know, naturally, you see it right here in the school. There's certain groups naturally that are associated with each other, but you can't just shun the other people off because of personalities, because of the color of their hair, or because of the clothing they're wearing, you try to be fair with everybody and not ridicule anybody, and there'd be less problems in the world.

Glossary Words On This Page
black power
black power salute
boot camp
civil rights
Cold War
DI, drill instructor
enlisted man
generation gap
Hubert Humphrey
Lyndon B. Johnson
John F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Eugene McCarthy
Richard M. Nixon
Elvis Presley
George C. Wallace

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