Interview with Jean Kobin, 04/21/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Stephan Harder, Interviewer | uwocs_JeanL_Kobin_04212016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


Stephan Harder: All right so today is Tuesday April 21st of 2016, my name is Stephan harder and today I'll be introducing, could you please introduce yourself ma'am?

Jean Kobin: Jean Crabtree Kobin.

SH: Okay. To start things out, could you please describe where did you grow up?

JK: I was born in Racine and at 10 my family moved to Wauwatosa which is a suburb of Milwaukee. And I graduated from Wauwatosa east high school, and came to university.

SH: What was Wauwatosa like when you were a child?

JK: Very nice old homes. I could walk to grade school, at my one year grade school which was 6th, walk to junior high, walk to Wauwatosa east, so it was very old homes, tree line streets, very nice. There was ah, village of Wauwatosa 1:00which was just beyond the high school had small shops hardware stores, shoe store, yeah. It was very nice, still considered a very nice suburb of Milwaukee. Everything walk-able, or ride my bike, and that's how we got around.

SH: When you were a kid was it easier to kind of have a little bit of freedom as a child, compared to now-a-days?

JK: When I think of raising my children in Cedarburg, which is a very walk-able community, it was no different. Because that's the way my husband and I raised our children. We also lived in a subdivision in Cedarburg; many families do not allow their children to even walk to school, even though it's probably one of the safest cities. I don't understand that, other than there is a lot of wealth, it seems in our neighborhood, and uh they feel like children don't want to walk, 2:00they want to ride to everything, they expect it. My family growing up my parents divorced when I was going into 7th grade so my father lived far away, and my mother had the four children to raise and we had one car, so, we walked.

SH: Okay. I know you said you had three siblings?

JK: Yes, I had an older sister two years older a brother two years younger and a sister four years younger. And my brother has died he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age fourteen.

SH: I'm sorry to hear that.

JK: It was yeah very difficult, my mother fortunately was a nurse, so she saw the signs and was able then to guide him through his life, but insulin shots every day was very difficult, and of course we all learned about nutrition, and advances have been made but he did die at 48, a very um shortened life, very 3:00difficult. He also was slower in school, back then they didn't have um special ed, but Wauwatosa school district which is a very good school district actually around the early 70's began putting it in place. So he was able to graduate from high school, and find a job in Wauwatosa, so he always worked, but he wasn't able to go on to university life, my sister and I, my older sister went to the Milwaukee county school of nursing, which is on the grounds of Froedert Hospital right now. There was a nursing school there. She went off to nursing school and then I was next to get to go to university, and then my youngest sister went to Oshkosh. Started up at UW Marathon County for a year and a half, and then transferred into Oshkosh.

SH: Okay. What did you do... what sort of activities were you involved in high school?


JK: I was on the pompom squad, I was in the math club, I was in the red arrow, a girls service club, um I was in the marching band for two years, and back then Wauwatosa was just a three year high school. So 10th 11th and 12th because we went through junior high school which was 7th 8th and 9th into high school. I was in the marching band for my first two years. I was in a classroom called, we were the head cashiers of the school. So we were the top math students put into a special homeroom for 11th and 12th grade and we were in charge of collecting fees, for student fees, um any other fees involved, we were in charge of taking 5:00student ID's we had our 40th high school reunion in September and there is a group of us that are working on the committee so a lot of this is coming back you know, talking about, "What did we do again as cashiers?" But yeah, I can't think of what else I was in that was pretty much kept me busy with dance team and marching band. And the service club, yeah that was about it, AFS I helped out once in a while because I was in the German class, I studied German starting in 6th grade through high school, and here then at Oshkosh too.

SH: What did you first start thinking about going to college in the first place?

JK: I really didn't. And it's because we were a poor family, and my dad was disabled so the only way the only reason I was able to go to college was because my mom had been storing her saving up all of the disability payments that were 6:00coming from the government, social security disability payments that were coming from the government for each of us children. And we were able to use that my... so I had no plans to go to college. I did not know what I would ever do, but my older sister was two years older, she is the one [unclear] nursing school, and her best high school friend was here at UW Oshkosh. And Kathy said, you know, she, you should let your... if your sister gets to go she should go to Oshkosh, it's a good school. And my mom said okay, lets... just go there. we'll find the money we'll figure it out, and my mom did take me up to Oshkosh I believe when I was accepted, so I must have filled out an application, they said I was accepted, and my mom brought me up to campus and that was the day where was 7:00freshman and we scheduled so, similar to my son Danny when I brought him up to Oshkosh for his when he was a high school senior for him to schedule. That was similar experience, but I didn't look any other schools. I really didn't know of any other schools, we had almost 500 kids in our 'Tosa East class of '76. It really was 480 something and I was number 6. I was extremely bright, but I didn't know it at the time. Different then know how kids kind of know where they are in class and they're looking at schools starting as 9th, 10th graders, 11th graders. They tour the schools well I didn't have that option, and I do remember my guidance counselor at 'Tosa east, looking at, meeting with me as a senior and saying, "you're going to Oshkosh? Why would you go there? You should be at Ripon or Lawrence." And I remember thinking; I don't even know what those are. I had 8:00no clue really about other universities.

SH: And was that just because you didn't feel the need to look into it because you weren't sure if you were going to be able to go?

JK: Probably but I didn't, I just didn't have, I was more book smart. It was-- Did not have a lot of common sense? I don't think it would have ever occurred for me to look at a university. And my mom was not in the position to help me with that. She was very busy with my brother and my younger sister and working. Very full time, she was a director of nursing at a nursing home in Milwaukee, she worked many hours. And so I knew we were not well off. And I just knew I babysat a lot. And so I could save money and I knew I was just saving money for something to do in the future but I had no idea. And then when kids-- My classmates were talking about going off to college I remember... frankly coming 9:00home every night and crying myself to sleep thinking, I don't know what I would every do. I don't know what I will do but maybe I shouldn't leave home I could help my mom, I could get a job someplace and help my mom. So that was it so...

SH: So when you first realized you were actually going to be going to school after high school, what did that feel like, do you remember like maybe the moment when...

JK: Yes

SH: happened so to speak

JK: Yes. I don't remember getting that envelope in the mail. That's how we would have been told, of course there would have been nothing like an email or text, we didn't have computers, so, I don't remember that envelope coming, I do remember going with my mom up to campus to do the scheduling, and I believe I sat for a math placement test and an English placement, and a German placement test that morning. And I remember being in the room in Dempsey where we scheduled, and sitting at a table with the big, you had the big bulletin, a big big book where you looked up classes, and looked at the sections and then you 10:00filled out a form saying well I'd like to take, you know, US history from 1865 at MoWeFri at 9 and filling out the form and a man came in the room. And he rushed over, he was talking to people and all the sudden they were pointing at me and he came over and sat down and introduced himself. He said he was from the math department, I don't remember his name, I don't remember really ever seeing him again but he said that he was the head of the department and he had never seen such a high score on a math placement and he said, I remember him saying, "Little girl, what do you want to do with your life?" And I remember thinking, I don't know. I don't know what I'm even doing here. So I was a little nervous, I was also only 17. I had turned 17 on November of my senior year, so I was about a year behind my classmates, and that's only because the Racine school district 11:00had a different entrance cutoff for kindergarten. We moved at 10 they just kept me in 6th grade because they said, they looked at my transcripts I guess from Racine and said, "She's bright enough." But after that I remember being excited though. When mom was with me on campus and I remember being in Elmwood and seeing all the food. Which sounds silly but, again we were a pretty poor family and I was thinking, we could eat this food I can eat... I could get anything I want? But I also remember thinking when it came to picking a meal plan, that first semester, I picked 15 meals a week which was the cheapest. And I remember saying to my mom, "I could live on that." And she agreed because again, it was going to be expensive, and I remember thinking halfway through that, that was just the wrong decision, because it wasn't enough. So that was ... I pretty much 12:00had lunch and supper five days a week, I was on my own on the weekend. Which was silly, I shouldn't have been I really, living in Stewart Hall not even having meals [unclear] Not right.

SH: So tell me more about that, did they not offer meals on the weekend?

JK: They did. They did I took and I shouldn't say that the fifteen would have been like fifteen meal s a week so you pretty much were going Monday through Friday through three meals. I should know my math better, and I don't believe I could use those on the weekend, I could be wrong I just remember thinking this was silly all my girlfriends are going off to Elmwood and I'm making peanut butter sandwich here. That was not a good decision and I think my mom probably should have helped me through that more and said, no that's not going to be 13:00enough to live on. And maybe somehow we thought I was going to come home on weekends? Because it was only and hour and a half, I don't know. I just remember that was a bad decision and at semester switched over to a, you know, seven day meal plan.

SH: Okay, you switched over at semester. So how was the whole experience of moving over from life in high school and life at your house to being a first semester freshman at Oshkosh? What was that like for you?

JK: It was very happy, because I did have a lot of stress in my house with my brother with his umm, his diabetes, with, that was all starting, you know, not feeling well and his problems in school, and knowing my parents were divorced and my father lived in southern Illinois and knowing my mom was so tired, always working, so home was pretty stressful. It wasn't umm, a mean environment or 14:00hostile environment, it was just to me, I think I was a very compassionate person. It was hard for me to think, "I'm going to move away and not be there to help." However I remember being in my room at Stewart hall that first night going, I think I'm going to like this. You know being really excited that I have this room and my roommate was nice, Sheryl. And I was meeting kids already; I had a great RA, Sue. And I remember thinking; this part of it is very exciting and happy. And knowing I could go in and eat, that was very fun. We'd walk together, our RA Sue would take us at night, she didn't want anyone to be alone. So she'd say, "Ok we're all going tonight together and if anyone can't because of maybe they have a night class, we'll figure it out." But that was just very happy. Academically, easy. I got straight A's for the first year and a half. And 15:00I really, I studied very hard, but, Wauwatosa east was a considered a college prep high school. Now you hear that term. Back then I don't remember hearing that term, but I was definitely prepared academically. I aced every class, and thought, this wasn't hard at all. It really wasn't, I enjoyed my classes. I met, I had some great professors, fun people in my class and now you're starting to meet them and they're living in Tailor hall or Scott hall or Nelson, you know, they're all over campus as well as townies, kids that were not on campus. So it was, it was a very happy time.

SH: What was interaction like with the faculty specifically?

JK: Really not that much as a freshman because you pretty much, I went to class 16:00and I never felt like I needed to go see them after hours because the classes did not stress me, they were very easy. I did have, I placed into a calculus 1, and I believe there were two freshmen in it. Otherwise they were older, was all guys. And it was me and this other freshman girl. And that was kind of strange and Jimmy G. Lakean was the professor, and I had him the second semester, we all moved onto calc 2. He was just, very, uhh, humorous? Very intelligent but again I didn't find the, the book was huge I remember thinking, my gosh this is the biggest book I've ever seen. But I, it was doable. It was all doable and I don't remember going to see him after. I had a professor, my very first class was this 17:00US History class, and I remember that professor, George Sebert did not open his eyes. So when he turned to face the class he was always, the eyes closed like he was in deep thought. And he would talk and talk and talk and then he'd turn around to the chalkboard. And write stuff and then we're like, ok now he must be opening his eyes! I think he was incredibly shy. Again I never had to go visit him for any help. But I remember, I'm just kind of an observer like that, those were things that I'll never forget and I'm just being kind of amused by it.

SH: Was he elderly or...?

JK: Yeah I'd say he was older, but you know if I think about it now I mean, I'm fifty-seven... He probably could have been in his forties for all I thought for a little seventeen year old, but he seemed probably because he had glasses, and ....seems kind of .... I don't know. I think I'm pretty sure in the alumni news 18:00I remember seeing that he had died years ago. So he probably was up there I didn't recalculate it but very interesting man. Lou Tusken was my German professor and he was I believe head of the foreign language department. Nice, probably my favorite professor out of all my years, and I'm pretty sure Lou has passed away. Again he is probably the only one out of at least that first year whose office I ever went to and his office was in Radford, so it was above the student health which is still there right?

SH: It is...

JK: The foreign language department was upstairs and I remember going to Lou's office sometime freshman year because I had him then first semester, second, I had him for every German course I had and I believe I stopped probably after sophomore year because then I entered the college of business, but I've taken enough German, I'm not going to be fluent, and I'm not going to Germany... but 19:00there was an accounting professor I wish I remembered his name, he was assigned to, sometimes they took faculty and assigned them to residence halls so they were like the advisor to the hall, and junior year when I lived in Nelson, this accounting professor, I want to say his name is Lee? Either that was his first or his last name... He was our advisor, so I got to know him well because I was the RA, CA in Nelson that year, and he would come to even parties, if we had parties down in the basement...

SH: Really.

JK: Mhmm... Cuz I think he was kind of supposed too. It was uh, it was a way of I think and maybe it was new that year, it was a way for the faculty to kind of, relate to the campus kids? Maybe connect them better, because I don't remember that being the same in Stewart hall.

SH: Okay... That kind of brings me to sort of a question. You said you were 17 for your first semester, then you turned 18, and when you went the legal 20:00drinking age was 18 right?

JK: 18, yes.

SH: Was it, was there... first of all what was your social life like. I know it is Oshkosh we're talking about here so bar culture was really big, and I've heard a lot about them actually having like, basement soda parties where as long as you had 50% soda you could have 50% alcohol and then they would just reuse the soda the rest of the year. What was that like? And was it different after you turned 18 or did everyone just turn their eye?

JK: No, especially as an RA, I knew the rules. And yeah we had, we had dorm parties almost every weekend. I was on second floor Stewart sop we'd have 2nd floor Stewart, third floor Clemens. And the, those two RA's would talk and say, "Ok you want it Saturday night? Sure. You want it Stewart? Yep." And they'd order a keg, I did not, I never felt pressured to drink. And I didn't do it. I didn't want to. They'd have soda, but I don't remember it until my sophomore 21:00year when I was an RA in Stewart, where the housing department in our training would talk to us about remember, we need to have more, number one, non-alcoholic functions, and if you have an alcoholic function you need to provide non-alcoholic, you know alternatives, drinking. Sodas, water. So there was a rule there and as far as a Stewart hall party when I was a freshman before I was 18, there probably was soda there too. And I would have been happy drinking soda. In Stewart but, when I turned 18, I remember the, it was a weeknight, and the girl in the room next-door to me who was ah bout 19, she was older, she said "oh you got-ta have a drink." And I said well no I'm studying tonight. "No you don't have to go out, I'm going to mix you a drink." And she mixed me like vodka and seven-up or something and I remember like, whooo wow. And, but then after that it was, oh yeah. I went to the bars. I went to the bars all the time. And 22:00even when I was 17, I had, I remember a friend of mine, he was probably like my first boyfriend, he was in Clemens, he would call me on Thursday night from the bars saying, "there are no bouncers, come out tonight." I'd be like nope, I'm not doing it. I'm going to turn 18 in the end of November I'm fine. I do not want to jeopardize, you know, I was not a rule breaker. That was very important to me; you're probably the same way. Rotcy boy. Yeah so I didn't feel pressure, I did go to a party Halloween, so that was pretty close it was about 3 weeks before my birthday and it was down the street on Lincoln. It was my sister Gale's friend Kathy's house. The girl from 'Tosa East who was 2 years older who had, my mom let her go to Oshkosh. She lived off campus somehow, she had a party and to this day I still don't remember walking home to get home from Stewart, my friends said, "You just up and left." And I remember they had what was called 23:00walk pahtewee, you know where they had a garbage can with the liner and they were pouring in wine, punch and booze, and I remember thinking, wow this is really good, it's like punch! And it probably hit me like that and I was probably out of there within an hour. Walked home, just you know 2 blocks to get to Stewart. I don't remember walking home, I remember waking up the next morning going, oh that wasn't good. That should not happen. But it did, you know it's after that when I turned 18, we did go to the bars a lot. You went to the bars with like a dollar.

SH: And it lasted?

JK: You could go to Beeners which is just down the street here, it's a hair salon now, is this Ohio? 9th, off of 9th on Ohio. It's now a hair salon it was called Beeners. And you could get a shot and beer for 25 cents. It was a beer with a shot of peppermint schnapps, 25 cents. Sophomore year it went to 35 24:00cents. We could actually go there and yeah for a buck; just think you had four little beers that was enough for us. My friends, we were all kind of little girls and we... (laughs)

SH: And you were like 18 years old too

JK: Yeah! And that would be it for us you know? A lot of times we just went down to the bars to 3watch for guys. Guy watching! That was it. It was a social thing to do. The parties in our basements, you know we had parties in Tailor hall, in Scott hall, and Clemens and Nelson and Stewart, those were so much fun. Because it was music, I suppose someone had a record player. And would bring it down there it was just dancing and, drinking beer, yeah.

SH: Did the campus feel safe for you?

JK: Very safe. Yeah. Yeah. Very safe. I don't reme... I had one night class and I remember thinking, I don't wanna do this anymore. 6-9 that's late. I mean I studied a lot at night right after dinner I would go to the library so to go off 25:00and have a class at night that was just... Cuz actually going to the library was kind of social time too. Cuz you all went you know, we'd walk over there with a group of us, get a whole table up on 2nd floor. I'd sometimes go to the German section where the books where so I could do my homework and research there but, loved going to the library .mhmm... Guy watching again.

SH: At the library when you were supposed to be studying?

JK: Of course. Yeah of course! Mhmm...mhmm.

SH: So I know you said that when you first came here the dorms were split between sexes correct?

JK: Yes

SH: And what year was that, the year...

JK: '76 was Stewart, and then '77 I lived in Stewart.

SH: And then...

JK: And then '78 I was supposed to be back in Stewart, I was going to stay my junior year as an RA in Stewart. I got a call that summer from Jim Day who was 26:00the director of housing, and he said, "We want to offer you a position in Nelson Hall." Nelson Hall was traditionally all male four stories. And he said, "We have an overflow of women this academic year. We need to open one floor of Nelson. The decision has been made, it's going to be first floor Nelson and we would like you to be the RA." I did have a good reputation as an RA in that I was very high academic student but I was a lot of fun. And I wasn't one like fun, like in drugs, or, loaded all the time. I had just a lot of kids I knew on campus, and so I knew two of the other three guy RA's. Lance and Fred and then Mikey I really didn't know but lance and Fred where friends of mine from, Id met them as freshmen and sophomore. And Fred lived around Wauwatosa, and I remember 27:00him finding this out and coming over to my mom's house saying, "You got to take that job, we are going to have so much fun." And I was thinking oh okay, yeah I'll take it. Worst decision of my life. Worst year of my life. When Nelson converted, you would think the boys that were returning would be happy that there were girls on the first floor. They were not. Many of them were very angry because Nelson hall like Clemens Hall they were like all men halls, there was a big, they had a big rivalry going and nelson prided itself on winning, you know different contests throughout the years. The girls on the floor had I really thought this through, why where they in overflow... well they were late to apply. Why where they late to apply. They shouldn't have been in college. I had the worst GPA after that first semester of the whole campus. And who got blamed? 28:00I got blamed. I got blamed as the RA because as an RA you were told what your average GPA was. And it was really up to you to foster a great environment for studying and living. And here I've got a nightmare on my hands. I've got girls that, they had, they didn't even want to go to class. They, that's the first time I ever saw cocaine. Scared the crap out of me, I mean, that's scary. I've got girls now I'm starting to figure out, they're high. I mean, I'm used to like Stewart girls having a few beers and they're a little buzzed up. These girls are high. I'd Chicago girls, one I'm very good friends with yet. She flunked out. She was not into the drinking or the drugs, but her roommate was, and these other Chicago girls on the floor were. And I'd swear that's when drugs were brought in. That year was horrible. That year also, the, some of the boys up on 29:00the upper floors, not all of them, some I knew, really good friends with. Some were just totally out of control. And they would break stuff. They had a game called ratatatat. They would take out those fluorescent lights that lined our hallway, take them out when they'd come home and smash them. And so I'd have to go on duty rounds, and it was like walking on, literally walking on glass down the hallways. I had a bottle of beer fly out of a room and smash against that wall, it was this close. I walked in I said, that's it. You know. You almost just broke my face. That guy got thrown out. He got moved actually to Taylor. He found Jesus and came back months later to apologize to me but I was at my witts end. All the other, those three guy RA's, Fred, Lance and Mikey, they quit at semester. Even they couldn't qui... or they couldn't handle it. I couldn't quit. I couldn't quit, this payed my room and board. I couldn't quit I had no place to 30:00move to. So I had to stay! The worst, still to this day my nelson friends when we get together, even the guys will say, "I can't believe you tell us that it was the worst year of your life." I'm like it was. It was very scary. I saw that campus just like, changing. Just really changing with drugs coming in.

SH: Do you feel like it was because they did they lower a standard at some point in that year or was it just when you noticed it or, was there like, a noticeable influx that brought that in?

JK: In my estimation it was. And you started hearing about, you know, a lot of jokes, UW Zero, anyone can get in there. And that made me feel that year like, yeah this is it. They shouldn't have let in these girls. Then they where all, almost every girl on my floor was on probation second semester. So if you flunk, 31:00if you're below whatever it is, you go on probation your second semester, and then you're out. Most of those girls where done then. Umm they, that was it, and I believe that Oshkosh finally started thinking, "We've got to raise our standards. We have to raise our entrance GPA requirement." And uh, it could be it was a result of that year or maybe it was coming? But it was bad. It was really bad. Not a pleasant place to be anymore. It kind of was like, why did I leave Stewart, Stewart women just had a better reputation of really good academics, lot of fun, you know, but the drugs, never saw that in Stewart.

SH: All right I want to backtrack a little bit too, I know you said you were on the pompom team in high school? And then also for your first two years at 32:00Oshkosh? Could you tell me a little bit about that?

JK: Yeah it was through the department of college of education I believe the department of music, was the advisor I forget the man's name. I think that he was the advisor for it so there were actual tryouts-- So it's like dance team now, but we had pompoms and we had Oshkosh uniforms, I know that there are pictures in the, I know I have an old, two old photos that we would have our photo taken because it would be in the football program. You know they'd have the football team, they'd have the pompom squad cheerleaders, were separate, so this was a dance team and then, we had to audition, I remember going to, I don't know probably over two, why can't I think of the big, big field house, what am I thinking. What's the big field house on high street? The big gym?

SH: The REC center?

JK: No that's the student REC center's the newer one on the river, what's right 33:00in front of that, the big big big.....

SH: Kolf

JK: Kolf! Yeah so I think I tried out in Kolf, and you know I had to be there at a certain time, they had a record player you had to bring your record. And they put it on and did my routine, I made it. I think they had some cuts. There were a lot of I think I was the, there was three freshman. And most of the others where juniors and senior girls. Yeah, so that was a lot of fun because I liked football games. Um it was always still kind of hard to get all the way over to the stadium, titan stadium I know it's Keller now but, it was hard to get over there I ended up meeting these two oddball football players that lived in Scott Hall they were roommates and they had a car and they would drive me to, over there. But yeah that was fun.

SH: So what do you remember about community life and the interaction it had with 34:00sports when you went to school. Was it a big part of Oshkosh student life?

JK: Football was. Basketball, cuz we did, we were dance team at basketball games too. And I remember meeting guys who were on the football team, some on the basketball team. Track was very big, so I did; very big it still is now. Track and field, UW Oshkosh is...D3 champion, national champion for how many years. Very big, I remember meeting again, guys when I was a freshman, there was other freshman guys that where, that we would go, was, you know Stewart girls would go and watch the meets if they had a home meet. I don't remember gymnastics, I remember tennis. Where, you know the courts where right there on High street, so once in a while we'd go over and watch tennis meets. That was about it, so yeah going to football games on a Saturday that was on a Saturday afternoon, going to 35:00the stadium, very big. Yeah probably because I was on the, you know, pompom squad so, we were down on the field, we would cheer with the cheerleaders sometimes so, and the stands where pretty full. A lot of kids came over. For games. Or went to Kolf for basketball games in the winter.

SH: What was homecoming like?

JK: Homecoming, there was the parade and I remember being in the parade and I tried to remember where we started that parade and I can't remember, I'm thinking over by the stadium, there's the little school over there on, whatever street that is, sawyer. And I'm thinking we marched from there back through campus, you know came around through campus. We had that we had a lot of residence hall activities for homecoming week. Different themes each day, different themes in Elmwood commons, even for what menu was on that week. We had competition between the halls like, yell like hell, you know every hall would 36:00come and show up and you'd do a chant, probably over by the reeve union, the field, you know the back of reeve union with that new addition they put on a few years ago, that was an open field. So I think we had yell like hell there, I can't think of what other competitions we had, we had beer chugging, that was a competition. Yep.

SH: Embraced by the faculty?

JK: Yeah I guess so. It wasn't like, it was a contest, there was a tradition, [unclear] each hall, had entrance. You could enter people because nelson hall, I did have one girl on my floor that did win it. You know so we sent a girl and a guy and she won it for the female competition so. We were pretty proud. Yeah drinking beer was big, not so much drinking booze, but beer drinking. Yes so homecoming, yeah just the football game, I think my mom came to one freshman 37:00year cuz I remember she had a corsage, they would introduce the player's parents and the cheerleading and dance team parents. Yeah I don't remember a dance? But there probably was something in Reeve Union, maybe on Saturday night, but I don't remember going to anything like that. It was, and I can't remember any other competitions, but I know there were other competitions. I remember winter festival, we had winter festival by junior year, and that had you know like, broom hockey, ice hockey, snow sculpting outside of your hall, you know there was things like that, I remember tug of war, so maybe that was part of homecoming, cuz that would have been nicer weather. But, yeah homecoming to me was still the football game. The parade the football game, in later years, as an 38:00alumni I would come back because I worked in Appleton and come back and go to the alumni house and watch the parade from there. So they still have it and...

SH: So what first got you into, I know you were president of Stewart hall for your first year? Correct? When did you get an interest in that? And what did the position sort of entail once you did get it.

JK: My hall director Deb Lukes was a grad student who lived in Stewart and was the hall director and there were four of us, four RA's that year, or no freshman year there actually where eight RA's and my RA Sue Tinker, uh still a good friend of mine, they were looking for a president, so I don't... something had happened where the president couldn't be the president... you have to sneeze. You'd better sneeze! (Laughs)

SH: No I'm fine thanks! (Laughs)

JK: And I remember the hall director saying, "You should run for pres, you'd be a good president." And I went, I remember thinking, ok she doesn't know me. I'm 39:00really shy, but I think she saw something in me that she thought, I'm going to take this little shy 17 year old and I am going, she is going to start coming out of her shell. And it was the best thing that she did for me. To say yes you can do this so, there was the board and, we had meetings probably once a month down in the basement, because every student in Stewart, and this was for all the residence halls, payed an activity fee. That enabled you to use pots and pans that we stored up by the desk and then you could go down to the kitchen and make food, it enabled you to use the vacuum cleaner, let's see there where probably some sports equipment like a Frisbee something like that behind the desk, things like that. But it also was party planning because you could take those activity fees and say, let's do something as a whole hall together. Or divide it up and 40:00give it to each floor or each, Stewart actually, before floors it was called high and low. The low room numbers, the high room numbers. So, money is so... Getting together and appropriating money for funds. We had furniture in the lounge that was filthy you know it was like having it cleaned, things like that. Maintaining of the hall, things that we wanted done. If we wanted the second floor lounge wall painted and could we get money for the paint yes. And you'd think that would come through like, facilities department but apparently they let us paint, and paint a mural, things like that. So as president, there was a vice president, a secretary and treasurer. Minutes where posted everyone was supposed to read the minutes, show up, you had a floor rep show up, and as the president and the vice president, we would meet with the other hall government president and vice presidents, probably once a month also. And that was really 41:00to kind of coordinate things, or find out ideas, let's say tailor hall did some fantastic event and we thought, well let's try to do this in Stewart. So I went to those meetings too, then that was united students and residence halls was the government that, they each hall would send their president or an officer to find out what the other halls where doing.

SH: Sounds like you guys actually had a lot of influence over student life, which is interesting.

JK: We did.

SH: So when did you move on to thinking about this position as a CA? Did that come out of being a president?-- or the RA at Stewart hall excuse me. Did that come from being president at Stewart hall?

JK: Yes. Yes. I think, and knowing how, what my RA did? And I thought I could apply for that and frankly it came down to money. I could get room and board. And I said to my mom, I'm going to apply for this if I get that sophomore year, 42:00then all we have to do is pay for tuition. So I believe at the time, tuition was 500 a semester, the room was 500 and a meal plan was close to 500. So you are looking at a total of 1500 a semester, so 3000 for the year. I mean if I could bring that down to a thousand? Sophomore year? Yeah.

SH: That is a huge difference especially....

JK: Huuuuge difference. And my mom was like, "Okay." She didn't really know what was going on, I mean. She was... I tried explaining stuff at home to her about college life and what was going on. My mother also wrote notes to me every few days. We got mail. And she would send me notes. Just little letters.

SH: Just saying hey what's up?

JK: Oh yeah just telling me what was up and oh I love you and I'm praying for you and this is what Pauls been doing and I'm going to the... and I choired and I eat and doing this and... you know? Mister (unintelligible)... Notes about 43:00neighbors and. Cuz she knew I probably missed home a little but, she always wrote. So I thought, yeah I'm going to apply for this. So I did. Put in my app and then you where invit3ed to go through an interview with another RA, then you went through an interview with, I believe an RA and a hall director, and, I got accepted. I got the offer. And then I found out I was assigned Stewart hall. Yes it was great.

SH: So, a little bit into the side of academics now. First of all starting with your freshman year, how did you, sort of, decide what sort of classes you were going to pick? What did the general education program also look like as a student at Oshkosh at that time?

JK: You pretty much, I came in undecided. No idea what I would ever major in because I never really thought about going to college. So I knew I had to take 44:00some history, English, math, uh a science, back then Oshkosh required 2 credits of Phi Ed sometime during your four years. So those were 1 credit classes, most of the others were 3. I think science classes some of them were five. 3 plus a lab for 2. When I took those placement tests they said oh, you know you, you were done with basic English. You're done with all the basic math, but I wanted to try math because I thought well I like math, maybe I'll be a math major. The science, I remember that was my weakness, but we had to take one science. In fact I think I had to take 2 science classes. I took biology, probably intro to biology 101 and then sophomore year I took astronomy. So it seemed like as 45:00freshman we were all taking those general eds. We were all taking those basics. Even girls that I knew who were going into nursing. They all were taking the same; we were all in the same courses.

SH: Did they start getting into electives even in sophomore year or was it still more basic course work then?

JK: You could take electives then. Yeah my sophomore year, yeah you could start getting into electives.

SH: So it was pretty much just freshman year gen ed year and then from then on you branch towards your major?

JK: I remember being halfway through sophomore year, and I think sophomore year I started, I took like an accounting class, cuz I'm sure I was done with general eds by the end of freshman year, cuz I came in with extra credits. So then I thought I'm gonna try some business classes. And, then I remember, an advisor saying, you know it's time for you to apply for the college of business. And I 46:00said but I don't know what, if I'm gonna be a business major like, you've already taken some and you've gotten A's in them and you don't know what else you're going to do so just, just apply to the college of business.

SH: So that's how you chose your major?

JK: Mhhmm.

SH: where you happy with that choice? Are you happy with that choice now?

JK: Uhmmm, yes. But I didn't, it was interesting I got a marketing major which was really the easiest, I thought an easy, uhhh way to go in the College of Business. Accounting I took 101, 102, managerial and all the sudden it's like, ooh it's getting harder. And I'm partying a lot more. I'm valuing my social life, I'm having a lot of fun. But I still was getting A's. But I realize, I'm not serious enough, I don't know if I could be accounting. Too bad, probably... don't totally regret it but, probably should have just really studied and been an accountant. Ended up in marketing because they were really interesting 47:00classes and they were so easy, and I thought, aww you're kidding this is so easy. And they were just so, they were interesting and there was a Women in Business club that started on campus and I was involved in that. When you were asking my extra curriculars, I remember that, later Women in Business. I don't think I had told you that the other night on the phone. So the business classes I found to be interesting and pretty easy, but if I wasn't going to be college of business, I knew I didn't want to be a nurse. So that eliminates college of nursing. I didn't want to be a teacher so that eliminated college of education. That only left college of letters and science. Well back then when I thought, I really like math, maybe I'll get a math major, that would be in the college of letters and science, I was told all you can do with that is teach. And I thought, well I don't know if I want to teach. So I guess I'm not going to get a 48:00math major so it naturally fell into the college of business.

SH: Okay. And then you just had a lot of experience with German so you picked up the minor in that?

JK: Yeah. Well I was taking courses all along. At school and I think Lou Tusken told me at some point, I said, I don't know probably junior year. I don't think I can take these anymore. I'm just, got to concentrate now on this major. (Laughs) In business. And he says, "Well I think you've got a minor anyhow. I think you could probably just take a few more and get a major." And I'm like, nah him not going to do it. And that was it. I'm like ahhh no I'm not gonna. I remember being confused about a major at some point, probably that sophomore year, where I went to the guidance, there was like a guidance office, or it was a career office, career...

SH: Career services?

JK: Career services... Maybe something like that or placement or something, and they said I should take this test which was like an interest test I forget the name of it it had a name, It was a national exam. Take this and then it pointed 49:00to what I should be. And I remember looking at those things going, I don't, I don't even want to be those so again, I mean I suffered though. As much fun as I was having I really suffered at night thinking, I don't know what I want to do. Why do all of my friends know they want to be a teacher or they wanna be a nurse? Those were such obvious that's, there was no straying from the pack and they were in a curriculum that they didn't even have to make any decisions. Other than maybe special ed vs. primary/secondary but I... All my friends were nurses or, education majors, so... I felt like I was kind of on my own, kind of drifting and, not a lot of girls in those classes either back then. It was becoming more popular for us women so, I remember junior year, my professor, my 50:00marketing professor, and I can't remember his name. He said to me, because come March, firms, corporations would come to campus. You would sign up on these pieces of paper would be posted in the hallway, and we were all in Clow. So that was the college of business was in Clow. It's Sage now I think right? It moved to Sage...

SH: I think we still have Clow.

JK: Yes so in Clow, we had these pieces of paper, it would be like, McDonalds, Earnst & Young, you know, Firestone, and you would go and write your name as a senior, write your name for a timeslot. And I remember junior year, my marketing professor said, I'd like you to go through an interview. Because you're going to graduate in a year from now and you're my top student, I think I want you to start now to get a practice. And he said I want you to meet with McDonalds. And 51:00I said all right. And uh this woman, she had come to campus year after year to hire for McDonalds Corporation. And she we got through the interview, she said, "Well I'd like to offer you a job. For when you graduate next year."

SH: This is junior year...

JK: Junior year, so it was like March of junior year, I'm like oh, I don't know and she goes, "Well, just keep it in mind I'll be here next year and I'm going to offer you a job. I think you'd have a great career with McDonalds." Well sure enough a year later she comes to, campus and I sit through that interview just to get through, I signed up for like, a million interviews. And I remember her offering the job and my mom saying, "You will not, I will not tell my friends that my daughter with a college education is going to work for McDonalds." And I could not explain to my mom how this was gonna be, yes I will be in a store managing one store maybe on 27th Wisconsin Ave in Milwaukee for a few years, but I probably then would be moving to St Charles Illinois, moving up in the 52:00corporate ranks, but she absolutely not. And my Mom didn't really say no to a lot of things, she didn't like tell me courses or a major or anything but that was it she said no. So I wanted retail and that's what I felt so I interviewed with Gimbles came on campus, Boston Store, I mean Firestone tire store, pharmacy, it wasn't Walgreens. Back then It was really big, and the, there was this insurance company, a different insurance companies in banks. And they were looking for women with business degrees.

SH: So you had a pretty wide open job market coming out of college.

JK: I did. Very open. Except it was 1980 and they actually, the economy was kind of, kind of sketchy right then, and I interviewed with this one company up in Appleton, it is, it went through a merge now about 10 years ago but it was 8 Association for Lutherans. A huge insurance company up in Appleton. And they 53:00offered me a job as a computer programmer. Now computer programming was brand new and when I took the job, because it was phenomenal money, I quick signed up for the last 6 weeks for cobal class. Because we could take 6 week courses, I don't know if you have that now. We could divide a semester up...

SH: We offer some half semester courses.

JK: Yep, so they did it back then there was this one cobal which is a business operating language for computers. And I took it and thought, I have no clue. Wha... And now I'm going to be a computer programmer so now I'm you know, crying in my sleep every night going, what am I going to do there gonna find out that I don't even know it but they kept saying, we train you. We are gonna train you. Which they did. And I ended up having a great career. But our professors were kind of coaxed, you know kind of, mentoring us through, getting us through these 54:00interviews. And kind of advising us like, I think you should interview with, this one this one this one this one, you know. Get em in that one, it's already full, no I'll call them I want you to interview. I'll get you in on, you know, Marine Bank out of Milwaukee. And I remember then they'd also tell us, this is about what you're going to be offered, this salary. And it was like between 10000-12000 a year. Coming out for business majors. Accounting, finance, marketing, advertising, they were kind of like, you as a marketing major you're looking at about 10-12. Well I remember they offered me 15. Up in Appleton. And my professor, he just couldn't believe it. He wanted to announce it to the class. You know, that she's gonna get, do you want to tell everyone? I'm like, ok we're not really supposed to discuss money but, it's 15. And my classmates were like, "My Gosh." But I was a woman with high grades, good extra 55:00curriculars, in a very new field. 15000 a year. I just couldn't believe it. Never been to Appleton, didn't have a car, had to go get all of that, but, they trained me up there. And I remember one of my classmates who was another business major, she had signed with JC Penny Systems which was out of Milwaukee. They took about 6 kids from Oshkosh to start that summer after our graduation. She called me and she said, "they rescinded our offers." Cuz again the economy was like.... So they pulled the offers. She said,"I have nothing." And now we were after graduation, so you're not still on campus where you could quickly run to another interview. And, she ended up, I said here's the HR person. She got a job up in Appleton with me. So we were kind of looking out for each other too.

SH: So is this been your career ever since or are you still there?

JK: I stayed 3 years up in Appleton, and then my dad died, and I just thought, I 56:00wanna... He was in southern Illinois and I thought you know what I live far enough away from my mom, I want to move back to Milwaukee. And I found a headhunter back then jobs, you really needed to get, if you wanted a certain company, you really went through a headhunter. And I knew of one and he got me an interview at Northwestern Mutual Life. And I was hired as a senior programmer there. And I stayed there 12 years. And by the, so three years up there it was 15 years in the computer industry and, I left to be a stay at home mom with my third child, because by then my husband was in systems and he was traveling in Europe. And we were leaving to move to England for two years, so I had uh, 5 year old a 3 year old and a baby. And I quite work to say, we're going away for two years. And then I was just a stay at home mom.


SH: So sort of getting closer to wrapping up here. It's kind of a really broad question but that's kind of what I want it to be, how did, how did your experience at UWO effect your life from graduation to now. I mean obviously it got you your job but, anything else you can come up with, maybe just relation to your experiences with being involved with so much student activities or something like that.

JK: Yeah, I think it was the people. I met so many people, the housing director, the dean of students, the head of Reeve Memorial Union when I was on Union board. Those people where really strong and happy positive people that made, they enabled me to come out of my shell. And get involved on this campus of ten thousand that I felt like I knew everyone on campus. Living on campus, that environment and getting to know people from all these different residence halls, 58:00different classes, different professors, I just think it was such a positive environment. It matured me in a very good way. And uh it, I found humor, I can find humor, those are my best friends yet. I mean, I have my high school friends, but my college friends, my college roommate freshman year, I was her maid of honor, I was, girl from my floor sophomore year, we were maid of honors for each other. my RA freshman year, I'm going away this weekend to see her, because my husband is out of town and she's a school teacher, so those is probably the friendships, but seeing how a university operates and seeing the people in all the different pieces, it made me really, a better organized business person. And just gave me those leadership skills. So that's probably 59:00the, the best I... coming out of it, I don't regret going to Oshkosh, I remember thinking, my friends at Marquette and Wisconsin, they're coming out of college without any jobs. Or they were making peanuts, you know I had a really good career and I've always talked up Oshkosh, I've talked up the business school, especially. I know the College of Nursing is excellent and the education college is excellent but, it's a super place and. I was very happy when my, middle son decided to go here. He really picked it for soccer; he was like me as a freshman. "I don't know what I would major in--" I'm like, you don't need to know. You pick it for soccer then and you will find a major. You will be, it's gonna be a happy place for you to be. And it has been. Really good so...

SH: Have you been much involved with student alumni besides just this interview now?

JK: Yeah. I come back for homecoming, especially when I lived in Appleton, 60:00groups of us would come back. When Danny played all four years, my friends, we've always done one soccer game together. But I've come to all the home soccer games for the last four years... well he was done last year. My husband and I, my sisters, my younger sister lives here in Oshkosh not far from campus so. We've come to campus events. We went to one up in Green Bay, it was speaking to the historian of the Green Bay Packers, he gave a presentation up at Lambeau. I went to that, I did down in Milwaukee we used to have some kind of mixers. And I went to some of those when I was single down in Milwaukee. But yeah I, I read my online newsletter, I've given in the past, I was a lifetime member. You know payed my 100 dollars, whatever it was and. Yeah.

SH: Anything else you'd like to kind of go over, I think that's about the end of questions I'm looking to ask for you today...


JK: Okay I have one more thing I was thinking of

SH: Go for it.

JK: Telephones. Cuz it's so different now. Just think as a freshman we had a telephone in our room and we had a phone number which was probably like, part of our room number. And then everyone got probably about half the size of this notebook, student directory? SO you could, open it up and call someone from your class. You know find their name in the directory and then call them if you want to meet up to study. But we'd call each other, do you want to meet for dinner at 530? Mhhmm you know call down to first floor call up to fourth and that just seems so, (laughs) you know? Just think.

SH: Where the phone lines always busy?

JK: No. No. Oh my gosh no. My husband went to carol college in Waukesha County, he talks about, they had a switchboard. So the calls came to the main desk and the switchboard operator. But we had the individual phones in our room. Back in '76. All my three years on campus I had a phone in my room.


SH: Really.

JK: Yeah. That's how we communicated.

SH: That's so weird. I know I did a practice interview with someone else who went to school around the same time as you. And the big thing he talked about was typewriters being a huge deal?

JK: Yeah and I did not have the money for a typewriter. And you know what...

SH: So by hand...?

JK: I did it by hand and you know what? The professors, I remember being so nervous that, could I do that? And they said yes but you have to do it on carbon paper. So you'd print really carefully, you know make the copy then. But yeah I didn't have a typewriter. There were girls that had typewriters in Stewart. And I don't, I think there were typewriters you could use in the library, but I wasn't a good typist. So I just hand printed stuff.

SH: I mean like, you messed up one word... Halfway down a sheet you'd have to restart the whole thing...

JK: Or you used white-out. This little white, you know what that is, the liquid? 63:00Just ... that and backup and go over

SH: But even that's time consuming. Coming from a generation where I can just like, you know hop on my laptop.

JK: Yeah. Yeah good point I forgot about the typing, the typewriter. And we just sat with notebooks and took notes. We didn't even have like, I kind of remember someone having a tape recorder. Thinking, eeew. I won't do that...

SH: Having to listen to all the classes over and over again...

JK: Yeah... no... no. and. Did not skip classes and my boys, I've said, you go off to college, you never skip class. And I stuck to that rule. I'm like, I don't care how hard the class is you're gonna have to get through it. You just go to show up. And serve them well. It served them well, my son when he was a freshman last year at Northwestern; he had this horrible Asian art required history class. He said I don't know how I'm gonna do it I can't understand her and I can't...... But he ended up passing because he kept going. He said no one 64:00even comes anymore. All right, that it? Good job!

SH: I think so! Anything else you'd like to add?

JK: Ohh no.

SH: Then just wrapping it up, if you could just.... This is the one you can keep and then this is for you to sign. I have a pen for you.

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