Second Interview Insert Key
Introduction of Interviewers
Can you please state and spell your name?
name is John Kerner.
What is your earliest memory as a child?
Can you remember any details from it?
No, at that age I couldn't. The next earliest is I remember moving to San Francisco when I was around 3 and I remember riding in an elevator to where we were staying temporarily, with a kiddie car. That was a gift.
Can you share with us the story behind why you changed your name?
Yes. I'm Jewish, and during World War Two and around that time, I noticed that there was very often prejudice because of a name, not because of the individual or his accomplishments. And it seemed to me that my children would have a much better shot at life if they had no pre-conceived opinions about them and their choice of religion. So I thought it would be better for my children. I had experienced unpleasantness in my lifetime because of my religion and I thought it would be easier for my children if they weren't pre-judged.
Can you talk about any experiences before the war when you felt prejudice because of your religion?
In San Francisco where I lived most of my life, I never was aware of any prejudice. But when my family temporarily moved to Boston for a year and a half, the school that I went to was the first time I was ever called in an unpleasant way being called a Jew by my classmates. That was my first experience. I had never had anything like that in San Francisco.
You said that you moved around a lot because of your father's work. How did living in many different places help or affect your perspective on life growing up?
It made it more difficult to form permanent friendships, but on the other hand it made it easier for me to adjust as I went through life because I could meet strangers like you and relate to them easier than most of my contemporaries. So it was not a total loss.