Interview with John Marx, 04/26/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Jacob Lein, Interviewer | uwocs_John_Marx_04262018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


JL: Alright John, can you please state your full name for me and the years you attended Oshkosh?

JM: My name is John C. Marx. C is the middle initial. Then, M A R X. I started at Oshkosh in January of 1969. I was a full-time student for a couple of years and then I switched to what they probably call a six-year plan, where I took classes when I could afford them. I moved to Madison in 1975 when I was short about seven credits, I took some classes at UW Madison, transferred back to Oshkosh, [unclear], graduating in the summer of 1977.

JL: Okay, just for some background questions, to understand a little bit more 1:00about you, how was your childhood like? Can you tell me a little bit about your hometown or something, I know you moved around a lot? Did you have a specific place that was, that you stayed awhile?

JM: Well I was born in Champagne, Illinois, by the time I was three, we were living in Knoxville, [unclear] Tennessee, from there we went to Eire, Pennsylvania. I started grade school in Pittsburg, and then we lived in the Pittsburg area until I graduated from my high school in suburban Greensburg.

JL: Okay.

JM: In 1968. So, I guess if I had to pick a hometown it would be where I graduate from high school.

JL: Okay. And, did you move around because of your parents' jobs, or the military, or something like that? You just always found yourself on the move?


JM: My father's job.

JL: Okay. Gotcha. During the time going to high school in Pennsylvania, what was your neighborhood kind of like at that time?

JM: It was a nice middle-class neighborhood. [unclear] The house we lived in was on a fairly good size lot. It was a very hilly neighborhood in Pennsylvania. There were lots of places that you could walk. I would walk downtown, I never got around to getting a driver's license until I was seventeen because I just walked everywhere.

JL: Right, and so you had a good middle-class home, would you say your socioeconomic status would be around middle-class.

JM: Absolutely.

JL: Okay, so, could you maybe share some of o your family values that you guys had growing up, maybe, I don't know, religion would be one. Or, family importance or what not?


JM: That's a tough one. I have a brother and two sisters, they are both considerably younger than I am, I'm the oldest. My mother was a pretty devote catholic, my father sort of, I pretty much lost interest in it, by that time, I was about fifteen or sixteen. You know, I don't really remember much more than that. It was certainly nothing traumatic about it. Standard middle-class lifestyle. My father worked. My mother was a homemaker, particularly since she still has little kids.

JL: Younger siblings. For sure.

JM: It got to be an issue when I went to college. I had to take out loans and I 4:00got some grants, and it was not an easy thing to get started on.

JL: Alright, well speaking about heading to college and heading to school wise, what were some of the expectations in school for you. Did you parents hold high expectation that you need to get good grades or stay out of trouble?

JM: I think that was their expectation, but it didn't work out very well. I mean, they were not, they didn't lean on me, for anything. In fact, the one thing I would say about growing up is, once I got old enough to take care of myself, they pretty much said, take care of yourself.

JL: Gotcha.

JM: You know, when I was eighteen, my mother still had a three-year-old in the house. So, that was where her concentration was. The expectation was just don't 5:00do anything stupid.

JL: Right, Gotcha.

JM: You know, they pretty much let me run amuck. We used to, per example, when I was a senior, we'd occasionally told them we were going camping. And, we'd pack up the station wagon and drive it to Washington D.C. They thought we were going up in the mountains, we'd go to Washington D.C. Wind up sleeping on a sleeping bag in an abandoned building for the weekend.

JL: Oh, man!

JM: Sort of a form of camping, but.

JL: Right.

JM: They really didn't pay much attention to what I was doing.

JL: Gotcha, gotcha. Well, can you describe some of the schools you attended, even if it's not Pennsylvania, and high school. Maybe some of the elementary school, middle school, and even high school as well. Those schools, kind of the 6:00atmosphere and also the curriculum that they had.

JM: Grade school was almost an entirely a catholic grade school in Pittsburg. The only short coming it had that I remember, was it had no, there was no gym. There was no, nothing to do at recess except go out and play on an asphalt parking lot. That was the extent of their athletic--

JL: Department.

JM: You know, I was taught by nuns. I think they did a good job. A big area was spelling and grammar certainly came in handy to me when I started in journalism at Oshkosh.

JL: Right. Yeah. I'm sure that helped quite a bit.

JM: So, it was again straight forward, middle class, catholic school, high 7:00school was a public school. It's fairly big, I think there was about a thousand students.

JL: Gotcha.

JM: My graduating class was pretty close to three hundred, in high school there was ten, eleven, and twelve.

JL: Right. At this time, you had junior high correct?

JM: Yeah.

JL: And that was seventh and eighth grade?

JM: Eight grade was the catholic grade school, ninth grade we moved from Pittsburg out to Greensburg. So, I went there the last year of junior high would be ninth grade. In the older school building, they had a nice school, but they built a new one on the edge of town and turned the old one into the junior high. So high school was a building that was probably three or four years old when I 8:00started there. So, it was a really, very well equipped.

JL: Year, that's really nice to get a good building and good program and stuff I'm sure.

JM: You know, I was not a very good student. I was not a very good student, I still to this day don't know what the purpose of taking algebra is.

JL: Right.

JM: But I managed to muddle through.

JL: Gotcha. Well when you were younger, did you have any goals or dreams I guess about maybe furthering your education or going straight from high school into a job or field that you actually like?

JM: Not, I honestly didn't. I don't think I gave it a minutes thought.

JL: Gotcha, you're just trying to get through high school and figure it out in the end?

JM: Yep

JL: Gotcha. During high school, did you have any areas of study that interested you, specific subjects or-- things that--


JM: It was mixed, I liked things like, they had a track that was kind of job orientated. So, I took a bookkeeping class, and much to my surprise, I kind of like it.

JL: Okay, nice.

JM: Other than that, I wasn't involved much in sports. Really no, you know our after school activities, mostly was sat around trying to figure out how to get our hands on beer.

JL: Yeah. There you go.

JM: So, you know, I don't have a lot that I can point to in high school as an accomplishment and extracurricular stuff.

JL: So, can you explain the move, how did you end up from graduating in Pennsylvania to up at Oshkosh?

JM: That's a pretty good story. I graduated in June of 1968, and that was not a 10:00great year to have to register for the draft. They were losing about I think on average 500 soldiers a month in Vietnam in 67', 68', 69'. I worked through the summer of 1968. I had a job in a little manufacturing plant. And, you know, I was saving up a little money trying figure out what I want to do. Well, in the fall of 1968, the draft board said get yourself into Pittsburg, were going to give you a physical. By November, they were telling me, you are classified 1A, 11:00which is, you know, ready to be drafted. You should probably plan on reporting for induction sometime late January or early February. Well, I'm looking at the headlines, and you know, 500 people a month getting killed over there, was it?

JL: Right. Not, not good numbers if you head over there for sure.

JM: Right, and about that time, I also, there were some people that graduated a couple years ahead of me who had gone to Vietnam and they were coming back and every single one of them said, don't go anywhere near that place. You know, we're losing the war, find something else. Figure out how to get out of it. Well the only way to get out of it once you're, you know, you're ready to be drafted is to go to college.

JL: Right

JM: Well, you know, I could have gone to one of the state university campuses in 12:00Pennsylvania. Their system there was almost identical to what we have in Wisconsin's now. You know the flagship universities, but then you had the state universities which were more regional. Well, I thought what the hell, let me look around, you know, I had friends who would go to West Virginia university which only about one hundred miles away from other were going here and there, New York. So, I got out, went to the library and got out Lovejoy's Guide to College.

JL: Okay.

JM: And, I'm flipping through and the Midwest was kind of an interest to me because I was born in Illinois. And, at that time my grandparents were still alive and still living in Illinois. So, I'm highly familiar with, summers in the Midwest. I went out to visit. So, I looked at the state university and 13:00Wisconsin, and much to my pleasant surprise, the tuition, even for an out of state student, was not much more than what I would have paid to go up the road to--

JL: For Pennsylvania.

JM: To a university in Pennsylvania. So, I print off some application letters, I sent one to Oshkosh, one to Stevens Point, and the third one I can't remember and I didn't hear anything for a long time. And I didn't hear anything for a long time and I'm looking at the calendar like--

JL: Yeah like, what the heck?!

JM: So, sometime, I'm going to say just before Christmas, I called Oshkosh and I explained the situation and they said, yeah, we are getting to it, but don't worry about it, come on up anyway, we will figure it out. They literally, you know, informally excepted me over the telephone.

JL: Right, gotcha. Well that's pretty cool.


JM: Anyway, I actually got the letter and I had picked Oshkosh over Stevens Point and the other one, only because I looked at a map and saw that Oshkosh was on a lake.

JL: Oh okay.

JM: I'm like, that sounds like that would be okay. I had never been in Wisconsin before.

JL: Oh okay, so this was your first time here.

JM: I've been to Illinois but I never stayed in Wisconsin. So, this really dates myself here, but I got on a train in Pittsburg in January 1969. I took it to Chicago, changed trains, you could take a train Oshkosh back then. There was a party barge too. It was full of a lot of kids heading back to school, from Chicago up to Milwaukee, and up to Oshkosh. It was just full of college kids at 15:00that time. So, that was how I wound up at Oshkosh. I got off the train, took a taxi to Scott hall [unclear] to find me a room. I didn't know anybody in there.

JL: Right, right.

JM: But I quickly made friends--

JL: Did the dorms help you out with making friends? Because I'm sure that you guys are living so close together, that it is hard to.

JM: Did they help with us out with what?

JL: Make friends. Because you are neighbors right, so--

JM: No, you know, first you got to know your roommate and then you got to know the people down the hall that you run into.

JL: Right, or in class.

JM: The big way you made friends was a in the middle of a strip of bars on Wisconsin Avenue.


JL: Yep.

JM: The first friend I made was in a place. When I checked into the dorm, I put my bag in my room and I said is there any place around here to get something to eat. And, he said, well there is Tosh's? bar on Wisconsin street. They probably have donuts or hamburgers or something. So, I go on over and end up ordering a hamburger and a beer. You could drink beer when you were eighteen back then. And a girl walked up to my said, hey I need a quarter for the juke box. So, I gave her a quarter and she and her friend came over and they played some music and we started talking, and I still know those two women today.

JL: Wow, that's a pretty good story then.

JM: So that's how you made friends.

JL: There you go. So, I'm going to start talking about your first year here. 17:00During your first year, you explained going out to the bars and stuff and everyone could at this time because they were all eighteen. What were the curfews like, were there curfews or regulations stating that certain people couldn't go out or you got to be back at a certain time.

JM: Certainly not for the men, if there was. I kind of doubt there were any for women by then either. You weren't allowed to have women in your dorm room. But not long after that, they mixed the genders in the dorms. You know, you have one floor that was women and one floor right above it that was men. I don't remember exactly when that was. I would say it was not 1969.

JL: Right, I believe that it was a couple years after that, yeah. So, could you think back and imagine some of the buildings that were around back then. 18:00Obviously on campus there are quite a few new buildings in the last decade. But, back when you went, I know you said you lived in Scott hall, what were some of the education or food buildings that you would visit?

JM: Let's see, there was a food common south of there where we went to eat every day, I think it might have been called river commons. It was south of Gruenhagen, that's all I remember. I don't know if it is there anymore. There was Reeve Memorial Union,

JL: Yep, still got that.

JM: There were the other dorms across the street from Scott are gone now. They were torn down a few years ago. Let's see, going farther out, Algoma, there was the library, Albee hall was there, the administration building, I cant think the 19:00name of it.

JL: Dempsey?

JM: Dempsey was there. Next to that was the Chancellor's residence. And old house, I imagine that's gone.

JL: He used to live on campus, correct?

JM: Yes, I believe so.

JL: Yep, now I believe that is just like a building for offices for professors to work in and what not.

JM: Let's see, Polk was the library I think, does that sound right?

JL: Yep, that's correct.

JM: The main classroom building, I'm going to fish for the name of that one, it was kind of across the street from Albee and Dempsey, and it kind of had a little, slightly round in one part of it.

JL: Was it called Clow?

JM: Yes, thank you. That was there.

JL: Did you also have Halsey? Was that--

JM: Yep, that was there. If I remember correctly, they were building what later 20:00became a fine arts building.

JL: Okay.

JM: Kind the far north end of campus.

JL: Yep, yep. That's up there today. That's the fine arts and theater I think building.

JM: The first semester I was there, the campus radio station was in an old wooden shack almost. It was part of the Paine lumber company, which was right next to campus for a long time.

JL: Oh, really?

JM: If you look at old maps of Oshkosh, you will see Paine lumber company and the diamond match factory. Diamond, was literally right in the middle of campus, it was an old wooden structure. I don't know-- They tore that down right before I started I think. But there were a few out buildings left over and the campus radio station was in one of them. There was a book store. I think that might 21:00have been in the basement of Reeve Union.

JL: Yep, yes it is.

JM: Reeve Union even served beer. I don't know if they still do.

JL: They don't. Well, actually they do, but it is a very limited variety I believe.

JM: The bar in the reeve union was called the Draught Board, keeping with the times. It was actually paid for by the Miller Brewing Company with the understanding that all they would serve there is Miller beer.

JL: Right, yeah. So, it was kind of like a sponsorship?

JM: Yeah, which I thought was kind of unusual, but we weren't going to complain.

JL: Right.

JM: There were a couple other odds and ends buildings. There was the health center, I think that's still there next to Clow. There were some older houses kind of mixed in between--


JL: The buildings.

JM: Scott Hall. Going down Algoma, across Reeve Union, there were two or three older buildings that were used for something, not classrooms but I think offices of some kind.

JL: Well can you tell me a little bit about classes maybe? Your first and second year I guess, did you know you kind of wanted to go into Journalism and Radio, TV, and Film.

JM: No, I started out as a history major but I think I was only in that for one semester and I just thought, you know, this just isn't as interesting as I thought it would be. Because of the politics at this time, journalism was at an attractive option as a way you could participate in some of the more interesting 23:00parts of that era.

JL: Gotcha.

JM: I probably, if I remember correctly, I met some friends who were in journalism, some others who were in the business school, you know, I had a mix of friends. But, you know, I kind of drifted into it as much and made a really conscious decision that this is what I'm going to do.

JL: What were some of the class sizes like that you attended?

JM: Freshman classes tended to be pretty big. But, only, you know, 101 subjects.

JL: Right, just the ones that everybody had to take.

JM: Once I got into journalism, they were actually really pretty small. I remember fifteen or twenty people in the classroom.

JL: Yeah, gotcha. Alright. Well maybe do you remember some of the book costs? I 24:00know you are a journalism major so I know you didn't have to get huge chemistry books all the time and what not, but do you remember some of the cost you had for your books or other equipment that you might have needed?

JM: It would have been mostly always books. And, I remember when you saw a book that was fifty bucks, that was a very expensive book and I don't think I had to do very many of those.

JL: Okay. Yeah.

JM: And you could get used books.

JL: Right, yeah. Yeah, think nowadays, a pretty expensive one is 250 to 300.

JM: Ouch.

JL: Yeah. It's pretty rough. Can you tell me maybe some of the professor-student relationship that you guys had because the classes were so small that I'm sure you were known by name by your professor?

JM: Oh yeah. Well Dave [Lipert?] was the chairman of the journalism department 25:00and he was really an interesting guy. I have a hard time thinking about what their actual age may have been. They were all old people to me of course.

JL: Right.

JM: But he was really and interesting guy. He had worked for the Capital Times and the Milwaukee Journal so he knew the business. Gary Coll, a journalism professor, Dr. Coll, he was a really fun guy. Robert Snyder was the chair of the Radio, TV, Film department. He was really easy to get alone with.

JL: Yep.

JM: You know, a lot of them, not the chairs of the department, but a lot of the instructors were people in their 30's.

JL: Okay.

JM: So, they are still young enough to be fun.


JL: Relatable.

JM: Yeah, and some of them still are. I still stay in very close touch with a guy named Tom [Segnits?], who was my English.

JL: Oh, okay.

JM: His wife, who is deceased, was also a professor there. He turned 87 in March but he is still a very good friend.

JL: Good, glad to hear that. Okay, maybe moving to some of the events that happened on campus. I know talking to you just a little earlier, you didn't know much about Black Thursday that happened in 1968. But, the years being here after that, 69' and 70', did you feel any type of backlash or tension from that 27:00movement still residing in the campus.

JM: You know, I don't think so because a lot of those kids were expelled, they ever came back.

JL: Yep, the 94 I believe. Yep. They weren't able to come back and attend.

JM: So, there were hardly any black kids on campus at all. There were a few, the editor of the Advance Titan was a black guy, and I think in about 19 early 70, and I don't remember what year and I don't remember his name.

JL: Alright.

JM: So, it was something that was talked about but there was no, I mean, lets face it, the rest of the kids left on campus were all white kids. And, they didn't get in trouble for much of anything. They had their issues almost all involving the Vietnam war, and I think it would be safe to say that everybody was aware that there was still a civil right struggle still going on.


JL: Speaking on the Vietnam war, on May 4th, you were here obviously, and I'm sure you know quite a bit about it, especially being a journalism major and what not. But the Algoma boulevard riots? They were caused by the Kent State shooting and the death of a couple students on the campus. So, can you tell me a little bit about how you perceived that and how that happened?

JM: Well, I don't think that semester I was not in school, certainly not full time. And, I had moved out of the dorms. Back then you only had to be in the dorm your freshman year. Once you were a sophomore, you were allowed to move off of campus. We were madder than hell about Kent State. They killed four students. I can recite their names to this day. I remember that so vividly. And, so, that 29:00was just, I mean that was kind of just too much.

JL: Right, something had to be done. People were tired of it.

JM: And, Algoma boulevard was kind of a curious mix of issues and are kind of a stupid way to respond to those events. The other part of Algoma boulevard was students were really at risk trying to cross that street.

JL: Well, the speed limit was around like 45 miles per hour at that time wasn't it?

JM: I don't remember what the speed limit was but that's about the speed that everyone drove at.

JL: Was going.

JM: I mean that was kind of the main arterial street to get out of Oshkosh.

JL: So, a lot of kids were scared of getting hit or I'm sure some actually did get hit once in a while.

JM: I think so but I don't remember any of the details. But anyway, tearing up 30:00the street was kind of a way to, one, protest everything that was going on, including the war.

JL: Two birds with one stone.

JM: Yeah, that's a good way to put it.

JL: So, after the riots, do you know how the whole clean up process go about? Did students kind of realize that they maybe went a little too far or did other students kind of step in and try to save the reputation of UW Oshkosh, how did that kind of all play out.

JM: A little bit of both. I actually have a picture some place. It was a picture of a faculty member and a group of students hauling away junk out of the middle of the street. So, yeah, they cleaned up after themselves a little bit. But, I 31:00think people realized or at least a lot of them who said we need to do something to protest most of these issues. This is counterproductive. Find a better way to do it.

JL: Right, you are just creating more problem.

JM: Now Oshkosh, was and probably still is a very conservative city. You know, the university was kind of a little liberal island in the middle of a working class, blue collar town that didn't have much patience for that kind of nonsense.

JL: Gotcha, gotcha.

JM: Don't let me forget to tell you a story about a semester I worked at the Buckstaff Company on the south side.

JL: Alright, let me ask you one more question and then we can get to that alright?

JM: Sure.

JL: So, 1970, we are getting close to the Centennial or the 100-year anniversary of Oshkosh, was there anything held for that? Any kind of ceremony or some kind 32:00of get together to celebrate the university I guess?

JM: Now would that be the Centennial for the city or the university?

JL: The university.

JM: If they did, I don't remember it.

JL: Okay, gotcha. Alright well, why don't you tell me that story from your job.

JM: Well the south side of Oshkosh had a lot of factories, mostly wood industries. [unclear] doors. And, the Buckstaff Company made furniture, mostly furniture for bars and restaurants. So, one semester when I was out of money and not going to school, I got a job there. And, it was winter and it was a miserable walk down there, bitter cold walk across the bridge every day.

JL: Oh absolutely, very windy out here too.


JM: And, I'd go to work in this furniture factory where I'd nail, I had an air gun that nailed chairs together.

JL: Gotcha.

JM: And when I had a little bit of money, I would walk across the street to a little café that had a, might have been a could dozen stools and a couple of tables in there. And I had long hair and didn't shave every day so I was kind of a scruffy looking kid. So, I'd go in and order lunch and they would serve me and I think the second time I went in there a guy got up, the juke box wasn't playing. And, he'd go over and put a nickel in it and he'd play Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee"which had lines like we don't wear out hair long here and we're not hippies and some other stuff. You may not even be familiar with it, it's so old.

JL: Yeah, I'm not.

JM: It was kind of a classical country song that was a push back against hippies 34:00and war protesters. And, he played that one song. So, he did that about six days in a row.

JL: Oh really?

JM: And finally, one day, I walked in, and before I sat down, I went to the juke box, put a nickel in it, and played "Okie from Muskogee." Everyone in the restaurant burst out laughing. And, we were all friends after that.

JL: There you go. Alright, It's a good story. Tells you a little bit about the town then.

JM: Yeah, the city council was in particular was very conservative and always complaining about something the students were doing. Another political story, and I don't remember what year this was, we actually worked very hard and were able to elect a student to the city council.


JL: Oh, alright. Nice!

JM: David [Cruzius?] was his name. And, I think that he was a senior, but that was really, quite the political victory to actually get somebody on the council who could--

JL: That can represent UW Oshkosh, yeah.

JM: Right, and the things that the students were interested in.

JL: Gotcha, yeah. That's a very key move. Maybe moving a little more to personal I guess, and kind of your life on campus. You had a lot of the bars, but what else did you kind of do for fun, on an off campus.

JM: Well, I had to work a lot. That tied up a lot of my weekends. I drove a taxi in 73'. So, that kind of screwed my weekends for a year and a half. I had 36:00girlfriends, you know, I'd go home with them. The first one lived in Neenah, the second one lived in Berlin, so I spent time with their families. Obviously, I didn't go home on weekends, home was still in Pennsylvania.

JL: Right.

JM: In fact, some of my best friends then and now are people who at Thanksgiving, Oshkosh just cleared out, everyone went home. Well, there was me and a couple of guys who grew up in New York and New Jersey, so we'd hang out together for the holiday season.

JL: Right, you guys would have your own little Thanksgiving.

JM: Yeah.

JL: Gotcha.

JM: We went camping sometimes. We liked to go fishing when the weather was decent. Sometimes we would get in the car and go to Madison or Milwaukee. Frankly, there was not a lot of other stuff to do in Oshkosh besides go to the 37:00bars. One of the reasons to go to bars besides drinking was there was a lot of good music in the bars during the school year. A lot of blues bands would come up from Chicago and run a circuit through the beer bars. So, we did get to see a fair amount of regional music. I lost my train of though here. There were a few things to do on campus. There was a bowling alley in the basement of the student union. I don't know if that is still there.

JL: Oh, that's pretty cool. Yeah, not that I know of so--

JM: It was just a little one. I think it had four lanes. But, you know, when it was too cold to do anything else, you could always go over there and hang out.

JL: Hangout, gotcha.

JM: It was a very different campus. You could smoke everywhere on campus. You 38:00could smoke in the cafeteria, you could smoke in student union, you could even smoke in a classroom.

JL: Oh really? Wow.

JM: I remember walking through what they called the titan room, which was the cafeteria in reeve union, and the place would just be blue with cigarette smoke.

JL: Oh man. That would not happen nowadays.

JM: The only place you couldn't smoke was the library, and they had this enormous sand container sitting outside the front door where people would stub out their cigarettes. And, this is pretty disgusting but I'll tell you this story. When we were all broke, and couldn't afford to buy a pack of cigarettes, we would go and pick the long ones out of the ash tray in front of the library, take them back to the dorm, dump the tobacco out of the cigarette that was left, 39:00and role it back up into a cigarette.

JL: There you go. I mean hey, you got to do what you got to do.

JM: When you are out of money, that's when you are really out of money.

JL: That's the definition of college kid right there. Alright, many moving to some student life questions I guess, at your time here, what kind of student were you? I know you got into the journalism and Radio/TV and what not, seeing that you kind of discovered your interest in it, did that kind of make you a better student I guess?

JM: It did in those subjects at least. I was not a very good student. I never was. But, you know, I managed to learn enough, managed to get enough credits to graduate. I learned something along the way though. The way I put was, I got as good of an education as I deserved.


JL: There you go. So, at your time at the, could you tell me I guess when you started at the radio station?

JM: I'm going to say, late 1970. I know I was in there for sure in 1971, and then I stayed associated with it right up until I left Oshkosh in one way or another.

JL: Gotcha. I know in 72', I did a little bit of research. In 1972, the radio station when under some development. I see that they increased their broadcasting strength and kind of switched from just the school radio station to kind of a more open range radio station so people in Oshkosh, citizens, could listen to that, is that correct?

JM: Yeah, I think the station was first built in, I wasn't there but I'm going 41:00to say 65' or so. It was a ten-watt radio station, which was a fairly common thing back then for a college station. Which meant it had a range of about ten city blocks before it started to get sketchy. When they moved into the new fine arts building and built really nice studios up there, they are all still able to change frequency and take it up to 1000 watts. Which would let it be heard basically from Appleton down to Fond du Lac without much trouble. And certainly, covered the city of Oshkosh pretty well.

JL: Gotcha. Did you get many listeners right away?

JM: Oh, my girlfriend would listen and a couple of my friends. There was a conservative city council woman named [B. Tyke Miller?] and she would listen just so that she could find things that she could complain about. This gives me 42:00a chance to tell you another quick story. I had a friend who worked in a, it wasn't a child care place because the kids were older but had this group of kids who were about ten or eleven years old that she would do things with on the weekends.

JL: Oh, okay.

JM: And one day, she said I want to bring kids up and show them the radio station. I was there, I think I was working in the music library that day or something. I said, bring them up. We looked around, and I said, well how would you guys like to have a little contest. You want to see who can read the news? So, I went into the news room where, at that time the news came in on an associated press teletype machine. That thing clacked away all day long and when you needed get news to read on the air, we had regular news slots where, that's 43:00what you did, you went in to get the news and you read it.

JL: Gotcha.

JM: So, I pulled off some news copy that was obviously, just the days headline, I didn't even look at it. I gave it to the kids and said go in here into the studio and practice reading this. And, the two of you who are the best news readers, come out and I'll actually put you on the air and you can read the news today. Well, they did that and I put these two kids in front of the microphone and they beautifully, did a perfect job of reading the news that day. Unfortunately, what I have given them was a news copy that was about a highly controversial resumption of bombings in I guess it was Vietnam or Cambodia or something. I don't remember the details anymore. Anyway, that city councilman 44:00was listening and she thought it was just an outrage that I had given ten and eleven-year-old kids news copy to read as awful as that.

JL: Right.

JM: Doc Snyder, who was the department chair, he called me up later that afternoon and said its not a big deal but don't do that again.

JL: Right, yeah, a little slap on the wrist.

JM: Yeah.

JL: Gotcha. So, at your time at the station, I'm sure you covered quite a few stories. Do you recall any which ones that stood out or were your favorite?

JM: No, I don't. You know, we tried to cover local stuff just because we wanted to be a little bit more friendlier to the community to tried to you know, have 45:00them at least trust us as a source or news although mostly entertainment. It was mostly music programs of one kind or another. It wasn't all rock and roll. Doc Snyder, the department chair, he had a jazz show on Sunday. He had a great collection of jazz music and he would come on and play his music for a couple of hours. You know, we picked up some [unclear] programming, we leased a telephone line to Ann Arbor, Michigan one summer, and broadcasted the Ann Arbor jazz festival for about three days. You know, we tried to cover important city issues but you know, the number of kids at the station that were actually interested in news was not all that great. I kind of had this hybrid thing going where I was 46:00taking journalism classes and I was trying to be focused on the radio end of journalism, but there was only a couple of us that were focused on that.

JL: Gotcha. Alright. So, through I guess working at the station, I'm sure you met quite a number of good friends? Do you still keep in touch with any of them?

JM: Yeah, I do. The two guys that I referenced when we hung around on thanksgiving, one lives here in Madison and I see him pretty regularly. The other one lives in St. Paul and you know, I see him a couple times a year.

JL: Gotcha, nice.

JM: Same with the Advance Titan (AT). A lot of those people I still see. Dave Blaska was the editor one year, he lives in Madison. He, I'm trying to fish for 47:00the words, he does conservative blogs. It was his wife who brought the kids up the radio station.

JL: Oh, okay.

JM: Scott [Hapit?] was the editor of the AT one year. He lives outside of Madison, he ran for attorney general about eight years ago. He didn't win but he has been in politics, one kind or another for quite a while. And, there's others that I see probably less frequently. I have some friends that are not Oshkosh grads here in Madison. And they say to me, what is it with this Oshkosh mafia that you got going?

JL: Okay.

JM: And they often say to me, what is it with this Oshkosh mafia that you guys have going? I said, what do you mean. He said, almost all of your friends, your best friends, are people you have met at Oshkosh 45 years ago. I thought about 48:00it for a minute, and I said, yeah, you are right. So, he still calls us the Oshkosh mafia.

JL: That's pretty good. Alight, well, I guess, do you have any good stories about covering or just attending, I know you said something about, kind of rock concerts that you had in Albee hall?

JM: Yeah, that was pretty much a regular thing. It was run by students and it was what they called the Oshkosh student association was the student government organization, and they had different committees. And one of them was the concert committee. And basically, it was there job to you know, probably not more than two or three times a semester, arrange for a band to come and play somewhere on campus. It was almost always Albee hall initially. But then after they built 49:00Kolf sports center, we had even bigger concerts there. And, there were faculty advisors, but otherwise, it was pretty much students who had to do all of the work [unclear].

JL: Gotcha, so I guess for any of these events, did you have to--, I know you part of the Advance Titan. Did you guys I guess, spread awareness for events coming up or did you guys cover any of the events afterwards to I guess give good credit to the bands that came or whatnot?

JM: Well, in terms of promoting them of course, the concert committee would buy advertisement in the AT. You know, usually every week for a few weeks before the day of the concert and someone would go to the concert and write up a review afterwards. [unclear] always, usually take some pictures.


JL: Gotcha. Could you maybe explain to me I guess because of nowadays, it's really is not that crucial compared to back then, could you tell me how important the AT was to telling students what was going on, on campus.

JM: I think I was important because there were so few other ways to communicate. You had bulletin boards. You know, that's how you find out your grades. You went back to Clow hall, they posted your grades on the wall and you had to look yours up and see what everybody else's were too. Anything else that needed to be communicated was by bulletin board or if it was a big enough thing for the AT to deal with, that was how it was done. You know, imagine life without Facebook or 51:00Twitter or any of that stuff.

JL: Right. Yeah, exactly. Hard to communicate.

JM: Even back then, making a long-distance phone call was actually a pretty big deal. You just didn't do it very often because it cost money.

JL: Right, gotcha. Alright, well maybe rounding out your years at Oshkosh. Say, graduation is coming, did you feel kind of nerves or excitement to kind of get out of the college atmosphere and move into a job or career, to the next phase.

JM: Well, I'll tell you the story of how I came to Madison. All of the credit for it goes to the journalism school and the speech department. In 1974, in the 52:00fall, the summer into fall, there were two people running for state offices that I knew. One was a guy named Richard [Finthrop] and he was running for state assembly, maybe that was the year before. Anyway, Dick [Finthrop] ran for the assembly, he won. And, then a guy named Gary [Glackie], he owned a pizza parlor out on the frontage road, he ran for state senate. And, Dick [Finthrop] called me up and he said I know this guy [Glackie], he is running for senate. You really helped me out by writing some press releases for me, can you help out Gary. And I said sure. So, I wrote him a bunch of press release for him. By a bunch I saying maybe a dozen over the period of a couple months. I also helped 53:00him tape record some radio commercials, just on cassettes. He found a way to make copies and drove those around to the commercial radio stations in the Fox Valley.

JL: Gotcha.

JM: Well, he won the election.

JL: Oh, okay.

JM: And took office in January of 1975. And I completely forgot about it, and one day, in the spring of 75', around exam time. I'm walking across campus in front of the library, and here come Gary [Glackie], and he's got this big grin on his face and he is waving his hands. He's so happy to see me because I helped him win his election. Well, he is a politician, I can tell he is exaggerating.

JL: Yeah.

JM: But anyway, he said, I have another senator. There is another senator in Madison who needs someone with your skills. He is really into press release and 54:00I guess the job is office manager too. So, I said okay, I'll go talk to him. Well, I hitchhiked to Madison, interviewed with the guy, and he hired me. And, I started two weeks later. So, that's how I left the academic world and moved to Madison and started a full-time job in the state capital. I still hadn't graduated remember? I was still short some credits.

JL: Right, you finished up in 77'?

JM: Yeah, I had taken classes in Madison. But, the chance to, at the time, I was still driving a taxi at night in Oshkosh.

JL: Right, so this is a big deal.

JM: This is a very big deal. To get a steady, full-time job with a paycheck and health insurance. Which, of course back then, that wasn't a big deal, it just sort of came with it. But anyways, I'll try to make the story just a little bit 55:00shorter, is-- His name was Tim [Collun]. He went on to be secretary of a couple of departments, big state agencies and that. I worked for him for two years and I have to tell you, I didn't like it very much. And at one point, I got so fed up with it, I quit and I went back and drove a cab in Madison for a couple of years. But that job laid the foundation literally, for everything that came after that. In 1978, I was driving a cab and my girlfriend at the time said, you know, you work nights, I work days, you got to get a real job or this isn't going to work out.

JL: Right.

JM: She worked for the Wisconsin department of administration, in one of their what they call policy and budget.

JL: Right.


JM: And she had to right a lot of what they called policy papers. They were papers that laid out the arguments for doing something that the governor or one of the cabinet secretaries wanted to do. And those policy papers is what went over to state legislators to read to try and get them to go along with the proposal.

JL: Right.

JM: Well she was really smart but her grammar skills were not great. Spelling wasn't the top of her game either. So, she would leave me those papers to edit for her. So, all of those skills that I learned in journalism school about how to organized a story.

JL: Punctuation and grammar.

JM: [unclear] information. You know, [unclear] into a logical sequence, a well-built paragraph. All that stuff was what I was pulling on to help her out. Well her boss realized that something quickly changed.


JL: Right.

JM: These policy papers are a lot better all of a sudden. And he asked her why and she said my roommate edited them. So, he said, bring him in I want to meet him, I think I have a job for him. Well, they gave me a job with the department of administration, editing everything that came in and out of there. That was just a temporary job but it paid better than driving a cab.

JL: And you worked days

JM: Yeah, so now I'm on days. Anyways, one job led to another and I wound up working for the department of administration for 36 years.

JL: Nice.

JM: And I will credit all of that to first getting a job in the state capital with my writing skills and second, getting a job with the department of 58:00administration with the same writing skills.

JL: Well, I'm glad that those nuns and UW Oshkosh helped you with those writing skills.

JM: Yeah, and just as a side, the department of administration sounds like a really boring place to work but it isn't. They are in charge, they are the budget people for the governor. They do all of the transactions for the state. They do all of the [unclear], all purchasing of any size through them. Over the years, I ran energy conservation programs, building management, they even put me in charge of the capital police for six years, which wasn't exactly a great match but it certainly was an interesting job.

JL: Alright, I guess, maybe to give you a wrap up question. Ponder this for a 59:00second. What would be some advice that you would offer students that I guess might be thinking about coming to Oshkosh.

JM: Well most of them will know where it is.

JL: That's true.

JM: It'd be the typical advice that you would get from any old man. Try to have a balanced life while you are there. You got to pay close attention to your studies and get good grades but the best thing about Oshkosh I think, and that's also because I experienced some time in classrooms in Madison.

JL: Right.

JM: Oshkosh is a really comfortable size.

JL: Yep.

JM: Particularly if you are not entirely sure what you want to do. Just go get a 60:00good liberal arts education at Oshkosh and you just can't go wrong.

JL: I agree.

JM: It's just, I still think it was a great place to go to school, at least for me. It was just exactly what I needed when I needed it. And, you know, I hope it is still a place where you can have some fun.

JL: Oh, trust me, we have quite a bit of fun here John. Alright John, I think that is all I need from you.

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