Interview with Eugene Winkler, 04/30/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Jarett Mack, Interviewer | uwocs_Eugene_Winkler_04302018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

0:00

´╗┐JM: All right. It is April 30th, 2018. Um, the time is about 1:00 PM. I'm interviewing Eugene Winkler. we're going to be discussing his time at UW Oshkosh. So Eugene, where did you grow up?

EW: I grew up across the lake in Chilton, Wisconsin. Witch is, It was at that time a town of about 2,500 people there. I spent most of my school years there and uh, uh, only left home for the first time when I went into the army.

JM: Yeah. What age did you go into the army at? Nineteen. Nineteen.

EW: I was drafted. That was the, a period of the Korean ah what did they call it? They didn't call it war. Um, they had another name for it, but it was the 1:00Korean War which lasted from 1951 through 1955.

JM: And were you stationed over there?

EW: No, I never went to Korea. I spent all, let's see, I had my basic training in camp, Gordon, Georgia. I went and that was the Signal school, the southeastern Signal school. And uh, uh, I went to, I went to school there for eight weeks after, after basic training and I hung around the way the army does it. I wasn't transferred or sent anywhere else for about a month and a half or two months. Then we, then they sent me on to school more school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, which is the headquarters of the Signal Corp, I should say, was headquarters support. Monmouth is no longer there and there I went to 2:00school for some more time. And um, then, uh, I was attached to a company called Signal company just rotated back from Korea and uh, uh, spend a few months there and then, then I was sent to Germany and I spent about the last eight months of my service in Augsburg, Germany with the fifth infantry regiment or fifth infantry. Was it? Fifth infantry, um, fifth signal company. And uh, that's, that's where I ended up my military career. Such as it was.

JM: Alright. So going back to sort of, um, your community and where you grew up, so what was it like growing up in your community? Like what, what was the kind 3:00of workforce at the time there in the community, what was sort of involvement,

EW: Ok, It was a small town which serviced a rural area around it. And uh, uh, so there are things like feed mills and stuff like that that were farmers came and in the farmer's wives came on Friday night to do their grocery shopping, things like that. A small industry, uh, but largely dairy farmers around the area. And uh, um, it was just this almost like Mayberry. I don't know if you know what Mayberry is or not?

JM: Sorta, It sounds kind of like my hometown. I grew up in waupun, which is not too far from here. So it's another small little town where it's kind of based around farming is a big impact there. So did the people you grew up with in that community, did they typically go to college or were they more, sort of going 4:00into the workforce?

EW: No, well at that time, I was the first one in my, in my family to go to college. Um, I had two first cousins who went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which was strange. And those days, because I'm used to say that women went to college to get a husband, you know, but, uh, uh, they both, both had careers. One of them is still alive and uh, so, um, but it was not a not accept, well, it's accepted to go to college, but it wasn't, wasn't a sought after the average. Um, the, the terminal, uh, education was high school graduation and not 5:00everybody did that. Some people would drop out when they could. He'd reached me at age 16 and uh, um, they, they couldn't get a job.

JM: It was much easier back then to take a job out of high school.

EW: um right, a very few of them went to college. And so, uh, it was, uh, it was different.

JM: What was your parents' view on this, or your family members, on you going to college?

EW: O, they were all for it. My parents did not go to college. Um, and, uh, they, they wanted an education for me. So, uh, that was, that was fine. Um,

JM: so where was your family from? Where did your mom and dad come from? Were they also raised in Wisconsin or.

6:00

EW: Um, my mother came from, was from, from the Chilton area. Grew up on a farm, uh, east of Chilton 140 acres. And uh, she had three brothers and her family. Um, the, the sons, the brothers, her brothers pretty much stayed on the farm until World War II. Then all three of them went into the military when they came back, none of them wanted to be farmers. Oh, um, uh, my, my mother's family, my grandmother and her siblings and her parents came from Germany. So, uh, that's, that's my background on that side, on my father's side, my great grandfather 7:00came to the United States and uh, in the 1840's and they were also farmers and uh, my great grandfather was a civil war veteran and uh, uh, so, and, and, and German. And so my, my background is mostly German.

JM: See that's pretty common.

EW: very common with smatterings of English, Irish and Welsh, you know, so, so that, that, that's pretty much my pedigree.

JM: Alright. And then, um, what type of work did your parents do? What was your.

EW: Okay, um, before she was married. My mother was in service, she was a maid in Milwaukee for a family of an industrialists and I can't remember their names 8:00now. Um, but, um, they, they lived in Milwaukee during them during the cooler months and went to Florida Palm Beach for the, for the rest of the year. She did not travel with them. She didn't not go down there. So, but, uh, that was, that was her background. My father, um pretty much roamed the country during the depression. Om picking up work wherever he could, farm labor, uh, that sort of stuff. Um, traveled with the circus for a while. Uh, not the major ringling brothers, but, uh, they did have elephants and uh, um, it was, it was a place where he could depend on food, shelter, and clothing during, during that time. 9:00So that was, that was before he and my mother married, um, they were married in 1932. And, uh, uh, we lived with my grandparents, my maternal grandparents until I was almost five. And then we moved to a small apartment in Chilton where I started kindergarten when I was five, so that, that's my early childhood. So, um, I lived with my grandparents or three, three generations in the family living, living during the, during the depression.

JM: Um, so kind of going then a little. I'm up the tree a little ways in the time. Um, as far as your family background, did you end up marrying and having 10:00kids yourself?

EW: Yes, it was a late bloomer, I didn't get married until I was 30. And then, um, my wife and I had two children, two daughters, one of them is now 51 and when he's 46, so there fortunately on their own and have careers of their own and are doing pretty well. I have one grandson who just graduated from college last January. In Milwaukee, uh, he's a graphic designer now and just starting to work not very long ago, as a graphic designer.

JM: And then was um, education for your kids. Did you emphasize that a lot on them growing up? Were you very involved on sort of their education process?

EW: O, Very definitely. I was my, my wife and I were both teachers. She was a 11:00Phy Ed teacher. Graduated from here and uh, um, I, I taught in Kiel, Wisconsin, which is just about 12 miles away from Chilton for eight years in the same sort of setting that I grew up in, rural America and uh, then I got a job here in Oshkosh after I'd spent eight years in Kiel and going to Grad School in the summers to get my master's degree.

JM: And then you, I'll actually, I'll go back to the, your Grad school and all that later in the conversation when we're talking more about the education. But um, did you end up meeting your wife here at school? Is that how you know her?

EW: No no Um, I graduated in 1959 and and she didn't start school here until I 12:00think 60's. So we missed. So she came to teach in Kiel after she graduated. And so that's where I met her and we started our, started our family there.

JM: So we'll try to transition over to more of that education now of, um, kind of where you were. Um, so I'm assuming you went to school then and um, Chilton and all that. Um, what was the schooling like there? Was it very, um, hard or intense of any way?

EW: I went from grades one through eight in a Catholic parochial school, taught by nuns and uh, um, they were, they were strict but they were not, uh, not 13:00overly. So I got a pretty good education there. Um, the only thing I could remember saying that we didn't get much science. We had a lot of religion but not as much science. Uh, we got good basic in a, you know, the three R's. But uh, um, I, I, I thrived in that setting really, really, enjoyed it.

JM: Did you enjoy your education as far as going through there? Was it, um, did you liked going to school or did you hate it?

EW: I loved going to school and hated when I had to miss, even for measles or something I didn't want, I didn't want to stay home.

JM: Did you have a big graduating class or was it pretty small?

EW:It was very small. I think a 12 to 15, something like that. Yeah. So one of those situations where you knew everybody and my high school graduating class 14:00was only 61 so still pretty small. In high school, was it a good experience. I enjoyed it. Um, basic education. Um, I think, I think they had four tracks where they set you up in one. One was agriculture. Um, another was industrial education, uh, a college prep and one more, I can't remember what it was, but basically the traits you going to get a job and go out into the trades. And so college, college was something, I think it was probably the smallest group and 15:00uh, the, in those days we didn't have guidance counselors. Um, I know the guy guy who counseled me most was the principal and uh, um, he, I can remember. I, I didn't want to take Latin and he said I must take Latin. I had to take Latin, he wouldn't let me get out of that. And in retrospect, it was good, it was a, uh, a great basic basic for it, for any language. Yeah. So that was, that was good. There were, um, there were kids in my class that I went to school with from kindergarten through high school, you know, they were all together as a part of it, part of a group. And, and so we knew each other and we knew their families and, it was good. Good situation.

16:00

JM: All right. So now we'll start transitioning more to um. Leading up to what brought you to you to UW Oshkosh. So what was, I'm assuming you were in the army and then after you were done being deployed, is that when you came back and then you decided to go to school or go to a higher education system?

EW: Well, I thought about that earlier, Um, but I really, really zeroed on it, when I was in Germany, you know, history was all around me. There were buildings with apartments and them. They were 400 years old. And uh, the city Augsburg went all the way back to Roman times. And so, um, I got a good solid dose of, of European history by the time I got out of the military and I really liked it. 17:00And so that's what I, my plan was to, uh, right from the very beginning, go to college and become a teacher. And so that's, that's what brought me here.

JM: And I'm assuming because Oshkosh was a very big teacher school, that that was kind of like a, good place to go?

EW: Yeah that was it. It was education, primary, secondary education for teaching. And then they had a, a liberal arts section, which I don't think they had a few more than a dozen people. So it most definitely just very education.

JM: And so did you know exactly what age group you're looking at wanting to become educator at?

EW: Yeah, I knew, I knew I wanted to be a highschool teacher, high school teacher. And as a matter of fact, at that time there were few or none of the jobs in elementary education for men. Women. We're kindergarten through at least 18:00grade six. And then they might have some man come in, do the rest, but it was, it was, it's not that I didn't have a choice that it wasn't, wasn't

JM: just more of like a woman, they kind of world. They seem to fit at that time as far as taking care of the kids.

EW: Secondary, secondary education was more for, for high school.

JM: What did you know about Oshkosh before attending it, I'm assuming because he lived in Wisconsin. You knew a little bit about it, but like what was sort of your background information? When were you like, was it a good school at the time to want to attend? Was it pretty competitive?

EW: I didn't really know anything about it. Oshkosh was known for overalls, Oshkosh b'gosh. And

JM: so that did originate here then as the company Oshkosh b'gosh. That 19:00originated in Oshkosh?

EW: Yes.

JM: I was always curious, I figured they did just because of the name, but I was never certain.

EW: Yeah so um, it was known for that and for the, um, mental hospital

JM: And is that by Asylum bay then? I figured that's why they call it a Asylum bay.

EW: Um, it's now winnebago state hospital or something like that. Alright. I, but we, this story was, you went to Oshkosh. It was only because you were, you were going to be incarcerated in a mental institution. So Oshkosh, was a place to stay away from. Um, so I, I didn't really know much about Oshkosh.

JM: No? You didn't visit at all before?

EW: Um, well I can, I can get into that. That first first college visit, uh, it 20:00was, uh, let's see, 1955, the summer of 55 and another guy and I had just come out of the army, decided we're going to go over and check out Oshkosh because we both wanted to go to school. So we came over unannounced, didn't know anything about it. And uh, uh, came in the front door of Dempsey Hall and uh, it was basically the practically the only building on campus, um, and uh, knocked on the door. And uh, if you go into the main entrance of Dempsey Dempsey Hall, there's two little offices, one on either side of the hallway. Uh, almost like 21:00cubby holes and the one on the right was a, was the office of the dean of men and that was (Ed Theatinga?), and he brought us in, uh, that the two of us and we walked around and he saw that there was to see and the thing to see the, the jewel at that time was Albe hall. It was just being finished. So that was the, that was the place everybody had to go and see that brand new gym that was going to open. They only, only, uh, other buildings on campus is I remember directly across from Dempsey. There's Radford Hall, which at that time was only two stories. It was a girls' dorm. That's the only dorm there was on campus. Girls, 22:00freshman girls had to live in Dempsey for the first year. After that. Well, they are free to go anywhere they wanted to, um, Halsey science, very small, not the big science, the small halsey science, uh, (Oveot house?), which is the former chancellor president, presidents place, and all the stationary things like that is (Oveot house?). Um, and uh, let's see, what else? Oh, there was an older red gym. It was a really old, dilapidated and a couple of quonset huts that, that was it. Um, almost all the classes except for science classes were in Dempsey Hall, the library was in Dempsey Hall, second floor, uh, the center of the 23:00building classrooms all around the edges of it. Uh, the presidents, chancellor's office still in the same place. Oh, I forgot one building. Swart Hall was the campus school, that's the, that's where the teachers did their practice work and it was an elementary school kindergarten through ninth grade and uh, so people could send their kids here to the campus school for their elementary education and the teachers, preparation for the teachers we would be teaching in those and, and at school Swart of a. So that was pretty much it. Um. So then 24:00(Theatinga?) turned me over because I want to be a secondary education teacher. Turned me over to N. Peter Nelson, who was a secondary education, I mean he was, he was secondary education. He sat me down, he got out his fountain pen and uh, a, uh, some kind of a, a program or something on it, and he started writing out my program. This is what you're going to take if you come to school here, English 101, um, Western civilization four credits. I, I, I, I didn't want much science because I didn't like math. Yeah. So he put me in geology, um, which I 25:00really loved and economics. That was my 15 credits first semester veterans didn't have to take Phy Ed. Um, later on, I think probably in our junior year we had to take a first aid class. That was, that was it. So there I was, you know, I was, I was all ready to go. Um, uh, I had the Gi bill so I didn't, uh, didn't have to pay for anything except a housing and food. Um, I got a room on Western avenue, um, right off New York, Cherry then New York then Western avenue. So it was a, it was a nice walk. but an old couple. I got that, that room because one 26:00of my friends from high school had just graduated and he was given up the room and said, well, I bet you could get that room. So sure. And went right over, took it, Um, so my only expenses were food and lodging. Um, first year I had a large room. The back of the house, second floor costs me $4 a week. After that year, uh, another guy from, I know north some place, Marinette and wanted to come and he and his brother wanted to live there. So they shared that back room. I gave it up and went to the front of the house much smaller but overlooking the 27:00street for that. I paid 3.75 a week. Yeah. So that was, I got the Gi bill, gave me a $110 dollars a month. And so, um, I didn't have to buy any books. It was a rental book system going on at that time, which I didn't have to, I didn't even have to pay the rent because I was a Gi, and a tuition was paid by the Gi bill. And so I was here a $110 dollars a month. I was, I was basically rich. I came here, I was 22 at the time. And uh, um, there were a lot of vets here at the 28:00time, probably the biggest, biggest single group of people. And uh, so we were all, all vets all legal drinkers.

JM: And so, uh, and that was 18 at the time I'm assuming?

EW: No no, It was 18 for beer. And it was split 18 for beer, 21 for liquor. So, uh, uh, there were scattered around a lot of money, outskirts bars that cater to college students, beer bars, the rail. I don't know if you've ever heard of that.

JM: I don't think I have.

EW: Okay. It's out on. Well, let's see. The glass nickel pizza used to be out there. That closed on. It's on a Oregon. No, it's not Oregon over there. Jackson 29:00go out pretty far on Jackson. That was, that was a brand new bar there. Then there was another one, a real dump, a called the loft. And, and uh, that's, that's really the 18 year olds congregated. Well, we were old enough.mAnd uh, there were, there taverns right along High street. We, um, at that time there was a big diamond match company making matches along high street. A great big building it would be where the gym is, what Kolf is now. That's, that's where, that's where this a match company wasl. They, they closed it. Then the 30:00university bought the property and just hung onto it for quite awhile. Well then they finally built Kolf gym. Incidentally, I used to come back and say that, uh, I, I didn't know anybody here. I only knew the buildings are named after my teachers, Bob Kolf was a gym teacher and, and there were a lot of other names that are on buildings that were teaching at the time that I was going to school here. Uh, let's see, where was, I? Um, bring me back.

JM: I'll try to go back to you like you're kind of, um, coming into school. So what was like your first week at school? Like coming to the classes and stuff like that?

EW: Yeah. First, first week, um, we had, uh, we had a whole week of, what do they call it, a pre college, everything, you know, they told this where 31:00everything was what to do and all that sort of stuff. Took some tests and I think um, so we were here for a week and then the upperclassmen came. And uh, uh, at the time I'm estimating that the entire school, it was like 650 people, uh, for, four year classes. Um, so it was just a small school. Um and we, we all since we had this, uh, a week, we knew where all the classes were, how far, how could you go wrong, you know, they almost all in Dempsey Hall, say we have three floors there. you grow up down, left or right. And then that was it. So Radford 32:00Hall, the girls' dorm had a cafeteria for the girls and the rest of us had to eat someplace else and someplace else was down on the corner. It was, I think they call it, I can't remember, it was just, just a little greasy spoon, a hamburgers and that sort of stuff. Then there was another smaller restaurant across the street from it, which was more traditional food, but that's, that's where a lot of us ate and some of us packed a lunch, you know, whatever. Uh, so, uh, it was very compact. And uh, again, pretty soon you knew everybody on 33:00campus. since, since the, the vets were older. We tended to date the upperclassmen. Um, well the vets had money, the vets had cars, you know, what a magnet. So, um, it was, it was easy, easy to get around and you know, I didn't have to worry about food for, had plenty of money to buy food and clothing. Uh, I buy what I want, um, $3.75 or $4 for, for housing. And it was, it was really as good and an easy life.

JM: So your first semester there then you enjoyed it quite a lot. As far as the 34:00life of it?

EW: First Semester, I worked real hard because I had no experience and I get all but one A, so I was pretty happy with that. And after that, um, with that kind of incentive I continued on. I got good grades all the time with or without working too hard and enjoying, enjoying what was going on.

JM: You liked your classes a lot as far as that were they, I'm assuming your classes because of the program that was pretty picked as far as like, this is the classes you were going to take all through your four years. Did you get to decide?

EW: There are basic things you had to have, you had to have English, he had, he had to have western civilization. You had, you had Phy Ed that most people had to have. Um, but uh, you were all mixed up. Western civilization was the, it 35:00had, I think there were two sections and they were big. An older woman by the name of (Marie Hirsch?) taught Western civilization. And so the classes were, you know, like 40 to 50 people, which was, it's really big. And um, she'd been teaching there since. Oh, I don't know how long do you. She was there a long time. She always used to say you people you don't know anything. Teaching US western say, well everybody had to go through it. And uh, that was the least, uh, the class that I liked the least of them, the rest of them. Economics I 36:00really loved. I didn't know anything about it if went in, but I really liked it. And Geology was great and I did well in English because I did well in English all the time when I was in high school or grade school all the way through high school. I was pretty good writer and the nuns taught me all about grammar and punctuation. Uh, so I know how to diagram a sentence. I suppose you'd never heard about that.

JM: No, I have a logic class right now that teaches me a lot of how to um, kind of diagram the sentences and a structure form that makes them seem valid in a good argument on what you're writing. But my English as it stands right now is not very good as far as my writing skills im working on that. I actually had my first writing class this semester, so I'm trying to improve upon that.

EW: Oh, what grade are you?

JM: I'm a junior technically, but I sort of skipped my writing classes and the beginning of my years coming in because we have a little play with like kind of 37:00what we can select for classes. So I just kept putting them off until I finally had to do them. So I'm getting them done with now, but I know a little bit about it. But, um, so, which professor did you sort of liked the most? Was the, I'm assuming the professors back then were pretty involved with the students because it was smaller.

EW: Um, two of them, two of them, one of them was Burton Karges. He was the geology, he was thy geology teacher. There were no other geology teaches. So he taught geology. Uh, I think I had class every year, uh, and he became a friend. Uh, we would go on field trips, you know, the take a couple of buses, a load of kids and a very popular class. We'd take a bus load of kids, go down to Baraboo and uh, uh, taught us a lot of that stuff. Really enjoyed that. I also liked 38:00Sherman Gunderson who was the, uh, economics teacher and the English teacher. My first year was a graduate from Oshkosh school here, you know, and because they couldn't find any teachers, he was hired right out of college to teach freshman English. Om with mixed results. He only lasted. I already had him for one semester, then the second semester I had a, a young woman who couldn't have been more than two years older than I was. Same, same situation, but a lot easier to look at. So, but um, we did, we did quite a bit of writing and got, got through, 39:00got through the year without a, without any problems.

JM: Your economics class, was it just general economics or did they have that breakdown into like macro and micro or--

EW: Oh yeah, we had, first year was just general, and then after that we had things like macro, micro, banking. Um, think there was more, but all of those were discrete classes. Uh, that lasted a semester long. Yeah. Yeah. So I had a good, I got a good background in economics.

JM: Where any of your professors that you've had, um, spent time with, were they sort of influential in as far as your, like what you were pursuing? Was there like things about them that you really wanted to, like made you want to be a teacher?

EW: Um, yeah um, the teachers at that time, men who were teach or teaching here 40:00wore suits and sport jackets and ties and, you know, they came looking like they were professional and I all through my teaching years, I emulated that, you know, and I had some friends who were teaching here in the eighties, I think it was. And they wore sweatshirts, you know, they, they looked terrible. And I would tell them, Jezz, how can you get a loan like that? You're supposed to be a model and. But uh, you know, that's the way it is now. And high school teachers too. I, I was, uh, I was uh, the uh, chairman of the social studies department at West High School for 25 years and toward the end the dress code was pretty 41:00well shot. Yeah. Even even my wife was saying, why don't you wear a sweater once in awhile instead of a jacket. Yeah. So I pretty much gave into that. I wasn't as comfortable, but uh, that's the kind of influence that I got. Um, there was another teacher who I didn't have until I was a senior, uh, (Earl Hutchinson?). He taught English methods of teaching English and he was always turned out beautifully and man, I, I appreciated that. Um, so that's the kind of influence I had, not not uh, as far as pushing me into a particular degree or anything. 42:00That was pretty much pretty much it.

JM: And then. So when you were in school, did you go home a lot or visit your parents at all or were you usually up at Oshkosh a lot?

EW: for the first first year. Pretty much I went home on the the weekends to get my laundry done. Yeah. Um, other than that, as time went on, I spent more time here and weekends and things like that because there were things going on here and uh, I wanted, I wanted to do those things, wanting to go to the football games and all of that sort of stuff. And so a social social life we had, we had dances. Do you have dances here?

JM: Not anymore. No.

EW: I mean, we had homecoming dances, uh, we had, we'd have a big band come in, 43:00you know, everybody would get dressed up and, you know, really fun. And we had kings and Queens. We had a winter, we had three or four, um, dances a year that were formal, formal dances. You had to get a date, went out to dinner, came to the dance. It was, it was, it was really, really fun. I enjoyed it.

JM: It's probably a little easier back then with the population that came to the school because there's only 600 students versus now it's probably a little more to have that many students that try to go in one area would probably be a little hard for them to manage all that at once. So I can see why they probably got rid of doing something like that.

EW: And another thing we had was yearbooks.

JM: Yeah we don't have those either. I'm sure those would be a pretty thick yearbook if you had those too.

EW: Yeah, exactly. And all four classes are in there.

44:00

JM: All four really?. I will have to look at that. That's interesting.

EW: Yeah. I look through it. It's kind of, kind of a history of a small part of the school here.

JM: so as far as I'm assuming social life is really good here and was easy. Did you keep in touch with a lot of the people after you were done with college? A lot of your friends or do you all kind of go separate ways?

EW: um not a lot no no um, at that time when we graduated in 1959, uh, there was a shortage of teachers and I think virtually every one of the teacher of the teachers who have graduated had a job before they graduated. They were, they were people who were here interviewing, uh, inviting us to different schools to 45:00see what there was. And uh, yeah, everybody, everybody had a job and I've got a theory about that. Um, we were born with the, especially the vets were born in the height of the depression. So the, uh, birth rate was down. People didn't have children when they were poor.

JM: It makes sense.

EW: Um, so the birth, the birth rate was down in that, that continued all the way through our young years. Um, there was plenty of room in the elementary school. High School is, we're not crowded. They didn't have to be building new schools or anything like that. Um, jobs were available. I had lots of lots of jobs when I was in high school. Um, could do you know jobs, had jobs that people 46:00just didn't realize were there, are there were fun most for the most part, fun jobs with owners of stores that I knew, you know, hey you need a job, want a job, come in after school. That was it. So we grew up and at that age group when, when, uh, uh, veterans of World War Two came home. They had lots of kids, the baby boomers. And so when we were ready to graduate from college, that's when these kids were ready to go to school. And so the schools were struggling. Yeah. Lots, lots of jobs, lots of kids.

JM: And so your entire time here at UW Oshkosh. You, I'm assuming you enjoyed it 47:00quite a lot. You were pretty comfortable with being here

EW: Oh yeah, I was very comfortable.

JM: All right um did you take part in any extracurricular activities as far as like, um, sports or clubs or anything like that?

EW: Um, freshman year I had a friend who wanted to play baseball, and uh, so the, uh, the, the pitchers and the catchers started early. And my friend didn't have a catcher so I went out and I caught for him during the spring training period and that was it. Didn't have any other sports at all. um active in Newman club, which is a Catholic organization on campus. Um, didn't join a fraternity. There were, there were fraternities. There were not very much. They had some, 48:00some Greek letters, but they were unaffiliated with any national fraternity. Um, and same thing is true of a lot of sorority they were small and again unaffiliated. Um, so the largest number of people were independence and when it came to homecoming groups built floats. I don't know if they do that anymore.

JM: No, not really. I don't think so.

EW: I remember a few years ago they had some floats that really were said.

JM: They might do a little here and there, but I don't think they don't do nothing to elaborate anymore.

EW: Um, so we had, we had homecoming floats,d the Newman club, had a float, the, the veterans club had a float and the vets club was big, um,

JM: A lot of veterans came here, I'm assuming.

EW: Yeah, lots. I would think probably the majority of the males who came to 49:00school here were veterans. There were some who came right out of high school, but, uh, quite a few, quite a few veterans. And the school liked veterans because there was a steady steady income through the Gi bill worked out fine.

JM: And then, um, at that time, was there any like major conflicts going around as far as politics or culture or education or anything in racial discrimination at UW Oshkosh?

EW: There were no black students on campus.

JM: Not at all?

EW: no, not at all. Um, and at that time, and to some extent now, Oshkosh is kind of racially biased.

JM: Yeah. Still pretty separated.

EW: Towns like appleton and Oshkosh, had what they called sundowner rules, which 50:00meant that a black person could come here during the daytime, but it better be out of town by sundown, that was accepted. so, we didn't see any, we didn't see any, any black students. We didn't see any black people. Unless there was some sort of a, a carnival circus in town where there might be some black entertainment, mostly slapstick, pretty, pretty racially oriented and not, not very nice at all. So that was always there. Um, they were, were refused service in the restaurants and things like that. So as far as anything that was, 51:00explosive or anything like that was. No, no, there was no war going on. So there was, there was still, there was still a draft, a draft continued during war and peace those times. And you just pretty much expected to be in the military for a couple of years anyway. So you just did your time and came out and continued with your life. Um, and uh, the draft lasted right up through Vietnam where it was really a big, big issue, um, during, during the time I was here, it was something that was, I sort of a worldwide celebration of the international geophysical year and the United States was going to celebrate that by putting a 52:00basketball size, a whatever in orbit. And uh, it had his picture on life magazine and probably never saw life magazine either. Um,

JM: We used to do those as kids.

EW: It was a really big deal, you know, and we got beaten to the punch a sputnik, the first Russian satellite went up before the United States could do there. So that was a big, oh my goodness. And all the Russian got ahead of in this. This was during the Cold War period, you know, there's competition between the east and the west, the Iron Curtain and all that. And was there, uh, so 53:00that, that was kind of a, a, an awakening. Wow. You know, the Russians could do this. And then that thing going on and be beeping course all kinds of questions about what could happen there. I remember one of our senators, Alexander Wiley, came and spoke about a sputnik. And it drew a crowd. So that was, I was, it was quiet. It was very, very, very quiet. Somebody might get picked up for drunk and driving. Other than that, the student were pretty docile.

JM: All right. So now transitioning to your post college, um, how did you feel after you graduated college? Like what was it leading up to it? Were you excited 54:00to get out of school and get to the workforce?

EW: I was excited to get out of school and I felt well prepared to get the, the job that I was going to take. I was going out and going to teach school. I found out that I wasn't all that prepared. No, no, but I mean you can't learn everything. You have to learn some things from experience. And those first couple of years were a experience gaining situations. People, some, some people taught, especially, especially women taught one or two years then got married and then dropped out you know. No more jobs. You were to raise a family, which was, that was the thing they did. One, one, a wage I could, could provide for 55:00your family. Didn't have to have two jobs. Uh, so, so there was, there is this man is the breadwinner, mother is the nurturer and the kids are all better than the average, you know. Um, so, it took me two or three years really getting my feet on the ground to say I was really doing an incredible job, not maybe a great job and not every day, but I've been doing pretty well, you know. Every summer I was going to Madison in Grad school and I was getting paid for Grad school by the school district because they were saying, well, the more, more education. You get the better off, better teacher, so they paid for all the, all 56:00the credits. I still had to pay room and board, but I did get some, some other grants from the, from the veterans. Yep. So, uh, it was during that time, my wife, my wife came to work. She was Phy Ed teacher. Um, uh, we got married, let's see, I met her, met her in late August, we got married the next June, next year, and so, uh, and she was a Phy Ed teacher for three years and then she got pregnant and in those days, no, no pregnant Phy Ed teachers. Uh, so she was forced to resign, but you expected that they recycle because a new Phy Ed 57:00teacher would come in, get pregnant and the whole cycle would start over and then she'd get a job again. Well, it didn't happen that way because the rules changed and it was okay to be pregnant when you're teaching Phy Ed. So she never got back to teaching Phy Ed and um, but she did have another career which she enjoyed and did, did well at so I'm one who has a, either late June or early July. And it was before, before the fourth of July break, we were in Madison. My wife and I and three month old daughter were in an apartment, a university apartment. And uh, I got a phone call from the dean of, of, uh, the school of 58:00Education. And they said, uh, there's somebody, somebody who wants to talk to you from Oshkosh. Well, several years before I put out resumes all over the place, you know, forgot about them really. I thought, well, maybe I'll hook one. And so it was kind of a surprise. So I called the guy, it was the superintendent of schools here, ah Perry trippler. There's a school named after him here now, um, and it was a, he was in the last year of being superintendent and so he said, would you come for an interview? So it was on the fourth of July weekend, 59:00I think it was Friday, uh, came down, there was only one person in the, in the office, his secretary and so himself, so I was ushered right in and I said, hello, you know, general pleasantries, you said you want a job? And I said, sure. Says, when can you start? He said, can you be released from your contract, which you signed at the other school? I said, I think so. Okay. So that weekend we went back to Kiel and got released from my contract, came back here, signed a contract for the fall of 1967. During that summer we bought a house and uh, 60:00started a lawn and uh, uh, we stayed in that house until 2011.

JM: That's quite some time.

EW: Yeah. Two daughters raised, gone. And so as the years went fast at 29 years here in Oshkosh and they were good years. Uh, I was uh, a track and field official. Loved that and I got to the point where I didn't want to be out in that cold, rainy echo when I could be doing something else. So after I think 20 years I gave that up but a lot, did a lot of stuff. And wrote a lot of curriculum during the summer, never had a job outside. Some guys would go out 61:00and, and paint houses and stuff like that. I never had to do that. I always got a job somehow in education. Um, so it was, it was good time. It was good.

JM: Now I saw, I was reading on this is, just a brief introduction that gave me of you. It said advanced photographer. Did you do anything with photography?

EW: Yeah, yeah. The Advance. Now they call it the Advance Titan. Okay. That in my day it was the advance and uh, the paper came out. I couldn't say weekly, I'd say sporadically, whenever, whenever we got around to put out the paper. And so I, I was, I was a photographer, um, I had been in Germany and I bought a really good camera in Germany and here they didn't have squat. They had an old four by 62:00five, what do they call it? The kind of the old and the older photographers. It was a big box, you know, and

JM: I can imagine what it looks.

EW: You had to change slides. So, um, I was, I had a nice 35 millimeter camera and that was, that was doing quite a bit of photography for the, the paper. And so I'd, it would be at all, all the sporting events and stuff like that that, um, I was taking, taking pictures. I was, I had had a picture of a Miss America, Miss America came to Oshkosh and uh, the dean of women and two senior girls went down and had lunch with Miss America and I took some pictures of it.

JM: Do you know what year that possibly would have been?

EW: Maryland Vanderburg was, was the Miss America, um, had to be before 1958, 63:00maybe 57 because one of the girls was, there was Marge Firehammer who graduated a year ahead of me. And

JM: Yeah. Cause you said the, the news article is Advance Titan you said it was called? What was that? The News, um, paper that you took the pictures for? You said that was Advanced Titan because I can.

EW: No, Advance.

JM: just advance that's all it was called because I think I should be able to go into our archives of newspapers. I should be able to find all the old archived photos and I can see the photos that you took. So I'll see if I can pull some of those out. And then, um, so starting to wrap things up, what advice would you 64:00give current students? Right now at UW Oshkosh, if we could, as far as education goes?

EW: O dear, ah take your education seriously, but not too serious. Don't be a drudge, enjoy life. Take some time to go out and smell the roses and enjoy some social life. Yeah. Uh, whatever. That might be a, might turnout very poorly in some cases, but, but uh, yeah, no. Um, I know I had a fine time. Um, I know that there's a lot of pressure now for now top grades because you know, you don't get jobs now if you don't have a great resume. So that's tough now. uh, it wasn't 65:00tough for us. Um, one thing, my wife was a scholarship student, um, her father didn't want her to go to college, farm girl going to get married any how. So her mother a scraped together enough money from selling eggs and she also made rag rugs, on a loom, you know, and went to a farmer's markets and stuff like that. Sold that, gave it to my, my, my wife to help her go to school so that and, and her scholarships helped her a lot. I got through on the Gi bill. So, 2005 we 66:00decided we'd set up a scholarship and so we have a scholarship with the foundation, sorry to say because the foundation is going down. Last year we had seven, seven people got scholarships and uh, we started out small, only one scholarship and, and as, as the, as the money we put in grew and we were able to draw off the interest. So we have pretty, had a pretty good scholarship going but I'm afraid if the bankruptcy goes through, that money might be wiped out. So we have to start over and give, give what we can, you know, it's, it's to be sad situation, I'm afraid.

67:00

JM: Yeah, it stinks right now with the condition that the UW System is in. It's not very good.

EW: Yeah, no. They've taken a hit for several years now. They don't hire anybody anymore.

JM: No.

EW: Nobody.

JM: Yeah, I know, I talked to a lot of the professors, actually, the ones that are hired here now and have been here for a little bit. They're not really getting very good, um, benefits.

EW: They aren't getting any raises! No.

JM: I was going to say, I know professors have to have side jobs now in order to be able, just to live, and it's -- it stinks because they have the doctorates degree, and they went through all of those years of colleges to --

EW: That's right, that's right.

JM: - to have to go and get a side job to have to afford everything, so--

EW: What kind of a job do they get?

JM: Not a very good one. But, that should be good for the interview.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear