Interview with Walt Busalacchi, 04/19/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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RM: Alright, this is Rachel Marshall here, interviewing Walt, and can you pronounce your last name for us?

WB: Busalacchi.

RM: Busalacchi. Alright and then today is April 19, 2016. So Walt let's start off with where did you grow up?

WB: I was born and raised in Milwaukee.

RM: Alright how was it like growing up there?

WB: It was great.

RM: Great.

WB: Back in those days it was great to be a kid we had a great park system, we went swimming we road bikes, we played baseball and it was a pretty care free existence.

RM: Okay. Did you, what was your family like, did you have any siblings? Mom and Dad?

WB: I'm the youngest of two boys, my brother is six years older than me.

RM: Okay and you said you did a lot like outside, like biking, out playing baseball. In the neighborhood you grew up in was it fairly safe and child friendly?

WB: Very.

RM: Good, good. What were your parents like?

WB: My parents were great. My Dad was a very, very hard working person he had 00:01:00his own business, he was a floor sander and he was all about work. And Mom was the stereotypical housewife, homemaker, and mother and took great pride in doing those things well. Neither of my parents were highly educated I think they both went to sixth grade, my dad may have gone to seventh, but neither of them graduated high school. And my dad went on to vocational school and that's where he learned his trade which was cabinet making.

RM: Okay, okay. And so you said that they didn't go to school very much or like they went to school until sixth grade. Did they value school like for you and your brother? [hesitates] Like how important was it in your household? Were they strict like gotta get your homework done before you go outside?

WB: I would say, I would say the mood was benign neglect in the sense that, I mean they were supportive, my mother went to PTA and my dad would review my 00:02:00report card with interest in ya know atta-boy, good job, I think he paid me if I got an A, he gave me like five bucks or something so they valued it but they didn't understand really how it worked.

RM: Okay.

WB: And clearly when I went off to college they didn't know what that meant or what was involved. But they were emotionally they were very supportive but they didn't, I'll say they didn't know enough to be more guiding in a technical sense.

RM: Okay. What were the schools like during elementary school, middle school?

WB: Well growing up in the shadow of WWII I was the second, I was part of the second year of the baby boom generation. So everything was busting out at the seams. Which is to say we had jam pack schools. They were very, very crowded but very organized, disciplined, regimented. The desk were bolted to the floor for 00:03:00my first three years. I remember kindergarten was a blast, was used to fight over the building blocks so we could build stuff. But for second, third grade, like I said it was an older school, congress street school, very regimented, seats were bolted all in a row, hardwood floors, recess with a bell, and all like that, all the old stereotypes. And then because of well we moved away, we moved to the South Side of Milwaukee for a year and then we moved back, and again because of the boomers increasing the student population I actually was bused to an inner city school before busing was a thing to do. And the grade school I was attending 65th street school was overcrowded and they were putting an addition on and while they were doing the construction for a year, year and a half, something like that, I got bused down to Green Bay Ave. school.

RM: Okay.


WB: And it wasn't a big deal we didn't feel like we were being penalized or that we were hurt in any way that's just the way it was.

RM: Did you fit in well with the other kids going to the school?

WB: Yeah well there were a bunch of us that went in mass so yeah we didn't feel marginalized or discriminated against in any way at all.

RM: Okay. Did you sense like any discrimination or segregation going to any of those schools?

WB: No.

RM: Okay well that's good.

WB: There were black kids at that scho-, there weren't any that I can think of at 65th street school but at Green Bay Ave. school there were black kids like out on the playground, ya know we'd play ball, we interacted. I was no big deal, I had a couple of friends who happened to be black and they were just friends.

RM: That's good. That's good.

WB: I mean we didn't see color beyond the obvious.

RM: Yeah. Was school valued in the community and like your family growing up? Did you-

WB: I don't have any recollection of it in a big way. I mean Stans, my brother, was a high school dropout so staying in school was a big deal.


RM: Okay. Was it a big deal for you or like the family or did you feel like you had to stay in?

WB: There was definitely encour-, not pressure but encouragement. Dropping out was a negative, you didn't want to do that. That was not good. And the neighbors and all valued it, it's good that you're in school, it good that you're doing well grade wise, it's good that you're doing well in sports. But there wasn't so much of a focus like there is now. I mean now there like a laser focus.

RM: Oh yeah.

WB: On getting into this school doing that major, ya know this that, ya know positioning yourself for the future. There was none of that. It was play, go to school, ya know have fun. More of a "Leave it to Beaver" environment opposed the way it is today, it's so competitive and so manic today.

RM: Yeah. Going into like high school were you involved in any curricular during high school, like sports or clubs?

WB: Yeah, I worked in the bookstore, buying and selling textbooks, and school 00:06:00supplies. I was a gymnast all but my senior year and competed. Again gymnastics was just getting started then so all kind of make it up as you go. So I did that, I ran cross country as a freshman and was very bad at it and I swam breast stroke as a sophomore, no I'm sorry also as a freshman right after cross country and was not very good and then I stumbled into gymnastics and I clicked there and my claim to fame was at the Wisconsin state open tournament down at Marquette University, I placed 6th out of 147 guys.

RM: Oh wow.

WB: And that was my panicle, then after that it was over. [Laughs]

RM: All downhill.

WB: [Laughs]

RM: So you would say that your overall high school experience was fairly well right?

WB: Yeah until I discovered dating.

RM: Yes, yes. [Laughs]


WB: I kind of did that at the same time I quit doing sports and started working part-time.

RM: Okay kind of the switch to ya know childhood to adulthood that kind of phase. Did you have any goals or aspirations like while you were in high school like when did you start thinking about the future and like your future career?

WB: I was going to go in to the service. That's what I wanted to do from the time I was [raises out arm to show the height of a child] 5 years old.

RM: Okay. Any particular branch that you wanted to go into?

WB: Marine Core. Too many John Wayne movies [laughs]. I didn't understand what that all meant all I knew was that's what I wanted to do.

RM: Mhm. And like also on your profile on the alumni page, I was reading and it said you went, or you didn't go to school right away, you went to work the factories. What prompt you to do that?

WB: Well there were two tracks, I mean there was the I'm going to college track, which no one in my family had finished high school much less go to college so there was no expectation, there was no precedent in your family, the way I 00:08:00describe is, I mean in my family we worked and we got praised for being good hard workers. There was no pyridine for post high school formal education. Learn a trade ya know I was an apprentice, an electric apprentice at Kearney and Trecker factory in West Allies. That was good, that was a good thing. But like I said going on to college or school of any kind just wasn't in our consciousness at that point. I had friends that were going to college but that was never our reality for our family.

RM: Yeah did you enjoy working in the factories at all?

WB: No.

RM: Okay yeah that's what I would assume. And then it said that you went, you enrolled in MATC (Milwaukee Area Technical College) in Milwaukee. Why did you choose MATC, a two year school rather than go to a four year.


WB: If I can just explain before I get to that. I some really good jobs, factory jobs I mean good paying jobs but I'll say it this way, this is on the record, I was basically too immature at that point in time to keep my butt in one place and go to work. I became bored and I would act up a little bit, not big trouble but ya know goofing off and I basically was like Peter Pan I mean I wanted to be, I wanted to play, I wanted to be a kid and it took me a long time to make the transition from being that irresponsible little kid to being serious. One other part of this that is important to acknowledge is that I started dating a girl who ended up being my wife as a sophomore in high school and we were planning to get married and as the clock was ticking down to the date I started 00:10:00getting very apprehensive, not about being married or about her but about having to work the way I was working for the next 30 or 40 years so that was really the catalyst. I went to her and basically said "I don't know if I can do this" and she was very excellent, she said "Okay well what are you going to do"? And it was that figurative gun to my head that forced me or motivated me, not forced me, to go on to school and I said "I'll go back to school."

RM: That's awesome.

WB: Yeah right and I did. So I went to MATC for a year and then I transferred up here and ended up academically doing very, very well.

RM: Yeah at MATC were you just like taking general courses?

WB: General education courses.

RM: Okay and what made you stay for just like one year? Did you like want to get out and broaden your horizon or why did you leave MATC?

WB: I had it too good at home I was living at home with my parents.


RM: Okay.

WB: And my Mom ya know cook for me, she made my bed, she did my laundry, and it's like what's wrong with this?

RM: Okay. And how old were you when you went like when you left MATC and came to Oshkosh?

WB: 21?

RM: 21?

WB: I think 21 maybe.

RM: Okay so now we're going to switch into coming to UW Oshkosh.

WB: Okay.

RM: Why did you choose to come here? What was appealing about this place?

WB: It was easy to get home.

RM: Easy to get home? That's how I am yup.

WB: Straight down 41. [Laughs]

RM: Exactly, exactly. What did you first think of Oshkosh when you first arrived?

WB: The town or the school?

RM: The town, the school, anything just what stood out?

WB: It was all very exciting for me never having lived away. A little overwhelming ya know the question, unspoken question "could I succeed 00:12:00academically?" y know that was a big concern of mine and it was just all new, taking it in. Just from a historical perspective we had just had the little mini race riot on campus before I got here and I remember my Mother, well this was on the news, she said "you're going to school there?" and I said relax Mom it'll be fine. And so we came up after that and the fall that I came here was Woodstock and I remember being invited by some friends to join them, they had a spot in a car and they asked me to go, I didn't understand really, I mean I knew what it was in the sense, but I didn't really understand what it was and certainly didn't understand the significance historically so I turned them down. I had just gotten to campus I was getting settled and I didn't want to distraction like that and so I passed on a chance of a lifetime.


RM: Wish you could go back?

WB: But like I said if I had gone maybe I would have turned into a real pot head or something. [Laughs]

RM: Real hippie. [Laughs] Let's see, did you live in the dorms your first year?

WB: No.

RM: No? Where did you live?

WB: That was an issue because I came up here thinking oh cool ya know I'll have a dorm room, roommate and whatever. I got up here and again that boomer thing, the dorms were full and I was shocked. I was accepted to the university and I came up to arranged housing and they went-

RM: You had nowhere to go? What did you do?

WB: Over at the whatever the office was called they had a three inch three ring binder and they slid that across the counter to me and said "Here these are people that rent space to students."

RM: Oh wow. Like in houses around campus?

WB: [Nods] I think the third page down or something I saw one that was very clean and organized and easy to read and I jotted down the number and walked over there. It was called very, very informally "The House of Schneider" on 00:14:00Scott St.

RM: Okay.

WB: And I went there and these were people that own the home, they lived there downstairs and they had 5 rooms upstairs the rented out strictly to boys. It wasn't an apartment, it was just a bedroom and a bathroom, no TV, no cooking privileges, that was it.

RM: Oh wow. Okay.

WB: And she was full up but she had one room, a private room, a single room, above their bedroom and she says, "We don't normally rent this out because we don't want the noise above our head but if you're real quite I'll let you have it, and that's what I did.

RM: Did you enjoy staying there?

WB: I did.

RM: How long did you stay there?

WB: One year.

RM: One year. And then what did you do after that?

WB: Then one of the guys that I lived with, one of the seven plus me. We moved to 926 Elmwood right across from Halsey science right there on the corner. And we lived there for a year with the Rowbecks, an elderly couple, they lived downstairs and they had three bedrooms I think upstairs and a bath and was very nice I spent a year there.


RM: Okay how often did you go back home to visit and stuff?

WB: I would say maybe once every three weeks or so.

RM: Okay okay that's pretty normal. Was there anything to do off campus like what did you do off of campus at this time?

WB: Socially or?

RM: Yes socially just to get out.

WB: Friday night was our pizza night, we'd go to Red Lantern on Jackson St. it's not there now. And there were two of them, and we would go out for pizza and coke once and a while we'd walk down town and pop into , none of the people I hung with were big drinkers, but pop in have a drink and we would walk back and ya know go to bed.

RM: So you didn't get pretty crazy on weekends?

WB: No. I mean there was a lot of that going on around us, with drugs and alcohol but I was going with my now wife she was in Milwaukee and I wasn't messing around that way.


RM: Oh did she go to school or was she working in Milwaukee?

WB: She worked in Milwaukee.

RM: Did she come visit you?

WB: Mhmm she would stay, I had some RA friends that had single rooms with two beds so she'd come up and then spend the night in the women's dorm.

RM: Oh so she wasn't able to stay with you?

WB: No.

RM: Were there any other kind of different rules that you notice from then and today like how they separated [inaudible] cause usually now all genders can go anywhere basically. Were there any other rules back then that-?

WB: Yeah I mean in the beginning I mean I couldn't go in the dorm, I had to come in the lobby and tell them who I wanted to see and they would get them, call them or go get them.

RM: Oh really?

WB: And after a while, which was in hindsight, just hilarious they had alternating floors they had like a men's floor and a women's floor, forgetting that are stairs that connect the floors and so that didn't go over real big.

RM: Overlooking that small detail. What did you do in your free time between classes and studying?


WB: I worked.

RM: Where did you work?

WB: I worked with intermural sports. I started out at Albee before Kolf was built I supervised--there was a sign like a help wanted sign in Albee as I was walking through one day and because I had been a gymnast and they were looking for a student assistants to supervise the gymnastics gym and I thought well that's a no brainer. So I just walked in the office and Dick Schumacher, who I didn't know then was sitting there and I said, "I see the sign" and he said "Yeah ya want it?" I said "Yeah" and he said "Okay you start Monday."

RM: What was your role working or like supervising the gymnastics gym? Like what did your-?

WB: Make sure no one killed themselves on the apparatus.

RM: Okay and how would you go about making sure that didn't happen just like telling them to not do that dangerous trick or something?

WB: Yeah. I get involved especially with the women's gymnastics team that would come up there to practice they would want spotters and so I would make sure, I knew how to spot and I made sure nobody ya know fell off and broke their neck. But what would happen is some of the jocks and like football players and that would come up and get on the trampoline and they were, they were just deadly.


RM: Just kind of goofing around?

WB: Yeah, so I would kind of just make sure that they didn't fall off.

RM: Okay and then you were also a lifeguard at Albee pool, did you enjoy that?

WB: I did.

RM: How long did you work there?

WB: Must have been two years.

RM: Two years, okay. You did a lot of stuff with like the athletics here you also--what did you mean by running the weekend recreational program at Kolf? What is that?

WB: Even before Kolf was built, Albee on the weekends would open up, even for the townies to come and you asked me about lifeguarding, I had a ball with the local kids who Dick Schumacher let use our pool it was just open I was just "Come on in."

RM: Okay that's nice.

WB: And we would play games and they would be lined up, they would want to come when I was lifeguarding because we would play stuff like I'd through them a volleyball as they ran off the high dive and catch it midair and stuff like that. So then at Kolf, after Kolf opened they had a weekend rec program where 00:19:00again locals could come and we had indoor tennis, we had volleyball, we had track, basketball of course, and we had the gymnastics gym downstairs, we had the weight room, and we had the outdoors ya know tennis and the canoes, we rented canoes.

RM: Oh yeah they still have that here.

WB: And so we just made sure, I kind of supervised a staff of student assistances and made sure that we were checking on things making sure there were no bodies lying in the corner or something.

RM: So then aside from working, you were very involved in a lot of like honor societies and like international societies and just for the record it was the Kappa Delta Pi, which is an honor society in Education and then Delta--and how do you pronounce that Delta-

WB: Tau Kappa. 

RM: Tau Kappa, and that was an international honor society.

WB: In Social Science yeah.

RM: Can you explain--in Social Science yep. And what did you do in those clubs?


WB: Not much.

RM: Not much?

WB: It was mainly, one professor I had that was involved with Kappa Delta Pi I basically--he says what you're doing it buying credentials and I mean we were buying them because we didn't pay anything, but because of our grades we were nominated for inclusion in these organizations. The Social Science one, I don't think if I ever went to a meeting it was all don't through the mail and ya know I got some honorary whatever, whatever. The Kappa Delta Pi the Betta Theta chapter, I was more involved with that we had a couple of banquets and honors meetings and stuff, celebrations, but even that was really minimal couple of meetings is all what I remember ever doing.

RM: Okay was it beneficial to like your college and future career?

WB: It was beneficial to my résumé.

RM: Résumé? Résumé builder. Let's see, let's talk about your academics here, cause it sounds like you were very studious. How did the classes differ from the 00:21:00classes you took in high school or even at MATC?

WB: Well they were very different from high school. Number one, because I actually wanted to be there, in high school I just wanted to play. MATC was good and even better than Oshkosh in the sense that the student body was much more diverse. You had married people, you had working people, fireman and policemen, and lawyers, you had quite a cross section of people taking those classes up here it was pretty much all kids, and I don't mean that as a pejorative, it's just young people, 99%. And so they were here involved in ya know protesting and studying and drugging and drinking and partying and it was a more youthful, less adult-like environment up here, I felt.


RM: Okay. How competitive were the academics, like did you have a sense that you ya know had to beat the person sitting next to you?

WB: No I had to beat myself.

RM: Okay, okay. How much time did you put into school work with like homework and studying?

WB: A lot.

RM: How much would you say on a daily basis?

WB: It kind of ran in spirts, like we'd have a Friday outing, we'd go for pizza and I come back to my room and I'd be tired and I'd just start looking down at my desk and that would be good for a three hour session it was totally unplanned. Then again I'd carve out half a day to study and I'd never crack a book I mean it was weird I had have to be in the mood. But I invested a lot of time because the way I describe it is I didn't feel that I had the capacity to do it quickly like I would have to go to class, take notes, actually read the notes, read the book maybe twice and then go into a final feeling no fear what 00:23:00so ever I'd just go in and take the damn thing.

RM: So you were pretty focused throughout right?

WB: But it didn't come easy, it was only because I was willing ya know to read the book twice that I was able to do that.

RM: When and like why did you get into Social Science?

WB: Those were the subjects, the whole catalog of those subjects that interested me, number one. Number two I wasn't strong in the sciences, the hard sciences and even at that time I knew that I would be better off from a job skill marketing perspective, I would be better off getting a business degree than a degree in social science. Even in the world of education, social studies teachers were a dime a dozen, I knew that, but I also knew if I took accounting and marketing I'd hang myself because I had no interest in that at that time. So 00:24:00ya know cultural geography and sociology and economic and political science, those are the things that turned me on and I was like a thirsty man in the desert I mean I couldn't get enough of it, I loved it.

RM: Did you, have you always had an interest in those kinds of subjects when even like you were little or was it a new thing coming to school?

WB: I was always intellectually curious even in working in factories ya know guys would be talking about the bowling they did last night and how much beer they drank and how many girls they picked up or whatever and I was going "Gee I wonder about the election coming up, ya know who's gonna win?" And they look at me like "What is your problem?" So didn't fit I mean I had lots of friends it's not like it was a conflict thing but my interest were just very different.

RM: Okay and then social science, it's like, it's a pretty broad major, what were you planning on doing with your degree?

WB: Well at that point because I needed to declare a major, it was teaching the only thing you could do in social science is teach and so I thought well I'll 00:25:00teach. And I wanted to do that pretty much from the beginning I mean it was my goal once I didn't go into the service because I failed the physical.

RM: Oh really?

WB: Because of a heart thing, little heart thing. So once I decided to go to school it's well what are you going to study, what are you going for? I said "Awh I'll become a teacher." It seemed like a reasonable thing to do.

RM: Okay how much would you say, like how big of a role did administration and professors have on your experience here?

WB: Administration not at all that I'm aware of. I mean behind the scenes I'm sure they influenced things. Professors, there was a handful that were just so, just so significant and helped to shape me and allowed me to develop.

RM: Do you remember any of their names or what classes that they taught?

WB: Sure. Howard Johnson was my major professor in geography, he graduated from 00:26:00Michigan State. I had a teacher who was a graduate of Oshkosh, English teacher down at MATC, Gary Laundry who was a big influence on me. Dr. Wise was my advisor, Ed Wise I liked him but we didn't have any kind of special relationship. Dick Schumacher and I and my wife and his wife ended up being very close friends for many, many to thing day even. He's passed on, we're still in touch with his widow and his youngest son. Philosophy professor, Dr.--he just retired--Burr. Dr. Burr.

RM: Okay, yeah.

WB: He was influential. Economics professor who name is escaping me right now, 00:27:00he just retired not too long ago, he was a hard ass but he was very good.

RM: So overall you had a good relationship with faculty here?

WB: Majority yeah.

RM: Did you see any tension between like the general student population and faculty, like was there any like, cause I know there were like strikes in the late 60s and early 70s. Was it mainly like war protests and stuff?

WB: Yeah we had a moratorium that was difficult. I was trying to go to class over at Clow and there was this student with a red bandana around his head with his arms folded blocking my entry. And I told him to get the hell out of the way. I said "When you start paying for my tuition then you tell me whether or not I go to class, meanwhile step aside." And he did so I went to class.

RM: Oh wow. Okay. Do you want to--or what do you remember most of like the protests that were here on campus? Were you apart of any? How did you feel towards them?


WB: I was not a part of any protest not for any political motivation, I just, it was more of a social thing, and I just didn't get involved in that. I thought a lot of them were kind of foolish and ignorant kids just wanting to, ya know a bunch of mini mes, ya know "yeah me too, me too." But the leaders some of them, I thought were very thoughtful and whether you agreed or disagreed with them they were trying to do what they thought was morally right and I respect that. At that time there was more of an acknowledgement that we were like a mini Madison and so ya know if Madison sneezed we caught a cold I mean we were trying to imitate the big sister. I thought and to this day I resented the protestors 00:29:00trying to interfere with my ability to do my thing. It's like okay you believe this and want to do that, fine go do that, but don't stop me from doing what I want to do. And so I resented that.

RM: How did they do that? Were they just in the way or did they try and like-?

WB: Shutting down class.

RM: Okay.

WB: Blocking.

RM: Blocking doors.

WB: Blocking doors, protesting, shouting, making you feel uncomfortable in the union because they were acting up. Ya know people that cry so much about free speech and do your own thing, their all for it when it's their thing, but when it's your thing then it's like [raises hands and shakes head]

RM: How were the protests handled like did any get out of control where like violence started?

WB: When they tore up the street that-

RM: Oh they tore up the street? I don't know much about the protests that went on here.


WB: You can google it. Some kids broke into a tool shed. Was this when Nixon started bombing Cambodia? I can't remember the catalysis that might have been it.

RM: I think it might have been, I was looking through the newspaper archive and there was something about Cambodia that going on that created-

WB: So there was a tool shed for making some park over here and kids broke in, got the tools and they started ripping up Algoma.

RM: Okay.

WB: Right about where the commons is, Blackhawk commons is, roughly there and basically tore up a whole part of the road and threw the big chunks of asphalt in a pile and they worked their butts off all night and the next day the National Guard came in and picked up all the debris, asphalted over the hole and it's done.

RM: Just like it never happen. Why did they, like what were they trying to 00:31:00accomplish doing that?

WB: Well that, mention the catalysis was Cambodia, but there were a lot of complaints about Algoma being dangerous with the traffic running through the middle of the campus, and so they wanted to shut it down and make it a pedestrian mall as I recall, I could be wrong but I think that's right.

RM: Okay. And then it also said on your alumni profile that the Vietnam War was during this time and you were actually a part of the draft lottery, like your number was what?

WB: 348

RM: 348. How much did that effect you and your family, the war and stuff?

WB: Well the war effect all of us in that it was such a major national thing and then the protests tore the country apart, those who were for the war and those who were against the war. When I went down for my pre-induction physical and they rejected me because of my heart I got a classification of 1Y which meant if the enemy was marching up Wisconsin Ave. we might give you a call and ask you to 00:32:00help but meanwhile we don't want you and that was later, that classification went away some years later and I became 4F which meant no way. So what I'm trying to say is I didn't apply for student deferment, 2S deferment which many, many of the guys on campus did to stay out of the war and they had to have I think certain grade success and what have you and then after you graduated I mean you had like two minutes to breath and you were drafted. It was-

RM: So it was big thing on campus-

WB: It was a huge thing-

RM: Everyone was worried about it and stuff-

WB: But then they went from the draft where everyone got sucked in, they said let's go to a lottery system and so the first lottery I remember being at the House of Schneider and there were four or five of us sitting on beds in one of the bedrooms listening to the radio as they picked the numbers.

RM: Everyone kind of crossing their fingers.

WB: And we were all there on pins and needles and I thought I missed my number as they were getting to the end, it's like I didn't hear my number and then it 00:33:00turned out I was 348 which was I mean almost to the end but it didn't help me because I was 1Y, I didn't need it.

RM: And you were also here during the building boom on campus where, okay was built? The Arts and Communications, Kolf Sports Center, Nursing Education building, what do you remember from that? [Inaudible]

WB: It was exciting.

RM: Yeah? How so?

WB: Well I mean our campus probably doubled in size during that time and it was, it was just so exciting to have all of these new buildings, to have the Fredrick March Theater and Kolf I know was a big deal because I worked over there and there was a debate about, there was supposed to be an Olympic size swimming pool on the sound end of the building but for funding purposes that didn't get built 00:34:00and then there was a big to-do about the National Guard because they had money and they bought office space which is still there on the south end on the bottom floor. And there were some protests about that and if you were in [inaudible] in those days, you had to kind of be careful crossing campus, I mean nobody would kill you or anything but ya know they might say some things and spit on you stuff like that.

RM: Was the construction ever like distracting or a problem?

WB: Well I don't have a clear recollection of, I mean I knew it was going on obviously but, I come up empty when I try to think of anything specific about that.

RM: Okay and then there was another big change that was going on, you were here for when Wisconsin State University- Oshkosh became a part of the UW system.

WB: Right.

RM: Do you remember anything specific about that?

WB: Yeah that for me, at least in my mind it was a big deal, because to kind of 00:35:00bottom line it we felt like graduating with a degree from UW, I'll be at UW-Oshkosh would be worth more, would be more valuable in the market place than a Wisconsin State University- whatever, Oshkosh, Platteville, La Crosse. So I mean rightly or wrongly we just felt if you were in California and you said I graduated from UW Oshkosh that meant something more than Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh.

RM: Did you see any like, did you notice any changes, like did anything change within your classes or something.

WB: No.

RM: No? Was it all pretty much the same?

WB: Stationary change. [Laughs]

RM: Okay, let's see, also on your Oshkosh alumni page you said a special memory of yours was the music, could you explain some more of that, with the whole Woodstock era and you said the three machines in the listening rooms of Reeve.

WB: On the second floor of Reeve there were three small rooms that had kind of 00:36:00like an old jut box, but you didn't put money in it, just punch some number and it played certain music and you could go in there and listen to whatever or study or read or sleep or whatever. And I spent a fair amount of time late, late in the evening I would come over and listen, they were all LPs, 33 and a third ya know, if you don't know what an LP is [laughs], long plan record, the big ones not the 45s.

RM: Okay, okay.

WB: [Laughs] Somebody told me we still have those machines stored somewhere on campus.

RM: I haven't heard anything about that.

WB: But that was a big deal and the music down in the union, I mean all of the post Beatles, after the Beatles became Sargent Peppers, and they turned out, I'm blanking on their big record, big LP, Sargent Peppers. When they stopped being 00:37:00the Beatles with cutesy, bubblegum type music and got into that and the drugs and all that and then the Stones came, and then there was just a whole parade of British bands and the only thing we had going on, more or less, was the Beach Boys. And the music was just powerful, powerful and it supported ya know the psychedelic thing and even now I'll be driven my car down the highway and ya know a song from that era comes on and my head just goes.

RM: Goes right back to that.

WB: So the music it, not brainwashing, but its imprinting and it's definitely there and takes me back.

RM: Okay nice and you also noted that the first Earth Day in 1970 was a special memory, what was significant about that?


WB: Well my minor was in geography and we did a lot with ecology and natural resources, I actually took a couple of different natural resources courses and it was, it made a statement, it said this is important and while I may not have been that enthusiastic about protesting the war I was more enthusiastic about this stuff.

RM: Okay, that nice, let's see-

WB: Zero population growth was a big deal back then and I remember filling out a little card where I promised not to have more than two kids and Barry Commoner was an author who was a biologist and the population bomb was all the rage, a big book taking about overpopulation, Paul Airlick was the author of that. Rachel Carson, "Silent Spring", about all the poisons.

RM: Yeah I took a geography class last semester and we learned about her.

WB: So that was all like, everybody, I mean you just had to say their name and 00:39:00you knew. The guy from Sam County almanac in the south central part of the state, he was an ecologist. That was huge, I mean that was to ecology and natural resources what the women's movement and Martin Luther King were to either respective movements, it was a huge deal.

RM: Okay did you have any big roles? Like what happened here in Oshkosh on Earth Day?

WB: There were a lot of little thing, like I think we created that park. Was it down by Reps, or was it the other one, Steger? Was it Steger? I can't remember, but we created a park about that time and I had nothing to do with it I just remember that. A lot of the course work integrated aspects of this into it so I showed up there and if you can get a hold of one of the old Advances Titans from 00:40:00then you'll just see article after article.

RM: Yep.

WB: So it was more in the environment opposed to anything than I personally did. Again I wasn't much of a joiner, I didn't join a movement or club other than sign my little ZGB card.

RM: But you felt passionate about Earth Day.

WB: Yeah.

RM: That's nice. So what are the biggest differences you see on campus today from when you went to school here?

WB: Well there are the physical changes that are very obvious, the new Horizon, the new academic building and the Alumni Welcome Center which are you know wonderful additions. I've spent time working for Chris Graner presenting to classes with PCB 202, the undecided majors, I spent two years talking to a variety of classes base on my work experience and my interests and what have you 00:41:00and to answer your question, and I may get a negative reaction to this, it doesn't seem to be a happy place. It seems very serious, I mean people laugh and I mean it's not crazy serious but it seems much more serious than when I was here.

RM: Did you have a sense of community when you went to school here? Cause I know that something I lack.

WB: No because I worked those three years, see typically you know this better than I do, you graduate from high school and then you go on to college with a few of your friends. Well I didn't go to college right away right away, I worked for three years so when I finally got around to going and by the time I got here, that was four years later and my friends who went here were graduating.

RM: Okay.

WB: So I was basically alone and that's not a complaint or a lament, that's just the way it was. I just didn't come here with a group of friends that had common 00:42:00experiences or backgrounds, I was here pretty much as a loner with half of my life in the sense of my girlfriend being in Milwaukee and so I was much more serious at the point in my life than many of the kids I was in class with I believe, I mean there were other serious students but I mean as a group I would say they were more immature, less focused,

RM: Kinda more free spirited not really serious.

WB: And I think the kids today are very serious as a generalization. And it's sometimes painful to watch.

RM: Maybe because you know the job market is super competitive.

WB: Absolutely.

RM: And ya know if your GPA is not here then you might as well like not be here. So you graduated from the University of Oshkosh in 1972, correct?

WB: Right.

RM: Did you have any like internships or did you start working right away after graduation?


WB: I had no internship but I student taught for a semester.

RM: Okay, in what?

WB: Social Science and English at South Park Junior High.

RM: Okay, how was that?

WB: Interesting [laughs].

RM: [Laughs] at a junior high yeah.

WB: I had the more challenging kids by design that's where I ended up with my assignment and I was pretty okay with all that, and I really enjoyed the kids. My problem was with the administration. I had a lot, not a lot but I had several issues with the administration telling me you can't do that, and you can't do that, and you can't do that. But I enjoyed the kids they were, they're energizing. And I had some kids who were ya know trouble makers and I probably didn't handle that as well as I would have now but ya know that a part of student teaching, you learn how to do that.

RM: And then how much did your degree in Social Science with a minor in Geography, correct?


WB: Mhmm.

RM: How much did that play a role in your future career path?

WB: Not at all.

RM: Not at all? So you work at a company it's like, I can't pronounce it-

WB: Aetna.

RM: Okay, Aetna. What did you do there-

WB: Let me just clarify, the fact that I had a degree was huge. My major was irrelevant, that's the clarification I'd make on that. And the fact I mean I wouldn't have gotten a job, a, they wouldn't have even talked to me if I didn't have a degree number one, and if I didn't do as well as I did academically I wouldn't have gotten the job, so in that sense it was critical I just wouldn't have been successful at all.

RM: Is that usually how it was? If you have a degree you're gonna be that much ahead of someone without a degree in the job market?

WB: Yeah I usually describe that when I talk to the students. It's kind of supply and demand, we have so many people with four year degrees or bachelor degrees, four years, six years whatever it is. Right now we've got more supply 00:45:00than we have demand and so what that's doing, it's what I call degree inflation. Jobs that in no way require a bachelor's degree or a college degree of any kind are now requiring it because it's available, the labor force with a degree is available and so employers are using attainment level, education attainment level as a screening vehicle. You don't need a master's degree to do a particular job but there are more master's degree holders running around than bachelor degree holders when I was coming out of school and so now suddenly a job that requires no college is demanding a master's degree, why? Because they can and so they get theoretically a more educated, more talented, more sophisticated employee but the job, the nature of the work really doesn't require that. It's really become bacterized in my opinion and I work as a human 00:46:00resource person for 25 years so I think I have a pretty good insight in to that.

RM: Would you still say UW Oshkosh prepared you and aid you in your career path throughout the years?

WB: No.

RM: No? Why no?

WB: It was what I call more general education that got me my degree. The degree was invaluable but ya know we had a placement office then, it didn't do much for me. Your career services office on campus now is 100 times more powerful than what we had back then. And I encourage students to start early interacting with them. Didn't have internships, I mean I think if I was majoring in business that 00:47:00might not be the case, they might have been more helpful to me but because of what I was doing even within education even for a teacher at that point in time in my experience other then you know my teaching courses my methods and procedures, Ed. Psych. and those kinds of things I didn't feel that I was particularly prepared. I had studied some stuff and knew some stuff and you were just kind of thrown into it and you had to kind of had to figure out how to make it work.

RM: Okay so overall would you go back and change anything about your experience here at UWO? Whether it be major change or-

WB: No I wouldn't change a thing and acknowledging it didn't prepare me, technically in terms of the major for a career. Cause if I had made majored in 00:48:00something that I felt or knew would better prepare me for a job if I hated those subjects or, I'm thinking in terms of business as I say that, in terms of science, wouldn't have done well, it would have been like serving time I would have hated it. I probably wouldn't have finished and it's only because I was intellectually curious and the courses I took satisfied that desire, that need in me that I stayed and did so well. If I had done business or science it would have been entirely different.

RM: Okay.

WB: I guess the one thing, I think I short changed myself a little bit in terms of things that were available that I didn't partake in. I wish I'd gone out for a play.

RM: [Laughs] Okay.

WB: I think that would have been a blast but I was too insecure, too shy, not willing to risk it. That's the one specific, I took theater arts, we had to take 00:49:00some fine arts for our general education requirements and I took theater arts and I really loved it, so that's one specific. Probably would have been more involved in some campus activates, I was pretty much, I had guy friends that I ya know paled around with but I really, I really didn't experience, I had a very limited campus experience, self-imposed, that's not a criticism of anybody or anything, it's just me at that time. Today, I would have been, I think I would have been different in that regard.

RM: Okay, let's see I am all out of questions but if you have anything else you want to say about your experience here you're more than welcome to. About anything.

WB: As I reflect on it I have this sense, it may be wrong but I think there is 00:50:00little denning how much of what was going on then was a part of this whole baby boom generation playing itself out. Graduating high school, going off to college, experimenting with drugs, sex, going off to war. I mean just for my parents' generation it was the Great Depression and WWII for our generation it was this protest era, women's lib., minority rights, protesting the war, those events defined our generation and so my story, so to speak, is just a mini cell in this organism that was the baby boomers working its way to old age.


RM: Would you say it shaped you personally?

WB: Sure.

RM: Or just of kind like as a whole of a generation?

WB: Both and the weird thing, I wish, I wish I was skilled enough to help the current generation of young people realize that your current reality is just a point on a continuum, this isn't, you're not always gonna be the way you are in terms of the way you feel or your health or your habits and in ten years you're gonna look back at this time and you're gonna be in a different time. And that's not bad I just saying that's life, it moves along and so when you're sitting in the union listening to an acid rock band or a hard metal band and thinking that there will always be a hard rock music, I mean there will in your memory and on 00:52:00recordings but now we're in, now you have the urban, I can't think of it-

RM: Rap or something.

WB: Yeah rap and now we're beyond that with God knows what.

RM: Everything's changing

WB: And so your time, this time, this point in time, when you and your peers and those before and after you are on campus that's just one little pack man blip and its followed by another one and when you're living it you think, I took a course in personal social adjustment with Dr. Dickson Robertson who is an elderly gentlemen and he says, he argued for extra centralism which is living in the now, he says, mistake we as humans make is we think we are going to live forever and we think what we're experiencing now will always be. And the truth of the matter is it won't. And you can hear that and go oh yeah, makes sense 00:53:00living it internally is very different and so what that has to do with the interview and everything is if I had a better sense of that when I was on campus I think I would have lived more in the now and embraced more of what was going on right then and not have been in such a hurry to move on and get out, get out of school and get on with my life. I don't know if that makes sense.

RM: No it's very insightful.

WB: But it was, I mean I was three years late but it was some of the best years of my life. Not because of drugging and drinking and partying and all that's involved with that but because it really was a time where I could focus on 00:54:00learning, learning about the world and learning some of the tools to help me understand the world and function in the world and helping me grow kinda of as an individual. And once you're married and in a job or career you don't have the time to just say I'm gonna take four years here to figure it out and that was just a once in a life time deal of me.

RM: Okay, yeah.

WB: Very powerful and I remember those days with great fondness.

RM: Okay well I appreciate the time that you took to come and do this, I know-

WB: My pleasure.

RM: Yeah of course.