Interview with Scott Barr, 05/02/2017

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Sara Schwenn, Interviewer | uwocs_Scott_Barr_05022017_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


Sara Schwenn: I'm doing this interview for the Campus Oral History Project and for my History 210 class. Can you tell me who you are?

Scott Barr: I am Scott Barr.

SS: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Like a quick summary.

SB: Where do I start?

SS: Tell me about the community you grew up in and what is was like living in the area you grew up in.

SB: Okay, well I grew up in a few different places. I was born in West Allis and from there we moved to Waukesha and then to Pennsylvania for a while and lived in Appalachia, sort of in the middle of the state, and then we moved to Deerfield, which is just east of Madison but very tiny town. 1500 people, then 1:00and 1500 people now hasn't grown. There is where I lived, that is what I would consider my home town I guess. You know I lived there from 2nd grade through the end of my junior year. My parents moved up to Green Bay sort of around the beginning of my junior year, so I lived on my own through most of my junior year and through that summer following my junior year. Then moved up to Green Bay, where they had moved had my senior year of high school at Preble High School, which was much larger student body then I was used to but it was really fun and interesting. From there I found Oshkosh as my next home and I was here for 6 years, 5 of which I was in school and 1 of which between college and law school. 2:00I spent that 6th year working several jobs including delivering pizzas for Dominos and saving up money to go to law school. Then I graduated from law school, Hamline University in Saint Paul in 1990 and started practicing with my current firm in August of 1990 and have been with that firm since then. 

SS: What was your family life like? Obviously you were moving around a lot, what was that like with your family? What were their values?

SB: Well, we were pretty tight knit bunch. I'm the oldest of 5 kids, my youngest brother is 10 years younger than me. I spent a lot of time, when I was young, taking care of my younger brothers and sisters. What was your family values 3:00like? We were a pretty classic family from the 70's, you know what I mean? Dinners together, Breakfast together although my dad was usually out to work by the time we were sitting down for breakfast but we generally ate together, spent a lot of time together. My family was pretty fundamentalist Christian, when I was growing up. My mom and dad still are, not sure I would still describe myself that way. But the reason why we moved out to Pennsylvania was to finish up their (His parents) missionary training. When I was 3 or 4 years old and they started 4:00missionary training and they went through the classroom part of missionary training and then we went out to Pennsylvania for that year and a half, for them to do sort of the, well we called it Jungle camp let's put it that way. It was the more anthropological and living in the outdoors part of missionary training. Part of that was packing back into the woods, anything you could carry on your back and using that to build a home for the summer where we lived as if we were in some jungle in South America someplace. 

SS: Like as if you were dropped somewhere?

SB: Exactly. Which was the plan, and my dad's health did not allow that to happen. So, we moved back to Deerfield instead of moving to I guess, we 5:00were sleighed for Ecuador or someplace like that to be a mission family. But that did not work out, and we moved back to Deerfield. We were a pretty tight knit family, we had foster kids come live with us. My family was the family that all the neighborhood kids wanted to come out and hang out with. So like all my friends from school, all my little brothers and sisters friends from school would come out and hang out at our house. So, there were always a bunch of people around and dinner was whoever happened to be there at the time. So, there would be maybe 7 of us or maybe 10 people well who knew? It was a fun family to 6:00grow up in, my parents despite being pretty strictly religious are a lot of fun. They are really fun people, open, welcoming, warm, friendly, great communicators. They sing a lot, for whatever that is worth. Around the dinner table, we attended to oddly launch into song from time to time and play music on whatever we had around. My mom and dad were both singers in high school and so, that is kind of what we did. We weren't big fans of television, they wanted us to relate to people, they wanted us to read, and explore the world other than through watching television. For a while, when I was young we didn't own a television. My dad decided that at one point that we were watching way to much 7:00T.V. so, he gave it away. Instead we hung out together, and we played board games, and read books, and did stuff without friends. Which I thought was really kind of great, although I missed a lot of what kids were talking about at school. Like I didn't know really much about the pop culture that was coming at us through the television although whenever I could I'd sneak off to some friend's house and watch whatever was the hot show then. 

SS: Kind of sounds like my family. Do you use that same values with your kids?

SB: I don't have any kids. Just my wife and I, I guess after growing up with all those brothers and sisters it just wasn't all that interested in having a bunch of kids myself. But, yes we do my wife and I do sort of have many of the same 8:00values. Again, I wouldn't describe myself as anything like a fundamental Christian. But, yeah I think it is important, it's more important to spend your time doing things that are of permeant value than it is to sit and watch television. We do sit and watch television, we have Netflix. So, we do spend a ton of time doing that but we also try to do a lot of other stuff. Try to get out of the house and interact with friends and pursue hobbies, play sports. For example, my wife started a Mahjong group. Mahjong is kind of like poker, rummy, any kind of card game where you have to get combinations of cards. Mahjong is a 9:00Chinese game played with tiles, little ivory tiles, spread all over the table and everybody chooses a certain number of tiles and it is just like getting dealt a hand in cards and every time you go around you can throw out a tile and pick a new one or you can pick up the one that someone just discarded. You're trying to make different "hands" with the tiles and combination of tiles are set out in recognized list of hands. She learned this game from her mom who learned it back in the 50's from all of the ladies who lived on the army base where 10:00Barb's dad was stationed. So, the ladies on the army base played this game and Barb's mom, Dorris taught it to all of the girls. It has been something handed down through her family a little bit. She decided to create a group of ladies, only ladies. Girls Night, and they get together once a month and play mahjong and talk about events of the day and eat food that is really bad for you and drink wine. So, it's that sort of thing so to answer your question; yeah those same values of doing things outside of absorbing pop culture a little bit more permanent. Building friendships, spreading good will, doing things for the community those are things that we believe in.

SS: So you're very community orientated?


SB: I think so, yes. 

SB: What did your mom and dad do? Can you describe some of the jobs maybe you had during high school/college?

SB: My dad frequently had 3 jobs, he's a hard hard working guy and that is one of the values that I absorbed from him. That you do what you need to do, in order to accomplish what you need to accomplish. In his case, he had 5 kids and needed to pay for a house, and coming off of a mission program with zero money. I mean there was nothing, so they were starting from scratch. Starting about 30 they were starting from scratch, with 5 kids in tow. He worked hard, and he had a number of different kinds of jobs. He is a brilliant machinist and mechanic, he worked for Tool and Dye company doing tool dye making, he worked for an 12:00engine rebuilding company doing diesel engine rebuilds. Then in the evenings he drove truck, so a milk truck basically, he worked for a company that hauled milk. During the day the milk comes off the farms, and those smaller trucks gets accumulated at the local dairy then aggregated into large trucks then driven to a big dairy site. He was the guy who drove the big truck to the dairy at night. Then he also on weekends did long haul trucking, a lot of the times. He ran a trip typically from Milwaukee to New Jersey, and New York city and back. He would usually do that almost every weekend. So, he is a hard working guy and my 13:00mom had various jobs mostly she stayed home and took care of us and made sure the house was relatively in tacked. There is only so much you can do chasing around 5 kids and all their friends, but she did a great job on trying to keep the world on the shiny side-up for all of us kids. But she also worked a bit too, she had jobs during week nights she worked at mall in Madison during Christmas holiday season. She worked at a little sign making shop that she ran, moveable print sign making. There is a table and you line up all of the letters and little pictures, on little steal blocks and ink them and run board over them.


SS: Almost like a print press?

SB: Almost like an ancient style printing press, yes. But your one by one making printed signs. She did that, and she also ran a small shop, I really don't know how to describe it. Books, curios and paintings, and stuff like that. I'm not even sure what kind of a shop it was. 

SS: Just a random shop?

SB: It was sort of a shop of random crap. Yes, it was a nice little shop but she did that for a while. She had a number of different jobs. I absorbed a lot from just watching my parents growing up as everybody dose. But they taught us a ton of really important things, and I've taken that with me into my later life. Dad started a business with a partner, that is why they moved up to Green Bay, so 15:00that would have been my sophomore year of high school. He started a business with his friend and they moved up to Green Bay to run that business together.

SS: Tell me about the schools you attended. Like elementary school, middle school, whatever you can remember. 

SB: White Rock Elementary school in (right outside the city of Waukesha) Waukesha, Wisconsin where I went to kindergarten. Then we were off to Pennsylvania, to Salladasburg Elementary school where I was in 1st grade and half of 2nd grade. Then we moved back to Deerfield, Wisconsin when I was in the middle of 2nd grade. Then from 2nd grade through my junior year of high school I was at Deerfield. Then went to Prebel for my senior year of high school. 

SS: Where they big schools that you attended?


SB: No. Very small schools, Waukesha's normal sized elementary school, Salladasburg was pretty small it was the tiny town outside of a small town in the middle of the state of Pennsylvania. My class sizes were pretty reasonable, probably 20 kids in my class. So pretty normal sized for elementary school, then Deerfield was a small school. I had 40-43 kids in my class from when I was in 2nd grade through junior in high school. So, it was small class size, but it was really nice in a lot of ways. 'Cuz you would really got to know people that you went to school with, and you were with them a lot. In some cases that was great and in some cases less great, but for the most part I really liked most of my 17:00classmates. So, being in a small school like that was fine, moving then to big school at Green Bay at Prebel. Was kind of a culture shock, I didn't know anybody but I'm never a shy person so that didn't bother me much. I joined the football team, played football, did a play. I was in theater for a while there, and was in the band. So, I did a lot of stuff met a lot of people, had a lot of friends that was fine too. It was fun. 

SS: Band people usually always make a lot of friends.

SB: Yes, they do. 

SS: How important was education to your family life? Like, I understand your parents were telling you to go out and not watch T.V. Do more academic and community oriented stuff.

SB: Education was really important to my family in some ways, there was less 18:00focus on it in other ways. Education generally, like learning about the world, we had National Geographic Magazine and we all read National Geographic Magazine every month. They used to get something called The Mother Earth New too, that you're obviously not familiar with, The Mother Earth New is, well at that tie a hippy magazine. It was all about living off the land and how to make your own green house, and how to do all of your own projects. So, we were always doing some crazy stuff like that. There was a lot of gardening, canning, and preserving things. I remember we made our own fireplace sort of thing outside outta limestone, mud and an old barrel; you can cook on it, it was cool. We were 19:00always learning about that sort of thing, camped a lot, outdoors a lot, my dad was a scout leader, and education in that way was very important. Always learning about the actual world, and how to live in it, and what the rest of the world is like not just America and my tiny little town. All of that really was just really in the air, I couldn't swear that they focused on it but it was what they were interested in. So, it was what we all did I really don't know if they really thought about it as we really need to teach kids all about this stuff. But it was what they were interested in, I also absorbed a lot about auto mechanics and how to make machines work. As the oldest kid, I was the one who 20:00handed wrenches to my dad when he had to fix our car and we always had a friends car in the driveway with a broken transmission that needed to be fixed and it always got fixed even if we were laying in the driveway in the middle of a rain storm, under the car with rain dripping on us. We always helped people out fixing things, that is where I got to learn a lot about that and I still use that today. But, I'm not sure that education as a formal thing was all that emphasized. As long as we were doing okay in school, they kind of left us alone. My parents left us alone about that, which I think parents today would be just terrified to do. Parents today, I think are very much all about "why ain't you getting an A?", "What is your teacher doing wrong that you're not getting an A?", "How can I punish your teacher or you so you can get an A?" My parents were never like that, as long as I was getting B's they were fine they completely 21:00left me alone on that. As a consequence my teachers were always saying, "You're not living up to your potential", "You could do so much better", "I don't know why you're not doing better", "You should work harder, you can get better grades" which is what my teachers always said, and I never paid any attention to them, because I was always doing something else very interesting. I did not always necessarily do a lot of homework, I was one of those braty kids that could just never do the homework and always ace the test. So, it did not really matter to me as long as I got a B, who cared. I lived all the way through high school that way, and frankly a little bit in college that way too. If it was a class I really enjoyed, I would study the heck outta it because I liked it. I would read up and do all of it, and extra stuff and get A's in those classes and classes I didn't care so much about I would ace the tests and flunk all of the 22:00homework assignments and get B's in those classes. I carried on in the same way, law school was a very different thing you cannot do that in law school. That does not work in law school at all, you would not last 6 weeks in law school if you tried to do that. 

SS: Okay, good thing to note. What were your goals and aspirations as young person or child? For me in elementary school we would do these sheets where we look at what career we want to go into. What were your goals for yourself? What did you really really strongly wanted to be?

[00:22:37] SB: Bigger. That was about it, older. We didn't really talk about that then, you know it wasn't something that was a big focus. My mom tells me that she always wanted me to be a lawyer, but that she never told me that. Until I announced that I was going to law school, she told me once that she that dad 23:00picked my name because they thought it sounded like a lawyer's name. It wasn't really until sometime in high school that I kind of started to think, well you know much about it. But being a lawyer sounds kind of fun, and from what I see on T.V. it looks like it can be kind of fun. So, maybe I can do that but I had absolutely no idea for sure. I remember at one time, one of those nights laying in the driveway in the rain under the car holding a flashlight and handing my dad wrenches while he is working on some car thing, I looked over to my dad and I said, "You know when I grow up, I want to be a mechanic just like you" because I thought it was really cool that you can take this complete inert, broken piece 24:00of machinery and fix it again so you can drive it around. Driving, I thought was probably the coolest, coolest sort of thing anyone could ever do. To be able to fix something so you can drive it that had to be even cooler. So, I told him I want to be a mechanic just like you are and he told me that I was insane and that I should definitely do something better than that. Although, frankly I am sure better is a word that applies to that because being a mechanic is one of the highest applications of intelligence I have ever seen. To be able to deduce what is wrong with this broken piece of cold metal and turn it into a living, breathing, thing again is amazing. It takes so much intelligence, so much problem solving that it is something that I still like to do. I work on crappy 25:00old cars, that live in my garage. It's really an intellectual pursuit of the highest order. So, I'm not sure why he told me that I shouldn't do it other than it doesn't pay very well and your hands are always dirty and it probably gets pretty boring after a while. I would have to say, not to mention frustrating. But I think that is the answer to your question. But I really never knew for sure what I wanted to do until I was actually in law school. I got all the way through college, I thought when I came here to Oshkosh I was in Criminal Justice program and I thought that I was gonna be in law enforcement somewhere. Maybe law school, maybe a lawyer in law enforcement but I did not know for sure until I went to law school and started taking the classes that are all in the business area and found out that I really really enjoyed that stuff. So, that is what I 26:00do now. 

SS: What did your family, friends, and peers say about you going to college and law school?

[00:26:09] SB: I was the first in my family to go to college, in my direct family, my close family. They were all for it, they thought it was pretty neat. They knew that I had no other hope of making any kind of living at that point. So, it was a good idea. I'm not sure what my friends thought about it, my family thought law school was good idea too. Once I was out of undergrad.

SS: Since you were accepted to Oshkosh, did you consider going to any other schools?

SB: Not really. In what was another familiar pattern for me then, I walked into the counseling center at Preble in about March of my senior year. And said, "so, 27:00what about this college thing? Is that something I should do?" and they looked at me with eyes the size of dinner plates, and said "What?".  "You haven't what?" and so, at that time Oshkosh was still accepting applications very few other places were. So, no I didn't really consider a whole lot of other places. They said well you can go to Oshkosh, I said cool I'll go there. That was how most of my decisions were made at that point in my life. I didn't have anybody saying when I was a sophomore, "you know what do you think about going to college, what do your grades look like, where do you think you're gonna go, how do you think you're gonna get in, what kind of stuff do you learn, what do you want to do". Nobody said any of that stuff to me, really that is kind of what 28:00happened. I ended up in Oshkosh, because it was a place that had a criminal justice program, which was at that time I think rated the best Criminal Justice program in the state that made it really easy for me. Since that is what I wanted to do, but there were also accepting applications still. If I had wanted to apply to some other college that was not accepting applications, it wouldn't have been quite so easy. I really didn't think about that. 

SS: Was thinking on the fly?

SB: Very much so.

SS: What were your first impressions when you first started at UW-Oshkosh? What did you think of the campus?

[00:28:45] SB: I thought the campus was a very neat place to be, because it's so compact I mean it is still a really big piece of real estate but unlike many 29:00other schools it is not a 30 minute bus ride to some academic building. Like Madison, or other schools where you gotta get on the bus and go 20 minutes to where your next class is and your half an hour from home. I really like the fact that you could throw your books in the backpack, leave in the morning, go to your classes, grab lunch at the union or Black Hawk, or where ever, and come back at the end of the day never having walked more than 10 minutes in any one direction. I really like that, I thought it really sort of felt like a great community that way, my impression was a sizable school and it still is. It was maybe 13,000 students or a little less at that time, many of which maybe most of 30:00which lived on campus. With off campus housing being very close to campus making it feel like almost a part of campus, I felt like it was a really tight, interesting community. My first impressions were all about the breath, the variety of things to learn. I focused rally hard on my core classes right away, I finished all of my core classes in my first two years don't know why I did that, but I did. But the few electives that I did take during those first couple of years, it felt like a Chinese menu of all the neatest things in the world that you can learn. To walk in into registration for class and have all of this 31:00stuff layed out in front of you, like I can learn about what? That would be cool, how many classes can I take? So, that was kind of my first impression, just all the breath of knowledge on fascination topics laid out in front of you as a student to say what do you wanna learn? Here is all this great stuff, I thought that was really really neat. That was one of my first impressions, and having come from Deerfield being a very small town where there were literally no non-white people. There was one kid from one year when I was in 5th grade, who was mixed race. That's it, I think even at Prebel living in Green Bay, at that time this would have been 198-81 again I'm not aware of there having been any 32:00minority students at Prebel. So, to walk on to campus here and have the opportunity to meet a whole lot of different people from a very diverse backgrounds that was a neat thing for me too. I really appreciated that. 

SS: So the diversity mainly, the diversity, all the choices you had basically--

SB: The wealth of knowledge was just there to be picked up, like goal on the ground what was it felt like to me. Like, have you ever had those dreams where you walk around and you find money? I frequently have these dreams where I'm walking around and I see a quarter on the ground, and I reach down to pick it up and I realize there is another quarter next to it and I keep picking I keep picking up change, right? So, that's what it felt like to me to move here and 33:00all of these educational opportunities this fascinating stuff that was just there laying around on the ground to just pick it up and have it. It was just mind blowing to me. 

SS: You're a CJ (Criminal Justice) major, or a Criminal Justice major. I understand you were very interested in it, what made you so interested in that major? Was there something specific that sparked your interest?

SB: It was one of the only things, law enforcement, that anyone ever told me that I had an amplitude for. Because I took an amplitude test when you're a junior in high school and they said, "You would be great in law enforcement officer". I like that, okay great, super, and I looked at it a little bit, studied a little bit, and said, "well alright" because there are so many different kinds of ways that you can use that degree. It is awfully, I didn't 34:00know this at the time, it's awfully close to social work and sociology and all sorts of different areas of study that are sorta interwoven and interrelated. But if you get a criminal justice degree, you could be FBI, or you could be in any number of different agencies. State, local, federal, it seemed like a good spring board to use for various things and someone had told me on an amplitude test. I had an amplitude test for it, what did I know. But I think there test do kind of a disservice to students because it is not for one thing they don't really have maybe any interest in or knowledge of. I hope that answers your question.

SS: What kind of gen. eds. (General Education) did you take? Were there any in specific that you generally remember? Like you remember certain pieces of 35:00information, and you've used it?

SB: Absolutely. Yes. I took a lot of Anthropology and Archeology courses, I took a lot of Philosophy courses and I've used all of that. I think Philosophy not so much because you need to sit around and philosophize about things but because it teaches you how to really think deeply about a very narrow point and dig really deeply into it think about it and apply it to the world. Draw facts from or theories of the world and try to apply that to how you should apply that to your everyday life. With the logic course was directly applicable to me, just in terms of when I got to law school one of the first things that I was supposed to 36:00do was to write a paper that was basically a syllogism and it was right there in my head how to do this. I knew how to do this, I could just apply that and get an A in that class and that was great. The Anthropology really played well into my family's background in mission training, there was a ton of Anthropology in their training. So, is something that they had maybe not intentionally but because it was a part of their world that had sort of transmitted that to us. I'm sure National Geographic Magazine had something to do that too. So, I was naturally interested in that sort of thing, and that was all about how to study people, groups of people. How to look into what their morales, values, and 37:00structure of their society is, and in a sort of non-judgmental way, identify those aspects of it. What's good? What's useful What's bad? What's less useful? It sort of helped me, to work with groups of people frankly and to understand individuals. I think that has been really useful, I very much remember physical anthropology although I got a say it hasn't been all that quite so useful. Like how to identify a femur, and look at a pelvis and determine whether it's male or female, pick out deer bones from human bones. I can do that still but you know, again not a big call for that in my daily life. 

SS: What kind of a student were you? Like were you that hard working student or just like laid back and chill?

SB: I think I mentioned earlier, I was sort of that braty student who studied 38:00only what I was interested in. I was pretty laid back as a student, definitely laid back as a student in undergrad. Less so in law school, in undergrad I studied what I interested in. I took the classes I was interested in, outside my core classes. I got reasonable grades but not great grades, if there were a lot of assignments that went into your grade, I got a lower grade in that course because I usually did not do those and I would just get an A on the test and is was a wash and if I got B I was fine with that. I was studying not so much for the grades outcome, as I was for learning stuff that interested me. So, the grades were really unimportant to me. Later on I learned that, that probably should have been a little more important to me than they were but I didn't get bad grades I don't know, I got like a 3.2 or something like that. Not terrible but could have been a lot better, when I went to law school it quickly became 39:00apparent to me that was not going to work. The very first law school class that I sat in was criminal law, Professor Mary Jane Morrison walked into the room with a large stack of books and papers and thumped them down on the lectern. She said, " my name is Professor Mary Jane Morrison, you will be prepared for my class if you are not prepared for my class I will ask you to leave and that will be embarrassing for you and for me". You could see the whole class kind of sit back and go oh, wow this is new and law school is a very different setting, very different situation, small class size. In terms of the total number of people in your class, there were 210 people when I started my law school class in three different sections and you went through each of your classes in your first year, with your section. So, a third of that would have been like 80 students or 40:00something like that, 70 students. So, 70 students in my section and you were in all of your classes with all of those students for both of the first two semesters. What you do in law school class, is that you prepare for the class you read all of this stuff. You outline it, you underling it, you take good care of knowing all of the information that is there because when you get to class what happens is that the teacher asks one of you to stand up and say, "Okay, Mr. Barr today were studying the XYZ case can you please tell me what happened in that case." "What were the facts?". You gotta know what happened in the case, what did the court think about that, what rules did they apply, how did they apply those rules to these facts, which facts made a difference to those judges, and how they determine the outcome of the trial, and what was the outcome of the trial, and how does that relate to the case we talked about yesterday? You would 41:00stand there for 10-15 minutes on your feet, talking without notes in front of a class of your peers of 70 people. So, yeah you learn to be prepared and you also learn how to wing it like a pro, to speak extemporaneously, how to relate things in your head quickly, and communicate that to people that is what you learn in law school. In undergrad, they give you all the basis for that, there are somethings that you need to learn. You'll take a writing course, you'll take a speaking courses, you take courses that require you to absorb enormous amounts of material and be prepared to give that back in an organized fashion. That is what you do in law school, but sort of on an elevated level and in front of a bunch of people every day. That is the kind of student I was, I had to become a 42:00good student in law school and it worked out I ended up in the top 10% of my class and it was great. At that point, you can kind of have a pick of some pretty good jobs. 

SS: What was your favorite spot on campus just for studying, or hanging out with friends?

SB: I was a CA for 3 years, in South Scott hall on 3rd floor, that was one of my favorite spots to hang out because lot of people there, I had obligations there so that was great. If I was just hanging out, Kolf. I spent a lot of time in the gym there, at that time that's where the gym was. In the lower level of Kolf, when you come in the lower level there are some storage closets that are between 43:00that entry way and the big gyms that are there. Those storage closets used to be the weight room, I spent a lot of time in the weight room with friends and hanging out, working out. We ran together, lifted together, as far as just hanging out to study there was a room in Polk that I like to go to. It was kind of on the North end of Polk on the first floor, sort of windows facing Dempsy. It was just a quiet place that almost nobody ever went, it had bean bag chairs, they had sofas, it was a great place to and hang out and study when I needed to study. 

SS: Now I'm wondering where there they went. Because we don't have that anymore. 

SB: I can take you over there and show you the room, we'll see if there are any of the bean bag chairs are still there. It was sort of a quiet corner of the campus to sit. The other place I liked to hangout is a place that is no longer 44:00here, the mounds. I don't know if you ever heard of the mounds, but so if Polk is here and Dempsy is here there is the big green space here, Halsey there is a big rectangle right here that is just a flat grassy area now. It's got trees in it, that was a place called the mounds and it was just sort of an art installation. It was (I'm gonna get this wrong), but maybe like 9 half spheres that were sticking out of the ground. They were about I wanna say, 4 feet tall and maybe 10 feet in diameter lined up in rows. They were grass covered, they 45:00must have been an absolute pain to take care of, because they would have had to been mowed by hand maybe with shears or like a weed whacker kind of a thing. I'm sure that is why they went away, but they were a great place to just, where people would just say meet me at the mounds, it was a central place on campus it was steps from anywhere you were gonna go. If the weather was great, people would just be lounging around on the mounds. you could sit on them, they were little hills, you could walk around on them, lay on top of them, sit there and study. You could sorta sit in-between them and because they were tall, if you were sitting on the ground you were sorta in a little almost enclosed space but still out in the middle of the whole compound. Kind of a neat spot, there were always stories about what was buried the mounds. Why were the mounds there? How 46:00put them there? And did they really bury things in the mounds? There were always stories about what was buried in the mounds. There were little metal figurines, there was a rumor that they archaeologist students had buried artifacts in there. It was, I'm sure there was nothing buried in the mounds but there were always rumors about what was buried in the mounds. 

SS: Did you ever go home on weekends? Like did you go home often?

SB: Not terribly often. Especially when once I became a CA, because a lot of times I had duty on weekends. My first two years, I think I went home more often just because I wasn't doing as much on campus during those two years. I wasn't really as involved in things, it wasn't really until my junior year that I really got a lot more involved. 

SS: Did you join any other extracurricular activities or extracurricular clubs 47:00during that time?

SB: My first two years I lived on campus, I was a night host at Gruenhagen and South Scott Hall, do you have that anymore? 

SS: Don't think so.

SB: The towers had a person who would sit at the door to the towers making sure that people, who were going through the door after 10 o'clock lived there. Because otherwise people would--

SS: That is kind of like our security stations we have with the CSOs now. 

SB: Yes.

SS: We have to scan in after.

SB: I was a night host, not a CSO, but yes. So, I would sit at a table and we had a big binder of all the people who lived in the dorm and you would look up their name. If someone came in and they wanted to call up so they could go and see their friend Jullian, you would look up Jullian like literally on a piece of paper and there was a rotary dial telephone on the table and you would call them up and say, "Do you know Bob? Can Bob come up and see you? Can you come down and 48:00get Bob?" The person had to come down and get the person, just controlling access to the. That was an very great learning experience, it was like a 10pm-2am sort of a routine or 3am, I think we went to 3am on the weekends. It was interesting because especially on the weekends, really drunk annoyed people, there was a party they want to go to and you're the one standing between them and going to the party. "Sorry, man", can't let you in.  Many people wanted to beat me up, but I'm used to that. 

SS: Do you have any professors that were very influential for you? Like they persuade you going a certain path or one that stuck out the most?

SB: Because I took some many different kind of classes, I studied everything 49:00from music composition to figure drawing to archaeology to philosophy to history. I mean, I literally -- I had just so many different professors. I remember many of them very clearly, but honestly I don't remember their names because it was a really long time ago. But I remember the archaeology and anthropology professors, and my philosophy professors, criminal justice and political science professors, I remember some of those very clearly. But I don't remember their names, but yes they weren't so influential in terms of directing what happened with my future. Cuz I really didn't ask them anything about that, I didn't give them the opportunity to make an impact on my that way. But they were definitely influential in the things that they taught and how they taught 50:00that, and what they were able to do to make it really interesting. I took a geography class one time, just because, I think because it fit in my schedule and I needed another class what not geography? What the hell. I didn't expect what I got, the professor for that class didn't teach us about maps or what is on the other side of the dividing line he taught us about why the dividing line is there. Why people, who live in a different part of the world, have a different culture and think differently, what resources are available to them and how that informs what their culture is like. I had no idea that is what geography was about, again that was one of those classes where I mean it was just gift because of the way that is was taught. I mean, he was a fantastic 51:00professor who was able to take a subject matter that could potentially be extremely dry and boring and made it so interesting. I took a ton away from that class.

SS: Did you do any activities off campus? Like walk downtown, because downtown is 5-10 minute walk from here.

SB: Yes, we did that. We didn't have to go quite so far because you know where Mahoney's is, right now? That strip mall, Mahoney's and whatever's down the street from that, that used to be a place called the strip. That is where all the bars were, there were also bars downtown we sometimes went to, but there were a ton of bars there. Molly McGuire's is still there, I think right?

SS: Yeah

SB: Yeah, so that was a strip bar, I don't mean a "strip bar". I mean that was a bar on the strip, then there were a bunch of bars down towards the river and 52:00then there was a place called The Alibi, or Dr. Jays depending on what you were talking about. There was a dance bar, Molly McGuire's was a big dance bar the rest were bars where you went to play darts and drink beer and sit and chat with your friends. We didn't go downtown a lot, but we went off campus to the strip. We did that a fair amount, my group of friends really liked dancing. So, we would go out and we would dance, it was really really fun especially my favorite was Monday night new wave night at a place called the Alibi. Which is, the building is still there but it is now a strip mall that is just on the north side of Pearl, east side of Wisconsin. But it was a big ass dance bar, at that time, great huge huge dance floor, great sound system, was a really really fun 53:00place to be. 

SS: Really popular?

SB: Very popular. They had different, they had funk night, they had new wave night, they had just like regular rock night. Occasionally there was a country and western night over at Molly McGuire's, so all the country people kind of went over there. The rest of us stayed at the Alibi/Dr. Jays. 

SS: Any karaoke?

SB: I don't believe karaoke had been invented yet.

SS: Okay. 

SB: Maybe it had, but just probably just in Japan.

SS: Maybe. Where there any major political issues while you were on campus? Like any issues between the student body and administration?

SB: Politically speaking, this would have been during the Regan era. Frankly, we 54:00were fairly politically apathetic there just wasn't a lot going on politically. Regan was a republican, but economically conservative but not like offensively so, so everybody was all riled up. There was a lot of military stuff going on, so this was post-Vietnam war and not by that much when you thing about it, really everybody was just sort of calming down from the whole Vietnam ear. This would have been for me 1981, not too many years after the end of the Vietnam War, people were just sorta just like not about that at all. Leave us alone, we just wanna live for a while and not be all politically riled up. I think that is 55:00kind of how people felt, the kind of big thing on campus at that time was the Saint Patrick's Day parties. I don't know what it is like now, during Saint Patrick's Day I think mostly now they try to schedule Spring Break over St. Patrick's Day at least to try to--

SS: Usually yeah.

SB: Yeah, at that time St. Patrick's day was a really big deal. Given that I was a night host, sort of like that CSO stand in, was a big deal for us. I mean, we were kind of on lock down because it can get kind of rough. It wasn't so much the students although a lot of students were participating but it was a lot of people from a lot of elsewheres. That showed up here, because they knew it was a damn big party and it was a big party. It was kind of fun, but a lot of times it 56:00got a little out of control and fun is good and outta control is not as good. So, that was a big deal kind of try to find ways to shut that down. It wasn't good for the representation of the university, I mean a lot of people still think of Oshkosh as party school and I think people here like having a good time. I certainly did, but they also take their studies very seriously and go on in life to do a lot of really really impressive great things. It is not about, you know about being the party school I mean that aspect of its here if you want it. But you also have to want to be something else or you don't get to stay for the party.

SS: With being a night host, did you, I know you obviously had to deal with drunk people coming in but have you ever had a drunk underagers come in?


SB: Underage was not so much a thing then, because the drinking age was 18. It was a very different time, back then this was, I don't know when Mothers Against Drunk Driving started, but it was right about that time I would say. At that time the police were more likely to give you a ride home if they thought you were to drunk or maybe lead you home while you drove your car or follow you home to make sure you got there, then they were to arrest you for drunk driving. It was very very different deal, and because the drinking age was 18 most of us drank in high school, not necessarily like sloshy drunk drunk. But it was 58:00available, you know I mean you got together and somebody had a bottle of southern comfort or a 12 pack of some terrible beer. It was just part of life, you know so by the time we got here at 18 it wasn't a big deal and it's not true for everybody. But for most people, it wasn't a big deal there were some people who were just lost souls. You know, their first experience with alcohol and they were goners. You kind of knew who those people were, and they were the ones who got crazy drunk and broke door knobs off of things and you know just. Literally, my first semester there was a guy in my floor who kicked a door knob off a door with his bare foot because he was drunk and again he didn't last right? So, he comes here because they think it is a place to get all drunk and crazy and they find out that really it's an education institution and you can have fun and do 59:00fun things and sometimes that dose involve drinking sometimes or at least it did then not so much now. But you also had to be a student or you weren't gonna stay. 

SS: After you finished college, what did you feel? Once you graduated, did you feel accomplished? Did you feel I want to go into law school? Obvisouly you went to law school, like I'm ready for task number two.

SB: Yeah, you know having several jobs left me with very little energy to feel anything except tired. You know I worked at campus during the day, I worked at the Cash office where we did change machines. So, we'd get there in the morning and we would count up all the dollar bills and grab a whole bunch of quarters 60:00and we'd then put it in literally a coaster wagon and walk around campus with bags of money and take the dollar bills out of the change machines and put the quarters in the change machines and then I would do that, I think 3 days a week. Something like that, and then I would worked on campus, I worked in Scott Hall I think at the what it called the Corner Pocket then. Which is a sort of a little lounge place, and get food and there is a T.V. and pool tables and stuff like that. Then I delivered pizzas from like before dinner time until about 3 o'clock in the morning. Oh, and I painted houses too on days when I wasn't working on campus I painted houses. So, I literally worked from like about 4 in the afternoon until 3 in the morning probably 4-5 days a week and then worked on 61:00campus or painting houses starting at 8 o'clock. So, I would get about 4 hours of sleep everyday so I really didn't feel anything than tired but you know I felt like I was prepared to move on to the next challenge. I didn't really know yet how that was gonna do and what that was gonna be. But I felt like whatever it was I was gonna be able to handle it. I felt pretty well prepared, I think it was because of the breath of things I have studied. I knew that whatever law school was about, whatever they made us learn, I probably had studied something like it already. Cuz I had law classes in my criminal justice area, I studied Criminal Law, I studied constitutional law, so I knew that piece. Through the gen. ed. stuff I had studied, I mean like I said I'd study kind of everything. 62:00So, I felt like Oshkosh had really prepared me very well for whatever was gonna come next and I was right you know law school wasn't easy but it wasn't the kind of hard that makes you want to quit. Like I don't get this, I can't do this. It was hard like holy crap that is a lot of work, but it wasn't hard in the sense that I didn't feel like I couldn't do it. I felt very well prepared for that, I could read and absorb large quantities of material, I could speak freely about it, I could write really well because in law school you don't any multiple 63:00choice exams. What you get is a semesters worth of lecture and then one 3-4 hour essay test at the end, and that is your grade that is your entire grade. What you do on that essay test is your entire grade, so knowing how to write, knowing how to reason, knowing how to absorb all this material, understand it on a cellular level and be able to apply it to a given set of facts and then write about that in a coherent way is all about how you get through law school. In addition to the being able to stand up and talk in front of bunch of people that you do kind of weekly basis. Like weekly, you'd get called on by one of your professors in one of your classes to do this. I mean you had to know how to do that to in order to get through school. 

SS: Have you had a lot of involvement with UWO and the student body and just UWO in general?

SB: For the first, I would say 10 years or so I didn't and then Tom Fojtik 64:00called me and asked me to come and give a presentation to the mid-year conference for resident's life. He didn't give me a lot on what I needed to talk about, so the topic I came up with was everything I needed to know to be a great lawyer I learned from resident's life. It just basically coming back to talk to the people who were being through our CAs and hall directors and all the people who work for resident's life about the importance of what their learning in their daily work and how it really applies to their future world that they are 65:00gonna live in. Since that time, the process of preparing that presentation, which was I don' know a half an hour of talking, which clearly I can do. Is there a clock in here? Okay, the process of thinking through what it is that I took away from my experience there. Was really kind of transformative for me, cuz I hadn't thought about it for those ten years. Or however long it was, but those 10ish years I was very focused on learning how to practice law. Law school doesn't teach you how to practice law, it teaches you about the law and then you go out into the world and a client presents you with a problem and that's when you start learning how to practice law. You take all of the stuff you learned 66:00and try to apply it to solve their problem. So, that was what I was learning during that time period then becoming a partner at my law firm and okay now in addition to practicing law I'm also a business owner what's going on there. We got employees, we gotta make payroll, we gotta buy a building all that stuff. So, during that period I wasn't really thinking much about Oshkosh or what it had given me. It wasn't until Tom asked me to make that presentation that I really kind of sat back and had an opportunity to reflect and realize the really important things that I learned just in that case through what residents life let alone though all of the academics. So, after that I tried to find ways to get involved and give back. Besides, I think that is important, you know I think that's important if I had somebody, you know a future me come back and say to 67:00me, "Look, I know that studying music composition is sort of an interesting thing for you to do right now but it would really be helpful if you learned more about writing, it is really gonna help you in the future. Take more, public speaking type engagements you know any kind of a class that gets you up in front of people. Do that." You know if I had had taken, I'm sure it was available but I hadn't made myself available, if I had taken the opportunity to do that I would have been better off. If somebody had told me the grades that you get in these classes you're interested in are really important to your future options, I'm not sure if I would have ended up anywhere different in life. But I would have had different options, you know I would maybe would have gone to a 68:00different law school. I don't know. But, with whatever my grades were in undergrad I didn't have the full panoply of law schools available to me. I just didn't have those options, so I would have had different options. So, for me you know, having had the opportunity of recognize how much this university gave to me I think it really important for me to come back and try to give some of that back. You know if I can, meet with students and help students understand from a future perspective what it is that they are going through right now I think that is useful to people. You know, I didn't take advantage of that and I needed it. I really needed it, and just had no idea if I had sat down with somebody to talk to them about any number of different topics, it would have made a big 69:00difference today. So, to try to be that person, try to come back to classes, share what I have learned to do things like this or being on the Alumni Board where I can kind of on a more overarching basis. Help the university connect more directly with the rest of the alumni, I mean there are 90,000 of us out there. Can you imagine an army of 90,000 people, who all want to help? Who all want to give money?

SS: A lot of helping hands

SB: Right. Sometimes to many helping hands is to many, but you know who are engaged with the university on a deeper level. Who can be those people who learned everything there is to know about social work, and you can come back to the social work class and say look, you're studying all of this great stuff, here are the things that I took away that are really important for me and my 70:00later career think hard about these things. For me to go and talk to the pre-law club, to help the understand what it is that they are learning in under grad that is important for them in law school and in their law practice beyond that. And again to just to help alumni generally engage more directly with the university and be willing to be that person who comes and talks to the social work club, or the accounting club, or whatever and to be willing to contribute not only their time and their talent but hopefully in the future their funds because the university used to be funded by the state and it is decreasingly funded by the state, it is increasingly funded by the students and their parents. That reduces the opportunity for a lot of people, when I was here I got 71:00very little help from my parents they did what they could and they gave me money on occasion. They encouraged me like that, they did what they could but they couldn't do a lot financially there were 4 kids coming up behind me and my dad was running a small business. There was not a lot to give, but because of state support I was able to go through college and instead of doing something else that would be less fun for me I was able to come here and take the next step to doing what I do now. Which is fun for me and which pays me a good living and I can help a lot of people. So, I was able to do that and leave here with total loans of about $5,000 dollars. Which was a lot of money then, I mean this was 1986, so it kind of was a of money but it wasn't a ton of money. I never had any 72:00fear that I wasn't gonna be able to pay it back, it was easy to do. I mean I worked a lot, in undergrad I ended up being a CA, being a night host, helped a lot. Being a CA paid for room and board, you know and working summer crew around campus during the summer paid for the rest of it really. But I think that it is important that people, that alumni are tied to the campus in ways that will make it more likely that they will give back money monetarily because it is more needed now than ever then it used to be. The state doesn't fund the university system anywhere near as it used to fund it. When I talked to some of my older alumni colleagues they remind us that there was no tuition payment, when they came to school there was no payment for tuition. You paid for room and board, paid for books, there were some other little fees but you didn't pay tuition 73:00because it was a state ran university and our state no longer funds it the same way. So, if we're gonna have this organization continue to do the great work that it does, continue to take people like me who otherwise wouldn't have gone to college and turn people like me from whatever I would have been into what I get to be now. We as alumni need to step in and help try to fill in that gap and to help start convincing students of your age that as your taking great things from here, as I described as your picking up the goad on the ground that is just laying around here to be picked up, remember to give some of that back in the future. Wither that is your time, whether it's your talents, whether it's money, or all three of those things that's what we need to be about as a group of alumni trying to help recruit other people to do that. 


SS: Do you have any advice for any current students that are going to UWO?

SB: Work harder than me. You know, students get a lot of good advice from a lot of different people and I think that the advice that I tend to give is to focus on those classes that teach you how to write well. Because no matter what you do, in life, in your job after life, after college, you're gonna have to write. I am communication by email, letters, god or bid you have to actually write a real letter on paper, reports, and memorandum. You're gonna have to know how to write coherently, concisely in a way that communicates clearly to people and you 75:00have to know how to relate to people. You have to know how to talk to people, you have to be able to get up in front of room and give a presentation to people, and you have to be able to relate to people on a one-to-one basis. So, for me I always tell people take any class you can that teaches you how to write, take any class you can that requires that you get up in front of a group and talk, join groups that help you meet other people, get involved with a cause of some kind. Doesn't matter whether it is the accounting club, or a fundraiser for the local food pantry or whatever it is. But join a group of people all working toward a common cause of some kind and learn how to do that. Because more and more the world of work is about collaboration and cooperation with people, it is not so much put screw A into hole B and that's your job. It is 76:00about collaborating with people and help to produce some greater thing, so defiantly take those courses and then take every general education course you can I mean, I stayed an extra year to take extra courses cuz they were so much fun. It's just a breath of things, helps to inform you to build a base of knowledge and understanding of the world that you otherwise wouldn't get. If you just study your thing, I'm gonna be the world greatest economist and I'm gonna study economics and some math, and maybe something else on the side but if your focus is so narrow you don't get the rest of this stuff and it turns out that the rest of this stuff helps you be way better at your chosen field, whatever it 77:00is. You understanding of anthropology and philosophy informs what you do in your very narrow field of focus in a way you can't predict when you're a undergrad. So, take every class you can, study everything you can, learn everything you can, you only have limited time here there is only limited money to pay for going to college but god take advantage of it because there's never a time ever in your life again where this is available to you in the same way. Just brilliant people, standing around in rooms just waiting to tell you useful information for free once you get to your 12 credits, it's for free. You know, it is amazing when you think about it and then the one thing I tell people to do 78:00way better than I did was to use what's now called the Student Success Center. Career planning, interviewing techniques, just tons of stuff there, just tons of stuff there that will help you very very specifically in the transition from college student to professional. Really helpful, and I would start really early I mean you're a sophomore you should be there now. You should be talking to them now, help me understand what it is that I can do in life? What are the options that are available to me? What sounds interesting? Based on what sounds interesting, what might my classes look like? What do I need to know in order to get into that profession? Should I be doing other things outside of class that 79:00would help me get into that profession? Are there local organizations, so if you're interested in human resources for example and you're in the college of business and your gonna be a business student and be an HR maybe you should be going off campus to the weekly or monthly society of human resources management meeting. So, your meeting people who are actually working in human resources everyday and interacting with them and you're telling them here is what we're learning in class right now, how does that apply to what you do? And they are telling you well, that implies great, or here is what we think about that or here is how we do that. You know, you can really help yourself in the future world by getting involved and learning about your career and that starts at the Student Success center. That was formally a bunch of offices in Dempsy, and I didn't go there you know, it didn't occur me to go there because I was thinking 80:00well I'm just gonna go to law school. What did I need to know well, a whole lot it turns out you know there is a lot of stuff that they could of taught me. So, that is the advice I would give students.

SS: Well, that was an hour and 20 minutes

SB: Okay.

SS: I'm just gonna ask the front desk if they can make a copy of this for you.

SB: What if I just take a picture of it?

SS: That would work too. 

SS: I could always scan it in and email it to you too if it would be easier.

SB: This is fine.

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