Interview With Howard Ludlow Sr.
December 27th, 2001 | Back to Blog Listing

Howard Ludlow during his interview
On December 27th, 2001 I conducted a brief interview with both of my grandparents (father's side), Catherine "Kitty" Ludlow and Howard T. Ludlow, known as Momma and Poppa respectively. This is the interview with Howard.

The total recorded interview is almost 18 minutes long. I have transcribed the interview below and included applicable links detailing certain events and locations that my grandfather described (namely using Wikipedia, IMDB, and

Howard: Did you want honest answers and stuff?
Kevin: That would be helpful.
Howard: I can make them up too if you wish.
Catherine: Do you want me to get the cane?
Howard: No, I'll put the cane over here. That's ok.
Howard: Now I can fall asleep in this chair if you want me to do that. Hello ladies and gentlemen
Kevin: That was very good.
Howard: Well I am lector at church you know and I like to speak to the crowds 840 people in our church during the busy season. Right now about 100, the un-busy season.
Howard: Well, what dost thou wish? hah.
Howard: Is that one of those digital type cameras?
Kevin: It is.
Howard: I don't know anything about them, or how to use them or anything else.
Kevin: You're not camera shy are you?
Howard: No.
Kevin: I didn't think so.
Howard: No, not microphone shy.
Kevin: No I don't have a microphone, but.
Howard: Well what picks up the sound?
Kevin: Well there's a little microphone somewhere.
Howard: It has something built in there?
Kevin: Yea.
Howard: Are these lights my better side?
Kevin: I got your better side. I even dimmed the light down a bit, you know. It makes you.
Howard: Allright, makes me shine up better.
Kevin: Kind of like a grace Kelly, 1940's
Howard: Oh ok, well that looks good. Whatever happened to her?
Kevin: I don't know, I didn't do the followup, but...

Kevin: So where were you born?
Howard: New York City.
Kevin: You'll have to be more specific.
Howard: I don't remember the street because I was too young to recall it. But it was in the Bronx. And uh, yea that was it, in the Bronx, New York City.
Kevin: And is that where you grew up?
Howard: Not in that particular area, but in another part of the Bronx, yes.
Kevin: And what part was that?
Howard: The part commonly referred to as the North Bronx. Near the, not too far from the border of the city of Yonkers.
Kevin: Oh, the nice part of town.
Howard: Yea, nice area, near the parks. No problem.
Kevin: That's good. And what did your dad do?
Howard: He mostly worked in banking areas. One type or another of banking jobs. Various jobs. But mostly as I say in the line of credit and loans and banking work.
Kevin: Trusting people.
Howard: I don't know if he trusted anybody because I don't trust anybody so I don't know about that.
Kevin: That's good. Uh, so, and where did you go to highschool?
Howard: I went to DeWitt Clinton in highschool in the Bronx within walking distance of my house. And it was the largest all boys highschool in the world. With 10,000 boys, all boys. But not all of them went to the main campus. Uhh, We had a couple of other branches. I would guess that, oh maybe about 80% or about 8000 went to the main campus and the others went to the other branches. One branch was in Manhattan, one branch was in the Bronx, another part of the Bronx. I don't know if we had any others. But we always boasted it was the largest all-boys highschool in the world. My graduating class, we used to graduate twice a year, a 6 months arrangement, and my graduating class had 1000 boys in it. And that was half a year if you want to think of it that way. Yep.
Kevin: That's a lot of people.
Howard: Yes it was. And uh, somehow we got along most of the time.
Kevin: So then where did you go to college?
Howard: I first went to the city college of New York, but I stayed there only a semester, maybe a year, I think one semester though, and after many years later I went to the Fordham College.
Kevin: Which is in...
Howard: In the Bronx.

I briefly attended Princeton University under the Army's specialized training program and I flunked out of it because I have always been rather poor at math and they had a great deal of math in the program. In fact if you want a humorous story, or maybe it's not so humorous, one of the final exams, if not the final exam, because this was during WWII, required you to navigate a bomber from the mainland of the United States to someplace in England I guess it was. And you were given all of the things that might happen to you on the trip. Everything from fuel consumption to wind, altitude, all kind of things of that nature and you had to methodically plot this course all the way over to England. And I did that, as did everybody else. But when I got my report back, it said that I had failed because I had brought the bomber down in the water somewhere near England instead of at an airport. So I went to the professor and uh tried to argue myself into a passing grade on the grounds that after all, I came close. And I remember him screaming at me saying, the Army aircore doesn't want people navigating bombers who come close. And that's what happened.
Kevin: Good story.
Howard: But actually I was in the wrong program anyway. When I was in Princeton, I originally had been sent there to study Arabic. At that time they had quite a program, it's interesting today to think of that, and when I got there they somehow divided us up and half of us studied Arabic and half went into engineering. And I got put into the engineering program and that's what got me into trouble.
Kevin: Ah the math.
Howard: The math, namely. And some other courses, physics, chemistry, and so on.

With physics it wasn't so bad because you were divided into partners. Partner was two fellows. And my partner, I worked it out, that he did all the physics experiments. He worked with all the gadgets and timers and whatnot, and then I wrote the reports because I could write and he could do the experiments and we got through there ok.
Kevin: Good.
Howard: Ok.
Kevin: So when did you join the Army?
Howard: 1942.
Kevin: WWII?
Howard: Yes, and that was the war you may have heard of, I don't know. Read your history books.
Kevin: Maybe. And what did you do?
Howard: I was a private. I, I didn't do anything. I helped the war effort, but not very much. Anyway.
Kevin: Did you have to overseas?
Howard: No I didn't. No.
Kevin: So where did they station you?
Howard: Well I was stationed in Camp Upton Long Island, and uh, that's an interesting question, Fort Bragg North Carolina, uhh, then back to New York City at that time there had been a large building, five stories perhaps, which had been the Israel Orphan Asylum, which was a Jewish orphanage for children, Jewish Children. And the Army took it over and converted it into barracks and I was one of the, I guess, few hundred who were in the Israel Orpham Asylum. Of course they didn't call it that once the Army took it over, of course. And we were there, just before and during, the rather serious race riots that took place in Harlem in 1943 I guess it was. And uh, that was a rather serious situation, with shooting and that kind of thing, because we had fellows in the barracks of this building, who literally had to shoot it out with people in other buildings nearby and that sort of thing. So I was there. And then, where did I go next? I think I was in the Israel Orphan Asylum before I went to Fort Bragg. Yea that's right, then I went to Fort Bragg. And I got out of the Army at Fort Bragg. I'd had enough, so they couldn't use my splendid services anymore so I quit.
Kevin: So then you went to go teach?
Howard: No, of course that was, you know 1943 I guess and uh, you know I returned home had various jobs until I went to college at Fordham College. And then Fordum University graduate school.
Kevin: What did you graduate with?
Howard: Well I had my bachelor of science degree, and then I got a master of arts, and then a doctorate of philosophy.
Kevin: Cool.
Howard: And my major was economics.

And then I, well I actually went to teaching when I had my masters degree, and then on to the doctorate.
Kevin: At Seton Hall?
Howard: Well I taught at Seton Hall, but I went to Fordum University for the graduate program.

Ok. You gonna pay me now?
Kevin: Uh, I don't have anything to pay you with.
Howard: Well, I thought maybe this was a paid commercial or something like this, you know.
Kevin: You could have some wine.
Howard: Well, no that's true, but it's early in the morning and there's a saying in the Navy you don't drink until the sun is over the yardarm, and it's not over the yardarm yet.
Kevin: Close. So are there any other interesting stories for my interview?
Howard: Well the most interesting of course has been my life with your dear grandmother.
Kevin: Oh yes I'm sure.
Howard: That has been a series of adventures for almost 50 years. Most of the adventures, pleasant ones. She's having trouble with her ear right now I think I can hear in the background. Yea unfortunately she has a hearing aid and very difficult inserting it properly and it's rather painful for her. We've taken it back for readjustment a couple of times but it still doesn't seem to be right.
Kevin: That's understandable.
Howard: And of course, the greatest adventures also included having children, one of whom is your father.
Kevin: Yes. I'm sure he did all types of bad stuff.
Howard: I wouldn't say bad, I would say adverturesome. I would say original. Everything from being a volunteer fireman to other types of legitimate activity.
Kevin: I see.
Howard: You know when he was a young boy, he belonged to the boy scouts, and, cub scouts I guess first, and the cub scouts then, and maybe still, had an annual derby race where the boys make small wooden cars and they race them down this incline. And they time it, to see who wins. Well I figured I'd help your father out so I had the bright idea, because they had the dimensions for the car, and you couldn't exceed the dimensions, but they didn't say anything about the weight. So I had got bright idea of taking a heavy spike and putting it under the car to give it more weight so then it would go down the hill faster. Well that sounded ok to your father, it sounded ok to me - it was my idea. But when we had the race, the spike stuck on the board of the incline and he was disqualified for trying to maneuver this.
Kevin: Cheating?
Howard: Well they didn't say you couldn't do that, but unfortunately, that's what happened.
Kevin: And you, you used to have a boat?
Howard: Yes, we've had several boats. And uh, the last boat we had was a trawler type boat, 43 feet long, twin diesel engines, and uh, we sold that boat ohh I would say it must be about 13 or 14 years ago. We used to keep it in the Chesapeake Bay. We cruised all over. We've been to Canada with it, we've been up and down the Hudson, throughout Chesapeke Bay obviously, other places too.
Kevin: Was that the LeiLani?
Howard: Yes. Each of our boats has been named LeiLani. And uh, I got the name from a motion picture going back to the 1930's I guess, maybe 1936, 37 with Bing Crosby where he sung the song Sweet LeiLani. And at that time as a young boy, I said if I ever had a boat, I'm going to name it LeiLani. And I remembered that, and that's why the name. LeiLani means beautiful flower in Hawaiian. So all my boats have been called LeiLani.
Kevin: I did, I did try to break one of your boats one time. I threw your ropes overboard if I recall.
Howard: Well yes, I remember that. In fact when you were younger than that and you used to cruise on one of our boats with your parents, we had a flying bridge. And naturally you take small children on a flying bridge and it's kind of risky, especially when their in a playpen. So your father rigged up the playpen on the flying bridge, secured it to the rail, and dunked you in it, so you couldn't go anyplace that we weren't aware of.
Kevin: That was clever. I was a prisoner.
Howard: More or less. It's good practice for years later in life.
Kevin: Yea I guess so. One of these days. Well is there anything else you'd like to say?
Howard: Well it's a pleasure celebrating Christmas here with you and your family, and our family, and hope you do well in your course, and if some professor is reading this or judging it, he should know that he has a good student.
Kevin: That's good.
Howard: Ok.
Kevin: That'll work.
Howard: Thank you.