Interviewed by Kenneth Wilder
23 January 2014
Oral History Program
Weber State University
23 January 2014
Copyright © 2014 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
The Oral History Program of the Stewart Library was created to preserve the institutional history of Weber
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The New Zion Community Advocates worked with community members age 80 years and older to have
contributed to the history of Ogden city. The interviews looked at the legacy of the interviewees through
armed services, work, social life, church, NAACP and educational systems in an environment where their
culture was not predominant. This program has received funding from the Utah Humanities Council and
the Utah Division of State history.
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Satterwhite, Frank, an oral history by
Kenneth Wilder, 23 January 2014, WSU
Stewart Library Oral History Program,
Special Collections, Stewart Library, Weber
State University, Ogden, UT.
Frank Satterwhite, photo taken
at New Zion Baptist Church
January 23, 2014
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Frank Satterwhite conducted
on January 23, 2014 by Kenneth Wilder.
KW: Alright, we are here at the New Zion Baptist Church office with why don’t you
give us your name and where you live?
FS: Okay, my name is Frank Satterwhite and I live at 4563 South 375 East in
Washington Terrace, Utah.
KW: Good. How did you come to be here in Ogden? Where did you come from? You
know where were you born and how did you make it here to Utah and Ogden in
FS: Okay, where I was born. I was born in Louisiana in Red River Parish, Louisiana in
1921 in my grandmother’s and grandfather’s house. So I grew up somewhat in a
rural area and I later moved into Caddo Parish and that’s where my schooling
began, in Caddo Parish, Shreveport, Louisiana.
KW: How’d you make it out here to Utah?
FS: Well listen, I was in high school there and I visited the post office and what have
you and I knew that during WWII, I was subject to the draft after high school.
They said this was a policy more or less there so then I went to the post office
and looked around. There were jobs listed all around the country in that time and
in Utah there was any number of positions there. I had to take a little test and I
passed the little test. Let’s see in 1942, after the Christmas holidays, I headed
this way for Utah for job training. So this is why I’m here in Ogden today because
I began working at Hill Air Force Base. In fact it was very little there, there was a
few hangers and what have you there and so they were sort of building it up into
a depot what they called Ogden Air Depot at the time. I began work, I came to
study radio but it was such a popular class. I took aircraft training because I had
been wondering what made an automobile engine work. I was interested in that
type of job you know as a kid. I had an uncle that worked for a new car dealer, so
he would drive his vehicles by the house and things like that. I admired him, I
was just a young kid, so I admired him and the vehicles you know. So I got
involved in aircraft at Hill Air Force Base.
KW: We had talked before and tell us about what you encountered as far as the living
conditions, where you could live when you got here to Ogden?
FS: Oh yes there was a housing shortage. Because we came in and it was after the
holiday into the New Year, I arrived in Ogden by train. A number of people I
discovered were coming for the same purpose as I came, for a job, for job
training more or less. So there was only one place that I was told that I would be
able to live and that was the Royal Hotel. The old Royal Hotel on Wall Avenue
and it was just across from the Union Station you know. It was a funny thing,
there were so many of us that came in from different parts of the country really.
The hotel was overfilled, overrun and Mrs. Davis, the owner of the hotel call us
into a little meeting. “Listen you men, there are a number of women who came in
with you folk here and I’m overrun already.” She says, “Now the few beds we
have will be for the women and you fellows are going to have to use pallets on
the floor.” So that was the situation, it was a housing shortage you know. I
understand that the other motels/hotels in the town weren’t serving black people.
So it was the Royal Hotel. We accepted it and this was a weekend that I came in
on the train.
So then Monday I went out to Hill Field and then I got the job. There was
still this housing thing because I asked around, “Does any family have rooming
houses?” I remember there were such things as rooming houses in cities where
you rent a room. They said, “No, most of the places that were available were
filled.” So Hill Field set up barracks for civilians and they had begun to set them
up before I came in there no doubt because they couldn’t process everyone.
They were about three barracks situated by the south gate of Hill Air Force Base.
So then it was separated from the military. We were fenced in and they set up
cafeterias and what have you, recreational halls because they were segregated.
The military had their own recreational set up see, but we couldn’t get involved in
theirs, you know one of those things. So this was the housing, definitely a
housing shortage at that time.
KW: I know you’re married and how long have you been married?
FS: I’ve been married for let’s see I’ll have to count. Let’s see Jackie Robinson I think
was into baseball at that time and that was 1957. I was married in 1957 so 65 or
66 years. To do the math, we were married March the first.
FS: Okay thank you, thank you. I just think about people and honeymoons and things
like that, but we married on a Saturday at the downtown you know. We went
downtown at the bureau or whatever and got the license. The fellow down there
says well now what kind of instruction do you need? Do you need the short one?
I said well give me the best that you’ve got. So he talked to me about marriage
and things that I should be careful not to be guilty of, one thing to not be guilty of
missing dinner that my wife prepared for me. Women just don’t like the idea that
you’re missing dinner when it’s prepared for you, you know. So come Monday I
went back to work - didn’t have any honeymoon, no time off at all you know. So
anyway so that was my situation.
KW: How did you two meet?
FS: We met in school and it was an odd thing because she was busy, she was a busy
person, she was doing some work. She’d go down to some little organization in
the school there and she would go around and pick up registrations or something
of that sort. What we had in our school was study hall. We had time that you
could study because a lot of us worked. I worked, especially on the weekend in
high school. So I normally was pretty busy so I had to take that study period you
know some of my lessons. So then I met her because she happened to been
doing the same thing. I think she was doing a little work herself, you know one of
those things in high school. So, but we just met on chance but it wasn’t one of
those things that we were I didn’t say she was my girlfriend because she wasn’t.
It’s just that I met her, saw her, and knew a little something about her, one of
those things. Later on, now this was in high school and later on after I was in
service then we finally got this wedding thing on a Saturday, here you know. She
was visiting, she was a visitor that never ended her vacation. She was only
supposed to visit me and it was a thing, we knew each other’s people. I mean
she knew my folk and I wasn’t aware of this, but while I was away she really kind
of got in with them. I wasn’t aware of this, see. So she was pretty well prepared
and knew what she was doing I think.
LR: You caught her doing some research on her own.
FS: That’s right, that’s right.
KW: What are you the most proud of in your life? Any accomplishments?
FS: Okay, well it has to do with family for instance because we have four children and
they’re girls. I didn’t have to do a lot of disciplining with them, but whatever they
did in school I would drive them around. I would go and attend their activities and
what have you. But they grew up, they were smart enough to get a little
education for themselves because we wanted them. They did a lot of
extracurricular things. They were in speech and they were in music and such.
They participated, but then they had to get their work you know. So they were
smart enough to get that work so they could do the extracurricular stuff you
know. They grew up and I told them that if they were smart, well they were fairly
talented kids and they went to college. They all went to college and then when
they left home, well they got married and they did leave home for a while.
Grandkids, I have ten grandkids and a couple of great-grandkids so I don’t know
when people talk of success. You know to me it’s a family thing.
Well, and I’ll take this a little farther because religiously or whatever, my
folk taught us to not to hate folk, but to respect people and respect yourself first.
Be respectable, yourself you know. So we were taught and we were disciplined
and this thing I think is important. We were able to discipline our kids to the point
where they didn’t get into any serious troubles. So I think as far as the
accomplishing I think if you’re able to do that, to me that’s fine. I love school, love
myself, and we instilled in them and they love school, learning you know. So at
least we got something over to them. We were able to teach them something.
KW: You talked a couple times about how important faith and religion is to you. How
was it being here and what is it that played in a part of your life? You know the
role at the church and religion.
FS: Well yes, it was an outlet for me. For instance I’d never been anywhere. There
were five brothers of us for instance. I happened to be third brother see. In fact I
got an awful lot of learning from those two older brothers. They were pretty good
people. My mother, after the war was over, she was saying how blessed she was
because we all came back home, after the wars. I didn’t think much of it but as I
grew older and learned something then I could realize what she meant. Now your
question you asked me, I’m losing my…
KW: Tell us about your faith in the church.
FS: Oh well, yes. They were religious folk. I had uncles who were pastors and
preachers. My dad was a deacon, he was a Masonic person. So what we learned
is to be something positive in your community, do something. When I came here
I was like a fish out of water because I didn’t know anyone, well I met one
person, Mr. Carter. He was a person that knew people out in Syracuse. He was
one person that I learned something about the town from him. I learned to talk to
him about things and he was able to move around. He didn’t have any problems
of moving around doing things because he was known. I learned here that this
was important because if they knew you then you were railroad people. Railroad
people were a majority of black folk that were here. So with us coming in we folks
were migrants. Anyhow, so I learned from him about things. I was the type that
couldn’t see going to work or the school at that time and coming back and just
sitting down. So I start checking out equipment they allowed us to check out of
the military you know games, things and what have you. I would check out even
boxing gloves, badminton and things like that to do something different. Then
baseball equipment and stuff like that and I get guys to play catch or whatever. It
was different you know. As I said I wasn’t the kind to sit around, to sit down. I
was the nervous type. So I got together with a few friends. There was three of us
– myself, one fellow from Illinois, and a fellow from Kansas. I met the fellow from
Kansas at school who happened to be in a radio class. He was as married and
was here just until he got trained and left to go back to his family. There were so
many people who migrated from all around.
KW: What are some of the changes that you’ve seen in Ogden since you’ve been
FS: Oh I’ll tell you an awful lot of changes. For one thing, when I went in to service
and after I was discharged in 1946, I came back here for reemployment rights
and had a job waiting for me. At least you could buy a home outside of Wall
Avenue because most of the black people lived on Wall Avenue and Lincoln
Avenue. Realtor people would only show you certain places and usually it wasn’t
beyond Lincoln Avenue or Grant Avenue. It was a little while before I found a
place and there was a fellow building the runway out at Hill because of the jet
planes and all were being developed during that time. This fellow was buying a
home in the 200 block of Patterson Avenue. He was going back to where he
came from because he was brought in because he was an engineer. So I got
together with him and he hadn’t spent much on his contract and he hadn’t been
in his home very long. So he contracted with me for a home that he hadn’t
bought, but hadn’t paid for it yet. The person that sold him the home was from a
coal company not too far from here that sold this home to this engineer. When
she discovered that he was subcontracting with me, she made him pay her a little
more money one of those things you know. So that’s how I happened to buy a
home not from a realtor, but from an engineer. It happened to be a fairly nice
place and it still stands right now. That brick home on 208 Patterson just a couple
of blocks from here. It was a rough brick type home and it was a beautiful home,
but the lady that lived next door happened to been a white lady. She hurriedly
sold her place to some people. Well this is the truth now, she sold it to a Spanish
group and the fellow worked at Hill. So anyway I happened to outlive the
usefulness there because my kids were coming on, so then I needed a bigger
place. So that’s why I end up where I’m now, out in Washington Terrace.
KW: Okay. So what do you like to do for fun now?
FS: Oh listen now I don’t do much of this but I enjoyed sports and recreation things. I
enjoy doing things. I’ve told you about this little league team here that this one
FS: LaSalle, I told you he was on my little league team and believe it or not we didn’t
have a part of New Zion Baptist Church. This is why we got it going. This is why,
but a fellow in the post office was, we were co-managing it see because his kid
was in that. He was one of the good pitchers and Reverend Martin. Reverend
Martin was the second pitcher of my little league team now. He was just a kid
growing up now. He lived a block or two from me on the terrace so I would go by
and pick him up along with his brother John and the mother, Mrs. Martin would
say, “Oh I don’t know whether I should let him go out there he might get hurt.” I
told her he can even get hurt crossing the street really. We were going to get him
out, he’s needed, and he loves to play, and he’s a pitcher. You know he’s good
for our team. The team was a mixture of Japanese person, there was a Spanish
and there was black. We didn’t have enough out of New Zion around to really
make a team. There were many business who would sponsor them, not around
here anymore but they would furnish them. My wife was telling you about her
experience with our girls because they were jealous because I was taking the
guys around. We would practice and listen we had a good team. I told them we
win and I’ll buy the root beer. Boy I was digging and we were winning, we weren’t
losing. I enjoyed it so much because I love baseball. I remember my hat and
things like that. I love it. I played a little tennis on the grass in Louisiana the
ground is you know clay. We could go on the grass and that made it bounce the
ball. I was always active, I wasn’t big enough to play football and I wasn’t fast or
tall enough for the basketball. So I settled for baseball. I played it fairly well I was
even on the Hill Field team.
KW: If you were to talk to the young people today what are two things that you would
want to impart to them? Some advice you would want to give them?
FS: Well, I would tell them to take advantage of the situation now because it’s like me
and education. I attended an all-black school and it was segregated. We had
used books. I want to get into this just for a minute, one thing that I happen to be
was an active person to the point that I was the president of my class in high
school. I got a chance to move around. I went to one of the oldest black schools.
Oh, not the oldest school is Shreveport, Louisiana and I remember the name of it
- Byrd High. No black folk went to Byrd High. I just had a chance to go there just
to check on things because I was the class president. I went on a tour. I went into
the lab, into the chemistry lab and it was unbelievable, all the room, and there
were desks, equipment and burners. We had one burner and the teacher used it
you know. We didn’t have all this kind of thing. So education-wise, a kid now, I
mean the opportunities are open.
If you’re a kid, take advantage even beyond high school. High school isn’t
enough now, you have to have some special training and I know this. This age of
information you know people you just got to study. Things are changing so fast
aren’t they? I would advise them to take advantage of a situation and I know that
now I understand that if you whip your kid that you can be charged with being
abusive parents and all this kind of thing. I want to tell you what, I appreciate the
discipline my folk did with me. I try to work in some of mine you know. The
mother worked with those girls, worked with my daughters and things like that. If I
were to touch them the way they would think they would die. I mean if I ever
spoke kind of harsh to them once in a while boy they’d fall apart. There would be
a little acting out done in there or something but I didn’t have to do it. Anyway
they were smart enough to help discipline themselves. So I think this is one of
the things, and to not hate and try to be a good citizen where you are. Do
something positive. Anything you like to do would be alright. You know I advise
them anything you’re talented in just expose it and do it. Get enjoyment yourself
from it. So this would be my advice to a young person.
I’ll tell you what they could do, too. If they’ve got some older folk, talk to
them. Because there are things that they could not dream of. I mean a lot of
things are being shown not such as the slavery thing I never saw that one, but I
understand it’s real and I understand it’s really an honest thing looking back onto
something. I say to them a child is a child and they need to be taught. If they let
them grow like weeds they will act like the weed. A little fire on them and they’ll
be destroyed. All people have problems, all people overcome things because you
don’t always win at anything. In life you’re going to be battered and banged and
torn but don’t give up on it. Don’t say, “Well this is it. I can’t.” It’s just like these
winter days, we’re going to have some rain coming. What I’m saying is you don’t
have to try to keep up with the Jones’s, you don’t have to do what somebody else
is doing. Don’t begrudge this person because you think you know better. You
know as a mechanic or a technician a thing just serves a purpose. That thing
serves a purpose for me and that’s all it is. As human beings, why can’t we get
I was telling my wife today, that I’m sorry that I didn’t really understand my
grandparents the way they really were until I grew up and got a little knowledge
in my head, past 25. God prepared females to deliver our kids and we males
have to get past 25 at least before our brains mature. I’m blessed, I’m going to
say this again, young people I think they need to talk with their elders, their old
folk and just talk to them.
KW: Now did you have a nickname when you were growing up?
FS: People tried to hang nicknames on me. but I’ll tell you what. I was the youngest I
think on the baseball team at one time. Somebody called me baby boy or
something like that. I said, “I’m no baby,” but he called me baby boy. I learned
something from that person because they were much older than me. They were
managers and things like that but there was something about friends. You’re a
friend because I knew you when you were much younger, many years ago. Do
you remember? What people saw in you, you know the man that you really are
today. I had people who work with me and that helped me along. So other than
my family, people I work for and working with you know. They would tell me when
I was on the right track and when I got off. So friends, I believe in friends but I’m
going to tell you what I believe a friend should be one that can tell you if you
happen to be wrong, if you happen to be off track. I was in the military and there
was a party going on and there were ladies and I loved to dance. The lady I was
dancing with was this one, kind of tough guy’s girlfriend or something like that
and my friend told me he says, “Frank you’ve been dancing with that lady for
quite a bit and he thinks that you’re wanting something other than to dance.” I’m
teaching you something but take it easy. A friend is one that can really talk to you
and can have fun together. You can agree, but you can also disagree.
I want to tell you about Marion and me. Marion is an ardent reader; he
didn’t go to college, but he is so knowledgeable. My friend and my daughters and
all call him Uncle Marion. He comes to the house and we can get in a discussion
about some book, why water boils here at less temperature than it does at sea
level and all that kind of stuff. He knows better and he can just argue but we
never do and he’s still a friend you know.
KW: Let’s see what questions Lorrie has. You’ve mentioned great characters from
here and you wrote down Reverend Washington. Talk about that for a little bit.
FS: Yeah, he was a military man and besides being a preacher I don’t know his
history beyond, he was in Wyoming. He was even a chaplain there, he got to be
assistant chaplain there in Wyoming. He was from the south. He had the mind of
building churches you know. I don’t know what his education was other than a
pastor. He had a way of getting people to follow him or work with him. When he
built New Zion Baptist Church here, we had very little money in the treasury, but
by the time we bought this ground and this parsonage here there was no building
fund at all. There were people from Wyoming that came here to help him to build
this church, he had a way with people. I noticed when he would come around
and they were building this he would dressed in work clothes and have his gloves
you know. He came out and showed that he would get in and work with you. He
would get in and do the dirty work. He wouldn’t let people take him away from
when people were working around here. He was just that way. He roofed my
house I bought on Patterson there. He wasn’t afraid of work, but he had an idea
and we only had a 138 people from Wall Avenue that came here. He had in mind
to build a building a church this large and we only had 138 folk. So he was one
man that I thought was exceptional. You could talk to him. You could talk to him;
he didn’t let the title of pastor get in the way.
LR: I just have two questions.
LR: So when you first came here to Ogden, when you came through the train station.
What was that like? What was the train station like when you got here?
FS: Well it was just an old train station. That’s all it was. Well we came in and got off
the train and they ushered us in to get our baggage and what have you. That’s
all, to me it was just a train station.
LR: Okay, the reason I ask is during the war it was really busy. So I was wondering if
you noticed if…
FS: Oh yes! There were people, there were people. Well you know I came from a
sizeable town. Shreveport was a sizeable town so I was used to crowds. There
were crowds, but they were busy as all get out you know. It was night time, you
know getting on to the night so I didn’t see the surroundings of it very much. I
was anxious to get my baggage and find out where I’m going to stay the night.
Yeah, but it’s a very important to this town, to Ogden.
LR: Thank you.
FS: The surrounding you know I really haven’t visited it lately. There’s an awful lot of
things around the station now. Oh there was a theatre and I’ve been there at the
theatre. There’s a stage. So activities there that I really need to go there and
check out you know even now. Alice is a teacher and she brings her kids there
every so often. It’s an annual thing that the teachers come over there to the
station she was telling me. I don’t know exactly what it was, but they come over
there. Historically it’s such an important part of Ogden.
LR: So when you first got there compared to Louisiana was it hard to adjust?
FS: Well I’ll tell you what it was different.
LR: Was it so different that it took a while to get used to being here or did you just kind
FS: Fell into things?
LR: Fell into things.
FS: Well I’ll tell you what, maybe it wasn’t as much of a novelty to me because I’d
been in the service. I’d been overseas and had been traveling around to a lot of
different communities I’d gone into. I’ll tell you what, 25th street now the street
itself was different. It really was different. I got to know the Porters and Waiters
Club owners you know.
KW: Billie Weekly?
FS: Billie Weekly.
LR: And Annabelle.
FS: Yes Annabelle, are you an Ogdenite?
LR: I’ve done some research on 25th street.
FS: Okay, alright. Yeah Annabelle, now Annabelle’s a Louisianan. She was a
Louisianan. I knew Annabelle I knew her pretty well. We were out here at the
same time, she went out to Hill Field but I got a big kick out of her. She said that
she wasn’t interested in the nuts and bolts and things. She wasn’t interested in
that job there because her husband was in the service. She came out this way
because he was in the service. Yeah, 25th street now was different. Yeah it was
different and not every town had one because they kind of compared it with
Chicago, south side.
I was in the Great Lakes. I was in the navy and I trained in the Great
Lakes in Chicago. Chicago was a bustling town. During my liberty, it was my
town I came into. I’ll tell you what, I’ve never been so cold when you talk about
the cold weather. I’ve never been so cold than I have been in Chicago—the wind
off the lake of the Great Lakes. By the way in boot camp we were supposed to
have had some boat training but I didn’t get a chance to get it because it was
frozen over. It was in February, it was frozen. Yes and I was young. I was a
young fellow and I’ll tell you what I never been so cold in all my life. I didn’t have
any problem in the service with discipline. I really didn’t because my grandpa and
my folks had disciplined me. I could understand what discipline mean. I could
understand who the leader is and things like that and what you’re supposed to
do. It was easy for me and another thing I’m left handed all the way until I got into
the service. So I had my little problems, but I’ll tell you what it didn’t take a lot I
just had to be taught and worked with and told me to listen. You know you can’t
learn everything. But it was an experience I would recommend.
But I’ll tell you what after the Korean War, I was reluctant to recommend a
youngster that may want to try the service because that was such a difficult place
to be. When you don’t know who your enemy is that’s the terrible thing. I was
over in the Philippines and the Japanese had ravaged that country, the
Philippines and just everything. They left some of their soldiers and we had
people coming up and getting in our food lines because the war was over. The
war was over and because they had been in the jungles and needed food to
survive. Where the huge Philippine storm recently hit, I was right in that area –
the little village and the little town that was near our navy base. It was rough
there. Yeah and boy I’m happy we didn’t have that kind of thing when I was over
LR: So you were in the service and then you did civil service. Is that right?
FS: Well yes, I came here out of high school. Yeah and this was my first job at Hill
Field. This is the first—well I had jobs but face it, they were part-time or
something like that you know. But first full time job was I came out at Hill Field
and then I was inducted after I was out here for a year or so. I was inducted in
LR: I was getting confused.
FS: Oh okay well I’m glad to clear that up. Yes so I went in the service out here and
then I had reemployment rights you know because I had a job here before I went
into the service.
LR: So that’s why you came back?
FS: Yes, that’s why I came back.
LR: Now I understand. You were in the service and you were doing civil service.
We’re good now.
FS: Yeah but you know the funny thing about it. Okay now when I came here now this
was an Army/Air Force thing. It was the Army during the time between WWII and
after the ending it became an Air Force you know. Its’ own Air Force like Navy.
So I worked for the Army Air Corp and I worked for the Air Force and I was in the
Navy military. So I had a chance to move about. All of these experiences were
good. As for friends, there are people that you work with and hit it off and you
have the same philosophies or not too far. Now but religion I’ve never had a
problem because as a kid growing up in Louisiana, Catholic predominantly. In
Louisiana, they call it the Bible belt throughout the south. See, I’ve always knew
people and always worked with people who were different. Whatever their thing
is that’s fine. You know I respect them and I want them to respect mine. Out of
my five brothers, there’s two of us and I’m the older one and there’s a younger
one left, that’s the way I’ll put it. Of us five, he tells me about myself saying the
oldest person in the family was your boss more or less who could tell you things
to do. You’re not supposed to buck them you know. They are the oldest and I’m
old. I’ve got a sister now that’s in a nursing home that’s 100 years old and she’s
still spunky. She talks to me and asks me about the children and things like that.
She was as happy as a lark. We just had a party for her, balloons and things like
that, just enjoying herself. . She’s in a chair and has to be pushed around a little
but her brain still works and it’s amazing. So here I am you know my last birthday
in June. I might have to think about it. I don’t worry about it but once in a while
they say well how old are you? Then I have to think, I have to do the math. 1921
so I subtract one from whatever year it is.
FS: Hey that’s what you get.
LR: Well thank you so much for letting me ask those few questions. I appreciate it.
FS: Oh well listen you can ask me any question you like.
LR: I actually wanted to know if you knew the Porters and Waiters Club and you
answered that questions so thank you, I appreciate it.
KW: Do you have anything final you want to say or have we about worn you out?
FS: No this has been pleasant. This has been okay. You know I did one for a Salt
Lake thing. They had lights glaring in on me and I was dry and drinking water and
things like that. They had me watching the monitor on the TV when they was
talking to me. Golly, you know I was a little nervous but I haven’t been in this one.
This has been sort of pleasant.
LR: That’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be pleasant. You’ve been
married 57 years.
FS: Yeah I married in 1947.
KW: Well sir, I want to thank you for this.
FS: Okay well Ken this is pleasant. You know talking with him. Honestly, as I say I
have known his family and him for a long time.
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