June 29th, 2005
Private George Taylor, an Indianapolis native, grew up in Chicago. After being drafted into the Marines, he was assigned to the 51st Defense Battalion and stationed in the Marshall Islands. After the war he returned to Chicago and then settled in Lansing, Michigan, where he was employed by the City of Lansing Convention Center until his retirement.
GEORGE TAYLOR: The name is George Taylor. G-E-O-R-G-E-T-A-Y-L-O-R.
INTERVIEWER: Okay. Mr. Taylor (TECHNICAL)
INTERVIEWER: (CONTINUED) And spell it, please.
GEORGE TAYLOR: The name is George Taylor. G-E-O-R-G-E-T-A-Y-L-O-R.
INTERVIEWER: Okay. Mr., Taylor, uh, we'd like to know a little bit about your background before you joined the Marine Corps. And in that regard, could you tell us where you're from, a little bit about your family, and your education.
GEORGE TAYLOR: Well, I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. My mother, we moved to Chicago when I was four years of age. Uh, my grandmother raised me. And my grandfather. Uh, my dad was a barber in Chicago. But my mother and father separated when I was a young boy. And then, my grandmother and grandfather raised me until I was grown. And my grandfather was a plasterer, contractor.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And he learned me how to plaster. And my very religious person, Church Of Guiding Christ, so, you know, no smoking, no gambling, no, none of that dancing, and all that stuff. And I didn't go no further than the eighth grade. Plus there in Chicago, at the time I came up, it was rough, out there in that street. But I was drafted. I didn't volunteer. I (STAMMERS) was drafted.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And when I got drafted, they was gonna put me in the Army. And I asked them, I wanna get in the Cavalry. And they say, you couldn't get in the Cavalry because the Cavalry's being cut out. And so, I says, well, the Army. He says, yes. So I go down the line. The guys says, no, Navy for you. I says, no, I'm not going in no Navy. He said, let's get out of here, in Navy.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I says, no. I'm not going in the Navy. Where you wanna go? I said, the Cavalry. He said, the Calvary's being cut out. I said, get me in the Army. He said, no, no. Navy. I said, no. Send me to jail. Call the police, 'cause I'm not going in the Navy. Then a guy came out of the office and he looked my papers over. What did he tell you?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I said, change your voice on me. I said, 'cause I'm not going in the Navy. Then this lieutenant came out, with the bars on. Had a cigarette in his hand, he takes it out of his mouth. And he picks up the paper, and put one hand in his pocket. And looks at me, he looks at the paper. I said, you don't have to give me the double look. I'm the same guy you looked at when you came out of that back room there.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I says, and I'm not going in the Navy. And then he said, what about the Marines? I said, Marines, what's that? He showed me a picture up on the wall. He said, you got a choice between the Navy and the Marines. So I taken the, the Marines. And then they put me in charge of eight guys. And every one of them was bigger than I.
INTERVIEWER: What about, uh, what about, uh, your, uh, well, let me go back. Let me go back. Alright. Um, you've answered a lot of the, the first couple questions. Um, when you joined the Marine Corps, were you aware that there were no African-Americans in the Marine Corps?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Oh, yeah. I was aware of that. Yes. And, uh, when we went in, we weren't even considered as a whole man. We was considered as a half a man. And if people say, why? How come? I said, the White boys got stripes on both arms. But we only got them on one arm.
GEORGE TAYLOR: That's how you determine where you was at.
INTERVIEWER: Okay. Well, when you, when you learned that you were going to go into the Marine Corps, did this represent, uh, a challenge for you, or?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Well, no, not really. We was already, we was coming up, by our parents. We was always taught to look you in your eye. Stay strong. Talk. Whatever it is. You don't have to bat a eye. You don't have to study. Just go ahead and talk. Say what you got to say. And my grandmother was like that. And, uh, a very sweet woman. But, she would get you right to the point. So, I had to stick with her. Her, her way of growing. You know, as I was coming up. (BACKGROUND NOISE) And, I, I think the best way.
INTERVIEWER: Hmm. When, when you, uh, left to go to Montford Point, uh, can you tell us a little bit about the trip?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Yeah. When I got to the, I had all the guy's paper, we was going to the camp. And I passed them all out to each one of them. I said, now, you go in if you want, that's your business. You gonna stay home or go wherever you wanna go. I got mine. And I'm going . I'm going and getting on the train. So which we all got there? Going down was sweet.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Going down to, we got to Washington, D.C. Got to Washington, D.C., we had (STAMMERS) where we slept, and everything. The dining, where we ate. Got to Washington, D.C., they put us in a little straw coach. Little straw backs. (LAUGH) Wasn't nothing in there. And I got to fussing about it. Because uh, what our papers said. And this old lady said, son, you've crossed the Mason Dixon line, now.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I said, that don't mean nothing. I'm with the government. She said, that don't mean a thing down here. I found out when I got down there, that didn't mean a thing, the government. See, the government taken us in, but the government didn't straighten out a lot of things that should have been straightened out. And so, I, being a northern boy, it was hard for me to accept a lot of that down South.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Because we had the Black southerner. We had the Black northern. Some of them was good. Some of them was bad. So, you had, uh, you had to fight some of the Black southerner, plus you had to fight the White man in order to, to be able to relax and do what you had to do. And that's the way it was. And I, uh, I got in trouble quite a few times. Uh, not because I asked for it.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I just, things weren't looking right, it wouldn't, uh, because the main thing when I got in trouble. I had a picture on my locker box. I had three pictures. Two Black girls. One White girl. The White lady, Mrs. Kirby, her husband was a professor at Chicago University. She was the Director of the YWCA Downtown at 59 East Monroe, around the corner from the Fountain House Hotel. She gave me a job.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) My aunt used to work for her at her home. When I went into the Marine Corps, she gave me a little picture. Her husband was a (WORD?) got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at this little party she gave. This lieutenant, Lieutenant Wilson, saw that picture. Hmm. Trouble started. I tried to get a furlough home. I couldn't go home. So, you do the next best thing. You go over the hill.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And then, on my way back to camp, I got put in jail in Akron, Ohio, in 1943. Cleveland was the induction center. So, they came from Cleveland to Akron, 35 miles and brought me back to Cleveland. And they examined me and everything. And gave me traveling paper to go on my own. And then, when I got to Camp Lejeune, I got 21 days on bread and water and a $21 fine. A lot of money back then (COUGH).
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) So, three days into my sentence, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and told me to mop up the barracks and everything. And, uh, he went out and he come back. Puts his head down to sleep. And he snatched me out of the barracks. And I popped him. And throw me up against the wall. And, um. I asked for the Officer of the Day. And the Officer of the Day came. What's going on here?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Well, I told him, I told him to mop up, and he didn't mop up. Why didn't you mop up? I was the bread and water prisoner. And bread and water prisoners don't work. He was like, forgot all about that. So, they let me out of the guardhouse. So, when I get back to my barracks, uh, two of my buddies, Green and (WORD?) O. Johnson (SP?) was one of my (WORD?). Both from out of New York.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) We got the hopping and saying, hey, how did you get out? And I explained to them what had happened. (MAKES NOISE) Let's go to Montford Point and have a party, 'cause we're getting shipped out in three more days. Which I don't drink, but I can drink Coca Cola, you know, I never did drink. So, we go over there, (WORD?) in the door. I go in the door. Green go in the door. The Black MP shoots.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Everybody said, now why you shooting at him? Why you shooting at him? Why you shooting at him? He don't say anything. (WORD?) being a sergeant, he get the Officer of the Day. Brought him over. Sir, why would our fellow Marine shoot at us? Get back where you belong. He said, (STAMMERS). I said, get back where you belong. Case is closed. You can't go no where else. That's it. So, we walked out the door.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And say, he was after you. I said, for what? You got the White woman picture on your locker box. I said, what are you doing shooting at me? He's from the South. Whatever that man tell him to do, he gonna do. So, my rifle's at quartermaster. 'Cause once you AWOL, they confiscate, and put it up. We went back. And Lang slept next to me from Chicago. We growed up together. I got his rifle.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) He done got his rifle. (WORD?) got his rifle. We shot at the theatre where the White officers and their wives sat at. Nobody got hurt. And went back and cleaned those rifles with hair oil. That's how the sweet smelling hair oil. And put Lang's rifle back. Well, about 40 minutes later, the four White officers came in. Get your rifles and stand by your bunks. Everybody get their rifle. Nobody know who did shooting.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Nobody even know, at the barrack, didn't even know the shooting had gone on 'cause we're across the bridge. When they got around to me, Lieutenant Wilson, Taylor, where's your rifle at? I said, sir, I think it's at quartermaster. What do you mean, you think? I said, just what I said. I think it's at quartermaster. What is it doing there? I said, just got out of the guardhouse. For what? I was AWOL.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) What are you doing out? I said, they let me out. Where are you from? Chicago. You're one of those Chicago gangsters, huh? Put it in a way you like, sir. So they couldn't find nothing wrong with any of the rifles. Going overseas, we hadn't got to the equator yet. We just about getting to the equator, when man, it's hot. I'm laying across deck, and this so-called Sergeant Davis came up and he kicked me on the bottom of my feet.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And told me to police up around the deck. I said, man, don't kick me like that no more. And you're not my sergeant. And I'm not passing out stripes. You don't do no work on this ship. Then don't kick me no more. So, I stretched out again. He kicked me. And I got jumped up and run into him. I tried to throwing him overboard ship. And Major Bobby had the guard to stop me. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Hit me on the side of carpe, and I hit the deck. Hit my crazy bone, and I'm screaming, Bobby, I'm gonna kill you. And the Major listened to all of that. So, I'm going down before Colonel to get. Standing here, the colonel said, man, and this little (WORD?) sergeant and the two guards and the major. What's going on? I said, they decided to kick me. Shut up. I said, you asked what was going on. I said, shut up.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) He looks up at the sergeant, what's going on? I tried to give him an order and he like it, and he tried to throw me overboard ship. I says, no, no. I got three sergeants, I never tried to do anything to you. You kicked me. You don't kick me. And then the colonel hollered again, I said, shut up. Well, then I'm thinking to myself. Heck, I'm going to the guardhouse for what?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Was something that somebody else did. Not my sergeant. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he wasn't even a sergeant. Nobody else knew him. They put him onboard ship. And, uh, when I'm gonna get even with him for kicking me twice. I know if I hit an un-commissioned officer at wartime, what it consist of. It can be a death penalty, a life in prison or what have you.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) But I had to hit him. 'Cause he (STAMMERS) kept you know, with a little grin on his face. And I hit him and, uh, I heard the Colonel say, court martial him. I was down on that floor. And I heard the major say, put those rifles down, and get him up off of it. So, they did that. I'm in the guardhouse onboard ship. And we get on land, I go to the guardhouse.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Then they get me two lawyers. Guess who one of the lawyers was? Wilson. (LAUGH) I didn't need two White lawyers there. And he won. Didn't need none. Go before this Board, all these White officers around this board. All these White fellows is witness. Which it should have been all Black guys is witness, 'cause that's what I'm affiliated with. The two guards was outside the door. This so-called sergeant, they flew him back to the States.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) No other guy, no other sergeant knew him. At the end of the day, Lieutenant (WORD?) at the end of the table says, to me, Taylor, if you can give us any information about the shooting back in Montford Point, we may consider being lenient with you. Look like (MAKES NOISE) something smack me in my face to say, they set you up. They had to shoot at me for them to, to pick me out. Felt that I knew why somebody shot at them.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) So, they figure, hey, he did it. Or he knows who did it. So, as we stood there and I was thinking. I said, hmm, they're gonna set me up. And then the Lieutenant (WORD?) said, you know anything? I said, oh, Lieutenant Wilson, let's see, remember you came to our quarters and you asked everybody to get their rifles and stand by their bunks? When you got to me, you asked me, where was my rifle?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And I told you I thought it was at quartermaster. And you asked me, what was it doing there? I told you I just got out of the guardhouse. You asked me, for what? I told you, I was AWOL. You asked me, what was I doing out? I told you, they let me out. Then you asked me, where was I from? And I told you, Chicago. You called me a Chicago gangster.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I said, I didn't even have a rifle. And Lieutenant (WORD?) dropped them papers on the table. And he looked back at the two guys back there. FBI or some officers, you know, kind of, found out. And this, they did like, this, they said, get him out of here. Then they brought the General Courts Martial down to a Summary. Gave me 60 days on bread and water. But I've been trying to find out, for what?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) You didn't ask me why I tried to throw you overboard ship. You didn't ask me why I break your nose. You only asked me about the shooting. Then you give me 60 days on bread and water and a $60 fine. I couldn't figure that one out. Then another time, one end of the island was (STAMMERS) quarantined with (STAMMERS) demon fever. Couldn't go to the movies. Got a guard right here. Pretty soon, his, these four officers pulls up.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I say, stop them. The two, (STAMMERS) they looked around at me. I looked right back at them. You stop them. I said, if I were on guard duty, I would stop them. But they went on. So, I couldn't go, but, uh, we went around the (STAMMERS), uh, (STAMMERS) McHarrison, (WORD?) and I went on around the river, the ocean and went on into the movie.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And when the lights come on, we sitting right in front of the room, too. (LAUGH) So, when I get back to my barracks, sergeant sent me back down to the lieutenant quarters. Wondered, why did I go to the movie? I said, went to the movie 'cause you went to the movies, sir. He said, oh we follow the leader? And then Lieutenant (WORD?) get up out of the bed.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And he puts his (WORD?) (STAMMERS) I looked around the door. I said, sir, are you planning on shooting us because we went to the movie? Which he don't give me no answer. He just stared at me. Then, uh, the Lieutenant Wilson say, I got a jeep out there. I want you to go out there and clean that jeep. Well, you can't see nothing at nighttime.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And, I just say, sir, my father had a '39 Plymouth, and I ain't never did nothing to it. I refused to wash it. Which I got 21 days of bread and water. But I didn't wash that jeep. (WORD?) say, that's what we do, have mode of transport for, but they gave me that because I disobeyed an order. And another time, it was forbidden to go on the (BACKGROUND NOISE) Navy Parlor. Well, I was there.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Got the chief and his two sons to take me over. And when they send us (WORD?) this barge coming, they put (STAMMERS) call a (WORD?), you know, with this, you know, how they peddle and they got the sides and anyhow, they went back. Uh, uh, uh, (STAMMERS) (WORD?) Channel, and brought me on in towards that amphibious barge, away from that island. And the amphibious barge come in there.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And I get up out (STAMMERS) and get into the barge, Lieutenant Wilson, Taylor, what was you doing on that island? I looked back overboard the barge, I said, sir, (STAMMERS) see me on this boat out on no island. I said the island over there. I just getting out of here. Are you aware of the fact that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ? Yes, I'm aware of the fact of that. I said, would you mind looking back there again?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Tell me what you can see. I said you can't determine from, from me from them. 'Cause they look like me. You got uniforms on like me. Are you calling me a liar? I said, well, I'm not gonna see what you want me to see. So, we go before the colonel. Colonel asked me, did he see me on, did he see me on that island? Well, sir, he was coming from that direction. Did you see him there?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Sir, but. Did you see him? No, sir. Which I still got the 21 days on bread and water. A $21 fine. That was a lot of money. And (LAUGH) but I eat good. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . You ate what you knew so you know.
INTERVIEWER: Let me go back and ask you a couple questions. You, you said that, uh, the Montford Pointers had one stripe...
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) Yeah.
INTERVIEWER: ...on, on their sleeve...
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) On the sleeve.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) The White had two stripes.
INTERVIEWER: ...the, the White marine, marines, had two, two stripes.
GEORGE TAYLOR: Mm hmm.
INTERVIEWER: And, uh, (STAMMERS) I think I already know, but would you tell me why you think that is, that was?
GEORGE TAYLOR: We wasn't considered as a whole man.
GEORGE TAYLOR: Considered a half man. A half man can't put (UNINTELLIGIBLE). See?
INTERVIEWER: Okay. Okay.
GEORGE TAYLOR: So, when they integrated everything, we become a whole man. They get stripes on both arms.
INTERVIEWER: Okay. Did, did that procedure continue throughout your time?
GEORGE TAYLOR: No, (STAMMERS) you know, (STAMMERS) a lot of the guys didn't even know it. They didn't even think about it. A lot of guys didn't even thought about it to this day. But some things you observe. (STAMMERS) you know, (STAMMERS) they give you a book, observe everything that takes place within sight and within hearing. Well, I did that. And I sit down, and I think about different things. And I see different things. And, uh, hey, they had two stripes. We only had one stripe.
INTERVIEWER: And back to your trip down, uh, (STAMMERS) you had indicated that, they had put you in charge of eight people, and they were all bigger than you.
GEORGE TAYLOR: Yeah. I guess they wanted me to get whipped 'cause I made a big fuss by not going into where they wanted me to go in.
INTERVIEWER: Was that a problem for you, uh...?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) Had no problems at all.
INTERVIEWER: ...as you, as you made the trip to, to Montford Point? How did you, how did you interact with these?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) Well, see, we Chicago boys, in the streets was my life too. See, I was, uh, (STAMMERS) I'm a Gemini.
INTERVIEWER: Mm hmm.
GEORGE TAYLOR: And I was beautiful home. Neighborhood and everything. But you had to go out of the neighborhood 'cause everybody know you in the neighborhood. So you go the neighborhood, you meet these guys, you meet these people. And you know to, begin to how to deal with individuals back then.
INTERVIEWER: Hm mmm.
GEORGE TAYLOR: And, uh, (STAMMERS) I could relate to most anybody. You know, and I...
INTERVIEWER: Okay. Good. Good. When you got to, uh, Montford Point, uh, the base, the training facility, what was your initial impression?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Well, it was like when I came up in Chicago, years ago. Came up on the west side. On the west side, there wasn't a Black neighborhood. Whites and Blacks lived all in the buildings together, next door, across the street in these apartment buildings. Then, when we moved from (STAMMERS) from the west side to the south side, you see all Blacks. Kind of, puzzling here. We moved from the west side in 1932 to the south side.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And you see all Blacks over here. You go in the White, in the store, you see a White fellow. You go in this store, there's White. You go back to the west side, White and Blacks all mixed up. So, when I got on the, on the, on the south side, then I could deal with everything in the Marine Corps because we was all blacks. And so, I'm not gonna be the one that, to say, I'm scared.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And you're not saying it. I've got to stay as strong as you. Because you can get picked on when you, be (STAMMERS) and I used to fight too. And, uh, so, I could hold my own. I barred none. I feared none.
INTERVIEWER: Huh. Did you encounter anything that you could consider to be prejudice when you got to, to Montford Point?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) Oh, definitely. Yeah. Couldn't even get a hamburger in town, no place. You couldn't even (STAMMERS) it was, it was horrible down there.
INTERVIEWER: Can you give me any specific examples?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Well, just like one of my sergeants stopped a Black girl to find out where the restroom in the office was. And she told him. And he come out. The police had him go to the car. Rolled his, rolled the window down. And made him stick his hand in there. And rolled the window up on him. And beat him. (STAMMERS) Why? Because that was their girlfriend. And we went to try to get a hamburger at a place. Couldn't get that.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) You in a bus station, over that sort of chain across, you on this side, they're on that side. And they never cleaned the bathroom. You couldn't go into the concession. They got a stove there where they stay warm and everything. You had nothing over here. Just a cold place when you're waiting on the bus to come. Then you got to get in this back seat. And that where you're at. And then if it's crowded, well Whites, you had to stand up. But that's supposed to be my back seat back there.
INTERVIEWER: What, what was the exact date that you reported to Montford Point?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Right off hand, I couldn't give you that. Was in June, if I'm not mistaken, but I got my papers and everything at home, and...
INTERVIEWER: Say, say, say the month and the year.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) I think '43. 1943. June 1943.
INTERVIEWER: Okay. Now, uh, when you got there, did you experience on the camp, you told me about out in town.
GEORGE TAYLOR: When I first experienced (CLEARS THROAT) I got in there, uh, come through, I got my hair cut off, first. I got a blue shadow striped suit on. A grey hat. My ties and the shoes. (STAMMERS) Sergeant (STAMMERS) Piercy Ingram was in the receiving area. When you come in there, that's who you got to go by. (STAMMERS) and uh, he was good in judo. And I'm standing on the end here.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And he walks down the line. He looks. And he come back to me. Where are you from? I said, Chicago. Oh, you bad, aren't you? Step out. I got a (STAMMERS) bag in my, under my arm. Put it down. Put it down. He throw me in that sand. That, you know, (STAMMERS) I wish he had, you know, if I known he was going to do this, you know, don't mess up my clothes.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) You know, so I jumped up. I said, man, don't mess up my clothes like that. And (STAMMERS) oh you can fight. Get back in that line. We come back after you. So, uh, when they say, fall out, they say, uh, when you fall out, I want you break that door down. And if you don't break it down, I want you to go to the next one and come back around and break it.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And so, when he say, fall out, I step aside. And they went through that door. He called me back over to him. Say, why did you step aside? I said, man, I'm not gonna get in front of that door and everybody running in there. No. Okay, we be after you. So, they came after me about, oh, about six o'clock. Take me over to the boxing ring. Got the gloves out (LAUGH).
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I love that. But he didn't know it. And he wasn't too much bigger than me at the time. Plus, that was one of my little traits out there in the streets. Put my rags around my hand. I didn't pick fights. Only the one come my way. And we, I stood out there in the street and fight. So, they put the gloves on me and everything. Put the gloves, uh, on him. And we got out there in the ring.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And the first thing I did was this. And he looked and I hit him. And he tried to get me. But I had him. I was too quick for him. And, uh, but we got to be alright. Then they wanted me to box and I wouldn't box. And then my buddy, (WORD?) the won the bantam weight championship in 1947 (STAMMERS) growing up together in Chicago, he started fighting.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And, when he got out, he won the bantam weight championship. I had to quit because I'm cut from here to here. My kidney was (STAMMERS) gone in 1948, and my appendix went out in '49, so I didn't fight.
INTERVIEWER: What was, uh, when you got to Montford Point, what was the attitude and the spirit of the men there?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Well, lot of them, a lot of them was happy, you know, because you're amongst one another. And you relate to one another. And, uh, your basic training, that's the hard part. Coming to your basic training. And I didn't, that part didn't bother me because I had ROTC. I could, I (STAMMERS) I did all that drilling and marching and, uh, so I got transferred out. I only stayed in my basic training one month.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And I got transferred over to the 51st. And, uh, how'd you get over there? How'd you get transferred out of there? Yeah, I only stayed in that boot camp one month. Not only a whole month. And went into the 51st where everybody was trying to get into the 51st.
INTERVIEWER: What was a day like in boot camp for you? Tell me about it.
GEORGE TAYLOR: You got to rip and run. Everybody, you got a bald head. When you got a bald head, you got to salute everybody got hair on their head. You got to run everywhere you go. Whatever they say, do. You got to do it. (LAUGH) It was something. It was something. Yeah. So, when I get out there and I see them, I go running.
GEORGE TAYLOR: And I remember one time, uh, this, one of these older fellows, he's a DI, he bring you, drill you. He'd grown up with my brother. My older brother. And I used to run around with his brother. So, when I looked over and saw him over there, drilling, and I was the squad leader. And Van (WORD?), my DI (STAMMERS), uh, they call it. (STAMMERS) something we had to do it.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And we run into everybody. Just mess it all up. So, he told me, Taylor, go down to that cow, uh, uh, (WORD?), it's (WORD?) real thin. And climbed up on top of it and say, you're the biggest shit burner in the Marine Corps. And I got my khakis on. I walked over there. You know how a horse can do that with his one foot? I just did that. And I stood there.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) He was just drilling. I didn't make no attempt to go up that hill. He came over there and, didn't I tell you to get up that hill? I said, if you can get up there, I can get up there. You can't get up there, I can't get up there. And I'm not gonna try it. Then they was going to take me to the boondocks. The boondocks is where they're gonna fight you. So, we was going to the boondocks.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) He called a couple of the DI over. And one of them is my buddy. You know, 'cause he'd known me ever since that little guy. And, uh, he says, no. If you want to fight, fight, but nobody else (STAMMERS) but he didn't want me fighting. And so, he didn't fight me. And got back in line. And went on, took my training, and boom. And I didn't have no more problem coming through boot camp. 'Cause I went on to the 51st. I graduated.
INTERVIEWER: Well, okay, after you, after you graduated from boot camp, went on to the 51st, tell me (BACKGROUND NOISE) a little bit about your life in the Marine Corps then.
GEORGE TAYLOR: You know, in spite of everything, and all the troubles I went through, I loved it. It was a challenge. And I liked it, uh, (STAMMERS) it was, I loved it. And, uh, I got along with all the guys. (STAMMERS) like I know all these guys here. I get along with everybody. I didn't have to, I got along with, and, and Sergeant Brown, that was the top sergeant. That was my buddy.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) (STAMMERS) hoping he'd be here today. And, uh, like one time, we, uh, you know, I'm gonna tell on myself a little bit here. We got hold of some beers overseas. And I went to Washington, D.C. for the, one of our conventions. And, uh, Sergeant Brown, we used to call him Skinny. And he was over there in the corner. And he kept looking. He kept looking.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And pretty soon, here he come over where I was at. Taylor, Taylor, who stole that beer? I say, what are you doing now, Sergeant Brown? Oh, I'm teaching school in, uh, Philly. I said, oh. Who stole the beer? I said, me and Hal (WORD?). I knew it. I knew you had something to do with it. I says, Sergeant Brown, it's been over forty years.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) He said, every time I saw a bottle of beer, I thought about you. (INTERVIEWER LAUGHS) He said, then you stole that gas out of my jeep overseas. I found that out. (INTERVIEWER LAUGHS) Which we did (LAUGH). So, Sergeant Brown was a beautiful guy. (STAMMERS) And we had another one. The next sergeant was (WORD?) Douglas. And the, the next one was Judy O. Jansen. I was all tight with all three of them.
INTERVIEWER: What about some of your assignments? Your, your duties.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) Well, I was an observer. I tracked on planes. Um, you know, when a plane come by, I'm gonna put you on that. I'm hooked up with radar. And I'm hooked up with this search, big search light. And I'm an observer. I'm checking, looking through binoculars in radar got me going around. And then when I look up, I said, light one on target. Light one in action. I hit that button.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And that big light would come on. I'm on this plane. And then when this plane come, 10,000 (WORD?) that's straight overhead. It's hard to turn your wheel this way in elevation and azimuth, you know. So, I'd take the whole thing and turn it. Light one is on target. When I turned that light, that plan would drop right into that light. And the radar's trying to catch up with me. And then Lieutenant wondered, how did I get that around so quick.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And then I showed him what I did. And then, in North Carolina, we broke records. Didn't find our guns and everything. But that, put that light right on the (WORD?) bang. Then we put the light on the roots on the string. And shoot.
INTERVIEWER: (BACKGROUND NOISE) What, uh, what, with the 51st, uh, did you stay in North Carolina or did you, did ya'll move out?
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) No. We left there in, uh, '43 to go overseas. And, uh, that's when I got into real trouble onboard ship going overseas in 1943.
INTERVIEWER: Okay. Did you, did you ever see any combat?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Not really.
INTERVIEWER: (STAMMERS) When you say, not really, does?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Well, there has, had been there before we got there. And we like, stayed up in there, uh, first I went up in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Islands all up through there. And then we left from there. And went up to the Marshall Islands. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) uh, that's where they experimented with the atomic bomb after we left from over there. Then they had to come back and people got all messed up. The Navy (STAMMERS) they only had to grate all that dirt off of there. And put more dirt on there. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people, killing people after they experimented with the atomic bomb. But we wasn't there then. We was coming back from overseas.
INTERVIEWER: Did you, uh, have an opportunity to, you know, relate with the, the people in some of these places you went to?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Oh, yeah. The natives. Yes. Uh huh. I said the chief and his two sons, see I met the two sons in guardhouse. They got on, they went out onboard ship which you were forbidden to do that. Uh, and they put them in the guardhouse. And I got to know them in the guardhouse. And, uh, then, uh, his sister, Pecula, Pecula mean pretty flower.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And the chief all used to come to the guard, to the (WORD?) and talk. And that's how I got to know them. And so when I got out of the guardhouse, they came and taken me over to their island. And they had that (SINGING) hep a hep a hoop a hoop a hoop a hoop a hoop, that little dance. And, uh, then that's when the lieutenants was coming, trying to see if I was on that island. But they didn't catch me in the island, they caught me in the boat.
INTERVIEWER: Hmm. I see. I see. Um, did you, did you stay, did you, were you, were you retired from the Marines? Did you?
GEORGE TAYLOR: No, I, when it was time to get out, I got out.
INTERVIEWER: So you...
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) March of fifth in '46.
INTERVIEWER: So you didn't spend, you didn't spend a career in the Marine Corps.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (OVERLAPPING) Oh, no, no, no, no.
INTERVIEWER: I see. I see. How do you think this military training, uh, influenced you in your later civilian careers and in your (COUGH) life?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Well, uh, the training, I basically had the training before I even went into the Marines. You know, the respect my fellow man that I (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know, going to and from. We learned that coming home through my mother and grandmother raising us. But, uh, I got to be more of a man when I went into the Marine Corps. Uh, I didn't have to depend on my mom when I came out of the Marine Corps.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) I knew what I had to do to do what I want to do. And so I got me a job. And went on to work. I should have went on to school. That's what I should have did. But, uh, you know, life was fast back then. You're ripping and running. And you think a lot of ways, some ways, but another way, you don't think no further than your nose on your face there.
INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) Yeah.
GEORGE TAYLOR: And that's where I missed out. But I was self-made. Like my job, here in the city of Lansing. I was a foreman on my job. I worked for the city of Lansing, uh, at the convention center. I worked there 28 and a half years. And I was a foreman for 18 years. So, yeah, a lot of people said, I'll have your job. And I stayed there till I retired.
INTERVIEWER: If you had to do it all over again, and, would have gone into the Marine Corps?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Yeah.
INTERVIEWER: (CONTINUED) And done all of this?
GEORGE TAYLOR: I would.
INTERVIEWER: (OVERLAPPING) Then tell me why.
GEORGE TAYLOR: I would go back in the Marines. I was proud of the Marines. We, we, we did something that a bunch of us guys came out of nowhere and we, we trained one another. And, uh, I liked that. You know, we was, we was, we was, we was, we was together. We had that togetherness, you know. And, uh, hey, you know, we gave a hug and embrace. And that was a thrill. I come to all the conventions. I, uh, love to see these guys. I love being around them.
GEORGE TAYLOR: But they, you know, a lot of people you always thought that, that was real young. They didn't, they didn't know my age. They thought it's, oh, young guy. (LAUGH) When they find out I'm old, man you old. Nah. That's just a number.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah. Yeah.
GEORGE TAYLOR: Yeah. I'm 77. And, uh, you know, and when I say, during World War II, I was there. You give me that second look. I remember my wife and I was sitting at the kitchen table. We was talking, uh, after she got out of the hospital. My wife actually died. And, uh, I say, you know, in three more years, I'll be 70. And next year, she'd be 74. But she doesn't look it. I told her, I said, girl, as long as you stick with me, you're gonna stay young. (INTERVIEWER LAUGHS)
INTERVIEWER: Um, what do you think the historical significance uh, of the Montford Point experience was? Why, why do you think that was important in history?
GEORGE TAYLOR: Well, (STAMMERS) when December 7, 1941, the war had broke out. They didn't draft nobody. No Blacks in there. Some guys volunteer. Then when they found out they couldn't win that war, and there was too many Blacks in the northern cities throughout with their womens, get them in the Army. Get them in the Marines. Get them everywhere. And they got with our so-called leaders and got a, got real (STAMMERS) got together.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And started drafting us in the Navy, the Army and the Marines. And the Air Force. And, uh, when we went in there, they fought. (STAMMERS) they don't, we don't get the recognition. But I can bring you some guys in here that was in Iwo Jima, Okinawa, will tell you. And, uh, they, they, they fought. They fought, and like, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The Japanese say that Black folk fought like mad dogs.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And what they was doing, bringing ammunition up to the line. And the Japs was pushing the guys back. And they picked up rifles and guns and stuff and stuff and started fighting. And they said they fought like mad dogs, the Blacks did. Taking it out in to Guam. See, you know, it's just like, if you give me a shack. I'll treat it as shack. You give me a castle. I'll treat it as a castle.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Well, yeah, that's true too. But maybe I don't want my daughter to marry your son. Well, have you ever stopped to realize that (STAMMERS) I might not want my son to marry your daughter. Well, you got a point there, too. Well, I don't want everybody to get into my business. Well, that all depends on what business is. Is business a neighborhood? I got to get into that business. Is the business of the country? I have to get in the business of the country. Yeah, I guess you're right. Yes, I'm right. And see, (TECHNICAL)
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) Martin Luther King, I love him. I love him. But I couldn't go around the corner with him. That's the day I die. And I don't wanna die. 'Cause once you kick me, or put that dog on me, or that hose on me, (BACKGROUND NOISE) I'm gonna die. 'Cause I know you're gonna die. So, I don't march. And I don't hold your hand and sing the song we're gonna overcome. 'Cause it's too long. I'm on my way out.
GEORGE TAYLOR: (CONTINUED) And they still singing the song. And we're not getting close together. We're still (STAMMERS) getting more apart from one another. Chicago. Saint Louis. Detroit. Every place you go, it's still divided and it's getting wide. It's getting cracked. See, because the sons are still living. They're still taking on from grandpa, grand-dad, all that.