TAPE 1, SIDE 1
MR. COLLINS: We want to pick up where we left off last time. I think at that point you had just returned from your stint in England, installing sound systems in theaters over there. We'd like to continue on with your career at ERPI and then on to Paramount. I think we can sketch out your continuing work at ERPI in that kind of broad fashion. We have your memoir, which I think goes into some more detail. But I think just for the record, for the purposes of the interview, we'd like to sketch it in broad outline. So why do't we pick up where you came back from England. I believe you were assigned as manager for the Southeastern District for ERPI.
DR. GLENNAN: I think that's right. As a matter of fact, when I came back, I ran right into a problem with salary stemming from the Depression. I was paid well while in England. We found that we had to cut corners in the U.S. on the entire organization. My introduction in returning was a salary cut which everybody else had at the same time. As I recall it, an across-the-board cut of 10 percent.
Top management decided to split up the country into five service and operating districts, each with a District Manager. I was made the District Manager of the Southeastern District, with headquarters in Washington. I had an office in a new building at 15th and Pennsylvania.
I had about 700 theaters to worry about, 35 engineers, "service" engineers, assigned, I suppose, five to seven or eight to each of those District offices. If I ever did anything in innovative management, in my opinion, it was then. The Southeastern District was at the bottom of the totem pole in predicting every category of the operation. We had a lot of delinquencies. We had a lot of trouble with equipment in theaters, poorly installed or poorly used, poorly serviced.
DR. NEEDELL: You provided the equipment on a lease basis to the theaters, or did you sell it with a service contract?
GLENNAN: We sold it with a service contract extending over several years. In those days, there was a great deal of competition among theater owners to buy the equipment.
NEEDELL: Did you finance the purchases for the theaters?
GLENNAN: No, I had no problems of that sort. We sometimes had problems collecting the service charges after the theater had been operating for several months.
I called my District Supervisors in. Let's say there were seven--no, there were five district offices that responded to the division office. I think I told you this last time. I had a day's discussion with them on what was wrong, why were we at the bottom of the heap. They had a good many gripes about difficulties in getting information, equipment, and help when they needed it. So I decided that I would try an experiment. I went out to the field and took the District Supervisor job, while they came in and took my job for a week. Thus they served for a week as the Division Manager, did all the work, talked to New York, talked to England, and ran the field operations instead of my doing so.
By the time we had finished that exchange, District by District, I think we'd learned a great deal about each other's jobs, why some of these problems had occurred, and how we could get around them. I think it was about nine months that I was in that Division job. At the end of that nine months, we were at the top of the five Divisions of the country in all except one category. I don't recall whether it was collections or what.
I found it was quite easy to go in and talk to a theater manager. He didn't know much about the equipment. As a matter of fact, we kept him away from it; we made a mystery of it in the early days of sound motion pictures. Just reasoning with him, as our friend Lyndon Johnson would say, we managed to bring the Division back to good status.
NEEDELL: Did you spend a week in each of the districts?
GLENNAN: Yes. New Orleans, Jacksonville, Charlottesville, Baltimore, and, of course, Washington.
COLLINS: Was this a procedure you'd seen anyone else employ before? How did it come to you?
GLENNAN: No, I hadn't. No, just sitting there realizing that I hadn't had that kind of District Office experience. Why didn't I go out and find out why we were running into these problems? Why were antagonisms building up between particular theater owners and particular engineers?
COLLINS: Did you decide this was primarily a result of the particular personnel you inherited this position, or something unique about this particular region of theaters?
GLENNAN: No. I don't think that ERPI had done a good job of dealing with the preparation of service engineers who were going to be located in the field; not permanently but for maybe two or three years. Personal relationships, that type of thing. I guess I had done one thing very early on. When I was out in Seattle, that was before I went to Europe, I had a theater owner in either Spokane or Butte, Montana and his equipment had a bad set of batteries--a big stack of batteries with a reasonably long service life expected. Because the batteries failed early, I thought that we owed him something. I called and wrote to the home office but they turned me down. I kept at it until they finally replaced the batteries. That was the first time I realized that the important thing to do is to keep headquarters aware of the fact that you're on the job in the field.
So every week or two I would find something that I had to write in about, just so they would know I was there. I think that's the reason that I was chosen to go to England.
NEEDELL: Quick aside, skipping ahead, were you ever tempted to trade jobs with Bill Pickering or Harry Goett for a week?
GLENNAN: No. The scope and type of operating was entirely different at NASA. This was a rather unusual situation. The ERPI job was fairly routine. It was cleaning batteries or film, or checking up the alignment of the optics and things of that sort. If you had an electrical problem, you traced and fixed it. That's not like running a developing organization of the size, scope, and sophistication of NASA.
NEEDELL: Were there many suggestions from the field that you sent back to the production people?
GLENNAN: Oh yes. I'm sure there were. I couldn't cite one, but--
NEEDELL: You weren't the conduit for that kind of feedback?
GLENNAN: It went both ways. I have always encouraged direct contact---but just don't go around me. I want to know that they've made the contact.
COLLINS: How did the people that you reported to view this management decision on your part, to involve the field people in understanding your position, as well as you understanding theirs?
GLENNAN: Well, they gave me a raise. But I don't know that they did very much about it--they were so busy filling orders. This was the heydey of sound motion pictures. You could be given a Cadillac car if you moved a theater up in the list of those waiting for equipment.
NEEDELL: But you were not in sales.
GLENNAN: That was the only thing we didn't handle in the Division Offices.
NEEDELL: Were the people who were in sales and commission making a whole lot more than the people in the services?
GLENNAN: Oh yes. But you must recall again that this was, as was the case at NASA, the exciting business of the time. You were asked to speak. You were looked at with awe. You knew what the hell the talking motion picture business was all about.
NEEDELL: How competitive was it? If your servicemen didn't do their job--were there other suppliers that theater owners could turn to?
GLENNAN: There was only one, RCA, and it was a very poor second. Ours was Western Electric Company equipment--ERPI was a wholly owned subsidiary. Western made the equipment. We sold, installed, and serviced it. I don't remember ever having Western Electric equipment removed and replaced by RCA. I can remember the other way, where we removed RCA equipment a few times.
COLLINS: I think the next step in your career raises some questions. I think you may be ready to move on to that. As you became manager, did ERPI diversify and try to go into a lot of different areas, with respect to the development of sounds systems?
GLENNAN: No, that is not really the case. We had, of course, from the beginning designed and built studio recording equipment. We sold that to production companies like Paramount and Warner Brothers, MGM, etc. We found a few independent studios or producers like Audio Cinema in New York. Located in the Bronx, old Edison Studio was the first motion picture studio in New York. They ran out of money. ERPI had to take the operation over, so this just fell into our lap. We didn't desire to run studios. We wanted to stay with our basic business which included supplying sound recording equipment to studios but not, as a rule, operating the studios. In two instances we, in effect, foreclosed in order to retrieve the money that we'd lost. I was made General Manager. I had never been on a sound stage before. This has been a way of life for me. I have never, as far as I can remember, run a job for which I had had the privilege of doing the work with my own hands before I became the boss. I was a pretty young guy, with people much older than I reporting to me.
So we went up there and we refurbished the studio. Graham MacNamee made his newsreels there, and we made short subjects-- comedies and the like. It was a crummy little old place, but we did our best with it, and put in modern sound equipment. That's where I had my first brush with the studio unions. We put the equipment in. They threatened us with a gun slapped on the desk and a lot of other things. But we stood them off. I had a good sound director, Reeve Strock.
NEEDELL: Who was it in the organization that tapped you to leave your successful position in the Southeastern Region and go take over the studio?
GLENNAN: I think Whitford Drake, who was the operating vice president, one of the senior vice presidents of ERPI. He was a former naval type, as was Gard Knox, the man that I first worked for in England.
NEEDELL: So you were a kind of "trouble shooter," a man who would go in and take--
GLENNAN: That's an interesting comment, except that I had no real experience. When I came back to this country, I did three or four different jobs, set up an educational operation, set up a film distribution exchange, things of that sort. There were all the activities that I had never had experience with. Then all of a sudden I was asked to operate the studio.
NEEDELL: Did you think there was somebody up there in corporate headquarters who had an eye on you and was guiding you?
GLENNAN: I think so. I think Gard Knox, if anybody, and Herbert Wilcox, who was, I think I told you earlier, a dear friend of my wife's family in New Haven. He was the operating vice president of Westinghouse, and came over to run the field operations at ERPI.
I think it was in that series of jobs, and there were quite a few of them in a short few years, that gave me the conviction that the way to get ahead in the world was to do whatever job you were given, but do it better than anybody else could. This was buttressed by the fact that I was always conscious of somebody looking over my shoulder wanting my job. So I was pushed by my own self, but partially because I liked the jobs I was doing and I didn't want somebody else to push me out of them. And I've tried to tell my grandchildren that; don't plan what the future's going to be for you. On the job you're in now, do it to the very best of your ability, and then give another 10 percent. You will find that people will come after you.
COLLINS: I wonder to what extent, when you came back from England, you were walking into an economy that was certainly faltering. The Depression was starting.
GLENNAN: That's right. Yes.
COLLINS: Now you had a job. At the time, I wonder if that figured into your feelings?
GLENNAN: I didn't think too much about it; although the fact is that I didn't feel the Depression. We were doing something that provided pleasure and relief to people who were being hurt badly by the Depression. It cost them only 30 cents to go to a motion picture show. So I had a feeling that somehow or other I was serving a public need.
NEEDELL: In the economic statistics of the times, really the motion picture industry is really one of the major--
GLENNAN: Oh yes. We were. We were cautious. The problem that ERPI got into was letting some of the studios fall behind in their payments.
NEEDELL: Let's go back to your notion that when you tackled a job you tried doing it better than anyone else could. In the context of being a manager of the studio, what exactly did that mean?
GLENNAN: Well, it meant--now we'll go to the West Coast.
Back here, back in New York, we finally had to take over the Long Island studios from Paramount, which were quite a large operation. We made several interesting pictures there. I remember Paul Robeson made a picture called the "Emperor Jones". We had better facilities than most other independents. We did it all. I was vice president and general manager. Then I was asked to go to the West coast where we had the Metropolitan Studios. Christie Comedies were made there and the studio was in debt to ERPI. Again we took them over. We ran the operation as the General Service Studios (GSSI) out there. We supplied everything except the money, script, producer, cast, cameraman, and the art director. We built all the sets, supplied equipment and most of the crew.
NEEDELL: You did supply the cameraman?
GLENNAN: No. We did not at General Service Studios. I'd been at General Service Studio perhaps a year, and the man who had been president of ERPI, John Otterson, was made president of Paramount. He didn't know much about running a studio and neither did I. But he asked me to consult for a four month period on operations, as far as the back lot was concerned. The back lot is where the stages are. It included the art directors, the electricians, the carpenters, and the grips--the grips are very good men, very, very capable men. Wardrobe, properties, sound, all of those operating activities. I had about 1800 people. I went in first as Operations Manager. A year later, we did a musical chairs thing--typical of the industry. With the studio manager out, I suddenly became studio manager.
Well, being an engineer, I wondered why we wasted so much money. One had to shoot as much as a million feet of film to get an 8000 foot picture out of it. And you'd spend thousands of dollars a day, none of it recoverable, to shoot something which wound up on the cutting room floor.
It occurred to me that perhaps, just perhaps, one could analyze a script and pre-cut the picture. If you were going to do a dance number, how many minutes did you want that dance number? And in what setting? A musical number went the same way. Well, that was a shock to people that I--
NEEDELL: --they hadn't done it. They just shot it in the order in which the script called for it.
GLENNAN: No. They didn't shoot it in the order that the script was written. They might combine several days or a couple of weeks in one set shooting several segments which made use of that set. Finally, the film cutter or editor put the pieces together as a complete and logical story. We were going to build a new Paramount Studio. I needed a studio designer, somebody, an architect who had vision, ideas. You may or may not recall the name Pereira, Bill Pereira. It's a Portuguese derivative. He was in Chicago. He did 30 buildings for the World's Fair. I got him to come out and design this studio from the ground up. It would have been the first studio to be designed in that way; that is, providing for the movement of people, the design and the building of sets. It would be an engineering approach rather than "let's just set it here, bring a hammer over there."
Well, as it turned out, I really didn't hire Bill Pereira. I found later on that he'd built a couple of theaters for Barney Balaban, who by this time had become the president of Paramount. I outlasted Mr. Otterson. I was there five years. He was there about two. I found that Balaban had leaned on Pereira who had designed two theaters for him in the Chicago area. And so Bill joined up with us on an exciting venture.
At any rate, we got along very well together, and he did design a studio. We had an option on about 200 acres of land out near the Culver City airport that Douglas Aircraft used heavily. It became apparent that the sound recording was becoming so much more sensitive that it would be very costly to really insulate the sound stages from the noise of airplanes taking off out there.
I remember Arthur Raymond, the general manager of Douglas. He flew me in what was then I guess a DC-4, over the area. I came back and said, "This won't do."
Somehow or other the new studio idea was dropped. Bill Pereira went on to become an art director and then a colleague of Cecil B. deMille. He became a unit director for him. Then he went over to RKO as a producer. After several yars he returned to the architectural profession becoming very successful. Recently, Bill died. He was an attractive, capable guy; a very good architect.
COLLINS: Let me just clarify something. The studio did not get built. Is that what you're saying?
GLENNAN: The studio did not get built. We improved what we had. Bill worked with me and became excited about this pre-cutting idea. We had one film cutter or editor interested, maybe two or three others finally. Taking a low-budget picture, perhaps a million dollar script, we encouraged two or three of the producers to do this pre-cutting. And it worked. But that was invading the privileges of the producer, and director. It was just one of those things you could try, but it was never adopted. I still think it was a good idea.
NEEDELL: You mentioned your first experience with the unions. I don't think we talked last time about events in your developing a kind of political feeling or ideology about unions or major political issues of that time. Was this an involvement in the accepted sense of that concept?
GLENNAN: When I got to Hollywood as a studio manager, I set up a personnel department, very unusual in the picture business at that time. I employed a man who had worked with me on the negotiations. We had five unions under a contract called the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees, the IATSE, which covered musicians, carpenters, painters, electricians, and grips.
Well, the studio manager is on one side of the table, and the union representatives are on the other side. And we beat our brains out, called each other names. Finally we'd come back to New York and the then Sid Kent who ran Fox, Louis B. Mayer who ran Metro Goldman Mayer, and Balaban of Paramount would come in and they'd talk for a while. We sat in the corner and finally they'd excuse themselves. An hour later they would come back and say, "It's settled."
We'd find out later that the union leaders had been paid off $100,000 a piece, and they accepted for their members the deal that we wanted.
NEEDELL: The leadership of the Union was paid off?
GLENNAN: That's right. You're too young to remember their names --George Brown and Willie Byjoff. Byjoff was later killed--they were racketeers. But it was a good experience.
NEEDELL: Did it help formulate your political--I mean, were you an active member of a political party?
GLENNAN: I've never been an active member of a political party. No, it certainly conditioned me against the union movement. This was labor against management. I recognized the need for it, because I had read a good bit about the Robber Barons and the early days of the century. I knew from my father's experience in the railroad business something about the power of the unions. Whether they were really representing the people they supposed to represent, or they were just in it for their own pockets, I don't know.
NEEDELL: Do you remember the presidential elections in the thirties?
GLENNAN: Only Roosevelt, the 1930s. I remember them but I wasn't involved. I didn't think about it. I took very little interest in politics until the time when television and radio began to dominate electioneering.
NEEDELL: Were you an opponent of the New Deal legislation?
NEEDELL: You were an opponent of Roosevelt in general?
GLENNAN: Yes. And an admirer. Opponent is too strong. I did not support him.
NEEDELL: Associated with this experience with unionism?
GLENNAN: I wouldn't know how to answer that. I just felt that it was not a reasonable way of redistributing the wealth. My lack of experience in national political affairs undoubtedly.
Now, when you're in a business like the motion picture business, where you have a union of actors who are making a million dollars a year and directors who are making $250,000 a picture, and they strike--well, you wonder about a variety of things. But I was not a philosophical anti-New Dealer. I think, coming up to the present time, that part of Mr. Reagan's operations I have approved of was his finally starting to turn around these entitlements or to begin some limitations on them. Initial legislation that provided money for people who really needed it was immediately seized upon and people ran away with it--that I think Mr. Reagan has, to an extent, stopped. Maybe not stopped but he reversed the trend.
But when you try to find me involved in politics, I never was.
COLLINS: I think what we're trying to do here is not hook you in with a particular kind of political outlet, but just get a sense of how your thoughts were developing in this period.
GLENNAN: I want to say one other thing. It would have been very hard to live in the ambiance of the motion picture business and not be against Mr. Roosevelt.
NEEDELL: That's what I was wondering.
GLENNAN: He was anathema to everybody in the upper ranks of Hollywood.
NEEDELL: From the point of view of being a manager, trying to get jobs done, did you find that the union rules and the union power very much interfered with the kind of thing you had done in the Southeastern District, when you were really trying to get a working understanding between management and subordinates?
GLENNAN: Yes. I think I could say "yes" to that. But we were a smaller and widely scattered group of people operating in ERPI.
NEEDELL: You also said that there were people in the unions that were extremely good at their craft?
GLENNAN: I don't really think so. We were still back in the early days of strong unions, big pay and all the rest of that. Their leadership were politicians rather than managers. The only one that wasn't and seemed to be working for his people's benefits was the painter representative. He turned out to be a Communist, strangely enough, and was cited for that. He was a tough one but I had no difficulty dealing with him.
One of the things that one learned was that everything seemed to be approached on a confrontational basis. I even have this in the condominium I live in now. I'm trying to rewrite or will try to rewrite the rules of procedures, what do you call them?
GLENNAN: Bylaws, to provide for a conciliation, mediation committee. I went to a meeting the other evening. I think that every second person that spoke talked about suing. That's the first approach. I think that's the last approach to take and only if you can't find some common ground, some give on both sides.
Paramount did pretty well with that. We were struck only once, but we continued operating. I walked on through the picket lines around my studio. We did very well.
COLLINS: I'm curious. It seems talking about your early career, you seemed to evolve a style of trying to communicate with people that you had to work with, and find some common ground to get the job done. Was this kind of a change then in how you had to approach management?
GLENNAN: To a limited extent, because the creative people--producers, directors, and players--were a little bit like faculty; difficult, opinionated, they wanted things their way. If you're trying to run a rational show, you can't help but have that sort of thing. On the other hand, I never ran into anything until I was fired that I couldn't handle. And I did try to rationalize my style and beliefs with those of the people that ran the studio. When you get through with this, I'll tell you a story about a famous director, John Cromwell, and what happened in that instance. This indicates what kinds of things you ran into, where I got no backing from my boss.
NEEDELL: I do want to come back to the chronological thing. Just let me throw in this suggestion. Let's see if it strikes you as having any validity. My experience in doing interviews and working is that people remember the wartime years as just a wonderful exciting period where they really got so much done. I'm wondering if some of that is the contrast between this pre-war period, the feeling that things had kind of stagnated and people were antagonistic, and then just the freedom of actually people working for a common goal. Do you think the exhilaration of wartime was more so because of this comparison and contrast to the thirties, or do you think that's an unwarranted guess on my part?
GLENNAN: Remember, this is the period between the wars.
GLENNAN: And I guess the--I can't answer you. I don't know how to answer that. Sorry. It would be a long and perhaps irrelevant story.
TAPE 1, SIDE 2
GLENNAN: Let me go on and say that I hardly was aware of the Depression. I think Mr. Roosevelt's encouragement of unionization, et cetera, probably was resented by persons who were not themselves susceptible to being represented by the unions. I have always maintained that a person, particularly a professional person, who is any good could represent himself. If he doesn't like to do it, that's his problem.
When you get back to the Second World War, then all holds were off. Everybody was gung ho. We never had a bit of problem except for getting--oh, we didn't even have a problem in those days of getting people. They came to us in New London on a no loss, no gain proposition. We moved them there. If they were being paid $30,000, that was a lot of money in those days, we paid them $30,000 a year.
I was the director of the laboratory. I had been part of Paramount, through Lockheed, then--
NEEDELL: We'll go back and talk about that.
GLENNAN: And I had been paid $13,000 at Vega and at Sam Goldwyn studios. I ran that New London laboratory for three years at $13,000 annually.
NEEDELL: I guess at this point my question--
GLENNAN: Everybody was excited.
NEEDELL: So my question at this time was, it was an extraordinary period any way you look at it.
NEEDELL: But with the contrast to your experiences in the thirties, did that make it even more extraordinary?
GLENNAN: Oh, gee. You know, you're trying to get me to admit that I'm a thoughtful person and I'm not. I don't go back and try to figure out why I do it. You'll find, I hope, as we get through this, that what was in front of me had to be handled--as I handled it.
COLLINS: Let's go back to your period at Paramount. It seems at Paramount you were probably supervising a staff larger than you'd ever supervised before.
GLENNAN: Yes, about 1,800 persons.
COLLINS: Did that transition to a much larger organiztion~ present any special recollections for you?
GLENNAN: I don't recall having difficulties. The cutters who reported to me through Chuck West, the head cutter, were artists in their own right. They took a lot of time and sometimes we'd get into an argument about the amount of time they were taking finishing this picture. Since the money was tied up in the negatives, you wanted to get it out in the theater.
I don't remember fights with any of the directors or arguments with them. I'm not a person to pick a fight. I don't like to argue. I won't argue in public. I just won't.
COLLINS: I guess perhaps another way of looking at it is, for example, for any given film, was the production schedule set down by someone higher up in the studio hierarchy?
GLENNAN: We worked up the production schedule. My staff developed the production schedule. It was finally approved by the producer and by the head of the studio. I suppose to an extent, I had something to do with maintaining that production schedule, but only in the sense that I served the desires of the producer-director.
NEEDELL: How did you judge whether you were doing a good job, and how did your bosses judge whether you were doing a good job? What were the things that they wanted?
GLENNAN: Well, they fired you when you weren't, I guess.
NEEDELL: That's how you knew that they didn't think you were doing a good job?
GLENNAN: I was never called in on the carpet for poor performance. I was called in only once. That was by the general counsel, who was himself Jewish. I was accused of being anti-Semitic, and advised I'd better get off that kick. I took that--
NEEDELL: How had it manifested itself, with hiring?
GLENNAN: He couldn't tell me how they knew this, and I wouldn't take it. I just wouldn't have it. I said, "If you don't like what I'm doing, you can fire me right now. I'm not anti-Semitic. We have lots of films, we have lots of people here. We all work together. Whoever is giving you this line is giving you a story intended to do me some harm. If I'm not doing my job, it's up to you to tell me. He said, "Well, no, you're doing a fine job. But you're known as an anti-Semite." I said, "That's too bad. I'm not."
NEEDELL: Could you clarify for me what the relationship of ERPI was with Paramount at this time?
GLENNAN: They were simply supplying us recording equipment.
NEEDELL: You had left ERPI to work for Paramount.
GLENNAN: Yes, five and a half years.
COLLINS: Just to get a sense of where you stood in the Paramount hierarchy, who was it that you reported to as studio manager?
GLENNAN: The Hollywood Production vice president. I was one of the top five in the organization.
NEEDELL: When and how did this firing take place?
GLENNAN: Top management brought in a Henry Ginsburg, the production manager. I was not about to give away the studio to a producer or a director or even a star. We had lots of arguments-- Paulette Goddard, people of that sort, who wanted their dressing rooms on wheels and all prettied up. It cost a lot of money and I wouldn't do it.
I'd get called in once in a while to tell my boss what was happening. But he went to New York one day and Ginsburg fired me. He called me in and said: "Things aren't going right. I said, "I feel that way myself. What do you want to do about it?" He was a little fellow.
NEEDELL: What year was this?
GLENNAN: This was in 1940 I think or '41, early '41. And so he said--this was a Monday--"I think I would like you to resign." I said, "No. I won't resign. You fire me." He said, "We'd like your desk at five Friday night." I said, "You'll have my desk at five tonight." Then he began dickering with me about how much they'd pay me off, and finally paid me off $16,000. I was being paid $26,000 a year at that time. As a kid, that was good money.
If I had wanted to really lean on him I suspect I could have gotten $26,000, a year's pay, because he didn't have anything except, "You're too hard on the producers."
NEEDELL: Had you maintained personal or professional contact with the people at ERPI over the years?
GLENNAN: No. It's interesting you ask that question. I've always said we were in the picture business but not of the picture business. Very seldom did we have at our home for dinner anybody from the studio except a few of the people who worked with me. Several of them were former colleagues at ERPI who were now serving the studios as sound directors or something of that sort. Cameramen, people who sold film to us, that type of thing. But I recall Mary Martin was there for dinner one evening. I was one of the first studio people she knew. And a cute girl, what the hell was her name? Came in as just a little farm girl--Frances Langford, you remember the name? Well, I remember, she'd been on the studio for maybe a month or two and she seemed a little lonely. I went to lunch or dinner some place, and there she was with somebody. I sent over a bottle of champagne. Well, she was a pal of mine from then on. I had pleasant relationships with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. I didn't keep up with them. They didn't keep up. They were going all the time.
COLLINS: Let's go back to the situation surrounding your firing. Ginsburg simply alleged that you were too hard on the producers. But were there some larger tensions at Paramount at this time that brought on this situation?
GLENNAN: I don't remember, Marty. There were always tensions. A film on which we'd spent a lot of money didn't succeed. Whose fault was it? The director? Writer? They weren't my people. I don't remember that any of the operating departments ever spoiled a picture.
NEEDELL: So you weren't the kind of person who had your life all blocked out. You must have found yourself without a job and--
GLENNAN: --and when I find something like that, I call them and talk to them.
Now, I've thrown you all over the basement as to what happened with me.
COLLINS: That's quite all right. One thing I was wondering. During this period, I think, towards the later thirties and into the early forties, you're moving out of the motion picture business. But the motion picture industry begins to pay a little more attention to international events. It seems some of the movies, and certainly through Fox Movietone News, began to focus on the international situation. Did that ever impinge on your work at all?
GLENNAN: No. Not at all. As a matter of fact, while I was in Hollywood, which took us up to Pearl Harbor and a little beyond, I was not that much interested in relationships between this country and Europe. I felt this in spite of the fact that I think the two most productive years of my life were spent in England when I was a kid just out of college, 1929-30. I learned to deal with people. I learned to understand how they wanted to do a job. I began to understand why they tackled a job as they did and not as I would. Working with them made it possible for me to get them to do what I wanted them to do--without strain.
COLLINS: Well, let's consider the options you were facing as you were dismissed from Paramount.
NEEDELL: Was this the first time you were unemployed that you remember?
GLENNAN: Yes. The only time.
NEEDELL: What were your thoughts?
GLENNAN: Well, I was hurt. I didn't think that the dismissal was fair, in spite of the fact that by that time, I was never of the picture business. I was in it.
NEEDELL: You had enough money to carry you over for a couple of months, so you weren't worried about that.
GLENNAN: No. Not at all. I didn't have any money except for my salary, however. I'd built a home, a big one, out in Bel Air. I loafed, I suppose for two or three weeks. I was paid enough so that I had four or five months time, six months to find a job.
But I went to companies. I guess I'd been exposed to enough large operations so that I would go to Goodyear's West Coast operation and other similar companies. I'd go in, talk to them, give them my experience.
Without exception, they'd say, "Well, we're glad you came in to see us, but the job that you want is my job. And I'm not going to leave."
Finally, again, I went back to people that I had known through my wife's family in New London, like Bob Gross of Lockheed. I went to see him. Next thing I knew I was working for Lockheed. It was for Vega, really, a subsidiary. For that I was paid $7500 a year, a fair salary in the industry at that time. But I remember getting up over in Bel Air in the wee hours of the night--we met every morning at 7:30--I'd get home at 6 or 7 o'clock at night. I worked harder there than I did at the studio.
And I learned something about making airplanes. I'll give you an example. My title, if you will, was hole coordinator which I took to read "whole" coordinator.
GLENNAN: Well, that's the point. It was three or four weeks before I realized that I was coordinating "h-o-l-e-s." In those days, we were still riveting metal pieces together in building planes. Why that title, I don't know. I never did anything with aligning holes for riveting. But I was unhappy there. You must remember how small the aircraft business was in those days. Mort Bach was a man who had built as many as five planes in a year. He became the head of, I'd guess you'd call him General Manager of Vega, over at the Burbank Airport. And the Vice President was Herb Riker, who did know something about mass production. My boss, Herman Brown, he had been GM's vice president in Canada. He did know a great deal about mass production.
NEEDELL: They were already being swamped with war orders?
GLENNAN: Yes. We were designing at Vega. We started to make the Ventura, which really became the big success in anti-submarine warfare, long range, low belly.
NEEDELL: They were recruiting, building up their production capacity at that time.
GLENNAN: Oh yes. Lockheed itself was building the P-38. Oh, that was a beautiful airplane! I was there for perhaps seven or eight months. The management operation just didn't seem to me to be making any sense. Because Bob Gross had been kind enough to give me a chance, I decided I'd go in and resign and tell him what I thought was wrong. And I did. I spent an hour and a half, two hours. Courtland Gross, his brother, was the man in charge of Vega under Bob. Courtland was back here in the East some place, and Bob said, "I won't accept your resignation. But I am grateful to you for what you told me. Court will be back next Thursday, and I will set up a date with him and I'd like you to talk to him just as you've talked to me. You're making sense."
That meeting with Courtland didn't take place, so I went in the next Saturday morning with my resignation written up. I took it up to Riker, who by this time had heard that I'd gone over his head to Bob Gross. I'd resigned, remember? I wasn't just going to complain. He had my check ready for me. I didn't blame him, but I learned from that experience. I should have encouraged Bob Gross to investigate the situation himself.
And at that time, I was asked by Sam Goldwyn's Marvin Ezell, who was his assistant, to come over and be the studio manager at Sam Goldwyn's.
NEEDELL: Had you had that offer before you resigned?
COLLINS: Let's just backtrack. What sorts of things, if you can recall, did you say to Bob Gross about the operations of Vega?
GLENNAN: The number of people that we were employing, the--it was a common statement that before the Ventura first flew, the paperwork weighed more than the plane. Things didn't get coordinated. There wasn't somebody who really was running the joint, who had had the experience of organizing to get a mass production job done. I couldn't do it. I didn't want the job. I didn't know enough about it. I knew my limitations. I started out that way saying, "It just isn't organized right. You have one man in the whole organization who is at one time going to be a good man for you, and that's Dan Haughton. Dan was in scheduling or something like that. He was the man who finally became president of Lockheed. So I was right to that extent.
So that was my seven months in the aircraft business.
COLLINS: As a hole coordinator, this was not especially your charge to do this kind of analysis of the operation?
GLENNAN: No. I was really sort of an assistant to the General Manager. But I thought it was only fair to get out and give Bob Gross my evaluation of the Vega operation.
COLLINS: In that position, did you have a significant staff to manage or supervise?
GLENNAN: No. I was an individual. I was following them around, learning something, helping where I could. That sort of thing. It was not a satisfactory assignment. It wasn't one that I was trained for. I knew nothing about aeronautics. And I had had no experience in working in or managing a mass production operation.
COLLINS: Was this confusion in the management sphere at Vega due in part to their increased production activity? Or was it something that was just kind of endemic to the organization?
GLENNAN: I think it was endemic in the sense that the whole industry was beginning to speed up and take on the problems of mass production. They were learning as they went. And who can blame them? All I was saying was get somebody in here to help that knows something about organization, mass production and scheduling, etc.
COLLINS: At that time, out of curiosity, did Lockheed as the parent company occasionally send people down to look at the operation and analyze what was going on?
GLENNAN: Oh no. Not that I can remember. But I would not be included in any meetings.
COLLINS: Let's move on to your discussions with Martin Ezell and your--
GLENNAN: Well, that was just going back to the motion picture business and running a small studio. Goldwyn's studio was smaller than Paramount. And we made only a few pictures while I was there for a couple of years. I remember Howard Hughes scoring or recording the score for Jane Russell's "Outlaw." But I don't remember much else of that. It was just making pictures, most of them as independent productions, renting stages, and services as we had at General Service Studios.
COLLINS: Is that a case where Ezell sought you out--
GLENNAN: --oh yes--
COLLINS:--and you were available.
GLENNAN: We'd known each other as studio managers. He had been the studio manager at Goldwyn Studios. He had moved up and he wanted me to come in.
COLLINS: I guess the next step in your career was moving to the Underwater Sound Laboratory.
GLENNAN: Well, again, you're too young to recall when we had a scare of some shells dropping near Santa Barbara, presumably from Japanese submarines. Let's see. At that time--early in 1942, I would have been 37 years old--too old to be drafted. But I wasn't going to be left out, and with my early experience in acoustics, I'd learned of the establishment of an Underwater Sound Laboratory down in Point Loma near San Diego. Verne Knudson, one of the great men in acoustics in this country, was its director. I wanted to go down and see him and see if I could get a job.
NEEDELL: This is while you were working in the Goldwyn Studio.
GLENNAN: Yes. Yes. I didn't have to do this. I wanted to do it. And I called an old friend of mine, Tim Shea.
NEEDELL: You had known him from--
GLENNAN: I had known him from my ERPI days. And he said, "Keith, I'm coming out to Hollywood on Saturday, why don't you meet me at the Roosevelt Hotel? I'll certainly help you with Verne Knudsen."
NEEDELL: So you had already made contact with Knudsen and this was just--
GLENNAN: I was having a little difficulty getting through to Knudsen. They were busy as hell. And I didn't know Knudsen that well personally.
NEEDELL: How was it that you thought of calling Shea? Was it because he was also involved?
GLENNAN: No. That's a pertinent question. Shea was at that time, and had been for maybe five or six months, head of the Columbia University Division of War Research, CUDWR, who had put together a laboratory called Underwater Sound Laboratory (USNUSL) for the Navy. They were operating that laboratory in New London, Connecticut. They also had an Airborne Instruments Laboratory over on Long Island, and Acoustic Measurement Laboratories in Orlando, Florida and Mountain Lake, New Jersey--three separate pieces, all under Columbia University. He was the boss of all of them.
NEEDELL: Did you know that when you called him?
GLENNAN: No. I knew that he knew Verne Knudsen. Shea had been very active when I was at Paramount in trying to sell me recording equipment. But Tim and I were good friends anyway; always have been. I saw him at the Roosevelt. He opened the conversation with, "Why do you want to go to San Diego? Why don't you come back to New London and work with me?" I said, "Well, why not? Let's talk about it."
The upshot was that on Monday--this was Saturday--on Monday I went back with him. He offered me the job of operations manager of this new laboratory, portions of which they were still building. They were building it on a maritime base, a Coast Guard base there in New London. Things were moving fast.
I called Ruth, my wife, and told her about it. I didn't know what it was going to pay. We didn't discuss that. With her support, I said, "I will report a week from Monday." This could be a good time to say that I, honestly, atttribute most of whatever success I have had to the strong support and the love of my wife of 56 years, Ruth.
NEEDELL: Did you sell your home?
GLENNAN: Some months later. I was paid $13,000 annually for the three years. It was three years to a day, June 1st, 1942 to June 1st, 1945, that I ran that laboratory.
NEEDELL: Let me understand. The call to Shea was a feeler?
GLENNAN: He was a friend of mine. I knew he knew Knudsen.
NEEDELL: Okay but you didn't know about Office of Scientific Research and Development?
GLENNAN: I had no idea of OSRD. I just went to the man that I thought could get me through the door to see Verne Knudsen. I thought once I got in to see Verne I could get the job all right.
COLLINS: As you were thinking about contacting Dr. Knudsen, what did you think your possible contribution might be?
GLENNAN: I had no idea. You've got a willing worker, having some experience--
COLLINS: At this time they were drafting, I guess, up to their early twenties.
GLENNAN: I was too old to be drafted. I could go, I guess, if I wanted to. But we had three kids. I wasn't trying to escape going into the war, believe me. But I did go back there, and within a year I became the director of the laboratory.
NEEDELL: Was Shea acting Director?
GLENNAN: He was looking for a Director. He made me Operations Manager. He continued to serve as Director, although he wasn't there very much. So I was involved in recruiting, organizing and getting projects under way and the work done. I went down to Washington overnight once a week on the Federal Express. God what a life! We finally had about 150 professionals there, many of them from academic institutions. Quite a number from industry. They were all there on exactly the same basis. I suppose other people were paid more, but nobody argued about it. It was a no loss, no gain deal. There was some argument about if you had to pay in New London to have the garbage removed and you didn't have to pay for that service home, should you pay it here? That sort of thing. But that wasn't very difficult. Everybody was tryng to help, to give of themselves.
NEEDELL: It was only when you got there that you really began to find out what the situation was. Just before I came here I re-read Baxter's book, Scientists Against Time1 where he talks about the undersea war in the Atlantic.
GLENNAN: A good book. I knew Baxter. He gave the principal speech in 1948 when I was inaugurated President at Case.
NEEDELL: But you knew nothing about this. That's what you learned when you went there.
GLENNAN: That's exactly right. A submarine was tied up at the dock at that time. Tim took me down into the submarine, my first time on board, and showed me what he called Sonar. I didn't know what it would do. I had no idea what this was all about. But it was an organization that needed leadership, organization, recruiting, and development of relationships both with industry and with the Navy Department. I thought, "Hell, I can do that, too."
NEEDELL: As far as security is concerned, Shea knew you and so--
GLENNAN: In those days we were subjected to security clearance by the FBI. But the Director was allowed to take responsibility for a person until his clearance came through. Shea did that for me. I heard from a number of my friends. They said, "The FBI has been around here asking questions about you, what's going on?"
It was interesting. I went back to the coast, collected my wife and family, left her in Washington here with cousins of hers, with three babies, and I went to New London and found a home out on the beach. A month later we moved up there. We were there for three years, blacked out. We had a ship sunk right off our beach. You knew you were in the war.
COLLINS: Let's lay out a little more of what your responsibilities were as operations manager and director.
GLENNAN: First, the staff and recruiting. I had a man by the name of Watling who had been in the personnel department and other departments of the Bell Telephone Laboratories. He was a an attractive, dedicated soul who went around the country to both industry and to academic institutions. He told them what we were doing. He looked people over. If he thought that they would be useful to us, he arranged for them to come back and have an interview with me. If I wanted them, I took them.
Sometimes when they were particularly good ones, I got Shea involved, but in general it was my responsibility. I set the prices.
COLLINS: What kinds of people were you looking for? What work really needed to be done?
GLENNAN: It was research and development. When the war started, we didn't have anything like an underwater microphone, a hydrophone. When the war finished, we had better underwater hydrophones than we did air microphones. Now, the development of all that went on up at Ted Hunt's laboratory at Harvard, and Gaylord Harnwell's laboratory out at San Diego, as well.
We had an ordnance group. When war started, you dumped a "can" off the end of a destroyer. You didn't know what the under-water trajectory might be. We designed and had built and manufactured some ordinance that had an underwater trajectory you could count on.
We stole some things from the British; didn't steal them, we adapted them--a thing called the Hedgehog. This was placed on the forward deck of a destroyer, forward of the bridge. It was a device made up of 16 or 24 modestly small rockets. You pushed a button and they'd fly out and circle a submarine--if you thought you had a submarine. They dropped through the water on a known trajectory and you had a good chance of hitting the sub. We did get some submarines. I also watched a man get his hand blown off with one of the damned things during a test.
We did a lot of speech training work, in the sense of teaching submarine operators how to speak clearly, enunciate clearly. I think we did a great deal of work on "niners, fivers," and communication techniques that became standards for the submarines.
Communications within the submarine were matters that we were concerned with. Among these were devices that we developed ourselves. For instance, I went out to Pearl Harbor with Tim Shea one time. Fairly early on, we were taken out for a run in the USS Gudgeon which was a top boat in the Pacific at that time. It was supposed to be air-conditioned. It had a control room. The first thing you did was take off your shirt and most everything else. You had a sonar operator there with ear phones on. If you wanted to talk to him, you hit him on the shoulder and he would lift off his ear receiver and you'd give him an order.
What do you do this for? You don't, when you're flying an airplane, reach out to touch an engine to find out if it's warm or hot or what.
So Tim and I came back and went to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations. We told him we wanted to do a "time" study on this problem.
TAPE 2, SIDE 1
GLENNAN: We were talking about communications, weren't we?
COLLINS: Yes, and operations research.
GLENNAN: Well, it wasn't really operations research, what I'm going to tell you about. We came to the conclusion that there must be a better way of communicating within a submarine. We gained approval from Washington and went up to see Rear Admiral Daubin, who was Comsubslant, commander of submarines in the Atlantic Fleet. An old salt, he threw us out of the office.
We didn't stop there. We did have a study made of the frequency and relative importance of communications between the steersman, the sonar operator, the commanding officer, and the periscope operator which are all important links in operating a sub. That was the beginning of modern communications in submarines.
We saw something that was wrong and we did something about it.
NEEDELL: This wasn't done in cooperation with any of the other groups that were starting operations researach?
GLENNAN: Not at all. Why do you keep linking us to radar and to operations research? They were both important in their own right. We had our plate full with sound work.
NEEDELL: From reading, it seems you worked more closely with the radar people in detection, under water detection work--hand in hand with the radar group in the Atlantic. Were you aware of what was going on in the development of radar?
GLENNAN: Not particularly. I was asked to come up to Harvard and become an assistant director up there. but I did not. You must understand, I'm not a scientist. I'm not even an engineer, although I did have a degree in electrical engineering.
NEEDELL: As far as the operational problems go, detecting the submarines while they were on the surface, there were advances in radar going on.
GLENNAN: Sure. We were competing with the other laboratories in underwater work. It was a kind of friendly competition for solving problems. Point Loma, Harnwell's operation out on the West Coast, designed a sonar gear. So did we. And so did Submarine Signal Company, an industrial organization. We wanted the best ranging sonar, sweeping sonar, the whole damn thing. We also did a lot of work in listening. I have a couple of models of things that we built that finally became standard parts of submarines.
NEEDELL: Your counterparts, the people who were working on displays for radar, Hayworth's group, or Loomis, up at the "Rad" lab, you didn't work with them or compare notes?
GLENNAN: No. I think we were so busy doing what we were doing, we didn't--we knew what they were working on generally.
NEEDELL: Did you know Loomis, DuBridge, Hayworth, Tate and those people during the war?
GLENNAN: Oh yes.
NEEDELL: How did you come in contact with them?
GLENNAN: At meetings we might have with Colpitts, and Dr. Tate, the head of Division 6--
COLLINS: Are you talking about Tate?
GLENNAN: Tate. Sure. Yes, and Van Bush. Van came by from time to time. And we got together. I went to Washington every week to meet with Commander Rawson Bennett.
NEEDELL: But you had not known DuBridge or Loomis before the war.
GLENNAN: No. I was a farmer boy. I wasn't a scientist!
COLLINS: What was the purpose of those weekly meetings in Washington?
GLENNAN: To report on where we were and what we needed; to fight with the Navy for priorities. Furthermore, we designed another derivative from London, England, the expendable radio sono-buoy. We finally built those damned things with a contract with Emerson Radio. To do that, we had to go through a lot of arguments with the Navy Department. They wanted to do this themselves, in their own standard procurement way. We simply would not do it. We said, "We're going to run it. We're going to oversee and supervise this operation." I think it could be said that Captain (later Admiral) Bennett had considerable confidence in our operation. I've forgotten how many thousands of those sono-buoys were used. I think there were nine German submarines that were confirmed killed with them. Never heard them until the sono-buoy heard them and somebody dropped the acoustic ordnance over.
NEEDELL: What was the relationship of Berkner's organization to yours?
GLENNAN: Berkner? I don't remember him from that time.
NEEDELL: He was in the Bureau of Ordnance, I guess.
GLENNAN: We had only one tilt with the Bureau of Ordnance. We finally set up a small submarine warfare laboratory out at Pearl Harbor. Kneel Nunan was an assistant of mine, a very attractive fellow. We went out there and we stationed about a dozen people in our laboratory. What we were doing there was trying to find out what went wrong when submarines came back from patrol. Our people were right at the source. I can remember talking long distance to Kneel at Pearl, in gobbledygook, because it was open lines, you know. Every now and then the operator would break in and say, "Do you realize this is an open circuit?"
But we did some things. Did them in a hurry. For instance, our submarines would surface at night to charge their batteries, and the Japanese would creep up on them and give them a torpedo. However, we found out how to get the Japanese submarines, how to hear them. As I recall, within eight, ten or twelve weeks, we had a rotating listening device which told the helmsman and the quartermaster what to do. We installed the device on submarines out there.
Now, that's what you do in wartime. You just break all the rules. We did that by long-distance telephone.
COLLINS: I'm interested that you mentioned other laboratories. Was this a project where you saw a problem and went to try to find a solution? Or did the other laboratories have the same problem?
GLENNAN: They didn't have the same access that we did. The reason I set that small laboratory out in Pearl Harbor was so we could get to know what was happening with submarines as they came in from patrol.
What reminded me of this was your question about ordnance. Shea and I were out there with Kneel Nunan. We went over to the Officer's Club for drinks in the afternoon. Admiral, then Captain Daspit had just come in from patrol and was much depressed. He had had 13 fish in his tubes. He had twelve of them bounce off the targets without exploding. These torpedoes were equipped with electric exploders that the Bureau of Ordnance had approved.
Well, Shea and I got on the airplane. We went back to Admiral Allan McCann and told him about this. Well, he said, "What can we do about it? We want to know what is wrong with those exploders. We will go out to Pearl and examine them in our own laboratory and try to find out how to make them work."
We were sent to the Bureau of Ordnance. They just kicked us out and said, "None of your God-damned business. Don't you go out and bring these kind of stories back. Those are perfectly good exploders."
Well, we finally did put a work party out there. I don't know exactly where. Out in the Pearl Harbor area. We fired torpedoes against a cliff until we discovered the problem and then devised a solution that made us friends in the fleet but not in the Bureau of Ordnance.
COLLINS: I'm curious why this commander of the submarine would come to you rather than go directly--
GLENNAN: He didn't. We were having a drink and he was just full of this, "How am I going to run a boat and have to bring back 12 misses?" He broke the rules by bringing back a torpedo so that appropriate concerned people could have the exploder. We happened to be on the scene and took action without a lot of red tape.
COLLINS: Going back to the question of friendly competition between the various laboratories, is this something that the Navy encouraged as a way of getting better results? Or was it perhaps confusion and the sense of independence of these places?
GLENNAN: I don't know. There was enough work for all of us. Thre were only a few major pieces of equipment; the Sonar was one. And two or three or four different companies and laboratories were working on that. It was a very good thing to do. The task wasn't assigned in that way. Each of us took it upon ourselves. Rawson Bennett, head of the Bureau, was smart enough to let us go ahead. At any rate, we worked with Fayette, Sub-Sig, and the other outside companies as well. But many of us--I have a book in here that was written as a history of our laboratory, called With The Utmost Dispatch.2 It tells about these various things.
NEEDELL: Did you know Merle Tuve and the people at Applied Physics Laboratory?
GLENNAN: Yes. I knew Merle Tuve.
NEEDELL: During the war?
GLENNAN: Simply as partners in this race to beat the Germans.
NEEDELL: Were you aware of the Manhattan Project activities at the time?
GLENNAN: Only to the extent that when I finally was asked to go to Oak Ridge. I insisted on knowing something about it. They couldn't tell me because it was so very highty classified. The only thing they'd tell me was, "We're working on a great new source of energy." That's all I know.
NEEDELL: What were the major groups that were doing similar work? I guess there were other groups. Proximity fuse was Alexander Elett, Bureau of Standards--
GLENNAN: Well, there wasn't what I would call a cadre of--
GLENNAN: Managing people who got together.
NEEDELL: You say there was not.
GLENNAN: Was not. We learned about them. Shea probably knew most of these people. When he would come up to the laboratory, which he did every couple of weeks, I learned something about what was going on elsewhere, but it wasn't an organized information exchange. We were too damn busy.
NEEDELL: There was a formal component organization in OSRD.
GLENNAN: Yes. "Need to know."
NEEDELL: So that sort of made it very difficult, let's say, to talk to Lee DuBridge and compare notes about how you handled projects ~in World War II.
GLENNAN: Oh, absolutely. I don't think anybody that I know of was worrying very much about other organizations in those days. I organized my laboratory as I needed to. I had a practice of having a thousand dollars available to anybody who came in with an idea which they were just head over heels in love with. They could have the thousand dollars to do what they wanted and all they had to do was come back and say either it worked or it didn't. And that was the end of it.
COLLINS: Let's look a little bit at when you were managing a research and development enterprise. What changes and comparisons can you make with what you were doing previously as a studio manager? What new things did you have to get hold of to do the job?
GLENNAN: Not to do the job. I became acquainted with a new class of people. Most of them were scientists with their own way of looking at things and the world. They were as much prima donnas as the stars of Hollywood. But to get the job done, I had to do just what you had to do out West in the motion picture business.
Everybody tries to figure it out. I suppose that Jim Webb will have a theory on this--well, I don't have any theories. You get things done through other people. If you can motivate them, give them an opportunity to do things themselves. I don't see what else you need to worry about.
COLLINS: In a sense, in your mind, the management techniques is transferable from one enterprise to the other.
COLLINS: But in terms of motivating people to get things done, for example, you instituted this thousand dollar kitty that people could turn to. You had to come up with these ideas to motivate particular groups of people, different groups from studio people.
GLENNAN: I don't know whether I did that to motivate them, or whether there were enough ideas that we couldn't just put into our regular program, and this was a way to--
NEEDELL: --cultivate innovation.
COLLINS: That was a perception on your part. That was one of the things that needed to be done in this situation.
GLENNAN: Sure, because motivating people is the key to many things.
NEEDELL: But this one thousand dollars was not an award, it was--
GLENNAN: --no, no. It was so they could use it. They could use it for machining, buying things, taking a trip.
NEEDELL: There was no need during the war, I take it, for motivating people to do things.
GLENNAN: I think that's a good way to put it. We had some nasty problems there in the form of getting people to write up what they'd done. You know how it is in a laboratory. Well, I hired a man who followed the projects and wrote the reports; to free the time of the scientist for what he wanted to do. The engineer reviewed the report, accepted and signed it--or it was redone.
NEEDELL: The thing that impressses me is that you, as a scientist-engineer, could go in there with a rigid notion that you're supposed to write up a report on your projects, whereas the other approach is that this reporting effort is getting in the way of the work; well, solve it another way.
GLENNAN: That's right.
NEEDELL: The important thing is getting the work done, not doing it the right way. This thing about the new breed of people that you met, I guess, on the higher levels. Are there other people that you first met during this period who are examples of this new breed whom we might not otherwise think of?
GLENNAN: I'm not sure if I understand your question. We had a purchasing agent, Ray Wall. I don't quite remember what he did before he came to us. He came from Hamden, Connecticut. He was just an old shoe but he did a good job of purchasing. I had a couple of arguments with him which were cleared up by apologies on my part.
I think that I was most amazed at the gentility of the high-powered scientific types from academia. They would talk to me and get up at the blackboard with all kinds of mathematics that I couldn't even begin to understand. I'd tell them that. They'd say, "Oh, you'll understand." It was a way that they had, and I listened to them. But I didn't understand a thing they were saying. But they thought I did. They gave me credit for it and said it.
There was a man there by the name of Warren Horton, a physicist, electrical engineer, a professor and wonderful person. He was forever at the blackboard as though he was teaching a class. I would spend the time listening to him. That was enough for him.
COLLINS: To follow the intent of Allan's earlier question, I think he was looking to learn of people you might have come in contact with who you perhaps had later associations with after the war from this period.
GLENNAN: Well, Elmer Hutchisson who was Jack Tate's assistant in Division Six. When I got to Case in 1947 I found he was Dean of the faculty. Bob Shankland who was head of the physics department. I didn't know him except during the war. He was head of the calibration work at Orlando and Mountain Lakes. And then Jack Tate, Van Bush, Ed Colpitts all wrote letters when I was suggested as president for Case. Van Bush's letter was not very exciting, believe me. But he was a very good friend. He's a straightforward Yankee from M.I.T.
NEEDELL: And Jewett?
GLENNAN: Frank Jewett, yes. He was quite elderly at that time. I had just met him. I had more contact with people like Van Bush and Colpitts.
I'll tell you another thing that I had done very well as a kid coming out of school and going into the motion picture business. I made a good salary as a kid and worked at New London during the war. There we worked all hours, overnight, all night several times. We had one holiday in three years, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. No complaints. And that I think was what made me finally look for service in the public sector. How could I repay?
COLLINS: Repay in what sense? I'm not quite clear.
GLENNAN: I'd had a chance to make money in the picture business, to be paid well, doing an ordinary job, even though it was in a funny business. But people have to do something to be Americans. We did it during the war. I found great satisfaction in it. I wanted to continue to do it. Ever since that time, with the exception of the two years that I was at ANSCO in Binghamton, I've been in public service.
COLLINS: With respect to the underwater sound laboratories, is there any way you want to reflect on some of the broad themes that began to motivate you during that time, besides an interest in--
GLENNAN: No, I don't really--I lost a friend. A laboratory partner of mine in electrical engineering at Yale. I'd brought him out to Hollywood. We started the first engineering department in the motion picture business, believe it or not. His first task was to design and build an articulated horse. We did. We put somebody on the horse, let the horse gallop and had a background running past. That was special effects.
He paid a big price. He was killed when the dirigibles came together over New Jersey. They were really developing an underwater light which could silhouette a submarine. They thought they had a submarine out there and they dropped their equipment. But a patrol boat came along and put on its running lights. In the blimps they thought that these were hostile ships below, so they dowsed all their lights and ran into each other. We found Frank's body four months later.
Another indication of what men will do. I had a very fine electronics and acoustical engineer. Proudfoot was his name. He was leaving the laboratory. I asked him to go out on one more run on a submarine. He came in to me and said, "Keith. I hate to ask. I have never been in a submarine that I haven't been frightened shitless. I thought I was free of it." He had had many runs.
We had two of the oil field workers there. How do you locate a depth charge exploding? You're in a submarine. Well, we developed these hydrophones. We mounted them fore and aft of the conning tower, in the shears and on the keel, and on the starboard and port sides of the conning tower. We had a telltale light box inside the submarine control room. As a depth bomb was dropped, it would tell you where that depth bomb, what octant, the depth bomb had exploded. We set the telltale so that it blew out after a number of seconds or fractions of seconds, so that if you had a train of ten depth bombs, you could tell which way the destroyer was going.
We got that working pretty well and finally got it to where it was measuring the distance to the explosion as well. But those were all just hard engineering problems. Rockwell and Ording were the names of those oil field experts. They had great comptence as engineers and practical men.
NEEDELL: Did it occur to you that one of the important services to the country would be the management, the ability to get these academic scientists and various kinds of people to turn technology, research and development, toward solving military problems or other problems? And this was an area of service that you helped to perform during the war. I wonder if you thought about it after the war, that it would be an important thing.
GLENNAN: I guess. After the war, and particularly after I got involved in academic work in 1947, I became concerned. When we got to Korea in 1950, I certainly went after some work to hold my faculty on campus. We did do a bomb laying project, Project Doan Brook, which required some mechanics, ordnance people, geologists, physicists and several engineers. I was able to keep them on campus.
During the war, at Case, only the chemists who worked in chemical synthetics rubber and the metallurgists stayed on campus. Everybody else went some place else, like Oak Ridge Laboratory and Harvard. Bob Shankland at Orlando--OSRD did a good job. They were a wonderful organization.
NEEDELL: Did you feel that OSRD should continue after the war?
NEEDELL: For the same sort of reason that Bush didn't, that it was against American institutions? It was too much government direction?
GLENNAN: I think so. It was plain to me, even as a layman. I think that's the best way to characterize me when the war was over. We really began to realize to what extent this country had relied on the basic research done abroad. We were applications people. We were good engineers. We reduced to practice very well. But we didn't have very much in the way of basic research in this country. I think that was a fact. I think that was borne in on me very much indeed. When I first went to Case, I found we had practically no advanced graduate work. When I left Case in 1966, we were turning out 100 PhDs a year. But what a costly development that was!
COLLINS: That's probably jumping a little bit ahead in our story here. During your time at the Underwater lab, when you began to see how university and government elements could come together to work on projects, did you reflect on this relationship and contrast it to what you'd done at Paramount?
GLENNAN: No, Marty. Once again, I have to say when we had to have those sono-buoys built, I mobilized people who had designed them with the government people through Rawson and Bennett in Washington. Then we went out to industry and got the damn job done.
Priorities sometimes stymied people in government and industry and--but we didn't think about it. We just got this job done. Nobody in goverment is going to build these damn things for us as fast as we need them built. So we went and did it ourselves.
NEEDELL: You didn't worry about things like whether this was the proper free enterprise or--
GLENNAN: Hell no! No.
NEEDELL: You didn't worry about establishing socialism or a centrally controlled economy by--
NEEDELL: Didn't worry about it at all.
GLENNAN: Not a bit.
COLLINS: I think we're getting to the end here. I just wonder whether there are any additional thoughts concerning the span of your work at the underwater lab, wrap up some of the details we've talked about?
GLENNAN: I don't think so. It was a great experience. It was a melange of people, characters, capabilities, which somehow or other worked together.
COLLINS: Just one other follow up question. You mentioned that there was an opportunity for you to go to Harvard. You mentioned the Oak Ridge thing. I wonder if there were times when you were
at the Underwater Lab when you were considering requests to go to other places. Was this a common situation?
GLENNAN: No. I think I was asked to go up to Harvard. I had come to know Ted Hunt up there. He was director of that laboratory. He offered me a job as assistant director. I said, "I'll let you know tomorrow." And I came back. What the hell, I had my hands full and we were contributing as much as I thought we could contribute. So why go up there, when I didn't really know--what I would have been doing up there would be exactly what I was doing over in New London. I didn't have any idea of the physics of radar or anything of that sort. I'm not a scientist. I think I get some things done from time to time through other people.
COLLINS: I just wondered whether it was perhaps a reflection about the need for management talent.
GLENNAN: It may have been in some of those areas. But I didn't think of it that way. I wasn't trying to fill somebody else's management shoes.
COLLINS: I think we can call it a day.
GLENNAN: Okay. Now let me tell you a story about...
1 James Phinney Baxter Scientists Against Time. (Boston: Little Bown and Company, 1946).
2 With the Utmost Dispatch.