THE FREEWHEELIN' JANET GREENE: THE CONELRAD INTERVIEW
We won't bore you with the details of our obsessive, years-long search for the performer whom we had lovingly dubbed "the anti-Baez" in an earlier CONELRAD feature. Suffice it to say that so little was known about Janet Greene when we began our quest that we doubted we would ever be successful in tracking her down. When we finally did locate the retired (and somewhat stunned) singer-songwriter in 2004 she proved to be well worth the shoe leather. Our wide-ranging interview takes us from Ms. Greene's Depression era childhood to her local fame as a kiddie show host in Ohio through her anti-Communist folk singing career and beyond.
The first thing we noticed about Ms. Greene when we spoke with her on the telephone was her easy laugh and willingness to discuss her life and career with complete candor. Another thing that was hard to miss was the singer's persistent cough, an affliction Greene admits she acquired from spending nearly thirty years entertaining in smoky Southern California cocktail clubs. Amazingly, Greene is not bitter about her lounge-induced malady nor does she regret or second guess anything else that has transpired during her eventful life. This surprised us because based on the artist's songwriting and past affiliation with an anti-Communist group, we half-expected to find a strident, humorless ideologue. Who we spoke with was altogether different.
CONELRAD: Could you tell us a little bit about your early home life growing up as the middle child in the Marcum family of Hamilton, Ohio near Cincinnati?
JANET GREENE: We were very, very poor. I was born in 1930, so that was when the Depression was on. We were very tight then and I can remember at one time four families had to move into together into one big house. And they had four children apiece and we had three. We looked forward to Christmas when we would put our stockings up and we'd get an orange and apple and some nuts and we were thrilled to death with that.
CONELRAD: Was it a religious and conservative household?
GREENE: I would say not real religious, no. I think we were conservative in some ways and liberal in other ways.
CONELRAD: Did either your brother or sister pursue careers in music?
GREENE: No. They love music. They love classical music as I do. That was our first love and I don't know why, we all three were just into that.
CONELRAD: Is it true that at age five you told your parents that you wanted to be an opera star?
GREENE: Yea, that's true. Yes, I heard it (opera) on the radio (on a Texaco sponsored program) and I didn't know what they were saying, of course, but I was absolutely enchanted by it. It was on every Saturday and I used to listen to it avidly and then my brother got interested in it, too, because I was. Anyway, that's just how it got started out. Of course, I wanted to marry Nelson Eddy (laughs).
CONELRAD: Is it true that you studied voice and piano at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music from the time you were 13 to the time you were 17?
GREENE: Yes, just about. Yea.
CONELRAD: How did you manage to get accepted and attend the Conservatory?
GREENE: Well, by this time we had moved into this little apartment house and I used to sing and people would hear me. So, a man— his name was Pat Burke, he was an Irish tenor who was very popular in the area— heard me singing and he thought I was a woman and he knocked on the door and it was me and I was only nine years old. And he just thought it was amazing and he wanted to take me to meet his vocal coach which he did. Anyway, she thought I was so good that she said she would teach me gratis. And I said 'what does that mean?' and she said 'that means for free' (laughs).
CONELRAD: And this led, eventually, to...
GREENE: That led to the Conservatory because they took me over there— well a few years later— and the people there, I can't remember the man's name who was in charge, but he thought I was exceptional, so he said they would take me.
CONELRAD: Were you also attending public school? Or did you do all your studying at the Conservatory?
GREENE: No, I went to regular schools, too.
CONELRAD: You married very young at the age of 17. How did you meet your first husband, David Greenroos?
GREENE: He was in a store (in Cincinnati) with his stepfather and just saw me walking by and he ran out to introduce himself. I think we knew each for five months before we got married, not very long. He was a salesman, he was a very fast talker, he was very handsome. And I was not happy at home, so I jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
CONELRAD: How were you discovered for your first stint as a kiddie TV show host in the early-fifties?
GREENE: I was working in a little nightclub with Pat Burke after I had grown up. Hadn't seen him for years, but anyway, he needed a soprano to sing duets with for his program he would do and he remembered me, so he looked me up. So we were performing in this club and someone from the television station (WCPO, Cincinnati) saw me and came up and said to me 'you know, you look like Cinderella' and I said 'what?' and he says 'yea, they're looking for a new one because the other one got pregnant and had to take a leave of absence.' So anyway, I went in and tried for it and I got it. (Editor's note: The name of the program on which Greene first played 'Cinderella' was "The Uncle Al Show" which aired locally weekday mornings and, for a time, on the ABC network on Saturdays. The show's host, "Uncle Al Lewis," is not to be confused with Al "Grampa" Lewis of "The Munsters" fame).
CONELRAD: What caused you to change your name from Greenroos to Greene?
GREENE: Uh, because no one could pronounce it and they didn't say it right and I thought for show business it should be a simpler name so people could remember it, that's why.
CONELRAD: At what point did you change your name?
GREENE: Right away. Anytime I worked I used Greene.
CONELRAD: Would you describe yourself as a local star during this period?
GREENE: Yea, I would say so, more or less. I was very well liked.
CONELRAD: Did you get lots of fan mail from kids?
GREENE: Oh, yes, parents, too. I got a lot of letters from the parents.
CONELRAD: What was it like to be famous?
GREENE: Well, I don't know. I didn't notice that much difference. You know, I just didn't. I had been used to being in the public since I was about nine.
CONELRAD: Because you had performed as a singer publicly?
GREENE: Yes, uh-huh, and everyone was very nice to me, so there was no big change except that I made more money which was good.
CONELRAD: How much money did you make on your first TV job?
GREENE: I'm trying to think back now. At that time, see that was in the fifties, so I think I made about $200 a week which was really good for then.
CONELRAD: There are newspaper stories from 1958 that describe some trouble you had with the station manager at WCPO. Could you explain what happened?
GREENE: Yes, his name was Mort Watters and he was a horrible person. If it had been later on I could have sued him for sexual harassment. He did everything he could possibly do wrong. And the other women that worked at the station, he would just use them like call girls. And see what happened, when we (the show) went network for a little while, then he told me he wouldn't let me go on unless I did what he said.
CONELRAD: And this was of a harassing nature?
GREENE: Well, he just told me outright that I had to sleep with him. And then I got mad and I picked up something and I was going to hit him in the head with it and he said, 'well if you don't like me, there are several sponsors who like you.' You know and I got so mad I almost exploded, I'll tell you. So I just walked off and I went home, I just went home. And then the next day, I went back to get my belongings, 'cause I had my guitar there and my costumes and everything and I had paid for them. You know, they were mine. So anyway, I went up there and then he (Watters) had this man arrest me. He wouldn't let me on the property.
CONELRAD: So they were waiting for you?
GREENE: Yes. Yes, they were.
CONELRAD: What was it like to spend a night in jail and did your family come bail you out?
GREENE: I didn't spend a whole night--day. I spent about a half a day and the police came back and said they wanted to let me go on my own recognizance.
CONELRAD: Did they hire someone to replace you?
GREENE: Al Lewis's wife took over. She played a character named Captain Windy (editor's note: "Captain Windy," played by Wanda Lewis, was already a character on the program at the time of Greene's firing).
CONELRAD: Did your fans protest and write the station?
GREENE: Oh, they did. Oh, yes. They wrote to the newspapers and everything. Oh, gosh, one little girl was so heartbroken. I had been to see her at the hospital because she had leukemia. She wrote to the station, the newspaper— she had her mother do it, you know. But I had a lot of people…everyone was on my side, really.
CONELRAD: Was the host of the show, "Uncle Al," upset?
GREENE: Sure he was. Yes. Because we had gotten along well. He was an oddball (laughs), I mean he really was, but we got along fine and we worked really well together.
CONELRAD: Did the station manager harass you before?
GREENE: No. Not until the show was going to go on the network and he laid down these demands.
CONELRAD: Did you ever appear on the network edition of "Uncle Al"?
GREENE: Uh, yes. I think once or twice and that was it.
CONELRAD: Is that because that is when the station manager put the ultimatum to you?
GREENE: Yes, that's right. Exactly.
CONELRAD: In addition to the harassment, did the station owner threaten to blackball you with sponsors and other stations?
GREENE: Yes. Yes.
CONELRAD: At your retrial, following an earlier mistrial, was the station manager's behavior presented to the jury?
GREENE: Yes, but not as much as it should have been. In those days they didn't seem to say that much stuff.
CONELRAD: Did you get the impression that because this information was presented this was the main reason you won an acquittal?
GREENE: Yes, I think so.
CONELRAD: How long did the civil suit that you brought against Mort Watters and Scripps – Howard Radio, Inc., the owner of the television station, take to run its course?
GREENE: I think about six months. It didn't take that long.
CONELRAD: What was the outcome? You were suing for $500,000, correct?
GREENE: Yea (laughs). Well, I didn't get very much. I think I got about $10,000 plus all the court costs. That's what I ended up with, but it wasn't the money, it was the principle of the thing.
CONELRAD: You managed to get another 'Cinderella' job in Columbus, Ohio (on WTVN-TV) shortly after the civil trial?
GREENE: Yes, I was singing in what they called a "key club." That's a place where businessmen belonged. I was commuting (from Cincinnati). I hated going there because my kids weren't there, so I'd just drive back and forth every day 'cause I couldn't stand it. So I was unhappy because of that. Anyway, some men came in and they were agents who sold business to radio and television and one man said 'you don't belong in here, you belong on television.' He knew who I was, he knew the story and so he got this one agent to come hear me and to meet me— Dwight King was his name, really nice man. And anyway, he just thought we could create our own show from the start. So I made out the format and everything else and we got some artists together to do the background (sets) and we sold this approach. And what we did was we got sponsors lined up before we even presented the show. And the sponsors really went for it. McDonalds— I was the first children's show they ever advertised on and then Kentucky Fried Chicken, we had them. And then we had some local stores, I think the Big Bear grocery chain.
CONELRAD: What was the experience of working at the Columbus station like? Was it a better experience?
GREENE: Oh, much better. Much better.
CONELRAD: Did you move your family?
CONELRAD: What did your husband do during this period?
GREENE: Well, he did very little (laughs). He had gotten in trouble with the IRS before I even met him and he owed a lot of taxes and so he was like freaked out from that.
CONELRAD: Did he work at the station?
GREENE: No. In fact after a while he wasn't allowed in the station because he was such a nuisance.
CONELRAD: Was he trying to be protective of you?
GREENE: No, he was trying to tell everyone how to do their job. He was like a "stage husband." It's unfortunate, but that's the way it was.
CONELRAD: So, it was around 1964 that you decided to devote your life to fighting Communism through song?
GREENE: Well, it was something different and it was he who was actually into it so much, my husband. Anyway, I didn't want to even go to the meetings, you know, but finally he talked me into going and it was interesting. Anyway, the man was from Australia who ran the meetings.
CONELRAD: The lecturer, Dr. Fred C. Schwarz (founder of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade or CACC)?
GREENE: Yes. I don't even know if he's living now.
CONELRAD: Yes, he is still alive.
GREENE: So, anyway, I thought he was an excellent speaker. In fact, he was comedic, too. He was a very colorful and interesting speaker. You know, I had never even graduated high school or gone to college, so I was taken in by that. Anyway, it was a chance for us to move to California which I had always wanted to do, so we did.
CONELRAD: Was it a handshake deal?
GREENE: Actually, it was just a handshake deal. My husband was the one who wanted me to do it.
CONELRAD: Did your husband talk to Dr. Schwarz?
GREENE: Yes and he told him about me. So he (Schwarz) watched the TV show and he was real impressed with it. He said their (CACC) programs lacked music, they didn't have that and he said it would help to get their message across a lot better if they had music. And I had written songs before. I had written commercials and things like that. So he offered a $500.00-a-week package for me and my husband. It was less than what I was making. I was making more than that. Not a lot more, by myself.
CONELRAD: Did you attend more than one Schwarz lecture before deciding to move?
GREENE: Oh, yea. Three or four.
CONELRAD: So he was in Columbus for a while?
GREENE: Yea, he would go there and then we would come back like four months later or something like that.
CONELRAD: So he really impressed you a great deal?
CONELRAD: But it was your husband...
GREENE: He was the one who was the most driven.
CONELRAD: What was your husband going to be doing for CACC?
GREENE: Help with just the leg work and put the meetings together and public relations and things like that.
CONELRAD: Did he help promote you?
GREENE: Yes, more or less. But he was promoting the entire package, the whole thing.
CONELRAD: And your title was "Musical Director of CACC"?
CONELRAD: How soon after you met Dr. Schwarz did you and your family move from Ohio to California?
GREENE: I think three or four months.
CONELRAD: Did your employers at WTVN ask you why you were resigning?
GREENE: Yes and I got along very well with those people.
CONELRAD: What was their reaction to your leaving to become an Anti-Communist folk singer?
GREENE: They were just very surprised. They couldn't believe it.
CONELRAD: Did they try and get you to stay?
GREENE: Well, they wanted me to, yea. But I told them that I had always wanted to go to California and this was my opportunity.
CONELRAD: Did your friends and family understand your reason for moving and share your mission?
GREENE: No, but they wished me well. They understood, but they didn't want me to go either 'cause it's so far away, you know. And of course I missed them a lot and they missed me. We missed each other.
CONELRAD: Did the station in Columbus put on another Cinderella after you left?
GREENE: No. I think they put a cowboy on with cartoons and stuff. I'm not sure. I never did ask.
CONELRAD: What were your duties as Musical Director for the CACC?
GREENE: Well, I sang, of course, at all of the meetings. What I would do is, I would listen to his (Schwarz's) speeches from office recordings and I wrote all of these songs. I got the gist for most of them from his speeches and then I'd set them to music.
CONELRAD: Were you the sole songwriter or did Dr. Schwarz take some of the credit?
GREENE: No, I was the sole songwriter (Editors note: In fact, Greene was not the sole credited songwriter on all of her songs and Schwarz is credited as the writer of Comrade's Lament).
CONELRAD: What were some of your other duties as Musical Director? Did you teach classes?
GREENE: I went to— sometimes— we'd go to different homes where women were interested and we'd talk to the women about the movement, that kind of thing. But mostly I sang and performed the songs and it made the meetings more festive and people really liked it and they bought a lot of the records— a lot them.
CONELRAD: Was putting out singles of your music part of the original plan?
GREENE: That was part of the plan, but it happened later and it did, it happened pretty quick. So, they were like 45s, that's what those were at the time (laughs). Little 45 recordings.
CONELRAD: Was there any thought to putting out a full two-sided album?
GREENE: I'm trying to think if we did that or not. I don't think so. We just did all of them singularly.
CONELRAD: There is a box set of Dr. Schwarz's speeches ('What is Communism?') and there is a side devoted to your songs.
GREENE: Oh, that's right! That's right. We did, I forgot about that. Yea, we did that.
CONELRAD: Could you describe some of your musical appearances? Did you ever give full concert performances or were you always part of an ensemble?
GREENE: No, I was always just part of the package. I would sing The National Anthem at the beginning.
CONELRAD: Did you spend a lot of time touring?
GREENE: Yes, yes. I had never done that before and it was interesting.
CONELRAD: Did your family accompany you?
GREENE: No. If it was close by they would come with me. But my husband would go ahead and set up all the meetings and then we would go and do them.
CONELRAD: Did your family like California?
GREENE: Uh, yes. Well, at first my oldest daughter really didn't. She missed her friends. 'Cause she knew she wasn't going to be able to see her grandmother and aunts and uncles, you know. It was hard on her.
CONELRAD: Did you ever perform with your two daughters?
GREENE: Yes, we did. We sang The Green Berets.
CONELRAD: The Barry Sadler song (The Ballad of the Green Berets)?
GREENE: Yea. It was so cute. They were both darling girls and they still are and they were good singers, both of them.
CONELRAD: One of your daughters stayed in the business, correct?
GREENE: Yes, she performs in Las Vegas. She's been there for twenty years.
CONELRAD: And your other daughter did not pursue show business?
GREENE: No. She was shy. It made her nervous. She was always so scared before we went on stage.
CONELRAD: How big were the audiences?
GREENE: Oh, I would say five hundred to a thousand.
CONELRAD: Do you recall performing at a 1964 Barry Goldwater rally at Knotts Berry Farm in California?
CONELRAD: Do you recall a group called The Goldwaters performing at that same rally?
GREENE: No, not really. I performed at Knotts Berry Farm because Walter Knott was a big helper for us. He was a sweet man, a darling man. He was real old then. (editor's note: A printed program from the event would seem to indicate that Green— her name misspelled on the flier— did indeed perform on the same stage as our beloved Goldwaters).
CONELRAD: Did you ever hear of a group called The Goldwaters?
GREENE: It sounds kind of familiar. There was a girl named Vera something. She had some good songs.
CONELRAD: Vera Vanderlaan?
GREENE: Yes. I could not remember her last name. I met her and I liked her songs a lot.
CONELRAD: She did songs in a similar vein as yours.
GREENE: Mmm-hmm, but I think I was the first one to do conservative folk songs.
CONELRAD: Tell us about your affiliation with the Reagans?
GREENE: I sent them an album. My husband at that time, I had divorced and, uh...
CONELRAD: This was Dave whom you had divorced?
GREENE: Mmm-hmm, (laughs) I finally divorced him (in 1977) and I had remarried. I married a Spanish artist (Jose Nieto). He was most the wonderful artist and wonderful man. I met him where I was singing. He came in and had seen my picture in the paper. He had had a heart attack and was in the hospital and he saw my picture and it said that I sang Spanish songs and he thought well as soon as 'I get out of here, I'm gonna go see her.' So that's what happened. He had painted the most gorgeous painting of Ronald Reagan and I said, 'you know what? We ought to send it to them.' And he said 'Well, why don't we send your album, too' and I said 'OK.' It was called 'Country and Spanish Flavors.'
CONELRAD: This was an album?
GREENE: Uh-huh. That I had put out on my own. This is different, this was later. But anyway, we sent that to them and they sent a beautiful letter and thanked us for everything, the painting, you know. And I had sung at quite a few of his rallies when he was...
CONELRAD: Running for governor?
GREENE: Uh, yea. I met him and his wife. They were really nice to me.
CONELRAD: What kind of music was on the album?
GREENE: It had a lot of Spanish things and it had some country-western and one song I had written myself called Just for a Little While. I think that's on there. Anyway, it was a blend of country music and Spanish music, too.
CONELRAD: Did you remain married to the Spanish artist?
GREENE: I did and, uh, he died of a heart attack. We were only together seven years exactly almost. Almost to the day.
CONELRAD: When did he pass away?
GREENE: He died in 1984.
CONELRAD: We take it you have remained single since then?
CONELRAD: Getting back to your earlier music for a moment. We were noticing that some of your recordings feature full instrumentation. Where did you record your songs and were studio musicians hired?
GREENE: There was one musician that I knew. His name was Del Katcher and he had a little studio at his home and he played fantastic guitar. My guitar was just adequate and I just got by (laughs), but he was excellent. He overdubbed other instruments and everything. He did a very good job.
CONELRAD: How did you meet Del?
GREENE: I'd taken guitar lessons from him earlier.
CONELRAD: This was in California?
CONELRAD: But you had played guitar on your TV shows?
GREENE: Yes, I did, but he taught me how to change chords and do certain things I didn't know how to do before. It made me play better.
CONELRAD: So, it was basically you in the studio with him?
GREENE: Just him. Just he and I. That was all.
CONELRAD: Is that Del providing back-up vocals on your song Comrade's Lament?
CONELRAD: Did you present your songs in demo tape form to Dr. Schwarz? And would he decide what would be a single?
GREENE: Well, I would write the songs and sing for him and play the guitar and sing for him in person and that's how he would...
CONELRAD: Approve it?
GREENE: Yes, he'd say go ahead and get whoever you need to back you up on the music and Del and I would work on the recording.
CONELRAD: Did he ever reject any of your songs?
GREENE: No, he didn't reject anything.
CONELRAD: So he thought your recordings and your contributions to CACC were kind of beyond reproach?
GREENE: Oh, he thought (the music) was great. He really, really liked it. He said it put the icing on the cake.
CONELRAD: Who named the anti-Communist songs?
GREENE: I did. I think Fred and I discussed titles and usually he'd settle for what I picked in the first place.
CONELRAD: From what we've been able to research, all of your singles were released in '66. Does that sound right?
GREENE: Probably, yes. I never kept too much track of it, 'cause I didn't get money for them or anything, you know.
CONELRAD: The money all went to...
GREENE: All went to the Crusade, yea.
CONELRAD: And that was the arrangement? You would record these songs as part of your job as Music Director?
GREENE: Uh, yes, it was.
CONELRAD: Your song, Inch By Inch, could you talk a little bit about how that was written?
GREENE: He (Schwarz) had made a speech about how termites are and you don't hardly notice and the first thing you know, they've got you under their control. So it was based on that. And I felt very, very sad for our boys who were fighting in Vietnam at the time because the people weren't supporting them. And I didn't like the war. I hate war. But to not support our boys who are giving their lives through no fault of their own. I don't know how a person could be that cruel, to not support their own boys.
CONELRAD: And then there was your song that was actually titled Termites. Was that a similarly inspired song?
GREENE: Yea, they were all from his speeches.
CONELRAD: So, Fascist Threat as well?
GREENE: Yes, because he was comparing fascism with communism which is very, very similar. It is actually the same thing as it turns out. The idea of Communism sounds great in the beginning because you think people should be more equally…you know, so people aren't so starving and others are rich beyond…So the idealism of it sounds good, but its when they get at the Leninism into it that's the, uh, just like the czars are worse controlling everything and like Big Brother, whatever.
CONELRAD: Well, we've noticed that you have a diverse approach to the music styles on your recordings. In fact, Fascist Threat has a Calypso beat to it.
GREENE: Yea, it did. I thought that would be cute to have that kind of beat.
CONELRAD: Was that inspired by Harry Belafonte?
GREENE: I'm trying to think where I got that. I think I got that idea from the Chiquita Banana girl (laughs).
CONELRAD: I have eight songs that you recorded for CACC. Did you do any others?
GREENE: I think I wrote one — it was an inspirational song, not an anti-Communist song— but I used to sing that at the meetings and the people really liked it. It was called I Am Only One.
CONELRAD: Was that released as a single?
GREENE: I don't remember. It's been so long. I just don't remember, 'cause I didn't have much to do with the recordings after they were made. I made the recordings but after that they sold them however they wanted to. (Editor's note: This song was never recorded as a single, but appears on Greene's 1980 self-released LP "Country and Spanish Flavors.")
CONELRAD: Do you have a favorite song from this period of your show business career?
GREENE: The one I thought was kinda funny and the best was The Hunter and the Bear.
CONELRAD: You mentioned you were against the Vietnam War, but for the troops. Did this ever cause Dr. Schwarz any concern?
GREENE: No. He understood it. He was for not letting them getting encroached in our own country and spreading farther and father through the world. That's what he was for.
CONELRAD: Whose idea was it to adopt a folk approach to your persona?
GREENE: Well, it was kind of my idea and Dr. Schwarz and we both talked it over and he says 'well they have Joan Baez, we don't have anybody,' you know? Uh, I'm not saying she was a Communist. She was just a liberal. You know that time, the sixties, all the, mostly young people were swept away by free love (laughs) and all that stuff. She was a wonderful artist, I thought.
CONELRAD: We were going to ask you about Joan Baez and what you thought of her.
GREENE: Oh, she was great. I went to one of her concerts.
GREENE: Yes, 'cause I wanted to see her in person and she was really good.
CONELRAD: Did you see her during the period that you were a folk singer yourself?
GREENE: Mm-hmm. Yea, I wanted to see her, so I went and saw her.
CONELRAD: Did you see her with your husband?
GREENE: No, I went by myself.
CONELRAD: Did you ever meet her?
CONELRAD: Did you ever hear from any of the other folk artists on the left?
CONELRAD: Were you influenced by any of the other folk artists of the day like Bob Dylan or Phil Ochs?
GREENE: No, not really. I bought one of her (Joan Baez) albums when I first went to California because I had never heard her that much and then I wanted to hear her. And since I had a kind of a similar voice… Well, that's when we talked about that idea (of Greene's folk persona) and then I wanted to buy her records first to see how she sounded and so then I kind of emulated her in a way.
CONELRAD: It's interesting that people in Schwarz's organization and others of the right wing attacked her and viewed her as a Communist and yet you...
GREENE: Well, I don't think she was that. I think she was just like a peacenik and I thought she was very talented.
CONELRAD: You mentioned in a newspaper interview in the mid-sixties that you had a very diverse audience and I believe you mentioned that some "beatnik types" came up to you after one performance and told you they "dug" your music...
GREENE: Yes… (laughs)
CONELRAD: Do you recall this?
GREENE: Sort of, yes, it was funny (laughs).
CONELRAD: Did you have any protests at any of your performances for Schwarz?
GREENE: Not enough to even mention. Very, very few. And I never had any trouble with any of them.
CONELRAD: Well, it's interesting, you liked Joan Baez's music and some of the beatniks liked your music.
GREENE: Yea, they did. Well I think artists reach beyond the bounds of sides meaning there's something we all have in common. It's a strong thing.
CONELRAD: But there must have been some difficulties being an anti-Communist singer during the height of the counter-culture, right?
GREENE: Well, I don't know. I just thought there should be two sides. I didn't think everything should just be one way. That all folk music had to be toward the left, you know? And it wasn't, of course, and isn't. I know Joan Baez did a lot of songs that were just really plaintive about sad stories and things that happened and she could really sell that, I thought.
CONELRAD: Did your kids ever get into the hippie culture of the sixties?
GREENE: No, they didn't get into the hippie thing.
CONELRAD: Did your children understand your anti-Communist views?
GREENE: Yes they did. They understood it, but they didn't want to leave Ohio. Because that's where everyone they knew was. All their relatives.
CONELRAD: Did your children get into The Beatles and Dylan, etc.?
GREENE: They really liked The Beatles and they liked The Rolling Stones, too.
CONELRAD: Did they like your music?
GREENE: Yes, yes they did. They also liked classical music.
CONELRAD: What caused you to leave the CACC and how long were you there?
GREENE: Uh, I think I was there for three years.
CONELRAD: '64 to '67?
CONELRAD: So what caused you to leave in 1967?
GREENE: Well, there was starting to be friction between my husband and Dr. Schwarz. And I had done it for three years and I was tired of it anyway. And because, I thought, well I did what I could and its time to move on.
CONELRAD: What was the nature of the friction between your husband and Dr. Schwarz?
GREENE: Well, every place I worked he had always been annoying to people. And it just finally got to where it was so annoying I got tired of listening to it. I thought I had been there long enough anyway.
CONELRAD: You had said he had some arguments with Dr. Schwarz. What were those arguments about?
GREENE: He would try and tell people how to do their jobs and that would not go far with Dr. Schwarz. (Laughs) That's just the way he was. He couldn't help himself.
CONELRAD: But were you the one who ultimately pulled the plug and walked away?
CONELRAD: How did Dr. Schwarz take that?
GREENE: Well, he didn't want me to quit, but I did.
CONELRAD: Do you know if he ever replaced the musical component of the Crusade?
GREENE: I have no idea. I don't know. I haven't seen him for so long.
CONELRAD: I assume there was a clean break with CACC? Did they ever call you to do work for them?
CONELRAD: Did you still feel strongly about Communism as you were leaving CACC?
GREENE: Yes. I still felt the same, but I was tired from all of the traveling, too. It's strange because sometimes I'd be in Detroit one night and then I'd be in Denver the next night and I'd forget where I was (laughs). Forget what city I was in, you know!
CONELRAD: How would you travel?
GREENE: By plane.
CONELRAD: What was it like in Long Beach at that time? Did you have a house near CACC?
GREENE: Yes, it wasn't that far away.
CONELRAD: Did they get it for you?
GREENE: Yes, they paid for the house we rented.
CONELRAD: What did you do after you left CACC?
GREENE: I had gone to some TV stations and tried to pitch my show that I had. But there was so much competition there. Each station would tell me that there were so many famous people wanting to get television shows...
CONELRAD: In Southern California...
GREENE: Yea, and it was true, you know. And they all liked my program and they said it was excellent and to try keep trying, but unfortunately they had so many big names out there that they were the ones they'd consider first. So, I just decided to go back into the cocktail music and singing. I could always get work doing that.
CONELRAD: Did you stay in California?
GREENE: Oh, yes. I loved California. Mainly I loved the weather. It was so nice.
CONELRAD: So you stayed on the cocktail circuit for how many years?
GREENE: Oh, a long time. Well, I guess I started not too long after I left the Crusade. The end of '67. I started singing and I just kept on working until, oh, I worked until I was in my sixties.
CONELRAD: And you stayed in California or did you tour around the country?
GREENE: No, I stayed in California. I did work in Las Vegas once.
CONELRAD: Where were some of the places you performed?
GREENE: The first place I worked at was the Saddleback Inn in Norwalk, California. And then I worked a lot of different times at the Captain's Quarters— that's in Long Beach, not far from my house which was really nice. And, let's see, I worked at…it's not even there anymore. It used to be right across from that big airplane factory they have there— Rochelle's. I worked there quite a few times. And I worked at a place called the Corsican Room, really often, but I don't think it exists anymore, it's in Belmont Shore. And I loved that place, that was such a nice place. I could do a lot of classical songs there and they loved it.
CONELRAD: What kind of music would you perform in your nightclub act?
GREENE: Well, I did all kinds, really. From country & western to Spanish to some opera.
CONELRAD: Did you play the anti-Communist songs when you performed on the cocktail circuit?
GREENE: No. Well, I didn't think it would be apropos.
CONELRAD: Did any of your old fans from Ohio or from your anti-Communist folk days ever recognize you in the lounges?
GREENE: Sometimes, yes. Sometimes they would.
CONELRAD: What was your husband doing during this period?
GREENE: He was always working on some project that never came to fruition. He was actually really intelligent in some ways, but he was nutty.
CONELRAD: What did you do with the house that CACC had been paying for?
GREENE: We had bought another house before leaving CACC.
CONELRAD: Aside from your LP "Country and Spanish Flavors" did you ever put out any other recordings?
GREENE: No, I never did anything else after that.
CONELRAD: Did you make a conscious effort to keep in touch with anyone from the CACC or from your kiddie show days?
GREENE: No, no I did not.
CONELRAD: When did you come back to Ohio?
GREENE: Four or five years ago, I came back just to visit. Then I would go back to Oregon, then I would come visit. Finally, I decided I would come back because we're all getting older and I have a lot of relatives here. And I have a really good friend here, so I'm living with him.
CONELRAD: So you were in California for how many years?
GREENE: Thirty years.
CONELRAD: Did you ever have any regrets about leaving Ohio to go to Long Beach?
GREENE: No, I always managed to go back once or twice a year.
CONELRAD: How do you feel about your music today? Do you still listen to it?
GREENE: No (laughs). Some of the songs I like. I think they're cute, but I don't listen to them anymore.
CONELRAD: Before this interview, how long had it been since someone had asked you about this part of your life?
GREENE: Oh, gosh.
CONELRAD: A long time?
GREENE: Oh, my goodness, yes!
CONELRAD: Were you surprised to hear that someone was interested in contacting you?
GREENE: (Laughs) Yes, I was.
CONELRAD: We do receive e-mails from people who are interested in you and your recordings.
GREENE: It was so long ago, I'm surprised anyone really cares (laughs).
CONELRAD: Well, thank you very much for your time.
GREENE: You're welcome.
The above interview was conducted via telephone with Ms. Greene on April 24, 2004 and May 2, 2004.
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