Stanley Domosh, formerly of Delran, NJ, has given his considerable history collection—over 6,000 books, many pamphlets, newspapers, and maps—to Campbell Library. The focus of his collection is centered on the Civil War era, though he has amassed a sizable collection on our country’s more recent history.
Items of note are books by Harold Holzer, who is considered to be a leading authority on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era, a first edition memoir of Ulysses S. Grant, and numerous regimental histories. The collection also includes books written by recognized Lincoln scholar and personal friend, Gabor Borritt. Notable among his maps are the original Bachelder maps, recognized as the finest and most accurate of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Anyone interested in Mr. Domosh’s Civil War collection can visit Rowan University’s Campbell Library. Samples of his collection will be on display in September and October of 2012.
Interview by Elizabeth DiPietro
DiPietro: You were born in 1929 in Brooklyn, New York. What historical events stick out for you over the course of your life?
Domosh: The Dodgers finally won the Pennant. They hadn’t won for 20 years or so, and in 1941, they won it. The next thing that sticks out was that we were poor as hell, but we didn’t notice because everyone was poor. Of course, there’s Pearl Harbor. I remember my entire family was at my grandparents’ house on a Sunday of course with the radio on. Then the music changed and they announced, “The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor.” So I go and tell my family the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and nobody believed me! They didn’t hear it and I told them it was on the radio, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we’re at war and they didn’t believe me because I was a 12-year-old kid. On December 8th I began a scrapbook that spanned the War and it had every clipping or article from the two magazines we got: World Telegram and Life Magazine. By the time it was over, I had five huge books filled.
DiPietro: From reading a little about you, I know you studied industrial microbiology. Why?
Domosh: The honest answer is I don’t know. Maybe I don’t remember, or maybe there was no reason. Maybe I just picked that. I always got A’s in science, math and history in school. I was always good at [those]. I wasn’t good at English or French. I got D’s in English.
DiPietro: So, what really sparked your interest in history?
Domosh: I’d always liked history. After living in Brooklyn for a few years, we moved to a small town. There was a Civil War veteran who lived across the street from me, and when he passed away, his family went through his things and then had an estate sale. My father and I went to the estate sale and he bought two big boxes of books about the Civil War. The first book I read was Grant’s Memoirs and after that, I just got more and more interested.
DiPietro: What is your favorite period in history, and then favorite part of that period?
Domosh: My favorite period in history is the period from 1840-1890. I don’t have a favorite part. I like all of it from the lead up to the Civil War to the reconstruction.
DiPietro: Now, you are a Korean War veteran. Can you tell me what you did?
Domosh: I was a combat medic. A combat medic’s job is to first get to the injured guy without getting shot. Then you figure out where he’s hurt and by what. Then you stop the bleeding and give him a shot of morphine, and then you gotta get him out without getting killed. That’s pretty much all you can do. You spend most of your time in the infantry and then helping the surgeons.
DiPietro: Can you tell me anything else about your experiences in the Korean War?
Domosh: Well, I get seasick and somebody told me that chocolate kept your stomach down, so I bought boxes of Hershey’s chocolate to take on the ship from Seattle to Yokohama and it worked. When we landed in [South] Korea, [the North Korean soldiers] were so busy fighting the marines that nobody even shot at us for two days. There was nobody there.
Then there was one time, I was in the middle of helping the surgeons and we were about to run out of blood. I got on the crank phone, because at that time you had to crank the phone to make it work, and called Seoul to ask for more blood, but they were running low, too. Then they transferred me to Tokyo…The guy [on the phone] asks what kind of blood we want, if we need plasma, and I said, ‘Just give us blood.’ We were about to run out we really didn’t care what kind it was. Fourteen hours later, a helicopter showed up from Tokyo with lots of blood.
DiPietro: You and your wife have traveled the country extensively and visited many American Indian reservations. What are they like?
Domosh: Indian reservations vary depending on which one you’re at. Some are really nice and some are worse than slums. Most of them have casinos, though, so they’re getting even. They don’t have lawns because they don’t believe in growing grass. They believe in living with the plants that are already there. At their graveyards, they never use real flowers, only artificial because they don’t believe in wasting them. I went to visit Wounded Knee and there was this Indian man there who said he would show me around. He gave me an incredible tour of the area with all of these stories and at the end he pulled this little drum out of his pocket with the date on it to give to me. I gave him $100 for it because he had taken the time to show me around and tell me everything he had.
DiPietro: You attend in the Lincoln Prize Competition. Can you tell me what that is and what you do?
Domosh: The Gettysburg Institute presents the Lincoln Prize in April… It’s an $80,000 prize that goes to the individual who has contributed the most [in the previous year] to the study of Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War over the past year and is generally [awarded to an author]. Then, whoever wins the Lincoln Prize has [the honor of speaking] at the Gettysburg Institute the following year. The Gettysburg Institute is on its 30th year…a weeklong program with panels and guest speakers, including survivors from every major war. I didn’t go to the Lincoln Prize this year, but I’ve been to most of them. I’m on [my] way to the Gettysburg Institute.
DiPietro: Since you aren’t an alumnus of Rowan, why did you choose Rowan for the donation as the recipient of your collection?
Domosh: Well, Temple wanted it and Penn State wanted it, but it was these two ladies, Connie Rosenberger and Judy Holmes, who came to visit my home…I took them to the basement because I wanted to show them some things. They had mentioned they wanted to do an American History collection at Rowan and she, Connie Rosenberger, said, “And here it is.” That was it for me; that was all it took.
Elizabeth DiPietro is a senior studying Public Relations at Rowan University, on-schedule to graduate in May of 2013. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys writing and playing World of Warcraft.