Helen Stephens

Helen Stephens
Nationality: American
Location: Berlin • Fulton • Germany • Missouri • New York • Providence • Rhode Island • St. Louis • United States of America • Wuppertal
Experience During Holocaust: Competed in the 1936 Olympics

Mapping Helen's Life

Click on the location markers to learn more about Helen. Use the timeline below the map or the left and right keys on your keyboard to explore chronologically. In some cases the dates below were estimated based on the oral histories.

“I think that the Germans at that time – Hitler himself, and the rest of them, they felt that this was some kind of an invisible shield protecting those Americans. 'I mean we would like to tamper with them, but that is the only thing that deterring us. That damned American flag.'” - Helen Stephens

Read Helen's Oral History Transcripts

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Tape 1 - Side 1

SHOPPER: This is Moisy Shopper interviewing; the date is September 29, 1984.  Let me tell you what the main purpose of all of this.  We’re collecting information and we’re getting it on tape so the original voices, the original people, to get some background on the Holocaust and how it developed and what happened and getting people who both were liberators in the camps, people who were survivors of the camps, people who helped rescue people, people who were in hiding and never went to camps, people who left early, all sorts of people who have information and to use it for educational purposes and research purposes.  So this is essentially what we are doing and your position is rather unique in that you come from this area, you went to Berlin in ’36 and you probably saw a great deal, so well, whatever you saw and experienced, we’d like to hear about it.
Perhaps what you could tell us to sort of begin is how you got on the Olympic Team in the first place because you were quite young when you were on that team – and what was the process of being selected in those days for the Olympic Team?  What kind of training did you have?  Was there any difficulty that you had in getting on the team?  Just sort of give us a background of who you are and what was going on at that time with the team.
STEPHENS: This is Helen Stephens speaking.  I came from Fulton, Missouri, a town about 100 miles west of St. Louis.  That is where I was born and reared and went to Fulton High School and William Woods College in Fulton.  And as a 15 year old sophomore in Fulton Missouri High School, my coach discovered I could run and how he discovered me was during a gym class when I ran 50 yards in five and eight-tenths seconds, that’s equal to a world record at that time.  Of course there were no organized programs for women in high schools, colleges back in those days and the only program nationwide was that of a National AAU.
SHOPPER: Was it unusual that you would be even timed for fast…
STEPHENS: Well, we were really at that particular moment, we were trying out for a State Letter, Missouri State Letter, and that’s what that was all about.
SHOPPER: Oh, I see.
STEPHENS: Well of course he dangled before me the promise or the opportunity – he planted the seed in my mind and his too – that with that kind of speed and with proper training, of course I had none at that time, I didn’t know anything about it.
SHOPPER: Just natural talent?
STEPHENS: Yes.  I didn’t know I could run, you know, against time.  And so we proceeded to work quietly for a period of years, hoping that something might develop.  Then in 1935 when I was a senior, 17 years old, in the spring, why we found out that the National AAU was going to hold their indoor championships here in St. Louis at the Arena and against the advice of the superintendent of the schools, and with little or no support, he entered me in the meet and we came down, he and his wife and I, on a Friday afternoon, and I was entered in three events.
SHOPPER: What was the objection of the superintendent?
STEPHENS: Well, he just felt that probably women had no place in sports and furthermore we were going to make fools of ourselves and bring disgrace on the school.
SHOPPER: I see.  I see, he had a loser’s point of view.
STEPHENS: So we came down to St. Louis and Stella Walsh the 1932 Olympic Champion for 100 meters, a Polish woman, was entered in the 50 meter dash, and I was entered in the 50 meter dash, the standing broad jump, we called it in those days, the standing long jump as we speak of it today, and the shotput, eight pound shotput, so I leave – we’ll just cut this short by saying that I won the race against the Olympic champion in six and six-tenths seconds for a new American indoor record for a clay track.  And of course that sparked a lot of interest because I had beaten an Olympic champion and the reporters rushed me and asked me if I knew who I had beaten.  And of course I thought, “Well hey, these guys think I don’t know what I’m doing.”  So I said, “Who?”  Well of course that made a story like I’d said, “Who is Stella Walsh,” and I’d burned Stella up and she never did forgive me.  And then I went on and won the standing broad jump and the shotput.  I won three national indoor championships in my first track meet.  And of course when we returned to Fulton – on Monday morning the superintendent of schools called an assembly and he got up and he said that this was his idea all the time, and he took great credit for it.  And I learned early on that everyone likes a winner.
SHOPPER: Oh yes.
STEPHENS: So, briefly, that’s how I got started.
SHOPPER: How did your parents react to all this?
STEPHENS: Well, they didn’t think too much of it.
SHOPPER: They still had…women shouldn’t be in sports?
STEPHENS: That’s right.  A bunch of foolishness.  Initially.
SHOPPER: Initially, I see.
STEPHENS: Then of course this brought on a lot of appearances and I got in other track meets, went to the Nationals in New York and of course I said AAU is the primary sponsor of the State Championships.  They held two events a year – indoor and outdoor – for the money.  Then the Fulton people, businessmen, decided to form an athletic club and that would sponsor me and also pay some of the expenses of our trips and, I think, some small salary to my coach during the summer months.  So we worked a year there and then in ’36, why of course that was the Olympic year, and I qualified here in St. Louis to go to the Olympic tryouts which happened to be the National AAU Outdoor Championships in Providence, Rhode Island.  And of course I won in both places and I was easily on the team in both the runs and the discus, which was not one of my favorite events.  So briefly that’s how…
SHOPPER: I understand that women at that time, couldn’t enter more than three events?
STEPHENS: Right.  Three events.  We were restricted.  And that’s why a lot of people gather more gold medals today than we could back in those days.
SHOPPER: Missed opportunities?
STEPHENS: And they didn’t have events on the program.  In fact on the Olympic Program, we had only six events.
SHOPPER: Umhumm…
STEPHENS: And the only run for women was the 100 meter dash – I was a long-distance runner.
SHOPPER: Yeah.
STEPHENS: I was a…
SHOPPER: Standard…
STEPHENS: They didn’t have the 50 and they didn’t have the 200, although it was being run around the world.  They had the relay of course.  The high jump.  Discus.  Javelin.  They didn’t have the shotput.  They had 80 meter hurdles.  That’s about it.
SHOPPER: Not a very extensive assortment.
STEPHENS: No, it was a very restrictive program.
SHOPPER: Were women who were involved in sports in that day very active in trying to improve the position of women with respect to sports and…
STEPHENS: I do not think it was general at all.  Perhaps people like my coach from St. Louis, Dee Boeckmann who is on some of the boards in the AAU.  I think she was probably one of the pushers, helped push, and she was acquainted with a lot of the top people in the AAU like I think back in those days Avery Brundage was pretty much, you know, he was head of the Olympic Team when we went to Berlin and people like that.  There were a few others.  But the athletes, they were just glad at the opportunity to…
SHOPPER: I guess they didn’t have the awareness that the women athletes would now of days.
STEPHENS: No they didn’t have Title Nine.
SHOPPER: Now Title Nine is what?
STEPHENS: Well that was where these schools had to provide a program for the women.
SHOPPER: An equal program?
STEPHENS: An equal program.  And of course I think there has been a little reneging here lately, but we’ve got groups like The Women’s Sports Foundation in San Francisco and they are big in promoting women’s sports throughout the country.
SHOPPER: And a woman like Billie Jean King is doing her share.
STEPHENS: Well, I remember when Billie Jean King came along.  She was very outspoken for women.  See back in my day, Babe Didrikson had been sort of a pioneer.  She was into golf at the particular time I was coming along in track, and she told me that she was tired to death of playing golf – making appearances around the country for 50 dollars and staying in the little tourist cabins and cold water tourist cabins she said, and…
SHOPPER: Wasn’t much of a life.
STEPHENS: And driving a beat up car, secondhand.  No it wasn’t.  There wasn’t any opportunities.  We didn’t have “Rightguard” to endorse and the few endorsement companies weren’t about to endorse women for things.  I was interested the other day in this little Mary Jane Retton who did so well as a gymnast in the 1984 summer games, talking about she was the first Wheaties girl.  And ironically, about 1938 I met an old girl from Missouri who was quite a basketball player and she helped me form a team that traveled around the country for a couple of years playing against men’s teams.  The Helen Stephens Olympic Coeds, but I got her an endorsement with Wheaties and her name appeared on their boxes and so forth and I think that Mary Jane doesn’t know her history and perhaps the Wheaties organization you know…
SHOPPER: Needs a reminder.
STEPHENS: They’ve probably forgotten it too.  But she had her name on the box.
SHOPPER: And that was a real breakthrough then.
STEPHENS: Well I don’t remember any girl being on it before.  Whether they had it or not, I don’t know.
SHOPPER: They used to be called, “The Breakfast of Champions.”
STEPHENS: That’s right.
SHOPPER: And they liked.
STEPHENS: And that girl’s name was Isabelle Payne, from Green City, Missouri…another Missourian.
SHOPPER: Yes.
STEPHENS: She’s in a nursing home in Chicago…er, Oak Clair, Wisconsin now, I believe.  Well…
SHOPPER: So you made it at Rhode Island?
STEPHENS: Right.  We were named to the team.
SHOPPER: What did that mean?  What did that involve?
STEPHENS: Well that meant that we would go on down to New York and join their team as they brought in the various teams.  You see we all went to Berlin in ’36 by boat.  We didn’t have the airplanes then.
SHOPPER: Right.
STEPHENS: And all of us went together.  They did not fly over in the single teams as they do today often times.
SHOPPER: Yes.
STEPHENS: And therefore we got to go over as a group and get sort of acquainted in about five days it took us to get there and form life-long acquaintances and friendships.
SHOPPER: Now what about the coaching?  Did you stay with your own coach or…?
STEPHENS: My coach did not get to go to Berlin with me, Burt Moore from Fulton, Missouri, who is now retired, he later spent 27 years at Iowa State University in Ames with their athletic department.  I think Abe Stuber from Missouri, an old Fulton friend of his and college mate who he taught football or coached it at Cape Girardeau and he later was at Ames with their football team and he brought him in there.  And then Stuber went on I believe and he was a scout for the St. Louis Football Cardinals.  And, but Moore stayed on and assisted Stuber in the football program.  And then later he stayed on and ran the intramural program and wound up, I think, teaching bowling.  He is now retired, of course, and lives in Ames.
SHOPPER: So how much time did you have from the time that you made the team until the time you went to Berlin?
STEPHENS: Oh it was a couple weeks…a couple weeks…no more.
SHOPPER: How was that spent?
STEPHENS: Well we went to New York and of course we tried to do a little training every day.  Sort of waiting.  And of course what was happening was that President Roosevelt, who is I guess, honorary head of the Olympic Committee, did not want us to go to Berlin.  He was opposed to it because of the policies of Adolf Hitler and his persecution of the Jewish people that much had been published.
SHOPPER: It was well known at that time I assume.
STEPHENS: Well, let’s say I think it was published but people tended to shrug it off saying, “It’s none of our affair.  It’s not our business.  That’s their problem.  They must have done something to cause this.  We won’t get involved.”  That seemed to be the attitude that I had and the impression that I had.  People didn’t want to talk about it and of course, then there was always on the other side, they kept saying, “Well it’s the Jewish press that’s agitating this thing.”  It was only by one vote that they decided to send us to Berlin.
SHOPPER: Who was the group that did the voting?
STEPHENS: I guess the Olympic Committee.
SHOPPER: The Olympic Committee here in the United States?
STEPHENS: Right.  And they won by one vote.
SHOPPER: Well there must have been a lot of strong feeling on both sides of…
STEPHENS: But of course they kept this quiet – pretty much quiet.  And we, on the team, didn’t know a great deal about it.  Of course I was rooming in New York I believe with Dee Boeckmann from St. Louis who happened to be the first woman track coach, now this was a breakthrough, the first woman track coach of an Olympic Team.
SHOPPER: Now she was the track coach for the women’s team?
STEPHENS: Right.  Women’s track and field team.  And of course she sort of kept me informed of what was going on because she was attending a lot of these meetings.
SHOPPER: Yes.  Well what was the reasoning for those people who wanted the team to go to Berlin?  What was their feeling about it, as you understood it?
STEPHENS: Well the people that wanted to go, I’m sure wanted to go because they thought the athletes had earned the right to go, and they should be able to compete regardless of any political connotations connected with it.  And those opposed to it were those that didn’t approve of the policies Berlin shouted or had written or so forth by Adolf Hitler and co.
SHOPPER: Was there any awareness of any other protests taking place in this country or was it just Franklin Roosevelt’s personal idea?
STEPHENS: Well I can’t say to that…there may have been other protests around the country.  I don’t know.  I’m not an authority on that.  I only know what I experienced.
SHOPPER: Sure.  Were there any Jewish members on the team?
STEPHENS: Yes.  There was Marty Glickman from New York that I recall distinctly.  He is now a T.V. personality, sports broadcaster, well-known.  He was, there was a great controversy that arose in Berlin when he and another man were supposed to run on the men’s 400 Meter Relay Team and he and the other boy were shoved aside for Jesse Owens and another fellow and I think I recall that Jesse Owens as having said that he, himself, would step aside – that he hadn’t planned to run on the relay team and he hadn’t been the one who was selected for it and the other boy should be given a chance to win themedal and he had already won I guess three –
SHOPPER: His share.
STEPHENS: But I think, but it was the coach that decided it anyway and ordered him to run but Marty and this other boy felt left out and of course this was pounced upon back in ’36 by the press and of course the Jewish people never did forget it.  They haven’t forgotten it to this day and it is brought up periodically.  It was brought up quite a few times during the present Olympics that were held prior to it and the press reporting, and I know I have talked to a number of people, interviews and so forth, and that always comes up.
SHOPPER: Now Marty Glickman was in the relay team?
STEPHENS: He was scheduled to run in it.  As a result of that, he didn’t get to run at all.
SHOPPER: And the other fellow was also Jewish?
STEPHENS: No I don’t think so.  I can’t remember his name off hand without checking the records.
SHOPPER: I see.
STEPHENS: I don’t know whether that’s important or not.
SHOPPER: No.
STEPHENS: But you asked me about Jewish numbers.
SHOPPER: Yes.
STEPHENS: Now, you know Adolf Hitler had been quoted as saying that their policy was there was to be no Jews on the German Olympic Team in 1936 and of course that was another thing that riled people up.  And then of course there was a lot of heads shaking among the International Olympic Committee, they called it IOC, and then I think that as sort of a token, I heard the sports editor of Life Magazine here locally recently talk about the Olympics, I believe in an interview with that gentleman from KMOX that has that radio program in the morning.
SHOPPER: I know who you mean, but I don’t recall his name either.
STEPHENS: And he made the statement that there were no Jews on the American Olympic Team.  And of course that was ironic and I immediately called the station to correct the error and I think they said Germany had none.  Well Helene Mayer was a fencer, an outstanding World Champion and she was from Germany and they did let her compete and I think it was only because they knew she would bring them a gold medal and also as a sort of an appeasement to the objections beign raised for them not having Jews but they definitely did discriminate against the Jewish people.  Now there was one lady that was on their track team – I forget her name – but she was with the track team in Germany and she later came to this country and became a doctor in New York and there has been a number of articles written through the years and her statements about the fact that what they did was take the Jewish members of the, say for instance, the women’s track team, I can’t speak for all the other sports…
SHOPPER: Yes, you were most interested in…
STEPHENS: But I did just happen to know that she has been quoted as saying that they sent them to the country where they would be far removed from any press, anyone that might interview them.  They sort of hid them out into some town, well away from Berlin, for the period of the Olympics and I’m sure some of them would have been on their Olympic team, but…
SHOPPER: Wasn’t there some problem with a guy by the name of Lewald who was the head of the German Olympic Committee and at first I think he resigned and then he came back and then I think it was the issue about that there should be Jews on the team.
STEPHENS: Well I think they had quite a squabble amongst themselves too.
SHOPPER: Amongst themselves?
STEPHENS: Well, after all, as I recall one of the men that was really responsible for the building up of the Olympic program over there and stadium and so forth, was a Jewish General.
SHOPPER: Oh yes?
STEPHENS: And I think after he got all the work done, they removed him.
SHOPPER: I see.  Like with the gold medal.  Once you win the gold medal you do the program, you build the stadium…
STEPHENS: Well, I, you see there was so much going on behind the scenes and so much said this way and that way, you really never knew the truth but I’m sure that that’s what happened.  Hitler just was blind in his hate for Jewish people.  And yet I would suspect it was through their money that he got a lot of his opportunities that he wouldn’t have had without their money.  He used them.  He used them in every way.
SHOPPER: They supported – some of the Jews supported him?
STEPHENS: I suspect that they had to support him in order to survive initially.  You know, contributions to the party.
SHOPPER: Yes, to save their own skins you mean?
STEPHENS: Right.  My first encounter with this problem was when I got on the boat in New York, the SS Manhattan, and I came back to my state-room and I had several boxes delivered to me from some Jewish group, I believe, in New York.  And upon opening it, I found it to be filled with letters from various individuals and groups – the gist of it seemed to be on the surface was that we should not be going to Berlin and we should not go over there and further enhance the image of Adolf Hitler because of all the things that he had done and was undoutedly planning to do and of course if we did go, we should go over there and refuse to compete and then when the press wanted to know why we weren’t competing, we were suppose to tell them that due to the oppression on the Jewish people by the Nazis and furthermore they had lots of names of individuals that were evidently in some kind of incarceration, perhaps…
SHOPPER: Already in trouble?
STEPHENS: Already in concentration camps.  They even had numbers…their number.  I remember taking this – I did not read all of these things.  I did not have time, but I brought it to the attention of my coach, Dee Boeckmann, and she says, “Just ignore it.”  And she had been instructed to have all that literature turned over to someone on the boat – perhaps Avery Brundage and company and what they did with that type of material, I do not know.  And then…
SHOPPER: So they were really pushing you to engage in a political act.
STEPHENS: They wanted us to do something that would get international attention.  And of course there were those on the Olympic Team that said, “Look, we just close our eyes to all this.”  The officials put this down, you know, to us.  The word came that we were not to engage in any kind of participation – do not participate in support or non-support of these.  Just ignore them.  And I think that is what the world was doing.  And I think that is the reason that Hitler got away with so much.  People were willing to close their eyes.  Whether it would have done any good, I do not know.  No one knows.  But this was – it sort of came as a shock to me – you know, Midwest, we were not engaged in political activity back there in 1936.  Actually just – we were still in that big depression, you know.
SHOPPER: Sure, those were hard times.
STEPHENS: Money was hard to come by, as they say.
SHOPPER: And I would guess in Fulton, there wasn’t much of a Jewish community at that time.
STEPHENS: Not much.  There were a few, but not much.  No.  I mean we were not – I was not first hand – I had read – I was a student of history.  I really liked to read.  I had read everything I could about Adolf Hitler and I had read his book.  And I felt sure I was going to meet him.  The Ouija Board said I would.
SHOPPER: I remember the Ouija Board.
STEPHENS: And the Ouija Board said it all the time.  It never did say “maybe” or “just maybe” or anything.
SHOPPER: The Ouija Board tells lies.
STEPHENS: Well anyway that’s neither here nor there.  But that is sort of how I got indoctrinated into this fact that there was a problem.  And then when we were in Germany, why we had English speaking, they called them guides, assigned to each Olympic Team.  For instance, the track team had several girls assigned to them through the duration of our stay.  They were sort of “hostesses” for us.  They would show us about.  They could speak excellent English and through several of these girls who let their hair down, they were about our age, 18, 19, 20, and they began to tell us some of the terrible things that were happening over there.  I had a friend from Poland who was going to school at the University of Berlin at that time too, and I went out there and met her.  And she introduced me to an awful lot of people out there of course, teachers, professors, students, and I got the distinct impression that it was not only the Jews who were being discriminated against in Germany at that time, but women in general, in the sense that Hitler did not see any reason for women to receive any higher education and that their greatest service to the fatherland was to have babies and more babies.
SHOPPER: So he wanted them back in the home, not in the universities.
STEPHENS: He didn’t care where they were, except to produce babies.  And as I understood it from these girls, any German officer, I don’t know whether that included soldiers or not, but any German officer had the right and the privilege upon seeing any German girl that he took a fancy to – to invite her to his quarters and to get her pregnant – and that was a high honor for the girl and she would receive a medal and 500 dollars.  Well, these girls…

Tape 1 - Side 2

SHOPPER: They were terrified.
STEPHENS: Who were acting as guides and they were sort of the crème of the German crop, so to speak, ‘cause they wouldn’t have been selected.
SHOPPER: Yes, honorary position, too.
STEPHENS: And they would come up and visit with, say the American girls in the afternoons when they had some off time, and they would tell us a lot of stories and they would actually throw themselves down on the beds and just cry uncontrollably because they were scared to death that some soldier was going to grab them and they would become pregnant and they would have to do this and they wanted higher education and they couldn’t get it, and these were intelligent kids…I guess, God help the poor Jewish girls.  Now I don’t know whether this was generally a true or not, but that’s what they told us.
SHOPPER: And that was the University of Berlin?
STEPHENS: Well, ah, people at the university there, they would talk in guarded tones.  Everyone in Germany seemed to want to look over their shoulder and under their armpit before they would talk to you.
SHOPPER: Yes.  They were fearful?
STEPHENS: There was a feeling of fear, impending disaster, I might say.  I got that impression, I even felt that way.  For instance, we arrived on the boat that docked in Hamburg, and we were taken to the City Hall for a reception and they served us wine in 400 year old wine glasses.  And the mayor got up and made a big speech.  Then of course after it was all over we departed for Berlin but by the time we got to Berlin the authorities in Hamburg called ahead or wired or whatever, and said that a lot of those wine glasses had been confiscated by the Americans and all the Americans were noted as souvenir snatchers so an awful lot of those glasses had disappeared and they said that if they didn’t have those glasses forthcoming that they were going to put the entire American Olympic Team in jail.
SHOPPER: Quite a threat.
STEPHENS: Well that was a threat immediately and of course, as soon as we got to our quarters there at the Olympic Stadium, everybody was told by their coaches or those in charge that if they had any of these wine glasses to cough them up, to turn them over to the German police.  Well, I had an opportunity to get two or three sets of those things but I never had one because I didn’t take one and I know they didn’t get them all, but I suspect they got the majority of them back.  So, we learned right away that these Germans meant business.  They would smile and shake your hand, but, you know, there was a feeling there.
SHOPPER: You don’t mess with them.
STEPHENS: They wasn’t about to be messed with.
SHOPPER: Yes.
STEPHENS: Another time, I remember, after the Olympics, we were down at the town of Wupper Tal and there was an International Track Meet and the people in charge of us invited us all to go down and tour a jewelry store and look at all the prizes we were going to get.  During that tour someone took a wristwatch and I don’t think it is necessary to name any names, but nevertheless when we got back to the hotel there was a policeman there and he said that they wanted that watch returned and if it wasn’t returned, I don’t know, in a couple of hours that they would take every one of us.  I think others other than the Americans, other teams, were there, from other countries, they were going to take the whole lot of us down, and put us in the local jail.  Well, of course, our people in charge of us, coaches, assistants and such, they get up on the scheme of having every one of us walk through a room, there was no one in it, and there was a table in the middle of the room, and they expected that watch to be there.  Well, when everyone passed through, that watch was there.  So, they pounced on you over the smallest item.  I remember, and I never have been able to understand, how these communications got through to me, but, just a day or so prior to my running my 100 meter race in Berlin, I got telegrams from Germans, and evidently they were German Jews, because they told me to get out on the race or track to run my 100 meters and then stand up and refuse to run and then when asked why I wasn’t going to run then I was supposed to give them the names and numbers of certain Jewish people held in concentration camps, so until these people were released, I wouldn’t run.  I cannot understand how those telegrams came through the German telegraph service, and they were delivered to me in the Olympic Village.
SHOPPER: Hmmm.  That is a bit of a mystery.
STEPHENS: One of the mysteries about that whole thing, and I never could figure out how they got through unless the German authorities or people at the telegraph office took full note of these things and recorded it and probably the person or group who sent it were pounced on later, or maybe immediately, for all I know.
SHOPPER: Do you think some of the other athletes got similar messages?
STEPHENS: Perhaps they did.  I can only speak for myself.
SHOPPER: But I guess that was not…
STEPHENS: But you know, the reason I got it, as far as being with women, because I had the reputation as being the fastest person in the world.
SHOPPER: I see, so you would be…
STEPHENS: And I was the one they zeroed in on.  Well, anyway…
SHOPPER: It sounds like that was a lot of pressure on you, when you were 17…
STEPHENS: Well, I was 18 at the time.  But I felt that there was something going on here, something rotten.
SHOPPER: That much you could see.
STEPHENS: There was something wrong.  And…it just left an impression – that stayed with me, you know.
SHOPPER: Yes.
STEPHENS: And of course those telegrams, I think I had to turn over too.  I turned them over to the coach who probably, like the letters I got in New York, they were…they probably went to the Olympic Village.  Who knows what happened to them.  I don’t know.
SHOPPER: Sure.  Did you have any thoughts of doing what these telegrams suggested?
STEPHENS: No, no.
SHOPPER: You were there to win.
STEPHENS: I went there to win the gold medal.  And noone was going to deter me from that.
SHOPPER: I guess you had a lot of confidence at that time, a lot of hopes.  People were really banking on you.
STEPHENS: I figured I’d win that medal if I didn’t trip or fall down for some reason.  Now I didn’t feel that way about the discus throw, but I felt that way about the running.  I’m only sorry they didn’t have the 200 meters on the program.
SHOPPER: That would have been your speed?
STEPHENS: That would have been another medal.  And I defeated the crème of the Olympic Group in a post Olympic Meet in running that 200 meter including Stella Walsh and the top Germans.  And they were the competition, the Germans and Stella.
SHOPPER: She was Polish, wasn’t she?
STEPHENS: Yes, she represented Poland.
SHOPPER: You were talking before about the Ouija Board, saying that it was certain that you’d get to meet Hitler.  Did that ever come about?
STEPHENS: Well, after I had won my 100 meter race, I guess it was maybe 10 minutes after, I was still perspiring heavily.  A German messenger came up, and I was standing there with Dee Boeckmann and he asked if, in English, if I would accompany him up to Hitler’s box that the Fuhrer wanted to meet me.  And I had previously made plans to up and speak over CBS radio back to America and Dee and I were in the process of going up there.  We were just getting ready to leave and she spoke up and told him that, you know, we couldn’t do it at this time, but after the broadcast we’d be available.  He said, “I can’t go back and tell the Fuhrer that you won’t come.  He’ll shoot me.”  And we said, “Ah, he won’t shoot you, there are too many people around.”  So he went back, reluctantly looking over his shoulder.  But when we came out of that broadcast up at the top of the stadium, he was there to take us down, and Dee went with me.  We were ushered into a room behind Hitler’s box and it was a long room and we hadn’t been there but a few seconds and the door swung open at the other end and about 20 Black Shirt guards came in and arrayed themselves around this room and pulled their German Lugers, loosened their holster, to see if their gun would come out easily, and they all stood stiff at attention and we looked at each other and wondered, “What is going on here?”  Then Hitler came in.
SHOPPER: Was this sort of scary to you?  Or just mysterious?
STEPHENS: Well, it was sort of, what is going to happen next?  Is this security or what?  So anyway…
SHOPPER: But you didn’t feel in danger personally?
STEPHENS: NO…no.  And then Hitler came in the other end of the room.  He was accompanied by his interpreter and strode forward and gave me a sloppy Nazi salute and I didn’t return it and I gave him my ‘ole “Missouri” handshake I always say.  And he immediately came up and began to pinch me and squeeze me and pinch my fanny and all that stuff.  I was kind of shocked, you know, the leader doing that.
SHOPPER: Not the kind of thing you’d expect.
STEPHENS: You know.  And he was asking me what I thought of Germany and what I thought of the Olympics and so forth.  I was giving him affirmative answers and, I asked him if he would give me his autograph.  He started to write it, then a flash bulb went off and he jumped about three feet up, straight up in the air and began to spout German and it was a little photographer, a fellow about five feet tall, a little guy and he began to kick him and he had these gloves draped over, his kid gloves draped over his arm, and he took those off and hit him across the face (MAKES SLAPPING NOISES ABOUT FIVE TIMES) and he motioned to those guards to come and get him – you know sick him and three or four of them came forward and one of them grabbed the guy’s camera and he picked it up and bashed it on the floor and glass flew, you know the lens I guess breaking.
SHOPPER: Sure.
STEPHENS: And then they began to kick that around in there like soccer, (MAKES FAST SLAPPING SOUNDS FIVE TIMES) you know, in that room, kicking that thing all over the place.  And these four guys grabbed this little guy and carried him – his arms and legs stretched out – to the door and then they went, “One, two, three,” and threw him out against the hall and he scooted right down the hall and then they kicked his camera out after him.  Then Hitler just returned and said, “How would you like to spend a weekend with me in Berchtesgaden?”  Dee spoke up right away and said, “She’s in training.  She’s got a track meet here.”
SHOPPER: This was a real proposition then?  At least that’s the way it sounds.
STEPHENS: Well he did take a few of them down there but anyway that’s what happened and after a few more squeezes and he said, “I was a pure Aryan type and I should have been running for Germany.  I should be a German.”  Then he shook hands and he left.
SHOPPER: As you described him slapping the photographer, it was as though some of his gestures were effeminate.  Is that the impression?
STEPHENS: Well, that was but, no, he didn’t impress me that way.  He was just…(SLAPPING NOISE) and he kicked him.  He had on boots.  He had on boots.
SHOPPER: With a temper.
STEPHENS: Oh a temper tantrum.  I had read he chewed carpets and slapped statesmen and stuff like that and so I was, I was seeing, you know, I was seeing something here up close.  No record.  Now that picture appeared on a postcard which was sold in the stadium the next morning.  I got six of them.  I can’t locate any of them at the present time but I’ve got the picture, you know, copies.  The thing of it was – I think I bought six in the morning maybe around 10 o’clock and I went back around one o’clock because somebody told me, “Hey you ought to get a bunch of those.  You’re going to need those in the future.  You don’t know what you got there.  It’s something important.  People will be wanting this years later.”  Which has been true.  The picture has been in much demand.  It has been published in books, newspapers, and used on T.V., everything – all over for years.  And they said, “Why we didn’t sell that thing.  We didn’t have that picture.”  The very place where I bought it they denied to me personally that I ever even bought it from them.  Now why?  I think that it goes back to the fact that the first event on the Olympic Program was won by a German and Hitler invited him up to his box and he kissed him on both his cheeks and gave him the Iron Cross and made a big hullabaloo about it and maybe I believe several people after that, now maybe not all German either, of course, Hitler was the center of attention in that stadium.  I have said in rebuttal of this business, that Jesse Owens was the star of the ’36 Olympics.  As an athlete, yes, but in that stadium, Adolf Hitler was king.  Everyone in there, including the athletes on the field, had their eye on Adolf Hitler.  What’s he doing?  Is he standing up?  Is he cheering?  Is he mad?  Who is with him?  And this, you know, I heard it.  I saw it.  He was the real star of the ’36 Olympics and there were kings and sports people, movie people, royalty of all kinds in that stadium, but people were not interested in those people…they were interested in Adolf Hitler.  Period.  Of course he was usually surrounded by Hermann Goering or Rudolf Hess – that other little fella – Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and “Dirty Tricks” and it was a scene – I tried to drink it in and stamp it into my memory forever, and I think I did a good job of it.  I can see it all.
SHOPPER: Yeah.  It certainly sounds as though you have a very vivid…
STEPHENS: And when I returned to Berlin in April of this year to make a CBS movie, “American at the Olympics,” for Bud Greenspan and when I went in that stadium in early morning with no one in there in the quietness of it all, I just closed my eyes and just expected that I would see those stands filled with people – Adolf Hitler down in the box and those people yelling at the top of their lungs, “Sieg Heil.  Seig Heil.  Seig Heil,” which they did on the slightest provocation of anything.  It was a feeling that is hard to describe but it was certainly one of, recalling the past, nostalgic and all that sort of thing.
SHOPPER: How did they deal with Jesse Owens being such a…
STEPHENS: Well propaganda in ’36 was that Hitler was opposed to America’s African legions.
SHOPPER: That’s what he called them?
STEPHENS: That’s what the press called them.  I don’t know whether he said that or not.  There was much made of the fact that he supposedly snubbed Owens when he was in the process of competing in the running long jump.  And the people seemed to forget the fact that Hitler arrived every day in that stadium at a certain time.  You could set your watch by that.  He came in there in the afternoon and he left – I think as I recall it – it seemed like he came in around one o’clock or one thirty and stayed till about four o’clock.  And he left promptly – left with his group.  And this event of Owens was going on, you know, darkness was setting in, and of course they always said that Hitler didn’t shake Jesse Owens’ hands.  Well, I started to say while ago that the reason that Hitler acted up so when he was caught with me and slapped the photographer and so forth – going back to why that happened – after he had met several different Olympic groups or individuals that had won medals, the International Olympic Committee asked the German Olympic Committee to please ask Hitler not to be calling gold medal winners up to his stand because if he did it to one, he would have to do it to all and those that he didn’t do it to would feel cheated, would feel snubbed.  He would get bad publicity and so forth, and therefore it might be better if he didn’t meet any.  And as I understand it, he agreed then, “Look, I won’t meet anyone else.  I will just sit up here and enjoy it and that’s the end of it.”  Well he did want to meet me.  But he didn’t want a record of it.
SHOPPER: I see.
STEPHENS: So therefore he didn’t want any photograph of it.  That’s why he had the fit.  And I didn’t know why he was having the fit at the time because I didn’t know what had happened and it was only afterwards that I put that together.  And so that’s why he didn’t meet Owens.
SHOPPER: I see.  So there was no special snub involved?
STEPHENS: Well that’s – again, you can say the press did that.  They played it up, but you all read all this stuff about Jesse Owens went over and he put Hitler in his place.  He showed him all this and that and the other.  He didn’t, in my opinion, show him anything other than the fact that he was the fastest man in the world running. That’s what he showed him.
SHOPPER: Yeah.
STEPHENS: I don’t recall that Hitler stopped his war plans in any way whatsoever.  His idea of dominating the world because Jesse Owens was in Berlin in 1936 and ran down the track one afternoon, or Helen Stephens for that matter.  That’s assuming too much importance of a sporting event – that it’s going to influence world history.  It didn’t influence anything.
SHOPPER: And yet a lot of people seem to have all sorts of hopes and fantasies that they would make use of the Olympics for certain purposes of their own, I mean by telegrams and letters and this sort of protesting.
STEPHENS: Well they were not the last to try that.  It’s been tried every time since.
SHOPPER: Yes.
STEPHENS: We did a good job in ’80.  They are doing the same thing and Russia gave us our comeuppence and revenge.  They took a little revenge on us this time by refusing to take part over here.  I never expected those Russians to be here.  I said in 1980 that, “Well, maybe that’ll work but I don’t think it will.”  I supported that boycott in 1980 because I had been a government worker for over 30 years and there was a bit of pressure brought on me all the way from the White House to support them.  And since the Congress of the United States supported it, the general consensus of opinion was that the majority of the people in the United States supported it.  I don’t say the press supported it.
SHOPPER: The athletes.  Do you think they supported it?
STEPHENS: Well I don’t think the athletes supported it.  Some did.  Some didn’t.  Some former Olympians changed horses in the middle of the stream several times on the matter.  I remember Jesse Owens, he was for the boycott and then he was against it.  I said, “Well since that seems to be the will of the Congress and the President of the country, I would support it.”  I never changed my stance.  The members of the United States Olympic Committee contacted me asking me to please change my stance and I said, “Well, I was committed.”  I don’t believe in that kind of stuff.  Once you take your position, it’s taken.  I wasn’t making any money on it either way.  Stand up and be counted.
SHOPPER: How does the White House bring pressure on you to take a stance?
STEPHENS: Well how do they bring pressure on anyone?  They call you up and appeal to your reasons.  And then you feel like a traitor if you don’t, right?
SHOPPER: I guess so.  I’ve never had pressure put on me so…
STEPHENS: Well, we all have pressures.
SHOPPER: Yeah.  So this was staff people at the White House?
STEPHENS: Yes, I suppose.
SHOPPER: And they figured your voice would be an important one to get.
STEPHENS: And as I was a former government employee too.  They had several agencies involved.  I’m not going to name them.
SHOPPER: Sure.
STEPHENS: There was more than just the White House.
SHOPPER: What sort of government work had you done?
STEPHENS: Oh I worked for three agencies in my lifetime.  I worked for the Rural Electrification Administration, REA, they called it.
SHOPPER: REA.
STEPHENS: And I worked for the General Accounting Office, which was a Department of the Army.  And then I worked for 26 years for the Defense Mapping Agency Aero Space Center here in St. Louis.
SHOPPER: That’s where their main headquarters are.
STEPHENS: And I was a librarian there.  I retired in 1976.  Took off and went to Montreal for the Olympics.
SHOPPER: I understand you went to Los Angeles for the Olympics this summer?
STEPHENS: I went out to the opening, yes.
SHOPPER: Change much?
STEPHENS: Oh yes.  Oh yeah.  They put on a great show out there.  Now Germany had put on a classic Olympics in ’36, probably one of the best that have ever been put on up to that date and everything was precisioned.  They did do a grand, magnificent job.  And we were talking about how – I am just giving you the impression that I had – I remember when underneath the stadium, there were great huge tunnels, oh maybe 12, 15 feet wide, maybe eight feet high or so, these were tile covered walls and you could start walking in these tunnels before you got to the stadium, as well as they went under the stadium.  And of course they had exits up into the stadium, and I remember our guides telling us one time when we were walking over there, either going or coming, I don’t remember that part, but they said that come the war, “We’re going to beat to the hell out of you.”  Now these are American-speaking guides.
SHOPPER: These are the same girls?
STEPHENS: Yes, the same girls that may be crying on our beds a few hours later, but they laughingly said, “You know we’re going to treat you as nice as we know how for the two weeks you’re here, but there is going to be a big war and we are going to beat the living hell out of you Americans, and you’re walking here in this tunnel where when this war happens there will be anti-aircraft guns, there will be, these will be shelters for us to take refuge into.  And I don’t know how ornate they may have been or there may have been tunnels away from the main tunnel that we were using.  And I understand that during World War II they did have anti-aircraft guns emplacement, probably the outside entrances to these things.  And I was, you know, we were sort of taken aback at this kind of talk.  But those Germans would, they would drink beer with you, you know in all friendliness, but tell you, “Hey, we’re committed.  We are going to take a, get our revenge for the Treaty of Versailles.  This is like driving a page out of the history book, we’re going to get revenge.  We’re going to show you.”  But you see, they had been brought up and instilled and there was a corp of Germans, the younger ones, that were just sort of, I think they were gung-ho.  They were just like they were getting ready to go to a big college football game or something, you know, and it was World War II.  I remember one Saturday morning.  Of course Hitler was trying to put forward his best foot when we were over in Berlin.  On a Saturday morning, this Hitler Youth would come out on these playing fields, soccer fields what-not, near the stadium which I was surprised at, on Saturday morning.  These kids maybe 10,000 of them would come out there and would march around with wooden guns all in military.  They were sort of the equivalent of, maybe we’d call them the Boy Scouts.  And I’m sure they had a military man in charge of them or more than one.  But here they were just marching by the thousands, carrying flags and wooden guns.
SHOPPER: Very regimented?
STEPHENS: Very regimented, very military.  These kids maybe 12, 13, 14, maybe 15, were just like an army.
SHOPPER: They started young.
STEPHENS: And these German girls would say to us, well, “That’s our army, they’ll be fighting you in a few years.”
SHOPPER: And they were proud.
STEPHENS: Well sure they were proud.  Now, they were right though.  Those were the kids that were to fight us a few years later.
SHOPPER: Did the athletes who were with you take all this talk seriously?
STEPHENS: I don’t know.
SHOPPER: Did you?
STEPHENS: Well, I remember it.
SHOPPER: Yes, so it made an impression on you.
STEPHENS: It made an impression on me.  If I came back and said that was going to happen nobody would believe it.  You know we like to stick our head in the sand, I think.  Maybe the world now gets fed too much information.  You know with all the bad things that happen around the world right now.  How many people today are worried about Afghanistan?  How many people care that those people are over there having their throats cut and all that stuff.  It is great to read about it, you know people read about it and then they stop reading about it.

Tape 2 - Side 1

SHOPPER: Yeah, about keeping our heads in the sand in Afghanistan.
STEPHENS: Well I think that’s the way it was in ’36.  Oh, there was much written in the next few years after ’36 of course, you know when Hitler – didn’t he start invading the low countries in 1937 and…
SHOPPER: Now at that time you were what…in college?
STEPHENS: Yeah I came back from Berlin and entered my second year of college.
SHOPPER: And was history one of your main interests?
STEPHENS: Well personally, yes, I like to read about history, and I have always followed with great interest during World War II, the events that happened.
SHOPPER: Yes.
STEPHENS: It made many things a great deal of more interest to me, having met those guys, up front, “press the flesh,” you know, so to speak and all that sort of thing.  Sit down with them, and get the view with them.  I met Goering several times.  He took a liking to me.  He was a big slob of a man.  And I met Rudolf Hess one time up in the top of the stadium.  He was up there looking out over the very tippy top of the stadium…brooding, handsome fella but very unhappy looking in some way.  I don’t know.
SHOPPER: It was perceptable even then.
STEPHENS: Well he had a brooding countenance I think.  And of course I met Goebbels.  In fact I was invited to – all the gold medal winners from all the countries were invited to a big garden party out at his estate, which was a big castle-like affair situated in the middle of the river there in Berlin, the outskirts of Berlin.  And the upper 400 of Berlin’s society was there, including all the top officers of the Navy and Army and Air Force.
SHOPPER: A lot of uniforms?
STEPHENS: A lot of generals.  Their wives and so forth.  The German society, plus all the Gold Medal winners from all the countries were invited.  And during the course of that evening, why, a messenger nestled up to me and said that Hermann Goering wanted me to come up to the big house and bring a friend – so Hariett Bland was from St. Louis and incidentally she married a Jewish man, William Greenberg, and she made him change his name to William Green.
SHOPPER: Oh.
STEPHENS: But anyway.
SHOPPER: Are they still in St. Louis?
STEPHENS: They live in Webster Groves.  She has suffered a stroke about 10 years ago and is in very poor health and he has become an old man waiting on her.
SHOPPER: I see.
STEPHENS: And her speech is very poor.  Her span of attention is very short and I’m sure she has little or no recollection of our going up with this messenger, going up into this big house, going up about three flights of stairs, going down the hall and before each big oak door was a German soldier on guard in uniform and eventually we came to this door and we went in.  I’ll just tell you this for what it is worth and she since has told me that she doesn’t remember.  But bear in mind we each had quite a bit of champagne before we made the trip but we didn’t tell anybody we were going.  We just decided to go.  We just decided, well you know, we were young and we said, “Hey, this will probably be an experience.  This’ll be something we will never forget.  Wonder what it’s all about?  Wonder what’s going on up there?”  So we went up there.  There was a big party going on and Goering was sitting in there behind a huge table and they took me over to him.  He stood up, saluted and gave me a handshake.  He had on a black kimono in his shorts so I told you it was a party.  And then he had two or three girls draped around on this huge divan and then when one of them came out from under the table I knew something was going on.
SHOPPER: It was quite a party.
STEPHENS: Yeah.  And then someone came with a platter, a tray of drinks.  I took one and toasted him and set it back.  I didn’t drink.  Then he got a phone call but he said, and this interpreter was there and says, “Herr Goering says if you would like to be more comfortable to go into the other room and change into something.”  Hariett over here is running off with the mouth with some German and she didn’t know what was going on.  She wasn’t in on that.  A German officer who spoke excellent English stepped up to my side, as I said Goering got a phone call, and this man came up and said, “May I escort you around and make a few introductions?”  Immediately while Herr Goering was on the phone.  Well we did and he says, “It’s none of my business but I feel I should warn you that this place is no place for you and your friend.  Many things will happen here tonight and I would not want you to be a part of them and I am going to introduce you to several very important people in the German Army, Navy and Air Force and we will maybe dance a few steps and we will work ourselves over to the door and you will make a hasty departure.  I tell you this in all due respect that I know this is no place for you people, you young Americans, and I shouldn’t be telling you but I am telling you anyway.”
SHOPPER: A very decent thing for him to do.
STEPHENS: Right.  Well that party undoubtedly became a regular orgy before the night was over and there were stories written about it that the press – I think it was barred, but some of them snuck in some how or another.  And they wrote stories on that and it was a German, it was an orgy out of the books, they say.  Reported all over.
SHOPPER: And were there other Olympic athletes there?
STEPHENS: I didn’t see any.
SHOPPER: None that you recognized.
STEPHENS: No they weren’t in there when I was in there.  This was strictly German military, show girls from a theatre, you know, in Germany, and whores, whatever, but I met several generals and danced a little bit with them.  I remember one German general, a big ol’ fat guy, he must have been a relic of World War I and he was loaded with medals and on his chest he had National Socialist Party and he said, “You see this?”  I said, “Yes, do you want to give to me for a souvenir?”  He says, “No, but he says I spit on it.”  He said, “You don’t know what’s going on in Germany.  I wear this button because it insures my status in the Army.  I belong to this party for that reason only.  I spit on everything they stand for and everything they do.”  He said, “I have to do it in order to protect my pension.”
SHOPPER: So I guess there were a lot of people who saw what was going on and didn’t like it and at least at point felt free to tell you.
STEPHENS: Well, not in front of other people.
SHOPPER: Yes, not in front of other people.
STEPHENS: Not in front of their own, you know, each individual.  Some of these things left impressions – Well we made our escape and the last sight that I saw – we finally got Hariett Bland over to the door – reluctantly – “Why are we leaving?  I am having such a good time.”  We got her over there and the officer got us to the door and he got the door open and Hermann Goering was still on that damn phone and he stood up with his bare belly hanging out over the table, gave me a “Heil Hitler” and he says, “Auf Wiedersehen.”  I remember that and I can see him yet just like a movie.
SHOPPER: Very vivid experiences.
STEPHENS: And I remember one Sunday afternoon a group of us from the American women’s track team went out to a park in Berlin and while we were out there on a bright sunny afternoon, I very distinctly remember an old Jewish couple coming up to me and in their broken English said, “You are from the United States.  You are from Missouri.  You are from St. Louis.”  And I remember Dee Beckman saying, “No, I’m from St. Louis.  She’s from Missouri but she’s not from St. Louis.”  And then they of course would look around, you know, and see if anybody was about to overhear, and they said that they had a relative, I don’t know whether it was a son or who, here in St. Louis and they wanted to know if we would take their life savings in money back to the United States with us, and pass it on to this relative, because they knew that they would probably never get the opportunity to leave Germany and they felt that within a year or so terrible things would be happening in Germany and particularly to the Jewish people.  They were old and they had lived their lifetime and I believe it was their son or daughter, wanted them to have their money because they had reached the age where it didn’t make any difference.  And of course I remember that Dee said we would like to but we can’t and that sort of thing.  And I remember I felt that would be a great responsibility if I would do that, I suppose.  But the hurt, it was like they had been struck.  If you had hit them with a ball bat, you know in the face, they just stared unbelieving like, you know, “Now we have no hope.”  You know, all these things happened, you know, and I remember them.
SHOPPER: It must have been difficult for you.
STEPHENS: Well, not really.  Always a little champagne eased that.  I remember another time I was in Wupper Tal, no, in Dresden, and we were having a big party after a big meet and the mayor of Dresden was there and he was a jolly German and he was having a good time and he could speak English very well.  And I remember he said to me, “I would like to take you around and show you anything of interest in Dresden.  Could I do that?  Could I do that tomorrow?”  And I said, “Yes, I think you could.”  And he said, “Oh what would you like to see?”  I said, “I would like to see a concentration camp.”  Well, if I had hit him in the head with a club you could not imagine the expression on his face and he says, “Oh, we have no concentration camps in Germany.  That’s Jewish propaganda.”  And he left and kept the distance of the room between he and I the rest of the night.  The reason I asked him that was because a couple of American members of our team, I believe boxers, had rented a bicycle and taken a ride out in to the countryside and had found one of these concentration camps and attempted to scale the fence and the Germans caught them and put them in jail and informed the American officials, “Hey we have a couple of your guys and we are going to keep them in jail and give them a sentence unless” – and the agreement was made that they would ship them back home immediately because they were homesick.
SHOPPER: I see.  That was the cover reason that was given.
STEPHENS: That was the cover.
SHOPPER: And that was done?
STEPHENS: That was done.  So I just decided, you know, well, I’ll just ask this old boy something here and see what he says.  I wanted to see his reaction.  I got it.  He told me in no uncertain terms.
SHOPPER: That they were there.
STEPHENS: Well I’m sure that they had them.
SHOPPER: How did you find out about these boxers?
STEPHENS: Oh I suppose word of mouth.  You know people talk and, “Hey did you hear so and so got caught – doing this, that or the other?”
SHOPPER: The grapevine within the…
STEPHENS: Yeah, the athletes had their own grapevine.  So I’m sure – that’s all a matter of history now.  Political history, that is.
SHOPPER: Yes.
STEPHENS: I thought, well, I’ll see what happened.
SHOPPER: Were you kept sort of guarded from walking out in the street and talking with people or…?
STEPHENS: We were stationed, located in quarters within walking distance of the Olympic Stadium.  The women.  And we had a German Baroness in charge of us, sort of a hostess of our dormitory, called the Women’s House, but we called it the Freezin’ House because it was cold.  It was always raining and damp.  It was chilly and very spartan quarters – beds without mattresses – one electric bulb hanging from the ceiling for a light.  Sort of a table pushed up against the wall for a dressing table or a dresser, a mirror on the wall and they told us that this building would used as quarters for German officers as soon as we departed.  Within a matter of weeks the German Army would take over those quarters and they would be quarters for German officers.  And the bathrooms were not private, I mean there were just communal showers.
SHOPPER: Dormitory style.
STEPHENS: 15 showerheads in one room.  Well if we want to get right down to it, the closets had no doors on them.  You had little or no privacy, shall we say.  I had hoped to visit that old Freezin’ House or Freezin’ House when I was over there in Germany in April and the German camera crew that was doing the filming of our movie said, “Well you can’t do that because that particular quarters are in – it’s in the British Zone and the British Army is occupying that building.”  Now my brother, Robert Lee, was in the Army, World War II, and he made his way through Germany as a foot soldier and eventually he got to Berlin and got out to that stadium, stood out there by the Marathon Gate under my name on the wall and had his picture taken.  And he came back with several pictures.  He said that there were pock marks in the stadium and bomb craters in the field and so forth when he was there.  And I was particularly interested in seeing what kind of damage there was and from just looking at it – the stadium itself – you couldn’t detect any, because they had repaired everything.  Of course the field is back in excellent condition with caretakers around and then they play soccer there five days a week and they use the track for big track meets.  They say one huge one each year for West Germany but I think they hold international meets over there too.  And the grounds surrounding that stadium, there were all kinds of practice fields, hockey, soccer and so forth and some tracks and all that stuff, but there was a huge complex and of course, as I said, underneath all this you could walk underneath it in the tunnels…Well my brother said a lot of holes are out there where bombs have hit and so forth.  But of course there is no evidence of that now.  And of course, naturally.  There were bell towers around that stadium and they had the huge Olympic Bell that weighed, I don’t know how many tons, and this bell is now located out in front of the stadium and it is on a platform and there is a shot, a hole, a shell hole, you can run your arm in up to your shoulder where an artillery shell went right through that bell and cracked it.  That was the Olympic Bell, the symbol of the 1936 Olympics.  It was in a huge tower.  They took it out of the tower and rebuilt the tower but I think several of the towers, perhaps, were destroyed but around that stadium were huge statues, nudes, you know like Grecian statues, and I was curious to see if they were still there.  The pedestals are there, but the statues are all gone except for about four of them right up near the stadium.  I said, “What happened to them?”  And they said, “Well, one of those invading Americans and Britishers and so forth came to Berlin during World War II, they were stationed out here and they used all those statues for artillery practice and you know, target practice, and they just blasted them to pieces, shot them off the stands.  Totally destroyed.”  I said, “I thought maybe they were alabaster or something.”  They were not – but they said that they were stone, I mean marble.  I didn’t know, see, I wasn’t sure.
SHOPPER: Did you meet anybody in Berlin that you then corresponded with who was German?
STEPHENS: You mean on our recent trip over there?
SHOPPER: No, no, no.  In ’36.  Was there anybody that you maintained, aside from the athletes, people in Germany who were in Berlin?
STEPHENS: Oh I got a few letters that came back but I didn’t keep up any correspondence with them.  One of the girls that worked in the dining room there wrote me several times.  I often wonder what happened to them, you know.  An interesting thing happened when I was sitting in the sidewalk café outside a hotel over there in Berlin, West Berlin, in April.  The camera people asked if they would clear a table for us.  There was one lady sitting there and she had been talking to a couple of women and finally she moved back and she said to the German cameraman who spoke English and naturally German – she asked him what was going on.  He said, “Well we’re photographing Helen Stephens – She won a Gold Medal in 1936.”  She jumped up and said, “Oh my God.  When I was 28 years old I was in the stadium the day she won that race.  I saw her win that Gold Medal.  I am 76 years old.  I have six daughters.  Oh…”  And she came over and grasped my hand and hugged me and then she stood up and told about 50 Germans sitting around drinking beer, wine and whatever who I was and they all picked up their glasses.
SHOPPER: Very, very gratifying.
STEPHENS: “Oh,” she said in German, “You made my day.”
SHOPPER: Very nice.
STEPHENS: She said, “I can remember.  I was there.  I was in the stands.  I saw her win that race and get the gold medal.  I was a young girl.”
SHOPPER: But the Olympics have been really politicized.  There is that Black athlete who raised his fist when he won a medal.
STEPHENS: Yeah I remember that.  Where was that – Mexico?
SHOPPER: I think that was Mexico.  Yeah.
STEPHENS: Of course you know he was cast off the teams, sent home in disgrace.  And now he is a member of the USOC.  Works with them.  You know, all these things work themselves around.  The USOC uses people and stuff, I think.
SHOPPER: Was the security very tight at Los Angeles?
STEPHENS: I don’t know.  I understood that they were suppose to search our purses when we went into the stadium but there were only several entrances for those thousands of people to crowd into that stadium.  And so when they finally opened those gates, it was just like a tidal wave of people coming through there.  I’d say they might have got one out of 100.  They never got near mine and I was with a friend who said, “I hope they don’t find that “38” you’ve got in your purse.”  And I thought, “My God that’s like getting on an airplane and saying, “Did you bring your bomb?”  And there were several people who overheard her and I expected dire results from that, you know, I really did.
SHOPPER: But it was apparently very lax – very relaxed.
STEPHENS: Well, they were trying to make an effort to do it but there were just too many people.  They just came in and they just overran them.  They just overran them.  There was no way with a few entrances that they could hold back all those people and they were just coming through there in the thousands.
SHOPPER: And in Montreal they had a big security problem.
STEPHENS: They had terrific security up there at Montreal in ’76.  That was fierce.  They had soldiers everywhere.
SHOPPER: How much involvement have you had with the Olympic Committee and athletes and athletics subsequently, once you got out of college?
STEPHENS: Oh, I didn’t work so much with the Olympic Committee at all.  I embarked on a career of trying to make a buck, as they say, with professional stuff like basketball and running foot races and promoting baseball and stuff for a few years and then I came back – I did that running around the country – then I came…
SHOPPER: Something like Babe did.
STEPHENS: Then I came back to St. Louis and went to work here and all through the years I have worked with the government.  I have worked with their recreation setups and then in bowling and I worked with AAU locally.  In the last five years I have been working with the – after I retired I went back to my college, Fulton, and worked four years with their track program.  They had a track program at William Woods.  I was the first one woman track team there and they didn’t have that as a sport on their program.  But they decided they wanted to have a program, so I went back and worked four years with them.  And then they got a new president and he abolished the sport.  So, you know, that’s the way things go but I was not going to return any more anyway.  And the last five years I have worked with that Senior Olympic Group here in St. Louis, as you probably know.
SHOPPER: That was in the paper.
STEPHENS: We have gotten a lot of people, I think, interested in something.  I have gotten them to go out there and compete.  Some of the people that I knew back in ’36 – even competed against – are out there every year so it’s sort of been nice – It’s been a reunion of old friends and I’ve made new friends.  I do think that older people are amazing in what they can do as long as they stay active.
SHOPPER: Yeah, that’s absolutely true.
STEPHENS: So as far as working with the Olympic Program itself, I have not been one of those that – oh they’ve asked me to be a speaker for them and all that sort of thing but I can’t travel around the country and do that sort of thing.
SHOPPER: You put in your share of traveling?
STEPHENS: Yes.  I speak to groups on occasion around this area in St. Louis.  I turn down a lot of them too, but I worked 44 years and I think I paid my dues.
SHOPPER: Oh, sure did.
STEPHENS: I have participated in a lot of people’s projects – you know, they’re always doing something – writing this, that or the other.  Perhaps like this one here.
SHOPPER: Like this one, yes.
STEPHENS: So people in universities and people writing papers and people writing studies and this, that and the other, but I find that stuff gets to be time consuming.  People call me up.  In fact this week they’d call me up, “I want to write your story.  I want to write your autobiography.  I want to write a movie script.  I think you’ve got it all!”  And I say, “Well just hold off.  I mean I am tired.  I am tired of talking about myself.”
SHOPPER: Well I certainly am very thankful that you gave me your time today.
STEPHENS: Well that’s sort of the high spots.  You saw that article about what that man said.  He really hopped on – on that one.  And I think my reply may have put him in his place.
SHOPPER: Yes, very very apt.
STEPHENS: Because you know, it was just one of those unfortunate things that happened in a time and it was just unreal.  And I will say that I did make some inquiries to the Germans that I ran into over in Germany in West Berlin in April.  For instance, I said to one of the fellas, I said, “Say, could you tell me how many Jewish businesses do you have in West Berlin today?”  And there were three Germans in the camera crew and they sort of had a little comfab and they came up and they said that they believed a total of probably five businesses in West Berlin today run by Jewish people.  And of course one of the men said, “Why I was just a baby at the end of World War II.  I only know what my parents and grandparents told me about and all that stuff…

Tape 2 - Side 2

…that it was one of the most terrible things that ever happened to Germany, that Jewish people were absolutely the backbone of the business sense of Germany.  Germany has strictly suffered and lost by not having the benefit of them but they also feel that they should not have to shoulder blame for what happened before they were born.”  They also said that they felt that Adolf Hitler was a great man.  That he did more good than he did bad for Germany.  We’ll exclude the Jewish people from that.  Excluding them, they feel that he did a good job.  They felt that he was a great engineer.  And they pointed out the autobahns and they pointed out to me the various things – for instance he made a plan for the highways around Germany and had not Berlin been divided into East and West, this plan would have been realized and no one, no engineer today has been able to devise a better plan than Hitler was supposed to have drawn up for these highways around Berlin.
SHOPPER: So he is still very much admired?
STEPHENS: Evidently.  Not admired for what he did to Jewish people, but just admired for his organization and for what he accomplished.  Now that’s somebody that didn’t have any upfront personal experience, I think or perhaps heard about it, so forth.
SHOPPER: I have been reading that there are some Neo-Nazi groups springing up in Germany and espousing a lot of things that Hitler has said and has done.
STEPHENS: I don’t know.
SHOPPER: I don’t know either.
STEPHENS: You can read anything.  You can hear anything.  I guess you could talk to 10 people and get 10 different versions too.
SHOPPER: For sure.  For sure.
STEPHENS: But I thought World War III had started over there the night before I left.  About three o’clock in the morning I heard cannons fired and I thought, “My God, the hotel is a rocket, you know, what in the world is this?”  So I went down the next morning and asked the manager of the hotel what happened last night.  I said, “I was awakened at three o’clock in the morning by all this stuff.”  He said, “Oh that’s those Britishers out there and they let us know they’re there.”  He said, “They’ve been there for 25 years and we ignore them.  We know they are there. But any hour of the day or night they are liable to start shooting off a bunch of artillery and cannon fire or something just to let us know they are there.  Just to remind us.”
I saw them outside the stadium with these huge pieces of machinery, moving great big hunks of concrete that were round.  Oh, they must have weighed 800 pounds.  They were about so big around.  You know, sort of stanchions or for parking or whatever.  They were moving them on these cobblestones out in front of the stadium.  I said, “Why are they moving all those things from one side over to the other?”  He said, “In America you would call that make-do work.”  He said, “Next week they will move them back to the same place.”
SHOPPER: Hmm…Interesting, very interesting.
STEPHENS: So we’re not alone in that.  Make-do work.
SHOPPER: Not alone.  Have you ever wondered as to what it is that gave you the ability to be that fast of a runner?
STEPHENS: I don’t know.  Why was Jesse Owens fast?  Why is anybody fast?  They are faster than I am now.  Many of them.  Of course I can explain some of it.  They’ve got better training, better tracks, better equipment, better techniques.
SHOPPER: Nutrition you think?
STEPHENS: Everything.
SHOPPER: Everything.
STEPHENS: And they are not big people.  They are little people.  But there again size doesn’t always mean anything in any sport.  Some people got it and some people haven’t.
SHOPPER: You were one of those that did.
STEPHENS: As Wyomia Tyus who was greater than Rudolf and came along afterwards said to me in Los Angeles, she says, “Well you and I can both just remember that we had our time and our day and our moment and now it’s time for someone else.”  And it’s true.  There’s a girl that came along this year and ran everybody’s records out of the window.
SHOPPER: Yeah.  That’s the way it is.
STEPHENS: So that’s life.  I said at the time, I remember they were fighting whether I should have that great a time when they went to approve my record – I didn’t get to attend it but my coach, Dee Boeckmann did attend the International Meeting when they decided on what kind of time they were going to give me for a world record and there were those that thought that I should have better time and there were those that thought, “Well we’ll decide on here.”  Some people caught me down to 11.3, 11.2 and others said, “Well we’re bringing her down 3/10 of a second – nobody will ever beat the record anyway and there is no use to bring it any further,” and that sort of thing.  That kind of thinking went into it.  There was a man came here from Great Britain this summer and said to me, “I went to Berlin to try to find the Olympic record for that meeting because there is great feeling in Great Britain that you were personally screwed out of a better time than they gave you.  And there was such a strong feeling about it that I went over there personally to find out if our British records indicate this.  And I went over there to see if we could get the records that was kept there for the United States and a bomb hit their headquarters and bring it to the ground.
SHOPPER: So that’s the end of the records.
STEPHENS: That was lost forever.
SHOPPER: No more documentation.
STEPHENS: Nothing, blank. (LONG PAUSE) So I don’t know whether this will be any big help to you or not.
SHOPPER: Oh, I think it has.  I think it has, because you know you’re a very solid reporter in a certain way because you don’t go out on a limb.  You talk about what you know and what you experienced and what you’re certain of as factual and leave the guesswork to the newspapers and the people who guess.
STEPHENS: Well, that’s true.
SHOPPER: And, ah, in that sense, you stick to hard facts.
STEPHENS: And I have nothing to gain by saying anything either way.
SHOPPER: Sure.
STEPHENS: And ah…
SHOPPER: I think there is a…
STEPHENS: It was a feeling that’s hard to describe.  You knew that something terrible was about to happen and when it did happen and when it all came out, I felt that, look, I knew something like this was going to happen.  But what could anyone do about it?  That’s always the question.  What could people do to stop it?
SHOPPER: Well, a lot of people said that, “It’s none of our business.  There is nothing to do.”  And they took the letters and the telegrams and the notes and they said…
STEPHENS: File them away and forgot about it.
SHOPPER: And we’re here to do athletics and not to do politics.
STEPHENS: Well, that was true there.  But you know, it was ah, ah, ah, a rape against a whole race of people.  And it’s hard to believe that something like that could happen but I have viewed and read stories of course and viewed a lot of programs that should have been on television and stuff about that and movies and so forth.  And it’s just, it defies imagination that man could treat his brothers like that.  It’s just unreal.
SHOPPER: It’s unbelievable and a lot of people just don’t believe it.
STEPHENS: Well, there’s a lot of people that don’t even want to talk about it.
SHOPPER: Sure, that’s why I’m very appreciative that you did talk about it.
STEPHENS: A lot of these Olympic athletes have little or no recall of events that happened over there.  I know several of them have been asked to make talks and speeches and so forth, and they call me up long distance and say, “Hey, what went on over there?  I was having such a good time, I don’t remember anything.”  They don’t remember a thing.  They didn’t care.
SHOPPER: Well that must have been part of it.  The excitement, you know, being young.
STEPHENS: I know for a fact that some of our athletes went absolutely ape over there – you know, back in those days.
SHOPPER: Sure.
STEPHENS: The women were going out with the Nazi soldiers at night, slipping out of the dormitories, going out and carrying on in the stadium and I understand that Hitler okayed it.  I heard this from some of the men that were athletes.  You see the men’s village was about 10 miles from ours.  I never saw it.  To this day I have never seen it.  We were totally segregated.  I understand that a lot of German girls were taken out there to that stadium.
SHOPPER: To the dorms, yeah.
STEPHENS: Their village.  And with the idea from the Germans, with their approval, that if they could get a hold of an American Olympic Medalist, or maybe from other countries, I don’t know, but if they could get pregnant by one of these fellows, that this would be a high honor.
SHOPPER: I see.
STEPHENS: Because that is getting good blood mixed in with the Germans.  Did you ever hear that story?
SHOPPER: Well they were very interested in eugenics.
STEPHENS: I have been told that by several of the guys that were over there, that they paraded these girls over there.
SHOPPER: Well that would be consistent with making babies and trying to improve the blood or something.
STEPHENS: They had a lot of devious stuff going on.  You know, they really did and I was fearful, I was cautious, but the only reason I think I felt protected was because I had on an American Olympic uniform and I felt that the American flag was protecting me.
SHOPPER: And it did.
STEPHENS: And I think that the Germans at that time – Hitler himself, and the rest of them, they felt that this was some kind of an invisible shield protecting those Americans.  “I mean we would like to tamper with them, but that is the only thing that deterring us.  That damned American flag.”
SHOPPER: But you know as you tell it, they were very, very cautious about what would get out – about the photographer, about the boxers that would tell, about who would talk and who would say what.  People were very cautious about what others would learn about the things that were going on in the country.  It was as though, although they had all that power, they were fearful too.
STEPHENS: That instance that I had previous mentioned and caused a little controversy in the newspaper this summer.  I did go down to Berlin a number of times, with the team, with people I met from the States.  I remember seeing these signs, “Jude,” on the store windows and yellow paint on the sidewalks in front, seeing the windows knocked out and the Germans would just pooh pooh it and say, “That’s hooligans.”  But when I did see a bunch of soldiers, a half a dozen of them, kicking these older – a man and a woman – an older Jewish couple around that had a little store.  Of course I don’t know what the ruckus was about.  They might have been complaining about somebody, you know, breaking out the window or something.  And I am sure that Hitler had put out the word and I had read that he did, that he didn’t want any rough treatment of the Jewish people shown during the Olympics.
SHOPPER: Keep it quiet.
STEPHENS: Yeah.  Keep it cool for a couple of weeks.  Cool it.  We’ll get them later.  And it is just – well, you had to see it before and then know what happened.  It is very interesting to go back and see how those Germans feel about it.  But don’t look for any Jewish people over there.  What I was surprised about over there – they don’t have any German restaurants to speak of any more.  They say the German people don’t eat all that big heavy food anymore.  They’ve got the “Colonel Sanders,” the “Burger King,” and they’ve got a lot of Vietnamese, Chinese food, they’ve got the Italian pizza and stuff.
SHOPPER: It’s become like America practically.
STEPHENS: And I was amazed to see all the different darn stores downtown.  You know, I saw quite a few of them – several.  A big sign on sex.  I thought, “What is that?”  So what do you think it is.  I said, “Well I would assume…”  “Yeah you can assume.  You go in there and buy cards and books and magazines and pictures and all kinds of sexual manipulators and movies and everything.”
SHOPPER: And they are out in the open there?
STEPHENS: Oh yeah.  I went through the airport in Frankfurt, which of course we’ve got military over there and I was so surprised to see all these nude postcards right there as you walk through the – you know from one plane to another and so forth.
SHOPPER: Yes, in the airport.  The terminal.
STEPHENS: Yeah.  In the terminal.  All kinds of nudie cards on display – leaving nothing to the imagination.  Well of course Europe never did think as much about covering up the human body as we do.  We always want to cover it up and then it cost money to see.  They’re always showin’ it.  But I remember this girl from New York that represented a film company in New York and she and I both expressed a desire to have a good German meal before we left.  She was going to Stockholm and I was coming back so we asked the manager of the hotel and he said, “Well you can walk three blocks and you can cut through these alleys and parking lots, make a short cut,” which we did, and she says, “I’ve been all over Europe.  Don’t worry about anything.  Nobody will ever touch you here in Germany.  They won’t bother you.”  You expect to be waylaid, raped, robbed, mugged in practically any city in the United States, but over there nobody pays attention to you.  But they talk about the behavior of the young people – Good Lord, they huggin’ and kissin’ and practically having a sexual act on the hoods of automobiles over there.  That’s entirely different from what I remembered before.  You know 40, almost 50 years ago, Germans were very staid, you know.  That is, up front, but you get them in the back room and it’s a different story.
SHOPPER: Well, you saw what some of the back room stuff was all about in some of your visits.
STEPHENS: Top level.
SHOPPER: Yeah, top level.
STEPHENS: They are all a bunch of rascals.  They were living high on the hog.  They were livin’ big, eatin’ big, drinkin’ big, carryin’ on and everything.  I remember that old Goering, he wanted to capture all the art in Europe.  Didn’t he die from a cyanide tablet finally?  In Nuremberg?
SHOPPER: Yeah.  That’s right.  Took it himself.
STEPHENS: And didn’t old, Hess, he’s still alive isn’t he?
SHOPPER: I think he’s in a British prison and he is in solitary and has been since he parachuted down into Britain and there is no clemency, no amnesty.
STEPHENS: Well that’s because of Russia.  Everyone would let him go.
SHOPPER: Could be.
STEPHENS: Everyone would let him go.  Boy he was in the headlines when I was over there.  I don’t know what it was.  Whether he had a birthday, was it 91 or something like that?
SHOPPER: Yeah.  He is an old, old man.
STEPHENS: And I can remember when he was about 40 years old.
SHOPPER: Hum.  Well, he had his day, too.
STEPHENS: The only reminder, they’ve even moved the statues around in the parks in Germany.  Trying to find anything that was still there in ’36, of course, they’ve built the architecture back in its original form, so they try to preserve, they may tear a building down because they say that most of all those buildings were so damaged from the shock of those bombs that they now are bringing them down regularly because they are just…
SHOPPER: Yeah.  Unstable.
STEPHENS: Unstable, they are not safe.  But they rebuild them, right back like they were.  Same architecture.
SHOPPER: Ah ha.  Well, that’s quite different from what we do.
STEPHENS: And they are beautiful buildings, you know.  I enjoy going back, I really did.  And going into stores.  Some of those people who wait on you, some of them had hostility because they knew you were American, and then others were very lovely.  They are just hostile.  I don’t think the men are as bad as the women.
SHOPPER: When is this CBS documentary going to come out?  Is that something that is on schedule?
STEPHENS: Oh it was shown on July fourth locally.
SHOPPER: Oh it was, already?  I was out of town.
STEPHENS: They picked 10, 10 former gold medalists from different Olympiads, and took them back to the scene of their victory, where they won the gold medal, and interviewed them.  Of course if Jesse Owens had been alive he’d of been the one.
SHOPPER: Sure.
STEPHENS: Of course they showed some stuff on him too. But, Greenspan is Jewish.  And he told me last year, I met him in New York, and he said, “I’ve got something in mind for you, but I’m not going to be able to tell you what it is.  I’ll let you know.”  And then one of the associates called me in January and said they had this in mind, would I be interested.  I said, “Yes, I would be interested.”  So it was a touch-and-go thing.  Clear up to April, the end of April.  Because many things had to be done.  They were trying their best to get people from the German Olympic Team, the women’s team together with me.  And what happened was that most of them live in the Eastern zone.
SHOPPER: I see, so they don’t have access to them.
STEPHENS: It seems like they tried to get the West German Olympic Committee to round them up.  But it seems like they couldn’t quite pull it off.  They got a hold of one girl that ran against me in the 100 meters and ran on the relay team with Germany.  She lived within walking distance of the stadium.  So she came over and met me on camera, and she got in the movie.  And then we took her to lunch.  The next day she came down and saw me off at the plane.  And I got a lovely letter from her and she sent me a lot of pictures she took.  I’ve yet to send in the ones I took.  Well, the film crew took a bunch of them.  They called me the other day from New York and said they were going to send her her pictures.  She was meeting the next day with the girl that won the discus throw, Gisela Mauermayer.
SHOPPER: German.
STEPHENS: From Munich, who never married and who was a librarian for some geological institute or something.  She was a Nazi.  She got on the victory stand in Berlin and gave the Nazi salute and speaking about salutes, the black power salute, well, she got up and gave the Nazi salute.  A lot of people remember that.  Anyway, I left a box of candy and a bottle of wine and a sack of fruit in the office and I said, “Give this to Gisela and tell her, send her my best.”  And she came up when she got it.  She wrote me a long letter and sent me some pictures she took in ’36 and she said that she had spent last summer touring our Southwest, United States and she said it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her life.  She was carried away with the Southwest.
SHOPPER: Well it is certainly different from the countryside where she was.
STEPHENS: Yes, they showed that.  They had people like Eleanor Holm who represented ’32, they had that Waddell who represented, maybe Munich, and he ran and had that golf cap on, seemed like, and they had Billy Mills, the Indian, who represented ’64, somewhere.  And several others.
SHOPPER: A good assortment.
STEPHENS: It was a good program.  It lasted a couple of hours.
SHOPPER: I’m sorry I missed it.
STEPHENS: I couldn’t understand why CBS didn’t advertise it.  Locally they didn’t.  Of course they changed the name of the film about two weeks before they showed it.  But it was a special film made, and they showed it all across the country at seven o’clock on July fourth, that night, seven o’clock p.m.  Now that was a poor time.
SHOPPER: People were doing all sorts of celebrating then.
STEPHENS: Well, the Olympic Committee told him that that was the worst night of the year.  But that’s when CBS decided to show it.  So they finally showed it here at 10:45 p.m. because they had the V.P. thing on, and Crossroads interfered with it because they had a contract and that sort of thing, but the rest of the country got it on at the same time.
SHOPPER: Right.  Do you have any questions to ask me?  I’ve been asking quite a few.
STEPHENS: No, you give me a name and address, phone number, your card or whatever.
SHOPPER: Well, I don’t have a card, but I can write everything down.
STEPHENS: What is your name by the way.  I forget it.
SHOPPER: Ya.  Moisy Shopper.
STEPHENS: S H O P P E R?
SHOPPER: Right, right.
STEPHENS: That’s for real, huh?  Excuse me.
SHOPPER: Sure thing.

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