Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Paul H. Tyson
TYSON: Interestingly enough, not entirely so. My mother's mother, in her early stages, used to joke about having been a Socialist. At fourteen, on the lower east side, she'd wear a longer skirt so that she'd look older when she was giving speeches on Washington Square. Her brothers actually turned into Rockefeller Republicans holding elected positions on the east coast of north Jersey.
Q: Jacob Javits and all that.
TYSON: The Jake Javits type. They certainly knew the Democrats and my aunt later got very heavily involved in the Democratic Party, but actually always fairly centrist, fairly bourgeois. You know, “Oh my God, we need a hospital. I guess we better form a committee,” type of thing. There were actually leftists down there; the Rosenberg kids had ended up at Toms River under a different name.
Q: You mean Joel and Ethel Rosenberg who were quite famous for being involved, and executed for being a spy case; the atomic spy case.
TYSON: The kids apparently had ended up with another family, and actually in Toms River. My grandmother and grandfather were very involved in the mainstream synagogue there, but there was a smaller one that my grandmother used to refer to as “the leftists”. Another interesting one would be the discussions among the tribes. She would occasionally say, “We don't talk to them. The grandfather does numbers for the mob.” It's always been sort of interesting of how the American Jewish community has airbrushed their involvement in this.
Q: Oh, yes. You know there was a particularly, the name doesn't come to me, but there was a very strong Jewish element [in the mafia].
TYSON: Well, Meyer Lansky and all in Cuba.
Q: Meyer Lansky; that's the name I was thinking of.
TYSON: I was just down in Havana doing inspections; went past the hotel he built.
Q: How about your father; did you sense a, coming from a very difficult childhood, concern about lack of education? Sometimes the military can make up for this, or not. Was there much interest there?