Interview with Susan Stansbury, 04/24/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Josh Crowe, Interviewer | uwocs_Susan_Stansbury_04242018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


JC: - to you, which allows us to be able to use the interview for the end of the year project.

SS: Oh, that's for the Internet. All right. I haven't had a chance to give back to them, but I, I've just gotten back from Wisconsin.

JC: Oh, you just got back to Florida?

SS: Yeah, I've been in Wisconsin for a week. I got back yesterday.

JC: Okay. Yeah, I mean just take your time, but -

SS: It'd be nice to figure it out. I don't understand it. Why are other people's are going through, but there's about three that aren't and put you on the safe list. I swear. I don't know.

Maybe I'm going to need to get a g-mail. I'm going to call him up and threaten them, though, I've been a customer for better part of 10 years, you know?

JC: Yeah. There's there's no rush, but I do need it by the end of the semester. So whatever you can try and do that would be perfect.

SS: It would be nice to be able to send an email no?

JC: Yeah. Yeah. I tried it a couple of times and it hasn't worked, but I appreciate you trying to do that. OK. Um, so we will get that all squared away 1:00later. So the date is April 24th at 4:00 PM. This is Josh Crowe interviewing Susan Standsbury for the Campus Stories Oral History Project. So Susan, let's get started with, um, your background, kind of where you grew up. What town did you grow up in?

SS: I mainly grew up in northern Michigan. I was born in Iowa, but my father had a degree in forestry, so we went to upper Michigan from about second grade, my second grade, and I was raised in this small town of Gladstone on little baby knock off of Lake Michigan. I'll call 5,000 people

JC: Oh, 5,000 people. That's a pretty small town.

SS: Yeah. Uh, it's really a wonderful little bay. It gets less snow than many places in Lower Michigan. It has a good lake effect.

JC: Yeah. Because I remember I went to Bessemer a couple months ago and there was two feet of snow up there. Bessemer, Michigan.


SS: Well, anything North gets a lake effect from Lake Superior. And Gladstone gets none of that. And then the lake, they're almost protects the towns, the Betas, the Seven Mile Bay.

JC: Okay, that makes sense.

SS: You know, it's like Toronto, Buffalo, Buffalo gets a bad weather in Toronto, which is North, gets better weather.

JC: Yeah. OK, that makes sense to me. Um, so you said, did you say it was a farm town that you grew up in?

SS: In the what?

JC: Did you say it was a farm town that you grew up in?

SS: Huh? No, no, no.

JC: What kind of community was it then?

SS: Uh, I don't know.

JC: Not sure?

SS: I mean Upper Michigan is not farming very much. I mean there are potato farms and stuff, but they're a no cost make families were not involved in farming. I remember at least another one that involved in somebody worked get 3:00the forest service. They didn't have um, a kind of a saw mill type thing and um, there were some people who worked on the railroad, um, somebody at a small newspaper that they produced a, somebody on the gas, oil and gas company. I'm trying to think of my classmates.

JC: So just kind of all over the map

SS: Some involved in fishing. Actually there at the time there was a well people that would catch like, smelt. Those little smelt and sell to a pet food company.

JC: Oh, okay. So just kind of all over the map?

SS: [inaudible] Fished out through the years.

JC: Yeah. So what kind of work did your parents do?

SS: My father had a degree in forestry from Iowa state and almost civil engineering and uh, he bought timber but he also, uh, mainly it was in surveying, uh, along the way and it was never a highway type. It was all the 4:00forest and private land. Uh, and uh, Iowa State I guess is still known as both the best forestry school and he almost had like civil engineering, so we did a lot of math.

JC: That make sense.

SS: That transcend through the snow in the middle every type of weather year round, um, through the forest. And my mother had a college degree too. Um, in art and later in home economics because she taught, she taught art and home economics, and at times she taught English.

JC: Uh, so you mentioned both your parents had degrees. Was that always stressed as a child? Was college always kind of a part of your plan growing up?

SS: I think so and I mean they were unusual for their time to, because that was the late 1930s especially for my mother to have a degree that I think girls that 5:00had been, if they went to college and the family was fairly successful, three boys and a girl, she was the youngest, so I think you got sent off as a girl in art or a home economics. So when I went to college, girls were going to be teachers or nurses. And I started out as an English major. Um, but my parents were fairly intelligent. We had great discussions around the table at dinner. They, they, uh, told me that they listened to opera and the radio during World War II, Upper Michigan, but they lived elsewhere. I had a brother, my dad was with the Tennessee Valley Authority during World War II and I have a brother born in Tennessee, and one brother and I were born in Dubuque, Iowa. And then the youngest was born in Upper Michigan. They were, they were both intelligent and interesting people and they had a lot of books which I've inherited. I have 6:00number from the 1800s you know, uh, whether it's poetry or I had an Uncle Tom's Cabin that I gave to a black friend of mine, I thought he might treasured it was, uh, from the 1800s and I have an uncle. I mean I have a Benjamin Franklin autobiography, still trying to decide who to give it to.

JC: Yeah, from the 1800s. It must take a lot of care to keep those from falling apart.

SS: Yeah. Well my grandmother had them to begin with and I think she was a teacher in the 1890s. Then when she died, a lot of them went to my parents' house and then, uh, my dad started offering to us kids and I was the most interested. We're all readers, but as time went on I took more and more because they didn't.

JC: OK. So you mentioned that you had, um, you and your family had fairly 7:00intelligent conversations sitting around a dinner table or at the backyard. Do you remember what those conversations were about? I mean, what you're, like, family values were.

SS: Well, there were some political discussions. There were also discussions about things going on in school or in their lives or what people were up to. I remember that my father seemed kind of prejudiced. Um, like, when I graduated from high school in 1964 and um, he used to kind of rant and rave and he saw riots on TV and stuff. But in college, in 1967, I won a campus, a kind of a contest on, on countries from the United Nations. And um, I won a grant to study in New York City partly at the UN and partly in a room at New York University, but UW Madison, I got two classes in political science and I remember, um, at 8:00times when minority people would actually come to town, my Dad was the most gracious and wonderful person. He was mad at the TV, but in person he was, um, welcoming.

JC: Yeah, okay.

SS: You know, when he saw individual people. But I always remembered some of that, you know, from growing up. And, um, you know, I, I went after, I mean I'm jumping around, but after college I went, I didn't want to be an English teacher after all and I went to Chicago to be a writer and I was very naïve, you know, nobody wanted to let me be a writer. They wanted me to be a secretary when I interviewed and I wasn't a great, typist, but I think my mother was her education, she wished in some ways she never said it, but I think she wish she 9:00would've gone out in the world more. So when I went to the UN, when I went to Chicago, um, she never expressed any worry about where I was or, um, you know, was I safe or anything. She trusted me all the time.

JC: I think that's what you need, too, is your parents support. That helps a lot.

SS: Right, right. She was always happy for me, but later on I traveled to Europe on my job and everything. I mean, I think she was always pleased, and I lived in Philadelphia while I lived in Chicago, and I lived in Philadelphia for time when I was married. Uh, it was because of my job. Um, but, you know, she would come to visit, they would come to visit, they liked museums and you know, all, anything, uh, you know, that somebody was somewhat educated. Although when we went to the Field Museum in Chicago, my father went into the section about forests


JC: I mean that makes sense, that's what he liked to do

SS: But he wanted to see what they were showing.

JC: So you mentioned that both of your parents went, uh, went on to get a higher education. Was that normal in your community? I mean, did a lot of families have two parents with education? No, it was just kind of your family.

SS: How many parents had a college degree in the 1930s that both the father and the mother let alone a mother? When I applied for one job out of college, when I moved back from Chicago, my husband and I, uh, I interviewed, I didn't realize it ended up in the paper industry that it was so strong. I ended up in advertising PR then sales and later marketing. But this person that they would have seen it, you know, it was an industrial psychologist. I saw him three times in my career and they would hire this guy, you know that you wouldn't see if you were OK for the job. He asked me about my father's education. I mean I remember 11:00two things he did and this is like 1971. He asked about my father's education and my father had the college degree out of Iowa State, a good school. And I added, "And my mother has an Iowa state degree and a master's degree." You know, he didn't ask me about my mother.

JC: Yeah, he didn't really seem-- kind of--

SS: No. And he gave me a test and it said on the top 'Vocational Test for Women'. And I was at that point, I had been there when I was interviewing for a promotion to a supervisor job and that vocational test that said 'for women' you would have to pick from column A or column B and you'd go down and you'd have to pick one or two, one or the other as possible. And that would be like a nurse or a stewardess. It would never be the doctor or the pilot.

JC: Wow.

SS: So, that was the mentality. And I don't know of any parents of any of my 12:00friends growing up who went to college. I don't know of anybody's parents that went to college.

JC: So you were pretty fortunate to have both of your parents educated, so school was stressed. Yeah, so school was stressed to you growing up.

SS: Although, you know, uh, I mean, uh, in a small town there were kind of cliques in high school and I was in and I would, you know, whether I was, you know, popular, although I was voted most likely to succeed.

JC: Wow!

SS: I was on the debate team and at that point I was shy even though I could give a speech and I couldn't be in a play, because that was a real audience. Debate was just the two other people you have partner and the judge, nobody came to your debate. So I don't know whether I tried to overcome something, but, um. 13:00Oh, what was I going to say? Ah, yeah. So I suppose that kind of image they voted me most likely to succeed.

JC: Well that's awesome. So you mentioned that you grew up in, or you, uh, were born in Iowa and then grew up in Michigan. What brought you to Oshkosh to come to school?

SS: Well, uh, my parents took me to see some schools like UW Stevens Point. I had a feeling two things I didn't want to go to a college that had 20 to 40,000 students, you know

JC: Wanted to keep it small?

SS: And, secondly going to like Michigan State or University of Michigan was much further than Oshkosh because um, we're not that far. Well, if you go from Green Bay to the state line, it's like an hour and then Menomonee, and then it's like another hour to Escanaba. So uh to drive from, say, Green Bay to where I 14:00live was, you know, two and a half hours. And Oshkosh wasn't that much further. And Stevens Point did seem a little small at the time and then Oshkosh seemed a good size. And the other thing was I was in high school debate and I had won a number of a speaker's awards and Oshkosh had a good debate team, a really national reputation in some ways.

JC: Wow, I did not know that.

SS: Yeah, and was this Dr. John Schmidt who ran it and so I joined, and I had a note from my high school debate teacher, I didn't know what they think of me, but then I was on the debate team and they had a like a freshmen, what's the word? A junior varsity or you know, whatever it was and I flipped between that and with the upper level group

JC: As a freshman?


SS: I think they found out I was pretty good and then when they would have a, an occupancy on the, more senior group, they'd throw me into that.

JC: Oh wow. So you were Pretty good at it.

SS: I got my worst grades as a freshman in college because of debate. I don't want to blame it on that because we would go to law libraries and research and everything and I would miss sometimes both Thursday and Friday of college.

JC: You would kind of forget about--

SS: We would go all over United States debating

JC: Wow!

SS: We were going to Pittsburgh and to Peoria, to Bradley University to, Oh, I forgot the name of the one in Ohio and Minnesota wasn't unusual in fact, we went to Minnesota and in high school and debated it up there.

JC: So Oshkosh was pretty well known for their debate team.

SS: Oshkosh?

JC: Yeah.

SS: Still?

JC: No they were, back when you went?

SS: Oh yeah. Right. And you know, he left to get his PHD and then this other 16:00guy, Mike, I can't remember his last name. He was good too. But I spent so much time on that. Uh, so I did two years and I thought this is, it's, it's overwhelming, it's all encompassing. So, I left it and uh, but, but that's debate, fraternity, I guess sent me to that contest. And then I won this trophy. Uh, I represented France in this [inaudible], all the uh, college, what do you want to call them? Clubs could send a person and so mine sent me and I read, we picked France because France was an ally, but sometimes France would surprise you, like, you know, they weren't like just total lock step with US and it gave me an opportunity to say a few kind of different unexpected things. And you were partly judged on how well you represented that country.


JC: Okay.

SS: So you could go slightly off script being France.

JC: Yeah, because you never knew what they were going to do.

SS: Right? Right. And then I got that trophy and then that's the political science professor selected me to go to New York for the summer and it was an absolutely fantastic, wonderful time. And I was at, this is [inaudible] [inaudible] talk about a classic baby boomer. The six day, some people call it Seven Day War broke out. They had, um, entrees to all the missions or you know, some people say embassies, but missions to the United Nations. And we went to all these countries to their actual mission and then we would sit in the back of the general assembly, like we were housed near, Greenwich Village, New York University. And we'd get on a subway in the morning and get off at grand central, walk to the UN and sit in the back and then we'd have classwork in the afternoon or that war broke out while we were back there.


JC: Yeah.

SS: And uh, after that, I don't know whether it was a whole summer or whatever, but we were not being [inaudible] They ushered us out, but I remember the great speaker Aba Eban to this day Israeli speaker and he was renowned for his speaking and there was like Arthur Goldberg was the, ambassador or whatever to the UN and we went to the US and I think Russia, we went to a lot of their kind of missions.

JC: Wow.

SS: Yeah. I mean these were professors from Madison and they had these contacts after you win. The professor was selected, we didn't realize, I wasn't really a political science major, but he announced it. But one of the classes I took on it was like, yeah, to do 15 books of political science reviews and take the class. So I said, well, I suppose when I do this I'll have a pretty good foundation. And then I took some more after that. So I almost had a minor. But, 19:00uh, yeah. So then I, I, you know, I thought I'm not going to continue in debate. And I went onto the radio station. And I wrote for the Advanced Titan. And I was on the Union board, for public relations, so you know, and model UN though I was in and we would all be in the top 10. They send them all over the country. Like we went to St Louis, we had a huge UW Oshkosh van and we went to St Louis and we had a couple of guys from Africa on the team and we represent places like Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone and uh, you know, because we had a couple guys from over there.

JC: So you mentioned that you, um, kinda left that and went and wrote for the Advance Titan. What, do you remember, like what your field was that you for? Was 20:00it politics? Was it sports? Was it student life?

SS: It was reviews! I, I think I found a couple in an old box, like , there was a professor Alan Utkie is an example and he gave a talk on UFOs and I did a review of his speech and a few others of some, some events or something. It wasn't music, but it was maybe speeches and things.

JC: Yeah.

SS: I mean, I, uh, from debate and even in high school I learned to be a really good note taker and even in my classes sometimes people would want my notes more than likely. You know, in debate you can fold the big sheet of paper into four columns, you know, and the first one, if you're not the first presenter or the first presenter presents the, a plan or whatever the idea. And then the second column is counter point to it. And I would draw arrows back and, you know, let's say I was this, I was usually, I was the counter point person, so I'd wrote some notes on what the first person said and then what I was going to go up against, what they said. So let's say I'd have bullet points or whatever and I draw my arrows back to them as to how I was going to rebut it. Uh, but, you know, I've 21:00just always been a pretty good note taker. So, uh, yeah,

JC: So you kind of just reviewed certain books or things that you read on campus or?

SS: No, it was actually, I don't think I ever did a book that I read. It was more like this doctor,

JC: Okay. So you would review majors.

SS: You know, that maybe the guy would give, I don't know what the union or something like that.

JC: Wow. So you were OK. That makes, that makes a lot of sense for what you are doing. The debate club and the Model UN. That makes sense that you would reviewed stuff like that.

SS: Yeah.

JC: So you said that um, your freshman year, you kind of missed a lot of 22:00classes. Do you remember what those classes were like? Like the general education classes at the time? Do you remember what they were, how rigorous they were?

SS: Well, I, I do remember like, I think you had to have one or two classes in some kind of science and mine was zoology.

JC: Zoology? Wow!

SS: Yeah, and they have like chemistry in there, the chemistry of breathing or something like that. But I didn't really care for it. It was kind. Tough class.

JC: That sounds like it'd be very tough

SS: For me it was, you know, you think Ah, and I'm thinking well, but another one. Oh I about, I remember one time was geography. The professor would get off on tangents, he was ready to retire and he was supposed to be covering the horse latitude winds and he started talking about horses. If you had one of those big 23:00rooms with the, uh, what do you call it?

JC: Windows?

SS: You know, bowl kind of shape..

JC: Oh, yeah. Pit classes? Lectures?

SS: Lectures, right. And uh, like he would, if your chair was empty or seat was empty, you know, you weren't there kind of thing. Well, people would test the guy out, they'd all switched chairs.

JC: Confuse him a little bit (laughter)

SS: Then the people in the back row sometimes after he took attendance. People in the back row while he had his back to the blackboard. They'd go over the seats and leave. It was a lot of craziness.

JC: So, You're talking about that professor. Were there any other professors that you remember that were kind, kinda influential to you throughout your college time that helped you?

SS: Joseph Mazza taught, Uh, I think like a logic class and something maybe to 24:00do with debate, but I remember like Cicoroni and logic or something like that and he had a big influence to me. I actually wrote him a note after I got my job in Chicago. Yeah, Mazza. a I remember seeing from one of the publications have, it could be 10 years ago now or something that he died, but, you know, I, I went to when I was in Chicago, I wanted to go to law school at night and I went to a Northwestern to take the, it was called the LSAT. Law School Admissions Test. And I got a pretty good score and I had recently been in one of his classes and I had the feeling that it helped me on that exam with some logic consulting.

JC: So he was a pretty big part of your college life?

SS: Yeah, I really respected him. I mean I had an advisor that was an English 25:00guy. English professor. This is the opposite story. I took a semester of Shakespeare and he talked me into taking a second one. I don't know. Somehow I just said Well, OK. And to this day I know very little about Shakespeare or anything to do with Shakespeare and here I took two entire semesters.

JC: So he was kind of the exact opposite.

SS: Right. I crammed before the exams. I mean, I don't know, I didn't get bad grades or anything but I crammed and I wrote my papers at the last minute.

JC: So you were kind of going for the grade as opposed to the knowledge of actual Shakespeare.

SS: Right. Right. I mean if I were to do it over, I would have probably several things like I love history right now, but I didn't have any teachers that made it very interesting for me. I mean I'd love to go to a school and you know, I'd love to be a visitor. I have [Inaudible] school anyway. Remember that Billy Joel 26:00song, "We Didn't Start the Fire"?

JC: Yep.

SS: That's one of my ideas. He mentioned so many reference points, whether it's social or you know, Middle East war, I covers the gamut with all his name dropping. I mean he's got, you know, one, 200 references going back to a WWII, or Vietnam let's say. And if you had a class make you know, a list on the blackboard. All of those references, you know, and divide people up to you know, What was this about? What was this world leader, you know, who is this, what happened then? You know, to make an interesting.

JC: So you, you just mentioned Vietnam. You went to school, right? I mean, right in the middle of that whole protests. Do you remember there being kind of were there violent protests on campus? Were there any protests on campus?

SS: Well, there were starting when I graduated in 68. Well, you know, I like to say like the quintessential boomer because first of all we had the war broke 27:00out, you know, in Vietnam and then I was going to mention, I mean, I'm sorry, the Middle East War broke out. Well then, uh, I think I was a senior I was in an apartment with three gals and one of their boyfriends was missing in the Battle of Hue. And he was missing in action. We watched television every night because if we could see something happening, you know, and we watched the news. I wrote a poem. I probably still have it somewhere. I wrote a poem about missing in action and uh, you know, uh, how we watched the news and so forth. She was just waiting to hear is he alive or dead? Well later on, I think maybe after graduation I found out he survived.

JC: I just can't imagine trying to focus on your college classes when you're 28:00significant other is missing in action.

SS: Yes. Yes. And we all, I mean, like I say, there were four of us. We were, uh, we were on High Street in an apartment down near the end, uh, near, uh, the museum, kind of that end up High Street apartment. So we got this apartment with two bedrooms and so, you know, there were just four of us that were in there that were that close. And so we're all commiserating over the missing of her boyfriend.

JC: Yeah, I mean you're all, you're all best friends if you live together. Yeah.

SS: Yeah. And then, you know, there were riots twice, but one time the riots before that were beer riots. The law changed from. I, I, you know, it would be like you'd have to be 21 to drink, or you could be 18, and I think it did some switching back and forth so I don't understand. I think, oh, there was a bar near campus. Maybe that was it? The students were all out there rioting over the 29:00beer laws or something and there were something in the paper of the local newspaper and it was going 'Oshkosh newspaper.' And uh, I remember that the, I guess the Fire Department and police came and they hosed the students! There was snow on the ground and some of us, like I had gone to the uh, uh, you know, where you eat.

JC: The cafeteria.

SS: Yeah, the cafeteria and uh, so I get out of there and all this stuff is going on and you couldn't get in your dorm. They locked some of the dorms, like they were trying to prevent people from coming out and joining, but they prevented a certain number of us from getting back in. And I remember standing on the periphery of this, police goings on. So, I mean there are various kinds of things and then I think it's right after I graduated, they had a senate sit 30:00in, in the president or the Dean's office riots at Oshkosh.

JC: Black Friday. Yeah, we talked about that in our class.

SS: Yeah?

JC: From what we learned that was just a crazy day.

SS: I remember I didn't like the president. I think it was Guiles. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I don't know what it was. Maybe it was his handling of some of that.

JC: Well that, that whole thing started. I mean it kind of started because of the, the whole idea of racism on campus. A lot of people thought that a Oshkosh wasn't very racially diverse, a Lot of people didn't want. Um, do you remember any of that when you like, do you remember any instances that stand out in your mind of racism in the city or on the university?

SS: Not really, but I probably realized that, uh, it was that way. I was always 31:00pretty conscious my whole life, of things like that. I said on that model UN. Now, it was kind of funny the two guys from Africa. One was from Nigeria and I'm not sure where the other one was from. As a matter of fact. I mean, I remember his name. Ezekiel [inaudible] was his name. And uh, then he got what is the, what's the word I want to say? He did not want to be named after a missionary named Ezekiel. And so he changed his name. Uh, and I can't remember his next name was Mohammed something. Then we said, we said that your new name is kinda tough and he said you guys can still call me Zeke. He allowed us to still call him Zeke, but between you and me, uh, he was trying to date one woman in the 32:00group and she kept saying no and he kept using the phrase "Caroline's practicing apartheid" to her. And I saw her in one of the Oshkosh publications years later she became a lawyer. Yeah, he kept saying 'Caroline is practicing apartheid', but we were, I mean, there was nothing between us in that group. I mean, he, I don't think he was really mad. He just, I mean, you know, because you were in debate or whatever club you're in, you don't have to date the people, he knew that uh, but I remember his phrase and, and uh, there was no tension as far as our working together.

JC: So you don't remember any, like any instances where there was explicit racism shown on campus?

SS: Not really. I think it came after my time. I think that, you know, even like 33:00the Vietnam thing, I have a feeling the big riot. Well, do you remember when that was? I would say it was the fall of 68.

JC: Yeah, I think that's what, 68, 69.

SS: The spring that spring before that.

JC: OK. So you're, you were gone by the time all this kind of started taking place

SS: And you know, something else about that campus that I've always noticed when I began there was around 5,000 students and when I left it was around 10,000. It doubled in my four years and it stayed. Hasn't it stayed not too far behind that?

JC: Yeah, it's right around 12 to 13 right now.

SS: And I think they controlled, you know, the university system has controlled to a certain extent how many students they take, or whatever.

JC: The population, yeah.

SS: So that was a turbulent time. I mean even the housing and the student union 34:00and everything. And this is how old fashioned when I started, I don't know whether it was officially, but some people would think of it as Oshkosh Teacher's College

JC: Yeah that's how it kind of started out was Oshkosh Teachers College.

SS: You want to know about how they, maybe you can say discriminated against women is your dorm, when I got there was like locked down after 10 at night or something.

JC: Women had curfew?

SS: Yeah. Yeah, I think it was for the women. I don't know the guys.

JC: Yeah, it was just for the women. Guys didn't have to worry about it. But the women did. I think we learned that

SS: I was lucky in life. Uh, maybe because of my mother and father. I never felt that, you know, this is for girls and that's for boys. That's one thing that they never imparted to me. And so naively I would try things, not even, not even expecting in any way that I would be discriminated against, like even in going 35:00to Chicago, although it kind of slapped me in the face a little bit, but I

just Kinda kept plugging away at whatever I wanted to do in life.

JC: Well, that's, I mean, you have to feel fortunate for that.

SS: Yeah. I mean, uh, you know, I, uh, you know, as I said, I went to Chicago and I got a job, uh, that was a company owned by the sun-times Daily News and World Book Encyclopedia. And I was in the Encyclopedia portion, mainly wrote for the Company newspaper, it was a tabloid in, um, we were sent for layout design as well as writing. And I had a real editor who taught me a lot more about writing, um, and it was a case of a woman editor and she was rare and she was very good. But then when I went back to Wisconsin and ended up in the paper industry, I was in advertising PR and I mean both in Chicago and at that job I had been making made passes at me and I switched jobs. And I, and you know, and 36:00the paper company and went into sales, which is why they had that guy see me because women didn't go on to sales then, I didn't know that. I worked with the salespeople and I knew what they did. So I applied and I was either the first or the second one, I'm not sure there was another division woman in sales, but, um, a lot of that's just because, 'oh, I know what they do and I, I go to their trade shows, I help them, you know, I could be one of them.' And then when I went into marketing, I used sales as a stepping stone, and went into marketing management in another company, um, and was the first woman manager in that division and had about four or five jobs when I was the first woman manager.

JC: Wow. That's pretty impressive.

SS: Once in awhile though, like one guy, at the one company says, 'uh, you know, 37:00you're the token woman.' And I said, is that why they interviewed seven people and six were men?

You know, for that job, if they wanted a woman here, they would have had like five of the seven or four of the seven women interviewed.

JC: So it Still wasn't exactly equal, but you were kind of a stepping stone for it.

SS: Yeah, I mean, I think, who knows, you know, about the glass ceiling. I mean, I was on the Wisconsin Paper Counsel and shared a PR Group and then uh, I go to the next job and they asked me to stay in. My boss said no, he wouldn't let me do it, you know, a lot of that kind of stuff. I went on my own my last several years, uh, and I still, I'm getting calls all the time to consult. I'm doing about three or four things even though I'm 72 and I've had the one of the worst cancers that only eight percent live five years.

JC: Wow. So you're still chugging along though!


SS: So far I'm four years and almost 75 percent die the first year with pancreatic cancer.

JC: Jeeze-- Very glad that you've gotten this far with it!

SS: I know, I might make it! And I've been snorkeling, you know, and stuff like that.

JC: Congratulations. Keep fighting.

SS: Yeah. Well, uh, you know, I, I'm, I'm kinda like in a narrow segment of industry that people see my articles in magazines. I write for three or four industry magazines sometimes, like this year, probably two of them. Uh, and so they see my name and they call me and sometimes it's to develop a product and help them from a to z about, you know, how to put something together, what the packaging and with the manufacturer and the manufacturer and stuff they call me 39:00because it's like, you know, one of the industries is wet wipes in most people know, don't know, there's probably 12 companies in the valley that make wet wipes.

JC: Oh yeah, I did not know that

SS: Because they go under their names, the brand names, they're little, they're quiet, you know, to make it good for Procter Gamble, they don't travel the world and Procter Gamble, slaps their label on it. But uh, yeah. So I had to get a second degree while they wanted me to have an MBA and I hadn't had, at Oshkosh, I hadn't had any business classes. It's probably still divided right by business and something else? And uh, so I went, uh, accelerated degree at night, you know, they accepted a certain number of my Oshkosh credits and then I went on Monday nights for four hours, which would be four class hours on, you know, after work from six to 10 at night.

JC: Wow That's a busy schedule!

SS: And every five weeks I'd have another three credits, so I got, uh, I decided 40:00to do it that way, so at least I'd have a degree in business before I got the MBA, which would have prerequisites, anyway. So, um, I got that in a year and a half and then later and my company paid for it. Then later another company paid for my Master of Science and Management [inaudible]

JC: So it sounds like that was a pretty busy schedule. What did you do? I mean, did you have a lot of free time? What did you do?

SS: No, no, you mean in my work life

JC: Just, like your campus life when you're, when you were here for four years,

SS: Oh, I was very busy with like with the debate and then the UN. And then the radio and then Advanced Titan and the union board. I got more out of I think on the, uh, the programs for my graduation, we had a little program and I was listed, uh, something like, oh, there's an asterisk. It's like top students or 41:00something like that. But because of my first year, my, uh, my grade point was only like, you know, like a C average. By the time I was a senior I was always a, a three point to a 3.7.

JC: And you were always very involved on campus too.

SS: Pardon?

JC: And you were always very involved on campus too. I mean, in the debate club

SS: Right, I think that was more of my, what I got out of college in many ways and let's say in certain years that I got out of the classes.

JC: And I think that's what a lot of people say. I mean a lot of professors these days do stress that it's kind of more important to get involved on campus and in certain clubs that you're gonna want to work in for the rest of your life than just going to college for the GPA.

SS: Right. Well, when I got that first job in Chicago, like I could show my written column from the Advanced Titan that I had something in writing that I did. You know and it's kind of funny. Well, I mean I had a boyfriend a semester 42:00behind me and he lived outside of Chicago and I stayed there that summer and job hunted, but then I didn't have the job. He went back to college and then this is, this is awful. I went to the white, YWCA in Chicago, which was a horrible place.

JC: What is that?

SS: You had a little cell to stay in while I was job hunting. When I got there, I had the stuff from the Advanced-Titan, but they gave me a sheet or two, a paper of facts and they asked me to write a story around it, around what they had given me. So I went back to that Y and I went up to the counter in the lobby at that time and I said, do you have a typewriter I could borrow? So they handed me a typewriter across the thing and I sat in the lobby and I wrote the story.

JC: So your college experiences obviously had a very huge impact on your post-life.


SS: Yeah, I mean, I did learn how to write. I mean, whether it was a term paper, an essay that was always a standout for me. And uh, even from high school one, but I wrote that thing in the lobby and I got on a bus and I went back to his company, which is in the merchandise mart, one of the biggest buildings in the world by volume. And I handed it in and then I got the job and they said, uh, you know, you did a good job. And we were impressed by how fast she did it. And I thought 'you have no idea, how bad I wanted to get out of where I was staying, I gotta get out of this place.

JC: So, um, so kind of bringing it back to--

They let me write in the, like beyond that little newspaper, they had a hardcover book where some top executives from the world book or something, advice on life or something and I, uh, I go through a couple of them in there 44:00and then the president, and I'm still good at this, my whole life, the president asked three of us to write a Christmas message from him at Christmas. It would be like a column, that he would write, and two out of three years he selected mine. I'm really good at writing a view that somebody wants, like as a consultant. But I have, well gotten now, these are industry magazines, but I've gotten about five cover features, that I either took a photo or I worked with somebody who did and then I would write under my client's [inaudible] So, you know, in some cases they could call me. I had to interview him on the phone a lot, I got to know him. But a lot of times they hardly changed a word of what I wrote. One of them was how to optimize your 10 color press. You know, some crazy 45:00topics, but one of them I wrote, I

really liked that was under my name. I called it echo fiction because of all the bs about sustainability, like the landfills and stuff. It's not gonna break down in most landfills. You know, it doesn't degrade, so you need to do source reduction, stuff like that.

JC: Kind of bringing it back to the campus life. You mentioned the dorms that you stayed in. What dorms did you live in your first couple of years?

SS: Ah, that became-- Well it didn't even have.. It had a bad reputation even at the time I was just in the dorm. I was in and became a teacher thing. Radford? Is that still here?

JC: Oh yeah. Radford is still here.

SS: Yeah. And it became teachers offices. But one good thing about it, we had bigger rooms and almost every, uh, you know, other dorm and you could move your furniture around.. Stuff like that.


JC: Yeah. Me and my roommate got.. Was South Scott here when you were in attendance?

SS: No what was it?

JC: South Scott? The Scotts or the Gruenhagens? Either one?

SS: Yeah Gruenhagen.. Yeah

JC: So we lived in a building like that. It's right across the street. And you, I mean you could barely, you could stand and touch either wall, reach your hands out pretty much with how small the room was.

SS: Radford was really good that way. My second room, I was in a house behind the library across the street and we used to go out on the roof on the second floor. Like sun tan in the spring. You're looking right in the library. They're over there, you know, studying. And you're out sun tanning on the roof.

JC: Making them jealous, huh?

SS: Even though I did all those things, I had kind of an agoraphobia, like two places. One was, I mean I used the library but I felt like you were walking the 47:00gauntlet. People would look up from those carrols and the other place was in the cafeteria. You came in one end and you'd walk along this whole walk and then you get your food, and yeah, I was always nervous about doing that.

JC: So you didn't spend, you didn't spend much time in the library?

SS: I think I did, but I just get right into my little carol or whatever you call it or check the books out. I mean I was a pretty good researcher. And in the debate, We went to law libraries a lot, but I was OK with because I was with a friend, you know, that wasn't alone going through there. I didn't like like living in Chicago to begin with. I was just like, nuts over the weekends because I

was just by myself, but you know, being alone, but took a long time for me to come out of my shell.

JC: Yeah. So what did you, what did you and your friends or your roommates, what 48:00did you guys do during your free time?

SS: We went to bars and stuff. I don't know, you know,[inaudible] any of this but I had in lifetimes. I had to escape from situations. Uh, you know, I was supposed to go a movie one time with a guy and he drove me to the park down on.. What is that? [Inaudible] have a big music festivals and uh, he was kind of like a, well, you're stuck, you're gonna have to be, you know, come back with me in this car.

JC: Wow, that's gotta be scary.

SS: Then it was turning dark and he started kind of walking away and I turned around and I went through the trees and I thought, I don't care if it's 20 miles, I'm not going back with you. So, I kind of ran back to campus. And another time There was a nightclub that. Oh, I mean I did used to like to dance. 49:00Like they had.. Oh God, I forgot the names of those places, but they would change hands and so they would change what was going on there. And uh, this place had been on the weekends or it'd be dances and then maybe the weekdays it was a like they would serve dinner or something. Oh twice at Oshkosh.. [inaudible] Ever print any of this. Twice I ended up at a strip club that I didn't know I was going to be in.

JC: In Oshkosh??

SS: Yeah! One of them was, what's the name down on.? I was at this one place where everybody was drinking beer. I was with a roommate and she abandoned me. And so now I'm down on that main street or whatever it was called, Main Street?

JC: Yeah, Main Street.

SS: It had a laundromat in the corner, it's still there. I think I forgot the name of it. It's no longer a student hang out. So I saw this guy that used to be 50:00a friend with a group and I said, can I follow you around for the night? And he said, yeah, but we're going down Main Street we're going in and out of bars, so I said that's OK. We get to like the third one and I look up and there's a

woman on a platform up there when she's gotten rid of her veils. Yeah. And then another time, isn't there still a place like little way out of town called the loft?

JC: I'm not sure. I don't think I've ever heard of it.

SS: It used to be this dance thing and this guy asked me to go to dinner and there wasn't really any people in there and I notice he's looking past me behind my back and there was a stage and the woman was stripping

JC: That's where he took you for his date,

SS: Well, he was looking past me. And it was just this quiet music. And I turned around, And I'm like, oh my God.

JC: That's where he took you for your romantic dates.

SS: Uh, yeah, yeah. The last time I ever saw, you know, before I ever was with 51:00that person.

JC: Yeah, that makes sense.

SS: But when I was in debate, uh, he liked to announce to the class, like if my debate team did well, you know, he was like, oh, she must last, you know, uh, you know, Susan. And then he asked me out

JC: One of your professors did?

SS: Yeah. And uh, I, he might have waited until the end of the semester, which would have been the right thing to do, but I thought he was ancient and I wasn't.. You know I'd make up things like say I have a boyfriend, you know?

JC: Yeah. Well, we actually learned about, how kind of, not common, but how it wasn't unheard of for professors to be engaged with students that they have. I mean, nowadays, that's kind of unheard of for professors to be asking out students

SS: I didn't want to get on his wrong side, so I would just say I had a boyfriend all of the time. There was a professor too that, uh, I took one 52:00creative writing class. As I got older I thought, well, I'm not just going to do the Shakespeare that this guy telIs me, I'm going to do something I feel like [inaudible] where you had credits, where they let you do whatever. And it was, like creative writing and he would have parties up on the second floor of some building that he lived in and, uh, it'd be full of students. And this other guy that put me at the United Nations, his was a little more of a true get together for people. Like one guy, he became a Rhodes Scholar, this one guy. It was a dinner, but he had a dinner and that's the first time I ever had curry in my life. I don't know, through some of those groups and stuff, you know, I either went out with them, and there were a lot of dances, you know, and stuff like 53:00that. And I think events like sports and so forth. Although there again, God, I had a lot of bad lessons. Do they still have the teeks?

JC: I'm not familiar. I'm not sure.

SS: I think they have a bad reputation. I didn't know that. We had a big hayride or something before or after game. And I went with this guy that was a jock and they had booze, you'd be sitting on a bale of hay, and they'd give you like the small glass and just pour it right in there. Like, oh, what's that green stuff? It's bad stuff. Peppermint schnapps. You have too much of that. You'll never want it again. But anyway, I was sitting on the edge and I would dump mine over the side.

JC: So you didn't have to drink it.

SS: I did that twice, dump it over the side. At first he was like, hey, maybe 54:00some more. And then after a while he realized that I wasn't really drinking it.

JC: Yeah, you didn't really want it.

SS: I wanted my wits about me. And that was the first and the last of that one.

JC: Just a couple of follow-up, wrap up questions here. Are you still involved In UWO at all since you graduated? Have you been back on campus at all?

SS: No I haven't, And one thing I didn't realize like high school had these cliques, you know, college in here in Oshkosh, I found out, I don't know whether the word is, was kind of provincial, like, oh, there were the townie girls there, the girls from Green Bay, there was even this group of girls from New London and so I'd be in these dorms and buildings, you know, it took me a while to make friends. And I noticed there was a picture of about four or five of them 55:00in one of the publications, maybe three, four months ago. And I noticed a couple of them had been my roommate. But you know, one thing that, in life, if you're dating somebody as a woman, all your friends become his. If you lose him, you lose all those friends. That happened a few times. I had roommates and I did stay in touch with on a certain extent, one of my better ones became ill and has passed away. She had MS

JC: Oh, wow. I'm sorry to hear that.

SS: But, you know, it was more cliquey and all my high school friends and even my son went to Madison. I wanted a better name, sorry, but what he wanted to do. So I sent him to Madison and he tended to hang out with his high school friends in college. And I didn't realize that that's what my friends in Michigan did. 56:00They went to Michigan State or Michigan, I had nobody from my. Yeah no high school people went were I did. I was the only one.

JC: I guess that's a good thing though too. It kind of gets you out, and involved and meeting more people.

SS: In fact, in high school I thought I, like I say, it was kind of in and out of those clicks. And I was.. I didn't, I wasn't advanced, lets just say in social life until toward my senior year a little bit, but I just thought my time will come. I had that confidence that, you know, that's all right. I might not have done everything socially in high school that everybody does, but I'm going to go away and have my life, you know, the, you know, so that, that was fine. I think my parents or maybe my mom gave me that confidence that, you know,

JC: That's a very good thing to have. Knowing that you have your own life, you 57:00don't need your high school friends to rely on.

SS: Yeah. And my son eventually got that way. I could see that in him too.

JC: Um, so you mentioned that you didn't really keep in touch with your high school or your college roommates. Were there any college friends that you met during your time at UWO, that you did, like a lifetime friend that you did keep in touch with?

SS: No, no, I can't think of anybody. No. I mean, no I didn't. I mean, I moved around and stuff and, you know, and I was very busy in my work life. I traveled a lot, you know, I said I went to school on Monday nights. I had a couple jobs where I still traveled from Tuesday to Friday all over the United States. I mean I've probably traveled in 48 of the 50 states. And in the eighties, one company had a plant in the Netherlands and I went over there at times and then, after 58:00that, I worked for a company out of Vancouver, British Columbia, and then around the year 2000 I worked for a company that had a location in France and Italy. And so I was there. And then sometimes I'd go to conferences in Switzerland and places like that, you know. So, I was very busy in my work life and then when I had my son and I didn't have him until like my mid thirties, I really stayed close to home.

JC: Yeah, social life. So it sounds like you're, I mean, from what I can understand, it sounds like you were very successful in your post-college life. Is there any advice that you would like to give to current college students that are about to graduate or looking to graduate that you can give them for after 59:00college or their there during college but they can do to help set them up for success?

SS: Well, I do think, just keep at it and I do think a lot of my success that I had was because I

had persistence but it wasn't super loud persistence or wasn't bothersome persistence. I just kept plugging away. But I do remember telling people, like a woman I worked with, she kept wanting to get ahead and I told her, if you don't get where you want to take those credentials and go elsewhere. And I told that to a number of people and they all succeeded when they went elsewhere. A guy that worked for me, I told him, he said, 'do you have any advice?' When I left and I said yeah, set a goal. If you don't get it, go somewhere else. And I had somebody tell me like when I worked at what was Appleton papers, I came back and interviewed for another division at a higher level job and he kept remembering 60:00me from my starting job and he kept looking at my resume, sort of shaking his head and he's like, oh, I just, I try to get used to all these things you've done.

JC: Yeah--

SS: But I realized he still had me in that niche from way back. And so that's fine. I mean, you know, I knew he was my opportunity. Uh, but yeah, in, you know, uh, if I didn't think something was, let's say the right path or whatever, I would either switch divisions of the company where I saw opportunity. I kept my eyes open, you know, within the company or sometimes to others. But almost all my jobs, I got recruited to them by, whatever you call recruiters. But I didn't typically go to competitors. I didn't jump to competitors. I, I did jump 61:00somewhere within, let's say, an industry where I had some credentials. A lot of times it was the companies I knew, like I dealt with Kimberly-Clark and Proctor and Gamble and Johnson, Johnson a lot on my jobs, so very often the next job, they knew that and they also dealt with them. So I made moves that I didn't try to be strictly competitive but still relevant to the, you know, what I was going. But the other thing too is I volunteered an awful lot. Like, for example, In one job I wrote up drug manufacturers, drug master file for the FDA and, nobody assigned it to me. My customer told me you don't have to have one of these because of the part of the industry you're in. But if you had one, it'd be a feather in your cap. So, you know, I looked [inaudible] and I was always doing 62:00If I could look up, a sample of some kind of report or rating. Then I knew what path I had to follow. And also very often volunteered and like a couple jobs, I had a couple people who did the same job as me, like I managed market A and somebody managed to b and c and I did several things where the boss would say, you know, 'does anybody want to do this?' And I would often volunteer and very often they did not want to, but it gave me like, you know, still like being a marketer and a pr and a writer. Well one time they had me [inaudible] entire division quality process and that's because I started a publication when I was part of the team member. I called the Quality Today and it eclipsed, the company newspaper. And it was much more reliable and it's timing, you know, often it would come out. Then they appointed me, the first person below vice president to chair the division and uh, they sent me to something called quality college and 63:00it was more like managing a process. But then that becomes a credential in all future marketing. She understands quality marketing or whatever it is. And another one was strategy. Uh, you know, the company hired a strategy firm to come in and help us through mission, vision. You've heard of all that stuff, you know, wrote the mission and stuff, but then that was on this team for a year and I just soaked up everything that we were taught. So ever after that, you know, and even when my master's degree, it was on a decision making, I help my clients. I, uh, let's say you had seven owners and they were always debating what you're supposed to do. They couldn't decide, and the older ones and younger ones, well, we're going to take the money or we're going to invest. Well, I knew 64:00ways of getting them to, uh, come together because of what I, you know, written about. So a lot of it, you know, uh, if you can volunteer or learn something new.

JC: Go ahead and do that?

SS: Well, even at UW Oshkosh, I can't remember the names, there was two guys I had a, I would have a group of 60 at the Tech Center and uh, the one guy is still in the business side that sustainability. He's a guru on sustainability. And uh, I had him come speak, you know, and then I started a team for this little group I had organized in business sustainability team and then I pulled people out of the industry. So it's like you're going to be, you're going to know something about what's going on and sustainability. So that continues, or whatever you can learn, then you can apply it somewhere else.

JC: Alright, Susan. I mean this is an awesome interview that you gave me a lot 65:00of insight about what campus life was like and what kind of life in general was like back then. Um, so thank you. Thank you very, very much for doing this. Uh, I know I appreciate it and the university as well, appreciates it.

SS: They're having the 50th anniversary of my class and I've debated to myself off and on, but I don't really have the contacts and I still have that thing where if I'm by myself, like my Guy John and probably couple, I have to twist his arm but they had a get together like where they have-- like I'm in Florida. They had a thing at a place like a reception down here when I got there and I left with 15 minutes. Because I just, I didn't know anybody and I felt uncomfortable, but I did talk to Christine, the, the alumni person I've talked 66:00to her, but then I left.

JC: Yeah. Well, if, I mean, you said you don't have any contacts, if you want to get in touch with someone. I mean you have my number I can get you in contact.

SS: She told me to. I think that might go back this summer sometime to campus because I'll be back for six months. I kind of do six months in Florida and six months at Wisconsin and a rating and uh, people don't even know I'm in Florida when I do some of my stuff.

JC: For what it's worth, I mean I definitely think you should come back here. The campus has changed a lot and it's really, really improved. I think you'd really enjoy seeing it.

SS: Yeah I've driven through. But I should come back.

JC: Yeah, I would definitely, definitely recommend it.

SS: Now when do you graduate?

JC: Uh, I am done 2020 or 2021 somewhere right around there. I'm a sophomore.


SS: What is your major?

JC: Education.

SS: OK. I was in that, for some reason I changed but I think I just didn't like one or two of the classes when I just made a snap decision.

JC: Yeah. Well it sounds like it worked out for and yeah.

SS: Yeah. Well best of luck to you Josh

JC: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you very much. Susan.

SS: If there's anything I can do for you, let me know. Like I was just writing up these flow charts for marketing. How to start a process and how to look at it. I've got them on tours three different ways. Somebody asked from my help recently and I, I just took the flow chart of you know, how to move through a project or a situation. I don't know if you ever want anything like that.

JC: I really appreciate that.

SS: And one of them was kind of a circle, you know, it starts with mission, vision and then objectives or climate, you know, a, a SWOT-strengths, 68:00weaknesses, opportunities and threats in whatever subject you're looking at. And then the tactics and how to get there. All that.

JC: Yeah, that sounds awesome.

SS: It's just a circle, you know, and it names them all and then on the bottom of the circle are the resources to get it done, like these people asked for my help when I was back in Wisconsin and so who's doing the work and uh, you know, I don't know how much I want to do for them. It looks like this one guy is being paid and that. So I don't know how much I'm gonna do you know, I gave them the framework, but I also kind of just said just for this project because I charged clients money and developing things like that, easy ways to look at things that I learned along the years to kind of put a framework.

JC: Yeah. Again, I mean, I really appreciate this Susan it was an awesome interview.

SS: Thanks Josh.

JC: Yeah, thank you. We'll, we'll keep in touch.


SS: All right.

JC: All right. Bye Bye.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear