But Pete wanted more. He wanted a solid grounding in Marxist- Leninist theory. Happy to oblige, the Party sent Pete to a national school where he studied under some of the nation's best Marxist teachers. He was an avid student and greeted each discovery in the realm of theory with whoops of joy, quickly absorbing the relationship between Marxist theory and practice.
In the same period he became a member of the Party's National Committee. In sessions of both the National and State Committees Pete soaked up much from his comrades' experience. "The committees on which he served were also schools in a way," Mike Gold wrote of that period in Pete's life. "He sat among men and women who had the science to foresee depression, the rise and course of fascism, the coming of wars and the wages of Munich. They were, he knew, working people for the most part who had broken the ground for industrial unionism in such industries as steel, auto, textile and the needle trades. He respected them and the science that guided them."
Pete not only benefited from his Marxist schooling and his committee meetings; he gave a lot. This small-town boy who had plunged himself into neighborhood issues contributed fresh insights and offered bold ideas for popularizing the Party's program.
It was during this period that Pete, who always enjoyed communicating with people, spread his wings a bit further. He became a columnist for the Daily Worker. Turning out his weekly column, "Inside Brooklyn," was a labor of love, even though he was a bit fearful at the beginning. "If you are expecting a column that will stand high in literary style," he wrote in his first piece, "I greatly fear you are due for disappointment."
In his heart of hearts Pete hoped there would be no disappointment on the score of style. Pete wanted to write columns, articles, pamphlets, yes, even plays. (One friend even said that Pete kept a draft of a play in his desk and worked on it when he found a spare moment.) But he had no reason to worry. Daily Worker readers took to the column speedily, for it was pure Pete -- based on a world of intimate experience and glowing with a folk wisdom.
It was the kind of a column one could clip and give to a fellow worker. Simple and direct, it was filled with the life of the working people. He wrote of longshoremen "who seek back-breaking loads to carry so that there may be food in their homes"; of the burning need for day care centers for working mothers; even of the problems of street peddlers. Nor did he ignore the racketeering underworld and its links to corruption in