Elaine: And, as we go on, as the children grew, Lemon and I became quite involved in community service. And he went to work for the government at the Navy Yard in Southwest, and then he went in the service in 1946.
Lemon: I want to tell you something. Just that I never told you, about the service. But, you know, at that time I was working in the Navy Yard, my first government job, which you know I’m very proud of, having a government job in Washington, D.C. So anyhow, the commander – I was there, what they call apprentice machinist, and we had to go to schools to learn to be journeyman machinists, as we got on through the years. Well, not being used to the south, coming from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and not the southern viewpoint of black and white in actions down here, there’s always contention of the color line. But anyhow, the commander of the yard was a Commander Duckett, I’ll never forget him, and as a student learning machines, business, I noticed that all the machinists were in what they call a union.
Now see I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; you know, John L. Lewis, the great union leader in Pennsylvania for the coal miners and steel mill workers, always impressed me. And I had that intention of being a union leader. So I was wondering, why don’t the young apprentice machinists unionize? So anyhow, what I did, I tried to get them together. And see, that Commander Duckett, the commander heard about it. And simply, he come and say “Moses, I want to see you.” And I went to his office, say, “Yes sir.” And he said, “You can’t form a union.” I say, “Well, commander,” I said, “the machinists have a union. Why can’t we? I know we’re not journeyman yet.” He said, “This is federal government.” I said, “They got a union." He said, “Listen. We don’t want any union, or no talk of organizing unions, and if you can’t do that, you have to leave. I’ll see that you go into service.” I said, “Now, wait a minute, commander.” Being a machinist worker during the war years, that means we were deferred. We didn’t have to go into service, or many people were drafted. So I said, “Pardon me, commander; like I said, you telling me that if I don’t stop my kind of organizing young machinists, that you will see that I go into military?” He said, “That’s right.” So, I said, “Pardon me, sir,” I said, “But, you can have this job. I don’t want to deal with you, see, because you’re not being fair. The older people have a union; you don’t want us to have one.” So I quit. You didn’t know I quit that job. And here I was, a baby, a wife, no job – (laughter) I knew I couldn’t go back home, come home to you, because I was afraid you would say “You being stupid, Lemon!” But anyhow, I went down on G Street, and I saw this sign, “Neighbor Recruiting Station.” And I walked in there, and this guy said, “Boy, you sure look like a good example for recruiting.” At the time, I was nice, young, I was robust, I was almost 200-something pounds. I said “No Marines for me,” so the navy man crossed over to the other officer, and he said, “Good for the Navy!” And that’s how I joined the Navy. So when I came home that night, I said, “Elaine, I’m in the Navy!” But you never really asked me why or how, down through the years; but that’s when I went into service. That’s how it happened. First time in sixty – how long we been married? First time in sixty-seven years that I’ve told her the real true story of how I got in the Navy.
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