Interview with Dean Moede, 04/27/2017

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Chris Owen, Interviewer | uwocs_Dean_Moede_04272017_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


Chris Owem: It is Thursday April 27th the time is about 10 minutes to 3. My name is Chris Owen and I'm here with the campus stories oral history interview and this afternoon I'm speaking with Dean Moede. Where did you grow up?

Dean Moede: I was born and raised in Milwaukee Wisconsin

CO: Did you live there all your life or did you move around?

DM: I lived there all my life, in Milwaukee and the suburb of Milwaukee Brookfield, those two places when I was growing up.

CO: Could you tell me a little bit about the community you grew up in?

DM: I think the big thing is the time in which I grew up in Milwaukee it was 1944 to 1961 and that time the post-world War II era. So it was "boom times" and 1:00I can remember very clearly the excitement and the hustle and bustle of the post-war era when factories were going full blast and everybody had a job and it was a very industrious city. Most of the people that work at work for companies and corporations that has local ownership. They were all part of Milwaukee culture. I was born and raised on the north side which was a very heavy German Jewish cultural setting of the city. And it was a neat time because there was a 2:00lot of expectancy in the air. I remember that as a child people working hard everybody had a job for the first time in many people's lives they were able to buy a new car and purchase a home. So it's a very exciting time.

CO: So then a lot of the work in the area would have been more of like the industrial and the factory work if I'm understanding that correctly.

DM: Yes, it was a very industrious city like the machinery, machine tools, all the major breweries where in Milwaukee and they all have their corporate headquarters in Milwaukee. they made parts and supplies for the automotive industry and it was very big I could remember living on North 27th and Atkinson 3:00were the old streetcars would end because it was the northernmost part of the city and just in that area alone we had the copper hammer and pounding of the steels and the shaping of the steels 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We had Evinrude motors we had Milwaukee Forge which was a drop forge company and we had AO Smith which was huge they had a campus there which probably employed well over 3,000 people just at that one location. And they made all the frames for all the automobiles that were being produced at that time. So it was Full Employment and then of course another thing I remember very clearly about my childhood was the classes because it was just after World War II so it was the 4:00baby boom time. I was part of that beginning wav of the Baby Boomers and our class size in our schools was huge. I mean the average class size was well over 40 in a classroom. And the teacher had no teachers' aids or anything like that. It was one teacher with 40 students in a classroom. That was another thing about the education it was boom time because all the schools were very much overcrowded. Another huge impact that I experienced in my childhood years and 5:00Milwaukee was the influx of the Black Culture from Mississippi and Alabama that was moving into the city because of the opportunity for jobs and Welfare and everything else. So my classes at the garden homes feeder school which fed into Milwaukee Rufus King as big as it was there was an influx of black families for the first time in our lives that we experienced black students in the classroom. And so I adjusted myself very quickly and very early in my life to a very next German Jewish Afro-American culture

CO: How did you feel about that first experience of having a mix of different 6:00ethnic backgrounds in the classroom?

DM: I realized one thing for sure and that was that it was a social adjustment because the Black Culture seems to me even as a child to be a culture that was very much to themselves. They stuck together as a group just as we did in our German Jewish culture and when we were intermixed in the school system it was very clear to me that you could see the separation because of the parental influence and the lack of cross culture in our society at that time. So it was an adjustment both in mind and in spirit as well as a social adjustment I 7:00qualify that by saying that it was a social adjustment not only in the classroom but it was also for example on the athletic field or on the playground because you could see that there was a competitiveness that existed in all these cultures and it was very evident. In the early years but there was in the grade school era it was very little socialize Asian that took place amongst even the children. There were certainly no social interchanges as far as the parents go, 8:00but even as the children go and to carry it on into influence that all the children had and it was because of the close cultural tie that was established by the parents and the grandparents because there was into even the first and second generations of kids that originated or were born and raised in America because either our parents or grandparents across the board at that time the majority were born and raised someplace else in the world. So it was quite a cultural, social and, economic adjustment that took years to adjust. I didn't really have cross-cultural friends until probably my junior year of high school. 9:00It was a challenge but really it was an education and I look back on and say wow I experienced this adjustment at really quite an early age for being born and raised in Milwaukee.

CO: That's very interesting.

DM: Yes, it was interesting it was challenging and I thank the good Lord that I had that experience at that early age because that paid dividends down the road as far as my relationship and the ability to socialize and communicate with different cultural groups. So by the time that I came to Oshkosh as a student I 10:00was pretty well-adjusted. You could throw anything at me as far as cultures go Chinese, Japanese, of which there was very little, black, white, Hispanic, whatever might have been at that time and I basically had no problems relating to any different type of culture by the time I came to Oshkosh.

CO: That's a very different aspect on it.

DM: Yes when you think of it, thank you for recognizing it, it was a very different aspect because I came to Oshkosh in 1961 in the fall and the majority of students coming to Oshkosh from different towns and cities throughout Wisconsin into that college setting at that time came from a pretty, not similar 11:00background as I had, but a pretty same type of background. I mean they came from small towns through Wisconsin and the Midwest and with the majority never experiencing cross cultural ties


CO: That's very interesting just that you had that experience I could see where that would help you coming into UWO where everything was changing around that time as well.

DM: Yeah that's right. UW Oshkosh was just a follow-through to the changes that we had in our society I mean you're talking about the early sixties here before the Vietnam War too. So I mean it was still peacetime and it's still "boom time 12:00"As far as opportunity for jobs and moving forward as an individual back in the early sixties. But here's the thing to I'm glad that you appreciate that because of course this was the first time that really I was away from home ever since I was born. so as much of an adjustment as it was coming to Oshkosh it really wasn't that hard of an adjustment as it might have been for majority of people coming to Oshkosh at that time.

CO: So then where there any other changes that you noticed in your neighborhood as you grew up beside just the racial mix?

DM: But the racial mix and of course the realization of the increase in the 13:00prosperity in the boom times coming from World War II a very tough time and into a time of great opportunity seeing other people not just in our cultural group but throughout the entire neighborhood and seeing everyone being successful I mean it was very, very clear to me that people were able to afford a new car able to afford purchasing a house and looking forward to their future with great anticipation because of the opportunity. That really stood out in my mind as a youngster. I could comment in this for hours but there was another aspect that that had to do with my growing up in Milwaukee and that was at a very young age 14:00I had the opportunity to get a paper route. And I've talked to a lot of people my age who had very similar circumstances, I'm 73 years old. I've talked to a great number of people over my lifetime in my age group even and who experienced the opportunity to have a simple thing like a paper route at a young age. And every one of these people that I related to about that, every one, I'm not talking about 50% or whatever, I'm talking about 90 to 100% of these people that experienced having a paper route at an early age became very successful in later years. Why? Because we had the opportunity to interact and operate as a 15:00business, to interact directly with people by knocking on their doors and collecting for the paper or selling them a newspaper and the discipline of having a responsibility of delivering that paper 7 days a week. It was just a great experience as a child growing up, being 11, 12 or, 13 years old and having the responsibility to of making money. The other thing is that very clearly and people can laugh at this or whatever, but I made approximately $5 to $5.65 a week doing that paper route and it was a morning paper route so I had to get up at 4:30, and every penny that I made on that paper route, every week, I turned over to my mother and that money helped pay the gas bill. I never even thought 16:00of keeping a penny for myself, it was just automatic that's what you did, you helped support the family. So that discipline that I had gotten at an early age just from that little thing of a paper route I learned a great deal from and I go back to as far as my growth and development in all areas of my life, discipline economics, social, everything, a lot related back to that initial first responsibility of having that paper route.

CO: That's a very interesting point. Because even up where I'm from, 11, 12, 13 paper route is the starting point, either that or mowing lawns, that's your first job.

DM: Then that of course leads to another big aspect of my childhood and even 17:00before I came to Oshkosh. That was my job, my first full/part time job. I was a busboy and dishwasher at the first Marc's Big Boy restaurant in Wisconsin and that was on 72nd and Capital and that's where I really learned another aspect about discipline, responsibility, of time and money and everything else. And a very humble job, the idea of working in a dish room and cleaning the garbage room and washing dishes. And there, this was in the late 50s now, here's another little tie here and that is a cross cultural tie, I worked one on one with my 18:00partner and friend at the first Big Boy restaurant in Milwaukee was a black Afro-American dishwasher, his name was Al Wilson, he would wash the dishes and I bussed dishes in and out of the restaurant. Now the question is, why did Al wash dishes and why did I as a white person, bus the dishes? Because at that time it was looked down upon to have a black man in a white restaurant, so I bussed the dishes and he did the dishes and we worked together that way. Very, very seldom in the course of those four years I worked on and off and right into college, my freshman year I was there for a weekend for money and summer jobs, Al was there 19:00the entire time and very seldom did I see Al Wilson go out into the restaurant and bus tables. I saw it coming though, here's the thing, and right before my eyes I was experiencing the cultural change right in the city. There came a point where Al, through the management if the Marcus corporation who owned Big Boy, that's why they called it Marc's Big Boy, I saw the transition from Al Wilson being in the dish room every minute of every day when he was working to a transition of actually going out into the restaurant and bussing tables to a transition of actually becoming a prep cook in the kitchen, preparing some of the food for delivery in the early morning hours and that really broke the 20:00cultural barrier at a restaurant that was owned by the Marcus corporation. And I was right there, I saw it before my eyes, that had an impact that carried right into Oshkosh, because soon after I came to Oshkosh, I identified with the black students, not many, but the ones that were there I identified with the black students on our campus right away. And they could see it, because we were eyeball to eyeball and they knew that I accepted them as a friend. That's powerful. And I'll give you an example specifically. I was on the track team at 21:00Oshkosh and of the few black students at Oshkosh at that time there was one that was on the track team, no, there were actually two, Sam [Mundi?] was from Africa and he was a sprinter and I was a distance man and there was another man, Jim [Foot?], he was an Afro-American and he and I were very good friends and Sam was too in fact, not just because of track but because of, I don't know what it was, it was just a… You know campus was relatively small, you got to know people pretty easily, but I actually invited Sam to come home with me for a weekend and 22:00this was my sophomore year and my parents at that time lived had moved out of the city and moved into the suburbs, they moved into Brookfield and I can even remember that weekend that I invited Sam to come with me and spend a weekend with us and he actually slept and ate in or house in Brookfield and this was the first time in the history of my family that a black person was inside the confines of our home. So I saw right there the adjustment of and the shock in my parents' eyes and the reality of having a black man in our home. It was an 23:00adjustment for them, and for me it was not, of course, it was no longer a shock or an adjustment because he was my friend and he was accepted. I experienced that directly with my parents that weekend and I won't ever forget it, and it was all because I came to Oshkosh and I befriended that man on the track team.

CO: That's a profound statement.

DM: To this day… I'll give you an example, fast-forwarding now, this had an impact on what I'm actually doing now even in my age and it had throughout my entire life. I with the Salvation Army, I'm the education, adult education, coordinator for the Fox Cities Salvation Army in Appleton. And to this day I relate to the street people, I do the soup kitchen and devotions and I know more 24:00people that are homeless in the Fox Cities than I actually have friends, I have more homeless people that I identify with and a great part of that homeless population is black. So if there's a black man or black family that walks in at the soup kitchen for a mean, I immediately walk up to them and say "Welcome, good to see you. What's going on in your life?" and I sit down and I talk to them and I can minister to them. That's the impact that my life has had growing up in Milwaukee, coming to Oshkosh working in the world and being very successful across the board and committing myself to community events. The impact continues 52 years later.

CO: That's profound. That's amazing.

DM: I'm glad you appreciate that because I get goosebumps just talking about it, 25:00that's how deep rooted it is. Praise God.

CO: So going a little bit back into your background. How has Milwaukee and Brookfield, how is that different now as opposed to when you were there?

DM: Boy that's a good question. I'll tell you this, people say "Oh, I'd never move to Milwaukee. I don't know how you can live. I don't know how you can do this or that or whatever" I have absolutely, unequivocally, no problem going right down into Milwaukee in the inner city and knocking on doors and asking people to go to church or inviting them to the Salvation Army soup kitchen or whatever and right in the heart of the district and that's in the hardcore area. Now Milwaukee in general I still have a very deep fond love for not only in the 26:00inner city but in the downtown, the cultural ties that still exist in the neighborhoods from the south side to the west side to main, center, core areas. I can relate with where it was back in the 40s and where it is today. And as far as Brookfield goes, Brookfield is a completely different story because it's still suburbia and it's still high-class Elm grove Brookfield and so the cultural…People when they look at Brookfield or any suburban metropolitan area they say "Oh it's changed. It's changed" It really hasn't. It's still suburbia, there's very little unemployment, very little broken-down houses it's still a 27:00lot of brand new cars in the driveway and so on. A house in the suburbs was a house in the suburbs in the 50s and it's still a house in the suburbs now. And of course school systems now are a lot stronger in the suburbs because, the inner cities and the financial woes and the disruption of the family and so forth as a result in the inner city have played a major role in the family as far as in the city. So I can identify clearly today, having lived in Neenah and Menasha for the last 50 years and still with a close tie to Oshkosh I have still no problem identifying and relating to the Milwaukee metro market.


CO: So then in that area what schools did you attend?

DM: I went to the Feeder School form Milwaukee Rufus King which is on the north side, I went to grade school at Garden Homes which is still a school today and that was a Feeder School into Rufus King. Now if you were born and raised in a neighborhood you went to the neighborhood school, there was no bussing at that time and I thank the Good Lord that there wasn't because I could still identify with the neighborhood, now I go down to Milwaukee, in fact I've got a daughter who's a graduate of UW-Oshkosh who has a family and lives in the inner city of Milwaukee now and now their children, my grandchildren, are bussed to the school 29:00of their choice basically. So the neighborhood has changed from a standpoint of being together. Back in my time period the neighborhood was indeed a neighborhood because we went to the neighborhood schools. So I went to Garden Homes, then onto Rufus King, then in the middle of my high school career my parents moved to Brookfield. So I actually graduated from Brookfield High School, which is now Central High School, then I came to Oshkosh.

CO: So then growing up was school very important for both you and your family?

DM: No it wasn't. It was just something that we did. It was expected of you. I was the first one of the family to attend college. Going to school and graduating from high school basically guaranteed you a job and a career if you 30:00wanted to pursue that road. So I was just at the beginning wave of students attending college and that was true of my class. My class of 1965 at UW-Oshkosh the majority of students in my class, they were the first people from their families to go onto college. So schooling in all reality was not that important, it was important to go to school and be educated and be able to read and write and add. But the thing is you could go get a well-paying job and you had a career job at that time when you graduated at that time in'61 and you had the clear option of not going to college.

CO: That's very different from what it is now, where it's pretty much to get a 31:00decent job you have to go to college.

DM: Or before tech school. Even tech school, the Milwaukee Area Technical College was so small, it was just basic trades and all the colleges and universities were very small in percentage wise, a very small percentage of students attending.

Cowpat were your goals that you had, for you personally, as you were growing up? And then what were your parents' goals for you?

DM: I think my number one goal from my parents' perspective was to grow and work and get a good job, or not even a good job, because jobs were plentiful and then 32:00just grow in that job and be successful. That was very important aspect of parental upbringing at that time not only to get a job but to be successful. And they pretty much defined success coming out of that World War II period and having parents that were born back in the mid-20s or 30s going through the Depression, there was a tremendous pressure on a kid to be successful and they defined being successful by having a new car, having a new home, getting married at a young age. That was it. They defined success. Now when I came to Oshkosh I had the opportunity to get away from that pressure and experience education for myself for the first time in my life and so I learned a lot coming into Oshkosh 33:00right off the bat number one not only being away from home but the discipline at really learning because, like I say, as I look back I don't really think learning, education, was that big of a factor in my upbringing and in that time period, but it became more important as I came to Oshkosh, I learned how to study and how to earn a grade and basically how to graduate and move on. So coming to Oshkosh was a major step in my life.

CO: So when did you start thinking about going to college?

DM: About 30 days prior to the start of class, back in 1961. Really, I'm not 34:00kidding and you'd be surprised by how many kids at that age decided that last summer before the start of September classes how many decided in that time frame to go to college. I literally came up to visit the campus, I think it was early August and I was in class the Tuesday after Labor Day.

CO: Wow. That's a very short time span.

DM: Yes it was. So again you go back to the question. How important do you think education was at that time? It wasn't a big need to do to college and it wasn't a lot of pressure to go to college so that's why I deliberated about going to 35:00college and it was my decision. I came from a family of 4 boys, I was the number 3 boy in the family and again I was the only one that decided to entertain an idea of going to a college, let alone Oshkosh.

CO: Was Oshkosh the only school you considered or did you look at other schools?

DM: I briefly considered Northland College in Ashland and I thought about UW-Milwaukee at that time I also thought about, there was a business school and I was thinking about the idea of getting some education in like a two-year business program, I was considering that as well.

CO: What were you intending to study here at Oshkosh?


DM: I knew, because I was such an undetermined student, that I had to just take some general study courses to get my feet wet to get experience in the college discipline and scene, not only from the stand point of the classroom but also as far as the social adjustment of being away from home for the first time. So I was undecided basically. I had a fantasy about, I was fair in math, so I started out as a math major and that lasted one year.

CO: Did you change your major after that to something…?

DM: Well yes, realizing that I wasn't a math major type I had an inkling that I 37:00would like to get into some aspect of business. And at that time Oshkosh did not have a business school, they had a school of economics. So the closest thing to business was economics so I decided, probably mid-way through my sophomore year that I should major in economics with an accounting emphasis and a law emphasis. They had a real good law studies law program at that age and they had a real good accounting program staring at Oshkosh and that was incorporated right into the economics department, so that's what I focused in on.

CO: Did any of your friends that you grew up with, did any of them go to college?

DM: I would say maybe 10% of my friends from my grade in high school time frame 38:00chose to go to college.

CO: Why did you chose UWO again?

DM: I think it was more for the convince factor and I was acquainted with Oshkosh to a limited degree. Because my dad and older brothers came up to Oshkosh a lot of the time to go fishing on the lakes up here. So I had some sort of an inward identity with Oshkosh as a recreational fishing outlet for our family. So I thought it would be pretty neat to go to school here.

CO: So you had that little bit of familiarity with it almost?

DM: No basic familiarity with the school but I had a little bit of familiarity 39:00with the community. And the more I learned about the school, the more I said yes, within that month time frame form when I said "I'm going to Oshkosh."

CO: What do you remember about your first days in campus?

DM: I remember it quite clearly. My first day on campus was really a life changing experience, knowing full well that I was off to class without any parental guidance and I was engaged in the education setting. So my first day of classes at Oshkosh was, and again here's another thing that carried over from grade school. The class size at Oshkosh was huge. I had, all my classes, I'll 40:00give you an example, I took a history class my freshman year and there were 55 students in the class, with one professor, with one professor on the third floor of Dempsey Hall and we were crammed in there, every seat in that third floor, 303/304, was jammed with these baby boomer learners, with one teacher, one discipline and the teacher sat us all in alphabetical order according to last names. It was quite an experience, then having the option of going to class and 41:00having an hour off in between to go to the library or to the gym or whatever was a pure luxury, I just really liked it right off the bat. I really liked the being alone and challenged away from home at that early time frame. Not having a friend, my friends came very quickly though the people that I roomed with at a rooming house on Main Street, there with 5 guys and we became friends right away and then my other friends came from the track and cross country experience that I had at Oshkosh, I got to know Coach Robert Kolf and Coach Russ Young the 42:00[unclear] of the Physical Education Department for years. I got to know them very well because they were m coaches and some of my teachers as well. So it was a neat time to beat Oshkosh because all these legendary names were still there. Now walking into the Kolf Sports Center for everybody else Kolf it's just a name, but for me I had Coach Robert Kolf as a teacher and he was actually one of my track coaches as well.

CO: So you had that core attachment to it.

DM: Oh, yes grassroots attachment to it in a real setting.

CO: That's amazing. That's really cool.

DM: The other thing about coming to class in my first year at Oshkosh was because of the track and cross country experience. I ran on a cinder track. The 43:00university didn't have an athletic complex so they had an athletic field off New York Avenue. It was called the New York Athletic Field and it had a 4-lane track, all cinders going around football field and the little football stadium sat maybe about 500 people. It was called the New York Athletic Field, it's still there it's a city park now, but that was where we had our football games, that was where we had our track, running meets. All our gym classes were at Albee Hall and Albee Hall was just built there was no… and there was only 2 residence halls Radford and Clemens. Those were the only two residence halls on that campus at that time.


CO: That was still campus' infancy.

DM: Yes, in fact the Reeve Union, the student union was just built. The union used to be in the Reeve House on Algoma Boulevard and that's why they call it Reeve Memorial Union. The Reeve House was the original student union. I wasn't there then but I was there right after the Reeve Union was built. I started right then. It was classic. It was classic.

CO: What all do you remember about your first weeks on campus as you got more used to the way that things flowed?

DM: There's a couple things number one was the social element, these students coming from all over Wisconsin and a lot from small towns, not too many from the 45:00big city of Milwaukee, but lots of small towns. There was a social adjustment for all of us, but we were all anxious and bright-eyed and everything. You made friends very easily, it was very easy to make friends, plus the cross roads on the campus between classes was basically Dempsey hall. Everybody after class went through Dempsey hall, they went to Harrington, or went over to the Swart Campus School or they had classes in Dempsey and when they had class breaks, everybody interacted in passing in the halls through Dempsey hall. The first floor of Dempsey hall was the hub-bub of the campus. There was one key spot of Dempsey hall on the first floor right when walk in the main entrance of Dempsey 46:00hall right on that corner the first crossroad inside that hall there was a chalkboard and students could put their messages on that chalkboard, they could solicit for joining a club or organization or they could ask for a ride home on Friday night or they could campaign for a student government office or whatever. That chalkboard became the key meeting place for people on campus and everybody stopped at this chalkboard. It was the main form of communication among, the freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Oshkosh at that time. So it was a communicating center, so that became part of our social interactions too. That's 47:00where we met people, that's where we recruit people, that's where things were happening. That's where you met people of the opposite sex. It was just a neat place to be.

CO: That's really interesting and really cool too. That it was just a big ol' chalkboard there.

DM: That's all it was. That was the main form of communication. We had the campus newspaper, The Advance Titan, of course. That came out once a week on Thursday afternoon and there was no other form of communication because we didn't even have phones in our room. We had phones, each dormitory had one phone in the hallway for the whole floor. The only other form of communication was direct, we had direct communication with our professors, we would walk into their classroom, walk into their office. And you had direct communication with 48:00your fellow students, which was really an advantage that you didn't depend on your cellphones you had direct one-on-one communication.

CO: That face to face communication…

DM: And that helped out with the social adjustment. That was all part of the first few weeks in campus. The other thing is because I lived in a rooming house on Main Street, I walked from north Main Street up Lincoln Street to the campus every day, back and forth. So it was different than going through a dormitory or even a house that was close on campus, but I did because I lived in just a 49:00boarding house, and just a place to sleep and clean up and have my clothes. I bought into the meal plan at the Reeve Union so all y meals were at the Reeve Union Cafeteria so I had breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Reeve Union. And then I went home after that or if I had a chance every day back and forth. So through the meal plan, through eating three meals a day, 7 days a week in the Union, that was also a big out as far as socialization and identifying with fellow students.

CO: I could see where that would be a big social interaction, especially only 50:00having that face to face contact.

DM: Right. Exactly. Exactly. In fact, that was my first job at the university the Union Director hired me as a night --time supervisor in the Student Union so I also obtained a part-time job on campus through the Reeve Union.

CO: That's really nice. That's really cool. What were some of your other memories of the campus?

DM: The other thing is especially as far as the first year goes is for the first time in my life I was introduced to a number of teachers because I had a teacher for every subject. Not just like high school where you had teachers in high school but you had a very strong discipline of teachers in their specialized 51:00area, history, math, not so much science. So I had the opportunity to meet up with some really great professors while I was at Oshkosh. Including, I was very interested in singing, I loved to sing so I was a member of the cappella choir at Oshkosh that comes from my background of singing in high school as well. So I had a professor Stanley [Linton?] was his name, he was a doctor of music and he led the choral area and I just enjoyed it totally and to this day, I don't sing out in the community or anything, but I still enjoy singing but I learned a lot from him, Stanley [Linton?] and, choral, Jake [Edelheight?], Dr. Jacob 52:00[Edelheight?], business law was a very impactful person on my career and on my college life. We had advisors and I was active with Student Government and was actually president of my senior class at Oshkosh, so I was very active with Student Government. And we had some advisors there and I pledged a fraternity that was a big part of my life and that was Sigma Tao Gama and to this day I have numerous friends all over the world that were members of that fraternity, Sigma Tao Gamma.

CO: That's an interesting experience.

DM: An interesting experience and also an interesting challenge because I could 53:00feed myself and I realized who I was becoming as I went to Oshkosh, I became a leader at Oshkosh. I realized that I had a gift from the Good Lord that I could lead and be a spokesperson for groups. That I could be a leader and that's a quite big aspect of my Oshkosh experience and that is the reality that I can lead.

CO: That's a good reality to realize, especially in college.

Right. So with that comes a certain degree of, not cockiness at all, but it's really a humbleness is what it is but it's also an idea that a gift of 54:00leadership is the opportunity to lead.

CO: So obviously having gone here while Reeve was in its infancy and then working in Reeve part-time. What are some of the changes you noticed in Reeve itself?

DM: I think we experienced some big changes at Oshkosh in those four years from '61-65, number one growth, a campus that was 1800-1900 students my freshman year by the time I left it was over 6500 over 6,000.

CO: That's a huge growth.

DM: That's a tremendous growth. I can remember houses being torn down buildings 55:00being built, faculty being added every single year. A good example is the English department, you can imagine because everyone had to take English, so the English department was huge compared to what it was, it was huge be the time we left in 1965. The math department, the aspects of the school of economics or business class. The offerings, the number of classes that were offered going from a small number in 1961 to quite a substantial number of classes in 1965. Size wise, class wise, physical presence wise, things were happening on campus.


CO: So obviously Reeve went through a lot of growth. What kind of growth did you see more in Reeve specifically, in the Reeve Union?

DM: I saw a lot there because it was an interactive job. I was in the face I was in the front desk. I related to people coming and going and facilitating, giving directions and allocating rooms and having the opportunity to see people socially and culturally interact. The observations that I experienced in Reeve are just priceless.

CO: I could imagine that they are, just being able to experience all the change 57:00that was happening.

DM: There's another aspect too that shouldn't be overlooked as a student and as someone who worked part-time in the Union and that is the at there was still a very strong competitive element amongst students, not only between groups but also individually and a school spirit that was like no other i.e. Oshkosh vs. Whitewater, Oshkosh vs. Point, Oshkosh vs. The Yellow Jackets of Superior a lot of school spirit, a lot of competitiveness even within the school as far as clubs and organizations competing at homecoming time and competing at Winter Carnival times. It was just a fun great, competitive atmosphere.


CO: I'm sure that it was. Because all of a sudden there is growth, there is all the excitement from the growth and it's…

DM: Even campus organizations. You can probably identify with this. Campus organizations grow and prosper and sometimes fall off and die. The reality is that during my time it just grew all campus organizations grew and they were huge. There was participation in campus organization across the board, everything from Vets club to fraternities and sororities and independent groups, all the dormitory groups were all strong and because of the size and competitive nature it was just a healthy college OO-RA-RA environment.

CO: So it would be more like the stereotypical college feel, where there is just 59:00all this buzz through the air of just excitement.

DM: That's true. I think that's a good point. Stereotypical. People as I was talking about this would probably qualify this as a stereotypical thing, but to us having experienced it firsthand it was engaging. It was not superficial in any way, it was just total engagement in the college atmosphere. It was a great time.

CO: What did you think of Oshkosh through this entire growth period and all this adaptation and everything?

DM: It added tremendously to my character, to my leadership skills, to my 60:00ability to relate everything, it was just a tremendous learning experience, inside and outside the classroom.

CO: When you started at Oshkosh were there more men or women here on campus?

DM: I really think it was equal, it was equal. To me the numbers were just about 50-50. I think I did a survey once back in the middle of my college years and they mentioned the number of men and women and it was so close that I think it actually fluctuated from year to year, it was just about 50-50.

CO: What were some of the major issues that you remember on campus?


DM: One of them I've already touched upon and that was growth. How to keep up in the growth. The issues related to that, not only from the administration standpoint but from the student standpoint as well. To cope with the numbers and signing up for classes, the ability to get the classes you wanted before they filled up. That's one thing the growth element. The other issues relative to the campus itself I think had to do with not so much where are you gonna work, the opportunities, but the issue of what to you want to do. Do you want to pursue 62:00this area of education, do you want to go here, if you were in economics or business you had a number of options as far as what direction you wanted to go once you graduated because you could fit into a number of… There were recruits you could sign up for interviews in a big cross section of disciplines. So opportunity was there but opportunity was also a challenge, you gotta make a decision. And I add I basically, I chose something, I went, into something and I only lasted a year in it after that I was something else after I graduated those were the issues and challenges that we had. They all related to the 63:00college setting there was nothing as far as issues on campus, the major issues had to do with the competitive nature of the campus amongst groups, Greeks and independents, private groups. There was always issues related to how we got along and any disciplines involved in that setting had to do with working out those problems amongst ourselves and through our councils.

CO: What was the racial makeup like at UW-O while you were going to school here?

DM: Primarily white, probably 90%-95% white and the rest were… there was a foreign student association, there were students from Iran and Iraq and Africa 64:00and a few from China and Japan, but 95% were American white students.

CO: After you graduated from Oshkosh, did you start working here then right away or…?

DM: I worked. I was offered a job and I took a position with Rockwell Standard which was a manufacturer of transmissions and axles that went into heavy duty trucks and I was hired as a purchasing expediter. Which would be an offshoot that I got through my economics and business background at Oshkosh.

CO: So, then you started working here in Oshkosh in 1966, correct?


DM: And then I started working I was hired back in Reeve Union, to be a business operating manager by the Union Director back in 1966.

CO: What were some of the changes that you noticed while you were here from 1966, in working here as opposed to being a student here?

DM: It was still boom time as far as growth from 66 until the time I left in 86, we had gone through an unprecedented growth spurt up to 13,000 students which is now what Oshkosh is at. We were at 13,000 I think back in the 70s already. It grew to over 10,000 in the early 70s. So from the time I was hired in 66 with close to 6-7,000 students we were up to 13,000. On campus and part-time students 66:00in the early 70s. So I went through this period of growth that involved Reeve Union being expanded from its original Reeve Union to be expanded to triple the size of the original Union. Not the Union as we know it today but there was two faces to the original building. Now in addition to that of course you mentioned Black Thursday. Well I was there in 1968 when the tensions, not so much black tensions but the tension from the Vietnam War were starting to grab a lot of the attention of the campuses in Wisconsin and I saw that coming right away in 66, 67:0067 in the early two years at Oshkosh and I was right there, the student center, Reeve Union was the hub of student protest, student interaction, street protests, I mean the whole thing which lead actually lead into… Black Friday that was just an offshoot of what was really going on in 68. Sure there were tensions between whites and blacks which came out of our cities, but a lot of this unrest and turmoil related back to the unrest related to the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. So it was like a flame hits a flame, the spark was an 68:00undercurrent and it became a big issue, not only in Oshkosh but certainly in Madison as well.

CO: With Black Thursday you noticed beforehand tensions were increasing was there anything else that let you know something was coming before?

DM: I sure did. I noticed a lot of things because I was right at the pulse of what was going on on campus. I noticed there was a lot of outside influence starting to come into the Oshkosh scene related to the war protest and the tensions related with the black culture and those outside influences came from Madison and Milwaukee. I saw that very clearly before my eyes. It was not an 69:00internal thing, so much as it was external.

CO: Outside influences such as?

DM: Such as perpetrators trying to come in and excite, undermine the culture in Oshkosh to a point of street riots.

CO: We learned in our history class about how some of the students held Algoma for a few days and had it barricaded off.

DM: That just didn't happen overnight, that was a growing tension and again I relate this to as far as that was coming from a lot of civil unrest in our 70:00larger communities, primarily Madison, Milwaukee, and Oshkosh for the most part was a peaceable campus until these outsiders started to come in and raise the question of inequality. Now I can say first hand that form the standpoint of not only the students but of the administration because I was part of the administration then going into the late 60s that I really felt no bitterness or negativity or bias towards any minority on Oshkosh campus, if anything Roger Guiles, the president of the school, and his administration were most cordial and friendly towards any minorities that existed on campus. The only thing is 71:00that it's hard sometimes when there is civil unrest in the country and our larger cities its sometimes viewed especially from the outside that if we have an all-white administration and you're running this school you're administrating an educational program and there's a real good chance that people from the outside can pick apart issues that really don't even exist on the campus, but they make it an issue and I think that's just what I saw more of because, and I can say that honestly without bias because I was part of the inner city culture in Milwaukee. I knew what was going on I could see what was going on in the world and everything yet this labeled the administration at Oshkosh as biased a 72:00segregation all white dominated, and so on. And yet Roger Guiles and his staff were so willing and encouraged to work with all minorities as small as they were at that time on campus, but again the influence had such a dramatic effect on the culture of Oshkosh that there was… I could see the transition coming until the point of that day that Black Friday, that blocking off of Algoma Boulevard tensions rose and there was a group called the Students for a Democratic Society, you can look them up in the archives in Madison, and the SDS leaders 73:00from Madison were on the Oshkosh campus infiltrating in and it all related back to the tensions and the anxiety related to the Vietnam War.

CO: On Black Thursday, the day itself, where were you in relation to everything on campus?

DM: I was in my office at the Reeve Union and we had gotten word through the administration that there might be civil unrest related to the black culture desiring a Black Student Union this had been growing over the previous year and 74:00when the Black Student Union took over Dr. Guiles's office and started throwing furniture around. That day I was in the Union and we operated as normal, we were prepared on that day that there might be some civil unrest in some areas including the Student Union. So we prepared at that time with minimum [unclear] that we would have for dealing with upheavals but we were alerted to the fact that this could happen in any building on campus. So I remember that but I … and we all helped [unclear] there was nobody that went over to assist or anybody 75:00in Dempsey Hall. We just monitored general operations, never locked our doors and if something happened we would just have to deal with it.

CO: So, you just went about business as usual?

DM: Yes, being a Student Union, you [unclear] social, cultural, recreational center on campus so it was business as usual for us

CO: After that day, what were some of the events that you noticed as it all began to wind down?

DM: I don't think it really did wind down per say, the tensions were still high amongst all people between the minorities between the establishment. There was an apprehension that weighed very heavy in all of us on both sides of the globe, 76:00that was just an uneasiness and again I keep going back to what we were seeing on TV, while we're reading the newspapers related to the unrest, the civil disobedience related to the war in Vietnam, that was the crutch that is that main thrust of this all. Uneasiness in the country, it was a difficult time for our country and of course it was one of the more difficult times for especially UW-Oshkosh.

CO: So, then changing gears, then after all that happened in the years following, how did things change?


DM: It changed dramatically number one when the war ended and the draft had ended and everything that's another thing you should have the draft related directly to us. Everybody signed up and I have fraternity Brothers from Oshkosh that died in Vietnam so once the war ended the tensions related to civil unrest dramatically went down at Oshkosh but there was still an element that existed from that in relationship to the black student union. That was still there post 1968 and that was never resolved until probably the early seventies because there was a black student union that was established right across the street 78:00from Reeve Union in a house. And that seemed to ease some of the tension but again it didn't little from my perspective as far as integrating the campus because you have a black student union across the street from the main Student Union, so everything related to the Black Culture went through that Student Union there was no integration of Black Culture into the Reeve Union, we welcomed, from the standpoint of the Reeve Union and the social, cultural and recreational center, we welcomed interaction but there was a -- The blacks made a choice that they wanted a student union for themselves and they had but for the themselves and we tried as much as possible to relate to that but, you know 79:00something, as I reflect back it didn't work. It didn't work just from the standpoint that I was at. And I was born and raised in a multicultural situation in Milwaukee and I knew, I knew what it takes. It takes working together and that's not setting up camps, so to speak. And you know, there's another element here too, the number of blacks that even desire to go to school, go on to school, was presentably way down compared to the white population. So as much as Oshkosh tried to recruit black students, we were unsuccessful, as well as to the majority of schools in the country. There just weren't a lot of black students going onto college. Now let's fast forward this discussion with what's going on 80:00there today, in our society today, for example Milwaukee. I've got grandkids in Milwaukee, I know my old schools Rufus King. Milwaukee public school system today there's only one school in the system that really emphasizes going on to college, it's a college prep school in the system it's called Rufus King High school. It's known as the college prep school in the city. Which all their disciplines involved in the system, the Milwaukee public system, but only one that focused ion college prep. So, the numbers of minorities coming out of that big Milwaukee school system still is a very small group of people going onto college. So, in reality, nothing much has changed outside the fact that maybe we 81:00have a little more wisdom in our culture, maybe more people are willing to accept other cultures in their neighborhood or whatever. I think that's true today I think there's a lot of positives going on in our society, but as far as college education, that in Wisconsin, they're just a strong, I mean it hasn't changed. In fact I'd be interested in seeing what is the minority population of students in the state of Wisconsin right now as opposed to what it was back in 1968. I'd venture to guess that it's not much more percentage wise. So, there's not a lot of real clear cut answers to why this is what was this, what's your impression because our society as a whole, and as far as higher education really 82:00hasn't change that much. But our society as a whole from a cultural standpoint. I think more people are, in our country, let alone our state, or our community are willing to and able to compensate for the will and the ability to communicate with all and get along with all cultures. I think that's greatly improved since the 60s.

CO: So, then after you worked here at UWO, so after 1985 where did you go? Did you continue in the work force then?

DM: Well, I was actually hired away, I was hired … there was a general manager of the basketball team that was in Oshkosh, that was called the Wisconsin 83:00Flyers, and I was hired away from the university, I chose to leave my job at the university and go with the Wisconsin Flyers as their general manager. So, I was a general manager of the pro basketball team in Oshkosh back in 86 and 87. So that's what got me away from my profession and my responsibilities as a professional at the Reeve Union. So, I chose to do that, and as I got into that and it did not work out. I was not the right person for that position at that time so it did not work out I only stayed with the Wisconsin flyers for 6 months and at that point I had the option of coming back to Oshkosh and coming back to 84:00my old responsibilities at the Reeve Union or trying something new in my life. I chose at that point to try something new. And that's when I developed my own business, I started my own business back in 86. In other words, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. that was the truest form of the word because I became an entrepreneur, I teamed up with one of my former students that was ten years younger than me and he and I developed a retail sports clothing business in Wisconsin and I did that for 12 years before I sold it back to him and basically retired from the work force. So, I retired at a very young age.


CO: So, then prior to starting your own business, what was the job market like? Was there a lot of availability?

DM: It was still a very healthy job market. The whole job market in Wisconsin and in the United States was very strong right through the late 90's. So when I left the university and left my other position with the flyers, there were still a lot of job opportunities in the late 80's.

CO: How much involvement have you had with UWO since you left here in 85?

DM: I never lost my passion and love for UW-Oshkosh. Never, not even for one 86:00year. So, I've been engaged with UW Oshkosh culture my entire life. Ever since I came to this school in 61, I never lost that. I was on the alumni board, I was active with support things related to athletics and with scholarships and with what else …primarily, truly, the alumni association and foundation.

CO: What are your thoughts on the way UWO is now?

DM: I think from a competitive standpoint, I've mentioned this throughout this interview, the idea of competitiveness, so I can identify with who we are as UW 87:00Oshkosh as compared to other school. I think, number one, far and away, UW Oshkosh has so much to offer and we can compete with any school private or public, in the nation. A lot is what the student, the administrations and faculty have in mind, what kind of attitude do they have? Do they have the same attitude? Do they really believe we are a great university? That we can compete with anyone else? Or we can give the best quality education for the Wisconsin tax payer that helps support this institution for the dollar on dollar at any other school? I believe absolutely so, we can and we are competitive. That is 88:00very important and because of that we have the opportunity to teach and have both males and females go into leadership roles in their disciplines, in a way that no other school can, inside and outside the classroom. I want to emphasize that it one's thing to talk about going to school but it's another thing about doing something for your school. It's a two-way street. It's not what Oshkosh can do for me, it's what I can do for Oshkosh and that's the same for administration, the same for faculty, and everything. If you have a faculty member down at Oshkosh, and it's all about him and all about his discipline all about what Oshkosh can do for him, you can tell it. There person either has a 89:00compassion and a love and respect for the student or they don't, and the school. So that's what I'm saying here, to be competitive we need to have the attitude of compassion and love and we need to understand we can compete with anybody.

CO: So, then going along with that, do you have any advice for current students, here at UWO?

DM: I could speak to that for hours really, because I come from that 52 year experience since I left Oshkosh and dealing with, not dealing but engaging the communities, engaging the job market, engaging the spiritual element related to 90:00churches, everything. So yes, I do have some advice and that is the word, going back to it, get engaged. And I'm not just talking about engaged in the classroom, I'm saying getting engaged in the culture, the culture of Oshkosh and the culture of the university itself and so that means not just inside the classroom but outside the classroom. That's my strongest recommendation and again it's a recommendation because you can actually take it in an actually believe that or you can scoff it off and say oh sounds good and everything, but I'm going to Oshkosh for me. Well if you're going to Oshkosh for you, good luck, it's not necessarily about you as a student but about what you can not only do 91:00for the university but how you even as a student, how you can make the university a better university.

CO: That's some very good advice for students here

DM: Well here's another thing related to that, everybody has got a give right? But everybody can't be good at everything and I don't think anybody at Oshkosh should expect that out of any student and I don't think that ever happens. But the fact of the matter is to realize that you do have a gift that you can identify with what you're strong in and correlate that with the classroom and the ability to lead or be a part of, engage in your university and the community. That's very important

CO: Do you have any final thoughts that you'd like to add to any of what we have discussed?


DM: I think it goes back to where the university is at today and I look at it my final thoughts are related to how the community and how the state views Oshkosh. UW Oshkosh specifically. What kind of image do we have as a school? I believe that the image that Oshkosh portrays is good and has a lot of good intentions but a lot of times we don't get our story out and you know where our story is supposed to come from? Our graduates are people that experience Oshkosh and in every setting, wherever they're at and wherever they're working. Whatever they're doing and the students, this goes for the students as well when they go back home and they talk about Oshkosh, what do you talk about? You talk about a 93:00party or you talk about what Oshkosh is all about. The reality of engaging in an educational culture that is par excellence. That's the thing, the attitude we portray as active students, as active staff and active alumni is critical. In other words, I engaged with people in my community, every day, hundreds of people, through the Salvation Army, through my church, through all my community groups that I belonged to. Whenever Oshkosh comes up, if it's in a positive vein, I reinforce it. If it's in a negative vein, I come up to them, look them right in the eye, I said, I went to Oshkosh, my wife went to Oshkosh, we got our 94:00master's degrees from Oshkosh, all my kids went to Oshkosh. I said Oshkosh is a fantastic school and it has a lot to offer, so I confront any negative biased, unfounded truth about Oshkosh. I face to it right away. Not from a stand point of being defensive, but the reality of who we are. The reality of who we are as a school. I mean you walk on campus now, I ask how many people, I ask this of a lot of people, I said have you been on campus lately? I've been on campus a couple of years, some haven't been on campus since whenever. I say we need to go down there some time, we need to walk around campus, you should see what's going on, not only from a physical standpoint but from a standpoint of who we are as an educational institution. In other words, engaging of the outside community by 95:00alumni, by students, by administrators is primary. And when I say outside, I'm not just talking about Oshkosh community the city, I'm talking outside of Oshkosh, the opportunity to speak about Oshkosh in their setting, in Milwaukee, in Hartland, in Wisconsin Rapids, in Green Bay, in Marinette, wherever we are, to engage the culture in a positive way about Oshkosh that is primary. That's my closing thoughts and I've got many more if you keep me going here. (Laughter)

CO: Well, I thank you very much for sharing your story with me.


DM: I'm glad to share it anytime, if you have any other specifics related to my comments, be sure to give me a call back.

CO: Certainly


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