Interview with Michael Flanagan, 12/01/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Khaila Miles-Semons, Interviewer | uwocs_Michael_Flanagan_12012016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |

0:00

Khaila Miles-Semons: Today is December 1st, 2016 and it is 3:03 pm. I am in the MEC House with Michael Flannigan and my name is Khaila Miles-Semons and I am conducting and interview on the history of UW-Oshkosh. So just to start off um... I want to know a little bit about how you grew up, you know, more specifically where did you grow up?

Michael Flannigan: Okay I grew up on a, a little of it's actually called a village cause it wasn't, it was unincorporated, about 300 people or so. Uh it's called Pickett, founded by Jasper Pickett, who's great great uncle was General Pickett. Who was a very significant person in the Civil War. He was an officer 1:00in the union army and Pickett actually happened to be one of the northern ends or stops of the Underground Railroad, started by Harriet Tubman. A woman who, who would help slaves um once they escaped or were freed and just wanted to get up north or whatever were to go through the Underground Railroad, which was an organization where African American slaves in the 1860s, I'm not sure the years....

KMS: Mhm.

MF: But um, they would travel at night and hide during the day in homes and people who were abolitionist, wanted to get rid of, abolish slavery. So, um Jasper Pickett uh... I don't know what year her founded the uh village of 2:00Pickett but there, you know, were a few hundred people there when I was growing up and uh he's a pretty cool guy. I happened to find out a lot about Harriet Tubman, Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad when I was in uh.... Fifth or sixth grade. We had to do a project and I, you know, either drew it out of a hat or just said "Hey I'd like to do something with the history of Pickett", so I found out about this man and I know where he lived. Called him up he said "Sure come on over!" so after dinner on one night I went over there and he gave me um... several pictures of stapled paper about the history of Pickett. So it was pretty cool, its 12 miles south west of Oshkosh.

KMS: Oh!

MF: So it's close, it's out on a road that goes past the airport, leaving Oshkosh towards Ripon.

KMS: Okay.

MF: Which is 20 miles away, so it's roughly half way between here and Ripon. 3:00Ripon is probably most known for, uh its speed queen washers and dryers, Ripon Good Cookies, and Ripon College, one of the best.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Uh well know private colleges, small private colleges, in the United States. In a ratio of PhDs to students, uh I think they onetime ranked in the top uh, 13 or 15 in the country. So uh given that, you know, it expense but it's a great education.

Um so I grew up there um, walked to school half mile, it wasn't uphill both ways.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: But snow was removed or dealt with differently uh in the 1950s, the late 50s. Uh when I was in school there in um, snow kept getting piled up by snow 4:00plows, higher and higher as the winter progressed um and actually we could touch the telephone wires from the tops of the snow banks, they're that high, they're like 8r10 feet high or higher. On the way, walking home from school, when you took your time. I rode my bike otherwise. I attended an um a school had two rooms it was a year before students started being bused into the cities.

KMS: Oh wow.

MF: ...For middle school. I attend first through first-fourth grade, we didn't have Kindergarten. In one room, with three different teachers in those grades that, I remember, and then fifth through eighth grade I had one, I think just one teacher, that's it for the whole deal and she was probably the principle 5:00too. Um and then when I started high school um I went to Ripon, cause it was in that school district.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: A town of about 65 hundred. High school about ten percent of the population, 600 students roughly. We had, we were the War babies, or Baby Boomers. We were born in the late 40s or that all includes up to or including um Korean, the Korean War so many men who came home from the war because there weren't women at that time uh involved in the military. When men came home from war and got married that's when a lot of people had start families so there was a boom, a spike in the population, started officially probably in uh the mid to late 40s. 6:00And that's kinda when I came on the scene. So uh high school my graduating class had a 170 about, probably started with a little more than that but people move away and etcetera.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Um good school, clean, there weren't many people that drugs weren't around yet but who drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes.

KMS: Okay.

MF: Um so athletics are strong, as a correlate (7:32) I guess a correlation that of it, I mean we had good athletes because they didn't smoke but, I don't know if they did smoke then maybe they would not have been as good of athletes. There's a cause and effect there.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: There were occasionally the local towns of a lot of small, basically farming 7:00towns, in this part of Wisconsin. Um I mean there was, there's um populations of maybe 5 to 10, 12 thousand, there's a lot of them between here and Milwaukee. We were in a conference, athletically, called Littleton. Occasionally uh, there, they had like a beer drinking party that the football team would have but they all got busted and they all kicked off the team and lost their right to play for the season.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: So that would happen occasionally, this is now in the early 1960s.

KMS: Okay.

MF: Well up to the mid 60's, that's 62 or 63 to 1966. And then um I was a hall monitor in high school...

8:00

KMS: Mhm.

MF: ...my sophomore year and maybe other years but this year had an impact on me, uh... because, you know, the idea was to just sat in the hall in a chair and do your homework. And people were supposed to have passes otherwise, you know, like skip out on class and wonder around. So we had to check passes if people were sick, had to go see uh principle or a nurse or anything else. And one afternoon, loud speaker came on and said "This is Walter Cronkite," and I can't do his voice, he said "The president of the United States..." whatever he was, the 23rd, sorry I don't know my history.

KMS: Okay.

MF: He said John Fitzgerald Kennedy died today in Dallas, Texas. Walter Cronkite was an icon for uh TV news reporting, for many years, probably decades, a couple. And he was the one given the uh dubious honor, whatever the word would 9:00be, for announcing that to the world that President Kennedy was officially dead. So I remember that, high school was um, took little time to get used to it, 'cause I'm used to 9 people in the class.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Some came and went but there were 9 there in all my eight years of um, I guess we call it elementary and high school.

KMS: Okay.

MF: And um, uh you know, I had, had average grades, in, in grade school, you know B's, C's sometimes A's. Um so I didn't really have any problems academically. High school like, was a little bit of a change because we have 10:00arithmetic, a lot of it, but we didn't have algebra. So I got my algebra class, first day of class, and um teacher's in front of the room going like "X and X and Y". I go, oh, x as in yab, those were letters that spelled words, words make sentences, sentences, makes paragraphs, they make stories and essays and that's English, this is math, something is seriously wrong. 'Cause letters belong in English class and math was about numbers so I was totally freaked out I was in the wrong room, wrong class. So I looked around I saw that everyone had the same book I had. So then well I better buckle up and get to it. So um I went out for 11:00wrestling, it's my sports so I looked at my parents and they're both about 5'6. So I thought I'm probably not gonna be Wilt The Slit" Chamberlin, he's a tall basketball player.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: I can still shoot buckets, I like to. When I play with people taller than me all I see are arms. So, but I wanted to do something, and I needed to do something.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: So I'll go out for wrestling and um, and then um my Biology teacher, uh openly recruited for cross country in class. 'Cause he was the coach, so, either his um encouragement, or my decision or both I went out for cross country to get my cardio in shape. So when I hit the bricks for wrestling I was already had my 12:00breathing, my conditioning, a little bit going.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: So I wrestled four years, uh went out for cross country four years and got letters, you know like you get in high schools. I don't know if the still give them out.

KMS: Yeah they do.

MF: They do?

KMS: I have a couple, yeah.

MF: Oh okay, I thought they would but I got like three, four, five, six of them, I don't know, in different sports. And um, in the spring I probably did a lot of stuff like track or golf or tennis or just to do something different, 'cause wrestling was hard. Academically I would just like, you know got into like the National Honors Society, but I did okay but I didn't get good enough grades to get a lot of, like scholarships. However, I did get some scholarships and, and financial aid. So when I graduated in 1966 I uh, I had to applied to 13:00three colleges, the University of Wisconsin, well sorry, it called the uni Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh, was the name. All those state universities had Wisconsin State University- Whatever it's at.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: They were probably eight of them then. Um University of Hawaii I thought that'll be interesting to apply, 'cause I grew up in all the snow. I mean not that I disliked it...

KMS: Mhm.

MF: But I thought it was interesting, and another I applied to, I don't know. Ripon? Ripon's very expensive, like per semester, thousands and thousands even back then.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: One of my cousins from San Francisco Bay area, no, Berkley, um his great grandfather was one of the founders of Ripon College. So you know, he gets where 14:00he wants to go to college. He was there, we're the same age, we spent some summers together. Either in Wisconsin or California but mostly here. They came 'cause we had a home on the lake, just a little shake but it was a place to spend the summer. You could go fishing every day which I did, everyday all summer.

MF: And then He went to Ripon College, and I uh, had some financial incentive to come here.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: One was kinda like a wrestling scholarship but it wasn't official. Um so uh I went to school here, I had some work study. And I didn't do too well right away. There was, there were social distractions. I was 18 and at that time you 15:00could go and uh if you weren't enlisted, I'm sorry, enrolled in college you're probably asked by the Department of Defense to enlist in the army.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Or get drafted. No choice. They had uh free rides to Vietnam.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: SO um I remember who one professor who's recently deceased, Dr. John Casper who became good friends later um I didn't do real good in Zoology, my major is Pysch in undergrad. So we didn't care about plants uh even though, so you know, 16:00maybe now we would play nice music for the plants to make them happy.

KMS: Ha Ha.

MF: But it felt no need to counsel or psychoanalyze plants. So I stuck with the animal zoology. I did okay. I got C's and B's on the test. The final was really rough. I came in on a cold, snowy, blowy winter day after the finals, a day or two afterwards, and I said "Hey my name is Mike" we had a hundred and eighty probably people in the lecture hall. It was packed, people sitting on the floor. In a course, you know, that big, you're a number. That's it... you know.

KMS: Yeah.

MF: So I went to see him and I said, "Hey, you know, my name's Mike I'm your class last, last semester or whatever, for Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesday, Friday" and I asked him to see how I did on the final. I didn't feel real good and, you know, "I'd thought I'd check with ya." He said "Yeah, that final was pretty bad for you. He had his grade book open and she said, said "You aren't 17:00really, you know, averaged out to be like a D." He said, "But because you came in... and showed the interest coming in on a day like today." Or maybe it was a D+ I don't know. He says, "I'm raising it to a C."

KMS: Oh wow.

MF: So I go "Hey, hell yeah!"

KMS: Ha ha ha ha.

MF: So I learned, that, and something that I think every student should know, professors are your friends. They're there to help you. There may be an exception, I don't know any that, you know, who are not and, is, you know, advocates of students or not student friendly. So I encourage all students to get to know their professors, they're a wealth of knowledge in that area in which you're studying, you night as well go there. That's why they're here, that's why you're here. So I always encourage all the students when I work to use those office hours. So um went to school trying to fitrcommuted that little 18:00tunnel, drove my car to classes, for a semester.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: And I'm sitting at home doing my homework for the rest of the semester thinking, "No, this is just too much like high school".

KMS: Yeah.

MF: Sitting at the kitchen table doing your homework, except now its calculus and zoology and etcetera. So like I'm gonna move into a dorm cause it'll be nice and quiet and I can study. Yeah right, huh.

KMS: So uh, at home it was a little loud...

MF: Well,

KMS: where you live?

MF: No, well, no home was a good environment. But it was just too much like high school.

KMS: Oh.

MF: And, and I wanted to focus more on academics and I did okay in high school, you know um, I had like... a 4.0. But I ended up, you know, I probably didn't 19:00start real good with like, C's, you know, B's. But after it kinda got into the swing of stuff but I excelled, you know, I took math, four years of math and four years of science, physics and, and some good classes to prepare me for college.

KMS: Right.

MF: But home, commuting and doing my first semester of college at home was, it was boring.

KMS: Ha ha.

MF: I mean, it was okay. I did my homework but I was, just like, I figured it would change an environment to be on campus would help me study better. I wasn't, you know that's not necessarily true. So I moved into Gruenhagen.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: And I got a job to working in food service a few hours a week, for some spending money or whatever. And uh... that was okay.

20:00

KMS: Mhm.

MF: But then I thought I don't, I don't know if I really there's too much noise.

KMS: Ha.

MF: It was crazy. It was like living in a zoo.

KMS: It was really crowded?

MF: Yeah, yeah. All the rooms were full.

KMS: Oh wow.

MF: It was like Scott Hall or any, maybe RA's or CA's are better in enforcing, uh keeping things under control then it was like monkey bars and its, you know, like a monkey ground in a Milwaukee Zoo.

KMS: Ah.

MF: It was crazy fun, people were knocking on the door, "Hey! Let's go get a beer, I just flunked a test...I'm so sad". So I go "Well I'm almost done with my studying, maybe in a half hour or so." I go on for a while and then, or someone say, "Hey I just got an A! I got an A for sure in a course now. Let's go have a beer, a pizza. I'm buying." And so I, it's just stuff like that going on all the 21:00time. "I think I'll just go to the library and study".

KMS: Mhm.

MF: But then I got an apartment thinking I gotta get out of this dorm life. I got an apartment, .lived there like four years... even after I graduated.

KMS: Okay.

MF: I went all my sophomore year... and all summer. There weren't interims. There was one spring semester was over, graduation starting, Monday was summer school. Went 10 weeks and I had a full load of that and a week off. And in your junior year, and all my junior year. By the spring, my junior year I was totally fried.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Just from the academics. You know, I was, broke and my grades weren't, you know quite enough, high enough to sustain scholarships...

KMS: Uhuh.

MF: So I had to work more on taking loans out. And then I thought, you know, 22:00I'm not sure I belong in college right now. I got bad grades, I know I can do better. If I, I take some time off, I know I'm coming back. But I'm, I'm out of here for a while. So I got a job in a foundry an it's swung a sledge hammer.

KMS: You had a job where? I'm sorry.

MF: In, in the foundry,

KMS: Foundry?

MF: pour liquid metals, that's pretty heavy, hot environment, into molds and as the metal cools and solidifies it makes man hole covers. So many man hole covers on campus in the bathrooms and in uh the middle of the street, say Neenah Foundry, Neenah, Wisconsin. Probably out here in along the highway.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: And that's one of the things that make it this place, Neenah is about, um 10 minutes from here. It's where I live know. And that's where I worked for about a half a year, um nine, maybe ten months. Uh, the part of the last spring, summer 23:00and fall, fall. Then I go, "Hey I better get back to school." Um so I came back but I have to tell you about what happened. Um about well, in, in the end of November of my junior year...

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Um there, well, the Board of Regions, which probably been around a hundred years, I don't know.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Not that the people, wanted to integrate University Oshkosh. Another 24:00northern places, the campus, for camp, around the state. Because the only place that didn't have just pretty much all Caucasians, both faculty and staff, the only place that didn't have a Caucasians was UW-Milwaukee, maybe Whitewater and UW-Madison. Um the so called Hispanic migration, which is maybe, if you recall that, by sociologists, maybe where the past 20 years hadn't happened yet. Maybe more than 20 I don't know it hadn't happen, the south East Asian population, wasn't here because...They are here primarily as a promise that was much delayed 25:00by the federal government. Finally fulfilled to help the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand who were threatened by communism and who were murdered in their homes after the Vietnam War after affiliation or help the United States Government after the Vietnam War. Because eventually the federal government fulfill a promise to helped the people who helped us in Vietnam. And so they started these camps in helping, help uh people from Vietnam and those south East Asian countries get to refugee camps and eventually make it to the states. So that population wasn't here yet there, the only African American I knew about the only black person was from Africa.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: He, He was here on a scholarship. He was like a semi pro boxer, cool guy. 26:00But it was a white campus so the Board of Regions said let's see what we can do to get some integration and some more diversity. So somehow, eventually about my junior year there were a hundred African Americans students here or maybe a hundred and twenty. Um there are no professors of color, no courses on African American Literature or history. And actually, you know, African American comprised a percentage of the American population. So "why aren't they represented here?" was the question the Board of Region tried to answer. So um 27:00there was really a place to hang out. Um for students of color, except for the union jukebox. And it was pretty cool, good music.

KMS: What songs did you listen to?

MF: Sweet soul music. Uh Odis Reding...

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Uh Sam and Dave...

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Odis Reding was the doc of the day probably most famous one but he has most ghf other ones. He actually died in a plane crash, the plane had crashed in Lake Mendota in Madison.

KMS: Oh wow.

MF: Um Odis Reding was really hot all over the country but we had a lot of soul 28:00music. So, you know, I guess that's how I got to meet a lot of the students of color at that time. Those were the African American students, like ten or fifteen, were friend that were, we would finish studying in Gruenhagen back when I started. Um some were already in school, we'd go down to a place about a block from campus and get some pizzas and play pool and drink a couple of beers, like form 11 to closing.

KMS: Do you remember what the place is called?

MF: Yeah, Titan Tap.

KMS: Oh okay.

MF: And there's still some people on our Board of Directors from Milwaukee, who come here and who will be here. Well I, I missed it. I don't know what happened this year...November it went too fast. I missed whatever maybe the Black Student Union sponsored just realized it now... I've been a part of it every year for a 29:00while, but it's usually Thursday nights in the end of November. On the 40th commemoration, we don't celebrate the day 'cause it was bad.

KMS: Yeah.

MF: And I'll get backlit wasn't bad it just had to happen. It was the time for it to happen but since there were no African American professors or courses about literature, history.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Well Fred, Frederick Douglas, uh I got that right?

KMS: Yeah, sorry.

MF: I'm a little brain dead here. And all the great writer and attorneys, actually there's one in town here uh who were, who were, they had a soul food restaurant. We were really good friend's because we used to eat there a lot. Um 30:00Latemar, Virginia. Latemar, who worked at a mental health institute, she gave all the chest x-rays for tuberculous, every employee up there, all year long, state long. She worked in public health, you have to have x-rays for tuberculous. Her husband originally came here to teach, taught here for a while Um his great uncle Lewis Latemar, who was Thomas Edison's assistant in inventing the light bulb.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: So there are a lot of great people in American History that just weren't recognized. Uh except maybe in the African American History but there are historical figures, so why weren't they in history books? It was suppressed. Uh I guess a more urgent thing in finical aids and we didn't know about it at the 31:00time but one of the people, the director, was a racist.

KMS: Hm.

MF: So...when he is reviewing, sorry.

KMS: Ha ha. It's okay.

MF: They were viewing student loans, financial aid. At that time people, believe or not, or highly unconstitutional now, to have on your application, you know, Bob Jones or Betty Smith can you believe that? So it wasn't just for demographic purposes only, is, as we see now.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Well he used it to discriminate, if he, if a person checked if they were black...he threw their file away.

KMS: Oh wow.

MF: Or bottom of the pile or hid it in the waste basket or whatever. He finally 32:00got caught after years of that. Well I had a good friend that I knew uh, had classes with stayed out of school one semester to earn some money.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: And then he um came back but his status had changed. If you were a student enrolled in university you, had a draft board that can draft you if they want to, unless you were a 2S, that was a student deferment but as soon as quit school, you lose yours. I lost mine.

KMS: Did you ever get a letter?

MF: Yeah. But this guy when he came back to school they said, all of a sudden he got a letter saying "Hey, guess what we want you to come on down to Milwaukee to get a physical for the armed forces!" He passed all his physical they said "Oh 33:00by the way we have room for you on the boat! We can give you a ride to Vietnam." So he never came back. And we used to share notes and stuff in class. So we he didn't come back I said "Oh maybe he had a little bit of a late night working or whatever." I thought that on night. And one day and maybe two days when he didn't come back to his house I said well guess what he's going for his physical and he got drafted, he's in Vietnam. Three month later he came back in a box.

KMS: Oh wow.

MF: And I did not 'til that time, know of anyone who had died except an old aunt and uncle. Or even my grandparents were still alive, no one had died. If, I didn't about death really, I just didn't.

KMS: So at that time did you ever feel like it was, you know, going to school or join the war?

MF: That's it. It was the only choice. The only thing was if you were a farmer, there was a deferment for that, or if you worked with your parents on farm, men 34:00could do that. If you're 18 or over you to go to the draft board on your 18th birthday and sign up. And, and your sta-status would be, 2S, student deferment, 4F if you had some physical disability. It could even be asthma or breathing or blood pressure or, there were different ways that people um were eligible for a 4F, I don't know what the farming one was called. The other one was 1A that means better have your bags packed jack 'cause we want you, you better be here fast, like that. That's what happen to my friend who came home in a box. So I was freaked out pretty bad.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Um so I went across the street to the a little, the counseling center the 35:00street, where the swimming pool is now It was a separate building called University counseling Center. I went and saw a psychologist or a psychiatrist or somebody, someone to talk to. 'Cause I was pretty upset, 'cause I'm like they might, may even call me I don't know. I had a 2S for a long time but so what, I was still enrolled in school when I found out about all the stuff going on in financial aid even though none of my friend s were pulled out of school. If you had your, If you stayed in school you can keep your 2S status um but I was pretty upset because I um just started getting, I was upset my friend, going 36:00over and shooting people and getting killed, and uh you know, I found out what was going on over there because I had uncles and company in Neenah area...

KMS: Mhm.

MF: And well I was to entertain people, customers, wine and dine them and sign contracts and stuff. And some of them were with petroleum companies and some of them were uh, had some financial interest in Southeast Asia so then the same rhetoric was common that we heard about Saudi Arabia and some were saying that we were just over there to get the oil in the early 90s when the Iraqi thing started well it started before then, but that's where the war, Operation Desert Storm, it was called.

KMS: Mhm.

37:00

MF: It started...but okay people...my uncle told me that weren't really I overheard my uncle and my dad talking on night...

KMS: Mhm.

MF: About this Vietnam stuff, 'cause I was starting to see it was just like petty back page news but in a few years it escalated to the main topic, main news at nightly and it was in every new paper, every night. So because of the trauma of having my friend die and finding out about my friend all of the African American men who were deny access to financial aid because they were black by some racist. I was furious. I was sick. I was mad. I-I-I had a bad taste in my mouth. I was sad crying, I mean I was just a mess, probably a combination of all those things, you know at once.

38:00

KMS: Mhm.

MF: So...On Wednesday I had a night class and I cut through union. And I see like 20 or 30 African American students, men and women. I thought, "What's up with this? This doesn't even happen during the day." And I had a statistics class and this was statistically uh...unlikely or improbable, this isn't happening. Well one guy says, "Hey Mike, you better get out of we're gonna take the union over, we're having a peaceful sit down and we're not gonna let them lock the doors. 'Cause the African American men weren't getting financial aid and the word was out, there's no classes, there's no place to hang out, we're gonna be peaceful about it." So I said, "Okay thanks for the tip. I got to get 39:00out the door."

I got outside in the cold, I went to my car, went home, came back the next day, had a class Clow for a couple of hours. I came out, it had hit the fan, there were 96Iwell there were more than that, not everyone had got arrested. Hundred or so people went to the president's, there was a president, we didn't call it a chancellor .Went to his office in Dempsey there marching down the hall, wall to wall, many people deep and the secretary looked out the window and said "Wow" and they're all headed towards her office and she says, "That back door looks pretty inviting". She headed out the door, then they came the door, opened and they knocked. Ding. Ding. Ding. They rang the bell, someone got mad, because they were being ignored. A file cabinet got knocked over and the next thing, the 40:00police are here and by the time I got out of my Clow, uh I got out of class in the early afternoon. I looking across the street at Dempsey just 50 yards away and here's a big U-Haul truck, a big one, twice as big as this room. And riot squad police with helmets and shields and clubs forcing... all the African American students who were in Dempsey into that truck, was. I had never, I mean they weren't like wrapping them in the head was the clubs or maybe encouraging them. "Get in there, get in there". They took them all down town to the court house and arrested everyone and threw them all in jail. They were guilty 'til proven innocent. For what? They had to come finally up with charges later.

41:00

Two professors here...on campus... Virginia...sorry can't remember her name. She was in the History Department, she donated a lot of books here to the library. It'll come back. Anyway, uh and Dr. Virginia...Virginia... Dr. Virginia Crane and Dr. Bruce Black, a psychologist, professor, psychology professor, they went to Shopko out on 9th road, still there, and bought a hundred toothbrush and hundred toothpaste and they took them down to the jail. And gave them to the 42:00police offices, they said "give everyone a tooth brush!" They were locked in jail, you know, they didn't have anything.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Except what was on them. And, and they were all arrested and processed one at time.

KMS: And this was, um, a lot of your friends were...involved you said?

MF: Well but, 10-15 that I knew maybe 5 close. 10-15, by hanging around the jukebox listening to good music. The juke box played loud it was it was out of the way it the big union or whatever and people used to sit around and drink coffee and hang out between classes. SO yeah. I probably knew, you know, a bunch of dozen. I could go over by that board on the wall that has all their names and probably go down there and, and name, you know, probably at least 10 that I know.

43:00

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Personally. So um, when they came and when they got out, somehow, parents sent up money or whatever, and they went back to Gruenhagen, where most of them lived and they were locked out of their rooms. So there were a lot. It was Black Thursday, we were on NBC news that night. They flew in TV crews and Oshkosh, Wisconsin was on national news forever for Black, Black Thursday. Because of the more than subtle discrimination that was going on, on campus. This is significant, event in history of this university. Um we've come a long way. Still got long ways to go. Um but it, its increasing more diverse, there are 44:00conscious efforts on the part of administration including the Chancellor , to increasingly diversify our campus and make things better. But, you know, look at all the stuff that's going on around the country, you know, that doesn't happen.

KMS: Yeah. So how was the campus right after, everything happened? So the next day you woke, you went to class...what was the atmosphere like?

MF: ...Oh chaos. Also, well, um...people stunned, professors who backed the students were arrested. Were, um, I don't know what the word is, they weren't fired but the administration took a stance they called in federal, state 45:00authorities, they had to send in the state administration. People were caught by surprise, there was probably embarrassment on the part of the university to think that the consequence of racism probably caused many unnecessary deaths. 'Cause if it wouldn't been for those people, someone else would have died. Well you know that. But the point is I felt personally hurt, you know and so did a lot of other people. There were a lot of, um, there were a lot of Caucasians involved in what happened in Dempsey, however I don't any were arrested. So it was uh, it was uh not a happy day. So we don't celebrate it. We still 46:00commemorate it.

KMS: Uhuh.

MF: The 50th year will be coming up in a few years.

KMS: Okay.

MF: It's gonna be a big...deal.

KMS: I'm sure.

MF: It was a significant part of my life... that event, that one day. Um, some student came back, some went to other colleges. Some graduated from here. Some are on the Board of Directors, there's a satellite campus in Milwaukee for recruiting students and helping them, uh you know, make decisions to come here, if they're interested because we have a woman, who was a student here and I know. She and her husband were both students here. Uh, he's a very big, uh business man, he still comes to campus we engages, uh professionalism with a lot 47:00of, um with workshops and stuff that he gets here. But she has an office in Milwaukee that has all the stuff about recruiting and admissions and applications. Not that they can still sign up too be students here that like to come up to Oshkosh.

KMS: Okay. Uh, also, I know you told me that you were a part of a fraternity?

MF: Yeah.

KMS: Can you tell me a little bit about that.

MF: Okay, Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity. It was um, social fraternity, uh, uh... there were different, different, you know cliques, so to speak, there was a fraternity that uh made it mandatory to wear a white shirt, v-neck sweater every day.

KMS: Did you do that too?

MF: No, that was not our fraternity.

KMS: Oh.

MF: There was an athletic fraternity that demanded that everyone have short hair and you know, it was kinda at the point in time where people started growing long hair. Um, somewhere between, high school, and, and, college, the first few 48:00years of college, the summer of love was as it, is called 1968. People started smoking pot in San Francisco. And it spread to the, from the coast, from that coast...although I'm sure there was plenty on the east coast. But it, it took a while to spread to the mid-west. Otherwise, there was, there was no around before that. I think I first saw it appear uh, in the mid-60s, like 67.

KMS: So um...was there any of that going on, on campus? That you know of...

MF: Oh yeah. Lots of people used to smoke joints on their way to class.

KMS: Oh?

MF: Because, nobody knew what it was. I mean very few people do. What's that 49:00smell? It's somebody smoking a joint, or something. People smoked in the bars. 'Course the bars there would be a back corner. The bands were playing loud and the bar there were bar codes. But some of the bars were really big and they had big bands from Milwaukee mostly, great blues bands. Harmonica.

KMS: Oh wow.

MF: Jazz...saxophone not as much, jazz. Mostly Chicago style blues, which is its own, um, genre of music. But it was big.

KMS: So bars were a big thing?

MF: There were 13 beer bars. At that time you could drink beers at age 18. The rationale, accepted by the state legislator said, "Hey if you go dodge bullets in Vietnam then when you're 18 you should go someplace and have a beer. If you're gonna risk your life, well if you're not risking your life behind the 50:00wheel, drinking--" But Milwaukee is a big influence on that,

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Because it was the beer industry and the lobbyist, who lobby state legislators, and that's when Wisconsin was still considered a big alcohol state.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: And the per capita consumption, usually right up near the top. Um there was another protest in 1967, spring, I think. Someone wanted to pass a law saying lets raise that age for drinking to 19 or 21 or whatever.

KMS: Uhuh.

MF: Because too many people were dying on the road from alcohol related deaths. It still is an issue.

51:00

KMS: Yeah.

MF: But there happened to be a group of people that stared on the south side of Main Street. And they went into the bar and said "Let's let they state legislature know how we feel! Let' start a march down main street." And Oshkosh had a lot of bars, still does. But at that time there were a lot of bars that still served beer. And that so their goal was obviously to cater the college students and they're all jam packed, all year round, including the winter. They had fire codes so they if they could have 200 people in there then that was it. If it was 200 people in there they'd close the door and it's be a guy buy the door, two people left and two can come in. They had to follow the fire code. And sometimes the blocks were and these lines were around the block in some bars. The ones near campus, 'cause there were that many people. There were thousands more students who were all boomers who were in college.

52:00

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Because you know it started to get to be, you know, be a time, you know where there was time for work. When you had to get your college degree. I'm not saying it was a factor, many, for men but hey if I'm not in college them I'm gonna go to Vietnam. So these people went down Main Street and they went into every bar and told the owners, "we're going out on a little march and the owners didn't want trouble and so they turned the lights on and kicked everyone out. By the time they got to north Main Street, where I was with some friends.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Playing pool it was about 9 or 10 on a Friday night. Lights started going off and I though hey isn't it a little early to close so what's up. We haven't been here this long. They said 'everybody out. I got out and I looked at Main 53:00Street and curb to curb. Um in about a half a block long, solid people lead by one car with a guy sitting on the hood. His girlfriend was driving it and went all the way out Main Street all the way up highway 41. And then when there got to be just a little space between cars coming on 41, like you know a quarter mile or half mile, or whatever. Um a line of students went right across highway 40, on the north bound lane.

KMS: Oh wow.

MF: And so the cars with their headlights on could see, uh oh, there's people on the road. What's up? So they put on the breaks, slowed down the people behind them slowed down and we ran up to them. Pretty soon to know the highway was full of many people the cars were backed up almost to Fond a Lac which is south of Oshkosh, way, way south. Before the state police, and realized, and c-c-came 54:00here 'cause they didn't have... they had placed radio, I'm sure. But they're cruising around and that wasn't gonna be happening. It wasn't advertised.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: There weren't cell phones but they had police phones, police radio. But it caught everyone by surprise. So to hear um, traffic was backed up for miles and miles and miles and miles. Just like you see at the packer game.

KMS: Yeah.

MF: So anyway the point is, instead of, that sent a message that law never went through. One person was arrested because he was smoking a joint.

KMS: Yeah-- Well, uh we're almost out of time.

MF: Mhm

KMS: But I do have just a couple more questions.

MF: Okay

KMS: Um-- So it is the summer of 1971 and this around the time you graduated right?

55:00

MF: It was yes.

KMS: So then what was the move afterwards? What were your plans now that you graduated college?

MF: Okay so I went to 69, when I stayed out of school, worked a foundry sledge hammer, got drafted. I mean, I would've been drafted. I changed to 1A, Richard Mill house Nixon, who died a few year ago, was the president. Um he had a lottery same way they have winning lotteries. Have all 365 days a year by month and day in a big drum and he spun it around and he pulled out. And he said okay "if your birthday is on June 15th you might as well get packing, if you're 18, 56:00you're going to Vietnam war. They went through all 365 days. Um until they got to 100 and they still hadn't called my birthday. I go wow 'cause they would have to draft all he 18,19,20,21 year olds. Cause I was just 22. I didn't really want to go I wasn't done with school and, you know, if I would've been drafted, went to Vietnam fought. But kinda was in school. I was back in school I kinds just sitting out and that's I got changed from 2S to1A, eligible. Then they got 200 hadn't called my name, then they got to 300. And they got to my birth date I mean. They called 364, then 365, sigh of relief. Um staying out of school did me some good, my GPA went up or one semester it was like a 3.8. I did-I did I 57:00finished out strong.

Graduated. Uh there weren't many jobs because the price tag for a boats and tanks and boats and ships and planes, and jeeps for Vietnam. Came back to the United States and the federal government said well hiring... well I had a job set up in Winnebago as at a health institute because I know the director. I saw on January he said, yeah just finish the semester, when you graduate come on up, we can start out here, a bachelor's degree for psychology, cleaning bed pans in the psych ward. I don't know, whatever. But um In April the hiring freeze came out on the federal level which happened recently in this country. I mean in this 58:00decade or whatever. So the hiring freeze on the people level, when people died moved with they just didn't refill those positions SO they didn't fire people or file vacancies. That trickled down to the state level. So in March or April...so by the time I graduated they called the director of the Winnebago health institute, he's still alive, I Fond du Lac. He directs a mental health facility there. He said, "Sorry Mike, can't hire you." So I remember one spring break because I always worked if I worked a day, a weekend I can get a whole weekend and work, study. So I thought when I go on spring break, I'm gonna go on spring break out of town .So after I graduate I had jobs making bar pizzas at Shakey's. Stocking food in a grocery store. But there weren't any professional 59:00jobs... because of the hiring freeze, primarily, that's what I was trade for. Um so I moved to Tucson, Arizona...'cause I thought I'd be nice to get away from the snow its cold. I don't need to be here right now. I'll come back. I lived there for about a decade. Lived in Colorado in the Rockys, west Denver for a while...Spent a year in Vermont because um the state of Arizona even though their state department advertises over 300 and sun shine. They weren't doing any anything with the solar energy. I mean all that sunshine. It was a gas crises like we had in recent year maybe not right now but um they could have tapped all that solar energy because they weren't doing anything about it so I said I'll go someplace where they might do something about it. So I went to Vermont there was 60:00an alternative energy there. I worked in the wind generator industry the one that turns windmills like the ones in Milwaukee from between here and there.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: They wasn't that big though they could fit on this desk. They were for like, instead of being for the community it went for one home. You may had to throw away your electric potatoes peeler. So you can conserve electric energy but these could supply the energy for a home. So I lived in Vermont, I came back here for graduate school...and uh and I didn't plan on that it just happened. I was close to my grandmother and she was getting like, fading away.

KMS: Oh.

MF: So then, when I left from Tuscan I had a fiat motorcycle and you know a lot of stuff, jus stuff and I just cruised back here and spent some time with my 61:00grandmother. Then I got a job at the Payne Arts Center. Then the city offered me a job at the museum, right across the street at the end of these blocks here.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: And then I went to a technical college in Appleton. And...someone needed help in math, she said will you show me how to do this. Well I'll try. And I showed her how I did this exercise. She says oh you should be a math teacher. So oh yeah I was gonna do that once. I forgot about that. So I completed an associate's degree there and came back here for certification and graduate school. And as of now I've been a math tutor for about 27 or 8 years. And 62:00director of the Multicultural Education Center for 10 or 15 when we had that job.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: We decided the money would be better used rather than be a director, uh to switch me over to tutor for full time. Because I had two half time jobs. Because there were so many people who needs help in math.

KMS: Yeah.

MF: And it's just a fact of life. So uh the director thing went away and I just went into full time math.

KMS: Okay.

MF: And here we are today.

KMS: Here we are.

MF: So I hope I gave you a good picture of what really happened when I was here in school in the mid to late 60s early 70s 'cause that was kinda, pretty representative of everything that was going on around the country.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: So it's kind of a bit of a history, except Black Thursday didn't happen everywhere.

KMS: Yeah. Yes this was very, very um helpful and I do want to thank you. Um But is there anything else you want to say before we're done?

63:00

MF: I don't know did you have any more questions. I know I was just babbling a lot about what happened.

KMS: Oh no.

MF: I just, you know, I tried to say something important about the history of this university. And this home here at the Multicultural Educational Center, uh this whole street was full of homes like this one.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Oh and all the way down where the Scott Hall was even, however because of increased enrollment, at the peak the demographic of the boomers. We needed housing for them so the first one on campus was Gruenhagen, where I lived and then the boom kept coming or more students and Scott Hall built and then they needed parking lots so they took a lot of homes that were classrooms, professor's offices, all along her, between here and the commons.

64:00

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Wasn't here either and when they leveled those houses and it made a lot of people, citizens of Oshkosh very angry. Because these are historical, old homes.

KMS: Yeah.

MF: This one was preserved fortunately.

KMS: That's good.

MF: What happened is a peace offering, I'm sorry, and I wasn't here when that happened. I was living in Arizona but they government thought well maybe we should have a place where more like a cultural center, a multicultural center. And the first one was on Elmwood. And then eventually the people who lived here, there were two professors, uh the lady still volunteered and worked on campus in the 90s. Until a few years ago when she died, she and her husband lived here, raised a family here. They're very open to different cultural awareness or expansion of what's going on they had people exchange people for other 65:00countries, Spain, Europe. They lived here. This was also a classroom for a while.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Or um used for offices or for classes. And I um tried to encourage professor to have a one shot deal of a class here or in the library. And it still does happen occasionally. But eventually this Multicultural educational center in the 80s was gifted to primarily the Black Student Union.

KMS: Mhm.

MF: Um which was the first multicultural group on campus as we might guess and has actually formed as the result of things prior to Black Thursday. Those people I met in the Union who said hey we're gonna have a sit down strike. They actually meet in the Newman center, that catholic youth center which is now the Campus Center for Equity and Diversity. Where my regular office is and they met 66:00there that night and that's when they decided there that they wanted to have peaceful demonstration. So they went over to the Union but it didn't materialize so then next day is when it hit the fan in Dempsey. But eventually this building was given to the student s ad a cultural center. And it will increase in usage in activities in the coming uh semesters, those... there were a lot of plan in place to have more going on here. It's just a place to come and kick back, its open until 8 o'clock.

KMS: Yeah.

MF: Every night, except Friday's it's closed. SO it a library there, peaceful place to hang out and study especially when it cold, you don't want to walk back to your, you don't want to go to your apartment or res hall. You can come her and study you can even order pizza and have it delivered here. So this a cool 67:00place to kind of hang.

KMS: Okay.

MF: There's computers upstairs, there a big TV in the middle room.

KMS: Oh that's nice.

MF: So I don't know if I answered your questions.

KMS: Yeah you answered all of them. I thank you again.

MF: My pleasure.

KMS: I appreciate this.

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