Interview with Robert Hauser (Pilot)
Interview with Robert Hauser
Interview Date: June 30, 1990

Camera Rolls: 102:52-55
Sound Rolls:
Interview gathered as part of The Great Depression .
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Editorial Notes:

Preferred citation:
Interview with Robert Hauser , conducted by Blackside, Inc. on June 30, 1990, for The Great Depression . Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of The Great Depression.

*
INTERVIEW
[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
[camera roll 102:52] [sound roll ] [slate marker visible on screen]
[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 1
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

One, take one.

INTERVIEWER:

Bob, why don't we start out with a description of your parents. Could you describe your mother to me?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah, my mother was, you mean, from her early days or as I remember her there?

INTERVIEWER:

No, at this period of time.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Oh, at this period of time. Yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

What was she like, this person?

ROBERT HAUSER:

My mother was an Irish, totally Irish, Catholic woman, primarily concerned with raising her children. Very strong in her Irish Catholic faith. She was a tall woman, she was about five foot seven, and weighed about, probably at that time a hundred and sixty-five, seventy-five pounds. She was very strong, and she was, she, quite a bit of laughter in her, and she was a very humorous person. She, she was just a, you know, she was a mother, she was an all-around mother.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 2
INTERVIEWER:

What was your father like?

ROBERT HAUSER:

My father was about the same height as my mother, about five foot seven. He was a very slender fellow, weighed about a hundred and twenty-five pounds. He had dark, dark brown eyes, black, jet black hair that went straight back, and rather heavy hair at that time. Always needed a shave, always had a Camel cigarette sticking out of the corner of his mouth, one eye closed like Popeye. He was, he was an artist. He was a sign painter and a radio technician, and he was into art, and he was into chemistry, somewhat. He was also into share-the-wealth programs, and he loved to listen to his radios, he had a dozen radios all around the place and he was very much into listening to Father Coughlin. Every line that Father Coughlin would say on the radio, he would make his comment, whether he agreed or disagreed, and it's the same way with all the other commentators of the day. He was very much into the political activity of the 1930s.

INTERVIEWER:

In 1929, something happened to business, for him. What happened?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, of course, 1929 I was four years old, so I only know the results of what happened, and that was, that his sign shop became, his painting business, became almost non-existent, to the point of making any income to bring upstairs to the family. The sign shop was downstairs in a large apartment complex, and we lived upstairs in the apartment there, and there was very little money coming upstairs from sign-shop activity. That was a, you know, a source of irritation to him. I think my father always considered that income was something that he made in his spare time. His, the painting that he did, the work that he did to earn money was a distraction from his everyday living. The important things in his life were his hobbies, or his experiments.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, let's cut for a second.

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Take two.

INTERVIEWER:

So, things were, you know, the business for your father had fallen. How did he react to that?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, I had no specific reaction to the Depression in the work area, because it seems like I grew up in that. That, at no time do I ever remember my father's business being very successful, because by the time I was able to be aware of the situation in the family, it already existed, so it wasn't like we were—

INTERVIEWER:

I'm sorry—

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

—three.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

OK, I'm going to ask you a different question.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Mm-hm.

INTERVIEWER:

Why did your father want the Bonus? What were the reasonings?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, that was quite simple. The Depression, as I remember it, was merely a shortage of cash. We were not aware of, you know, any other standards of living and so forth, merely a shortage of cash, and that all problems that we had at that time would be readily solved by a few hundred dollars cash. And I think that's the way they all felt.

INTERVIEWER:

How did your father decide to go?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Oh, that was quite simple, if there was a Bonus Army going to Washington D.C., my dad wouldn't miss it for the world.
** He was, he was very Socialist-minded, he was very share-the-wealth-minded, he was very anti the Hoover administration and the trickle-down economy of that particular era.
** He was all for immediate action to help veterans, especially, and he wouldn't miss that Bonus Army for anything. That was his type of thing.

INTERVIEWER:

How did, how did your, both your parents prepare for the, the trip?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, my dad, my dad had a lot of activity. He had a couple of old panel trucks, and you have to remember, panel trucks were much smaller then than they are now, and they were sold in a Model A or a Model T, probably one of each. He was always able to mechanically keep them running. There was no insurance, the license plate cost maybe two dollars a year, if that, and he painted them all with Army camouflage colors, with an orange and brown and green mixture which makes a camouflage, and then prepared his signs for the Bonus Army march. My mother just got ready, her job was to get ready for a picnic, get all the clothing and the food ready that we had, and then ready to get us on the road with enough food, and mainly clothing, to get us through a summer excursion. It was like going to the beach, instead of going to the beach for the week or for the, for the day, we were going to Washington for, for a month.

INTERVIEWER:

So you looked at this as a kind of adventure?

ROBERT HAUSER:

It was an adventure. We all got in the trucks
** , and there was a friend of my father's—I believe his name was Earl, but I'm a little hazy on that—and he drove the other truck, and we would drive to the outskirts of a town,
** like, for instance, Canadatwa[?], New York, would be on the way. We would get out of the trucks, and then we would march through the town with our signs and so forth, and my brother and I and several other children, we held the large American flag in our hands, spread out like a spread, and as we marched through the town the townspeople threw nickels and dimes into the flag.
** We probably had a few shells in there to go along, to throw coins, to give them the idea, and then we collected the coins at the end of the town, dumped them into the pail, and that was the funding for food and gasoline.
** So, it was a, it was a, they had more money when they left town, they were in good shape. We had a picnic, picnics by the side of the road. It was fun.

INTERVIEWER:

When you got to Washington, can you describe how you went into, into the town?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, of course, I do not have a day-to-day memory of the, of the events, but I remember moving into the tent city. We had a large tent that was ours, and we had Army cots in the tent to sleep on, and we had Army blankets.
** I don't know where they got all these provisions from. So, my mother, of course, immediately made a home for us there. I imagine, my brother, Jim, and I, Jim was six and a half, I was seven and a half, we spent our time running around outside the tent. The younger ones must have been inside, my mother must have been making arrangements for bathing them and cleaning them and diapering them, and so forth, so she, she had her work cut out for her.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, let's cut for a second.

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Four.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

Now, what was life like for a kid like you, in the camps? Not going on to the boxing, but just, just playing in the camps, what was your, what was your feeling at the time about the adventure?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, it was quite simple for my brother Jim and I, we were both, we were a year apart in age, and we were both the same size and the same temperament, and we were used to playing together a lot. So as we went through the camp looking for other children our age to play with, we already had a majority of two, so anybody who wanted to join, could join with us. So it was quite, it was a lot of fun, we met different people, and we, I can't remember specifically what games we played, but we ran around a lot in the camp. There were a lot of children running around in the camp, it was quite active. All we had to do was be, be back to the tent in time for meals and on time for this and, and check in with my mother every half hour so she knew where we were, 'cause she used to like to spend her time worrying about kids. But it was, it was no, no hardship.

INTERVIEWER:

Now why would she worry, in a camp like that?

ROBERT HAUSER:

A strange environment. It was strange for her, I imagine for us it was an adventure, where, while for her it was probably some unrest [sic]. She was aware of the political unrest, no doubt, and the fact that the, probably, that the Bonus Army was not really being that well received on the Capitol, at the Capitol, although the people in Washington, D.C. were very friendly and very, very helpful. There was a lot of frustration, I guess, at what they were able to do politically, so that must have caused some unrest in the camp that she would be aware of, but there was nothing in the camp itself to have her worry, to have her worry about the—she was worried about the health and safety of her children, of course, because it's not the same as being home.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

Now, if you, if I slipped into a time machine, and came down in the middle of Anacostia Flats right at the peak of this, what would it feel like? What would I see?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, I think you'd see a lot of men in the camp, all volunteering to do different details around the camp, different types of work, because of the boredom. You know, when you go someplace to protest, you say, Here I am, I'm protesting, and at that point there's nothing else to do, so you had to, you have to do a lot of make, keep-busy type work, so there'd be a lot of men lounging around and a lot of others looking to do something improve camp life, and to, to get on the different committees to do things. It was just, just too many people and too little work to be done.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 6
INTERVIEWER:

When you, you would, supplement your income. How would you do that?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah.

[cut][slate][change to camera roll 102:53][change to sound roll ]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Five.

INTERVIEWER:

[inaudible]

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah, take five. A little bit to your left you're going to block that thing. [laughs]

INTERVIEWER:

Your mother had a plan to, why did she have this plan, first of all, and what did she do?

ROBERT HAUSER:

You mean to, we were talking about supplementing the income?

INTERVIEWER:

Right.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Right, well, what happened was, she felt that the food being served Army style, which I got very familiar with later in life, wasn't really properly prepared, it wasn't clean, wasn't healthy, and she decided that- and she couldn't cook herself because there were no cooking facilities in the camp, other than the main mess hall cooking. So, she devised a plan where she took trays of Bonus Army souvenirs, which were primarily little American flag lapel pins, was the main one I remember. There were some others, but that was the main one. You came in a little tray [sic], a little cardboard tray, and you took, we took them down to the, one of the main streets in Washington, D.C., in front of the large movie theater, and as the people went in and out of the movie- in those days, people did not go in and out of movies at the beginning of the film. It was always a double feature, they went in when they felt like it, they went into the middle of a movie, stayed through that one, seen the next one and in 'til where they came in, and it was very, it wasn't organized like it is today. So, people were forever going in and out of a movie theater, and as they came, went in and out, we offered to sell them Bonus Army pins, and we told them we were from the Bonus Army and that we were raising funds, and that way they would give us a nickel or a dime. I don't remember any quarters, there may have been a few quarters, and we put that money in a fund, and with that money my mother took us to a restaurant and we had dinner. Then we went home, we went back to the camp, and then the rest of those funds were turned in to the Bonus Army fund. The amount of extortion that she'd got there was probably two dollars or two dollars and twenty-five cents to feed, to feed us. It wasn't the whole, the whole gang, it was just my brother Jim and myself, and possibly one or, one of the other children. There were five of us altogether, there.

INTERVIEWER:

Now, you were your mother's best salesman. Why?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, I was the oldest, and I was promised that if I sold a tray full of pins, I could select my dessert at the restaurant. I think we still all love to eat in restaurants, it was a big treat for us to eat in a restaurant, and to set there and get a big dish of bread pudding, which probably sold for a dime, that would be my, my reward if I sold a tray full of pins, so it didn't take me any time at all to sell a tray full of pins. I was very forward.

INTERVIEWER:

Your, you also entertained people, how'd you do that?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

 [ gap: ;reason: inaudible ] lean back [inaudible].

ROBERT HAUSER:

That's, that's going to be the boxing. My dad, my dad being a rather small man, a very slender fellow, was very much into self-defense, and my uncle on my mother's side, my uncles on my mother's side were all six-foot tall, all weighed over two hundred pounds, and they always thought my dad was rather humorous, because his self-defense wouldn't do much good against a much larger man. But he was interested in us boys learning how to box, so by the time we were able to walk we had boxing gloves, and by the time Jim was, as I say, six and a half, I was seven and a half, we were, we'd had a couple years of experience boxing, and we had learned how to box, to mix it up, to put on a show, so to speak, without really hurting each other. Jim was much more aggressive, but I was older, so that kind of evened it out, and I always felt that if he got too aggressive I could handle him, and he always felt that he was tougher than me, so it made a very good bout. The veterans that were there really liked it, we put on a couple of shows.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

Your father was a leader, wasn't he? A natural leader. What did he do with the vets? I mean, you don't have to be specific about it, but what was in him that would lead people?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Oh, I think, I think my father's leadership ability, if you could call it that, was merely that he was, he was quite verbal, and he was highly intelligent. He was, he was not, he was a little bit of an extremist in his views, so being an extremist, he wouldn't appeal to everyone, but to those people that felt, felt those views that he felt, he could attract those type of people. He was a true believer in what he was doing, and he could attract other people who were looking for a cause to follow. He was, as a matter of fact, if you watch him speak and you watched his actions, and you looked at him, he looked very much like Adolf Hitler. He was a, had that same type of hair and that same Germanic look, except he had dark brown eyes. He was very expressive like that.

INTERVIEWER:

What were his views? What did he believe?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Of course, from, you know, over these many years I've been trying to figure that out. I believed [sic] he, he was very much a member of the Democratic Party, he was very anti the Republican Party. He was a liberal, he was very much anti the conservatives, and he was a great believer in "share the wealth." And since he didn't have any wealth to share, he was very willing to share the wealth. You would never be able to judge what my dad's real, true political emotional feelings were, unless you were able to see him get into a position where he had a little success in his business, and so forth, and, and then judge him at that period of time. Unfortunately, I never had that opportunity.

[sound of car going by]
INTERVIEWER:

Hold on a second, let's cut  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] .

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Take six.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, we're all right for the slate?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

OK for the slate? OK.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

What, what were your father's opinion [sic], what was his opinion of Herbert Hoover?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Oh, that was quite simple, that I remember like, like it was yesterday. He went so far, he was a sign-painter, he had quite a bit of artistic talent, he went so far as to paint cartoons of Herbert Hoover in the form of a pig, and sitting on top of a heap of humanity. He had the image of Herbert Hoover as being an elitist, sitting on top of the suffering humanity, very strong opinions about, of, you know, Herbert Hoover, and how he should not be in the White House when the nation was in trouble. He was very negative about Herbert Hoover.

INTERVIEWER:

Now why? Why was he doing that?

ROBERT HAUSER:

There was a, there was a tendency at that time for politics to be much more separated than they are today. We, we talk today about how, quite often, we look at the Republican platform, we look at the Democratic platform, and we say, there's not a lot of difference between them. They all, all recognize the same problems, and quite often they have almost, quite similar ways, sometimes, of approaching these problems. But, there's still a strong distinction between the two parties, but in that day there was a much stronger distinction, because we were in a, we were in a, a very negative part of American history, and people had very positive ideas about how it should be solved. So, that extreme situation called for extreme ideas.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

Bob, tell me about the heat.

ROBERT HAUSER:

In Washington, D.C.? I don't believe Washington, D.C. was any hotter than Buffalo, New York. To me, it was just another summer, and we were off on summer vacation.

INTERVIEWER:

Do you remember any rain?

ROBERT HAUSER:

No, I don't remember any rain.

INTERVIEWER:

People have said it was dusty.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah, it was very dusty in the camps. When we lived in Buffalo, we lived across the street from Humboldt Park, on the corner of Genesee[?] and Bess Street, so we had this large city park, full of chestnut trees and great trees to climb and grass all over the place, we could go out and play all day long and come home relatively clean. In the Bonus Army, if you went out and ran around a little bit, it was just a dusty flat, a river bottom, I guess, and we were all dust and covered with dust, which probably drove my mother crazy.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 10
INTERVIEWER:

The men in the camps, what was their mood?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, as I said before, they, there seemed to be not enough activity for to keep them busy, that's why that boxing was such a success, any type of activity that you could put on to offer a diversion. I think they were bored. I think the exciting part of the Bonus Army was getting there, and once they were there, it's, there's not, not that much activity to keep them, you know, you can't all go up to the Washington, up to the Capitol and talk to the Congressmen and so forth. They're just, just mainly there to show, make a show of force, and then once they were there, it was kinda like occupation troops in, after the War.

INTERVIEWER:

How did you get clean in this sort of situation?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Haven't the slightest idea. Haven't the slightest idea.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 11
INTERVIEWER:

You heard, you heard rumors that the, something was going to happen, your father heard rumors. What did he do?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, the only thing that I remember was that we were going to be forced to leave the camp. Just about that time, I don't know how, but we didn't [sic] move over to a building, very possibly one of those buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a large storefront-type building, and they ended up by putting some of the, a few older people, and of course the women and children, in that building. Then my, my dad got his paintbrush out again, which he always had with him, and he painted large, red crosses on that building, and that became a refuge during the activity that commenced later, where we were not in any way pushed around or pushed out, or pushed in the police cars, or whatever they did to... they had, they had quite a problem if they were going to make these people leave. They didn't have enough "Black Mariahs" to back up and load, load the veterans in and take them off, so it must have been quite a problem to make these people vacate an area.

INTERVIEWER:

We're going to change mag  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] , right?

[cut][slate][change to camera roll 102:54][change to sound roll ]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Take seven.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 12
INTERVIEWER:

Now, you did several excursions, while you were in the camp.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yes, that was, that to escape, as I say, the boredom of the camp, and of course, one of the most memorable was the—

INTERVIEWER:

I'm sorry, could you start by saying, you know, while, We were sorta bored, and we decided to take some excursions?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yes, OK, I, that's very difficult for me to come up—

INTERVIEWER:

I know.

ROBERT HAUSER:

I'll try. But the life in the camp could of course get quite boring after being around in a tent city for a while, and one of the excursions that we took was up to the Washington Monument, and, and I still remember that it was so many feet tall, and so forth, I remember the numbers- when I was a kid, I remembered them, I should say- and that the stones came from all over the world. I think my dad showed us that, then we went up to the top of the Monument and we'd see the greater Washington, D.C., and of course that view down across to the Capitol. Then from, not possibly on the same day, but, one of those trips that we took was to the Mint, and that was quite interesting because we were in the middle of a Depression, and we were carrying our flag to collect nickels and dimes and selling our pins for nickels and dimes, and we stood up in the balcony and we watched the large printing presses printing out just tons of money. I don't remember whether they were one dollar bills or maybe two dollar bills, in those days, but they were just printing out tons of money, and it seemed to a child that, Why don't you just print a bunch of that stuff and give everybody some money, we'll all go home? It was a, it was that way. You know, that's the seven year old mentality. As a matter of fact, they did that later, I think. [laughs] That's how we got our inflation.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 13
INTERVIEWER:

What happened to your personal belongings after the, the rally?

ROBERT HAUSER:

I don't think there was anything to worry about, there. I think the, when we went off for the, to the camp, no doubt my mother took our summer clothing, and our summer clothing consisted of some shorts and stuff that we had, but mainly, boys wouldn't be seen too much in shorts in those days, if they could help it. We had knickers and high shoes, and most of our summer clothing was left over from the school year last year, and you kind of grew through that during the summer, and it was all ready to be thrown away by the end of the summer anyway, when you got your new clothing to go back to school in the fall. So, people talk about hand-me-down clothing, in those days, I don't remember handing it, hand-me-down clothing, we wore everything completely out, and when we were done with it, it was ready for the rag bin.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 14
INTERVIEWER:

People have described the veterans as a bunch of bums, I mean, the way they looked, and stuff like that. Is that true?

ROBERT HAUSER:

No, it's, you've seen pictures of the camps, and, we had a, same as we have today, we had a lot of people in business suits. Of course, you have to remember then that people didn't have the money to take the clothing to the dry cleaners to be cleaned and pressed all the time. So, a man was wearing, and quite often they wore dark clothing in those days, dark blue suits, dark blue pants, a white shirt and a dark tie. Those things got a little ragged looking, especially if you were not at home, if you were out there living in a tent city, trying to get up in the morning and wash and shave in a pan of water, then put that same suit on that you wore yesterday. Probably a problem of how you were going to get that shirt washed, so they may have got a little dusty-looking in that respect. And of course, we had a lot of working people there that wore what we call 'work pants' and heavy shoes and caps, those little caps I pointed out in one of the pictures. And—

INTERVIEWER:

Let's cut for a second. We, we could just—

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Take eight. Is that all right? Yeah. OK. That's good [inaudible].

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 15
INTERVIEWER:

Can you, why did your mother get suspicious of the food?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Oh, that's, that's quite interesting. It was repaired, prepared, as I said, mess hall style, Army style, and they had these large, oh, they were about twenty-gallon sized aluminum kettles, and the fellows would peel potatoes and they'd put the potatoes in the large kettle, then they're boiled in the water, and the water's poured off, and they're mashed. The fellow mashing potatoes is up there with a large potato masher which is made of wood, and he's pounding on those potatoes to mash them. He made the mistake of getting up there without his shirt on, and he was pounding potatoes and sweating and making Army food, and my mother took one look at that and said, That's not fit for my family to eat. That was her disenchantment with Army style cooking. So, it was, it was just a matter of things being cooked in large amounts that she felt was unsanitary.

INTERVIEWER:

How did a lot of people eat there?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Don't remember much about that. It's, I do remember vaguely sitting at some tables, but it's very vague. I remember, mostly, going to those restaurants, that was that, I remember the good parts.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 16
INTERVIEWER:

Where did, where did you live in the camps, do you know?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, I lived one row over and about five or six tents down from where the boxing platform was, period. That's all I can remember. I could orient myself from where, because at the boxing platform they would also get up there and make speeches, and have other events. I imagine that, I remember one time that they had people singing there, they had some guitars and some songs there. So, we were down from the entertainment section, you went off to the right of that and down about five tents. That's where we lived.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 17
INTERVIEWER:

I wonder if you could tell me, what was it like, the feeling of running through the camp?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, it was a brand-new experience. I'd never seen so many people together, never seen so many, so much activity going on. It was, and of course, children are always looking for other children to have games with, and it wasn't going to be any problem because there were a lot of kids around and a lot of people around. It was, it was a very positive experience. We enjoyed it.

INTERVIEWER:

What were these people like?

ROBERT HAUSER:

They were just like us.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

I'm sorry, I think we should change.

INTERVIEWER:

All right.

[cut][slate][change to camera roll 102:55][change to sound roll ]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Take nine.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 18
INTERVIEWER:

So, Bob, if you go back in a time machine, and you landed right in the middle of that camp, or an alien, right in the middle of that camp, what would be your most vivid impression?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, it wouldn't be, it wouldn't be too positive. It would be, it would be a little bit of wonderment, when you were wondering what all these people are doing here, because they're people together for a cause, but the cause is a political thing, so there's very little that they can be actively doing. You would see them camping, you would wonder, why are they camped here, if you didn't know exactly what the reason was. Because it's obviously not where they live, it's obviously a temporary camp, it's obviously a temporary lifestyle, so your first impression would be, Now, what are all these people here for? Are they going someplace, are they coming from someplace, are they displaced, is there a flood up the road someplace, or is there some catastrophe back, back there that I didn't see, that had pushed all these people over here onto this one piece of ground? So, that's the way they felt. They were a little bit displaced in their homes, they were there for a purpose, but once they got there they had to make do with life in the camp for as long as it took to negotiate with Congress and with the President, which wasn't happening. So, it was kind of a befuddling situation, but, in another sense, they were all living from day to day. They kept busy enough surviving by cleaning their tents and getting themselves clean, getting their meals and getting their meals from the mess hall, so... but, it would still be a, a sort of a displaced, a displaced person camp. I imagine if you went into any displaced person camp in the world today, you would find the same situation.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 19
INTERVIEWER:

Now, there was a kind of military feeling to the place too, wasn't there? How is that?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, that's because the men were all veterans, of course, they all had military training, as I had, later on, and when you get a group of people into an area like that, it only stands to common sense that we'll put up what we call a five man tent- I don't know where they procured, where they got the five man tents- but they put them all together, and being military they tried to put them into rows as much as possible. They tried to organize streets, and in that way, that was nice, because as I said I lived one street over, one row over and five rows, five tents down from point A. So, there was a military organization to the sense of handling that large a group of people, getting them fed, and seeing to their sanitary requirements.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

How did you first become aware that there was going to be a Bonus March, when you were back in Buffalo?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, that was, that was instantaneous, I believe. I think we heard about the Bonus Army on the radio, and we heard my, my dad and other people talking about it. Of course, I seemed to be aware from the very beginning, when the Bonus Army was mentioned, that that's where we were going, because that would be the kind of thing my dad would really want to get- that was something he could actively do to vent the frustration of the, of the lack of business, and lack of anything to do in the, in the city, and that would be a good thing for, good thing for a summer trip. He had the vehicles, he had the wherewithal to do it, he had the organizational ability to put it together through the Buffalo contingent, and there were several other people like himself, ready to go.

INTERVIEWER:

Great, that's great. I'm really, I really don't have any other questions, let's cut for a second.

[camera freezes, audio continues over frozen image]
[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 21
ROBERT HAUSER:

He's cranking the motor, my mother's doing the spark advance, you know how they do that?

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, those are the old days.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah, and it won't do you any good for your program, because all my father says is "Goddammit!" [laughs] And then it fires, and then if she don't, if my mother doesn't get the spark advance up, then he's "goddamming" again. He, he was like, what's his name, George Patton, they said George Patton just came in goddamming all over the place, and then he left. [laughs]

INTERVIEWER:

[laughs] You know, Eisenhower said this about MacArthur—

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah.

INTERVIEWER:

They asked like, you know, "Where did you learn your military, your craft as a military man?" He said,"Well, I'm not really sure about that. I did study dramatics under General MacArthur."

ROBERT HAUSER:

[laughs] Yeah. I don't like MacArthur. Now Patton I could understand, Patton I could understand. MacArthur I could never understand.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 22
INTERVIEWER:

All right, I'm going to ask you one more question.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Joe also had a comment. Did you hear?

INTERVIEWER:

About the rout?

[camera and audio cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Take ten.

INTERVIEWER:

Now, you had come there, a long way, lived there in that camp, your father was very involved in speaking, or being part of this thing. What were your feelings about the rout, once you're just pushed out of Washington? How did you feel about it?

ROBERT HAUSER:

You mean after it was over, or...?

INTERVIEWER:

I mean, not the trip home, but the feeling of having been treated like that.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Well, I thought we were treated wonderfully. I wasn't aware of, the fact that they didn't get their bonus, I was, I was made aware of that, but from what I understood of the political situation at the time... I think the comment was probably made by my mother and my mother's family, that the Bonus Army was a waste of time because they weren't going to get their bonus anyway under this administration, and that they should have expected that, and should have been, should not have been disappointed at not getting their bonus. Then, the reason that they were not going to get their bonus, according to my uncle, for instance, was, the government didn't have the money to give them the bonus. Those printing presses not withstanding, there was no money for the bonus, we didn't have deficit. I think Adolf Hitler was the one who perfected deficit spending. So, I don't think there was any great tragedy involved. I always felt, I felt that a lot of those people were there on a lark. Because they had nothing else to do.

INTERVIEWER:

That's great.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah, all those people weren't serious at all, Eric. You get a lot of true believers, and people who are very emotionally involved in the Bonus Army. A lot of people were just hangers-on, going along for the ride, nothing else to do that summer. They weren't—like, as one... of course, the minute anything like that happened in those days they were all called Communists. It was, turned out that ninety-four percent of those people were qualified veterans, it turned out when they did the paperwork later on. The major leaders of the things had very serious intentions, and so forth, but a lot of people were just along for the trip.

INTERVIEWER:

That's good, let's cut. That's great.

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Take eleven.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 23
INTERVIEWER:

There's sort of a misconception of the camp, isn't there? About...

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah, now, I can give you an opinion based on, you know, what I feel today, years later, and it's quite opposite from what you read quite often and what you hear quite often. I make the comment that there were not twenty-thousand angry men, there were not twenty-thousand hungry men at that camp, 'cause I personally know that I was never angry one minute, 'cause I wasn't a man, and I was never hungry for one moment, and none in my family was hungry for a moment. My mother was able to go out and very quickly raise funds for feeding us. The people of America were ready to help us. Many of these negative comments about angry and hungry men just don't fit the situation.

INTERVIEWER:

How was that, Russell? OK?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Ah, let's do that last comment again, please.

[sound of motorcycle in background]
INTERVIEWER:

OK, cut.

[cut][slate]
INTERVIEWER:

So, there was sort of a misconception, wasn't there?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah, to, to get into that, the situation, the situation that existed there, as described years later, when you read about it and you hear about it, they're describing twenty-thousand angry men, twenty-thousand hungry men. I never, I was never aware of anyone in the Bonus Army being hungry, I know I was never hungry, my family was never hungry. My mother was always able to come up with means to provide us with food, as I said before they had the mess hall and the food came in. I don't remember that many people being angry. I think it was, there were a few that were emotionally very, very involved, extremely involved in this, that were probably spokesmen for the Bonus Army that gave that impression, but a lot of men were just there, along for the ride, and they weren't hungry and they weren't angry, they were just trying to get their bonus because they could use a little cash.

[missing figure]KhADogomrPw
QUESTION 24
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me about, just one, one more thing, what kind of a boxer were you? What was your best skill in boxing?

ROBERT HAUSER:

Oh, boxing. I became a boxer with the Boy's Club of Buffalo years later, I never—

INTERVIEWER:

No, stay in the camps, though.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Stay in the camps? In those days, I was a, my brother Jim was the aggressor. He was the aggressive boxer, and he had one punch, he had a right cross. You had to watch out for his right cross, but he would telegraph it by ten minutes ahead of time, so you could avoid that quite easily, and I had a left hook. So, we had a, as we grew older, my brother became a pretty good boxer in the service. I boxed in the service for a while, then I quit. He was a much better fighter because he was more aggressive, I was a better boxer because I was more defensive. But I remember all we had was two punches, but if we could have put our two punches together we would have made one boxer.

INTERVIEWER:

That's great. That's good.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

Cutting.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, that's it.

ROBERT HAUSER:

Yeah.

[cut]
[end of interview]