Walter C. Adams
Recorded in May, 1990
Transcribed by Lisa Whalen and Kathleen S. Medicus
Walter C Adams, [address restricted to protect privacy]. This is the first time that I've really talked on record about the events around May 4th. I was interviewed by the FBI, shortly after that. Nothing, as far as I know, has ever come of the FBI investigation, I think it's buried somewhere. And I haven't really felt very much like talking about it for a long time. And I wasn't sure that I was going to feel like talking about it even now. A lot of people are doing a lot of talking about it, and they have recollections that are somewhat similar to mine, and some that are a little bit different. But I felt it's probably about the right time to set down the things that I remember about this, and the things that had some impact on me.
The first contact that I had with these events actually began Friday night of May first. We had a -- a seminar speaker. A very well known endocrinologist from University of Chicago, named Donald Steiner, who did really landmark work in diabetes and insulin synthesis, and those sorts of things. We took him to dinner, and then to Ed Frieden's house, after that, and then sat around and had a few drinks and talked for a while. And about eight o'clock I guess, eight or eight thirty, I drove him down to what was then the University Inn which is now the Inn of Kent. Dropped him off, chit-chatted a little bit, made nice. He was going to get a limosine out the next morning. And I just drove away, on up South Lincoln Street. And it must have been within in a matter of half an hour or so, that all hell broke loose. You know, I've often wondered whether he was aware of what was going on around him, or whether he just got up the next morning, hopped in his limousine, and thought, well, this was the way they had normal Friday nights in Kent, and then just got his plane and left.
[Interviewer] You never talked to him after that?
I've never run into him again since then. I've often thought that I must try and look him up, and ask him what his reactions were, but whenever I've thought of it, it hasn't been the right opportunity. But it always seemed to me to be an interesting irony, that paths cross at strange points, and the two of you glance off something, and then you go off in another direction.
The next part of this was
[Interviewer] The diabetes is an interesting -- we were almost going into a sort of a shock, diabetic shock, at about that point.
That may be stretching the metaphor a little bit. But it's okay. I think there are a lot of disease metaphors that can be used. And by the way, I think -- I don't know whether it originated with President Schwartz or not, but I think that the metaphor, "the rape victim," is one of the best I've ever heard about Kent State. I don't know why it never occured to me, or anybody else. Perhaps it had, and I just hadn't heard it. But he mentioned this, that Kent State has been treated that way, for all these many years. It just suddenly clicked: that's exactly how I feel about it, it's how I felt then. That, here we were, being accused of having perpetrated something that was done to us. It was as though we had dressed provacatively, and therefore -- and therefore
[Interviewer] We had demonstrated provacatively.
Yeah, and therefore, we had brought this on ourselves, because, if you behave that way, naturally, someone's going to shoot you to death. So, it strikes me as one of the most apt metaphors I've ever heard with regard to this.
Well, May 2nd, I was called, along with a lot of other faculty, I guess, to get together in this makeshift faculty observer--senate observer group. Which was really quite chaotic, there was no clear leadership in it. And I don't think anybody really knew what to do. The idea was only to have faculty members running around, so that they could at least be there, and if students saw them, perhaps they might be inhibited from doing something really serious. I don't think anybody knew that the National Guard had been called. I know I didn't; that that was about to happen. So that as we were following groups of students back and forth around the campus, and suddenly, discovering this line of -- of tanks and Guardsmen marching up Main Street. I mean, that was really a bizarre sight to see in your town all of a sudden. It was really -- that was one of the biggest shocks that I got out of this, and -- and they just kept moving. We, of course, kept moving on back onto the campus, because, you don't get in the way of things like that. I don't know what they expected to do with the tanks, push over Rockwell Hall, or something... I don't know. But they were there. And it was certainly a very aggressive presence.
And I was around when the -- when the ROTC building was burned down. And much of it just is recalled in my mind as kind of chaos, without really any sense. I saw very few people that I knew at the time, and -- you know, students, that I could recognize, and things were happening very fast, and in the dark. So I don't know that anybody can ever really put together who did what, or really, why. Because there were plenty of opportunities for plenty of people, with plenty of different motivations, to do -- to do quite a lot of things.
The next day, Sunday, was fairly quiet. And very little happened, except people walked around, looked at what was going on, and everything just seemed to kind of stay in place. And then the curfew went into effect, and I stayed home, as I was brought up to do when told. Particularly by people with tanks and very large guns. And after the sun went down, I heard things happening, and then the helicopters began circling overhead. And to this day, I can't hear one of those Army helicoptors, without getting a chill. They have a certain -- a certain frequency, a vibration frequency, that I can pick up in an instant. From a great distance, and right away. I tighten up, because of that recollection. But there are plenty of other helicopters that don't trouble me at all when they go overhead. But once one of those big Army helicoptors goes by, it dumps a flashback, instantaneously. I have the same feelings, and I'm there all over again.
But I had ventured out, hearing -- I could hear shouts from up on campus, I knew something was going on. But I was not about to go wander about.
[Interviewer] And you lived only a few blocks...
Oh yeah, I live on High Street, very near Lincoln, which is just a block from campus. And my property backs onto a large greenhouse area, which is privately owned, but which has several lanes. So I wandered back there--I don't know whether I ever told you this story before--I was walking back there, to try to -- carefully staying on private property, and observing the curfew. They didn't say you had to stay in your house, they said you had to stay off the street. I was not on the street. But I walked down the alley behind my house, next to one of the greenhouses, between a set of greenhouses, towards South Lincoln. And as I was about halfway there, I thought maybe I could get an idea if something was burning on campus, I could just see what was happening, because I could get a pretty good view of much of the campus from there. And as I was going down there, this helicoptor comes over with a searchlight. Well, the searchlight is sweeping north-south, and it comes right across me, and it comes back, and it stops, right on top of me, just as a jeep goes right by South Lincoln. And the jeep went past, then it reversed, backed up, and headed up on the alley toward me. And I, fortunately, was smart enough to not run. And I stood there, looking as though I was minding my own business. This jeep, with four Guardsmen in it, one of whom had a rifle three inches from the end of my nose, which I now know was probably loaded. I, at the time I had doubts, I wasn't going to try to find out the hard way, that is knowledge you don't want to carry with you for a very short remainder of your life. And I just said, "This is --" -- He said, " Did you know about the curfew?" I said that I did, that this was private property, this is not a public alley. And he said, "Well, get on home anyway." I wasn't about to argue territoriality at that point, and I just slowly walked on back up, and they turned around and backed out. I -- I really felt a tremendous terror at that point, because I've never been really the -- the target, of that kind of authority of force before.Having never been in the Army. I was of an age of which they're -- nobody really served in the Army. I became of cannon-fodder age during the middle 50's, one of the few periods of the last half century when there were no good wars going on. Not to my regret. Anyway, that's why I have no service record. That's one of the reasons.
Then on -- to continue the chronicle, on Monday, things didn't seem to be at all threatening. I had an impression of the atmosphere as being really quite pleasant. And calm, and everybody felt, "Well, things will get back to normal, people will go to class, and there's still going to be a lot of shouting and yelling." And gradually, we assumed, some of the Guard would be pulled away, and their presence would gradually decrease. Except for one thing. I had heard the original broadcast on Sunday, of Governor Rhodes' news conference. Which subsequent recordings didn't replicate, exactly. He -- he was much tougher than the recordings I hear. At least, that's my recollection of it. In terms of his verbal assault on the demonstrators. And it's my view that that was the main incentive, that put in the minds of the people holding the weapons, that, "These are not real people. These are people that society does not like, and we have to hate them." Therefore, if the right circumstances come along, it doesn't particularly matter. I thought that set the stage, but then I never thought anything was going to happen because things were so pleasant on Monday morning, and everybody went over to the Commons to see what speeches were going to be made, and whether people would yell, scream, run around and make fools of themselves, or just what would happen. It was very clear that, within about a half an hour -- we sat there, Bob Stokes, who was with the biology department, and Karen Dyer, who was a graduate student, was with us. We sat there munching lunch, while the people were gathering. It was a picnic time, OK? We ate our sandwiches, threw stuff away, and then watched what was happening. And we watched the ebb and flow of crowds, as has been very well described. And it really only became clear to me, in looking at diagrams this past week--I don't know why I've never really thought about this, or realized it--but the line of fire that killed one of the victims, Schroeder, was actually just a very few feet from where I was standing. I was over, at the time that the Guard came back up from the practice field and turned around, and shot--I actually saw them do this, I was staring right at them when they turned and fired--it looked very coordinated at the time. I was certain, when it happened, that it was signalled, and it did not look random at all to me. Because of their all being aimed pretty much in the same direction. With one exception. And that was the rifle that was aimed over, as it now turns out, my direction. The one that killed Bill Schroeder. I didn't realize anybody was hit around there, but a lot of people were just dropping to the ground. I felt they might be firing rubber bullets, or things like that. And then people just got up and ran the other direction, including me. I went down between Memorial Gym and Lake Hall. I thought, "Well, that's it. Everybody's going to all scatter and go home now, and complain, and everything like that."
When I went around beside Lake/Johnson complex, and I ran into a student, whose name I can't remember, it doesn't matter, who was screaming. She has a face cloth over her, and she was screaming hysterically and crying about how many people had been shot. I just didn't believe it. She said, "Yes. There are people that are dead, there's blood all over the place." Then I went around, and saw what had happened by that time. At that point then, it was getting a little more organized, and some people were taking more control of the crowd, getting students to back up. Things were getting done. And so I went on back to the department. And I remember in my own department, two or three faculty members- not the least bit troubled by what had happened. They felt this was inevitable, they deserved that. Including one who -- who changed a great deal, after that time. I think he began to think about some things, he also went through a change of life himself; he began to look at some -- some values a little bit differently. The Biology Department was very conservative, very right-wing, when I joined it. In fact, when I interviewed for the job, in 1967, I was clean shaven, and was hired. And I showed up in September with a mustache. And you should have seen the looks. I mean, if they could have revoked the contract, I think they would have. Well, there were people at the time, Bob Stokes at the time, used to wear a crew cut. He has long, grey curly hair down to his shoulders, he looks like an anachronism now, because the kids all have short hair. But he and a number -- he had already began to undergo some changes. A lot of people my age I think, were kind of coming around to the -- I don't think we started out radicals, at all. We started out wondering what was going on. And simply raising intellectual questions about, "What the hell are we doing in Vietnam?" And were very worried about the implications of getting mired down in something like that. Particularly because we had been brought up to believe that the U.S. had never -- had never lost a war, first of all, and had never been the aggressor. And it was very clear, as it's been clear since, that that was never the truth in the first place. But even so, we were certainly being that, we were becoming that. So part of what I think was triggering the right-wing reaction against demonstrators, was a real understanding, that some of this stuff was a myth, you see. And that all of the flag waving and stuff that we were taught to believe, that we're right no matter what, really wasn't all that true. And Vietnam was beginning to show some of that. And that wasn't making an awful lot of people happy. I think that's one of the things that I admire most about George McGovern. That's why it's very appropriate for him to be speaking here, because he is -- he was one of the earliest people to just ask a very simple question: "What are we trying to accomplish over there? Why are we doing this? And what are we doing to ourselves in the bargain?"
[Interviewer] Which is why you became politically active?
I became politically active after -- after May 4th.
[Interviewer] I always assumed that -- that we each took away from that, something.
That produced a shift. I want to talk about a couple of things that are related to that. After the shootings, like everybody else, we got out of our buildings and went home. Very upset, distraught. My wife was hysterical because she'd heard on the radio what had happened. Didn't know where I was. And it was very close. People in my own neighborhood, one family right behind us, packed everybody up in the car and left town. I mean, they were terrified that great, vast hordes of radicals were going to come and invade, and -- I don't know what all -- right on our lawn or something. But that didn't happen, obviously. I got involved in a couple of things as a result of that. One of them that I want to mention, because I don't know whether anybody -- I don't remember hearing anybody talk about this. There's been some discussion about the healing power of the arts. I know that the art exhibit downstairs is one of the things that's involved in this, and people talked about various other kinds of representations. Those four bodies of Henry's, by the way, make me angry. That they don't heal. As far as I'm concerned, I see that and I -- I don't feel at all calm.
[Interviewer] Now, he made them -- he made them eighteen years ago in anger.
I know. I'm sure it's not intended to calm you down, at all. Or make you heal and feel better. But there was one event that was -- that was very important to me at that time. About -- a couple of weeks after, most people were just trying to get their lives back together, and finish their classes in their house. We still had six or seven or eight weeks to go till the end of the quarter, at that time. And I finished off my classes, fortunately I had a small class, so I could just have everybody over a couple times a week to get the material. But about two or three weeks after this, a notice went around to people, to see if they would like to join the choral presentation. The -- Clayton Krehbiel, who was the director of the Cleveland Choruses; his daughter was a biology major. And I think -- since she was a student here, she was around -- I think she may have been in the crowd at that time. I think she had something to do with getting him to come here and organize that. Well, he got people together over about a three week period, I think, and I'd been involved in choruses before in college. I always liked to do that. I don't have a very good voice, I just enjoy choral singing a lot. And Larry Andrews, my neighbor, has an excellent voice. He's a bass also. And so he and I agreed to go together, and I -- if he would allow me to stand next to him, because I could be sure that I could -- I could hit it right as long as -- I have a good ear, I have a very good ear for music, and to imitate pitch and change pitch very quickly if I'm wrong. So I more or less followed him, and we went to all of the rehearsals. Krehbiel was quite a charter in -- in whipping that together, and he made an excellent piece of music out of it. And then he -- the final day,
[Interviewer] By the way, the piece of music was?
The Cherubini Requiem.
[Interviewer] I couldn't remember if it was Brahms or Cherubini.
It was Cherubini. And the -- the community chorus was a very ecumenical group, and I think that was the wonderful part of it. That's the thing that I have -- that I have always liked about so much of the -- of the last two centuries of treatment of the Catholic Mass. It really becomes buried, ecumenical, since the words of it are so powerful, and they really are not Roman Catholic, necessarily. They're extremely powerful. And I have such a vivid memory of that performance, because we all bustled down and moved, we had to unbuckle pews, and open up the area, and a pickup group from the Cleveland Orchestra, and some local folk sat in on this. And they put together an orchestra that really did it.
[Interviewer] This was at which church?
The United Church of Christ. And somehow or other, we all got in there, and got in place. It was really not very large. People came in, they filled up the pews, they filled up the balcony, and we went through this. And it was one of the most moving pieces of music I've ever heard. And felt. I have never had such a high, I think, doing anything, as that. And the most exhilirating part of it, was at the end, where it trails off to a very pianissimo ending, and then it was just very quiet. And nobody applauded. People just gradually stood up. I have never equalled the emotion in that. We just stood there. I mean, I just felt the whole inside of me was screaming. And then we filed out and that was the end of it. That was probably the most healing thing that happened in all of that, and that I felt best about. The only thing that I'm sad about that is, the recording of it, was very poor. They had put one of the microphones next to Robert Shaw. And he goes "hmm mm mm," he grunts, in time to it--to the music. I heard it once on KSU, it must be ten, fifteen years ago. It was a long time ago. And it was just terrible. I thought, "Oh, I don't want to get it I guess." I thought maybe I would get it; let me just leave that in a corner of my memory, and enjoy it that way.
What made me think of that again was a -- was a broadcast on NPR, about a month ago. And it had to do with a ghetto in Czechoslovakia, I can't remember the name of the village. But it was a village that was used by the Nazis to herd Jews in, and then they, in effect, closed the village, and just packed in about ten thousand people. And among them were a large number of musicians from central Europe, and conductors, vocal musicians--I think the name of the town was Tesín, Tesín Ghetto, I think that's the name, but it didn't stick with me. And they would put on performances. And they had actually some of the most--some of the best musicians in Europe. It was kind of a playing for time kind of thing, that story of Fanya Fenalon. But it took a little bit different turn, because toward the end of the time of that ghetto, they'd been moving people in and out; and this one conductor had gone through three major work-ups of concerts, and they just kept doing this just to keep busy. I think they knew what was happening to the people that left. But they never really knew for sure, because, as you know, communication wasn't all that good. They didn't take videos and show it on the nightly news, "What's happening now over at Auschwitz." But they had -- they described one of these times where, they couldn't play something because the Red Cross was coming -- actually, the International Red Cross was coming in from Geneva, to have a look, because the Nazis were all trying to say, "How nicely we're keeping things for the Jews, they're all healthy and well-scrubbed and everything." So they of course, orchestrated this tour from certain very clean streets, and set them down to have a concert. And the concert that they had arranged was Verdi's Requiem. And the Verdi Requiem is not -- not all that religious. It's a very powerful piece of music, and they described how, at this -- at this , which was really the last performance of this group, no less a person than Adolf Eichmann, comes in there with the Red Cross, and is sitting down in the front row. And all these essentially, condemned Jews, were standing up there, and giving him the Dies Irae from the Verdi Requiem, which is really one of the most powerful, penetrating pieces of music there is. And how could you say more then to condemn a person, with words like that? But I had the same kind of feeling, hearing that. I mean, we were doing something of the same thing, through a medium that doesn't really -- it doesn't really express things in a prosaic way, but it produces a whole realm of emotion and expression, that doesn't exist any other way. Music does that for me.
The other thing that came out of that, other than my May 4th garden (I went home, I didn't have anything else to do, so I dug up the side lawn, and made a garden) was that, the next year, the city had been re-districted. One of the things about May 4th that had bothered me was the very poor communication between the city government and the University. They were really mutually, quite disdainful of each other. And I had been involved a little bit with the city, because of the Kent Environmental Council that I had just started up. And I could see the resentment there was of University people. So to a certain extent, when this happened in May, having interacted with some of these people for the first time the previous December and January, on a couple of issues--I can't even remember what they were, probably planning or something--I wasn't surprised at the fact that they had no, no sense of cooperation at all. So when the city redistricted itself, I -- it turned out I was in a ward that had no -- they had increased the number of wards from four to six. And I was in a ward that had no incumbent council member. I filed, ran, I won the primary, a three way primary, against a guy that had been the city uuditor since 1935, the year before I was born, named Francis Kirvan. And the third candidate was Andy- I want to call him Wisenpacker- Weisenburg, or something like that. He was this radical student from campus. He had filed also. And he had called me one time, wanted me to -- to withdraw, because he said, "Well, you've got a job, and I need one." No, I'm sorry, but that isn't how it works in politics. You don't get political jobs on the basis of need, you win elections. So I learned how to go out and push doorbells, and walk the streets. And I won the primary by twelve votes.
And the primary was held in 1971, on May 4th. So I enjoyed that irony a little bit. And then I got busy and worked, and won the general election. My opponent in the general election was a man named Dean Hull. He was the backyard neighbor who, with his wife and three kids, packed up and left on May 4th. I don't hold that against him, it's his business what he wants to do with his wife and three kids. I beat him by nineteen votes. So generally, I've been known as "Landslide Walt" ever since then. I ran for reelection in '76, and won that. But one of the things that I tried to do was to -- to help mend some of these relationships. And it was extremely difficult to do, because the two sides really didn't like each other. And I had to listen to people like old Paul Yankovich, "The goddamn college this...The goddamn college that." And Harry McBride, who I'm sure, had trouble finding his way home at night, and Ruth Dessum and Ben Anderson. There was a--there was a cadre of four or five people, who--very old-time conservatives. And it was their town, the University was another universe, and we certainly are not going to do anything that would improve things for the University, cause they don't do anything for us. And I was fond of pointing out, "Except turn over a million dollars of income tax every year. Which, if you'd like them to secede from the city, and become part of Franklin Township, you won't get anymore." And gradually, that ate away at that attitude, but it was a gradual process, it took us over three or four years. And I was pleased to be able to do some of that wearing away.
The other thing was, there I was sitting next to -- to Roy Satrom, about a year and a half after May 4th. The man who, at the time, I absolutely despised, for what I felt he had done. I think he was badly advised. I think he is a very shy man. I think he did not know Robert White, he didn't understand anything about the University, and he had around him, people who hated the University. And he was -- was a civil engineer, he was not a professional politician, he had never held public office, other than in an engineering sense, other than that. He just simply didn't have the judgement that it would take to try to work out a situation like that. I don't know who would. Particularly with Rhodes coming to town. And I grew--we clashed quite a bit that year. And then he--then he ran for, and was elected to county engineer. So he was only mayor for a year, while I was there. After that, we actually have gradually become to be pretty friendly over the years. [Tape ends]
[Begin tape 31:A]...a rat, in the ocean. And it's just,
[Interviewer] They have a life of their own.
Yeah. You don't know where they're going, so you don't know where to intercept them.
[Interviewer] You were making the point about the -- having grown fonder of Mr. Satrom, as Mr. Sarboro came in. Just to back you up a little, because I think that important context, also at the dedication, is the McGovern connection, which is a little bit at the same time.
It's right about the same time. Yeah, because I took office as a council member January first of 1972. And I -- I was of course interested in the Presidential campaign, and was watching what was happening, and I'd been watching -- I'd become aquainted, during the time that I was running, with Harriet Begala. Harriet was involved with politics, more or less at the local level, for some time, and was very much an anti-war activist. And one of the very lonely few of the --of the adult population in the community.
[Interviewer] Harriet was about how old then?
Early fifties. Early fifties, yeah. Of course, her husband was a well-known coach on campus, sons were wrestlers and very prominent people also. So she was hard to oppose, although there were local people that did oppose her. She was referred to by some of the local Democrats as the "Pink Lady." They were very derisive. She took quite a lot of abuse from people. In any event, we became aquainted at about that time, and began to talk politics and things of that sort. Then came January--the rules of the Democratic party after the debacle of 1968, had been changed, so that -- to insure, a good deal of representation of the variety of constituencies in the Democratic party, which subsequently, people have said really killed the party. Maybe it deserved to die. If it can't stand diversity, it doesn't deserve to live. Maybe it's -- maybe it's saying something about the country as a whole. But, in any event, it had changed so that each congressional district was to have a caucus, of people who supported a particular candidate. And that caucus would choose those who would be placed on the ballot, on behalf of a particular candidate. So you had McGovern, you had Humphrey, there were two or three others. I can't remember. I think McCarthy may have been, initially, running at about that time. Wallace, certainly, was running in a few places, he wasn't -- I don't think he had delegates from here. And then that slate of delegates would contend for those delegate slots in each -- in each district.
Well, I went to this meeting, it was in room 111 in Williams Hall, the chemistry building on campus, because Harriet had been asked to call me. And she called a bunch of people in Summit. At the time, we had been gerrymandered into the Summit County congressional district along with Brimfield, you see, just recently -- just prior to that. As it turns out, that was very helpful, because that had assisted in maintaining a very strong support for Seiberling. We were actually very pleased to become part of his congressional district. It was after he had been first elected, fairly narrowly, but that really solidified -- with redistricting after 1970, that solidified his hold on the district. Which he deserved, maintained for quite a long time. In any event, she invited me along with a bunch of others to come to this. And then, sure enough, lo and behold, I wind up being nominated, since I'm a newly-elected council member, among those who would be delegates. And there were about seven or eight people who were nominated, maybe ten. There would be six delegates, because of the number of Democratic voters, and three alternates. Again, based on the number of votes, I wound up being a delegate for McGovern. And then we worked in the primary campaign, which this time in, came around to May first or May eighth, I don't know. Somewhere around the beginning -- somewhere around the May 4th period. It always keeps coming up. And we took fourteenth district by storm. And kicked the company people out.
Well, the next couple of months were an absolute riot, because it involved going to caucus meetings in Columbus, and it was quite a primer in national politics. I mean, you had this caucus, you had that caucus, you had these people quarrelling with each other, people were jockeying for power, Horrible, but it was a fascinating experience, that I would not trade for anything. And whether it's a direct result of all this or not, I don't know, but I found myself in a sweltering room, in Key Biscayne, being trucked in an unair-conditioned bus at five o'clock in the afternoon, four nights a week, to the Miami Beach Arena. And sat there for seven, eight hours, until three, four, five o'clock in the morning, depending upon which evening. And being told what to do. This idea of democracy in action is nonsense. I mean, delegates are manipulated, and controlled. Absolutely. You have no independence. You have a very strong hierarchy, and the guy that's at the top of that, is pulling the strings. You know who was pulling the strings? Not just McGovern, but Gary Hart.
[Interviewer] That's right, he was a campaign manager then.
He had a cadre of people who were very sharp, legally-minded.
[Interviewer] So you worked all that time to get to the highest moment in our political system.
Yes. And I sat there in this arena, this great, swarming buzz of people under TV lights, looking up at David Brinkley, and Roger Mudd would walk by. It was really kind of exciting, I wasn't very old. It was interesting to be around celebrities. There were some movie stars wandering about; William Buckley is sitting up, over there. Yeah, there is really actually a person, such as that, who goes to Democratic conventions. So I was -- it was a fascinating experience. Although somebody asked me once after that, what it felt like to be on the convention floor. I said, "A little bit like a maggot in the bottom of a garbage can." Because it's a swarming of people, and it was just -- but that's kind of off the subject of this. But it did -- it took me to that point.
[Interviewer]Well, it's only off the subject, but I think anyone who listens to the tape or, hopefully, a young person- if you take the idea that people here felt frustrated, and wanted to do something, and wanted to change the system. You got into the system, you went all the way through the system, you're telling me it's maggots on the bottom of the garbage. So I think that's a very ...
No, no, no. I'm a biologist. I use biology metaphors, what can I say?
[Interviewer] No, because I think it starts -- that's why I think the circle is important. That's still, you know, empowering ...
I think that personally, I've come around to the point of view, and I think it probably began then, that individuals are pretty helpless. And that there is an enormous amount of power. And if people that hold that power want to devote that to enriching themselves, as is being done in the last decade, then that's what's going to happen. And I think that's what's going to continue to happen. And it doesn't matter what great mass--what's happening to great masses of people. They're going to continue to get screwed, they're getting screwed in this country, instead of in South Vietnam now. That's my opinion. And you've got a fifth of our population doesn't even have medical insurance, no medical care available to them. A fifth.
[Interviewer] And the other four-fifths don't care.
Well, two fifths of those other four fifths, are going to soon care, because it's becoming expensive, and their employers are beginning to find ways to remove it from them.
I wanted to mention one other thing by the way, an epilogue, and that is, that as we managed to change the form of government in the city, into a city manager form, I became a little bit more involved in the operation of it, and, at one point, actually -- the first year that we were city management government -- became the mayor. And just as a way of transition to some different type of administration. And the irony of that was, the year that I was mayor, was 1977. And 1977 was the year the Tent City went up, and they were protesting the addition to the gym. And, it pleased me, at that time, to point out to anybody who was at all interested, that while we were talking about what we were going to do about that, I said one thing that was not going to happen is, we're not calling in the National Guard. Because there's only one person in Kent who can call in the National Guard, and that's the mayor. And the mayor isn't going to call in the National Guard. And they never did. They did call in the Sheriff's deputies, finally, to rout them out of there, but -- no, that was a -- that was a later demonstration. On July twelfth, when they did move the demonstrators out, I was right there in the front of the people that were moving them, and was, I think, helpful in making sure that the police departments were talking to each other, because I was talking to both of them. And one of the things that I wanted to be absolutely sure of, that there was none of this lack of coordination and communication. If we're going to do it, we're going to do it without anybody getting hurt. And so people got carted off, I think, without anyone getting injured. And they had the protest, and all of the things took place the way they had to take place. No one got hurt.
[Interviewer] There was no chaos.
No. There was no chaos. The statements were made, and things got done, and the points were made. I still think the gym is a disaster.
During that year, I went down to Columbus, with Bob Skurla [spelling uncertain], who was Assistant City Manager. I gave a -- a paper on -- to a city manager association -- about this group technique, and its use with the city council, because I had been involved in that a little bit. Jim Coke, actually, had been the one who designed that. And I was one of the victims. So I went and talked with one of the victims, and discussed that a little bit. The luncheon for that meeting, had as its eminent speaker, the current governor, James Rhodes. And I found that very difficult, as you can imagine. The most difficult part of it was, to sit around this table, and as he walks in, and is introduced very glowingly, everybody begins to stand up and applaud. Well, I didn't. And people were staring at me a little bit. And I looked around, Bob Skurla [spelling uncertain] didn't stand up either. And I had never had any idea what his attitude was toward May 4th or anything. I thought he was a student here at the time, I wasn't really sure. I never talked with him, he was a lot younger than I was. And afterwards, I talked with him about that. He had just as much loathing for that man as I did. You know, and it's one, little mild protest. Sit down, and be counted.
[Interviewer]Burn your napkin.
Yeah. [laughs] I didn't think about that at the time. I was trying to behave myself, and feeling very awkward, and very bad about that. I think standing ovations should be withheld for people who really are people of accomplishment, and I thought that really demeaned the whole thing.
[Interviewer] You said something about the gym. I just wanted to ask, since you are a member now, of the administration at some of the higher levels - when you said it's still a disaster -- when they, at that time, the answer was: But this has been in the works ten years. What you know now, do you -- is that a reasonable answer?
No, I think that's a lie. I think an addition to the gym, probably, was in the works for ten years, but I know how that kind of planning happens; things move all around. I mean, I've watched -- they finally got funding -- funding for the mathematics building. Well, that was going to be in several different places. And they finally put it in a particular place to make it maximize the use of the existing utility tunnel. But that wasn't decided until about six months ago. So the siteing, and the actual size and shape, well, those details aren't done ten years before you build something. You do estimates on the basis of square footage, because that tells you how much it's going to cost, how much money to ask for. And then you up that so many percentage points...
[Interviewer] So the continuing stigma, guilt, denial, whatever, that the university seems to have had over these years, is -- might reasonably be part of that -- that moment.
I have -- I really have no idea, because at the time, I -- I was not connected to the administration in any way, in 1977. Other than that, as it happened, that same year, the UFPA bargaining went into effect. And I happened to wind up, through a series of elections, being the chair of the first Provost Advisory Council. So I wound up at that level of discussion with the administration, but that was representing a faculty group. It was past that time then.
[Interviewer] What was your raise the year after May 4th, Do you remember?
Oh, I don't think I got any. There was a couple of years where there was nothing
[Interviewer] Oh, that's right. The two years, the two or three years, there was no money.
Yeah. Oh, I know. I mean, we went into a--
[Interviewer]To your knowledge, we were the only school that was receiving that punishment?
Well, I don't know about punishment, but it was certainly that enrollment went down. So I don't know that it was a punishment, because they can't do that in a state system. They have to allocate based on student credit hours earnings. And ours went down. They anticipated it, so they began to -- to withdraw, and hold back some money anyway, I think. I don't know that our administration was punishing, I think we may have been punished in terms of capital improvements, over time. I think that's possible.
[Interviewer]But there was no money. I remember many a -- many a year with no -- at least two.
The one raise I can remember was about three hundred dollars. Very, very tiny monies. And you know the thing that I think -- that impressed me so, and, in a sense, has kept me here, and made me loyal was the loyalty of the faculty. The faculty were incredibly loyal to this institution. And it was almost as though it was a death wish, that -- that they were here, they were part of this, and, "Well, I'm not going to be driven away. I like this institution, I believe in it." It wasn't that I can't get a job anywhere else. Some people left. I don't think it was because they thought the institution was dying, by any means, but a lot of people stayed. I think we had very, very good faculty leadership at that time. I think we had very good faculty leadership and the Union running the place. And I think that's why it has not been a destructive force.
Many of these things grew out of that. You know, I think that event also caused the resignation of President White. And they went out and looked for somebody that would do all kinds of flashy things, and they made a big mistake. They hired somebody who did a lot of harm, in the long run. Then they had to go and hire somebody to clean up that mess. It took us, probably, a good fifteen years to recover from May 4th because of the kinds of things were set into motion by it.
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