September 7, 1997
MS. GERE: Today is September 7, 1997. It is approximately one o’clock in the
afternoon. Good afternoon, Judge Green.
JUDGE GREEN: Good afternoon, Sally.
MS. GERE: I want to begin the interview this afternoon, or to resume the
interview just about where we left off with the last tape a few weeks ago. You were just
beginning to discuss your impending marriage to Mr. Green. I think it’s particularly appropriate
that we talk about it today, since you and Mr. Green have just celebrated another wedding
JUDGE GREEN: Sixty-first.
MS. GERE: Excellent. On September 5, correct?
MS. GERE: Good. Well, having set the stage for that, tell us a little bit about your
JUDGE GREEN: Well, we were married in the Naval Academy Chapel. That is
the church that I always attended, when I was growing up.
MS. GERE: Did you attend with your parents and your sisters?
JUDGE GREEN: No, with my sister, with my one sister. Always. We were
planning to have the reception at the house, here, and we did. We decided that we’d have it at
dinner time so that we could have a nice dinner with people afterwards.
MS. GERE: Now, who was going to fix the meal? Was your aunt going to be
involved in that?
JUDGE GREEN: She catered the whole thing, and brought her help and so on. It
was very, very nice. There were about 250 people. The chapel was full, actually, of the local
people and ones who had been in the Little Different shop, knew about us, and they were anxious
to attend. They were not all included in the reception, but it was a lovely wedding in the Chapel.
In fact, my mother had had white gladiolus tied at the end of each pew. It really looked very
festive, and of course she’d arranged to have the flowers that were on the altar very attractively
done. I had a number of bridesmaids. My sister, Dot, was the matron of honor, and my sister,
Kitty, was the maid of honor. We had Dot’s daughter, who was a little old for a flower girl, and
so we called her a junior bridesmaid. We had others too. The bridesmaids wore white knit
dresses with American Beauty appliques on them, all around the skirt. They also had hats on. In
those days, that was a big deal. They wore white with red trimming, and they carried American
Beauty roses.
MS. GERE: Oh, it must have been lovely.
JUDGE GREEN: My bouquet was white gardenias and lilies of the valley. When
John was asking about it, I wanted to have, instead of having one toss on the way out, I wanted to
have it break up so that I would be able to give it to a lot of people. It worked very nicely for
about three gardenias and some lilies of the valley. I was able to give those to people who were
not already wearing things. My mother-in-law already had hers, and my mother already had a
very attractive ring, but the minister’s wife, for instance, and a number of people who were close
did not. I thought, instead of throwing it, they would have flowers too. We were supposed to be
there at five o’clock to start the wedding. I was all ready. One of our neighbors, Dr. Hutchinson
and his wife had had all the family for luncheon before, and had poured out quite a bit of their
very ancient wine that was lovely, for everybody. Except that I was the only one not drinking.
MS. GERE: Oh, dear.
JUDGE GREEN: I said I was not going to be a drunken bride.
MS. GERE: Probably a good way to start.
JUDGE GREEN: I remember that it was a very nice luncheon, but it lasted a long
time. I was quite concerned, because although John had attended the luncheon, everybody had
said he was not supposed to, he wasn’t supposed to see the bride before. Bad luck or something.
I said, well, I thought it would be bad luck if he didn’t come. So we–he and his mother–were
staying in Carvel Hall, which was still a hotel at that point.
MS. GERE: So is that on the Naval Academy grounds?
JUDGE GREEN: No, it’s just across from it. And it is the Paca House now. It
was always Paca House, but it was made into a hotel, Carvel Hall. John went down there with
his mother and got ready for the wedding. The last thing he said was, “Don’t be late, because
I’m not going to be stood up!” I said, “Oh, of course I’m not going to be late.” Well, I got
myself ready and mother said, “You’d better go speak to your father, because he won’t put his
clothes on. He’s just sitting there crying.”
MS. GERE: What did your family think of Mr. Green? Or was this not a
reflection on him, but on the loss of your father’s daughter, perhaps?
JUDGE GREEN: I think that it was the latter. My father said, when I said to him,
“Dad, you know, hurry up because we have to be there, and I don’t want to be late.” He said,
“You don’t have to do this, you know. I will take care of these guests, and just–just–there’s no
reason to go through with this.” I said, “We love each other.”
MS. GERE: We want to do this.
JUDGE GREEN: He said, “You sure?” So, finally, he managed, but really
looking like he was at a funeral or something. By the time we got there, it was about twenty
minutes past five.
MS. GERE: People were already in the church.
JUDGE GREEN: They said the organist had repeated his collection of music for
quite a while. Several people who were quite close to me said, “Thought you’d changed your
mind!” They had–my grandmother was quite infirm at the time. It had been discussed about
whether or not she would be brought to the wedding.
MS. GERE: Was this your maternal grandmother?
JUDGE GREEN: Yes, my maternal grandmother, who lived with us. I had said,
in front of a bunch of people, “If she isn’t there I’m not going to be there, either. Of course I
want to have her. Somebody can just be responsible for seeing that she gets there.” I had worked
it out with a cousin who was going to take my mother down. So she was there. One of my
ushers, when they were worrying about what had happened to me, said, “Call June and tell her
her mother’s already here. She can come, now.”
So anyway, I walked down the aisle with my father. I was talking a blue streak to
him, because I wanted him to–I said, “You are such a handsome man, I really want everybody to
know that. I want you to hold yourself as you customarily do, because I am so proud to have
them see you.” I was talking, whatever came into my head—
MS. GERE: Just to keep him moving forward.
JUDGE GREEN: He did pull himself together. He did decide that this was what I
really wanted. Chaplain Thomas, who was a wonderful chaplain, a very understanding man–he
said that he’d been with John waiting. John had had my brother in law, Delano Fitzgerald, as his
best man. They were wondering what in the heaven had happened. Maybe I had changed my
mind or something. The chaplain said to John, “I want to tell you, we haven’t lost a bride yet.”
Then he said to me, when we had gotten up to the Benediction and so on, he said, “That wasn’t
so bad, was it?” Afterwards at the reception, he said, “I just want to tell you that I told a little
white lie. We did lose a bride at one time, but I didn’t think John could appreciate it.”
MS. GERE: He didn’t think that was the time to tell him that. No, I guess not.
JUDGE GREEN: So, anyway, after we went on a short honeymoon—
MS. GERE: Where did you go on your honeymoon?
JUDGE GREEN: We were planning to go to Virginia Beach, which I had liked
very well, and I thought that was the thing. We were pretty self-centered at that point. It didn’t
dawn on us that it was Labor Day weekend, and that we didn’t have a reservation. We decided
we were going to stop in Richmond on the way down to Norfolk and Virginia Beach. We would
call then for accommodations. They said that they were totally stacked up, couldn’t take us,
bride and groom or not. So we didn’t know what to do. We decided that we had better stay
another day in Richmond or something, which we did. We always liked Richmond, thought it
was very nice. On many dates we started driving down toward Richmond. We decided, well,
this time we could go.
MS. GERE: Get all the way there.
JUDGE GREEN: We got all the way there. We decided maybe we’d go to New
York. That’s what we’d do.
MS. GERE: From Richmond? You’re already in Richmond when you decide
maybe we’ll go to New York?
JUDGE GREEN: Well, we didn’t know what else to do. So we decided we would
drive back to Baltimore and go to the station and take the train. Or maybe we could drive up
there and take, you know, little stops someplace. Well, unfortunately we were driving up Charles
Street, and John had on his brand new shoes. A car stopped fairly rapidly in front of us and his
shoes, his foot slipped off the break, and we—
MS. GERE: Rear-ended the person in front of you.
JUDGE GREEN: We got out of the car. The driver cried, and we thought, my
God, we killed her or something. She said, no, no, she wasn’t injured at all. It was their brandnew car that had just been delivered. Her husband told her not to take it. Ours was a car we
borrowed from my aunt.
MS. GERE: Oh, your car.
JUDGE GREEN: Yes, because we didn’t have one.
MS. GERE: How much damage was done to both of the cars? A significant
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. So we had to leave–we wrote and were surprised that the
insurance company paid. I heard afterwards that this is not the sort of thing that you do–admit
entire responsibility. But indeed that was the only thing we could do. We gave her a note–to
take to her husband, in particular. Also to the insurance company, that it was entirely our fault
and we were so sorry. We apologized so much for the inconvenience and the rest of it. Then we
had to go find a garage to put my aunt’s car in to be repaired. Well, we decided maybe we’d
better curtail our—
MS. GERE: Your trip.
JUDGE GREEN: So we went to New York for about five days. We came back
pretty fast, because we decided we’d better. We stopped here, at home, and nobody expected us,
because they still had all kind of relatives from out of town visiting here. Nobody was very
happy to see us.
MS. GERE: Two more people to take up more space and beds.
JUDGE GREEN: So we went to Washington and went to a hotel. It was not the
Annapolis Hotel, but it was the one that was across the street from it, at 14th and the Park there.
That was when I started to look for an apartment, because we hadn’t—
MS. GERE: You hadn’t done that, either?
JUDGE GREEN: I hadn’t the time to do it. I was working all the time, you see,
until we were married.
MS. GERE: That same fall, Mr. Green was going to begin law school?
JUDGE GREEN: Yes, he began Georgetown Law School at night.
MS. GERE: Oh, at night.
JUDGE GREEN: Yes, his job was as a Patent Examiner, in the Patent Office.
He’d only had the job a little while. They told him that he had to be a lawyer.
MS. GERE: Oh, to continue on in the position.
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. So he started right in.
MS. GERE: Now, how did he decide on Georgetown?
JUDGE GREEN: Well, he was a good Catholic boy.
MS. GERE: A good reason right there.
JUDGE GREEN: I think that it never occurred to him to consider any other place.
And so—
MS. GERE: So he was working and he started school, and then you immediately
went out and looked for an apartment for you to live in.
JUDGE GREEN: Oh, yes. Because we also couldn’t afford to stay in the hotel
very long.
MS. GERE: Right. That would get a little costly after a while.
JUDGE GREEN: So I looked at lots and lots of apartments, and I was very much
interested in the building that you’re in.
MS. GERE: Oh my goodness. In the Woodley Park Towers. Right off
Connecticut Avenue.
JUDGE GREEN: Right. We couldn’t afford that. So right across the street,
across the Park—
MS. GERE: Right across the bridge, there.
JUDGE GREEN: —was 3220 Connecticut, that looked over the—
MS. GERE: Right. That overlooks Rock Creek Park, that tributary, there.
JUDGE GREEN: Well, that was one that we could afford. So we took this onebedroom apartment. It had a reasonably nice-sized living room, no dining room, but I made the
foyer a dining room. Of course, if somebody wanted to come in, it was hard, because the table
took up the whole thing.
MS. GERE: So now, let’s see, that’s basically at the corner of Connecticut and
Macomb. Was your apartment on the Park side?
JUDGE GREEN: It was on the Park side, and it was on the top of the building.
MS. GERE: Oh, nice.
JUDGE GREEN: It had a lovely view. We had lots of black squirrels in the trees.
They were right outside of the windows all the time. We were very happy to have that apartment.
In fact, we stayed in it 11 years, which was quite a bit longer than we really wanted to.
MS. GERE: My goodness. So you would have moved in there in the fall of 1936.
JUDGE GREEN: We were there for 11 years, and for the last 3, we were trying to
find a house that we wanted. First of all, we used to spend every weekend here—
MS. GERE: Back here at Annapolis.
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. And that was the only way we could stand it. We were
always here. But for the five days, we were—
MS. GERE: City-dwellers.
JUDGE GREEN: Right. And John was gone from quite early in the morning for
his job. And then he of course went straight on to law school afterwards, and came home. That
started the habit of a lifetime–our eating dinner very late.
MS. GERE: I can identify with that. So what did you do initially when you first
moved to Washington and Mr. Green started law school?
JUDGE GREEN: I started–well, first of all I tried to arrange the apartment and
that sort of thing. I tried to get a job. I had been so well recommended by Mrs. Lewis that she
said I ought to be able to get a social secretary’s job, to be a lady with one of the embassies or
something. She said I should run an ad indicating social secretary offers. Well, it created a
wrong impression. I didn’t go with any of those potential offers. Then I went to an employment
agency. I don’t recall whether the first job that they got me–I think it was with the Post. It was
as a secretary for their Advertising Manager. I was working there very hard, and they had told
me that the Advertising Manager preferred a single person, and that I’d better not wear my
wedding ring.
MS. GERE: Here you were, just newly married.
JUDGE GREEN: Oh, yes, I thought that was terrible. But I decided I was at least
going to wear my engagement ring. I just kept quiet. It didn’t come up, actually, whether I was
single or otherwise. I just gave him my name.
MS. GERE: How long did you work for him?
JUDGE GREEN: Not very long. Because, as it turned out, he really didn’t give
me any work. He didn’t come in until lunch time, and then he went–perhaps they were business
luncheons–but he was gone a very long time, and then he would come in about three o’clock
from lunch, or later, and dictate a whole mess of things, and then say, I want them all out tonight.
Then he would bid me goodbye.
MS. GERE: My goodness. He didn’t suggest that you could start work, say, four
hours later in the day.
JUDGE GREEN: No, no. I was there at eight o’clock. So John would be waiting
to meet me. We would be going to get a bite to eat somewhere.
MS. GERE: So he’d already worked all day, been to law school, and there you
were, still working. And then you’d meet him for dinner? Oh, my goodness.
JUDGE GREEN: He said, “You know, there’s something really wrong with this,
and I think this is absurd.” It also turned out that he–my boss–decided that I would be able to set
up all of the advertising for them.
MS. GERE: For the paper?
JUDGE GREEN: All of the outside, the ones that would be–not the local
classifieds, but these were the regular ones that were the shops and all that sort of thing. Local
places. That took at least a full day’s work, to get that in. Of course, we were on a deadline. I
felt when somebody told me that they had to have the thing out that night, that they had to have
the thing out that night. He would ask me to sign his name and send it out. That’s what I did.
MS. GERE: I hesitate to ask. I’m sure you were not making a salary anywhere
near commensurate with his.
JUDGE GREEN: You’re so right. I was very unhappy because it was making my
husband unhappy. I didn’t know what else to do. John said, “I’ll tell you what to do–resign.” I
decided the next day that I would see my boss when he came in and tell him that, one, I was
married, and that my husband was not really appreciating this job that I had. He said, “Well, I’d
have to break in somebody.”
MS. GERE: To replace you?
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. I agreed to do that. So the young woman he employed, I
said, well, because he was still doing the same things, I showed her how to set up the ads, and I
told her that these things had to be out by the deadline. She said, “You must be crazy.” Which I
guess I had been. She said, “It’s enough for two people.” He agreed, and he hired another
person to do the setting up.
MS. GERE: You’re kidding. So you resign, and he hires two people to replace
JUDGE GREEN: I said to her, the time came, and she got herself ready to go, five
o’clock. I said, “But you’ve got all these things to do. You’ve got to do these things.” She said,
“Watch me.” She put them, the whole pile of stuff, under the blotter. And she walked out. She
said, “You are the biggest sucker I ever saw in my life.” I came to the conclusion she was so
right. And so the next time I decided that I, on my own, would check out a place. As a matter of
fact, as it turned out, it was a national target company which was a part of the–the national target
company was tied in with the–this is going to take me a little while, so at my next job, I was
secretary for the vice president of the National Target Association. It was a very small office. It
was on 26th Street, just at the edge of Georgetown. It was a rather poor neighborhood. My boss
was very nice, very understanding. It was all kept in proper line.
MS. GERE: Now, how did you get–did you find that job through the employment
agency as well?
JUDGE GREEN: I don’t think so. I think this was one that I answered an ad for.
MS. GERE: Word of mouth.
JUDGE GREEN: Maybe checked in the paper, but I don’t remember. I was doing
tape recorders. They weren’t tape recorders. It was these dictation tapes, that’s what I was
doing. He was very pleased. However, there was another secretary in the place who was not
pleased with me at all. She really didn’t have anything to do with me, but she was the office–the
self-designated–office manager, I think. She didn’t like me. She thought I was competition with
her, or something. I had simply said to him, to my boss, “You haven’t any kind of decent towels
in the ladies’ room. I’m sure you don’t want us to have a roller towel (which was the only thing
in there). Paper would be alright, as far as I’m concerned. I do think that we need something like
that. Unless you want me to bring my own.” So he gave the “office manager” hell, because she
had never bothered to see to this. I got the flu. My boss and I were quite happy with the job I
was doing, then I got the flu. I finally got a letter saying they were very sorry, but they–I think I
was out for several weeks, really, really ill. They said they were so sorry, but they couldn’t hold
the job for me.
MS. GERE: Oh, goodness.
JUDGE GREEN: I wrote to him and I said I understood, but I wondered whether
they would give me some information. That was, I wanted to, if I had failed in any respect on the
job, I wanted to be able to correct it. I wondered whether he could tell me in what respect I
was–what my shortcomings were. I would appreciate it very much. He wrote back and said–and
I said,”Was it because I was sick?” He wrote back and said, “You were a delight. I was
delighted with your work. It was only because you were sick.” Nowadays, could you imagine
getting a letter like that?
JUDGE GREEN: Well, I figured that—
MS. GERE: That the office manager—
JUDGE GREEN: —the office manager had seen fit to put in a word there.
MS. GERE: Probably several words.
JUDGE GREEN: After that, I was unemployed for a while. I didn’t dash into
anything at this point. I remember that I spent a good deal of time at the Zoo.
MS. GERE: Oh, sure. Right down the street.
JUDGE GREEN: I would always talk to anybody who was available. I remember
that I was talking to a lawyer who, as it turned out, I found out afterwards, specialized in
divorces. I told John about the conversation that I had with him, and John said, “Why don’t you
go to law school?”
MS. GERE: Oh, my goodness. That was the start of—
JUDGE GREEN: I think so.
MS. GERE: Oh my gosh.
JUDGE GREEN: Well, John actually had not been doing much reading at night
time, because he would get home so tired from the whole day and so on, that he was not studying
very much. But when he was starting with exams, he was very upset, and told me he was
trying— he had all these books of questions that he was studying. I was trying to ask him the
questions to help him, in my feeble fashion. Somehow I started arguing about the cases.
MS. GERE: That’s the beginning of your legal career–before you’d even gone to
law school.
JUDGE GREEN: John said, “You’re more interested in this stuff than I am. Why
don’t you go to law school?” He had to go, of course.
MS. GERE: So, at what point was that? Had he already been in law school for a
year, or had he been there longer?
JUDGE GREEN: He’d been there longer, because he was graduated in the class of
1940, and it was four years. I was going in the day class. It was three years at the Washington
College of Law. I graduated in ’41. John had, at the point he was graduating, he looked at all of
the things that people were suggesting that he might try, to get some of these school prizes. So
he looked at them. He didn’t want the prizes that were not cash, since we were still in—
MS. GERE: Still in need—
JUDGE GREEN: It was still in the bottom of the Depression. So he found
ASCAP had a hundred-dollar prize, and that, at that time, was like a thousand-dollar prize. He
decided that he was going to write this copyright paper. I was in law school at that point, you
see, I was able to at least check out from the library the different things that he wanted. I
contributed a little bit of assistance and I typed the paper for him. It turned out that they told him
at Georgetown that it was down to two people who were neck and neck on that award. The other
one happened to be an Army officer who had graduated from West Point.
MS. GERE: Oh no, I can see the rivalry. West Point versus the Naval Academy.
JUDGE GREEN: Well, he also was being sent by the Army to law school, I mean
the fellow. John was, of course, paying his own—
MS. GERE: Going on his own—
JUDGE GREEN: His mother was paying his way in the situation. But he didn’t
have a secretary who he could call on to do his work, to type and so on. The other fellow, that
was what he was doing full-time. We thought that this was going to be rough. I remember when
they said they would know who was chosen during a weekend when we were coming over here.
I remember we didn’t want anybody to know that he’d tried for this. We walked to Arnold to
call up there, instead of here, in the house. We went to a phone booth. That was the closest
phone booth we had. We called, and John found that he had been the one who was successful.
MS. GERE: Oh, my.
JUDGE GREEN: He got it. We were so tickled that we came back here, and told
the family. Of course, this was great. John was going to be presented with it. John said,
“Garfinkel’s [a Washington, D.C. clothing store] got it.”
MS. GERE: Well, that was a very good investment, I would think.
JUDGE GREEN: I remember, since I hadn’t had anything from that point except
necessities. He insisted upon picking it out, and it was a very nice outfit.
MS. GERE: Well, small recompense for having to type the paper, I think, as well.
JUDGE GREEN: My father was so pleased about it that he decided to match it for
MS. GERE: Oh, how nice.
JUDGE GREEN: By this time he was thinking that he wasn’t such a ne’er-dowell.
MS. GERE: Judge, now, how did you decide— If Mr. Green went to Georgetown
to law school, why didn’t you just go there with him?
JUDGE GREEN: Well, first of all, they wouldn’t have me, I’m sure. Because I
had never been to college, and in addition they didn’t accept any women.
MS. GERE: You weren’t a good Catholic boy. Probably a slight drawback at
Georgetown in those days.
JUDGE GREEN: They didn’t have any women there. They didn’t have any
blacks there. They didn’t have a lot of things.
MS. GERE: But, they had a lot of good Catholic boys.
JUDGE GREEN: Well, yes, they did.
MS. GERE: Well, what other law schools were in Washington at that time?
JUDGE GREEN: There was the forerunner of GW, which was—
MS. GERE: I’m sure I should know, since that’s where I went to law school, but I
don’t. I don’t know what it is.
JUDGE GREEN: The Washington College of Law was the one that I went to, as
you know. It was started by women for women, but they weren’t discriminating against anybody.
MS. GERE: Oh, is that right? It was started by women? I didn’t realize that.
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. It was started by two women. One of whom read law in
her husband’s office, and the other went to Howard University, which didn’t discriminate. They
thought there was a need to have a law school that wouldn’t have to be so discriminatory. They
didn’t require you have a pre-legal degree. I might say, however, that the class of ’41, where I
was, that was the last one that they accepted without—
MS. GERE: Without a formal undergraduate degree.
JUDGE GREEN: Right. That was another reason, when John found that out, that
he thought that I really would be missing the boat if I didn’t try. I said, “It sounds like a life
sentence to me.” I didn’t know it was.
MS. GERE: Right, as it turned out to be. Well, so now how large was your class
when you started?
JUDGE GREEN: The class actually turned out to be about 165 when we were
graduating. There were 8-12 people in my class in the daytime. There would be a few people
who were just taking one course or other. But it was individual attention, just about.
MS. GERE: Were most of the people in your class, though, women?
MS. GERE: No? Even though they admitted women, there still weren’t many of
them there.
JUDGE GREEN: That’s right. We all were very friendly with each other.
MS. GERE: Where was the school located?
JUDGE GREEN: 20th Street. It was an old white building, and the library was on
the top floor and it did not have nearly as many books as it should have had, but they accredited
it, because the school had been working on getting the books. American University took it over
just about that time, when I got out.
MS. GERE: Oh, just about when you graduated?
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. My degree actually shows American University.
MS. GERE: Oh, so it really was just right then. How did you and Mr. Green get
around Washington, when you were both in school and he was working?
JUDGE GREEN: We didn’t have a car until two or three years after we were
married. We would step on the bus right at the front door. There was a bus stop.
MS. GERE: There still is one there, actually.
JUDGE GREEN: We would make out alright with that. When I eventually went
with Lumbermens after law school, we at that time were required to save the gas and so on, and
so we had to ride with a whole group of other people. That was a real pain, because we had one
fellow who wanted to be brilliant every morning. I decided that if I ever didn’t have to do that
again—. Well, I finally got a company car on my own.
MS. GERE: Going back to law school.
JUDGE GREEN: I had a car about that time.
MS. GERE: Did you like law school? Once you actually got there and weren’t—
JUDGE GREEN: I loved it. I was so pleased with it, that it never occurred to me
to drop out after that first year.
MS. GERE: What did your family think about, with you changing gears very
quickly, what did your family think about that?
JUDGE GREEN: My father was delighted. My sister Kitty thought I was nuts.
MS. GERE: Fairly predictable reactions, probably, on both parts.
JUDGE GREEN: My father was very much interested. He would have all kinds of
questions, when I came home every weekend. What I was learning, and so on. I had some very,
very good professors, who were not tenured professors. They were people who were practicing
MS. GERE: Oh, so a very practically-oriented—
JUDGE GREEN: Like Paul Sedgewick who was a very good, experienced lawyer.
I was delighted with his stories about his cases.
MS. GERE: What did he teach? What course, or what subject matter?
JUDGE GREEN: Torts, I’m sure. There was only one real, well, there were two
over the period of time, who were pains. One who was–all the women warned me about this
one–was the professor who was teaching Constitutional Law. If you had a question, don’t go to
his chambers, because he was really very, very rough. Aggressive. Trying to appall the gals. It
got to be a joke, really. If I had some question or other after class, I’d start right there, and he’d
say, “Come on up.” I’d say, “No, I’m sure my husband’s picking me up. Sorry, I’ll ask again,
maybe tomorrow, hmm?” I never, ever got trapped into that one. The other one was worse, in a
different way. He was incensed that he had women in his class.
MS. GERE: Taking up space?
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. Although there was plenty of space in our class. He was a
former Naval officer, in fact. He spent much of his time on naval battles that had nothing to do
with the case.
MS. GERE: With the law.
JUDGE GREEN: Right. He had a wonderful knack of looking through me, over
me, not ever seeing me. It really was quite an interesting experience, to think that you were nonexistent. At least he hoped so. It made me think all the time, “I’m going to be here. I don’t
know whether you are or not.” He wasn’t one of the ones who was tenured, I can tell you. He
went pretty early on. Not soon enough, I might say. But at least I had the experience of being in
the situation. I understand from some of my black friends that that is the same sort of thing that
they have had many, many times. Have had. I hope it’s have had. I hope it is not present, but I
think it probably is present.
MS. GERE: Aside from those two exceptions, you thought you had some very
good professors, and you really enjoyed it.
JUDGE GREEN: I had a bankruptcy course that, the man, he was just inept. He
didn’t have anything to add to the bankruptcy code. He just read it every time he came before us.
MS. GERE: Well! That would be pretty boring.
JUDGE GREEN: But the others, and Dr. Mooers, who was a stand-by, taught
many, many classes. His son is still in practice. Edwin Mooers, Jr.
MS. GERE: Does he have a son? There’s somebody in practice here, a young
fellow, with that same last name. It could be a relative.
JUDGE GREEN: Edwin A. Mooers, Jr. is the one that I know.
MS. GERE: Judge, while you were in law school, were you able, did you have
time, or an ability to, develop some friendships with other women who were in school with you?
JUDGE GREEN: Not really. One person who was a professor, was not my
professor. I didn’t happen to have her at the time, when I had Trusts and Estates. That was
Helen Arthur. We had quite a bit in common. She became the Dean after I got out of school.
We had a friendship that lasted quite a while. The only other people were in the sorority that I
joined. The legal sorority. Kappa Beta Phi.
MS. GERE: This was a sorority that was just in law schools, is that right?
JUDGE GREEN: It was in law schools, and it was at that time it was, you were
required to have a certain grade to be eligible for it. They abandoned that afterwards, some years
later, but they required an A/B average.
MS. GERE: This was a national sorority, correct?
JUDGE GREEN: Actually, international. It had members in Canada as well, and I
found that a very interesting group of people. The women there were quite interesting. I
remember Queen’s Counsel in Toronto had a nice party that many of us went to, when we had
the annual meeting up there. Other times, I remember we went to White Sulphur Springs.
MS. GERE: So this is an organization that you were involved in even after you
graduated from law school?
JUDGE GREEN: I was. For quite a while. The women did not join in sufficient
numbers so they finally decided rather than take men in, they were just going to—
MS. GERE: To disband.
JUDGE GREEN: That was where I first met Burnita Shelton Matthews. She was
a Kap Phi as well. I sat beside her many times at luncheons and dinners and so on.
MS. GERE: Was that before she was on the Bench?
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. I remember, indeed, when she was first on the Bench.
President Truman appointed her. I think that she was actually nominated before she got it. The
Senate did not have the hearings in time so that she had a choice of either taking an interim
appointment or–this happened I think to three candidates who were up for the Bench at that time,
vacancies. And I’m not sure, but I think that Judge Matthews was one that did not take the
interim appointment. I think that she decided that she was going to wait. She had been in
practice and she was doing quite a bit of real estate work, real estate law. She was one of the
original women who got the vote for us. She was one of the founders of the Women’s National
Party, and she was very active in it, and had always been very much interested in it. She was
very disappointed in me for not joining it. But I felt at that point that I was trying to get out of
organizations, spending a little more time with my husband instead of having all of these
meetings at night and so on, especially after we moved to the country.
MS. GERE: Well, now, Judge Matthews was—
JUDGE GREEN: She was the very first United States District Court judge who
was female in the United States.
MS. GERE: Oh, in the whole United States. I thought it was just in the District of
JUDGE GREEN: No, in the United States. I was her successor. But I was not the
second woman, because there were others who had been appointed in the interim.
MS. GERE: But not very many, right?
JUDGE GREEN: There were three others. I thought there were only two others,
but as a matter of fact Judge Matthews ???
MS. GERE: Judge Green, we’ve talked about your days at the Washington College
of Law, and talked about your professors and some of the friends that you made. Tell me, did
you graduate?
JUDGE GREEN: Oh, yes! I graduated in 1941, as expected.
MS. GERE: Good. And then, by that time, Mr. Green had graduated from law
school as well?
JUDGE GREEN: He graduated the year before, from Georgetown, as expected as
MS. GERE: As expected also. Did you decide together, then, to stay in
JUDGE GREEN: Yes, indeed. John, by this time, had decided that he was not
interested in staying in the Patent Office.
MS. GERE: After going all the way through law school, then he decided he didn’t
really care for the Patent Office?
JUDGE GREEN: Right. He thought it was very dull stuff and he, at that precise
moment when he was really feeling that way, he had the opportunity to join the National
Inventors’ Council, which was just being formed. They were working on inventions for the War
effort. He was a Naval Academy graduate with his degree in Science and Engineering, and was
also a lawyer. He had some experience in these things and was very much interested in this new
concept of having the people who were citizens of the United States help the United States.
These were people who were the very tops in their corporate organizations–willing to be “dollara-year” men, to donate their services–no charge to the government, in effect–and put their efforts
into getting other citizens in the United States able to invent items needed for the War effort.
This was quite an intriguing idea. There were some notable people on the Inventors’ Council,
including Orville Wright and Dr. Kettering.
MS. GERE: Charles Kettering.
JUDGE GREEN: Who had invented the self-starter, and cash register, and a few
other things. He was the powerhouse at General Motors. There was Mr. Zeder, who was vice
president of Chrysler. These people were all making things for the War effort–on their own.
They had the contracts. I believe that Chrysler was making tanks, I think for our government at
that point. They had loads of ideas that the staff at the National Inventors’ Council would put out
publicity. The needs for this and that. For example, if there were lots of ships being torpedoed,
and they were just being used for lend lease. We were lending our shipping power to the British.
We were not in the War at that point. Many people were finding themselves in lifeboats or
something of the sort and couldn’t be seen. So one of the things that came of that was a very
simple mirror for picking up sunlight or whatever the light there was, that they could flash.
MS. GERE: Oh, so someone could spot them and rescue them.
JUDGE GREEN: So that somebody would be able to see them and know where
they were. That was just one of the simplest ideas. There were many. This was intriguing to
John. He went all over the country with the Council. They would go to somebody’s
headquarters, to show what was being done for the war effort at that point. They would have
their meetings with knowledgeable people. I remember that John was interviewed by Mrs.
Roosevelt, Eleanor, on the radio. She kept asking him, “Well, Mr. Green, tell us a little more
about the Investors’ Council.” And John would have to explain it was Inventors, not investors.
We still have that recording, I believe. It’s on a phonograph record.
MS. GERE: He had gone from the Patent Office to the Inventors’ Council.
JUDGE GREEN: He became the Executive head of the staff of the Council. He
traveled. We are loaded with photographs of all of these people. I knew all of them, because
when they came to town they would include me at their private dinners. We were very friendly
with them. Lawrence Langer, for instance, of the Theater Guild–founder–was also an
international patent attorney. That was how he was on the Council. When they would have the
try-outs for the new shows, we would always see them with him. He would always ask me,
“Now, do you think Tellulah’s showing too many wrinkles? Should we have a little more pink
light?” I’ve often thought about this and decided, I surely need some pink light in the courtroom.
MS. GERE: So now, these shows, then, would be here in Washington? Or would
you go to New York and give your opinions of what was going on?
JUDGE GREEN: No, as a matter of fact, John often went when he was up there,
because he was up there very often. Periodically, they would ask him what he thought, especially
if it was one that they had just brought over from England. John would have seen it in England.
MS. GERE: He could’ve been a budding theater critic.
JUDGE GREEN: Well, it was so funny that sometimes they really wanted to know
what his opinion was of all these things.
MS. GERE: Well, so Mr. Green, then, sounds like he was really enjoying his
JUDGE GREEN: He had a lovely time. Then, of course, when we got in the war.
I mean, all of this went on all during the war. It became more and more serious. After the war,
he had the job of going to Europe, to Germany, to get their ideas and inventions. We were taking
over. I guess the military ones were. The civilian ones, such as paints and all kinds of things,
many things that came from DuPont would have new kinds of–well, different kinds of fibers.
They were just starting with the synthetics. They were made for all kinds of purposes, from
clothing to parachutes, and other things that had to hold up. John’s idea was, and of course many
of the heads, they thought the Marshall Plan was helping all the other people but not Germany at
that moment. Before that, before the Marshall Plan, they were entitled to have some reparations.
That was all they were going to get for the United States. There was the Publication Board that
was under him, as well as a number of other things in Commerce—
MS. GERE: So this all fell under the Commerce Department, then.
JUDGE GREEN: Right. He had an interesting time of it. After that, they asked
for his expertise in determining what should be stockpiled in the event of a nuclear disaster, and
study what, where the government was going to move. This would be the people that were
left–to have accountability of the government. It was never-never land. It was ridiculous,
because they thought–for instance, they used to say that he should always keep a full tank of
gasoline in the car so that if something happened, he could get out of town immediately. He
would not be allowed to take his wife.
MS. GERE: He probably wasn’t going to be leaving town then, I wouldn’t think.
JUDGE GREEN: Well, and his car was parked just off 14th Street, in the
Commerce area right there. It was very simple for him to get the car in and out. But, if you had a
nuclear blast in Washington—
MS. GERE: Are you going to drive anywhere?
JUDGE GREEN: Not only that. Why is the car sitting there, still? I mean, in
addition to which, what about the bridges that you have to get around? And since one little
skimming of snow—
MS. GERE: Will put Washington upside down—
JUDGE GREEN: John felt this was a ridiculous situation. That was when he
decided that he was going to retire and come with me.
MS. GERE: Ah, but we still have you back just getting graduated from law school.
So now we’ll have to go back and fill in that sizeable blank. Once you graduated from law
school, and Mr. Green then was obviously already committed to staying in Washington, what
were your plans?
JUDGE GREEN: In addition to which, I liked it.
MS. GERE: Well, that’s good. What did you think you wanted to do upon
graduation from law school. And–probably more important–what was available to you upon
JUDGE GREEN: Well, those were different things.
MS. GERE: I suspect that they were.
JUDGE GREEN: I wanted to try cases. I had not known that I wanted to try cases,
because I was somewhat bashful-feeling. I might say that when I was called upon first, in that
first year, I would stand and I would feel myself blushing.
MS. GERE: Oh, in class?
JUDGE GREEN: In class. I’m sure that Dr. Mooers and Paul Cedrick and a few
good ones like that decided June Green is not going to make any lawyer if we don’t get her—
MS. GERE: Get her over the blushing, anyway.
JUDGE GREEN: Dr. Mooers would always make me the person that did the
purloin and the laundry—
MS. GERE: In the hypotheticals.
JUDGE GREEN: It was always Mrs. Green, every single time. Every single time.
It was–I stopped blushing. I was so used to it. Furthermore, I didn’t forget it. I didn’t forget
these examples that he gave, where I was, but it was a kindly treatment. We all know the
difference. When I started my first moot court case, I was terrified I wouldn’t know anything.
To my surprise and amazement–it was for the trial court, not an appellate one. I was up, standing
on my feet, and making proper objections, which I didn’t really know I knew. It came naturally.
It was one of those things that I loved. I thought it was intriguing and I loved it. I wanted to be a
trial jurist from that moment.
MS. GERE: No one in your family had ever been a trial lawyer?
JUDGE GREEN: Nor even a lawyer.
MS. GERE: Had you ever, by that point, when you did your moot court argument,
had you actually been in a courtroom, or seen anybody try a case?
JUDGE GREEN: Not much. Oh, I did go down, when I had a chance, I went
down to court to see what was going on and that sort of thing.
MS. GERE: I teach at Georgetown, a trial practice seminar that is a year long. At
the beginning of each year, we ask the students why they are taking the class. They all say they
want to be trial lawyers. We tell them part of the course is that they have to go and watch a trial
and then write a short paper on what they’ve observed. It’s astonishing how many of them have
never even been in a courtroom, but the first day of class, they’re certain—
JUDGE GREEN: Well, that’s because of television.
MS. GERE: At that point, was that the second year of law school?
JUDGE GREEN: I think it was probably the third. I’m not sure.
MS. GERE: Well, so you knew what you wanted to do, which was to be a trial
lawyer. Now, what were the possibilities—
JUDGE GREEN: Incidentally, and this was the only thing that I did at night,
because we didn’t have enough people in our class in the day time to have a moot court. We had
to join with the night group for the moot court. They mostly were strangers to me.
MS. GERE: Now, was this something you did with a partner?
JUDGE GREEN: No, I don’t think so. I don’t recall a partner situation. I
remember being very startled at myself, and thinking, “Gee, I didn’t know I knew that.” I was
indicating what the reason was that I was objecting. I didn’t really mind examination when the
time came, on evidence.
MS. GERE: Well, so, you obviously had gotten over the blushing and found
yourself on your feet making well-founded objections. What did you hope to do with that newfound ability, then, once you got out of law school? Was there a likelihood that there were going
to be any women trial lawyers out there?
JUDGE GREEN: Well, you know, anybody who was dumb enough to have a gift
shop in the middle of the Depression is always an optimist.
MS. GERE: And you were that person.
JUDGE GREEN: Well, I would have taken anything–in the legal line, of course,
that was–nobody wanted me at all.
MS. GERE: Did they have any kind of placement program or anything for when
you graduated from law school? Or, how did one go about at that point locating a position?
JUDGE GREEN: John thought it was a poor idea for both of us to be in the
government. Because, years back, at the beginning of the Depression, when there were husband
and wife both in the government, they decided that the wife had to go.
MS. GERE: They did?
JUDGE GREEN: Yes, they did. He remembered that, because his mother was in
the government so many years. In fact, she had lied about her age, and so she had to work a little
longer than—
MS. GERE: Got caught for that one.
JUDGE GREEN: Somebody had told her when she applied for the job that she
didn’t want to make herself too old. That they didn’t want to have somebody who was too old,
so she made herself a little younger.
MS. GERE: At the other end, she had to work a little longer. Where did she work
in the government?
JUDGE GREEN: Treasury. She was an expert on, not only counterfeits, but the
counterfeit bonds. Government bonds. She was really–it tickles me, because John just puts his
money in his billfold. I had listened to her so much that I have my money just right, everything
arranged in order—
MS. GERE: With all the faces going in the same direction?
JUDGE GREEN: All things going right. She was quite a gal.
MS. GERE: Well, so you were now—
JUDGE GREEN: I didn’t know anybody who would hire me—
MS. GERE: Once you weren’t going to be in the government.
JUDGE GREEN: So I went around to the Department of Justice, finally. I went to
all these things that were like Office of Price Administration, OPA. These were ones that were
formed for the poor times. I might say, they came through, after I finally got a job. But not
Justice. When I went to Justice, I saw a very nice, friendly gentleman. I thought that I had much
hope. He said well, there just wasn’t any place at that point, but why didn’t I try to come back
next week? I remembered that John had a classmate of his who had been a judge in Germany
and he had given it up when the Nazis came in, and started all over in the United States. He was
in his class in Georgetown, and he didn’t have any family here. He didn’t have any anything. In
fact he came home with John fairly often to dinner. I fed him because he was a sorrowful fellow.
He told me when he got out of law school how he went all around, everyplace, to try and get a
job. If he were turned down, then he decided that he had twenty more places that day, or forty
more places. I decided that if Gunther could do it, so could I. I went much more often, and I
thought, well, I’m getting someplace in Justice. I did this, finally, about every two weeks. I
would see the same man, who would give me some more chat and then he would say, “No, just
come back.” Somebody was there [at Justice], may have been a sorority sister, I’m not sure, or
she may have been someone in the Women’s Bar, who told me, “You are wasting your time.
They’re giving you–they’re just enjoying themselves—”
MS. GERE: Stringing you along.
JUDGE GREEN: Stringing me along. Don’t bother to do it. So I didn’t bother to
do that. Dean Riley called me—
MS. GERE: This is the Dean from—
JUDGE GREEN: The Washington College of Law. She was still Dean at that
point. I had talked with her about what I could do. She was a very strong backer for me. She
thought that I was alright. She called me up and she said, “June, I’d like to tell you that I have an
interview for you. I don’t know whether you’re interested in it or not.” And I said, “Is it honest
and legal?”
MS. GERE: Does it pay money?
JUDGE GREEN: She said, “They called me, this office has called us very often,
and I have sent them graduates,” She said, “I had this person who called and said, ‘Well, Dean, I
want to see whether you have a good man for me.’” She said, “Well, I don’t have a good man,
but how about a good woman?” He said, “What?” He said, “I’ve never heard of it.” She said,
“Have it. Hear of it. This is a new century, you know—”
MS. GERE: Time to join it.
JUDGE GREEN: Yes. You certainly must be a broad-minded man that wants to
do the best for his office. This woman I can highly recommend. So he said, “Alright, you can
call her and say that she can come in and talk to me.”
MS. GERE: Now, where—?
JUDGE GREEN: Lumbermens Mutual.
MS. GERE: An insurance company, correct?
JUDGE GREEN: It was in the Claims Department. This was supposed to be a
claims adjuster position. They had never used a woman claims adjuster in the Untied States, as
far as I know. I think that was correct. So I went to see him—
MS. GERE: Now, is this, the office is in Washington?
JUDGE GREEN: I don’t know. The building’s been torn down. It was at 13th
and H. And New York. That was where it was. On the north side of the street. Right—
MS. GERE: Near where the Women’s Museum is?
JUDGE GREEN: Close to where the Women’s Museum is, yes. I was a founding
member, too. But anyhow, I went in, and he still had some doubts about it. I had doubts about
adjusting the claims because I’d heard–not necessarily that particular company, because I’d never
heard of them before–Lumbermens—
MS. GERE: Where was the home office for Lumbermens?
JUDGE GREEN: Chicago. So this was a Kemper company. That’s what the
people are hearing nowadays. James Kemper was the president of the whole shebang. He came
on as soon as I was hired, and decided to look me over there. He brought his secretary so she
could look me over. She had lunch with me or something. She wanted to find out what I was
like. Well, I didn’t get fired, so—
MS. GERE: So it couldn’t have been too bad. But initially you had your interview
with somebody here—
JUDGE GREEN: I had an interview with Frank Glenn. The one that was, the
letter that you saw.
MS. GERE: What was the spelling?
JUDGE GREEN: G-l-e-double-n. He decided, how about a 90-day trial period?
See how you do, and you’ll see how you like it. I said, “Well I hope you don’t have to gyp
widows and orphans, because I’m not much interested in that.” He said, “We pay whatever is
required, and that’s up to you. You decide what’s required to be paid.” (End Tape 3, Side 1)