Frank Malnati

October 1, 2008

Oral History Interview with:
Frank Malnati

Interviewed by:
Dan Hartman
Program Director of Veterans Memorial Hall

Transcribed by:
Karin Swor
Program Assistant of Veterans Memorial Hall

D.H. Dan Hartman
F.M. Frank Malnati
A.V. Ashley Vanwey

D.H. Today we are going to start an interview on September 12, 2008. My name is Daniel Hartman and I will be the one conducting the interview and the individual we will be interviewing today is Frank Malnati and if you could for the record just spell out your last name.

F.M. M-A-L-N-A-T-I.

D.H. Thank you, and also with us today as a guest we have Ashley and what is your last name as well?

A.V. V-A-N-W-E-Y.

D.H. Thank you very much. Now I am going to ask you questions, mostly pertaining to your experience with the Board of Trade but also about your veteran experience as well. It sounds like you started as a veteran first then you became part of the Board of Trade later, correct?

F.H. Right.

D.H. So I generally like to do my interviews in chorological style, so we’ll start there. When did you first know that you were going to be part of the military during World War II? Were you drafted or did you sign up?

F.M. I was drafted like everybody else.

D.H. Okay.

F.M. There was a mix-up in the draft; they had me down as being deleted because I was actually drafted in July before Pearl Harbor. See the draft was way back in January of 1941 but I was over twenty-six and they were only drafting from nineteen to twenty-six because there was no war. The Japs invaded in 1941 of December, well then everything went kaboom and then we were all eligible. So they never called me, so I went down to figure out why I was not called? He says well you are deleted, and I said well that was because of my age, you know he pretty much went nuts when he found that out and he wanted me to go right away, now this is on a Tuesday and he wanted me to go on Friday. I said look, I says I am working; I was working for the newspaper then.

D.H. What newspaper was that?

F.M. And he said sorry you got to go, you got to go. I said I didn’t make the mistake you did. I said I am not going to tell my boss that I am leaving in a couple of days, you know there leaving with a lot of people and I am not going, my mother and dad were living, I am going in a couple of days. It isn’t fair, everybody gets two weeks, so I didn’t go. So I told him to go plump and I went down the hall, I was going to join the Navy, but I was over twenty-six so I couldn’t go in the Navy. Somebody down there said why don’t you go down to the Marine Corp, they have a reserve maybe you can get in there. I went down to talk to the guy in the Marine Corp and he said well you have to go to boot camp and there are a lot of exams that you could take. I said well, that is a good so I went to the Marine Corp. All the way to San Diego and when I was out there I took a test, and I saw a good one, because I knew the post office really well cause I worked for the post office for a while.

D.H. When did you work for the post office?

F.M. Well, pitching bale, the letters you know, and things like that, and I worked on claims a little bit.

D.H. Okay.

F.M. They needed me, they just about through a net over me, because there was so much mail coming in all of a sudden, they never even knew how to handle it and you can’t just take a bunch of guys off the street, especially to be a post office. You know there is a lot of technical stuff in there that has to be learned and you have rules and regulations like everything else so I walked up the ladder pretty fast. When I was in San Diego, I went to Camp Elliott and from Camp Elliott I went to overseas to Pearl Harbor and finally I got into the Navy mail clerk office.

D.H. You were stationed at Pearl Harbor for a while?

F.M. Yeah.

D.H. How long of a period was it between when you joined the Marines until when you were at Pearl Harbor, how long of a time?

F.M. About a year and three or four months.
D.H. OK, so this is 19?

F.M. 1942.

D.H. Late 1942.

F.M. They had the harbor pretty well cleared up but the battleships some of them were still out there you know, they were trying to bring them to the surface.

D.H. Was there a lot of work being done at Pearl Harbor at that point?

F.M. Oh, tremendous.

D.H. Was it pretty amazing?

F.M. The Arizona and all the ships down there sunk and the Wisconsin. It was still a mess you know, you would see bullet holes and machine gun bullet holes and an explosion where they have built and rebuilt. It was busier than hell. The only reason I was able to go there was because my headquarters company was in Pearl Harbor. So then I was made a Navy mail clerk. Now a Navy mail clerk gets thirty-five dollars extra pay at that time. At that time I think I was a Sergeant.

D.H. So you were still a Marine but you were made a Navy mail clerk?

F.M. Yeah, yeah, well in the Marine Corp, now I work for the government I don’t work for the post office, I mean for the Marine Corp. I work for the U.S. Government, I am bonded by the government, and that is why they pay me and so on. And I never had, in all the time I was there, I never had an officer over me. I ran the place.

D.H. Were you pretty happy to be doing it by yourself, and not have anyone over you?

F.M. Well, I had a lot of good help you know, I mean all the, this and that, all that good help. I had one guy that worked for that Sierra Madre in California post office and another guy he worked at Houston and one from Chicago in the post office. So between the four or five of us we could do pretty good. It was a large post office. It was about the size of an airplane hanger, very big, and you could drive your trucks right inside, the trucks. I had my own private jeep but I couldn’t use it for anything but business. In other words I couldn’t drive around a golf course or anything like that.

D.H. Was this the farthest you had ever been away from home?

F.M. What?

D.H. At this point was this the farthest you had ever been away from home?

F.M. Oh, yeah.

D.H. What did you think of Hawaii, when you got there?

F.M. Oh, I liked the weather; the weather was very, very good. It was probably the finest weather in the world it was very consistent. But while we were there, there was so many military on there from the Army to the Navy to the Marine Corp, jeeps going all over the place, you know, it was really a war feeling because everyone had on a uniform.

D.H. So you never had much time to relax and enjoy Hawaii?

F.M. No, well I played a little golf while in Hawaii at the Hawaiian Country Club. That is when they had that big tournament. I was a good golfer so they asked me to play; I was a very good golfer.

D.H. Any interesting stories?

F.M. Well, there were two things that happened when I was there. One, I just got out of boot camp; I wasn’t out at Camp Elliott yet, I was stationed at the Marine Corp Base, they had a great big place there, you know, and I was there and pretty soon there was a big accident. They were flying planes out of Lindberg Field, which was right next to boot camp, and testing them. One of them never got up and it crashed into the Marine Corp Quonset hut that they were studying, that they met in every once and a while, the group, and killed thirteen Marines. Of course we went right down there with ours bayonet’s out, you know, it was awfully bad.

D.H. It sounds like it.

F.M. Then the next one, real bad one, was, I was there about two years now. They had ships that were going out to Guam, Marine Corp ships, personnel going to war. Now they would board them and leave them there outside of Pearl Harbor. Not inside, outside of Pearl Harbor so they could sneak out without anybody telling them weather they were going to be shipped to war, you know what I mean, that was before regulations. One of them caught fire, all of a sudden, caught fire to the next one, three ships caught fire and they lost. I don’t remember the static’s if I was in the post office I could get all, I had to get all the death’s to stop their mail. One hundred thirty three Marines were killed and about two hundred were wounded and they set up a first aid kit, I mean, mostly they put on the hospital before they got them going and all that. I worked with the Red Cross to help them get things in order, it was a mess, you know, just a messy mess. At the same time now, they couldn’t delay that war over there because the big battle ships were already on there way over they’re to bomb it before and they weren’t going to change their surprise attack. So they did grab everybody they could. They came to me and asked me if I had any people that were with the Marines? But I would like to retain the fellows that were good ones. So they took some cooks and some barbers to fill in for those Marines, and they left. They said we will train you, get you in shape aboard the ship. That was a bad thing.

D.H. Sounds like it.

F.M. They called it little Pearl Harbor. They never did figure out what happened. It was just a fire and a ship caught fire and exploded the magazines and ammunition and some damn thing. It was really bad and they were jumping out in the oil, you know. If you ever see that, the one’s that came in were just loaded, black you know, it was terrible. It was just terrible; you don’t know what to do.

D.H. You remember seeing that yourself?

F.M. Yes, I remember that, but that is about the only thing I ever had. When I was first in the post office, in the Navy mail orp we were expanding. We were moving from Pearl Harbor forward, you know we were the big chief, then we would build on to a hospital there. The reason for that is there was money involved. People wanted to write money orders and you got to have the right people they have to be bonded and so on, to write money orders so it wasn’t all that simple. So once I took a plane, an Army plane, C-24, and we went from the field, right next to Pearl Harbor, and we went down to the Marshall Islands, and landed there. We walked around, because the Marines were there and I wanted to know, are they going to write, money orders or send money orders home?
You know, a lot of them are married, did they need a Navy mail clerk or did they just want a roll call and handle the money some other way, see? Well when I talked to the fellow I noticed that the Army was starting to move in, the Army. Moving in with some big equipment, anti aircraft batteries and all that kind of stuff. Because the Marines only conquer the place and they get out of there. They don’t hang around you know. It’s the Army that defends the place, if they retaliate. So I talked to the Colonel, and I says, yeah, within two or three weeks we ought to be real good. You will have a post office? He said yeah and I said OK that is all I want to know. So they built their own post office so I flew back and from then on we worked on that. Any time we had somebody going out to the Marianna’s or to Guam, Iwo Jima no matter where they were, New Guinea we always knew the Army would come in there eventually, you know what I mean, with a post office. So we used that as a base to work with.

D.H. Where was this at, exactly?

F.M. What?

D.H. Where was this exactly at? Where was this post office, I guess?
F.M. The post office I worked at was right in Honolulu, right next door to Pearl Harbor.

D.H. Is that where you were stationed throughout the war?

F.M. No, there were two others, we had private rooms. I had it real good, you know. I never went out with the mess camp or mess tent. I once sat down with the officer’s although I wasn’t an officer but I was a Navy Air Corp. What I really was, was Superintendent of the mail, that’s what I really was.

D.H. Your official title was Superintendent?

F.M. Yeah, yeah, I ran the post office, yeah. I had a lot of fun in some ways because we had these smart ass Lieutenants coming in, you know, from San Francisco as a replacement battalion and the mail was all sent out. They had their own place where they get their mail, but they would come into the post office. Walk right through the gate, out in there, you know, and ask any mail for Lieutenant Smith? Well here you have a guy, course you have hundreds you know, he has to stop and go through a pile, oh here’s one. Another Lieutenant come in, well they were taking our time, so I told them, I said, gosh, you don’t have any right, your mail goes up there, you get it, but they kept right on going and doing it so I had to go to the Colonel and he had to put the kibosh on it. One day I was coming in to the Marine Corp, I was downtown. The first time I didn’t have my jeep with me because it was a fun thing. So I was coming back, I came back on the little bus they have, Marine Corp, back to camp. It was raining like harder than the devil and I gets in there and the guy says, wait in here and here comes a jeep with two officer’s in it and he stops. He looks and says hey sergeant you want a ride up to the post office, or up to the hill? I said yeah, I just put my foot on it and one guy says, hey he’s the guy that is kicking us out of the post office, make him walk, so I walked up in the rain. But I laughed, you know, I made it tough for anybody.

D.H. What was your official title? You were the superintendent of the mail for the South Pacific?

F.M. Yeah, for the whole Pearl Harbor area.

D.H. That is pretty impressive.

F.M. But for the Pearl Harbor area and then we gave all the advice we could to those, because they were newer than we were, you know.

D.H. For the—

F.M. We had a little format with them and explain. We were thinking all the time what to do, you know. We would get together and just, it wasn’t all that simple because you know those Marines, they never tell you where you’re going until you read in the paper they called for this. Everything was so quiet, just like today, boy every move you make they know about it, oh no. Different world, even with my folks, my folks didn’t even know where I was.

D.H. Your folks didn’t know. How long were you in Hawaii?

F.M. I was in Hawaii, three and a half years, a little over three years. Wait a minute now, yeah lets just make it three years.

D.H. So you got to know Hawaii?

F.M. Oh, yeah, I went out to Diamond Head and all over the place, you know. I took my jeep out there to see their post and I went out to Fort Schaffer, and things like that.

D.H. Did you ever see any of the other islands?

F.M. I saw Maui because it is the Second Marine Division was practicing there and I saw, what’s the other one? Guam, not Guam.

D.H. Hawaii?

F.M. Let’s see, there is Maui, Hawaii, Hawaii and I saw them because the Marines were there practicing and I would just go over there to see how their mail was, you know what I mean. We would go over there, not a ferry, but a pretty good boat.

D.H. Is there anything about your experience in Hawaii for those three years that you want to make sure you have for the historic record?

F.M. Not really, I kind of put it in the back of my head. I had some good times, you know, I don’t care who you are, or you know we had a lot of guys were in the Marine Corp that were already in the service, that never fired a gun or anything like that. But they were there and they were in harms way and the main thing is, they are away from home. You know when you are away from home for four years, and that was the peak of our life. I was twenty-eight years old, or something like that, when I went down there and peak of my life, you know. I had girlfriends and every thing else, when the war started, everything just went to hell, you know. With girlfriends, those four years, what the heck I had so much to do and I was so busy. My life, I figured was well worth it trying to keep up with a girl.

D.H. Did you get?

F.M. It was a different world, you know, you are in a different world completely and everybody you saw that I worked with was a male. I never had any women in my post office or anything. I saw women once and a while but I had nothing to do with them.

D.H. So did you ever have a girlfriend when you were in Hawaii?

F.M. I dated a few girls, nurses; you know a few of them. There was a one from Pittsburgh, she used to tell me about how dirty Pittsburgh was. She would go out and hang up clothes, you know, but not too many. You know, those Hawaiian girls, you know, when you see them in the movies you are seeing the best, otherwise they are all about…. A lot of them are even under five feet, they are five-one, five-two, four-eight. They come up to here on you, I danced, with them quite a bit and most of them have pug noses, you know, they’re not cute, but they have beautiful hair. Beautiful black hair and they put flowers in them. Most of them are bull legged, they are a far cry from, you know, American girls. And I walked down the street with this girl from Pittsburgh, she looked like Betty Davis or Ginger Rogers or something compared to those others. Oh, God everybody would look at me where did you get her? You know white girls were, you know, as scarce as hence ski.

D.H. Your family, did you write letters back and forth to your family, quite a bit when you were in Hawaii?

F.M. Yeah, yeah, my Mother and Dad died during the war. Well, see my Mother and Dad had three sons in the war, three, one in World War I, my oldest brother. He was sixteen years older than I was, and he was in World War I in France and another brother that was in the Philippines. He was in New Guinea and the Philippines; he was right up there, you know, with the war. Then I was there; she had three of them in her lifetime. Now that is pretty rough.

D.H. Yeah, it is.

F.M. And she knew what it was and so did my dad, so it didn’t do them any good. I think they would have lived a little bit longer if there wasn’t a war.

D.H. What was your brother’s name that was in World War I?

F.M. Milo.

D.H. What was your other brother’s name, who was in the Philippines?

F.M. William, William was in the—I have pictures of them over there.

D.H. Did you write letters to your brother’s back and fourth?

F.M. Oh yeah, yeah, well I was, I would get letters from them but I didn’t always know, they would have a station number, you know, but I didn’t know where it was. They didn’t know where I was, either. You just went by the code and we knew what it was. Everybody had to do that, you couldn’t tell, and when you write a letter or return home you couldn’t mention where you were or what was going on. If you do they would cut it right out and you would get a letter full of holes. Everything was secret, it was a different, you know, it was a different world then, you know, they don’t know the Japs, you know, because they had planned the war. It was a different war than today, completely different, completely different.

D.H. When you finally received notice, what year, when did you receive notice that you could come back to the United States?

F.M. What year?

D.H. Yeah

F.M. I came back in 45.

D.H. Was that….

F.M. No, 46, 46. That’s right, I stayed six more months, I stayed an extra three months to take down the post office and do those things, you know, help them out. I could have been gone, I could have come home earlier.

D.H. So when the Germans surrendered and the war in Europe was over you were on the Pacific side but were you guys still celebrating at all or were you happy to have that happen?

F.M. Yeah, oh yeah, they knew the war ended but they didn’t know any of the circumstances of it very much. They knew there was D Day, we knew on D Day. See we put on what they call a leatherneck, it was dubbed by the Marine Corp, and they controlled things. It was pretty interesting, that you know, D Day, they controlled France and then they moved up towards Germany and Russia were doing pretty good.

D.H. When the war was over did you guys go out and celebrate at all?

F.M. Well, there was a big relief, it was a big relief. We were down in Hawaii and Honolulu was all, you know, everybody going nuts.

D.H. Were you still in the Pacific Theater when the war in Japan was over?

F.M. What?

D.H. Were you still in the Pacific Theater when the war in Japan was over?

F.M. Oh definitely, oh sure.

D.H. I imagine you guys went out and celebrated then?

F.M. Yeah, oh yeah, I was in, I was in Pear Harbor then.

D.H. Do you remember where you were when you found out that the war was over?

F.M. Oh yeah, yeah, I know I was in Pearl Harbor. I think I was at my desk and somebody came around with a thing that said they dropped a bomb on Hiroshima. But the war wasn’t over though, I said, “Oh my gosh, is that right?” Two days later they dropped another one, then the war was over, but that is how quick it was.

D.H. Now, when you heard about the bomb, were you kind of shocked to hear about how powerful the bomb was?

F.M. No, it was something that, it, the way I looked at it, you will hear people today saying why did we have to go drop a bomb, ta ta ta da, They have nothing to say about it because they weren’t there. The only people that you can ask are the people who were either there or their father or mother’s had a son over there. They would have said drop it, because of our chances of surviving a Japan attack. They lost close to a million, close to a million because we were doing it alone, and Japan would never would have given up. You know Japan you have to cross a lot of water. We never had, England was only nineteen miles with all our equipment and everything, our airplanes, ta da da da. Japan you had to bring in aircraft carriers over there and you had to fly from a distance, Guam or Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima. They are a lot of ways; you are talking a thousand miles or something, and things like that. See it was a different war and then the Japs got into this suicide bombing. You know they were diving at our battleships and it wasn’t all that simple. You know, they come out and destroy an aircraft carrier, all they have to do is bomb at the middle of it, what good is it. You know, it was a different war, so I really don’t know what kind of strategy they would use.

D.H. I guess, the question I was trying to get to was, when you heard about the bomb the first time, were you surprised to hear about how big it was?

F.M. Oh yeah, yeah, yes I was surprised, I was surprised. You know, my wife worked on that bomb?

D.H. No.

F.M. I didn’t know that, I got a pack; a whole sent by the secretary of state, it is on my wall, she participated in it, the building of the Atomic Bomb. I didn’t know her.

D.H. That’s incredible.
F.M. I didn’t know her then, that was before we were married.

D.H. So what was in the pack?

F.M. Well, it’s like a picture; you know I mean, like a frame. Then it’s says, United States, then it says, her name, her name was Hippo, Norma Hippo participated in the war against Japan by working on the Atomic Bomb, da, da, da, da then signed Henry Simpson. I have it right in my front room, I have a picture.

D.H. That’s incredible.

F.M. Yeah, yeah, yeah she worked on it. She said it was, she worked under the stadium of the University of Chicago. That’s where it was built, a miniature one. Then they tried it, they had to separate the atoms, you see. So they separated it, then they tried it on a miniature scale. All right, then they had it okayed, then they took it to Tennessee and built it. It took a lot more people on the bigger. She didn’t go to Tennessee she stayed back and worked on the radiation.

D.H. But she worked in Chicago on it?

F.M. Yeah, she was a graduate of the University of Chicago. She was a very smart woman. Well, she passed the examination.

D.H. Was she from Duluth, originally?

F.M. Yeah, yeah she was from Duluth, yeah.

D.H. Actually you are nodding your head like you knew about this beforehand as well.

A.V. I did yeah.

D.H. So that is incredible.

F.M. So I was fortunate and I have been healthy and I play golf and I have been playing golf for 83 years at Enger Park, I Curl since ’95 and I was the only guy in history that curled without a stick, once I reached the age of 90. I could still slide, see everybody is afraid to fall, you know, in there 70’s let alone when they are in their 80’s or 90’s. Because when you fall on ice, you know, you don’t get up very fast.

F.M. Your feet go and before you know it you are in the air, boom.

D.H. You are the only gentleman that has curled, without assistance?

F.M. Yeah, yeah

D.H. That’s incredible as well.

F.M. Well, see when I was bowling, I have a brother that was in the Hall of Fame, in the state of Minnesota in bowling, I have my wall filled with Hall of Fame and everything. He was in the Hall of Fame in the state of Minnesota. All right he was nationally know, so they came and got him all the way from California because they were building a bunch of syndicate bowling alleys, 32 alleys and this and that and they wanted a name to handle it. So they gave him a fabulous salary and he went out there. So that broke up our team, I was on a team. Then the other guys were getting kind of old now and we never had the leadership or as good as he was, not even close. So I kind of put it down, I told my wife, I said I am kind of getting sick and tired of bowling because I can’t. You have to bowl at least three nights a week to stay sharp, all at night. Well, I had a daughter coming up you know, she was born and raised and I didn’t want to go out at night, that’s the only time I am home, you know what I mean. So I said, the heck with bowling, so I started curling. On curling, I curled only eight to ten; see it was a little different with seniors unless they had a tournament. I started to curl and I went down there to curl they weren’t sliding they were just throwing the rock out. But I knew that you could slide because I saw the world’s tournament in Duluth, they had a world’s tournament and they were all sliding. I said if they could slide, I could slide, I was 71 years old. So I bought a book from Winnipeg on how to slide and I studied that book with two or three others. In three or four others we were as good as anybody down there that did slide. Six, seven years we won the Magdalene.

D.H. That’s great. Now I am going to have to back you up, because I want to go in chronological style. Let’s go back to your veteran’s experience, because we have kind of moved beyond that. Is there any other story that you want to talk about that you had with your veteran experience before?

F.M. When I was in the Marine Corps?

D.H. Yeah, when you were in the Marine Corps that you haven’t said already that you want have?

F.M. No, not that anybody else could say, you know, like I say it was monotonous, men all the time, you ate with men, you slept with men, talked to men, you work with them and even played with men, you know what I mean. It was just, a woman was just removed from the face of the earth as far as you were concerned, you know.

D.H. But, I want to thank you for your service because your service is incredibly important and I am impressed to know that you were the superintendent of such a large mail service, that’s incredible. Now the next subject matter that I want to talk with you is the Board of Trade. I think this is kind of interesting. First up can you tell me what your position was with the Board of Trade?

F.M. Well, when I came back from the Armed Service I was available. I was a college graduate and I majored in journalism. With the big depression going on, so I had a part time job with the college, in the telegram, and a part time, with the mailers, because my brother was superintendent over there. He got me in on the mailers. Finally the mailers organized for a union and they paid much better than the rest of them. A mailer all day long,

D.H. At the Board of Trade?

F.M. That happened, I started in about 1938, 39, 40 and 41 then the war broke out.

D.H. At the Board of Trade?

F.M. At the board, no, no, at the Superior Evening Telegram.

D.H. Okay.

F.M. No, at the newspaper, mailer. Alright, then when I came home from the service I didn’t want to go back to mailing because the mailing was an hourly work, you know what I mean, you got paid by the hour, like everybody else and the room for improvement was practically nothing at all. You had a job, you could make a living, sure, it was a good job, but I wanted more than that. I figured if I could run a dog gone post office over there I could do a lot of things, and I learned a lot, how to handle people and so on. So I put two and two together, I figured that the big companies, you know the big companies in the grain mill, like Cargil and Peavy and General Mills and that they must have lost some people, men, because the Board of Trade was all men. The trading floor was all men, the Board of Trade wasn’t all men they had some girls in the offices but the trading floor was all men. I figured they most have lost somebody maybe I could get my foot in the door. I am as good an example as anyone else so I talked to this fellow, Max Rhineberger, who was in charge of Kellogg Commission Company, he was the president. Then I worked for him on the trading floor, he put me on the trading floor in two years.

D.H. What did you do on the trading floor? What was your job on the trading?

F.M. Selling.

D.H. So you were a seller.

F.M. I sold Spring Wheat, Durham, Winter Wheat, Flax, Oats, Barley, Corn, Soybeans, all of them.

D.H. Now when I think of a trading floor I think of the New York Stock Exchange.

F.M Same thing, yeah, you just go and ask the buyer what do you want to pay for it, and you get the best bid, he gets the best bid and it comes on the ticker tape, you spot it on that ticker tape, then you have to pick up a futures at pit. The reason for that futures is to protect it, for example, when the grain comes in from North Dakota it comes in by rail, right? A lot of it in those days, it was all rail; there was no trucks then. It took about five days, when the farmer bought it, lets say it was $2.00 a bushel, by the time it got in here it probably dropped down to $1.95, so he looses a nickel a bushel, right? As soon as he got it into his house, out there, from the farmers he would call me. For example say I was with Kellogg, Frank I want some hedge, I bought some grain and I am going to send it in a boxcar, buy me 2,000 bushels of in the futures. So I would go in the futures and get him 2,000 bushels, see, all right, know he doesn’t pay for it or anything but it is registered. He owns that 2,000, car comes in at $1.95 and I sell it for $1.95 and I trade it against those futures to the other guy, you see. He takes the grain at $1.95; the farmer out there gets the $2,000.00 you see and that is the way the futures work.

D.H. What’s the purpose behind having the pit vs just the normal floor?

F.M. Alright, that thing, right behind it, right up there where that window is, there is a big seat. A guy sat up above about ten feet above, five or six feet above the ground above the floor and he could see all of that. All you had to do was put your foot in there, and he would recognize you, he knew everybody. All right he would hold up two fingers, two thousand, sell. He would record it.

D.H. But you had to be in the pit in order?

F.M. You had to be in the pit, right.

D.H. OK, and where would you consider, would you be in the pit if you were in the top part or you had to be in the?

F.M. Any place, as long as you were in the pit. You put your foot right on it, that’s all. On the first floor, stand on it.

D.H. You would make all your calls to the traders out in this back area, right?

F.M. Right, right, no they come, well that thing right there, I don’t have, well here, here is a picture of how it is.

D.H. These?

F.M. Right here, over here, all right, see they had tables and all that stuff, you know, to work with. Now that is the gang up there, that was, so we had tables here and they would come up to your tables and watch the board and the pit was over here and we could, you know.

D.H. Are these all sellers?

F.M. Yeah, yeah, all the buyers or sellers, one or the other.

D.H. What were these guys up here?

F.M. They marked the futures and the Dow as it come down.

D.H. What was their job title called?

F.M. Well they were just girls hired for that, they weren’t anything to do with the Board of Trade, I mean no.

D.H. Did they have a title, like were they agents?

F.M. Well, markers is about all we could say. There would be two or three of them. That is the DOW that came out all the time, ticker tape. So you knew how it was and these are the big windows in the Barley, in the table there. I got a picture up at the Board of Trade that I drew, two of them. I sketched them, and I sketched those pictures. Here is a good idea, a better idea, on how.

D.H. Is there anything, if people were to go and visit the Board of Trade today, what looks different about it that people wouldn’t expect? Obviously, the pit isn’t there any more but what else?

F.M. The only thing the trading floor, the floor was solid oak, now they have it built for dancing, I guess.

D.H. Ballet.

F.M. Ballet, okay, all right. The pit was gone, the windows are the same, the booths are the same, the board is up there and the other offices around there are the same, you know what I mean, the little offices.

D.H. Do you remember a little restaurant they used to have?

F.M. Yeah.

D.H. Do you want to describe what is different about the restaurant compared to what it is today?

F.M. Yeah, yeah it was up there. It was more for the members, it was more for the members, and then when we did get as busy we did let others in too, because they wanted the business. As a rule it was strictly for members.

D.H. What is the roll of a member, what did a member do?

F.M. A member, run anywhere from $3,000.00 to $5,000.00 depending on the economy. You would have the privilege of either buying or selling or both, you could do both. You could do both anyhow, by yourself, if you were a member of the board of trade. We had 250 members at the peak that was before the war. After the war we had about 100, maybe 75. It got down and down and the main reason it closed, North Dakota and those places started putting out their own inspections, instead of sending them in to Duluth, Superior or Minneapolis. And the railroads to get more business, they had what they called hold points. For example now, if a car was up in North Dakota, way up in the north, North Dakota or Minnesota it was closer to Duluth. That is why it would be cheaper, right?

D.H. Yeah.

F.M. They put in hold points like St. Cloud, Thief River Falls. See they put up hold points and from those hold points you could send them into Minneapolis or Duluth for the same price either way it wouldn’t make a difference. So Minneapolis took advantage of that, see. They own a lot of cars that we should have got. That was one reason. The biggest reason was, the big companies like Cargil, Farmers Union and General Mills, Peavy and Globe, Continental, all those big, big companies. They went and started buying up all these grain elevators out there for themselves.

D.H. Out there?

F.M. Out in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and they would take and shoot the grain into themselves but it had to go through the Grain Exchange. Now you could get it but you had to beat them on a bid. Well let’s say it was $2.00, and I says I well take it for $2.00 so they take it. If it was $2.01 they would sell it, see what I mean? Make a few dollars, so that hurt the Board of Trade. It hurt a lot of brokers and so on, so it started going down hill.

D.H. Now, your job as a seller, you were paid to do the selling through a member? A member hired you?

F.M. Eh, uh.

D.H. Okay, how long, were you always a seller or did you have a different roll at some point?

F.M. No, no, I was president of the board. I was the president.

D.H. So were you a member yourself at some point?

F.M. Yeah, I was president of the Board of Trade, first I was on the board of directors, then I was vice president then I was president.

D.H. OK, what year were you president of the board?

F.M. About 1960, it was in the 60’s anyhow. I am not sure. But now we had more problems because the state, I mean the truckers wanted some time for waiting, you know, demiurge, like the railroads. We had to fight them at the state and then they had a big scandal down at Meirlanes, they were cheating on grain, they were taking a sample out of the trucks, not the sample that came from the trucks, but a good sample and bringing it in to show how good it was. But when you got the truck it wasn’t that good, they were cheating and they were caught. Hubert Humphrey, you remember Hubert Humphrey, he was the senate whip. He came around and froze everything, us and everybody and he said everything is going to be federalized, no more private inspections going out with grain, grain that leaves the Port, anything in the Port. Well Duluth Superior was a Port, it hurt us tremendously, it would have because the price of the government doing it, I think was around twenty some dollars, including inspection and what ever they did, weighing. There were three things you had to do, where the others were about $10.00. In other words they were paying another $10.00 per car. You know that adds up, especially during days, you know, when $10.00 was $10.00. So we had to fight it and we carried on a big, big, big argument with Washington. We bypassed Hubert Humphrey and went right to Ford; Ford was President, he took Nixon’s place. Went right to Ford, Ford put out a committee, they had a couple of Congressmen and Senators on it and they worked about two or three weeks and they put out a personal call and they called me directly from Washington that you would get it back the way it was. So we got it back, we sweated that one out, that was bad.

D.H. The story about Humphrey.

F.M. Yeah, but I had problems, you know, as president everything falls back on you, you know. We had a fellow that was on vacation, from a Congressman. He went over to Italy and he picked up some dirty samples you know some dirty samples, and he brought them back to North Dakota, where he’s from showed the newspaper and the radio how dirty these samples were, and he was going to have all the grain shipped from North Dakota bypass the Ports. He made a big thing, so when I found out about it from the newspaper, I said don’t put anything in the Duluth paper now or on the radio. The TV was already on, I said don’t put anything on for a while; give me a chance to find out what it is. Be fair to me and I’ll be fair to you. So they hold it up for about two, three hours so they did. So I called Cargil, the ship was shipped by Cargil. I said where did that car go, not that car going but that ship going. That loaded for Italy, it didn’t go to Italy it went to Amsterdam and then Italy bought the grain from Amsterdam. Once it leaves the ship and goes into another elevator it looses its identity and you have to take another test, another inspection. So the next inspection from Italy to them would probably between them, not us. So I got back, called the TV, come on in you guys, and I got on TV and told them what happened and I cleared up that problem. So you have problems, you have to know what you are doing. I had a lot of help, I had people working, for instance. We had an attorney, Ben; I think he is still around, what the heck is his name? He is right down here on Superior Street. He is right around eighty years old now. Gall dang it, I can’t think of his name. If I see him, I know him real well, but I can’t his sname.

D.H. Is there anything interesting about the Board of Trade that is different from today?

F.M. Oh gosh yes, you don’t have the trading and now everything is bulk. What we call bulk at port, they still ship the grain in, you see the trucks come in, the boxcars’ come in and they load them at the elevators, but it is sold to Minneapolis. See we don’t have the trading floor.

D.H. I guess I am not asking about the physical building itself, is there something?

F.M. Well, the only physical building itself is filled by a few shippers that handle the boats, most are Attorney’s up there, all kinds of different people. It is pretty well filled and they have that dance thing, it is pretty well filled. They remodeled it, because we had it, the Board of Trade was kind of a dirty building, everything was oak and you had a lot of the offices had their own cleaning, or inspection. We had one, I had an office to work in and we had a room about twice as big as this thing for inspecting grain, so we inspected to see how it was. All right, you have things like that, you draw mice, not rats but mice and cockroaches and that, and we had mousetraps all over the place.

D.H. Earlier when I talked to you, you had mentioned that Max Rhineberger had stored the crew boat from the Duluth Rowing Club.

F.M. Yes, that is right, he rowed for the Duluth Rowing Club back in about 1919 or 1920 that won the world championship. He had his own, he was a single rower too at one time so he had his own and he had it in the Board of Trade for, oh God; it was there when I left.

D.H. What year did you leave officially?

F.M. I left in 67, a no I left in 81 or 82.

D.H. You said it was a single person’s?

F.M. Single one yeah. I don’t know if it was there when I went there after that, but it was there when he was around. See he died in 67 and then his son took over all that stuff I guess, and I don’t know what they did with it but I am sure that thing was used by Kromitich, who rowed in the world championships, you know. I am sure that was it, because you know they hard to get you know and in order to get one of those, you have to have it made special, you know. Although some of the Universities might still row but not too many private clubs anymore, no.

D.H. I want to thank you for coming in today.

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