Interview with James A. Angelucci

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  • Angelucci Family History, Childhood And Teenage Years.
    Partial Transcript: --laughter--"Okay we're recording."
    Synopsis: Angelucci provides a quick overview of his life. His grandfather already lived in America and had served in the Army Bugle Corp.during World War I. His father worked with the Mushroom Growers Association and sold spawn and baskets. His parents were married in 1948 and he was born the following year. At the age of 10 he began working on a mushroom farm rolling out boards. Like other children of mushroom growers, he papered baskets and stamped lids as a child. He later worked with compost, in a bakery and with his friends on a spawning and casing gang. Upon graduating high school, Angelucci joined the Navy and went to Chicago for basic training.
    Keywords: ACA Mushrooms; Army Bugle Core; doubles; Immigration; Italy; MGA; Mushroom Growers Association; Mushroom Spawn; Philadelphia, PA; U.S. Navy; World War I; WW1
  • Joining the Navy; Basic Training; Learning To Be A Radio Operator; Leaving The Navy.
    Partial Transcript: "...and during that period I worked as a mason laborer and I carried cinder blocks. By the time i got to boot camp I didn't have any fingerprints because I wasn't wearing gloves."
    Synopsis: Angelucci discusses his time in the Navy. Upon arriving at Naval Station Great Lakes, he went through basic training. Having been a boy scout, Angelucci knew Morse code which allowed him to become a radio operator. He moved on to Pensacola, Florida where he got his top secret cryptographic security clearance and learned to be a HAM radio operator. His father and uncle had been radio operators as well. He then served in the Mariana Islands and Guam.
    Keywords: Basic Training; Boy Scouts of America; Chicago, IL; Guam; HAM Radio Operator; Mariana Islands; Morse Code; Navy; Pensacola, FL; Typing; Typist; U.S. Navy
  • Return To The Mushroom Industry; Working at Phillips Mushroom Farm; Participation With Mushroom Organizations And Attending Conferences.
    Partial Transcript: "Well I was home and, you know, we used to party a lot. One day we had a keg party with one of my friends father's mushroom plant wharf in the back. My father had a 1968 Riviera and we were there and I had the car door open and the radio playing. I started the car to stop-- just to keep the battery charged and the gas pedal's stuck and instead of shutting it off, I put it in gear."
    Synopsis: Angelucci returned to the mushroom industry in order to pay for damage he caused to a mushroom plant during a party. He tried going to community college to be an accountant, but felt that a desk job was not for him. He then rented out two doubles and grew brown and white mushrooms. When a friend offered him a job at Phillips Mushroom Farm he became an assistant grower. Angelucci also discussed his support for the American Mushroom Institute and how he attended international conferences and served as chairman twice. He also served on the National Mushroom Council for fifteen years. His son was born 1976 and his daughter was born 1979.
    Keywords: American Mushroom Institute; AMI; Australia; botulism; Brown Mushroom; Delaware Technical Community College; doubles; Fiji; Gourmet's Delight Mushroom Company; International Society for Mushroom Science; ISMS; National Mushroom Council; New Zealand; Philips Mushroom Farm; White Mushroom
  • Angelucci Family Background; Job History of Family.
    Partial Transcript: Very comprehensive! I wanted to-- if you don't mind--just kind of go back and get into a little bit more detail about some of the things you've told us about and I'd like to start by digging a little bit into your family's connection to the mushroom industry. What part of Italy were your mother's and father's family from?"
    Synopsis: Angelucci discusses where his family came from and what jobs they had held during their lives. His father was from Abruzzi and his mother was from Giusvalla, a small village near Genoa. In Italy, his grandfather had been a carpenter who, upon having his tools stolen, became a mushroom grower. His maternal grandparents worked in the mushroom industry as well. His father sold spawn and baskets through the Mushroom Growers Association and then worked at Oxford Royal. He also briefly reflects on the racism directed towards Italians that existed in his younger years.
    Keywords: Abruzzo, Italy; Calabria, Italy; Carpenter; Fraternal Organization; Genoa, Italy; Giusvalla, Italy; Hudson Compost; IACL; Immigration; Italian American Citizens League; Italy; Kelton, PA; Kennett Square, PA; MGA; Mushroom Growers Association; Order Sons of Italy in America; OSIA; Penrose Hallowell
  • Father's Work In The Mushroom Industry; The Importance of Respect In The Industry; Rolling Out The Boards at Dicarlo's Farm; Leveling and Fumigating Top Soil.
    Partial Transcript: "So there is a lot of digital stuff out there that has my picture on it and they usually tell me don't give up your day job--so, yeah."
    Synopsis: Angelucci provides more detail on his father's careers and explains a few of his jobs more in depth. After leaving the Mushroom Growers Association for Oxford Royal, his father became a mushroom ambassador. He was well respected within the mushroom community and had excellent salesmanship. Angelucci emphasizes the importance of respect and decency in the industry, which is what made his father so successful. He further explains his first job of rolling out boards at the Dicarlo farm and also details the fumigation process necessary for top soil.
    Keywords: Compost; Compost Turner; Mushroom Abassador; Mushroom Boards; Oxford Royal Mushrooms; Phillips Mushroom Farm; Salesman; Tear Gas
  • Mushroom Production; Attending The Mushroom Short Course; Mushroom Related Scientific Research.
    Partial Transcript: "Mushroom production is gauged in your productivity is in pounds per square foot."
    Synopsis: Angelucci discusses the scientific nature of the mushroom industry, advances that have been made, The Mushroom Advisory Council and the Penn State Short Course. He went to the Mushroom Short Course at Penn State University for twenty-six years and recollects a lecture he attended by Dr. Leon Kneebone. Recent advancements Angelucci discusses include the use of CRSPR on mushrooms to genetically modify them and a delayed release nutrient. The mushroom industry has rejected genetic modification though and focused on growing certified organic mushrooms. He also believes that growers know more about growing than researchers do.
    Keywords: American Mushroom Institute; AMI; Corporations; CRSPR; Leon Kneebone; Mushroom Advisory Council; Mushroom Production; Mushroom Short Course; Organic; Penn State; Pennsylvania State University; Scientific Research
  • Discussion Of The Mushroom Advisory Committee; Labor Problems and Mechanization.
    Partial Transcript: "um--can you tell me a little about-- I'm actually curious about this Mushroom Advisory Committee. Who else is on that? and you know, It sounds like this a way to offer some of that kind of, ya know, connection with Penn State..."
    Synopsis: Angleucci explains the Mushroom Advisory Committee's mission to connect growers and researchers. The majority of members come from Southeastern Pennsylvania and they are currently addressing the labor problems that are present in the industry. Mechanization is a solution currently being examined but antiquated mushroom houses present on farms present a problem.
    Keywords: Dr. Christine Smith; Giorgio's Fresh Mushrooms; International Society for Mushroom Science; Jeff Price; labor; Lambert Spawn Company; MAC; Mechanization; Mushroom Advisory Council; Southeastern Pennsylvania
  • Skills Learned In The Navy That Were Utilized Later In Life; Opinions on Modern American Society; Pursuing Higher Education; The Influence of Civilian Skills On His Time In The Navy.
    Partial Transcript: So just to--um-- go back to your own narrative a little bit...
    Synopsis: Angelucci explains how the skills he acquired in the military helped him later on. Although he did not pursue a career in cryptography, the respect and discipline he learned in the Navy aided him throughout life. He believes that people need to learn these skills because society is lacking of them. Angelucci also discusses his brief attempt at earning a degree by attending night classes at Penn State University. Finally he discusses the importance of having done household labor on his family life and his time in the Navy.
    Keywords: Childhood; Family; Guam; Hercules Inc.; Montecatini; Navy; Penn State University; Philadelphia, PA; U.S.S. Pueblo; United States Navy; Vietnam; Vietnam War; Washington D.C.; Wilmington, DE
  • Reluctance To Rejoin The Mushroom Industry; Work History Prior To Rejoining The Mushroom Industry; Jobs Held at Phillips Mushroom Farms.
    Partial Transcript: "You mentioned earlier that when you--um--when you left the military and came back home."
    Synopsis: Angelucci originally had no interest in becoming a mushroom grower but became one after he needed to pay his father back. He did not want to become one because it was not glamorous work, required him to stay in Kennett Square and also looked like a dead end for his future. Upon returning from the Navy he worked various places while pursuing an accounting degree from Delaware Technical Community College. After owning his own growing operation, he left for Phillips and still works there. At Phillips he did many jobs and eventually became General Manager.
    Keywords: Delaware Technical Community College; Dupont; Kennett Cafe; Kennett Square, PA; Liar's Poker; Mushroom Growing; Phillips Mushroom Farms; Shiitake Mushrooms; Specialty Mushrooms; White Mushrooms; Wilmington Trust
  • Favorite Job And Accomplishments at Phillips Mushroom Farms.
    Partial Transcript: "You--you've had a hand in lots of different facets. Would you say basically every facet of the business?"
    Synopsis: Angelucci's favorite job he has done at Phillips is overseeing the building of new buildings. He had recently made the plans for a worker's dormitory, which were approved of and built. During his time at Phillips he did all sorts of jobs that worked to improve the company. He has no plans of leaving the Phillips Company due to the time he has already invested in the company and his personal connection to the owners.
    Keywords: Donald Phillips; Engineering; Limited Liability Corporation; Marshall Phillips; Phillips Mushroom Farms
  • Phillips Mushroom Farms Producing And Selling Exotic Mushrooms; Timeline of Mushroom Sales and Production; Demographic Purchasing Exotic Mushrooms.
    Partial Transcript: "It seems to me that you've witnessed or helped oversee a number of big changes at Phillips, including--um-- the move into producing exotics exclusively."
    Synopsis: Angelucci first discusses how large companies got involved in the mushroom growing business. Phillips Mushroom Farms now had to compete with these companies and moved towards selling exotic mushrooms. He gives a timeline of the types of mushrooms Phillips sold and explains that exotic mushrooms were a niche market that nobody else sold in large quantities. The people who bought these mushrooms were generally professionals with no children and disposable income. He also explains the importance of demographics and how marketing works at a supermarket.
    Keywords: Amfac Incorporated; Brown Mushrooms; Campbell Soup Company; Castle and Cooke; Donald Phillips; Exotic Mushrooms; Giant Food Stores, LLC.; Japan; Jim Roberts; Lambert Spawn Company; Maryland; Phillips Mushroom Farms; Ralston Purina; Shiitake Mushrooms; White Mushrooms
  • Certified Organic Mushroom Growing.
    Partial Transcript: "I do want to ask you about the Mushroom Council in a moment, but--um--before we do I also wanted to ask you about that transition at Philips--um--to--um--to getting organic certification. Were you a apart of that process?"
    Synopsis: Phillips Mushroom Farms began growing certified organic mushrooms in 1993. After three years of growing them, they were granted the official certification. Phillips was one of the first mushroom growers to grow organic mushrooms. Angelucci explains the steps that are necessary to maintain this certification.
    Keywords: Certified Organic Mushrooms; Exotic Mushroom; Organic Certification; Penn State; Pennsylvania State University; State Regulations
  • History Of The American Mushroom Institute And The Mushroom Advisory Council; Expanding The AMI And MAC; Mushroom Advocacy And Politics; Health Benefits Of Mushrooms.
    Partial Transcript: "um--so you've been involved in a number of different organizations that, you know, advocate for the mushroom industry or give input to--whether its USDA, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Penn State--in the ways that you were talking about it before."
    Synopsis: Angelucci discusses the history of the American Mushroom Institute and the Mushroom Advisory Council. He explains the internal conflicts that occurred over where the headquarters of the AMI should be. The AMI headquarters would later be moved to Washington D.C. He also discusses the presence of a mushroom research act in the 1990 Farm Bill and mushroom research that occurred. Two results of this research were blending and nutraceuticals. He attended a Supreme Court hearing regarding the marketing of mushrooms and research.
    Keywords: American Mushroom Institute; AMI; California; Dallas,TX; Jack Cooker; John Roberts; Kennett Square, PA; MAC; Maitake Mushroom; Mushroom Advisory Council; North Carolina; Nutraceutical; Phillips Mushroom Farms; politics; San Antonio, TX; Southeastern Pennsylvania; Supreme Court; Tennessee; The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio; United States Supreme Court; USDA; Washington D.C.; White Mushroom
  • Promotional Strategies Used By The Mushroom Industry; Consumer Trends; Government Role in Mushroom Industry; How The Industry Has Changed And Remained The Same.
    Partial Transcript: "Were there other kind of promotional strategies that--um--the industry was using previously--um--to either influence consumer behavior or--"
    Synopsis: Marketing strategies used by the mushroom industry are discussed by Angelucci. The industry used shelftalkers, in-store radio and cross-merchandising to promote the sale of mushrooms. He believes that the mushroom industry suffers from the under-consumption of mushrooms. He also reflects on what has changed and remained the same in the industry, while highlighting his respect for Latino workers.
    Keywords: Advertisement; Labor Law; Marketing; Workers
  • Favorite Aspect Of Mushroom Work; The Death Of Two Workers.
    Partial Transcript: "What have you liked most about your time in the mushroom industry?"
    Synopsis: Angelucci's favorite aspects of working in the mushroom industry are discussed. His favorite aspects were the flexibility of the work and the travel. If he could do it all over again, he would choose to work in the mushroom industry. He also recounts the unfortunate death of two workers after a lightning strike.
    Keywords: Mushroom Conferences; Workers
  • Immigration Authorities and the Mushroom Industry; Helping Workers Earn Citizenship; Labor Shortages; First Mushroom Related Memory.
    Partial Transcript: "--and immigration raids and things like that, you know?"
    Synopsis: Immigration is very important in supplying the workforce for the mushroom industry. Angelucci reflects on how immigration laws have effected the industry and briefly mentions ICE raids. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 allowed agricultural workers to apply for citizenship. He predicts that if the government deported every undocumented worker, the industry would close. Angelucci finally recollects his first mushroom related memory filling mushroom boards with his brother.
    Keywords: ICE; Illegal Immigration; Immigration; Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986; Italian; Migrant Workers; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Undocumented Workers; Verona, Italy