Interview with Gerald Carpenter, 12/06/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Adrianna Marrero, Interviewer | uwocs_Gerald_Carpenter_12062016.MP3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

0:00

AM: OK, so it is traditional in Oral History that you state and spell your name.

GC: My name is Gerald L. Carpenter G-E-R-A-L-D, middle initial L for Lawrence, Carpenter C-A-R-P-E-N-T-E-R.

AM: OK and Gerald what years did you attend UW Oshkosh?

GC: 1962 to1965.

AM: Ok and then where did you grow up?

GC: Born in Kaukauna, raised partly in Appleton, and the later part of my upbringing in Shawano.

AM: OK, so you grew up around here then?

GC: Yes.

AM: And then what was the... So I guess how big of a city was that, that you grew up in? How many, what was the population?

GC: Appleton was about 45,000, in Shawano, it was 6,000.

AM: OK, and and then what was the common demographic of the people you lived around? Would you say, or even like in terms of their jobs, what kind of jobs did a lot of the people kind of have?

GC: Where we lived in Appleton, uhh white working class.

AM: Sure.

GC: [unclear]... neighborhood, Uhm moved to Shawano, similar but there were near 1:00the Indian reservations there we had Native Americans as well as typical white population.

AM: and then how did the... would you say that the typical white population kind of adjusted to the reservation?

GC: Oh...

AM: Would you say it was fairly calm?

GC: ...Oh yeah it was calm, it was simply a fact of life.

AM: Sure.

GC: ...and the people there had grown up with it on both sides.

AM: Right.

GC: It was interesting when they were trying to change the name of the school teams from Indians uhhh, I grew up in Shawano where many of my classmates were Indians.

AM: Mhm.

GC: ...and yet Shawano was one of the first to change their names to Hawks, just out of deference and you never would have heard about of fuss about it.

AM: Right. OK so then did you have any siblings growing up?

GC: Sure, I'm the second of four boys.

AM: Second of four boys. And then your parents?

GC: Yes indeed.

AM: What did they do?

GC: [laughing] My dad started a business in Appleton during world war two as a matter of fact, hmm vehicle [unclear] alignment.

2:00

AM: Ok and then since this was during World War two, I guess kind of what was the impact of the war on the job population I guess?

GC: That would be hard for me to say because I was but an infant.

AM: But an infant.

GC: Yes.

AM: OK.

GC: I was in the womb when Pearl Harbor occurred.

AM: OK.

GC: So, I was 5 months old, well anyway, I was in my infancy during the first half of the decade of the 40's.

AM: OK, so I guess maybe I should ask you how old are you?

GC: Ah, I knew that would become a [unclear], let's go with 74.

AM: OK, perfect. And I guess growing up in those cities, uhm, how did it kind of shape who you are? I guess how did you decide that you wanted to come to college? Did a lot of people your age want to come to college around that time?

GC: I would say no, uh, in Appleton probably more so.

AM: Sure.

GC: In Shawano, a little more rural, lot smaller town. In my family though I 3:00think college was always assumed.

AM: OK, so was that like, did all, were all families like that would you say that college was assumed...

GC: No.

AM: No. So, I guess how did it... How did you decide whether or not college was for you or not back then?

GC: I just assumed it was.

AM: right.

GC: it never occurred to me that I would continue on without it.

AM: yeah, so are you not a first generation, did your parent attend?

GC: I was, my mother went to county normal school, she was a country school teacher.

AM: OK.

GC: My father almost got through the 8th grade.

AM: Almost got through, so they don't even fit, so you're father did not even finish high school?

GC: No, but he was one of the smartest men I have ever known.

AM: Excellent, in what ways?

GC: He could see right through to the core of things.

AM: Sure.

GC: ...and as I said, he knew to start a business and to make a success of it.

AM: Right.

GC: We were in a time when, well things were tough...

AM: Sure.

GC: ... during the 40's, and I think he became very valuable during the war 4:00because he was keeping cars on the road.

AM: Right.

GC: with his work in alignment and uhhh frame and axel work.

AM: So, then his business didn't see kind of a struggle in terms of lowering like a lot of the like sustainable kind of materials for vehicles or anything?

GC: Well, they would have been affected certainly by the rubber shortage.

AM: OK.

GC: ...because rubber was in the war years. Uhm, I don't really know, he just quietly kept on keeping on.

AM: Yeah, either way you wouldn't have noticed, so he must have been doing good. OK and then how did you, so I guess before we even talk about Oshkosh, what High school did you attend then?

GC: Shawano High school.

AM: and then how many people did you graduate with?

GC: I am guessing 300.

AM: 300. So that's still a pretty good amount I feel like compared to a lot of other um schools around in the area. What were you involved in? Were you involved in any kind of clubs or...

5:00

GC: Band.

AM: Band. What did you play?

GC: Baritone horn.

AM: Baritone Horn. And then what were your grades like?

GC: Quite good, National Honor Society.

AM: Excellent, that... That was around back then which is cool and then did you...

GC: [chuckling]

AM: Sorry, forgive me, forgive me.

GC: That's perfectly fine.

AM: and then what was your desired major at the time. Did you come to college kind of not knowing what you wanted to do or have you always known what you wanted to do?

GC: I was definitely not knowing.

AM: OK.

GC: yeah letters and science uhm, how did I start off? I guess I was interested in literature, English, There's the one she sits right there [points to Anita], she is the science part of us...

AM: OK.

GC: ...I'm the humanities part. English, literature, those kind of things. But uhm, this was during the early years of space exploration...

AM: OK.

GC: ...so even though I couldn't realize I was more of a humanities person, I started science, but trigonometry in High School was tough for me.

6:00

AM: Right.

GC: Trigonometry in college was even tougher for me. And within a year and a half I had quit my math and flunked my science.

AM: Which is OK. [unclear]

GC: ...now there comes a decision time [laughing].

AM: Yeah, okay.

AC: I thought you were at St. Norbert's?

GC: Yeah I was at St. Norbert's at the time and pretty tough.

AM: Definitely, well it still is...

GC: Yeah.

AM: I can tell you that. SO how was the admissions process to UWO, how at the time did you apply? SO was it via paper or.

GC: Oh, via paper.

AM: Via paper. So was there an admission fee?

GC: I really don't even know but at that time...

AC: [unclear]

GC: These were kind of nominal, not like today, my niece who now has children of her own, went to school here and I thought "oh my gosh you're paying 9 times..."

AM: Right.

GC: Or six to nine times more than I paid when I started.

AM: So I guess how much a year was it to attend, would you say?

GC: That's easy to me to figure out because I could make 1,000 dollars a summer 7:00working at the wood plant in Shawano and school cost me 1,000 dollars a year.

AM: Wow, what a difference compared to now.

GC: Yeah, but that was room and board and tuition.

AM: And all students dormed essentially in the residence halls?

GC: Mmmmm the first year or the first two years, yes.

AM: OK, and then where did you stay?

GC: Breeze Hall.

AM: Breeze Hall, which?

GC: Did you ever see Breeze Hall?

AM: Uh Uh, so I'm assuming that, is it still around?

GC: It was ripped down for Horizon village is it? Horizon village, it's there now.

AM: Oh okay. So How many dorm halls or residence halls I guess they prefer to be called, where in existence at the time of your?

GC: There was a boom going on right about that time.

AM: A boom?

GC: A boom yeah, a building boom, if you drive down Irving and you hit Elmwood right there is where Horizon is and that is where Breeze Hall was at the time.

AM: Ok, and was that the popular kind of freshman dorm?

GC: Uhm, everyone got funneled into something so there was [unclear] a popular.

AM: So you didn't You weren't able to select then.

8:00

GC: No.

AM: Ok.

GC: uhhh, Clemans was right behind it I think, I think Clemans hall was one year older than [unclear]

AC: Nelson hall was there too.

GC: What?

AC: Nelson.

AM: Nelson.

GC: Now you're jumping across the street, aren't you, or is that one right next to the corner?

AC: [unclear]

GC: [laughing]

AC: Anyway go ahead.

GC: No I don't think so, because When I left Breeze and I turned left to go to the libr-, well, yeah the union was right behind there then. Umm whatever, but there were a lot more residences along there between Horizon Village and library was a row of houses.

AM: OK

GC: and across the street where Fletcher is now, that was a solid block of homes.

AM: OK, so the university would you say is completely larger than it used to be?

GC: Many times.

AM: Was it called the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh when you attended? What was it called?

GC: It went through several names, uhm the first one I think I knew was 9:00Wisconsin State college at Oshkosh and about '64 it became Wisconsin State University.

AM: Wisconsin State University. OK, and...

GC: later on when the merger occurred...

AM: The merger?

GC: ...The university of Wisconsin which was at that time the State University system, we were a part of the State University system. Chapter 36 and Chapter 37, I think we were Chapter 37, Madison was Chapter 36.

AM: And we merged?

GC: We merged, yes.

AM: OK

GC: And it was...

AM: And how was that?

GC: Well, for some people it was kind of tough, for me it was kind of "eh", but I wasn't a student anymore at the time, I wasn't working here.

AM: OK, so how did that kind of impact employment would you say?

GC: Umm, I don't really know, as a librarian at that time I entered the faculty staff...

10:00

AM: Yes.

GC: ...And it seems like staff/faculty cuts have been a thing all my life.

AM: Yes.

GC: It started and it was going on... frightened till today I suspect. So how it affected us at that time, I don't really remember. I remember the two boards of regents had to settle things.

AM: Yes.

GC: You know who was gonna get more power, the old Chapter 37, the old chapter 36...

AM: Yeah.

GC: They were merged into one. But that was just leave it up to them, I'll keep doing my job.

AM: Sure OK, so there was kind of a little bit of a power struggle in that sense?

GC: Well there was, it caused ripples, I don't know how much power, [unclear] being the two boards of regents.

AC: Yeah, well.

GC: I keep looking at Anita, and yet she wasn't officially apart of this.

AM: [laughing]

AC: Yeah, but it was till the state university system, that's all that we had now with Eau Claire and Stevens Point. [unclear]

AM: Sure.

11:00

AC: So, we're still non-scholarship and then Madison is scholarship.

GC: Yeah, Madison, Milwaukee... [unclear]

AC: Green Bay.

GC: Green Bay.

AC: Right, but so there's still differences between the two systems but I think we are all governed by the same board of regents.

GC: Board of regents.

AM: Yeah, which is true.

AC: I don't know about salaries, benefits, and things like that. [unclear] Because you're all on the same retirement system.

GC: Yes.

AM: Sure.

AC: So we are together but we're still...

AM: Separate.

AC: separate yes, on some things.

AM: yes sure, then now I'm going to digress a little bit.

GC: OK.

AM: Um, what was kind of the social environment when you attended college?

GC: the usual I would say, fraternities, sororities...

AM: OK.

GC: ...ETC., there was a religious, I think some religious organizations the Catholics and Newman clubs.

AM: Which still exist.

12:00

GC: Still exists, and there were a few others around... it was, well obviously a gentler time, then we got to later on with protests and such.

AM: Protests?

GC: That was later on, I'm comparing this now with my college time, there was little of that in the 60's.

AM: Were there any major events in the 60's?

GC: Funny you should mention that [laughing].

AM: What's up?

GC: Uhm... I remember as do many people my age exactly where I was when I heard that President Kennedy had been shot.

AM: OK.

GC: I was in Reeve Union for my lunch.

AC: [unclear].

AM: And, I guess, so I'm assuming how did you, was it television, radio, word?

GC: Janitor.

AM: Janitor. And I guess what was the overall feeling on campus?

GC: A numbness, I would say, shock.

13:00

AM: And how did you feel, were you upset?

GC: Yes, uh I'd never been alive when we had killed a president.

AM: Right.

GC: Even the word assassinated was terrible sounding to me at the time.

AM: It still seems...

GC: I went into my lunch, over the speakers had been tuned into the radio by that time.

AM: Sure.

GC: When we went into lunch and learned from the speakers that the president had been shot, that was all I knew, went in, had my lunch in the front room of reeve union, came out and met my friend the custodian [unclear], all he said to me was "he's dead", just like that..

AM: So I guess how did the overall population of students kind of feel, were they more angry too, did they wanna do something about it, I guess what was done, what was the feeling on campus, were there any memorials held or?

GC: Yeah, I don't think there was as dense of activism more, or anger...

AM: OK.

GC: ...But shock, sadness, uhm, everybody was just a bit numb. [Unclear], I 14:00remember one teach the first class I had that afternoon, uh, what were the poor teachers to do? I mean here this major cataclysmic event just happened and they have to face their classes.

AM: Yeah.

GC: And I remember her saying "well", made a statement or two, recognizing the situation and said: "I guess we must just keep going".

AM: And I guess that's just kind of how the nation had to recover in a way, I guess, "cause I not really, I just know that it happened, I wasn't even in creation, but...

GC: History for you.

AM: Yes, I guess how did the nation recover? I mean how did they select a new president, I mean obviously...

GC: Slow process.

AM: Yeah.

GC: Umm, of course the Vice-president became president. It was Lyndon Johnson.

AM: Sure.

AC: Wasn't he sworn in on the plane on the way back to Washington.

GC: Air force 1 and he was sworn in on the Air force 1 and um, two summers ago I stood in that air plane at the very place where he was sworn in, it's at the national air force museum in Dayton, where I happened to be visiting the Ari 15:00force 1 at that time...

AM: Wow.

GC: ...is at that museum now.

AM: Wow, that is very interesting, so then...

AC: We don't have the social media back then [unclear]...

GC: true.

AM: What where kind of the speculations then as to who assassinated or how it was done?

GC: Relationships with Cuba.

AM: Relationships...

GC: ...were not good at that time, and Lee Harvey Oswald was accused of being such assassin, had gone to Cuba a bit earlier so right away there was a, a big suspicion there.

AM: OK, so that was kind of the main factor?

AC: well, no, just... one that was proposed.

AM: Proposed. And can you believe that there is still nothing really solidified as "this is what happened' years later? It's interesting, it makes you wonder I feel like.

GC: [unclear] Lee Harvey Oswald, everything, just. It's still kind of foggy I guess.

16:00

AM: Yeah, alright. Uhm, returning back to kind of campus environment then, uhm, I guess just kinda like what were the safety protocols then? I mean were there like, did you have to lock, were the dorm halls consistently locked? Was there still like the presence of a Check-in, or like some kind of curfew? Because in our class we review all different kind of era's so I'm just trying to pin point?

GC: The women's dorms, there were some curfews.

AM: OK.

GC: Uhm, check-in, I don't think so, the guys dorms were pretty much wide open.

AM: Right.

GC: We just come and go.

AM: Was there a lot of theft at all at the time or no not at all? It was just pretty...

GC: Oh... there's a usual amount I guess, some petty things uhh... one thing I remember is uhm, the winter months, second Semester, I was on our first floor, 17:00guy from Manitowoc, student over-hauled his motorcycle in his dorm room. (laughing)

AM: Oh my goodness, the carpets?

GC: Well, there were no carpets.

AM: There were no carpets, it was all tile?

GC: Indeed.

AM: Oh my goodness.

GC: All hard surface, but I remember thinking well, you know I opened my door, looked right in his dorm and thought OK, he's a decent enough guy.

AM: Right.

GC: you see the tail end of his motorcycle, he didn't run it in the dorm.

AM: Did it even fit?

GC: Yeah, but it sure looked bigger inside the dorm then it did outside

AM: Definitely. So was everyone kind of spunky like that I guess or kind of like spontaneous?

GC: No, you had your usual mix of people. I was living across the hall from him and I was the quiet, dedicated student.

AM: Sure.

GC: As I recall, he probably was also a decent student, a little more open-minded.

AM: Wanted to protect his motorcycle.

GC: a little more open, rough, and tumble kind of guy.

AM: Sure and did you have a roommate?

GC: Yes.

AM: And then what was that like, did you get along?

18:00

GC: [laughing] I could get into that whole story. I started out first floor Breeze, and then I was 21 at that time.

AM: OK.

GC: They put me in with a kid who was 17.

AM: OK.

GC: And his parents had provided him with a red ford convertible.

AM: OK.

GC: And to him college was one thing: drinking.

AM: Right.

GC: And that was it so it was just a really miserable first semester.

AM: Right, because you did not share similar interests.

GC: Yes and we were just totally different people, but uh, I um, secured myself a new roommate in a new room and so I got onto 1st floor.

AM: And then did you get along better with that one?

GC: Oh yeah.

AM: More values?

GC: Cliff and I did fine. But uhm, [unclear] I think, uhm, I had been a student at St. Norbert for 3 semesters. We lived in a dorm, priests kept pretty good 19:00eyes on things, things were quiet, things were orderly, study hours and such.

AM: yeah...

GC: Oshkosh was none of that.

AM: Okay.

GC: ...and so it didn't take me an entire year to figure out, I'm done with dorms.

AM: Yeah.

GC: in Oshkosh...

AM: No Kidding.

GC: No thank you, I'm out of there, so uh I got into private housing my second year.

AM: And then how much was rent at the time, did you have to pay or how did you pay for the housing I guess?

GC: You mean private housing?

AM: Yes.

GC: X number of dollars a month.

AM: Because it is quite a process today.

GC: There was no process, I just wrote a check to the land lord land lady.

AM: "cause I mean the University just monitors, they have a stronger presence now.

GC: Yes.

AM: In terms of whether it's lots of partying, the university will know where you live and they can essentially still suspend you or expel you if they know that you were a student and you are kind of throwing these house parties and stuff like that so I was just wondering if that kind of um atmosphere was present?

GC: No it wasn't a factor, I hate to say people were more grown up, but I think 20:00in some ways were. We just saw ourselves as members of society, and you just did what you were supposed to do, not that you were confined or overly religiously...

AM: Sure.

GC: Some of the things kids do around dorms now are...

AM: Not...

GC: Would not have happened, we just didn't do those things.

AM: Right, so it was kind of more... you knew people there more knew what they were and how to be more mature is that what you're saying?

GC: I guess, seems so...

AC: Well we come from a different era...

GC: It was a different era, they wouldn't say "I'm gonna be better than the students 20 years ago'

AM: No, definitely.

GC: You acted the way you should have acted and of course we were not uhm, now let's see we had grown up in the 50's, and their parents had grown up during the depression and world war two.

AM: Right.

GC: So we, our upbringing was prompted by, was prompted by parents who had 21:00experienced some tough times.

AM: Sure.

GC: And they knew how people should act.

AM: Right.

GC: The beginning of the 60's I think were quite different from the later, from the later 60's.

AM: In what ways?

GC: Socially. Uhm, students as I said were more, again I keep coming back to responsible but I don't think so. Maybe I could just say by comparison, by the end of the decade, students were more likely to cut loose.

AM: So there was a higher party presence. Was Kelly's, the bar on campus, existed then?

GC: On Wisconsin.

AM: Yes.

AC: [unclear]

GC: [unclear]

AM: It wasn't even...

GC: There were two dorms, but at the time it was till known as the strip.

AM: OK.

GC: On Wisconsin Street.

AM: And that's kind of where people would go to cut loose? Now on, I don't know if you attended but I know that there was, there were, after a while, very many riots in terms of like, umm from, from the bars and people would come out and 22:00they could be drunk in the streets and stuff like that, were you around when that kind of happened?

GC: I was around, but I was a working man here uhh, I was just aware of it happening. There was no way I would be involved.

AM: Definitely.

GC: Number 1- beer to me is just nothing, I have no use for it, not because I dislike it, but it's gonna take a pretty hot summer day and me doing manual labor before I can enjoy a beer.

AM: Yes.

GC: Again, just going out and swilling it down until I'm stupidly drunk, no.

AM: Right.

GC: That just didn't appeal.

AM: I guess how did the faculty handle that or I guess how did the people surrounding, the neighborhood, the residents, kind of handle all of that, I mean did it give the University a bad reputation?

GC: Yes.

AC: Are you talking about the St. Patty's day, down there on Wisconsin.

AM: Yes, That is what I am specifically targeting.

GC: You're very perceptive.

AC: Yes St. patty's day on Wisconsin, that can kind of [unclear].

GC: I think the residents, the town people, or the townies they were called...

AM: Yeah.

GC: ...Were simply long suffering victims.

23:00

AC: Right, and I think a lot of people came from out of town and it didn't do much for the relationship between the residents of Oshkosh and the University and I'm sure it was extreme.

GC: A drunken brawl on your streets is not what people like.

AC: And they were breaking windows [unclear].

AM: Definitely.

AC: [unclear]

AM: Yeah I did know that there was some kind of destruction too.

AC: Yeah, there was...[unclear]

GC: The footprint, the footprint, footprint of the campus was not as big as the time, there were all homes built on that section of Algoma and High.

AM: Sure.

AC: Yeah I think that was after Gruenhagen was built. [unclear] Because that was happening when I came back here from college, so it was still in the 70's.

GC: Okay.

AC: Yeah, it wasn't in the 60's, it was more of the 70's.

GC: I guess I keep drifting from the time frame, where are we now in the time frame.

24:00

AM: 60's, early 60's.

AC: That wasn't going on in the 60's.

AM: Or late 60's

AC: that wasn't going on early 60's

AM: So this was about what years?

AC: I would say in the 70's.

AM: 70's.

GC: Anita had grown up in Oshkosh, but had gotten back from school in Madison in the 1970's.

AC: Yeah, and that was after that.

GC: about 70's, I was a librarian at the University.

AM: OK.

GC: We didn't know each other at the time.

AM: OK, because I guess we were sticking to this time frame, when did you finally, when were you finally, employed then? So you were at Oshkosh for two years or three..?

GC: uhm, let me do the timeline...

AM: Alright.

GC: ...I was a student from '62 to '65.

AM: '62-'65.

AC: And you graduated with what major?

GC: At that time library science which wasn't a wise choice but you needed a masters to be library science, and I didn't see any prospect of getting that.

AM: Yeah.

GC: But If I thought if I had majored in it, I could at least Library work.

25:00

AM: OK.

GC: Then low and behold, Leonard Archer was the director of the public library.

AC: Oshkosh public library.

AM: OK.

GC: And Helen Wahoski, who was the head librarian here at Oshkosh, got behind me to apply for a scholarship.

AM: OK.

GC: And wouldn't you know, I got it.

AM: Really, like a full paid?

GC: yeah, for one year.

AM: Excellent!

GC: ...and that got me through library school at Madison.

AM: At Madison?

GC: Yeah.

AM: OK so that, we didn't even offer that kind of master's program?

GC: No, and I don't think we still do.

AM: Yeah.

GC: Now the only library science back in the college of education I believe, so that prospective teachers could get a certain certification.

AM: Sure.

GC:...and do library work too.

AM: what kind of classes, I guess what kind of classes did you take? What was like the, the focus, obviously it was library, but I guess what did you really learn how to do with library science?

GC: hm, that's a good question. You take classes in all facets of it...

26:00

AM: OK.

GC: the more I took classes, the more I got the feeling of "let me get a job and learn how to do this".

AM: Sure.

GC: ...Because I don't know that the classroom fully prepares you for the actual work.

AM: definitely.

AC: That was all pre-computer too.

GC: Right.

AC: So, you're doing with uh... what did you call those?

GC: [laughing]

AC: index cards, index tables.

GC: Yeah, the uhm, are you talking about card catalogs?

AC: card catalogs, yeah, right.

GC: It was the card catalogs, rather than a computer catalog.

AC: Yeah.

AM: And that's how you kind of located books, i'm assuming.

GC: Sure, sure.

AC: Yeah.

AM: So, that was probably stacks and stacks of organizing, I'm assuming.

GC: well, a lot of organizing. I remember, I shouldn't say this, it was several chancellors ago. uh, we had to find in the card catalog, instead of all the titles, subjects, all in one big catalog, separate authors in one, titles in another, subjects in another...

AM: Sure.

GC: ...and I was working in the reference area, I was a reference librarian, and 27:00the chancellor was looking kind of alone and uneasy and so I approached him, "may I help you?", asked him what he was looking for and he named an author, tough moment for me, how do I tell him he is in the subject catalog? [laughing]

AM: Oh my goodness.

GC: I took him around to the correct side and he looked around a little bit and he looked kind of nervous and I turned my back and he was gone.

AM: Oh.

GC: ...but he didn't stay here that long.

AM: What was his name?

GC: Oh, do I dare name any names?

AC: No, no.

AM: No?

GC: The next chancellor was just the opposite of him and that was Edward Penson, Penson was very good but the man who did not know how to use the card catalog was the man who had been famous for winning a frisbee championship at his college.

AM: So, he was not very...

GC: It was Robert Birnbaum. [unclear]

AM: His name is familiar, we might have talked about him. [burn-baum]. Was there 28:00kind of some controversy when he was chancellor with him?

GC: Yes, uhm, kind of uneasiness and I don't remember exactly the details.

AM: Uhm, I may be incorrect but does anything uhm, have any to do with just kind of unnecessarily kind of firing of faculty and staff?

GC: Probably, but that kind of thing was on the edge of happening almost all the time. I know there was a time when tenured faculty were let go, that was a large [unclear], because ten-year was considered, quite important for job protection, some people would say: "oh we shouldn't give these teachers a life time you know, they can be lousy and we can't get rid of them"...

AM: Yeah.

GC: ...That's not true, they could be fired for cause, but uhm tenure was, was, and is necessary... If a teacher, a conservative area wants to teach about communism.

AM: Yes.

GC: ...and some local citizens get all uptight about it.

29:00

AM: Right.

GC: They might parade for him to be fired or let go, tenure should theoretically protect him so that he is able to teach what he should be teaching even if it's not in conformity with the...

AC: ...the views of those people.

GC: Yeah, the most conservative views around him. So anyway, there's tenure came up, but then it was viewed as a lifetime contract which really isn't, on our side is viewed as a right to teach with some protection against getting fired because of what you teach, so that kind of was kicking around to at the time, and they were gonna let go tenured faculty, then that was looked at as why should these people have life-time contract?

AM: Right.

GC: So that got to be a big thing, letting tenure's go, they were doing all they could to let people go who were not tenure.

AM: Yes.

GC: so, once it got they got up in tenure, then they decide... they had it cut further... bang-o, then they started getting into the tenure and that got touchy.

30:00

AM: Right.

GC: This really has nothing to do with the 60's or my part of a library assistant...

AM: That's ok, That's ok.

GC: University wise.

AM: ...but whatever comes up, that is OK to just... I'm, I, that's totally fine.

GC: The library of course felt anything that the University felt

AM: Sure.

GC: Because we were part of it.

AM: Right. So, what was so great then about Edward...

GC: Penson?

AM: Yes, and can you spell his last name?

GC: P-E-N-S-O-N

AM: ...and what was so great?

GC: He, I think had his eye on scholarship, on teaching, learning, and being serious students, and I uh, I was more at ease when he took over.

AM: In what ways?

GC: Now we are going in the right direction.

AM: Yes.

GC: Now we are doing what we should be doing, concentrating on scholarship.

AM: ...because before, what did you feel like more of the focus was?

31:00

GC: Hard to say, but more like a good time.

AM: Sure. Like it wasn't as serious as it should have been for all the students that were there?

GC: I think so.

AM: OK.

GC: Yeah, I think Dr. Penson gave us more of a serious focus.

AM: ...and like, and can I have some more, like concrete examples of how he might have done that? Was it like a change in regulation, or kind of what is it just because like he was there and he had like a different kind of persona that people just kind of felt affected in that way?

GC: Somewhat that. Yes, I don't think it had to do with regulations so much as perceived attitude.

AM: OK.

GC: Uhm... he didn't come here as the previous chancellor may have trying to be a good guy in the eyes of the students.

AM: Sure.

GC: He came here as a leader of an intellectual institution and people who were on search committees, I was on a few during my years too... uhm... they sort of 32:00have to weigh all his factors and compare these against the candidates and try to make a judgement, who's going to be what? But who'd we want, how is this person, he or she, going to be so... yeah... and I got to remind myself we are back at the 60's again. A lot of this stuff I am getting beyond the 60's, it was much more calm in the years I was there, 62-65. Everybody knew what college was, that sort of this, that's supposed to be, it's what you did. Uhm... drinking, even when I was at St. Norbert's at 1962, the big thing on weekends was to go to Oshkosh

AM: Really?

GC: ...because of the drinking and that the, the main bar at that time was the Rail, on North Jackson, the thing is still there, I don't know what it's called 33:00now. It's just across the railroad tracks.

AC: It's out of business.

GC: It's out of business now, ok? But I remember that even St. Norbert's students would go to the rail in Oshkosh, because Oshkosh had a reputation for drinking, even in 1962, or '61.

AM: I guess, what made, always made Oshkosh just so susceptible to this partying, like why was it so easy for Oshkosh to be known as the party school compared to other universities?

GC: I really don't know.

AC: I don't know either.

GC: At the time, it wasn't the leadership I remember Dr. Guiles was chancellor, he was a serious enough student, I just... in my mind I guess it kind of evolved that way. At St. Norbert's, it was more strict that is why it didn't get that way, a lot of the students at Oshkosh were partying, what made Oshkosh go the party route?

AC: I don't know.

GC: I can't really say.

34:00

AC: I don't know.

AM: Would you, in terms of academic curriculum, was it a little more laid back maybe at Oshkosh then it was maybe compared to St. Norbert's?

GC: Yes, in the sense that uh... it didn't have the stern discipline of the Catholic Church.

AM: Sure.

GC: Pushint it umm... as for the curriculum I remember Oshkosh my first view, the instructors, the teachers, the professors they were good.

AM: Yes.

GC: There were really good people there and um... if people would say something like "oh you can't get a good education Oshkosh", I learned to respond to that by saying an education is not given to you.

AM: Right.

GC: It is there if you want to take it, but it's up to the student to take an education. Don't just sit back and expect somebody to dish it out to them.

AM: Sure.

GC: Or give it to them, and so I always found that a good education was there 35:00for the taking.

AM: Alright, I can second that.

GC: ...and I think it still is.

AM: Yeah, I mean yeah, it's just, it's interesting to see like the evolving because even still Oshkosh kind of has a preconceived... I mean even... I guess this can kind of lead into, did that kind of filter into kind of the UW-zero?

AC: Well the UW-zero logo didn't help. Remember it was UW and it had the big circle underneath and then they started calling it UW-zero?

GC: Once it became university of Wisconsin- Oshkosh and of course it was UWO, and then anybody who wanted to be a detractor started saying UW-zero.

AC: Right, yeah, that...

GC: and even the uh...

AC: Well, that logo isn't around anymore, UW-zero...

GC: ...and then...

AC: That was a real negative...

GC: One of the chancellors removed the hyphen. That was good.

AM: Yeah.

GC: ... just UWO.

AC: Right.

36:00

GC: Thoughts keep coming and going. I keep thinking of one thing...

AC: I can't remember what years it was UW...

GC: That was of course after the merger when it was university of Wisconsin, but um, Advanced Titan got kind of feisty at the time and so the UW-zero, if you look at the old 80's for those eras, you'll see that kind of... from that era, you'll see those kinds of things popping up.

AM: ...and you were obviously faculty around the time. And why was it really called UW-zero?

AC: I think it was because of the logo.

AM: Just that?

AC: ...because it was UW and then... the O was underneath.

AM: ...but was it because it, I guess the reason from like the transition from that conversation to this conversation, because they just kind of started to accept whoever, because was it kind of like an economic crisis?

GC: I think, well, that would occur... but again this was after the 60's.

AM: Yes.

GC: Well, 3,000 students in the 60's and by the time I graduated I think it was 37:00up to about 9,000, tripled in size.

AM: OK.

GC: So, there was no problem getting students in. But then, economic times later on the 70's got tougher and enrollment dropped. UW-Green Bay, UW Oshkosh, were I think at the... bore the brunt of that drop.

AM: Sure.

AC: ...and what did they build UW-Green bay? That was in the 70' s wasn't it?

GC: ...and then again they came under Chapter 36, they were the University of Wisconsin system. But I think it was the enrollment declines, is what caused some tough times.

AM: ...and that was more of a financial...

GC: Yeah.

AM: ...kind of situation?

GC: Yeah, and for me when I, in the 60's left St. Norbert's, I was leaving a private school, going to a state school, So I could get a much better deal at a state school.

AM: Sure.

38:00

GC: A deal in what way? Tuition wise?

AM: How much was the tuition difference from St. Norbert's to Oshkosh?

GC: About 1,000 dollars.

AM: OK.

GC: The difference was almost 50%, well, wait a minute, no...

AM: ...and was that really what was...

GC: ...but it was, I know it was considerably less to go to Oshkosh instead of a private school.

AM: So, that's really why you transferred?

GC: I had been ever since I was a kid in Appleton, putting all of my paper boy money and such stuff away for college.

AM: Sure.

GC: ...and uh.. After a year and a half at St. Norbert, I saw that fund pretty well gone.

AM: Yeah.

GC: ...and then I thought... you know there are some economics that work here, something isn't going to work.

AC: You were kind of struggling with your courses too and not knowing what direction you were going in.

GC: Right, that was when I was in the Math and Science and what should have been more of Humanities, history, English, that kind of thing.

AM: So, I guess you decided you wanted to be more of the humanities when you started not doing well or was there something that really happened that made you...

AC: It was chemistry... [laughing]

39:00

GC: Chemistry, that was good! [laughing], here's someone that gets a lot of A's in Chemistry (points to Anita) oh man, I remember I the first semester at St. Norbert's, I got a 5 credit D in chemistry and second semester I got a 5 credit F... in chemistry.

AM: Oh my goodness.

GC: Now, is nature trying to tell me something?

AM: Yes.

GC: YES! And of course at the time [unclear] when I see it not clearly, until I got out of it, you know it, it's only when we're passed something that we can look back and say: "How could I have not known?"

AM: Right.

AC: But then your father stare you in the right direction.

GC: He could see I wasn't doing well.

AC: ...and he said why don't you try library science?

GC: That was the second thing, and the first thing he said... he uh saw was that I was not doing well at St. Norbert, I remember him saying, first thing you gotta do is get out of there and I don't know what.. Again, I said for his lack of education he was the most insightful, intelligent man I have ever met.

AM: Yes, yeah.

GC: ...and then uh, I thought about being an English major and one semester, or 40:00the first semester probably I went home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, with seven term papers to write, and I couldn't do it. I mean I was, I'm a plotting scholar.

AM: Yeah.

GC: I do things slowly, carefully, such stuff and I thought this was never going to work. So my parents were bringing me back to school from oshko-.. From Shawano to Oshkosh, and I am riding in the back seat of the Buick and from the front seat dad's voice comes, "why don't ya be a librarian"? and I thought, "that's crazy, who wants to be a librarian?" You joke about librarians especially in school and such stuff, but I got to thinking about it and I realized that a man who had been a librarian in Shawano High school, I knew in there, had gone to Oshkosh, and he was in fact at UW Oshkosh at the time. So I thought about it for a day or two and I went to see him, and we talked. And he 41:00said, "you know what" and of course he knew me from years back, he said " yeah I don't think that's a bad idea for you", and uh, "why don't we take a few courses?", and that's what got me started there. Uh... I liked, I liked what I was doing compared to chemistry of course it wasn't nearly as hard at least for my mind, it wasn't nearly as challenging as chemistry or science would have been, but I knew at that time Chemistry or Science was not me.

AM: Right.

GC: but library, working with people, yeah, that seemed good. And so, I got into that more and more and uh, again along that line Helen Wahoski, the head librarian, was a good and kind person, and uh we talked, and it just kind of worked out.

AM: How do you Helen's spell last name?

GC: W-A-H-O-S-K-I

42:00

AM: ...and is that kind of how after you graduated you sought employment, at Polk I'm assuming?

AC: No.

GC: There are some things in between. Um, I had graduated in '65 and I said I had gotten the Scholarship for graduate school. This was, there was a Wisconsin Library association study grant, I could get the money for school, in return, I had to give two years of public library service to the state of Wisconsin. So I got out of Madison, I was on public library work.

AM: Sure.

GC: It just happened that there were two jobs open at the time, Neenah and Oshkosh, in public library work, I had interviewed for both, chose Oshkosh, and it was good, but it was during that time that I started meeting other librarians and started seeing college library work too and public library work was..

AC: You were driving the book mobile...

43:00

GC: [laughing] Yes.

AC: ...and you were...

GC: I was in charge of the book mobile actually...

AM: What was the book mobile?

GC: Ooohhh...

AC: see, we got a young person here...

GC: [unclear] We drove this truck that is made up like a library with a lot of kinds of books inside.

AM: That was a thing?

AC: Yeah, oh yeah.

GC: Oh yeah, it was. Leonard Archer called it, didn't want to call it a book mobile, called it a mobile branch. The main company for it was [gurst-en-slager], out of [ ost-er] Ohio.

AM: Wow.

GC: Yeah, that's why if you go to the public library even now and you're on Washburn street, look down the driveway, the driveway slopes down at the library from [unclear] yeah, Jefferson [unclear], there's two or three tall, very tall doors down at the library, that is where we drove in the book mobile.

AC: ...and tell her what you did with the book mobile, how you would go out into the county... tell her what you did.

GC: Actually it wasn't a county book mobile, at that time it was just in the city...

AC: I know but you went...

GC: I had extension service which would service the county. So, I took book 44:00collections out to places like Omro, Winneconne, Waukau, Eureka, these were in people's homes, Omro and Winneconne, it was in sort of a town hall, but Eureka, Waukau, these were in people's homes.

AM: Sure.

GC: A resident would have one room and book shelves and so I was out carrying books around to the county.

AM: I didn't know that was a thing, I guess. I, I never would have known that.

GC: You're familiar probably with county extension [unclear] and such.

AM: Sure.

GC: Well this was similar to that, but for libraries.

AM: OK.

AC: ...but you have to remember this was all pre-computer.

AM: Yeah, OK.

AC: You had to get all your knowledge from books, you don't just...

AM: ...type it in.

GC: Would you like a divergence here?

AM: Yeah!

GC: One of things a library science major had to take was an audiovisual course, this was back at Oshkosh now.

AM: Audio visual course.

GC: Audio visual, yes. and I think it was Herbert [door-man] who was the 45:00teacher, anyway his house was immediately toward the union, immediately south of the library and he was teaching [unclear], of course mostly for prospective teachers were there because they had a tape this, and so Mr. [door-man] would put up a slide, a slide yeah, not power point, on a screen and he would point it to and it was obviously a part of an engine and he said "what's that?", there were two guys in front of me, the kind of guys who would have had the motorcycle in the dorm, and one of them says "um..". What was it? It was a crank shaft of an internal combustion engine and uh... he asked what uh...he asked about something, must have been the crank it self, and Mr. [Door-man] just kept 46:00smiling, he kept pointing at something and with my dad's experience with cars, I said oh that's a counter balance weight, "BINGO" he said, you're gonna take this class Thursday over to the library, and show them what the audiovisual stuff at the library is. AM: Oh my goodness.

GC: [laughing] I knew that that glob of iron on that crank shaft diagram, I knew it was a counter balance weight, but yes it was a crank shift, the whole thing was the crank shift, but I said the one that was specifically named, and then nobody else knew what a counter balance was due to my father, I knew so... and the big thing in the audiovisual at the time was micro fiche.

AM: Micro fiche.

GC: [laughing] M-I-C-R-O F-I-C-H-E

AM: Micro fiche.

GC: It's a sheet, You have probably heard of micro film [unclear] it's a sheet, 4 by 6 sheet and we had a machine full of... it would slide out and the glass 47:00plates would pop up, slide the fiche in, push it back in, the light would project it on the screen. So that's what I did for the class, that other day but I thought that was so funny, you know because I knew that that was a counter balance weight.

AM: [unclear] It's just so difficult to kind of picture.

AC: Right, because of all of your magazines and stuff were all micro fiche, or your maps, or whatever, so if you did research, you would have to go to the library and try to find a micro fiche.

GC: ...and micro films, hundreds and hundreds of [unclear] of micro films.

AC: Right and then you'd have to go to the thing, and none of this you punch it in, ask google, something or other, I mean you had to really work to do a research paper.

GC: There was no google then of course. Microprint now, it's formats, fiche, etc. were simply a way to get a lot of books. You need books from the 1600's, books that Martin Luther might have read. There would be a film, because you obviously can't get the actual book, the physical book there, and have it in 1,000 libraries. With micro format, you could.

48:00

AM: Sure.

GC: ...and so that became an important research tool.

AM: OK, so then would you say when you attended, you didn't even have to, or would students even though the duration of when you worked at Oshkosh, during the earlier times, students didn't even have to buy specific books for courses?

GC: Oh yeah!

AM: You still did?

GC: Yeah, when I started as a student at Oshkosh, it was text book rental.

AM: OK.

GC: That was great, you payed your 60 bucks and you got all your books and at semester you took em' back, and then did they mention the times in the 70's when students were getting more up in arms and power to the students and all that stuff, one of the campaigns of the student's running for student body president, get rid of the text book rentals, students need to buy the books so that they can develop a home library. My god, the last thing you want is a home library full of used textbooks.

AM: Yeah.

GC: ...but, this was this guy's campaign, I still remember the guy and uh it helped him get elected.

AM: [unclear] Do you wanna share the name of that guy?

49:00

GC: I am not exactly sure of that, who he was, but they did get rid of the student text book rentals and I said "you're making a huge mistake."

AM: Yeah.

GC: ...because now you're gonna have to buy them.

AM: No kidding.

GC: A text book rental library in the basement library expanded, students then had to start buying their textbooks and it didn't take long, fortunately the students made the decision were sensing succeeding generations of course, the rental system might not have lasted till today. but even so..

AC: But science changes so quickly, it would be a big cost getting all those science books every year, every other year, rather than using rental books for ten years and the you're ready ten years out of.. so.. It balances.

GC: Rental books were placed regularly, so students find their own [unclear], 50:00this is really costly and it was.

AM: Yeah, no kidding.

GC: [unclear]

AC: Well, yeah.

GC: [unclear]

AC: ...but you haven't explained to her how you got from the public library to Polk library yet.

GC: Wait a minute.

AC: ...you were driving the book mobile around.

GC: Somehow there's some history here I am missing.

AC: Well, you're trying to get... How did you get to UWO's library?

AM: Yeah, how did you get, I guess employment at UW Oshkosh.

GC: Tell me.

AC: Well, Milton is the one that got you the job over here, or tell her how you talked to Helen Wahoski then?

GC: Yes.

AC: Well, explain that to her.

GC: Um... [laughing]

AC: You were working at the Oshkosh public library right?

GC: Right.

AC: So, how did you get from the Oshkosh public library to Polk Library?

GC: [laughing]

AC: I don't mean by walking there, I mean how did you go from employment from one place to the other? GC: It had to be a situation with personnel, that's it, I was in the extension department and I had a, an employees, somebody for whom I 51:00was a supervisor, and all at once was I thinking about changing jobs? Or did somehow or other she started to lobby for my job.

AM: Sure.

GC: My, my subordinate who was, and I forgot what the straw was that broke my back, but I remember there was some turning point and I just picked up the phone, called Helen Wahoski, and said "you know what, we're still friends, and I said I'd like to talk to you about perhaps my employment at the university. "Well, you know, how about the afternoon at 2 O'clock?", "fine."... and by the time I left that conference I guess you could say, it was a done deal.

AC: So, that's how he got here.

AM: Did you enjoy working here?

52:00

GC: Yes.

AC: Oh, yes.

GC: Now by that time I knew that I wasn't really a rural librarian, and gosh I am stripping myself intellectually naked here, but to be the head of a county extension service for a public library, you had to be creative, you had to think ahead about things that weren't being done.

AM: Sure.

GC: You had to be a library director in effect...

AM: Wow.

GC: ...and that was the first time out, and I thought, "I need to get a job so I learn to know what I'm doing.'

AM: Right.

GC: ...and that's where I thought, the new [unclear] would be...environment, of the University college library, college University library, would give me more of a framework, where as in public library I was head of a department and I just felt I was kind of rattling around. Like I should have known what I was doing 53:00more than I thought I did.

AM: Right.

GC: ...and that I would be more comfortable in the university, and it seemed to be a good fit for right away

AM: Yeah.

AC: You started an inter-library loan.

GC: I did indeed yes, I was the inter-library loan librarian, and that persisted for quite a few years. In those days I went to report in to my first day of work and I said "uh.. where is my desk?" They didn't have one, and [unclear] " oh, we thought you could work from the reference desk", well, interlibrary loans is a whole other operation. So, I said "ohh... this isn't gonna work". Back in High School, I remember my one world history teacher said, " when you guys get to college, don't try to get to know the head administrators, get to know the janitor... if you wanna know where the power is, get to know the janitor."

AC: Remember that...

54:00

GC: As you go to school, I still remember [Rudy Ellis], the teacher, telling us that. So, I thought, [unclear] back to my high school teachers words, I went and found the janitor and said that there's a hall way going off the circulation desk, this would be the original Polk library building which was the North wing, second floor, that's where the main part of the library was, and there was a hallway going down into the coat room, and I thought "well there's plenty of room here", so I went and talked to the janitor and he went down to the basement, rattled around, found me a desk, he carted it up, and I said "put her there."

AM: Oh my goodness.

GC: ...park the desk in this hallway, and I set up shop.

AM: Oh.

GC: ... for doing the interlibrary loans. [laughing].

AM: I love it.

GC: It was just really...

AC: But that's really sound advice, wherever you work, get to know the janitor, really.

AM: Wow, get to know the janitor.

AC: ...and don't treat them as just someone to ignore, treat them as an equal, 55:00as a person, and you know if you need the light bulb changed..

GC: You won't have to go through [unclear] and come to think of it...

AC: light bulb change [whispering]...

GC: ...and the same thing had happened when I was a student in Madison the year before... by that time it was three years before, um.. the building that was the library school was no longer there, it was used by journalism and library science instead of [ unclear], but the um.. what's the student newspaper in Madison?

AC: Oh uh, the cardinal, the Daily Cardinal.

GC: OK, they had the second floor, library school had the first. The basement had these huge rolls of paper, I don't know who many tons each one of them weighed. But when they came in they were rolled down the basement there, and I would eat my breakfast at Bill's Stadium Grill on Reagent street and I would 56:00come in with my lunch bag for my day of school, and uh... sometimes there I would go down to the basement where the men's restroom was and the janitor would be working down there at that time and we would each park ourselves on a roll of paper and we would just chat for 10, 15 minutes and then I would go back up to the library school library with was kind of my home base between classes, later on, in all deference to my now wife... later on I got to know a couple of women in the library school and one of them was saying that apparently she had her eye on me for a while and I didn't know that and so she was kind of checking around and somebody told her, say one thing about Gerry- he talks to the janitor, and that seems significant to them, he talks to the janitor.. And I think "why not they're people" and yet somehow or other among this other group of students there was a social class kind of thing.

AM: OK.

57:00

GC: ...and which for me was silly, I come from a long line of janitor [laughing] literally, working class people.

AC: But really, it's...

GC: Really, these were my kind of people.

AM: You kind of got labeled in a way I guess.

GC: In a way.

AC: In a way, it was a compliment really, I think it was.

GC: When she said he talks to the janitor that was a compliment, but I didn't think anything of it.

AC: We are all people.

GC: I would never have thought that would have been noticed by anybody, or considered important, but yet uh anyway, I did talk to the janitor so three years later up at Oshkosh, talking to the janitor, well of course I talk to the janitor, and that's how I got my desk.

AM: Wow.

AC: ...and he stayed there for 43 years and...

AM: ...and saw all.

AC: Saw all these changes, but... I think gerry was one of the few who really cared about the students, really did, and if a student would come and ask a 58:00question, Gerry just didn't answer the question for the student, he would show them how to get to the answer, so the next time the student came in with another question they would know how to do it, and I think that's, that was.. he did a really nice job, and he still misses the students.

GC: I wasn't finding answers for students, I was teaching them how to find the answers.

AC: Right, and that's important.

GC: ...and at that time in involved a large collection of books, now that room that was the reference room, is just all computers, all computer stations and at that time they were books, and books could lead you to interest things and someone times lead you beyond those things to other things you wanted. I remember one day a student came in with what he thought was a rather knotty question, I thought well let's see, first you find what category we are in, then we go to this part, the classification, you kind of... You get to learn the books. The first year is always the hardest because you don't know what's there and I was able to ferret out the information he wanted and he was quite new and 59:00let's say easily impressed, he said "gee, you know lot", and I said " I should, I have been in college for 20 years.

AM: No kidding, you never left, I guess maybe a little, but not really.

GC: But what I meant by that of course was I have been working with this knowledge now for ten years, so I should have been able to find my way around, that is another one of those nuggets that stayed with me... "gee, you know a lot", I should, you know, I have been in college for 20 years...

AM: Yeah.

GC: ...and that is the way I figured I was going to college and from students, I was able to teach and learn.

AM: Yeah.

GC: ...because I learned along the way that students aren't these dumb, empty containers that you pouring something into to fill them up... these are all people, they've got their experiences, some of them have expertise that I don't 60:00have, and that's all applicable, they could use what they knew and of course they are in school, they're trying to get more, and If I can help that, that's good... that's what I'm there for.

AM: Yeah.

GC: OH! We have hit out hour.

AM: Yes, but we can keep going, because there is one specific, I guess what I wanna know from you, in all that 4 years what do you think was the most significant event to happen during your employment at Polk library? I guess what was...

GC: [unclear] In the 4 years you're talking about that was in my student days...

AM: Yes, but now during your employment?

AC: Your employment?

GC: We are doing my 40 years of employment, the most significant event?

AM: You can even name a few, but I guess what's up there?

GC: Um, definitely black Friday.

AM: or Thursday, yeah.

GC: or black Thursday, that was...

AM: What's kind of your take on it, where were you, what was happening, did you 61:00agree with what the students were saying?

GC: No I didn't, the chancellor, well OK this gets into several layers of thing, we had a recruiting of larger black student population, Oshkosh was pretty white, and there were black students and they were feeling that they were not being given what they needed, they were not being moved along with the kind of help that they needed, and they did, I mean they weren't dumb, but a lot had very little experience with higher education, some were very good, some less so, but there should have been help, anyway, somewhere along the line, they rebelled, and they invaded the chancellor's office which you can find out from all the records now and they trashed it and this went like lightening through the school you know, it was a mob that just trashed the chancellor's office, and immediately the buildings sort of went on lock-down, I remember that the 62:00director told me to... there were four doors... the south wing was not built at that time yet so I think it was just the North wing and under that canopy that you see sticking out for no apparent reason with the main entrance of the library, and she said "lock the doors and stay there," I didn't know "what's happening here?"" Is it some sort of riot?" "What's going on here?" and uh.. so I stood there and when students would come to the library I would open the door, they would walk in the door, they would walk and the door would close, uhh... where am I going with this?

AC: I don't know.

GC: You asked about the most significant event?

AC: So, what'd you do, did you stay there 'till wee hours of the morning or did you... did the library close for the night or?

63:00

GC: There was another thing in there though, there was a library sit- in, but I don't think it had to do with Black Thursday.

AM: If you would like to talk about the library sit- in, feel free, if you remember that more.

GC: I kind of do and I think that was a demand for longer library hours.

AM: Really?

GC: Yeah, which had an impact fiscally. but going back once more to Black Thursday thing where I am standing there tending to the door, shivering in my coat, letting students in one by one, um.. I am standing there, a student was kind of wandering around nearby and I'm just standing there by the door, he was looking me over critically, He finally speaks and says "you a cop?" I said, I thought I could milk this a little bit, thought about this for a few seconds, a few pregnant pauses in there, "nahh, I'm not a cop" and he looks at me again, he was sure I was a police men.

64:00

AM: I mean what if you were, I mean...

GC: Yeah, so what! I mean there was campus unrest, but the second thing was the student- sit in.

AM: Yes, about what year was that do you remember?

GC: Oh my gosh, Helen Wahoski was still there, we hadn't moved into the new wing yet so it would have been before 1969.

AM: OK.

GC: It would have been the 60's. Um... I guess it was the night that I was scheduled to work until 9. And so just before 9, about the time the students would normally be filing on out, more students were coming in, 10, 20 minutes before closing. Well, they were making a point, the library was not going to close. It was a sit-in, I don't know if that phrase is familiar to you.

AM: Yeah, it is.

GC: There was a sit-in, So, there they were, 9 o'clock, staff just wanders on out, I am looking at Helen Wahoski, I thought I'm the reference librarian she is 65:00the director, "am I just gonna walk out and leave her? No..."

AM: ...and there rest of the staff left?

GC: Yes, well there were still the crew for the evening you know, there were only a few when left. But, then started negotiations, "we demand longer library hours," and so I guess she was pretty much closeted in her office with this delegation of students and there was me in the rest of the library, sort of keeping it going, what do you do in a case like that? uh... but eventually it was about midnight or 1 AM [unclear]

AM: So, they got what they wanted then?

GC: Well at least, some kind of a promise to work on it. I mean you couldn't just say yes, we'll extend the hours because you have to have funding. You couldn't just say yes, so um... there I was I remember thinking at the time too, 66:00is this really why I changed jobs, that's really what I'm here for...

AM: Definitely, I mean we here students... they weren't like angry or violent or anything, they were just...?

GC: No they weren't violent, they were just gonna be here by force of numbers. And we won't leave until we got what we want.

AM: ...and were they actually studying or were they just... ?

GC: Some were, some brought books with them, some serious students, others were there just for kind of the sit in aspect of it. You are asking a lot of my old memory now, but those were two times that I remember, Black Thursday, I am standing there by the door by myself and then the students sit-in with Helen Wahoski, and here's this... don't write this down, but what some people might consider the old maid librarian, she was good, she was sincere, she was bright, she could work with the students even though they might think of her as a little old lady, and I thought at 1 in the morning, here she is, here's me and she is 67:00still cool.

AM: Yeah, wow!

GC: ...and she drove a 4-Thunderbird!

AM: Yeah, that brings us to the end of our time, definitely is there anything else, [coughing] excuse me, that you would like to share, about your time, whether it would be as a student or as a faculty member about UW Oshkosh or how it shaped you as a person? Your values?

GC: It was good.

AC: It was good.

GC: I wouldn't have it any other way. The time I spent there, I remember a history professor friend of mine once left the library, as he exited he said I must go to teach and learn, that's where I got that phrase, and "what the heck," I had a 43 year college education, what more could you want? And where else could you get paid for doing what you really enjoy doing? It wasn't always 68:00roses, there were a few bumps in the road, but um...

AC: He had good co-workers...

GC: ...Yeah, one of the people who was [unclear] 1968, I came to start here, I met a fellow, a friend, that first day and he was in government documents at the time and I was in reference and he also worked sometime in reference, 1968.

AC: Was that Milton?

GC: That's Milton.

AM: Milton?

GC: We are friends to this day!

AC: Yup!

GC: Every year I go to see him in Chippewa falls where he now leaves, he has a home in lake [wuh-soda], but he and I were there together in 1968, I remember...

AC: They are really good friends.

GC: Yeah... this would have to be a best friend if there is a BFF that I have, but I remember one time when one of my classes mates staff who had no authority 69:00of me yet she was bossing me around, it just got on my nerves, and I sort of that evening vented to Milton when we were both in our work shifts, and he just kind of shook his head and said "it would be funny if it weren't so pathetic." [laughing]

AM: ...and that's how you knew, in that moment!

GC: It changed my view of it, "yeah OK", you got to learn how to look at things sometimes and um... we did. He and I used to throw a Frisbee around on Washington Ave. where he lived, good guy, really good guy.

AM: ...any other final comments, events?

GC: Now you got me thinking back over 4 or 5 decades.

AM: That is ok.

AC: You enjoyed your association with UWO.

GC: Yeah, it was a really good trip and I can't think of any other path I could 70:00have followed, that would have left me feeling as good about my life as this has.

AM: Sure.

GC: Good people, good students.

AC: You helped a lot of students over those years.

GC: Yeah, I hope so.

AC: Yes, you did!

AM: Were you upset to retire or were you ready to go?

GC: We were ready to go, it was when Governor Walker took over, he just kicked the can all over the place, and I remember Anita and I both went over to talk to personnel and I was planning to retire probably within a year or so, I was gonna retire by 70 for sure, uh.. We went to talk to personnel and my wife was a part of it, she was a part of my retirement and we went over to the personnel lady [unclear], finally she gives us the paper, turns it around, and shoves it across the table, Anita takes it, looks at it, I'm just sort of sitting there like a spectator, Anita looks at it and says well, there's, this is a no brainer, I 71:00thought "the decisions made right there and.."

AM: Yeah, no kidding.

AC: Well, there's always... at that time you didn't know what he was gonna do with your pension.

GC: That was the big...

AC: That was the big thing if he was thinking of taking your pension away and [unclear]

GC: If you retired today, this is what you're gonna get yearly, if you wait until next year...

AC: It might be gone...

AM: So, you weren't guaranteed anything basically.

AC: ...and that's why so many people left, because of him.

GC: ...and that's why there was an exodus the first year Walker as governor. [unclear]

AC: You lost a lot of good people...

GC: ...lost a lot of good brain power.

AM: So, would you say the university took a hit in that way then?

GC: The University took a hit with governor walker for sure.

AC: Oh, absolutely.

GC: Yeah, and he doesn't, didn't appear to value education.

AM: Sure, agreed.

GC: ...and that shows in his policies.

AM: Yeah, definitely.

GC: So, anyway...

72:00

AC: Sure, he has frozen tuition but...

AM: Yeah, everything else...

AC: The consequences are just... we need... you have to cut classes, you know a lot of...

GC: you normally cut classes... [unclear]

AC: A number of classes, upper level that students had been cut you know that might have been a course in spiders or something like that and the rest of the sections are getting more students.

AM: Yeah.

AC: ...,and it's just...

GC: ...Anita mentioned the course on spiders, as an inter-library loan librarian I got to know the faculty. I would get to know any graduate students [unclear], I would uh get to, I would call in when the stuff they would order in interlibrary loan came in, I got to know when not to call because the baby would be asleep, you get that relationship with faculty, we got to know well, very well, and just this last year, we went and buried one of those faculty members.

73:00

AC: [Jack Casper.]

GC: Yeah, [Jack Casper.]

AM: Yeah, I am sorry.

GC: Casper, yeah. And I looked around the funeral home and it was like a reunion, all these names I had known from the 60's and the 70's.

AM: Yeah.

GC: and I don't know who's that... Casper taught spiders and birds, he was the Ornithologist and the arachnologist, arachnia being spiders

AM: Yeah.

GC: ...and as I stood by the casket, looked in, here was the Robins Field Guide to Birds.

AM: Oh my goodness.

GC: ...and it was his standard reference for all those years, tucked in the casket beside of him, and probably less desirable for you was a plastic box containing a tarantula, but again... [unclear]

AM: His favorite things yeah...

GC: So, he had his favorite things, the birds and the spiders in the casket... and that and I looked around the room and people said "Hi Gerry, I haven't seen you in about 20 years."

AM: Yeah.

GC: Since the great exodus, but there we were all gathered in that funeral home, 74:00like a reunion, faulty reunion.

AC: This is a really good school.

GC: Yes.

AC: Really good school.

GC: It is and anybody who thinks it isn't I would say it's not...

AC: It's not a UW zero.

GC: It's definitely not a UW zero and there's an education here and there is good, good, instructors here, good people, good teachers, and good students, it's there, just take it.

AC: Just take it, yeah.

AM: Thank you so much for sharing

GC: You're very welcome.

AC: Remember, make friends with janitor.

AM: Make friends with the janitor.

GC: [laughing]

Search This Transcript
Search Clear