Interview with Paul Westrick, 04/26/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Megan Olsen, Interviewer | uwocs_Paul_Westrick_04262017_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


Megan Olson: Okay, it's Wednesday April 26th 2017, it's 12:00pm at the UW Oshkosh Alumni center. I'm Megan Olson here with Paul Westrick.

Paul Westrick: Yes

MO: To conduct an interview for the campus stories oral history project, we will be conducting this interview for sixty minutes is that okay?

PW: Yes

MO: Paul attended UW Oshkosh from 1970 to 1974. We'll start off with some background. So, Paul what can you tell me about where you grew up?

PW: So, I'm kind of from the baby boom generation, was born in 1952, had two sisters and one brother, parents, so kind of the standard nuclear family of four. My dad worked for the phone company and kind of, so I'm kind of a phone company brat. He got promoted and transferred about every two years so, from my early years until I left home to come here, we moved around always in Wisconsin, 1:00but moved around Wisconsin so I…

MO: What would you call home?

PW: That's the funniest thing is probably Menomonie falls where I graduated high school. So, I spent three years there, graduated high school and so that probably if I look back, but started in Whitewater, Wisconsin and we moved, well lived in Darlington … and Beloit, Sun Prairie a suburb of Madison then Menominee Falls. I came up here my folks moved to Janesville after that and then superior and then my dad finally retired, but so it was…

MO: Did he retire in Janesville?

PW: Yes, but anyways I lived in everything from a Milwaukee suburb to Darlington which is a farm town of two thousand people. We moved in and were like aliens, you know people just didn't move in, so it was kind of an experience. So yeah I grew up you know with, sort of look at the boomer generation, little bit larger 2:00families than today. Probably unusual in our mobility. I remember coming here and meeting people who had grown up in the same house, have lived in the same town, and it was like a foreign concept to me. Born and raised in Wisconsin.

MO: Okay, so you said Menominee Falls, can you tell me about the community? What was it like living there?

PW: The Falls was a suburban Milwaukee and this would have been in the mid to late 60's. Graduated high school in 1970 and so the Milwaukee suburbs were really booming, growing fast. I went to a high school that was 2200 kids. The population of Darlington, that was my high school that I walked into. My senior year they built a new high school and split because there was so much growth, it 3:00was just too big. It was suburban life, a lot of my growing up years were in small towns and suburbs.

MO: That describes my next question of, could you describe your neighborhood that you grew up in, what type of work people did, what it was like, you said suburban.

PW: It was very different depending on which city I was in. In Whitewater starting out, Darlington were smaller towns, and literally were everyone knew everyone or was related to everyone. Menominee Falls and Sun Prairie was suburban Madison they were like small towns, but where you're in a suburb there's a lot of people that work someplace else. They lived, it's like a bedroom community, both Sun Prairie and Menominee falls. Usually it was the dad, my dad was a career person, my mom was a stay at home mom with four kids, now 4:00that was just sort of typical of the times. So, everybody in the neighborhood was the same way, and there were a lot of kids in the neighborhood. Since then you can live in a neighborhood where there's retired couples and young working couples without kids. In my day if you are living in a family neighborhood it was swarming with kids, it was, every house had three, four, five, six, kids. You'd play, it was safer then, I mean just think of us running around town.

MO: Especially outside of big cities.

PW: Yeah, playing games in neighborhoods and stuff like that, hide and seek, and kick the can and all this stuff. I look back at that and take it for granted but now that neighborhoods are more diversified, people are living in big lots and stuff, there probably isn't the same sense of community as what I grew up with. 5:00But it changed, every couple of years my dad would come home and say "hey guess what kids were moving to wherever". I would start over again.

MO: Was that okay?

PW: It really was I have friend who debated about taking promotions and transferring and stuff like that and I always say it is an opportunity to learn how to adapt to change. There's something to being, I got these images of the first day of school your standing at the front, the teacher calls you up to the front and says "class we have new student". You know nobody and so I developed skills about, if I'm going to get to know people I've got to be outgoing and stuff like that. So prepared later on in life, unless you stay in the same place, you're always going to be exposing yourself to new situations and how to deal with it.


MO: And especially the same types of people, your always stuck with them where is you moved around so you got to experience different cultures and stuff.

PW: Found those commonalities across people and location. It was always in Wisconsin it wasn't like you hear about army kids that are in Japan for two years and then off in different places.

MO: Or moving state to state.

PW: The culture in Wisconsin has a lot in common but it was overall a real positive experience.

MO: Could you then describe your current neighborhood in Middleton?

PW: So, I live, retired four years ago, and my wife and I moved back from the Milwaukee area to Middleton, which is a suburb of Madison. Really a cool town. We're in a condo so we're on the north-west edge of town next to a nature conservancy.

MO: Close enough to the city.

PW: It is, I was in Mekwan for 23 years I worked in downtown Milwaukee and drove thirty or thirty-five minutes each way. Madison, I can get to the square in 7:00fifteen minutes, there's a lot of bicycle paths, I bike a lot. It's a nice set up.

MO: Okay, talking about your parents you said your dad worked for the phone company and your mom stayed at home, did your dad go to college?

PW: They were both from whitewater, and my grandparents and the roots of my family is really in Whitewater, Wisconsin. My dad was a farm kid and so he was working hard as a kid growing up, he was drafted into the last year of World War two. There was no combat, he was in the merchant marines, but he got done with that and came back. Whitewater was a state teacher's college at the time, the university system hadn't quite formed like we know it today. Oshkosh was a normal school. So his idea was to become a teacher, and so he enrolled in 8:00college and still worked nights and stuff like that at another job. Got married, my sister is two years older than me, I think he got through his first semester and realized his salary as a teacher would've been a lot less then his part time job with the phone company. He quit school and stated working.

MO: Teachers don't make that much.

PW: even back then if you could imagine what it was and he was going to have a family and a home and stuff like that, so it was really all about the money that he could make and he literally started climbing telephone poles. He was a laborer with the phone company.

MO: So, did he attend school for just a year or two?

PW: I'd say less, I should find out, fortunately they're both still alive, just turned ninety and eighty-nine. Are living in independent apartments but part of 9:00a long-term care place. Doing relatively well. So, I don't know whether he made it through a semester, I know for sure it was a maximum of a year. But it was right down to, how much could I make doing A versus B. It wasn't like he had aspirations to be a teacher or anything like that it just seemed like the better thing to do.

MO: He just wanted to support his family.

PW: And I think he knew he didn't want to work on a farm, after growing up on a farm. That he didn't want to do that for the rest of his life and so that got him into his career path.

MO: Growing up did your parents emphasize education on you?

PW: They did although, things have changed so much, again my generation, the baby boom generation, I think you look at, my parents' generation Tom [Brokow?] 10:00tabbed it the greatest generation. So you had this generation that was part of fighting in World War two and all this other stuff and then after the war there was this tremendous growth. Eisenhower was president and the economy was growing and all these people started having kids, hence the baby boom.

MO: That's what got college's going.

PW: It did. I think you see where college was more of a rarity, my generation was probably the first where it was a realistic aspiration. And your parents really wanted you to have a better life and that really meant getting a college degree.

MO: Because now days it's the norm to go to school, was it the norm then?

PW: It really wasn't, so I went, I came out of Menominee Falls high school so it was sort of back in 1970 it probably depended what town you were in. If you were 11:00in a small town, I'm not sure back in 1970 in Monroe if even half the kids went to college.

MO: Probably not because we don't have colleges close to us, closest would be Madison.

PW: Or Platteville. But it was more, what track were your parents on. If you were in like suburban Milwaukee it was probably because your parents were working in a professional job. My dad didn't get there from his education he worked his way up, that doesn't happen anymore.

MO: Yeah got to have degrees.

PW: He ended up in upper levels of management in the phone company by the time he retired, and right now for him to do what he had done you would've need a MBA (Masters of Business Administration) you need to do that stuff.

MO: You need degrees for everything.

PW: Things change, but at least most parents who, who were kind of on a upwardly mobile track wanted their kids to better than them and again college education 12:00is clearly the way to do that.

MO: So your parents just wanted you to do better.

PW: Yeah and I was smarter than average, I got mostly A's when I was going to school. My sister was a year and a half older than me, the same thing, she was a wiz, so I kind of followed, wanted to follow in her footsteps, and so early on it wasn't like I never, it wasn't a conscious decision for me it was just the thing that I was clearly going to do. I do in, I was thinking about this based on your question, I think it was eighth grade we had an English teacher who made us write a paper. She was smart enough to use a practical topic to research a career "what do you want to be when you grow up?" So, think about what you want to be, you're doing this in eighth grade and so I for some reason thought I wanted to be an attorney so I went, and you do research and all this stuff. I found out you had to do a lot of English, writing, and publics, I was terrified 13:00of public speaking. Like everyone is I didn't realize I just thought it was me. So, I thought there's not way, what else can I do. Then medicine was attractive so I had, when I was young, when I was three I was in the hospital for like 5 weeks with pneumonia. So I had had a badly broken leg, I got pushed off a ladder, so I spent age three and four a fair amount of time in and out of hospitals, so I think to some extent that had me, that imprinted in me a little.

MO: That influenced you.

PW: Yeah so I thought, what do I want to be when I grow up. It was a doctor and so clearly I started paying attention in high school to what I was studying and, I was probably unusual coming here as an eighteen-year-old kid and I had a declared pre-med, was my declared major, I took psych (psychology). It's like a double major you were talking about being a PA (physician's assistant) you get like a minor in chemistry and a minor in biology you've got a lot of 14:00requirements to be able to get in, to apply to medical school.

MO: There is even requirements for you major too.

PW: And then you need a declared major cause there really isn't a major it's like a side by side thing so I was a psych major. But I knew that coming in day one a lot of kids that I encountered by, even as sophomores they weren't sure what they wanted to do and haven't declared a major.

MO: So, in your high school did the people you grew up around did they typically go off to college or was it kind of odd for you?

PW: Well, it was more the norm and in fact it, so there's a question later on how did you end up here, and I'll get to that in a minute but I ended up on fifth floor Gruenhagen and it was totally coincidental, my roommate was a high school friend but there were probably ten or twelve kids from Menominee Falls 15:00that ended up on the same dorm floor. I don't remember us saying hey.

MO: The same floor?

PW: Yeah, I don't know if they assign people that way or if it was just random luck. There were a lot of kids from the falls here. It was close so you just come up 41.

MO: So, most people went.

PW: You know rather than going to Lacrosse or Platteville I think it was a proximity thing. But, so I would say probably three quarters of my high school class mates had aspirations to do college.

MO: Okay, that's good. So, you said in eighth grade that's when you began really thinking about college, so that was the turning point then? Or had you thought about it before then?

PW: Again, my first thought it was this assignment I can just distinctly, I can picture the classroom, I can picture Mrs. Simpson. You know these things stick with you and it was do this assignment, and so there was like a counseling office like, and so they had pamphlets on careers and I just remember like you'd 16:00go through and pull this little pamphlet. So, you want to be a lawyer, and it would talk about what does a lawyer do, but then it talked about, so here is what you need to do for schooling, and it was college and of course law school, but I just remember, yeah that would be cool. Maybe it was from watching Perry Mason, there were these some shows like that.

MO: Some legal shows.

PW: But when I found out what I would have to study and do, it was like, nope. Rule that out. And again, that's when the craziest things happen, but that's when seriously thinking about med (medicine) school.

MO: So, what interest you about college or med school? I know you said that you were in the hospital a lot, so?

PW: Yeah, Well you don't know. You imagine what college is going to be like, but you don't know until you get there. I mean I just, I like school, I always did well in school. So it was not a big deal for me like I wasn't afraid of studying 17:00or afraid oh, I mean you know you're going to the next level but I remember not being intimidated by it at all.

MO: That good, okay so like going to college for you, you weren't afraid of moving away from your family, being on your own?

PW: Nope it was logic, I had been in one place for three years, it was like I was a year overdue to move.

MO: Okay, because most are squeamish and stuff coming to a new school, but you were pretty used to that just moving around a lot and, was it good for you that you knew people and your roommate was from your hometown?

PW: That did help, like I say I obviously, I picked some comfort. So, there is a question "how did I end up here" So 1969 was a very explosive year in the American culture. So, you had the Vietnamese war going on, there was a lot of internal controversy, it's hard to imagine I mean every night on the news 18:00instead of goofy politicians you had war coverage and it was, it just seemed like there wasn't a news cast that didn't show a plane landing with coffins coming off of it. Correspondents in Vietnam with gunfire going over their heads. I mean it was a big war, it involved a lot of young guys were drawn in.

MO: I saw in the archive that there were lots of protests on campus to bring the troops home, did you ever seen any of those, were you involved in them?

PW: I did, so I participated.

MO: You participated? Okay.

PW: I mean, so your growing up and I'm trying to think of a time but probably when I was fourteen or fifteen started, I mean you can't miss it. It's just, you don't have the saturation, there were three network television stations there wasn't cable, there wasn't twenty-four-seven news. But when you had these news anchors that were very credible people reporting on this war and the controversy 19:00over the war is very controversial. And you had my generation, the baby boom generation, the counter culture, people were hippies, and they were rejecting established life and nobody admitted to wanting to be a CEO or go to business school or anything like that.

MO: Were the protests pretty peaceful protests?

PW: Well they were and the turning point was my senior year in high school, would have been the fall of 69 and the spring of 1970.

MO: Okay.

PW: What happened was Kent State you know the spring of 1970 so you think of nice weather and stuff like that so kids are out protesting, and if the protests got out of hand I mean obviously, there was an overreaction. You've got kids protesting and you send in national guard's men.

MO: Yeah.

PW: who are eighteen, nineteen, twenty-year-old kids who are improperly trained and there are some skirmishes and the reaction is to shoot.


MO: Yeah.

PW: You know and that's, think of a campus like think of being down the street with a bunch of kids carrying signs and stuff like that, and the next thing you know four of them are laying dead on the ground. Well it was, that was like a powder kick that made things even …

MO: Worse.

PW: Even worse. So, much more aggressive protests.

MO: So, was it here though pretty peaceful?

PW: It was here.

MO: Okay. But it was peaceful here?

PW: I wasn't here yet. My guess is that there was probably when you get crowd mentality you had kids probably getting angry and you'd have the police show up and this typical thing and then they might start throwing tear gas. I mean it definitely happened in Madison and what got me here was the spring in 1970 in Madison was things really peaked and they took over Bascom hall and you do sit 21:00ins and the basically were trying to obstruct the operation of the university recruiters so, there were protests because the military was trying to come in and draft guys there were companies like [Dow] Chemical that made napalm and stuff that was killing people you'd have recruiters coming in and that was just an invitation for people to do that.

MO: And that's why they had draft counseling and stuff?

PW: Yeah, so, at any rate, my wife is a year older than me and was in Madison at the time and so imagine the entire spring your walking through tear gas to get to classes, classes got cancelled.

MO: Yeah.

PW: There was a question if they were actually going to finish the semester, or have to cancel the semester. So, I was enrolled an accepted to go to Madison and it was like "wait a minute" I'm not even sure if it keeps up at this pace will they even open in the fall.

MO: True.

PW: And so, I thought "you know what" I also applied here, my sister was here, 22:00friends were coming here and at some point, in the spring of late spring when I had to make an acceptance I decided to come here and I thought well ill see what happens in Madison and maybe transfer, and I never transferred. What happened that summer then is, these two or three locals blew up sterling hall, so there is a math building on campus and there was defense department funded research and these guys, these radicals decided to make a statement and built a fertilizer bomb and at two or three in the morning blew up a building they thought was empty. Turns out there was a grad (graduate) student that got killed. But that act really killed the protest movement.

MO: Yeah, because I saw that in April, 1970, when you would've been here there 23:00was still the protests going on for a while.

PW: April, 70 I was, I graduated May of 70 high school.

MO: Oh, high school, you started in the fall.

PW: Started here in September of 70.

MO: Okay so you just missed them.

PW: Just missed it, but again it was a question whether if things kept at the pace it was in 69 and 70, it was a question whether universities were even going to open.

MO: So much.

PW: Because you had a concentration of kids who were engaged and smarter and like Kent state was really bad thing, this bombing at sterling hall, people started questioning what's, what are we doing and what's proper. So, things did fortunately settle down. But there still were, I remember there were marches that were organized here, and the war I think ended in 73 I can remember Nixon and others had signed this peace accord, and there were kids running around the 24:00quad here celebrating.

MO: Running around, that's awesome.

PW: Because the war was over, but you know I was lucky so the other thing is college was a way to get out of the draft.

MO: Yup, I was going to ask you about that.

PW: Okay so Donald Trump's a great example of that. I was on that path to get a deferment.

MO: Did you ever get actually drafted?

PW: Well, so fortunately or unfortunately by the time I was a senior in high school the lottery system came in. So, your literal, it's hard to believe but your fate was dependent on your birthdate and how that got picked out of a barrel or whatever. And so my graduation, my last semester in high school was taken up by applying to college and deciding where I wanted to go to college, but it also was like it was sometime that summer after I graduated high school and was planning on being here (UW Oshkosh) if my number had come up different I 25:00would've been on a bus to boot camp and on my way to Vietnam.

MO: Yup.

PW: I know people who've died there, who were scared there. But for literally the luck of the draw of a number. So, you've got 365 days in a year and they go through this process of pulling numbers, and the first number, if it had been August 12th, I mean anything under a hundred you basically got notified and got called up and went to war. If you were a hundred to two-hundred it kind of depended what was going to happen with the escalation of the war and how many troops the needed. I drew like a 320.

MO: Oh.

PW: And I remember we all went out and got drunk the night before, and I remember, so I'm, it was like something they did in the morning I woke up to my mother screaming and I thought "this is either really good or really bad" she's 26:00screaming because her son's going to Vietnam, but I think it was like a 320.

MO: So, she was screaming because she was happy.

PW: I was like okay mom let me go back to sleep now. But I mean that …

MO: It's very different.

PW: There's just something with age comes wisdom and one of the things you understand is how fragile life is, how things, you either make decisions or things happen around you that could push your life in a different, in a totally different direction, and for young men at this point in time, you know this business about prior to the draft system, the lottery system it was if you are in college … it became a very class driven thing.

MO: That's why a lot of people attended.

PW: So you went to college because you were probably white and middle class or upper middle class.

MO: I was going to ask you about that actually …

PW: It was a very classist, racist way to encrypt people into the military if 27:00you had connections, like Donald Trump, you could get a doctor to write an excuse for you whether you needed it or not.

MO: I was going to …

PW: There were conscientious objectors who could go that route which was rigorous that didn't make it easy for that to happen. There were people, I was ready to go to Canada.

MO: Okay.

PW: By that point, I didn't believe in the war.

MO: Yeah.

PW: You look back it was ridiculous, I mean your there, I mean I'm against the war in the middle east, I can see the economic reason around oil but there was nothing in Vietnam but it was this theoretical thing of, we've got to stop communism. And if a domino effect if Korea fell or if Vietnam fell then the world would be overtaken by communism, it was ridiculous the French got stuck in that and were smart enough to get out. We went in after them and were stuck in it and you know I didn't follow the politics enough to understand, why did 28:00congress pass a law to change the draft, but probably it was a recognition of the inequity of the draft system and so they said "you know what it doesn't matter whether you rich or poor, black or white, or whatever, it just depends on your birthday, your birthday is going to decide whether you go to war or not.

MO: Yeah I was going to ask you about the racial make-up of UWO (University of Wisconsin Oshkosh) when you went to school here and also gender if there were many women then?

PW: So, I would have to believe I was in a more enlightened age, I think it was close to 50/50.

MO: Okay.

PW: Now what women and men majored in I think were very different.

MO: Different.

PW: So, I was pre-med, a lot of pre-med were guys. Nursing was I think if women, oh so my wife, my wife, I'm reasonably smart, my wife's smarter than me. She was a med-tech (medical technician) he dad was very traditional. He was sending her 29:00to college to meet a guy and get married, meet some guy who's going to get a college degree and be wealthy and marry him and be a stay at home mom, well that's not my wife. But yet she felt she easily could've gotten into medical school she just, there weren't enough role models.

MO: Yeah.

PW: Also, women in the medical field were more med-tech and nursing, I had classmates who were in pre-med but it was probably 3:1 guys to women.

MO: Okay.

PW: Campus wide you could probably look at pictures, yearbooks and stuff like that.

MO: Is that a yearbook?

PW: Yeah this is the 72 Advanced Titan.

MO: Oh, my goodness. They don't even do that now!

PW: For some reason, I didn't get one my graduating year, I bought one when I was a sophomore, I didn't get one when I graduated. But, so it was, I think it was the same thing. I think it was moms and dads that had spawned the baby boom, and they were pushing their sons and daughters to go to college kind of on an 30:00equal basis, but again you might have had more teachers, more women going into more traditional female occupations. My guess is the business school or early days of computer science and stuff like that was almost all guys.

MO: Nursing, yeah.

PW: Nut for me in the sciences and things I was doing, psychology, and stuff like that it was pretty 50/50.

MO: Okay, so what do you remember about your first weeks at school and like classes, how they were structured, what they were like?

PW: So, I remember these things come to my mind, but my mom drove me and a high school, it wasn't my roommate, but it was another high school friend who also was coming up here. She droves us up her for the day or two before classes started, dropped us off at Gruenhagen and this was not even a station wagon I think it was like a sedan car, Mike and I had everything we needed supposedly 31:00fit in a car, not a, you didn't have minivans then, we didn't have a moving van. It was, and half of it was probably my stereo system. I'm trying to think, what the heck.

MO: Was Mike your roommate then?

PW: No, he was a high school friend, but he was living, he had lived on another floor in Gruenhagen. My mom drove both of us up with everything we thought we needed for college.

MO: Yeah.

PW: In a regular sedan car, dropped us off, she waves goodbye, and here I am, you unpack in your dorm room which is a room about as big as big as this.

MO: Yeah.

PW: If you stop to think about it, but it was like that first taste of independence, so that's…

MO: How were the dorms?

PW: Well you know, there still exactly the same as here now, we could walk in there but it was, what was really strange later on this question about technology there's no cell phones there's no smart phones there was nothing.


MO: I mean my professors project everything onto the smartboards so I was wondering how like your classes were?

PW: We had like an overhead projector.

MO: Okay.

PW: If a professor was using something he had a light that projected up so they had transparencies like 8 eight and a half by eleven that would have a diagram. Mainly they used chalk, they would sit and write on chalkboards so I had chemistry class where a guy is writing formulas by hand in chalk on big boards in Halsey science center.

MO: Yup.

PW: I'm sure it's the same lecture pits with two-three hundred kids in a lecture. And this guy is on a stage with huge chalk boards.

MO: Still have the chalk boards.

PW: And you'd be writing furiously and he'd be writing equations, but you know it's a … my kids both got degrees one through UWM (UW Milwaukee), and one through UW Madison, and this is their twenty-nine and twenty-seven now so this 33:00is still almost ten years ago, but you got power points so you have professors blasting through power points slides.

MO: Yes.

PW: And your sitting and your supposed to sit there I mean at least then the professor was talking or writing down points, topical points, and your kind of writing notes as their talking or writing stuff on the board. I think the problem now if they are just blasting through power points you know you could spend a half an hour on one slide if they were really bad at doing this.

MO: Yeah.

PW: How do you keep up, but anyways so technology there wasn't any. There was a phone booth.

MO: What about doing homework, like computers and, no?

PW: No, there were no computers there were no calculators.

MO: What did you do to type your papers?

PW: You, so, the thing I tell people, I'm a relatively smart guy some of the dumbest things I've done in high school I avoided taking a speech class, somehow 34:00I got out of here without taking a speech class.

MO: They make you do it now.

PW: I know, and I think I was supposed to but I somehow, I went out of my way and somehow, which is foolish because I end up in a career where I do a lot of public speaking and everything.

MO: It does help.

PW: But, it was like this phobia I went out of my way, the other thing is type, they didn't call it keyboarding it was typing you had a typewriter there was no, you had a physical typewriter and I thought well no offense but that's for girls I mean I was never going to type. I would, I was going to be a scientist or a doctor, it was a useless skill. Well the most fundamental things is public speaking and getting comfortable with it and learning in a learning environment, or learning how to keyboard, learning how to type, I skipped those in high school, I skipped those in college.

MO: So, you never typed?

PW: No, not a word, not a single word.

MO: So, what'd you do? Just write it on paper?


PW: So mostly I was in sciences so you didn't really do a lot of papers.

MO: Didn't really type.

PW: If I had papers due, there was like a service where you pay people by the page to type.

MO: Where you pay people, I heard about that.

PW: So, you'd have to, I'd have to hand write stuff legibly, you can see my writing isn't good and there was like a woman off campus, you just went to the yellow pages or maybe info posted in the union and you'd call or visit or whatever and she'd say it's going to cost "X" per page and please…

MO: Write clearly.

PW: Write clearly, do double space or whatever, and so there were some term papers and some papers I had to do, but I had, I did not touch a keyboard probably until 1990.

MO: Oh, my goodness. That's kind of crazy to think about because we all have our laptops you know and phones.

PW: Oh, absolutely, but so there was, so if you were going to talk to someone by 36:00phone, and this is kind of scary now that I am a parent. So, fifth floor Gruenhagen on each wing at the end of the elevator was a phone booth.

MO: One phone.

PW: And the only way your parents could get ahold of you…

MO: That's crazy.

PW: Would be to call that phone booth. So we all had agreements, if somebody calls I'm at the library, whether I'm here or not I'm at the library take a message, or you'd pick a time it was like Sunday night was sort of a standard thing, "I'll call you Sunday afternoon or Sunday night" so you'd place a collect call through the phone booth and that was like maybe once a week you'd connect with your parents through a telephone.

MO: I call my parents all the time.

PW: You do, but the other thing is and my kids have had cell phone since they were probably in eighth grade or something like that. That was my way to know where the heck they were.

MO: Yeah.

PW: And if they didn't answer the phone…

MO: Safety thing.

PW: Oh, my battery died and I said you know what the next time your battery dies 37:00you lose your phone.

MO: I mean it's a safety concern.

PW: It really is, but you can just imagine…

MO: How different.

PW: How different it was, my mom drops me off and drives away, her second child she just dumped at a university campus and…

MO: New being there.

PW: Did I go home, I had a high school girlfriend so my first semester …

MO: So, you went home a lot?

PW: Every couple weeks, but then it was, she was in nursing school in Milwaukee.

MO: Okay.

PW: I got friends here, we got, it was just distance broke us up by the end of that first semester.

MO: So, after that you stayed on campus?

PW: I was here, I always stayed here.

MO: Okay. So, you were pre-med psychology in school so why psychology?

PW: I don't, I honestly don't know. I think it was partly because I was, I wasn't smart enough or wasn't willing to work hard enough to declare chemistry, 38:00as a major, you know I ended up I had two semesters of organic chemistry, P chem, I mean I had a minor in chemistry.

MO: Oh, really?

PW: You had to take a lot, but it was like going over the top to major in that and frankly I was more interested, I wanted to be a primary care physician, you think about PA, so I was in the day it was family practice.

MO: Yeah.

PW: I wasn't wanting to be a neuro surgeon or anything I wanted to, relate with people.

MO: Associate with people.

PW: You know and help people and families not, and not be just a geriatrician or whatever.

MO: And psychology is really interesting for that.

PW: And it was more a social science so it was a way to better understand human beings and the way they think.

MO: Even know the psych you can tell in everyday life, like you can pick up on it.

PW: IT's huge, my daughter majored undergrad in it, and she ended up going off and she got her masters in arts management and stuff like that. She was like I really wasted, I said no you just think of what you learned.


MO: Yeah, psych is always a good one.

PW: Developmental psych, abnormal psych …

MO: Goes with everything.

PW: You basically learn about yourself and human nature.

MO: Why people act the way they do.

PW: Yeah, and when you're in the business world it doesn't matter what you do having that as background really was a good thing, so it was kind of a dumb luck. I think I did it because I didn't want to do anymore of the hard sciences than I had to and I was interested in it, and it worked out well.

MO: Same thing, except I'm bio minor, I don't like chemistry. Okay, so in school were there any professors that influenced you? Anyone that stuck out?

PW: Yeah, there was a couple, and Tim [Krimins?], Doctor [Krimins?] who has to have retired by now was an organic chem teacher and, so this is, I'm not sure how they structure now but it was 101, 102, or whatever but it was a five-credit course and you had a lecture, three hours a week and you had two, two hour labs 40:00per week. And he taught, what I loved about Oshkosh is you got taught by professors.

MO: Yeah.

PW: So, my wife went to UW undergrad so she's kind of a Madison snob.

MO: Yup.

PW: And she's go aw Madison has all these good, but you got taught by TA's (teaching assistant)…

MO: Taught by Ta's. Oshkosh is much more personal.

PW: I had full professors, and she was med tech so we had a lot of the same background courses, she would have the professor most of the time in a big lecture but if there were break out sections or discussion groups or labs it was the TA teaching it. I had, anyways doctor [Krimins?] was very, he sort of look like Ted [Kopel?] who was a news caster on ABC back fifteen or twenty, or sort 41:00of like a Kennedy, he had that sort of look…

MO: Yeah.

PW: And demeanor, nicest guy, smart, patient.

MO: Willing to help.

PW: Yeah, he was, but were in these labs and I always tell the story, one of the experiments, have you had organic?

MO: Not yet, next year.

PW: So, it's, it's cool I loved it a lot, there was something about…

MO: I've always heard that that's bad, that class.

PW: Well it's supposed to be one that sorts off, it's like a cut course or whatever, I got A's in it for some reason. The P chem quantitative analysis, it's all formulas more like math…

MO: Yeah.

PW: I had to really work at that and really study that, but organic chemistry was like cooking.

MO: Oh, okay.

PW: So, whereas quantitative analysis you're doing stuff, your making something, your making some precipitate and you are weighing it and your grade is based on 42:00how pure the compound is, so did you do the right amount of the right things.

MO: Right measurements.

PW: To create a reaction and measure the end output and it was either a melting point of weighing something, and hundreds of a gram made a difference between whether you got an A, B, Or C, or D.

MO: Oh, my goodness.

PW: Organic is like being in a kitchen, you've got flasks you've got solvents, you got all this stuff, well there was one experiment where, so he's, there's like twenty-five kids in a lab. You got the hoods, you got all this stuff, you got, ether, you have explosive.

MO: Oh, my gosh.

PW: I don't know if they do this anymore but at one point…

MO: Probably not.

PW: We, the product we were making was [24dinitrotaluine?] 24D, 24D is the poison that's in weed be gone…


MO: Yeah we probably don't.

PW: Or agent orange.

MO: Yeah, probably not.

PW: So, you're making a powder at the end that is carcinogenic. But at one point when he's walking us through the steps and he said no at this step be very careful because the compound you're going to have is trinitrotoluene, TNT, dynamite.

MO: Oh, my god.

PW: So, it was a gas because…

MO: Dangerous.

PW: It wasn't this mass procession; you were working with stuff that was volatile literally.

MO: Yeah.

PW: But it was not as precise as some of the others, anyways this guy was patient, he was, if you had problems on an assignment or something you could, he had office hours, you could go in and see him.

MO: Is that why you went for a chem minor? Was he influential in making that decision?

PW: No, the minor was just, when you look at what you have to take for the 44:00perique's for pre-med.

MO: Yeah.

PW: It was a ton of chemistry classes.

MO: Went with it.

PW: So, anyways he was great so the point that, at least fifteen years ago I was here for a Wisconsin hospital association convention and it was, it got let out mid-day on a Friday and I thought let me run through campus and just visit and wander around, so I was by Halsey and let me run up and see if doctor [Krimins?] is still here. And I'll be damned, it's like two o'clock on a Friday afternoon…

MO: And he was?

PW: He was in his office, I knocked on the door, and I said "you're not going to remember me but in 1973 you taught my organic chemistry class I was pre-med" and you know it's the kind of thing we should do more of and I would encourage you to do that if somebody is a mentor to you or somebody is really kind of made a difference in your life. People do that, not everyone, but some people really 45:00do, and I don't know if we ever tell them that.

MO: Probably not.

PW: And so, you think this guy…

MO: You have impact and nobody knows.

PW: Thousands, and thousands of kids he's in a lecture pit.

MO: Yeah.

PW: After all those years and he made an impression on me and I went back to thank him.

MO: That's awesome.

PW: It took him, of course he didn't, "hey Paul I remember you" but he shouldn't he wouldn't remember me, but he almost didn't know what to say.

MO: Say, yup.

PW: It was just…

MO: Because people don't do that.

PW: So, I could see maybe somebody sends a note these days you could shoot somebody an email.

MO: True.

PW: It was literally out of the blue for me to drop in. It was important to me and you could tell it touched him, but it's not something that happened to him every day.

MO: Yeah, probably not. Alright so can you just tell me about like your campus life? Like your experience on campus? You know reeve, Blackhawk, stuff like that.

PW: So, all the same, so I was two years, I kind of looked back I have, so I was 46:00two years in Gruenhagen with the same roommate, friend from high school, and then junior year I decided for resume building for med-school to be a house fellow or an RA in Scott.

MO: Okay.

PW: And then my senior year I said "I've had enough of the dorms" and lived in a house off Scott street.

MO: Off campus.

PW: Off campus, so I think it's good, I didn't have a car and the campus is very compact so I spent four years here and almost all of it was spent on campus or just off campus.

MO: It's what I like about Oshkosh.

PW: It was really cool.

MO: It's all here.

PW: You had what you needed and this was a time of transition so there was this whole stuff around the war and a lot of tension.

MO: Well, I also saw that in November of 1970 the Board of Regents they wanted to make juniors stay a third year in the dorms, so that was a controversial 47:00topic, because I know we have to stay two year, and so they wanted to make it three, but I'm not sure…

PW: And that actually isn't bad that's an issue on a lot of different campuses, but I think, so yes this is your first step into independence, but now that I'm older and have been a parent, your eighteen you know enough to be dangerous. You think you know everything.

MO: Yeah.

PW: You, don't you don't have a clue and to be in a somewhat structured environment as opposed to in a house, and so when I worked in Milwaukee on the east side you had Columbia, one of our hospitals was embedded in the middle of the UWM campus. I mean it was literally UWM grew up around that Columbia hospital, part of my job was being a liaison to the neighborhoods, because we were always building something on the hospital, stuff like that. But there were horrendous problems with vandalism and stuff, so kids the drinking age is twenty-one.

MO: Yup.


PW: Kids are in these Sandburg and these big high rise dorms; they can't go to the bars and so kids that live in the houses have house parties.

MO: Yup.

PW: And so, kids are flowing through the neighborhoods overdrinking, throwing up, vandalizing, doing all sorts of stuff going back, so there was a lot of tension between the university and the residents that lived in those neighborhoods. Well go back to 1970 so I show up here, I had just turned eighteen in mid-august so like two weeks, I'm eighteen for two weeks and its eighteen beer and wine at the time, and across the street from us…

MO: Yeah. I was going to ask you so…

PW: Were all these bars. So, it's sort of like, this is kind of interesting.

MO: I was going to ask you so Oshkosh is kind of known as "Sloshkosh" you know we got that rep was it the same back then?

PW: Oh, it was, it really was because you see "Andy's Library" was right and "Toshes" the campus club so that was a strip of beer bars and if you were eighteen…


MO: Did they have Pub Crawl back then?

PW: We sort of.

MO: Sort of?

PW: We had two blocks so you didn't have to go very far so I mean the good thing was we weren't, so back then Wisconsin had each county had determined the drinking age.

MO: Yeah.

PW: So, in like Milwaukee and Waukesha county which I grew up in for high school was twenty-one.

MO: But Oshkosh was eighteen?

PW: Oshkosh was eighteen and the county outside of Milwaukee were eighteen. So what you'd do, you think of that, when you were a senior in high school everybody had somebody who died in a car accident.

MO: Drunk driving.

PW: Because you had eighteen-year-old kids driving into the country, they had these big like ballrooms, or big places. There was a place north of, there was a ski resort and on weekends they turned it into an eighteen-year-old beer bar.


MO: Bar.

PW: So, they'd have a band, so you're driving out in the country on unfamiliar roads, kids are drinking and then their driving back home. It was a recipe for disaster. Here it probably was good because kids were going to drink anyways, you'd walk across the street and you'd drink and you'd walk back.

MO: Walk back to your dorm.

PW: As a RA as a junior as a young kid trying to manage a bunch of drunk kids was not fun.

MO: So how was your experience as a RA?

PW: It was not fun I mean it was, you had to be a cop I mean you really did, and so it's funny but I was on a floor where it was like a sitcom we had the most diverse group of kids, socioeconomic, religious based, racial.

MO: I mean now we have like substance free floors.

PW: Which probably wouldn't have been a bad idea. But the other thing, it was gender separated so you had one tower is women and one's men's tower.


MO: Still kind of like that.

PW: But when I started you could visit so guys could be in the women's dorm or women could be in the men's dorm, only on certain days.

MO: There were certain times?

PW: Like Thursday nights from 5-10…

MO: Whereas now you can walk everywhere.

PW: And you had to have the door open.

MO: What?

PW: Yeah, and if you were an RA you were kind of on patrol, now obviously people would sneak in and stuff like that but I mean it was, it went from you were talking at one point this college might have been mostly men and the they opened it up to women. They let women come to college. Well, even in 1970 and 1971 you had gender separation…

MO: Separation.

PW: And even visitation so there were staff posted at the elevators and if you 52:00were and if it was the bottom of the men's tower and if I wanted to, if I had a girlfriend we had to check in…

MO: That's so weird.

PW: Before getting on the elevator.

MO: Nowadays you don't have to do anything.

PW: And then it was only certain, well by the 1973 that all went away, trying to make the point of how much was in transition. Does somebody need to come in?

MO: I have no clue.

PW: So, were out of time?


MO: Alright we got five minutes.

PW: So anyways it was a real time of transition, just in education and the war.

MO: Do you want to just quickly tell me about your extra circulars I know you were in a psych club and a RA.

PW: So, it was the national Honors Society.

MO: Okay, I've heard of this.

PW: I was not real active because I was either studying or partying, so I'm the work hard play hard.

MO: What about sporting events? Intermural?

PW: I didn't. I mean when, I wasn't athletic and wasn't, but I didn't have time I mean pre-med, you know with what you're doing, you either got an A or you failed.

MO: You got to get it.

PW: I ended up with a 3.6 and I didn't get into medical school.

MO: What?

PW: So, your role in pre-med was A or you failed, so I took that seriously, I studied a lot, I worked hard but when I wasn't working I was having fun, so it 54:00was one or the other.

MO: Yes.

PW: But it wasn't, I just didn't have time to frat.

MO: Fraternize, yeah.

PW: But the whole frats and sororities were out they were really [pasay?].

MO: Really?

PW: Yeah it was I mean it was an alternative culture was dominant. Most kids running around here, like me, were hippies, I mean it was just the time.

MO: Were you a hippie back then?

PW: It was, you didn't even think about it the majority of kids that's kind of what you did, not everyone. But Greek life has gone through its ups and downs…

MO: It has.

PW: When I was here there were kids still doing it but it was very much a distinct minority.

MO: Because I know they're very different campus to campus like here it's more about like morals and helping out community whereas if you go to Madison it's parties, it's for parties. So, that's very different, okay so let's talk about your post college so how did you feel when you finished?

PW: So, I was, my senior year I was applying late junior early senior you apply 55:00to medical school so, my last semester here was horrendous class load, but I also was getting rejections from medical schools that I had applied to.

MO: That's crazy.

PW: Yeah, so, by the time I graduated I was waitlisted at a couple of places but it didn't look good and it was like I'm done and the path I thought I was on is foreclosed, what am I going to do.

MO: Yeah.

PW: So literally my folks were up in Superior at the time, they didn't come to my graduation, a good friend of mine, I joined his family graduation night for dinner. He comes from a big family, had older brothers, was talking to one of his brothers, he says what are you going to do next? I said I don't know I don't think I'm going to get into medical school he knew a doctor in Menominee Falls where we came from who he connected me with. I met this guy the summer that I 56:00had graduated and he knew a guy at UW Madison who was a researcher. I got a job at the cancer center doing research, met my wife, worked in the lab next to me, ended up going up back through the business school for hospital administration.

MO: Okay.

PW: Because this guy was kind of a renaissance surgeon but he was really into health policy, this is way back when, and it got me interested in it, but if I, it's one of those moments you have to get on record here. So here I get my diploma had good grades but the future I thought I was headed for was going to hit a dead end I'm literally talking to a friend's brother who took an interest in me and made a connection for me and that led to my career, meeting my wife, my family. If I hadn't gone, it's one of those things, if I hadn't gone to 57:00dinner with Joe I don't know where I'd be right now.

MO: So, that's awesome.

PW: I had a long career as a hospital executive I got my MBA from Madison part of that I ended up getting a master in theology for fun.

MO: Okay.

PW: Five or six years ago, retired four years ago.

MO: So, what are your thoughts about UW Oshkosh now?

PW: Well, I like it, it's, part of it is obviously that's a very special time in your life your eighteen it's your first step of independence it really is, and whether it was special here or I could've gone anywhere, it's really a special time in your life. I had great experiences here like I said I really enjoyed, the size was just right, the place is big enough that you could sort of strike out your own identity.

MO: Yeah.

PW: And that sort of thing, there was quality professors, yet I'm not sure if 58:00it's still that way but like I say virtually all of my teaching was done through full professors, and are not TA's.

MO: So, what kind of advice would you give current students? Would you say?

PW: Number one appreciate what you've got, and it seems like a cliché but you know be grateful for what you have, don't look at what you don't have look at what you have. To be here this is your job and it's stressful I've been through a lot in my career a lot of times that stress didn't match what I was feeling going in to take an exam or to take my MEDCATS for medical school, it's such an artificial kind of pressure that's right there, so there is a lot of demands if you're taking it seriously but it's, there's never another time in your life that basically your role or your life is to study to learn to develop to be around kids, people your age that are in a similar situations, that doesn't 59:00happen any other time of your life. So, it really is…

MO: Special.

PW: Special time, you don't know it because your just in the midst of it.

MO: Yeah.

PW: But later on, you'll look back on it with a lot of fondness.

MO: Alright, well, thank you Paul for coming in and talking to me and telling your story, that's awesome, it was very nice to meet you.

PW: Nice to meet you, thanks.

MO: Alright, thanks.

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