Interview with Terry Backmann, 04/24/2018

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Will Bartel, Interviewer | uwocs_Terry_Backmann_04242018_uc.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


WB: Either or we could just, I guess jump right into it if you'd like.

TB: Yeah, I'm, I'm ready to go.

WB: All right. We'll try and make this as painless as possible. All right. All right. Um, uh, so basically the background of this is, um, the school is doing a program and along with the journalism department and the, the archives and they're having my class go and interview a group of alumni and then we're reporting back and sort of doing a history of the university project.

TB: Okay.

WB: Um, and so if we could first thing's first, could I have you state your name just for the recording?

TB: It's Terry Backmann.

WB: All right. Awesome. Thank you. Um, alright. So I guess first things first just to get a bit of background information. Um, uh, where did you grow up?

TB: I grew up in West Allis. It is a suburb of Milwaukee.


WB: Okay. Um, what kind of upbringing did you have there? Was like, what did your family do or what was your family structure?

TB: We were a small family. Me and my sister and my parents. And my dad worked in a heavy road construction and he worked a lot in summer and my mom was a stay at home mom and took care of us and does all the cooking and washing it, all this stuff back then that, you know, that wasn't very convenient, you know, it's harder work.

WB: Yeah.

TB: My sister, she's three years older than me and she also went to Oshkosh and we went to a parochial school and then we transferred to public school.

WB: Okay. Um, were your parents educated at college or were you both first generation?


TB: No, the, uh, my mom was an orphan and her sister took her in and she ended up doing a lot of farm work and cooking, and they would not allow her to go to high school. And my dad was also a - grew up on a farm, and his father died when he was 15 and he had to drop out of high school and run the farm until he got drafted and entered the service during World War II. So, no, but the um, encouraged us and uh, they wanted both of us to go to college, which, which we did

WB: interesting was, uh, so was education fairly important growing up or were you guys very work oriented kids like your parents?

TB: No, we were more education oriented. My parents would take us to the library 3:00pretty often. Um, we both were voracious readers and um, we know we had like babysitting jobs and then, you know, part time retail jobs. But we were definitely on the student, on the college course. We were lucky

WB: Uh, did you guys have any particular struggles to get college education going? Was it a struggle at all to find a school that would work for you guys? Or was it Oshkosh always?

TB: Definitely struggled with my mother because she was kind of a controller and she wanted her to go to UWM and um, we didn't have, uh, a good driving 4:00situation. There was only one car and my sister was telling her there was no way that, you know, she could go down there and come home on the bus and they sister, I argued that, um, my sister wanted to study English at first and she, I'm not sure how she found out about Oshkosh, but I think she just thought that was a good fit for her and we knew that there wasn't the money for, for private school, so, um, she finally got her around to the fact that it would make more sense for her to, to move up to school and go to school that way. So she kind of broke the trail for me.

WB: So your parents originally wanted your sister to commute to school?

TB: Yep.

WB: Oh Wow. And you said a west houses outside of Milwaukee or.


TB: Yeah. And um, because it, you can take the bus downtown or to the east side of Milwaukee.

WB: How long of a ride would that have been for a daily commute?

TB: About an hour and I, I was looking at journalism. I wanted to go to UW Madison and my mom put the kabosh on that too because my sister would have was a senior and a freshman and she didn't want my dad having to drive to two different schools, so, but I stretched, ended up being a, you know, it was, it was good. I think I got to do more there than I would have in Madison as undergrad in journalism. So no regrets.

WB: That's great. So did you, was it your sister attending Oshkosh that got you interested in it or was that also a personal interest?


TB: TB: My sister liked the Advance Titan. And I was thinking about journalism. I was working on the high school paper, and we had journalism classes and we had a really good teacher who was very encouraging, and my sister would bring the AT home for me to read and there was a guy, Scott [unclear], who went on to become the head of the DNR for awhile, and he had this really funny column called Pot Shots, and I loved reading that. So it, it, it got me interested. And I went up and visited her, and I liked the campus, you know, it was just the right distance from, from uh, Milwaukee area. So I, you know, I was, I got excited about going there.

WB: So, uh, in going to school, um, what was the sort of community difference like what was the, uh, I guess sort of what was your neighborhood status like? 7:00Was it a, a wealthier neighborhood or a poor neighborhood? How did the community change from moving to Milwaukee area to Oshkosh?

TB: Um, well I grew up, it was, I'd say it was a typical blue collar of the time, you know, we live in a bungalow. We didn't have a big yard, we weren't poor but we weren't rich, you know, it's kind of like the people that are getting, getting squeezed out of existence now.

WB: Yeah. Sort of the middle class.

TB: Yeah. It was like, yeah. Um, regular, middle class. I mean we never went without, but we didn't know. It was pretty basic, you know. Um, so, uh, there wasn't that much. I mean Oshkosh was, was pretty similar back then. They had a lot of industrial jobs, so there wasn't much of a distance at all or changed 8:00the, most of the kids were from similar circumstances some, were probably poorer and some richer, but you know, and that was an easy transition.

WB: So I'm in transferring from, or transferring from high school to college. This is kind of a question I'd like to ask everybody. What was the biggest misconception of going to college you had going in?

TB: Oh, that's a good question. I'm sure me, it was the type of people that I was going to meet initially because I ended up meeting more rural kids, Fox Valley kids, uh, kids from Beloit, Racine, Kenosha, and I was expecting them to be a little more sophisticated, I guess. And I was kinda like, oh my God, you 9:00know, that there was, there was a little disappointment there. And in time I, I found people I had more in common with, but at first I was a little disappointed with, with, you know, the view or the, you know, those - like the kids just weren't kind of kids that I knew or hung out with.

WB: Did you come to school with, um, a more conservative or a liberal background and how did that mix with the current campus culture of that time?

TB: Definitely more liberal and it fit in into some of the kids, uh, were more conservative. A lot of them came from parochial schools and uh, um, I was more, 10:00you know, some of the kids they hung out with her speaking. I didn't know what you would call them now. The hipsters maybe, and I'm not sure about, you know, I mean my dad used to shutter and some of the people I'd put in the car ride. So I think I was a little more out there to the left. Not a lot, but you know, definitely more than, than the average person in my age group was. I found I liked the older students better because they were a little more into the, when, you know, the first stream of baby boomers were, the people in my group were. I thought they were more conservative than I preferred .

WB: Yeah. And you kind of, you started. When did, what year did you start school at Oshkosh?

TB: In seventy four.


WB: Seventy four. Okay. Yeah. And that's kind of, coming after an interesting time at the school where they are kind of just getting over a lot of, I wouldn't say like political restructuring, but um, the school was kind of trying to reshift it's focus and trying to attract them I guess at the time with the chancellor said was a higher, a more um, sophisticated student group I guess

TB: They went from being the state system to merging with the UW system. Which was more of a research oriented. So, but frankly it was very easy to get in, you know, I, I'd like to think I could have gotten into those school that, you know, the money and the opportunity wasn't there for me, but I kind of had this feeling that you just make the most of, of where you're at. Yeah.


WB: Yeah. So what was the biggest change you had a freshman year at school?

TB: Oh, freedom.

WB: Oh, freedom?

TB: Yeah. Massive freedom. Yeah.

WB: Did you, um, did you live on campus or did you -

TB: Yeah.

WB: You did. So you were completely free?

TB: Yeah, no, I lived in the dorms. One of the few dorms that's still there that's really old - Webster? It was right near, uh, Radford Hall, which was real handy for me because I was over at the AT a lot from my sophomore year on and although I am moved off campus my junior year.

WB: Yeah.What was, uh, what was sort of the dorm culture like then?

TB: Um, the dorm I was in was not a good fit for me. There were a lot of nursing 13:00majors in there and if you made noise they'd have a fit because they were always memorizing, know every muscle or bone in the body. And uh, luckily my, I got a different roommate my second semester Who was not -- she was a business major and uh, we had, we had more, more fun, but I don't think I wasn't really one to hang around the dorm and hang out with people a lot of. I always usually out somewhere.

WB: Okay, so in general, what was your first impressions of Oshkosh when you showed up? Did it meet your expectations having known the university sort of well with your sister going there, or were there some things you were surprised to find out when you started?

TB: I was pretty happy. I took all kinds of different classes just to get a lot 14:00of basic credits. I was all over the place. I took piano, I was in the music building and um, some of the, like the big lecture room. So then the more intimate ones and um, you know, I just kind of veiled, I'd use the gym, I was like right across the street from Kolf. So, you know, that was like real handy. And uh, I didn't have a car so I had kind of a small world there. But it was okay. I, you know, I remember just walking tons and I liked going down the river or over where it's no longer there's a place called the [unclear]. Nice hotel, you know, it was kind of a funky little town, you know, Main Street was 15:00interesting back then, and I'd say my sophomore year it started feeling kind of small, but freshman year I enjoyed it a lot. You know, it's just fun to be in a different community and uh, you know, if you get around on foot pretty well. So that was good.

WB: Yeah. So what was your involvement on campus your first year? Did you join any clubs or any organizations?

TB: Not really. I was concerned. I didn't work at all. My first year I was mine to make sure I was able to handle the freedom and, and, and, uh, you know, get involved with the education with the academics and, and get decent grades, which I was able to do all that. So I, yeah, I wasn't a big joiner and I made friends pretty easily. So, um, I, I didn't feel the need to really. I just focused on 16:00grades from students.

WB: Yeah. What was, uh, what was the sort of social scene at Oshkosh at this certain time because it's, you know, Oshkosh is know was Sloshkosh now was it, did it still have that perception too?

TB: Yeah. It had it then too. It had the party school -- I think a lot of the state schools did. It wasn't the only one. I'm not sure how I, you know, from going to the other campuses, especially Madison, my God, that was complete partyville there. So there, um, you know, I, I went out a lot and the drinking age was 18, so everybody was - and beer was really, really cheap when those little seven ouncer's for a quarter, I think that you could go out on a buck and have a good time if you can imagine such a thing. So I think I probably partied 17:00a lot my first two years and then my second two years I got much more involved with my majors and I still went out, but I think I was smarter about it. But, you know, there were, there were parties all the time, the dorms at Fridays, you know, kids of campus had, pardon you're or, or you know, in people's dorm rooms. So there was always a party going on and uh, you know, I probably could have, you know, my, my, uh, younger son went away to college, he was always doing sports or something and I said, you know, man, I'm a, I'm a great example. But yeah, he, he, he did his share of partying too, I found out later, of course. It may be 21, but it doesn't matter.

WB: Yeah. Um, so, uh, in sort of summary, what do you remember from your 18:00freshman year? Was it sort of a life changing experience or was it sort of more like, Yup, this is what I expected. Now it's time to just keep working.

TB: TB: It was, it was the latter. I, I, I wish I'd could have gone to college my last year of high school in and had like five years of college 'cause that last year of high school was-- you know, didn't do much academically.. I had busted it sophomore and junior year and just wanted to get out and I was feeling more like an adult than a kid at that point and [unclear] it was just really grinding on me. So I think that first year was like hey I can do this, you know, I can have a good time but I can get good grades. And um, most of my professors I really thought was excellent. I mean, it's up to this day that, did I hold on 19:00to that I learned, I think taking that one year of just taking a lot of different classes that I wanted to take was good because, uh, I think it peaked my intellectual curiosity and got me back on track to learning which I'd kind of fallen off the wagon my senior year.

WB: You said you'd gotten interested in journalism right away. Did you, did you know you wanted to major in journalism freshman year or did you kind of go in and feel it out first?

TB: No, I uh, I wanted major in journalism and then I thought I could double major. So I also majored in radio-TV- film, other schools called communications. So I was able to do both, and I had a music minor going and then if I needed to get done in four years, my dad got sick the last two years and I paid the last two years and I was pretty much out of money. So it was like, no, no extra 20:00semester, and I got to get out of here, so I let the minor go.

WB: What made you choose -

TB: [unclear]. Sorry.

WB: Oh, sorry, what did you say?

TB: I did quite a few music credits. I think I had like 14 or 15.

WB: Was music always an interest growing up? Like did you grow up in a house where music was played a lot or was it a personal interest?

TB: Yeah, yeah. And then in high school I - I was in choirs and - was always in choir, and went to state in voice, and I knew it wasn't something you could really make a living out of, but, you know, its enhancing t life. And I thought I did it - to this day I, you know, listen to the classical station and jazz, and I don't know if I wouldn't if I hadn't had that education.

WB: So moving into your sophomore year, was there any big changes that happened 21:00to, in between that effected your second year or was it, um, sort of more of the same?

TB: Second year was hard. My best friend dropped out, and I had a boyfriend and then he dumped me. It was more personal stuff. I started working at the paper, which was the best thing I did because I got down there and, and really got involved with it and really liked it a lot so that, you know, it's a good and bad. I, there were some times where I, I felt like Oshkosh wasn't such a great fit for me that year. Some of the classes I took I didn't enjoy as much, but, you know, it all worked. I think it was a typical sophomore experience, it's just, you know, the thrill is gone a little bit and now it's like you have to start getting more serious about what you've been doing and now you have 22:00relationships with people and, you know, some got better and some got worse. But it was probably my most challenging year there.

WB: I, uh, I, I did a little bit of digging and I found your first article at the advanced. It was a, a, a review of the senior art show. Um, was that, was that a fun assignment?

TB: I was probably terrified that I was, I mean, every time I'd go out and my assignment in high school, I was worried about screwing it up, but it, it probably was fun because I liked, I liked art and I like, um, trying, you know, learning how to be a critic without, you know, just mouthing off and trying to put some knowledge into it. So I was pretty happy to get it.

WB: It was interesting. There was a, a followup article in the next weeks paper 23:00where, uh, I think it was your editor defended your article after one of the seniors was a little upset about your review.

TB: That sounds like me. I had kind of an interesting career there. My senioryear it really got crazy because he had this big story about the university and Oh my God, that was, that was so stressful going through it. Yeah. That's funny. I'm trying to remember who the editor -- that was Chambers?

WB: Um, it was -- I believe - was it Degner? Michael J. Degner?

TB: Oh Mike! Yeah. Yeah. I definitely remember Mike. Oh good for Mike. It's 24:00funny, first story I got in trouble first story out. I'm afraid I forgot all about that.

WB: So what, uh, what kind of classes were you taking that semester? Uh, to go with journalism and working at the paper where you constantly just under a full workload or was things pretty balanced?

TB: I took usually like 18 credits per semester, so I was taking news, writing, editing, and then I was doing the radio, tv classes, you know, general political science, history, you know, basic knowledge classes. So. And then yeah, go into music in there too. So yeah, it was, it was, it was pretty intense.

WB: Yeah. What were those programs like back then? Especially, um, journalism and radio, TV, film, because I, the radio TV film program was relatively new 25:00there and they've, those uh, those two programs that sort of swapped a little bit, the radio TV film program has grown here where the journalism program - it does well, but I don't think it's quite as big as it might've been before.

TB: Yeah. I mean this was after Watergate, so all these people that normally wouldn't have been interested in were inspired by that. But I mean the technology was nonexistent. We type on a regular old fashioned typewriters like you'd see in a movie, and then if you had to edit something you'd have to cut and paste, literally you can just hit the delete key. So at the paper we had a computer but it looked like something out of a huge and it was a punch punch tape thing. So that's how we put the paper together. Radio/TV/Film didn't have, 26:00um, film was really short changed. The equipment was horrible. Um, uh, I think the Radio/TV -- they had, um, pretty cool studios, I mean they did champions television shows, and I probably did radio the most out of the three. That was -- I loved doing radio shows. That was fun. Um, but yeah, it was, you know the head of the department, Doc Snyder, he was great. Him and Jack Lippert, head of journalism, those guys were great. And, uh, I liked them both a lot, they were both very encouraging, and they made me feel like, you know, they gave a hoot about me. They, you know, they'd talk about how I was doing, you know, between the two genres. And, um, I'm real grateful for those guys. And Gary Coll from journalism, who I think just retired a couple of years ago, and, um, [unclear] 27:00Davidson, they were good. Radio/TV had some real interesting instructors.

WB: They still do. I still do.

TB: Yeah, I think -- I think, you know, not to be mean or say anything bad, I think I connected better with those on the journalism staff. And I have to say, if a girl, female, if you weren't really cute over in the Radio/TV side, you're weren't going to be getting anywhere. And I was definitely not real cute, so -- I would go into something, and whoever was the hot chick would be doing the anchoring or, you know, it just didn't feel -- and I'm sure others would say, "That's not true!" I have a friend who is still in radio, but that was what I 28:00would run into. I wanted to do more things in life. I always felt like, you know, I was on the edge looking inwards. At the paper, not at all. Not a problem.

WB: What was, uh, what was the dynamic of the journalism major? Like, were there, was it all pretty much working together or did it have more of the maybe competitive side that Radio/TV/Film had they were more about appearances?

TB: There was a lot of competition in both and I, I'd have to say there was a lot more ego in radio, TV, film side, but there was plenty in the journalism side too. And, and I'm, I'm sure I had contributed to, to both, you know, I, I definitely had this ego and um, you know, we all want to get noticed and you know, look what we did and you know, I think that kind of personality kind of lends itself to that, to those fields. You, you've got something to say or you 29:00think you're the person who can tell the story or show the story. So, um, but you know, it, it wasn't overly, it wasn't cutthroat. Most, most of the people, there was a camaraderie in some level.

WB: So, uh, also in your, um, your second year you joined a Sigma Delta Chi, sorry. Yeah, I always do that.

TB: Sure. It looked like right.

WB: And then also Alpha Epsilon row. Um, what was, what were those programs like? Because I'm aware Sigma Delta Chi is a journalism honor society. Right. And I'm, I'm not familiar with Alpha Epsilon Roh.

TB: That was for broadcasting. So I was involved with both. I get more involved 30:00with Sigma Delta Chi, I think I was the president of the chapter and I got, you know, now you'd go who is this guy? Walter Mears, who was terrible. And I got him to come to campus and speak and that was exciting and I did like a debate between the print and the broadcast people. He had some people from the local paper and some people from the local TV station and a lot of green beans him. So I had fun organizing stuff like that. So that was good experience.

WB: Uh, were you involved with any, um, Greek life or sororities or.

TB: No, no, no. I didn't have the money and I, you know, again, like I've said in, no,

WB: Not much of the sorority girl

TB: No, no.

WB: Um, so in those middle years, that sort of a, when thing is I guess make or 31:00break where you just really figuring out what you want to do. What kind of experience did you have with journalism radio in radio, TV, film. Did you, uh, did you kind of ever questioned maybe this isn't what I want to go into or was it always pretty confident that that's what you wanted to study?

TB: I was, was pretty confident about it. I never, I mean my son went to school and he changed majors about three times, but no, that's. I mean I knew I wanted to do it in high school. I was kind of fortunate in a way I, if I had to do over, I think I would have done radio-tv as a minor and something like English or history or political science or even philosophy as major because I don't feel like I got a good education in, in sort of classical liberal arts because I was 32:00almost like someone who was trying to do tech school and college same time says I was at the time it was really hard to get a job and I was extremely worried about my hireability coming out of school, but I never did ever really do anything with radio or a TV show. Um, as far as, you know, it came in handy knowing stuff, but I never worked at a, at any kind of media outlet. I was always a newspaper person.

WB: Interesting. What kind of the. So with journalism, with that being your main focus, um, were there any, uh, specific professors or any like specific people in there that really impacted your, uh, your, your time at Oshkosh?


TB: Yeah. A [unclear] Davidson and Coll. There was a guy in radio/tv/film, Al Holker, who was -- he was a good influence. And Doc Snyder, um, it kind of drops off after that it would be people, you know, I had a French professor who was really good and a philosophy professor, you know, through like over the years, it's funny who stands out in your mind. Maybe not the people that you thought were so much fun or entertaining at the time, but the ones that left, uh, you know, uh, you're - a thirst for knowledge and you know, try to do with it. Just to sound too corny.

WB: Yeah. Do you stay, do you still stay in touch with any people from your time at Oshkosh or have -

TB: Oh yeah, I married one of them, my husband, and uh, I've stayed close with a 34:00lot of the people from the paper. If I don't see them all the time a lot or on Facebook, um, we -- we're going up to the reunion. This year is the 50 year reunion. Umm, we still stay in touch, um, with Professor Coll, and he's, uh, - Davidson never seems to come out to anything anymore. But we tried staying in touch with her. So, we had a really good friend who went to Oshkosh with us who died in his forties. So we started a -- established a scholarship in his name. So that kind of keeps us in touch. Dave Engels Scholarship.

WB: Okay.

TB: Yeah. It was like-- we need to give back because we were, you know, we were both fortunate. We both were -- got to work at daily papers. I worked at the 35:00Milwaukee Journal, my husband worked at the Kenosha News a long time. Um, you know, I work in financial planning now, but I use the journalism skills, I think, just as much as financial. You know, a lot of it is about listening and communication, and, uh, so I feel like I definitely got my money's worth and then some on my education.

WB: That's great. Uh, if you don't mind me asking, how did, uh, you and your husband meet at Oshkosh?

TB: At the AT. Romantic place. He was, uh, I didn't -- he was a transfer student, and I had been there all four, and he was wearing a Kelly's -- it was this bar that was there. Oh, that's still there, I think?

WB: Yeah, it's right across the uh, it's right across the street.

TB: Yeah. So it was like a big, if you were a freshman, you know that's where 36:00you hung out. So he had a Kelly's t-shirt on, and somebody was going on about him. They must be -- "he's so cute!" And I said, "No, he's a freshman." Well, he wasn't, he was a transfer student, and we started talking here and there, and he finally asked me out. So yeah, it was in the basement at Radford Hall.

WB: What did, uh, so if he worked at the AT, what was, uh, what was the AT like like that? Um -

TB: I'm sorry, the what?

WB: Oh, uh, what was the, uh, what was working at the Advance Titan like, like back then?

TB: It was -- it was too much fun. I mean, it was hard work because you'd be up all night putting the paper together, but. It mean, not -- that was probably my highlight of my education was working there because I really got a handle for newspaper work, and most of the people there were great. Um, Doc was great, he 37:00didn't, you know, breathe down our necks all the time, he gave us a lot of freedom. Um, I got to learn a lot of different things, you know, we even delivered the papers. It was, um, you know, it wasn't -- uh, like a New York Times level, but it was -- here, if you really want to do this, here's how you do it. And, you know, I was always amazed at the kids that were in my journalism classes. They never came down to the paper. And it's like "What are you going to do when you get out?" You know, if you don't want to do it now, what makes you think you're going to want to do it-- and back then it was still all about -- you have to have experience, now, it's like "Hey, you know, I'm paying anything," so. But it was a whole different ballgame. And there were so many people in journalism at the time that it was very, you know, competitive to try 38:00and get a job.

WB: Yeah. Do you think that, uh, do you think that having an education in journalism has sort of shaped how you, you take in news nowadays?

TB: Oh yes, yes, I'm like a -- you know, I don't want to be like an old curmudgeon, but I can't believe the crap I'm seeing, I mean, it's terrible. The lack of balance, the lack of, you know, all the spelling errors and the sloppiness, the opinion that slides in. You know, it's -- it's not good. It really isn't good. And, uh, I think one of the -- I'm not crazy about what's going on in Washington; I'm not going to pretend I am. But the good thing is I think people -- some people get it that you need the New York Times, and you 39:00need the Washington Post. You need the watchdog because I've never seen us get so close, I mean, not since Nixon, of just having, you know, fascism takeover. It's really scary. And, you know, I'm kind of not happy with a lot of people my age because they don't have a clue about journalism, and they don't know how it works, you know, they're a big part of the problem to me. They vote, they don't know why they're voting, their friend told them to. So, yeah, I'm always cranking off about that. So, yeah, it's had a huge, huge impact. You know when the Post came out, it was like "Oh god, we already see this."

WB: Yeah, that was a great movie.

TB: I got to meet Bradlee when he came to speak at UW Parkside. We drove down there in a van in a snowstorm. And they weren't going to let us in! And coming in, and he's like, "Let them in!" That was the coolest thing. So, that's one of 40:00my happy memories. Um, so yeah, it shaped my life a lot, and I think that it felt -- even helped us as parenting with our boys, and telling them, you need to read, you need to stay on top of the news. You need to know what's going on.

WB: Do you think, um, what was the campus culture like in regards to that back then? Because um, you know, college campuses are sort of hot beds for political ideas and protesting. Um, and especially around the seventies and late sixties. What was asking us like in that regards?

TB: Well, the community itself is extremely conservative. And so the campus, I think they thought we were, you know, a pestilence. Um, I was there. I didn't see it happen, but I saw him. Uh, Reagan came to speak, I think it was '75 or 41:00'76 maybe. And I was walking behind Albee. I don't know if that's still there, that's where the pool was.

WB: Oh yup, Albee, we still have that.

TB: So, my, uh, then boyfriend, different guy, and here was Reagan walking along with his, you know, henchmen, and the guy had enough makeup on, it was unbelievable. And he got, I think he got hit with eggs. And oh my god, you would have thought, you know, the way the community carried on. "Oh, those horrible kids on those campus!" I mean, it was rude, but I thought, well, you know. At least they care, you know, there's still some emotion about something. 'Cause it was, you know, it was also the disco era. And I think a lot of people, after the war ended, they just -- they didn't want to think about anything, they just wanted to party. And you had, uh, you know still the 70s kind of -- like, from 42:00the late 60s going on, but you also had the disco, and then that country western junk kind of started, I don't know, about '77? So it was kind of a time of change. You could kind of see it going from the, you know, the kind of hippie era. It was starting to go into, you know, it was going away from that.

WB: Were there, um, were there any issues that you saw on college campus that you sort of expect to just be issues of the time that are still problems or is there anything that you -- maybe, -?

TB: Yeah, racism. Um, still trying to legalize marijuana. I mean that was a big, big issue, oh, '77, '78? We're still not quite there. Um, women's -- women's 43:00issues. Environmental issues. Yeah, I mean, it's like -- nobody's -- it's been kind of sideways on some of those, and backwards on others, but it's, uh, you know. There were probably some other things now that -- where we would think, "Wow, what was that about?" But there was -- it's like those big core issues are still with us, and I don't think they'll ever really leave. You know, it's like just lately, we're starting to make, it's like, some progress coming in again because it sure seemed like it was just receding away.

WB: Yeah. How, how did you feel about Oshkosh has a campus in regards to a lot of those issues?

TB: Um-- I think it was trying to be progressive on some, but on others no, not so much. It didn't really -- you know, once you had the platform to talk about 44:00stuff, there was some, um, pushback with, like, the local cops. There was a student -- a journalism student, who, um, the cops, the cops came into Professor Davidson's class, and they busted this girl for pot right in the classroom. Just stormed in. She wasn't exactly -- you know, she was a pretty intellectual kid, her boyfriend was the head of the student government. And the professor -- I mean, she put up a stink about it, you know, you can't just come here and bust somebody, but they did. So, there was a pretty good angry response about that. But our chancellor at the time, Bob Birnbaum, I don't know, it seemed like her was -- I think he always wanted to be somewhere else. I think he ended up in 45:00Amherst or someplace. But I didn't see him as a -- you didn't seem him like, walking around, like "Hey kids, how's it going?" kind of guy.

WB: Yeah. So, uh, kind kinda moving forward a little bit. Um, you eventually would become the editor in chief of the advance titan.

TB: Yes. Yes I did and um, spring, of 78 right before I graduated.

WB: What was that experience like?

TB: Oh, it's pretty exciting because we ran this story, that, uh, there were consideratinos being made looking at closing the campus. And I think-- we kinda got used, but you know, we were kids, it was a learning experience, and, uh, the chancellor was not happy, and the local Green Bay news got involved, and Madison 46:00papers got involved, and we had to protect our -- our source, and, uh, it just -- it was weird when I graduated, and Birnbaum was like, "Oh, hi!" And I'm just getting my diploma. He was pretty damn man. Um, so it was, you know, it was what it was. If I had to do it over again, I think I would think more for myself and not be asking everybody else's opinions. But at the time, you know, we felt we had, uh, justification for doing it the way we did it. And I think it did get some people talking. And, uh, the school was not doing well at that time. Numbers were down, I think they had some of the lowest attendance they had. So, you know, I don't think -- but it was very stressful for me. You know, I'm not 47:00sure to, uh, that kind of attention, and I had all the right intentions with how to play, and a lot of people were laughing at us, and "Crackpots!" And all of that. So that was kind of an experience, because I think, you know, when you have to stand up to something you believe in, you're going to take junk for it.

WB: So what was your senior year like? Was it a celebratory year or was it sort of a lot of stress with the paper and then also wondering where you're going to end up?

TB: It was -- it was both. I mean, I was down to like, three classes my last semester, which was good because I was at the paper all the time. Um, that fall was -- I'd had a falling out with some roommates. That was not fun because I couldn't get out of where I was living, but I got through it, and let's see-- 48:00yeah, I mean it was so action packed. And then all of a sudden it was over. So, I'd say it was a good ending. I mean, I got to be editor of the paper, I met my future spouse, you know, I guess I was walked away feeling pretty good. And I -- I went to a small rural paper and just stayed there a year. But that was a good experience, too. And then I eventually got to Milwaukee, and I worked in Illinois for a while, and, uh, you know, I was in newspapers for 20 years. I -- I left the Journal Sentinel in 1998. So, I -- you know, it was certainly a huge part of my life.

WB: Um, did. So did you pursue any extra education after college or was it 49:00straight to work?

TB: Um, it was pretty much straight to work. I had to pay back for my car, and I was like completely -- I think I was down to my last $32 when I graduated. And so -- um, I-- I did, um, like, whenever I could get a chance to go to a seminar or something, but I was really sure about what I would do with a Master's. So, I'm sort of glad I didn't do that. When I left, um, newspapers, I worked for a lighting company for a while, and I had an opportunity there to start out a Master's, which I did, but then when I went into financial services, um, there's a whole program for financial planners, which was really intense, so I spent a 50:00lot of years taking all those classes. And then I got my enrolled agent status with the IRS, and that was a bunch of studying in class, and so I kind of got, you know, a second education in a way. But none of it, you know, it's certificates. I got like half a Master's in marketing. But the other stuff was more challenging, and it was what I really needed.

WB: Yeah. So when you look back on your time at UWO, would you say it was-- could you picture yourself having a different experience?

TB: Probably not. I'd probably do things exactly the way -- if I had the brain I have now, but back in a, you know, 18 year old body, I think I would have, um, been a little more serious about my studies. I mean, I think I graduated with a 51:003.35, so I did okay. I had 140 credits, so I packed a lot in, but you know, it's the usual, you could have done more. But, you know, my goal was really to get to be editor of the paper, which I did get to do. So, you know, it's always -- I'd do this, I'd do that, I'd do this. But, um, yeah, I -- I would have been a little more, um, like I asid, the radio/TV would have been a minor, and it would have been more academic classes.

WB: So, uh, after graduation. How did, uh, how did things feel for you or, uh, I guess, how did you two specifically affect your post college years?

TB: Um, it's funny how many people I meet that went there, or their kids are 52:00going there. So it's been a good, uh, unifier. You know, everybody likes to talk about their experience at college. Um, no, I kept -- we kept our ties to the journalism program, so they've become, kinda like, you know, family to us. They're -- they're in touch with us, which is nice. And we kept so many of our friends from there. So it's had a big -- I mean, a lot of my friends are people I met at college still. So, it's had a huge impact on my life. And I was just really sad when I saw what happened with that, uh, those grants that weren't, or the financial finagling that went on recently. I mean, that was horrible. That 53:00was just a horrible thing to do. Oshkosh was just doing so well, and they had great numbers, and I was just -- sickened by that, and that's another reason for having a strong press. Because this guy got away with it! Or, guys-- you know, they totally got away with it. So if you don't have, you know, the watchdogs watching -- and I'm not saying student journalism could have prevented this, but -- you know? There's something to be said because of-- the local paper sure isn't going to do it. It's all corporate, you know. That's the whole [unclear] about journalism, because nobody wants to pay the journalists. You know, they lost all their money because they were so inactive when things were -- I mean, I saw that when I was still at the Journal Sentinel. Everything was starting to shift to the Internet; they just didn't want to see it. "Oh, no!" You know, these old white guys that were so out of touch with reality. And they kind of 54:00just let it all slip away, and now here we are. I think that's a big part of our democracy, and so many people don't trust it, they don't know why they don't trust it. They hear not to trust it, so they don't.

WB: Yeah. So I guess that kind of leads into one of my last few questions here is um, how do you view, uh, UWO now? What do you think of the school in its current state?

TB: I think they're just trying to make a bad situation, you know, come around from it. I see where there's other schools that are, you know, there's laws being put into place to prevent anything like that from happening. So, I guess some good comes out of the bad. I mean, we're still supporting our, our scholarship. I -- I'm much prouder to say I went to UWO than I was years ago, 55:00because I think it's become one of the top UW schools outside of the big moneymakers in Milwaukee and Madison. So, I hope this ends up being a blip in the road, and you know, they can go beyond that. The campus is much nicer, although, you know, it's sort of like, "Oh this is gone, and that's gone," but that's just part of life. But yeah, you know, they have some nice buildings now, but it's just a matter of how do you move forward when you've had this-- I hope they can get something out of those guys. I don't know if they can legally. It sounds like that-- structure that needed to be there wasn't there. But yeah, I mean, I feel good about it. I -- I've got a number of friends down in our area 56:00whose kids are going there. And they're all -- they're doing well, and they're all getting jobs, so I think seems well. I had a kid -- I taught a class at Marquette one semester, and I didn't see where the curriculum that I was given was anything that spectacular. And I started talking to them, just from a journalist's perspective, someone who actually worked in one -- and one kid was like, "I can't afford [unclear]," and I was like, "Go to Oshkosh, you'll get an education there and you won't owe so much money when you're done!" And then one of our students, I mean, I only had her for one class, but her name is Sarah Carr, and she's done really well, she's written books, she's having a really great journalism career. So, I -- I just had a little tiny hand in her education, but, you know, it feels really good when someone like that is someone that you taught.

WB: Yup. So if you were to give any advice to current UWO students, what would 57:00you, what would you want to say?

TB: I would say, you know, get the most out of your experience while you're there. It's easy to get caught up in the petty stuff of life and you're - you know, it goes fast. You've only got four years or whatever and you're surrounded by all these people and all this information and you know, I used to -- one of my professors would always talk about picking people's brains. And he was absolutely right. You're what -- don't be intimidated by these people. You know, ask them. They want to be asked, they want to show you that they know. You know, it's very easy to just, get "No, no, I'm going to go to my class," and whatever, 58:00and go hangout, but you know, you need to study a little more than you think you do. That's probably the biggest thing I learned, because I could just slide by a lot. And I started changing myself. So, yeah, it's like, you gotta put a little more into it than you think you do. Because then you'll like back and say, "Why didn't I do this? Why didn't I do that?" I feel like -- I liked learning. I'm a lifetime learner, and, you know, I'm hoping to, um, I might just sit in in classes because there's so many things I would have liked to have taken. But I couldn't cram it in. So, yeah, it's just kind of about optimizing your experience.

WB: Yeah. And then my last question is just, is there anything else in particular that didn't come up in this discussion or uh, anything in particular that you remember about Oshkosh that you'd want to share?

TB: Um, just that feeling of -- of being a young person in an interesting time 59:00in our country, and you know, being around all these different people and educated people, and, um, there's a vibrancy to me in a campus that you just don't get anywhere else. I don't care where you work, you know, maybe if you're in an arts place, but. You know, I like that feeling of possibility. Just walking down the street after being in high school, and there's nobody telling you this or that or what you had to do. It was all on you, and you had to figure it out. That was definitely a good feeling.

WB: Yeah, for sure. Well thanks for so much for sitting down for an hour and talking to me. This was a pleasure.

TB: Well, I hope I didn't talk your ear off.

WB: Oh, not at all. Not at all.


TB: So what year are you in?

WB: Uh, I'm in my second year currently.

TB: Okay. And how's that going for you? Oh,

WB: it's a, it's the sophomore slump is definitely not a lie. It definitely exists I think.

TB: Yeah, unfortunately, yeah.

WB: Yeah. But no, I think it is good. It's definitely been my busiest semester so far.

TB: Yeah. I don't know what -- it's like a switch went on junior year, and it all got better. So, hang in there!

WB: Will do.

TB: It's worth it in the end.

WB: Oh yeah, for sure. No, I wouldn't, I wouldn't trade my time for anything.

TB: Good. Good for you. Okay. Well thanks again. It was fun

WB: And just so you know, I'll be a, I have to submit a, a, a deed of gift to just to get your permission so we can use the audio file for our projects and 61:00then so that the campus can use it. Um, would you, would you like me to email that to you so you can print it and sign it or would you like me to email it? So just email or.

TB: Oh, I'm emailing is fine and I can scan it and send it back by. Email is easiest for you.

WB: That would be perfect.

TB: So, um, if you could send it to Terry, t e r r y Dot Jordan, j o r d a n dot B I. z.

WB: So

TB: No, I'm Terry. Does Jordan financial one word? It's general r, d a n.

WB: okay.

TB: Dot Biz. B-I-Z

WB: okay. Thank you.


TB: Okay, thank you. Take care of. All right, you too. Bye. Bye.

Search This Transcript
Search Clear