Interview with Ken Bales, 04/26/2017 (Transcript Only)

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Crystal Perez, Interviewer |
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


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Crystal Perez: So this is the campus stories project and my name is Crystal Perez and today's date is April 26 and it is, think 1:15, about there and we are interviewing

Kenneth Bales: Ken Bales. B-A-L-E-S, like bales of hay.

CP: (laughs) So you told me just little about like where you were born. You said you were born in Baraboo. Where exactly did you move after that?

KB: My folks. My dad graduated college right after I was born so he got himself a real job and they moved out to Houston, Texas. And we lived in Houston for about 2 years and then when I was about three and a half or four we moved back to Wisconsin to Racine to be exact: Racine, Wisconsin. And lived there, I went through the seventh grade in Racine then dad got a different job and then we moved to Burlington, about 25 miles west of Racine. So a little town and it was culture shock. I went from Racine about 60,000 mixed racial to Burlington 5,000; 99 percent caucasian. And there is a whole bunch of all, everything you can appreciate along with that.

That oh my gosh.

CP: (laughs)

KB: But it was interesting so Burlington then I graduated Burlington High--High School. Then after Burlington High School I came off to college, army, back to college again but I was married and I came back out of the army so.

CP: What did your parents do? [unclear]

KB: My dad is a cost accountant, he went to a year of school here and then he went to Madison and graduated there as a Bachelor's in accounting. My mama went one semester here but she's legally blind and in her era, schools were not setup for persons with varying handicaps. So she went to school here. Otherwise she has been a homemaker her whole life.

CP: Alright, would you--how would you describe like your home life?

KB: Growing up it was very much middle class. Dad was the sole bread winner with mama not being able to work but she was home, took care of us. It was almost the all American family. I'm mean really honest to God had Mom, Dad, and a station wagon, a little dog, and there were four of us kids. Two boys, two girls. [unclear] Hello America.

CP: What was-- I know you just mentioned the culture shock between Racine but have you noticed like while you were there like how much it was like changing as the times were going by?

KB: I think it was evolving in Burlington was getting a little bit more liberal and a little bit more big city minded. There were a few other persons of color shall we say coming into town and they were accepted fine as far as I could see but then again when you're in high school, you're a little naive. I don't know what the adults were saying behind closed doors but you know what I'm saying. But we students didn't have any problem with kids of color coming into the school and all of a sudden you get a few Hispanics or I don't, we called them blacks sorry, but I don't think we even had a black student in our high school. High school was 800 students, about 200 per class so we had 9, 10, 11, and 12 all in one school.

CP: Okay, what kind of classes did you take at Burlington?

KB: I took the regular classes. I didn't like math and a very quick math story was because my last name is Bales they always sat ya A, B, C so little Kenny was always that first or second row somewhere. I get to the math class and he starts at the back of the class. The way back row was A and the next one was B so little Kenny got to sit at the back of the class, next to a window and that's the year I don't remember much about-- About my geometry so [unclear] 10th year geometry, that was the last math that I took. I took a lot of lab sciences but I just didn't appreciate math. And I was one of those students that would always ask the teacher, well what am I gonna do with all this; what I got to learn that; what am I gonna do with that. The reality is now as a 67 year-old guy, nothing I never use any of that stuff. I was in the wrong field. I was in the sociology kind of a field [unclear] working with people so I didn't have to remember the square root of anything. I didn't have to remember where barium is up on the Periodic chart. So I learned it once and it was fun but. So I had the regular classes, I had advanced English classes at the high school. Back then we didn't call them, we called them college prep. But we didn't go off to a college or to a tech school, and actually take the classes right there at the local high school so I had a couple of those classes to prepare me and excite me for the world of college.

Reality is, I don't think my high school prepared me for college. Educationally it did but of course the social part of things as you can appreciate as a student too. Bye mom, I'll see you in about a month you know when I come home again. Oh, I've only got three classes today what am I going to do with the rest. Because you never think about that in high school and then you go back to your high school and what do you mean you've got only 15 hours a week in school.

What are you doing the rest of the time. I don't know, sleeping in and goofing off. Maybe studying a little bit.

CP: So you mention some clubs dealing with sports, the plays, and choir. I noticed in some of the research that I was doing that you were actually mentioned into newspapers about you being in the quartet

KB: (laughs) Yeah, I've forgotten about that. My wife had mentioned something to that and I don't even how it came up. I guess in school. I was in the church choir for the last 23 years too but in high school now, we had a quartet. A barbershop quartet and I was the baritone and I think

we did it for a competition where you know you wear a tiny little medal that'll hang on your chest kind of a thing and it was fun and it was good. And then we did one for a pep-rally and that was kind of okay but I just, at that point in my life was not real good at being in front of people. I would turn a little red and you know perspire a lot. My voice would get a little bit higher. I've always talked fast so that wasn't a problem, you know a mile a minute. But no, it was fun and I enjoyed my high school because I really think because of the plays and just a little bit of sports. Although I was kind of the benchwarmer for football and-- Honest to God looked back at my high school football career, I bet I had five minutes of playing time my entire career. I rode that bench really hard, I got, you know, splinters riding that bench. Oh my God but I didn't give up. They didn't like my mouth, they didn't like my attitude but I had just enough skill that they couldn't just say hit the road Kenny. You know so they didn't have to play me, by God, so I would just show up, smiling in their faces and wave cause that was my style. So I can look back and it was amusing but.

CP: While you were in high school doing the choir and all that stuff, were you thinking about going into that as a career?

KB: Not really, in fact, yeah. I always knew I liked people and I always loved to talk. Two things about that real quick: my mother always told people that I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle and recently, another way to explain it is I can out talk an echo. So that kind of explains it. Oh my God, my mama has all these stories about little Kenny coming home with his report cards from first, second and third grade; Kenny talks too much, Kenny talks too much. But what are you gonna do.

CP: While you were in high school, what made you decide to go to UWO?

KB: I really think it was because of family history. I had grandparents that lived in town so I could come into Oshkosh my whole life to visit. But then my dad as I said, came for a year right out of the army. And then my older sister came, she did two years here before she left and got married but she was two years at Oshkosh. So I think, quite frankly, it was kind of the easiest for me at that time to get into. And when I was looking at Madison, I've would been lost. I mean again, back then Oshkosh had 10,000 students, it was a big in the '68, you know 9,000 students. Madison had 35,000 students and I wasn't socially prepared in hindsight I would have been kind of lost in the shuffle and one of 10,000 other students roaming the campus aimlessly over in Madison but here I felt like you know, the professors actually kind of paid a little bit of attention and by the end of the semester willing to kind of know my name; that kind of thing. So I was glad that I had come here but it really started because it was the easiest choice. You know I could have gone to Superior or anywhere else but it was kind of luck of the draw. It was good enough for my sister, it was good enough for my dad for a year, and the price was right. Madison back then was a few thousand dollars more per year than Oshkosh was.

CP: So what kind of courses did you take for UWO?

KB: You take in high school to prepare me for Oshkosh or what I took in Oshkosh

CP: What did you take for coming here?

KB: I left high school thinking I wanted to work with people so I really think I started out as a sociology major. So I took my basic gen-eds and a couple of sociology and psychology courses and I liked them but I think, in fact I know I played around too much so I got a couple of low grades and then the army was drafting at that time and I don't know if I won or lost the lottery but I had a enough number that I went off to the army in 1970. So I had three semesters at the university here and then went off to the army for basically an extended period of time for a five year stint. And then after the army, as I said, I came back and returned but then I returned knowing a lot more of what I wanted to do again working with people. Except, interestingly enough, I came from the army and I'd been a medic so I had all this medical training. There was a brand new field in 1975 called physician's assistant, nobody had ever heard of them, they're just now starting graduate schools full of them up in the graduate. Marshfield clinic had an opening for twelve people to (?) so I thought I will be a physician's assistant and I just did all that in the army, should be a piece of cake; I would love to do it. Well, I blew the interviews, I did not get into one of those twelve. They had 2,000 applications, 80 interviews so the long of the short of all of that was I had to, oh gosh, what do I do, I know I'll go and get a psychology degree so I came back here to Oshkosh after the army I finished up the psychology degree. Then I thought okay I got this degree in my back pocket, what am I gonna do. I mean very seriously, oh my God, thank you UW-Oshkosh for giving me this degree but I'm not quite sure what I can do with it or what I should do [unclear] with it so I just stayed on and took a couple of courses as a special student. So I took a graduate course in education, a graduate course in psychology, a graduate course in counselor ed, and some other graduate course just to get a whiff. And I found I like counselor ed so I stuck around and took enough credits and got through and got my Master's in counselor ed and then I had enough G.I. Bill time left there for after the army that this university offered something called a graduate achievement program certificate [unclear] certificate so I took that. A 16 credits beyond the Master's level and it was specifically in career counseling. So I left college here, I could go to career counseling. And I ended up doing counseling work that wasn't career so much working with juvenile delinquents but all of that came into play working with delinquents cause you got to kick them in the butt and tell them how to get a job and when to get a job and where to get a job. So actually all of my graduate school work did very well and came right into play. And it took a lot of drug and alcohol courses in graduate school thinking well maybe I want to go that route and just as I'm ready to finish up, I saw that that's a very difficult field to work in. So I said, I'm not sure for me. So I went into as I said to work with juvenile delinquents instead. I'm not sure if it was any easier but it was different.

CP: I had seen in '72 newspaper, I believe it was in the Oshkosh one, where it said that you re-enlisted into the army--

KB: Yup

CP: I wasn't sure if maybe if your father influenced you to go back or …

KB: What had happened? What it was is we were talking about Vietnam War time, Richard Nixon. I'd done 22 months. I got married while I was in the army and got out of the army for about four or five months, this was the time where there really wasn't jobs. The economy took a big hit so I went after four or five months not finding much working, living hand and mouth with my wife and I, and a .. no kid. It was just my wife and I. I said this is crazy stuff; I don't like this; I think I can take the army again, Valerie. So I had, when I went back into the army I specifically went in to go to Germany. So I was going to see the world now, I wasn't going to just stick in a base here in the United States if I'm going to go back in the army again and do some stuff. So I went over to Germany for three years. My wife joined me there and Marcus, my son, was born over there in Germany. So that's why I did five years, but yeah, I had 22 months in because Nixon gave everybody an early out. Everybody was supposed to do two, three, or four years of but Dick Nixon said no, you guys have served enough, you fought hard enough, you can get out 60 days early, thank you very much of your time and effort [unclear] Thank you and left. As I say then things kind of fell apart and rather then depend on mom and dad and live in mom and dad's basement, I said no Valerie, what can we do; let's see the world, it's just the two of us. We were still young. God, I was 21 and she was just 19; 22 and 20 or something. Let's see the world and be done so the two of us went off to in the army and served in the emergency room for the best hospital in the world over in Germany. In fact, they're still using it now. Anybody that gets sick [unclear] or injured in Iraq, Afghanistan, where ever. They get flown a hospital in Germany and that's where I was [unclear]. That's why I wanted to be a physician's assistant because I ate, drank, lived, and breathed medicine for three years. And it was so much a part of me and I got to be so, break my arm thank you very much, so good at it that I enjoyed it and I was, well surprisingly, well appreciated given opportunities to do things many other military people didn't get to do because they knew of my skill level and that was fine. But that's all beyond the college level again but it helped prepare me, I think even for college to be able to take it. But again, college was a whole different era even when I came back in 1975 verse 1970, there were more buildings on campus, Kolf was on campus. Oh my God, Albee hall was the gym that was it, that was the entire gym for the 9,000 students in 1968-1969 is Albee hall. And we didn't have, we had Halsey and Harrington but we didn't have where all your classes are, we didn't have that big building over there. All those were just field and houses in '68 to '70 and all of this down here. I lived in Gruenhagen hall. Gruenhagen hall had just been built over three years before then and Gruenhagen hall, both wings were men; Scott hall, I think had one wing men and one women. But again, never on the same floor so.

CP: Why didn't you go to like maybe the air force? Why did you just choose the army?

KB: I guess of family history. Quite frankly, the army, well and they were drafting. And in Vietnam era, I didn't want to be a marine and I was very fortunate when I went off to the draftee station. And honest to God it's a true story, they had 20 of us line up and said army, army, army, marine, marine, army. I got army and I went in to go to the army and they made me army so thank you very much. So I knew I wanted to go to the army, my grandfather was in WW1 and my daddy was WW2 and you know that kind of stuff so. In fact, my son's a life in the air force so he went to the air force and joined the other group. That's another story for another day.

CP: I just wanted to know just cause my TV teacher was in the air force during Vietnam so

KB: Oh okay. Well yeah, I got in army because I didn't know any better. In hindsight, oh God the air force or navy, they fed you better, you had better living conditions and it was just a little bit different environment versus the marine and the army.

CP: How was UWO after Vietnam?

KB: It was, well nothing is ever the same. In fact, my first taste of Vietnam was before I left, before I went into the army back in '68 I guess my freshmen year, maybe '69 my sophomore year. We had a returning Vietnam vet and oh my God, he was an okay student but he suffered, and now we would call it PTSD but we didn't know it then, but you didn't want to be around him when he would drink because he would get really mean drunk and I remember vividly one time. Back in the late 1960's, you know love and flower power and people were wearing German long coats and some kid had a North Vietnamese long coat, we could barely hold him back. He was calling that man all those names, nasty names we would call the Vietnamese other than Vietcong. Those terrible names we would call 'em, but another story. But at any rate, so that was my first response, he was in some firefights and he lost half of his squad over there. (pause) But it was interesting, some people had their own dorm rooms. Most of us had two. As I say, I brought an AM radio, my friend bought a popcorn popper. One guy in the hallway had a refrigerator. Two guys had stereos and that's all we had for electronic gizmos. We had intercom systems by the way, I forgot to tell you so. Gruenhagen main floor, they could call Gil and Kenny Bales's room on the sixth floor with the intercom like Ken, we have some guests for ya and I could just press the button and talking to ya and talking back and yeah. It was, what an interesting way.

CP: Was the telephones still on the first floor?

KB: We had, yes, then we only had one telephone in the hallway. You know, we had one that was an internal telephone and we had the ma bell telephone and that's the only telephones that worked. So if someone got a telephone call, you would have to go down the hall and knock on the door and say hey Kenny, someone's on the phone for ya.

CP: Okay

KB: That kind of stuff.

CP: You mentioned since you lived in Gruenhagen like some of the stuff you guys would do. Would you--

KB: Shenanigans. And I'd call them shenanigans or we were [unclear]. We would get away with things and sometimes, we were caught too. And if we were caught, we would flood the floor, slip n' slide. We didn't really think about shortening out the elevator and once we did it once and we shortened out the elevator, we were very careful if we even did it the second time that year.

You'd just have to get lots of water on the floor, it gets really slippery. As I say, we would penny people in. Just throw pennies around the door and jam while the door was locked and

they can't open that door to get out again. Until you really pounded on the door and loosened up those pennies out again or Charlie the pennies back out of the door again. Little things like that. We would yell to the other hall over in Scott what we would call gross out. You know, Scott hall eats dead lizards. I mean it wasn't even, yeah, come on you kidding me. That's the worst that we could throw at each other. I mean we really didn't do a lot of foul language stuff back then. Once in a while, someone would, we would get on and they would get on the back of the motorcycle and moon people. Riding halfway across campus mooning someone while someone else is driving the motorcycle. We had little things called panty raids. You get 15 to 20 guys typically to run around by the girls' dorm cause they were always separated from the guys. You know, panty raid, panty raid. We couldn't get into the dorms but you could knock on their windows or the lower windows and shout. Every once in a while, some girl honest to God threw her underwear out the door. We would just get so excited about it all and go on it again. Yeah so it didn't take much to excite us but that was also era of the social revolutionaries. I mean '69 was Black Friday. We were starting to do the power to the people with clenched fist. We didn't have a SDS, a student democratic society, like Madison did. [unclear] Armstrong with blowing up buildings and stuff but we had a small contingency for here the people were kind of tired of what was going on in Vietnam, tired of the way people were being treated, wanted equality of races, equality of sexes etc. in the late 60's . So there were people that were very much social revolutionaries. But this also a time where this university was very big into Greeks. So you wanted to have a homecoming, well you'd have 12 Greek teams and you'd have all of the dorms pile out. Every dorm would have a team of some kind to play ball or something with. We used to have giant ice carvings and snow carvings. They would bring in truckloads of snow and we the dormitories would get together versus the Greeks and have contests in snow. In fact, one of the things in here [unclear] pictures but I got a Gruenhagen hall with a giant something on it for homecoming. Well we had built a giant something on the roof of Gruenhagen hall. It was a giant cake cause we were taking on Stevens Point and they were bumblebees. You know just kind of [unclear] do that. So it was a whole different era, then people were exciting and we had to yell like hell. Could this Greek out yell that Greek and could this dorm yell that dorm in chants and again, good stuff. Not, you know the dark side.

CP: (laughs) With the social revolutionaries stuff, sorry (clears throat), how were you guys treated by like the faculty like because of it.

KB: I hear ya. By in large I think pretty good, there were a small group of faculty that were certainly in support of all those kind of things back then cause you could kind of tell in really discussions in the classrooms etc. But it took a little while because again this is still middle America and even in Oshkosh in the 1960's it was almost a unwritten rule if you were a person of color you might want to watch around yourself now that it's dark again. We're not kicking you out of town, we're not saying you can't be here, live here, stay here by any means but there's a lot of real prejudices. And in the late 60's, your folks might even remember, your grandparents [unclear] the late 60's there were also the townies versus the university. For some reason, the university and the city of Oshkosh never meshed as one happy unit. You know we would hold all these wonderful things on campus and four people from the town would show up. And so there a little more animosity. "Those darn college students anyway, aren't they gonna learn." You still hear that now, especially when there's a small riot or some bodies broke something because of

beer or they tipped a car over which happens so seldom but the concept all of a sudden now "snot nose little brat kids, what the hell is wrong with you anyway." Well these are the same kids that spent $400 on rent at your house. These are the same kids that just went to the grocery store and spent, you know, $250 last month. So while they bad mouth on ya on one hand, they'll be readily accept the money and back then they were slumlords. Much better, much more then there are now cause they were able to get away with more of the housing market that there were many students willing to move in and live in. I was embarrassed to go to some of those places.

And you might have seen some in town, maybe not. And they've gotten better through the years, trust me from what I've seen in town. But yeah, from the time I left in 1970 and after the army to come back in '75. On campus here, boys and girls were in the same hallway, I think, even hallways. For sure the same dorm. Maybe the first floor were men and the second floor was women but that would never had happened in '68 but by '75 that was happening. I say in '68 when the girls would visit us it was only on Sunday afternoon and the door had to be open and two feet on the floor and the RA would actually walk the hallway. And if they didn't like it, they would kick the girl out and write your name down and you couldn't have a girl in your room next time. By '75 it was wide open. I could probably go to my girlfriend's room and sleep in her room and no one would care by '75 but in '68. Nope. Girl's dorms were locked; 10 or 11, I think one o'clock on the weekend, maybe it was only 11, 11 o'clock. And you were locked out of your dorm in '68 as you grew up, not a boy. Kind of interesting again if we look all of that era: why, how, who knows but that was the rules. And if the girl was locked out, she had to find a place to stay and she would be reported by her RA and that RA may even call mom and dad at home. "Where's your daughter?" "It's bedtime, she's not in her room." "It's locked, we've locked the doors." You actually had to ring a doorbell, wake up the head resident of the entire dorm. Wake them up for you to get in 12, 12:30, 1 o'clock cause you missed curfew. So you heard about it.

You had special something or other to do. Oh yeah, fanasticinating way it's changed and I'm glad it changed. Much more egalitarian than ever before. But yeah, those were some of the differences between even seventies [unclear] and drugs too. Drugs were a little more rampant. In 1970 when I left I say, if you smelled marijuana once in a great while that was maybe about it.

And there was maybe a few other kind of pills being popped and at exam time and there was always methamphetamines. But by '75, I remember went to a dormitory once with my wife and I, just walked through the dorm and some dude had a joint tucked behind his ear walking down the hallway. So there's this idea, the difference and the, what's happened over the five year period time from '70 to '75.

CP: How do you think that just changed so rapidly?

KB: I don't know, it had to be attitudes. It had to be attitudes both with the students as well as some of the faculty because the residents still had our RAs in charge of each floor and had the, I think they're called CAs now.

CP: Yeah [unclear]

KB: But there was a head resident in every dormitory that was in charge of and they lived there. Apartments, you guess they don't exist anymore. Yeah, apartments down in Gruenhagen hall on the bottom right by the elevators. They lived literally behind the elevators, one to two bedroom

apartment back there for the head resident and each RA would have their own wing and they had room on their own little wing. So there was basically two RAs the whole floor. So they tried to keep order, they tried to keep it but again, only as good as they were. The RAs, a number of the RAs we had now. We had ours in the football team so they were gone a lot. Well, how can you get an RA when you're not there. I hate to sound sexist but the boys didn't seem to want to go to another male RA and cry out their tears and say I just, girlfriend broke up with me and I was just kicked off the football team. So I think the RAs were more, dare I say, to keep order.

CP: Okay, you said something about Black Thursday

KB: Oh yeah, oh yeah [unclear]. Well, finally I think what happened was they finally said enough's enough. In that early part of that year, they were not. I hate to sound like us and they but there were so few blacks. And I'll say black as opposed to other color. I think, from what I remember there was only 101 on campus in 1969. And out of that, 99 were kicked out. What they had done is they [unclear]. We were doing sit-ins back then and if you do a sit-in, you're going to wrestle with some of the stuff that's sitting; I'm gonna draw on that board and might even throw that eraser on the ground, I might even rip those papers up just to do it cause we're sitting and I want to prove my point, blah, blah. Okay. Well that kind of got out of control a little bit so what happened in Dempsey was all of a sudden things were flying out of the window. I mean filing cabinets, files, and stuff and pretty soon the university had to call the police. Well the police came and they got caught. [unclear] But they actually got the students in paddle trucks. I mean like you and I in a moving truck. No windows and no nothing. They would pile up 30 kids in there and pull the door down and drive away somewhere. Those students were kicked off of campus so I think seriously after all was said and done and here only two or three people black on campus. There were some people of color but they would have probably been, oh God in that era, Native American. Cause we didn't have an influx of Hispanics, we didn't have the influx of Vietnamese that you had in the mid to late seventies. So again, the campus here just pulled from the local areas. And if you really drew a line in Wisconsin from probably Fond du Lac across the state and you go up north, other than Native Americans; I mean seriously were 95% caucasian. White. When I would used to write federal grants, I used to get yelled at cause I used to say "Mr. Bales, we don't have a 25% minority enrollment in your programs and that's one of our requirements." So I had to show them that I got less than half a percent any of my minorities in my county to run so how can they be 25% of my enrollment if there's only four of them. You know, that kind of thing. So yeah, and so there were changes in the attitude after that I think there were a lot more conversations on campus and the students were really caught between this as well because you had students that came from the prejudicial homes that said "kick them all out or line them against the wall and shoot them all, we don't need them anyway, how dare they get uppity, they should be glad we got 'em, they should be happy there at the university" and that kind of a thing. So you had that crowd. "No wait a minute, wait a minute, there human beings, they deserve all of this, they paid tuition just like you paid, why can't they come to these dances and this kind of thing or why aren't they coming to these dances." Well because you're playing this kind of music, you know. Almost analogous to up in Appleton and they opened up a hairdressers for persons of color and without me sounding racist, hair grows different on persons of color. I don't know why besides genetics of course, but other than that, can't explain it. But there's a white guy really know how to do a black man's fro, I don't know. If you go back in our

era, I don't think so back then cause it was so different. Well finally it's come a long ways, you know trying to meet in the middle but those are just examples of those that were very much out there in the late sixties.

CP: Did you guys have a problem with St. Patty's Day being--

KB: (laughs) No, we were students, there was no problem at all. Nah, the problem came from the community. Actually, '68-'69 I think up to '70, they closed the roads. They closed off numbers of roads. They had number of police and barricades. And because of their beer bars, you can drink at age 18 at the beer bars, they were wide open at 8 o'clock in the morning. I mean, I honest to God remember again these things had never happened before. It's about 9 o'clock in the morning and I'm just rolled out of bed and had gone off to the bathroom and there's some guy next to me, I swear to God, he's taking a leak and he's peeing green. And his shoes are green, he's already so hammered at 9 in the morning from drinking that he pre-painted his shoes, he's peeing green. Oh now, are you kidding me. I don't know if I need this. But so yeah, St. Patty's day was huge and then, that's why they closed it down. That's why they sent all the students away for 15 years. You always had spring break exactly during St. Patty's day. Well that was the reason for it. It wasn't just a, well pull some date out of the air and kick the kids out of town. No, no, no. When is St. Patty's day, that's gonna be our spring break week so kids are gone. Well yeah, we made national news a lot. I think the tonight show, I think we made the tonight show way back in '60. But we also did protesting things, I made the newspaper. My name wasn't in it but there were four of us with a big sign when George Wallace came into town '68 or maybe '69. And we had a big protest against George Wallace and I remember vividly, in fact we made the front page of the Oshkosh's paper and the Milwaukee's papers cause the three of us had a big, big sign "You'll wonder where the yellow went when big George drops the bomb in the Orient." Oh it sounded pretty good at the time. It was really cool and the rhetoric [unclear]. He was going to bomb, he was going to nuke everyone over there in Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia. Well I'm not sure we can make a parking lot out of them like we did Nagasaki.

But the long of the short of it this, we had protests like that when they would come to campus. We had wonderful dances and big dances in Albee hall with name brand entertainers that would come to town. Because there was 18 year old drinking this town was a flurry of bars and dives and strip joints. Oh geez, here you go. I'm a brand new 19, 18 year old boy and my folks are somewhere over there, I got three others just like me with their folks somewhere else. "Hey, do you know that there's a strip joint out of town?" [unclear] By golly, pile 7 or 8 people into a car or two and you go to the strip joint and you'd laugh and you'd point, you know get a little bit smiley face and leave again. So this town actually had a lot of that too. Which is interesting cause Appleton didn't. Appleton had one dirty bookstore and they closed that down about 1970 something whether and never again. But Oshkosh seemed to relish in the dirty bookstores and the naked dancing places. But they were all over town '68, '69, '70. Downtown, uptown. So again this was just an interesting community back then with different social mores but by '75, I think a lot of that was already cleaned up and some of them were going by the waste side. Maybe looking at naked girls isn't as exciting as it used to be and I don't know what was going on. So things changed here in town a little bit. But '75 was a little bit more subdued that way.

CP: Was the name "Sloshkosh" like invented around your time or was that before?

KB: Probably, I don't remember it being called Sloshkosh back then. Particularly, no. Maybe by late seventies cause I remember going then to the Pub Crawls. See and by '68, '69, '70, I don't remember. Well I was just never in that crowd, I don't think, where we did a bunch of it. In 1975, I was in the vets club. Came back, we had a veterans club here on campus. (laughs) Oh yeah. And we would every once in a while go on Pub Crawls. [unclear] So yeah again when people were joining stuff like I said there were Greeks and there were Non-Greeks and then there were Tkees because if you can't go Greek or Tkee. Tkee, TKE, Tau Kappa Epsilon. That was the phrase. So yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was short of that movie Animal House, I mean we really didn't have that all done. Although, again, Sigma Phi fraternity, called the Sig Pigs and they were called the Sig Pigs for a reason back in '68, '69, '70, and you know what I'm talking about. And they actually had fraternity row. They actually had all the fraternities and sororities over by off of Jackson Street. In fact when I first started, that's where we played football where the middle school plays now. But that was the college football field and across from there like 12, two to three story buildings that looked all exactly the same that were fraternities or sororities that actually had a house mother. (laughs) And everything, and part again by '75 that went by the waste side. Those were already being used somewhere else and people were buying, fraternities were buying houses around the town and living in them instead [unclear].

CP: Have you ever consider going Greek or… I'm not personally Greek.

KB: I didn't and part of the reason was I didn't want it. I was some poor little schmuck from Burlington, Wisconsin. A little bit naive about things in the world, really. And I'd seen that it might be fun but that's going to cost me some more money. Boy, I don't even have that 150 bucks to pledge, sorry. So I didn't. I didn't really feel bad about it. As we went, as I went through my years and I had saw what happened and what some of the people were doing and it was a social club. The Greeks had test filed so you know it was kind of, "You got a test in chemistry, wait a minute let's see, oh, here's one from two years ago from that same professor. Why don't you take a look at that one?" (Book slams). So there was an advantage to fraternities and sororities back then and it always looked like a gang, now let's face it. "Okay, Tau Kappa or Sigma Phi or Sigettes, whatever you want to, come on, you know. 12, 15 guys would come up a running yelling "Yelp, yelp" at some jam or another. So, anyway.

CP: Have you ever like when you were in school, were you going to the events in Reeve or--

KB: When I was a, yeah, in my first 68-69, yeah as a single person. I would go to the football games and some of the basketball games; once in a while a volleyball game. They had been well attended, we would have a whole bunch of people attend from college. Oh my God, you would have two to three thousand students go off to this stuff. It was amazing. It wouldn't fill the bleachers, we have a good bunch of people in the bleachers. So we yeah, we did that and as I say we had different clubs. Then in the basement of Reeve, they had this, they called a bowling alley. Are you kidding me, I just got to cross the street and bowl. You would have 14 to 16, there all gone aren't they?

CP: They're all gone. We have like pool tables and like.

KB: Well, no, no, no, no, they had about 10 bowling lanes, they easily had 8 pool tables, back then you would also played video games, arcade games. They probably had 15 arcade games sitting there to play down in the basement. Actually for a while, actually could buy beer down there if you were 18. So that was it that was really the social hub of the university at that time was the Union, Reeve Memorial Union. Cause they had the little balcony up front and when we would do things like I said the Yell like Hell or the Christmas stuff or the Homecoming things, the head of people would just stand on the balcony and shout down to the crowd down there and we would shout back up to them or do whatever. So that was really the hub.

CP: I noticed in the I believe it was the '68 yearbook,

KB: 'kay

CP: Polk was under construction. Was that like finished by the time you were about to

KB: No, no that wasn't finished. In fact, that's where we had to get our books. Back in '68 and '69, we rented textbooks so we had to find out our courses, go down with the course list. And here's my book list, someone from the library would get your seven books, pile all 'em up and you'd turn them in at the end of the semester again. It was actually kind of neat. So we didn't have to spend a lot of money on books back then. I was [unclear] getting them and I remember going too late for one class and they had run out. I had to wait a week so I was a week behind on my reading. As a student, you know, that's alright.

CP: (laughs) So after college, were you thinking oh like I want to work at the university. Or were you--

KB: Actually and no I wasn't, I'd been working as a social worker here after getting my Bachelor's degree I got myself a job running, actually started a program in Winnebago county for juvenile restitution, juvenile delinquents. And after taking interns, I was taking student interns for, gosh I guess about 8,9,10 years, interns. Many of them were coming from the human services field. Well one day, I get a call from one of the human services professors says "Mr.

Bales" and they asked me about my credentials and I said well I got a this graduate achievement beyond my Master's and well they said that's was good enough. And they said would you like to teach a class. Alfred Kisubi had happened to be exactly. Alfred Kisubi had taken a sabbatical, would you like to take his class. And I'm an internal volunteer anyway so I said yeah and so that was mine first floor reign into teaching and that had to been around '99 so as I said 16 or 17 years I was adjunct faculty with human services teaching over there. About one or two courses a semester, every once in a while, three. (Laughs)

CP: There was, I also found you in a newspaper and you were talking about the CETA.

KB: Yup, that was. Yes, when I first got out of graduate school, to get my story across. I learned grant writing and CETA stood for Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. Federal government back in the '60s was like hey, we got all these juveniles running around and they don't have any jobs, they're just gonna get into trouble all summer long. It started out in New

York, it started out as a New York employment program kind of a thing. Then the federal government got a hold of it so low-income and special-eds students qualified. I would write the grant to say $85,000 and with that 85 grand, I would hire students. I would go around and get them identified and identify them through the school district. Who's your special-ed students, who are your handicap students, who's your low income students, can I speak to them please. They qualified by filling out the paperwork and I would give them a job right after school and them a wage, minimum wage to give them the basic skills. Everything you and I both know about: going to a job on time, listening to a supervisor, paying attention, doing as asked, doing the best job you can, things like that. So that's what we tried to teach all these kids so when they entered adulthood, they would enter adulthood and know how to do a work. How to do a job.

Cause with the federal government found was many students never did. The old welfare system, cause I also did some things with that for a number of years, but that we were finding that the women were staying home. "I've been on the welfare system for 17 years and my mama was on welfare for 15, what's your point?" "Well lady, I could understand that, thank you but did you ever think about your children?" "Well, what do you mean?" "Well have they ever seen anybody go off to work for a work ethic?" "I don't work, my grandmamma and my mama don't never had to work." "And your child never, ever seen anybody worked. Okay, and I said, number two, now let's project you as a 60 year-old person. Where are you going to get your money?" "Well the government" "What do ya mean the government? You didn't put any money in. You've only taken money out, you've never paid taxes." Well yeah but they'll take care of me." "They will minimally." So again trying to get these people, you know. Some interesting stuff. But the CETA grants, getting back to that, I wrote grants for three years before I started working for the juvenile delinquent population, was really what it was. So I would run programs in Waupaca County, Calumet County, specifically for that reason. I would hire staff. In the summer time, I would hire teachers. You know, I would interview and hire and then I would rerun this programs for those three years period. You know, $136,000 grant and $40,000 grants here, whatever.

CP: Okay. So it also mentioned that you, I found your 20 years retirement--

KB: Oh wow

CP: for working in the career services. Did you want to keep working after that? Like tried to move…

KB: Well, well, what I had did. What had happened is I had an opportunity once I kept teaching here, one or two, as I said adjunct faculty for human services. I enjoyed it. I really, truly enjoyed it so much that I didn't neglect my other work, my juvenile restitution work. I excelled at that as well, just my style. But I really enjoyed the teaching part almost better and I didn't know how to transition to get rid of one and there wasn't gonna be enough teaching for me to do to pay all my bills so I just did the teaching part time through the restitution program stuff. But I'd get busy there too and I became one of the better proponents at that particular field. If you were to call anybody in Wisconsin, probably from 1984 and 2005 and you'd say "hey, I got a question about juvenile restitution or juvenile justice issues, do you know who I could call that might have some information?" They said "call Kenny Bales." So I was fortunate to be able to pay attention and learn all of those years working juvenile delinquents as well. But the seed of things, going back

to the seed, that was about a two to three year period of time. Money was running out. The federal government decided to change names. They'd changed it from CETA to JTPA and then they called it Job and Training and Partnership Act. Well what had happened is, the federal government said there's this spot of money, here's some for you, here's some for you, give it away, give it away. When it became JTPA, they said we only got this one pile of money so I was kind of odd man out. So I knew I wasn't going to get any more money to run any more grants, that's when I talked to some people and we started this juvenile restitution program.

CP: Okay

KB: So yeah. So yeah, I wrote CETA grants, I wrote JTPA grants for that three year period of time. Kind of evolved into my juvenile restitution program and the rest is history. And technically, by the way, I was faculty for that as well. The long and the short of that whole thing was that I could get onto years. Called it a purchase of services contract. You know I can't hire you completely but I could pay top notch employment agency to hire you so you don't even show up on my books, they do but you don't look like you're even my employee. That's what they did to Kenny Bales for a lot of years. So if you look at Winnebago County, well there's no little box that says Kenny Bales on it. Well that's cause he's really a university employee so the feds gave money to the state, the state gave it to the university, the university gave it to me.

That's the long short of it. Normally they go federal to state, state to county, county to me. We avoided the county and just went from state straight to Kenny Bales. So I was a purchase of services for those 27 years and that's how I was able to also get the status I have and marital status, all that junk.

CP: Did you like, with the career services, did you help out university students try to find jobs as well?

KB: Only during my internships and the same with the regular counseling as well. Part of the internships doing counseling with students or because I had a Bachelor's in Psychology, the staff and the counselor ed knew me and they sent me off to Winnebago Mental Health to work with the a special student out, special person out there. That was a nightmare. [unclear] Oh God. Poor woman, she had tubelerscrosis; she wouldn't even know me week to week. "Who are you?" "Hi, my name is Ken Bales and I'm here to this, this, and this." "Okay." Come back the next week. "Oh, who are you?" Well, see you can imagine how much fun I had as a counselor trying to work with that kind of (laughs). So, at any rate but that was all part of getting out of school here. Graduating and doing what they ask you to do. But yeah, the counselor ed program had changed a lot even from '75, even up until '80 because back in '75-'76 they had a lot female staff and faculty. They didn't get tenured and you could appreciate if you don't get tenured. And usually tenured about probably four, five, six years you're gonna know if you're on the tenured track which means until you kill somebody, you could never get fired. Kinda what it is. So that didn't happen for a number of these females so they left after three or four years. They see the writing on the wall, I'm not on the tenured track, so I guess I might as well leave now. So we lost a good number of faculty in '75, '76, all the way through '78 up in then and they were female faculty partly because the university just wasn't willing to or couldn't or didn't offer tenure to them.

And I don't know, I was just a student. What do I know about the politics behind the scenes? In

fact students, I don't think, even know the difference between professors, associate professor, assistant professor. They call everyone; don't get me wrong I enjoyed being called professor but I was always in the same note, I'm just an instructor. I only have a Master's degree. Most of your professors here, that's a legal title. They've been here 8 or ten years, they've already been tenured and that's why they're called professor. See, more than you care to know too. Ta-dah!

CP: (laughs) What would you say for students that are going to school now? So like me, what would you say to do during the university?

KB: All of this, and yeah. All of my years working with students and teaching those classes, I always taught them to get a minor. You can get out of college without a minor but the minor I usually told them to get was in business or a foreign language cause they were human services. Touchy, feely stuff. There were going to be jobs out there but I'm here to tell ya that that door is going to open a lot wider if you've got a, you know something to do with business of a foreign language as well because that's the way the world still is today and the world marketplace out there for that. So those are actually good skills to have by the way. As you could appreciate foreign language is something don't push enough. I'll get on my soap box, we don't push foreign language enough in the United States of America. We got these rosy colored blinders on, we don't see there's a whole world out there. Now we're doing it cause now we're hearing the backlash of "all these Hispanics have come in and now everyone is speaking Spanish, I don't understand it. Geez, I got to the grocery store and that's all I hear." Lady, we're growing. This is the melting pot, God bless them for trying to get a better life. You know, the situation but.

CP: How do you think the university is going to change like you've seen the changes so far? How do you think…?

KB: I liked to think that they're going to do a lot, not, some more with the transitioning from book learning to real learning like the internships as an example. Many but not all majors require an internship. It's human services that got three of them. You got a 30 hour one and they've got to do a 30 hour one before they can get in the program. Then they got a 120 hour, then they got a 280 hour and they're unpaid. The human services field is not allowed to get paid. I think if you're a business major, you can get internships and get paid. But that's a whole other story. So the human services major they've got like what 120 and 280, they've got 400 hours during a two year period of time. So they don't have much time to work. Cause you can appreciate 280 hours in a semester is almost 40 hours a week, coming and going. [unclear] I liked to see them continue that and or increase that so, again, you can get that transition and get them trained to what's out there in the community. They've, again, been changing through the years. Much more inclusive, relevant, sex and race kind of things as well so that's very, very good. So they need to continue on that and just stay yeah, day current. What are people talking about in the community; what are the buzzwords of 2017 now? I do know that when I was

writing grants in the late 1970's, my buzzwords were drug & alcohol and gang prevention. So all I got to do is say, "Kenny Bales wants a $100,000 cause he's going to stop from gangs from every meeting again." As long as I had the word gang in there somewhere, "How much did you want?" So that was the buzzword. Oh and alcohol & drug abuse. "Oh, you going to help take care that, how much do you want?" Then all of a sudden, money started drying up and people

were doing things and such and yes. So times have changed but the university needs to continue that. They've tried to re inclusivity and I say that in a very kind and very gentle way but it just hasn't panned out. Think about it, if you have ever, in fact I'll ask you and I don't mean to be cruel, but have you and your short time on campus ever been Mong event yet. They got a few. Every once in a while they got a Hispanic event and you'll show up there and there's three white people and everyone else Hispanic. Well, where are the other 9,000 students? You know they got that all inclusivity day, the LGBT kind of a thing. Well they got the LGBT out there proudly saying, "This is who I am. I'm getting happier with myself and living in the world" such. You got four others that are not LGBT. So somehow we're not real grabbing the students very well here yet. We've lost that through the years. And maybe because I say I'm a product of the late sixties with the social activism. What happen to that, I mean. I remember when I came back from the army in the late 1970's, the biggest thing was beer. They had a small riot in town because they were doing something about beer. They're not going to allow you to drink beer before a certain time or on a certain date, at a certain party or something or other. Students went nuts. A 100 students or so. So you're protesting about being able to drink beer in 1979 and we're protesting killing people in 1968. What a difference this is. And again, the university community either helps or hinders and I think it's helped I think the social aspect has been great throughout these years and it is really much more inclusive. Always room for improvement. But again how do you get students to do it. Human services, prime example. They had the human services club for years. You go to a meeting, three or four people there. At a good meeting, just 18 or 20. Well, where are the other 350 students in human services and isn't human services working with people, trying to solve problems and change the world. Gee, wouldn't you think they would come to a meeting once in a while. So you scratch your head and say "Well, what happened to the students." So that's not the university's problem per say or fault, I mean. But it's a situation that they somehow need to get on board and correct and get the students to be more active. Even if it's just a dance. What do you mean it's just a dance and only a 112 people showed up throughout the night? Well back in my era, 600 kids would show up and back and run around campus and stop again. Even in '68, '69 and '70, then I'll shut up here for good.

CP: (laughs)

KB: No I won't. We used to call this Suitcase-u. Suitcase University. And on a Friday afternoon, Friday from 10 o'clock until a.m., until five o'clock pm. You could just stand out there and watch all the girls go wave goodbye and the campus was less than half full on any given weekend. Girls were going home to whatever reason, I always thought to be with their old boyfriends or something or other. Why the boyfriends never came to campus, I don't know. And it was typically girls. The boys seemed to be willing to stay on campus a little bit longer and it sounds sexist but it really was back then in '68, '69, '70. Cause you could throw a thumb, could put out and hitchhike. Actually get a ride from here to Burlington, Wisconsin for free. Put my thumb up and someone would pick me up. Are you kidding me, even a single girl might even pick me up. Cause we didn't have all that nasty, nasty stuff happening. We had free love. We had sex and rock n' roll and drugs but we weren't stabbing people and poking them in the eye and hitting them over the head with bats and stuff. We weren't that cruel yet at that era. Again, how that came to be is a whole another story and I don't know how that came to be.

(Laughs)

CP: So, I didn't know if you a copy of my transcription or a copy of the interview. (Started on the hour)

KB: If you want, if you wanna give me a copy of your transcription you're welcomed to do that. I don't need a copy of the interview but.

CP: Okay and then I just need you to sign the deed of gift. We can just do that after but this has been the interview for Campus Stories Project. Once again, my name's Crystal Perez and this is Ken A. Bales. And today's date was April 26, 2017, thanks.

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