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Transcription below by: Brad Baker (2010 adult workshop). Edited transcription by: Judy Minton (volunteer). Please report errors to: email@example.com
Can you tell us who your parents were and what their names were? You talked a little about being from the depression era. Can you tell us what your economic status was like when you were growing up?
My mother was born in Factoryville, Pennsylvania, in 1898.
What was her name?
Ruth Colt. She witnessed the birth of the motorcar. She lived in a small rural town. Her father was a dentist. He was a professional person. She grew up in a very very different era, one that we barely remember and one that all of these Tea Party people harken back to as the perfect America. She trained as a schoolteacher. There were only a few things women, professional women, could do back in those days and one was to teach school. My father was the eldest son of second generation Irish immigrants living in Avon, a small town in upstate New York. They met while she was attending teacher school. My father was the only person in his family to go to college. When I say college, I mean night school, to get his certification as a CPA. He put another couple of his brothers through college. He was the successful one in the family.
What was his name?
Matthew Ellison Herron, no, Matthew Augustine Herron, excuse me.. I was born in 1931, probably a couple years after they were married. My father worked when there was work, and when there wasn't, he was home. My mother had a steady job. She was the one who brought in the bread. I can remember WPA projects on my street. My parents' ethos was of the depression. You conserve, you save, you do what is necessary to get along, you don't live extravagantly. It's a very different worldview than most people, including my grandchildren and children, have today. So, that was it. I went to grammar school and I went to high school. I had a good high school experience. It was a big, city high school.
What city was it in?
Franklin High School in Rochester, New York. There were all kinds of minority groups, which was very new to me. I had at least one teacher who radicalized me politically. So that was probably formative for me.
Tell us about that person.
His name was Ray Aiman. I graduated from high school in 1949. This is right after the formation of the United Nations and post World War II. Ray put together a sort of mock UN Assembly Meeting of various high schools in the upper tier of upstate New York. I remember doing things like that, meeting somebody who didn't necessarily accept established opinions or let's say government pronouncements, who was questioning and a little radical and kind of funny. I think a lot of us have had teachers in our lives who influenced us and certainly Ray did me.
I was also riding my bicycle a lot. There wasn't much traffic during and after the second world war. I joined the American Youth Hostels. I used to make trips by bicycle. I met another guy there who climbed mountains and was an outdoorsman. That influenced me too. My own father was very much the opposite. One thing that I always regretted was we never got to go camping or do things like that together. But I started doing that on my own. I had a Model T Ford as a teenager and I drove it to the Adirondacks. I went mountain climbing, did a lot of skiing and did winter camping. I went through scouting. I became an Eagle Scout. So, another part of me was the outdoors and it's still very much a part of me.