Oral Histories

Interview of John C. Cuneo

California state director for the Townsend Plan, a state-sponsored pension plan proposal. Appointee to the California State Social Welfare Board.
The Townsend Plan in Retrospect
Politics and Government
Schippers, Donald J.
Cuneo, John C.
Persons Present:
Cuneo and Schippers. Mrs. Cuneo was present during all but one of the sessions.
Place Conducted:
Cuneo's home in Modesto, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Donald J. Schippers, Interviewer-Editor, Oral History Program, UCLA; B.A., UCLA; M.A., American history, Occidental College; M.L.S., library service, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
Ronald F. Barr, Editor, UCLA Oral History Program, edited the interview. A verbatim transcription of the tape recordings was completed January 1969. The editor did an audit-edit of the manuscript. The editing was minor in nature; punctuation was introduced, spelling corrected, names verified, syntax slightly emended. The chronology of the interviews was retained, with no rearrangement of the material. The editing was completed July 1969· Cuneo reviewed and approved the edited manuscript, from which this final form was typed. Proper names were verified and occasional words and phrases were changed or deleted. The index and supporting documents were prepared by Bernard Galm, Editor-Interviewer, Oral History Program, UCLA.
4 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Family background; father's migration from Italy and arrival in San Francisco, 1878; childhood on Amador County ranch; clannishness of Italian farm community; business and community activities in Modesto area; appointment to California State Social Welfare Board, 1940; early involvement with Francis E. Townsend and Townsend Plan, 1934; old-age assistance programs during Depression; need for more humane and dignified treatment of the elderly; membership of Townsend movement; Sheridan Downey and Claude Pepper; appointment as state director, Townsend Plan, 1938; structure of Town-send Plan; organization of Townsend party; decline of Townsend movement; effect of World War II, Korean War, Ham and Eggs movement of George McLain, and citizens' acceptance of poverty as normal condition; Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty, Medi-care, labor union pensions, gross income tax, and social security; Townsend, Gerald L. K. Smith, and Father Charles Coughlin; Cuneo collection deposited at UCLA, 1953.