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Jenny & Me: JW@OC, TT@SU
Compiled January 2020

 

It was the summer of '69.  Woodstock, the moon landing, all of that. 

My friend Jennifer Wagner still had another year to go at Oberlin College, where she'd be the editor of the campus radio station's Program Guide.

I, however, had recently graduated and was now on my way to a one-year master's degree program at Syracuse University.

 

We continued writing each other, and I even returned to Oberlin one weekend to see her.  I've interleaved highlights from my collection of those letters, supplemented from other sources, and divided them into four chapters.  You're reading the second one now.

By the way, radio and TV talk is set off with gold brackets in the margin.  Some names have been disguised as two-digit numbers.  Also, a peridot is a link to additional explanation.

 

1.

Introduction

2.

JW @OC, TT @SU

3.

Moving On in 1970

coming in April

4.

The Next Few Years

coming in May


T1969 Tue 8.19

August 19, 1969

Dear Jennifer,

On September 8, I'll be heading for Syracuse, where my address for the next year will be 139 Miles Avenue, Syracuse, New York 13210.  I'd like to have the Program Guide mailed to that address, please, ma'am?  Sorry I wasn't able to get it in last spring, but I just now got my off-campus housing straightened out.

 

When Jenny returned to Oberlin, she got around to writing me back — for the first time in three months.  The paper she used was liberated from the WOBC teletype machine.

 

J1969 Thu 9.4

September 4, 1969, 8:45 PM

Dear Tom,

Apologies at this point would be totally irrelevant, and if there's one thing we all hate, it's irrelevancy.  Seriously, I kept intending to write... but life became one gigantic hassle (which we will not discuss at this point).  Also, I didn't want you to become too involved in a correspondence which would probably be strange, entangling, confusing, and, in the end, a real problem.  It's happened to me and it's not exactly pleasant.



This is fairly hysterical.  Obviously I'm at WOBC.  Ollie is giving a tour around me (control room), Randy is socking it to them on the air (yeah, we're on the air almost a week early, just 7 pm - 2 am during orientation).  This stupid tour

J1969 Fri 9.5

 





9/5, 9:30 am

was talking for about an hour.  I gave up.

This letter intended to be much longer, but if I mail it today it can go with the Program Guide.

I'm really too upset to write much more coherently (plus I'm in the Snack Bar, which is not conducive, etc.)


Snack Bar, Wilder Hall

Last night seems like about 40 years ago.  So many incredible things happened — as Oberlin-usual.

Lots of staff (Marc, Pratt, Hal, PJ, and others) went to a wedding (Dave Elsner?) in Cleveland.  There was an accident on the way back and Pratt and Hal were the first ones on the scene.  They were really upset when they came back — sort of unreal and impossible to describe now.

To include relevant information:

My address is 254 Elm Street [a six-bedroom house built in 1894].

Off-campus is great, except that I haven't spent much time there.

Last night, for instance, I was up at WOBC til 2.  Then I helped 61 unpack (for the second time) and ended up spending the night in Barnard (please don't be scandalized!)  (Ha.)  Weird.





Plus, for a long time I was the only WOBC girl (or "one of the guys," depending.)  Fun — but now all the girlfriends are coming back.  Including 14, whom 61 is still rather hung up on.  Ah well.

Louie had a great summer out west, Rodstein wasn't exactly happy at [classical radio] KSJR.  Etc.

I really promise to write again and keep you up to date --- HAVE FUN!!!  (I mean that!!!)

Love, Jenny

 

T1969 Wed 9.10

Syracuse, Wednesday evening, September 10, 1969

I was quite pleased to find your letter here waiting for me when I arrived Monday afternoon; made me feel right at home to have mail on my desk already.


And the Program Guide had the same effect.  It looks good, except Andrés Sagovia should be Segovia.

In fact, I wished that night that I could turn on my radio, the same radio on which I listened at Oberlin, and hear "Musical Perspectives" or "Vocal Highlights" or something.

 

J1969 Sat 9.13

Segovia.  Segovia.  Segovia.  Segovia.  Segovia.  89 had it spelled Sagovia.  I made a note to myself to correct it, but typed it incorrectly anyway.  Sorry.  He also had "Gordan Knot Untied."  But I fixed that.  Also "Isreal."  I am learning to accept his complete carelessness and just fix it.  He doesn't even want to hear about his mistakes.  (But I do, so if you notice anything else...)

 

T1969 Wed 9.10

 

I'm going to send Marc a letter c/o the station telling him how good the program schedule sounds. 

+ You're starting off the very first day with a 162½-hour-per-week schedule, beating the old record for a starting schedule (set last year) by 54 hours.

+ You guys have cut out all the outside-produced programs except for the best educational show and three music programs, thereby making the station that much more a student operation.

+ Three Digests per week sounds like a happy compromise.

+ The 75-minute Forum ought to work better (except that it requires rewinding the Croxall Loop sometime during the show). 

+ Rap! would be a good idea except it's going to die an early death from lack of interest (TBT's fearless prediction).

+ Rich Kesner's Midnight Special will be a big plus for the classical department.

Wednesday night at 10:00 worries me, though.  Oh, well, why should I worry?  I'm an aumnus.  No, take that back; I'm an alumnus.  (Stupid typewriter.)

 
Now then, back to hystericity.  You write, "Life became ... not exactly pleasant."  Care to tell me about it?  Knowing you, if you tried, you'd write a few paragraphs and get distracted and never really get much said.  Maybe try writing someplace other than the Snack Bar.  I can recall the last time we were down there and the difficulty we had in getting it communicated — from losing-your-mind you to solicitous me — just exactly what it was that 15 wanted you to do.

 

Jennifer was working at one of the co-ops, Harkness House, as a Work Coordinator.  Her next letter was on notebook filler paper with a coffee stain in the lower corner.

 

J1969 Sat 9.13

Saturday, September 13, 1969, almost dinner

Dear Tom,

Apologies for the "stationery."  As I sit here in the Harkness kitchen (actually, in my Saga manager's office, so I won't be disturbed), I find myself with Inspiration!  but without my stationery.  Ah well.


Incidentally, no Program Guide because the typewriter is/was broken.  They were supposed to fix it last Monday.  Thursday Randy told me to forget the Guide.  Rumor has it that it's fixed.  We'll see Tuesday.

Station gossip:  40 and 63 are still happy, although 63 went out with someone else (who??) last night.

51 won't be here this year.  Her parents can't/won't pay, but she's visiting this week.  Everyone is very sad.

21 has yet to come up to WOBC.  Hmm.

T1969 Wed 9.17

 

I'm not particularly surprised about 21.  I think the feeling of being unloved and unwanted finally got to her, and, with a bit of a martyr attitude, she just decided that she wouldn't do any more shows since nobody liked her very much.  If she weren't unpredictable, I'd say don't look for her to come up to WOBC at all.

 
Jim Pratt, the Popular-Music Director, was responsible for assigning disc jockeys, including 12, to shows in the various time slots.

 

J1969 Sat 9.13

12 said "Night Patrol or Rendezvous or else"  — his Sunrise! was dreadful — and Pratt said "else."

 

T1969 Wed 9.17

 

Good for Pratt.  Not that 12 was that bad a DJ — I have heard dreadfuller Sunrise!s — but he didn't deserve a good time slot either.  And one thing the exec board of a volunteer organization does not like is threats and ultimata to the effect that "if you don't give me so-and-so, I'm quitting."  More co-operative DJ's are just waiting for a chance to get on the air, at any time. 

 

J1969 Sat 9.13

 

My life (of late):  WOBC, Harkness, home.  That's fairly inclusive.

Again Jenny appears as MotherGoddess.  I've helped two guys, 61 and 26, unpack.  Disgustingly helpless creatures, all of them (all of you, I should say.)

I am again beginning a year totally unattached and quite happy about it.  New York Rock & Roll will be here for Big Weekend.  I'll probably go alone.  Good.  (That's not bitter, it's happy.)

Big Weekend, or “Homecoming,” would be the first weekend in October, and I think Jenny was hinting she'd like for me to be there.

Click the image to hear the first three minutes of New York Rock & Roll Ensemble's one hit, which mixed classical music (Bach) with pop/rock. 


Jan and Marc (my little "family") were up last night to celebrate the Jewish New Year.  We had honey and apples and popcorn.  Very good and fun. 

42 (who dated 72 and lived next door last year) lives across the hall.  She and 59 (Harkness' president) are going together and becoming another "family."

I kind of like being with couples (as opposed to dates).  It gives me a feeling of security.

 

T1969 Wed 9.17

Funny, but it works the other way for me; I feel like an intruder when I'm with a couple, like they'd really rather be talking about other things.

But I think I know what you mean.  When you're with a couple, you can relax because you know certain demands will not be made of you (ranging from keeping up the conversation to fending off advances).

 

J1969 Sat 9.13

I've started smoking again after stopping for the entire summer.  Meals have been exceedingly tense (work co-ordinating is hard!), so a cigarette after dinner really helps, relaxation-wise.

(Actually the two preceding paragraphs are one big rationalization.  That may be taken any way you want.)

 

J1969 Sun 9.14

12:45 am 9/14

Mother-goddess is the (hyphenated) word for it. 

Mr. Shepherd explained it to us Thursday in Islam.  It fits me perfectly and sounds much better than let's-chase-Jenny-around-the-bed.

26 just "tried" it on me.  The girl he's liked for 8 years is getting married, and all of a sudden he has his arms around me.

Tom, I just can't handle another one of those relationships.  OK, I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.  I don't care — I'm in this for myself.  We all are.


I am friendly, helpful, etc. only because I want to be.  I won't change.  I like it this way.

The very basic, nitty-gritty premise is that I am the important one to me.  This sounds selfish on paper.  (There's something wrong — paper doesn't sound.  Hmm.)  But it's true.  I'm sure you recognize it.  It's the only way to survive.

 

T1969 Wed 9.17

You are friendly, which leads some males to desire that you be more than friendly.  But, quite rightly, you don't want to (at least not toward that particular male). 

People feel guilty about living for ourselves, probably, because we've been taught the Golden Rule in Sunday School and "sharing" in kindergarten.  You feel you ought to be less selfish.  We shouldn't feel that way about something that is quite natural.

Be good, Mom.

 

J1969 Sun 9.14

Your academic life sounds really good.  What kind of courses will you be taking?  Have you met any people?  (A fairly absurd question, I hope.)  Extrovert thyself!

Happy Sunday.

When is your birthday?  (I'm doing a statistical analysis of the Zodiac signs of my friends.  I'll probably never finish, but it's fun.)

Love, Jenny

 

T1969 Wed 9.17

I am having fun here.  Somehow I seem much more aware of what's going on the past week or so, more able to appreciate things, more self-confident, than I was all summer. 

Of course I've met people.  I can't say I've gone to any great lengths to Extrovert Myself, since I've been kind of happy wandering around alone in my expanded consciousness, but certain friendships have come about quite naturally.

Among the males, there's one guy I liked right away for the totally inexplicable reason that his voice reminds me of a certain Oberlinian warlock and bread inhibitor by the name of Woodruff.

Among the females, I'm paying the most attention to one who happens to have a room right down the street here at 218 Miles Avenue.  This has led to an apparently semi-permanent arrangement in which I escort her home after our Monday-night class.

Strange thing about this young lady:  While waiting with the rest of the group for a class to start, she's not unusually talkative, but she practically never stops chattering if she and I are walking across campus alone.  My guess is that at least part of this is due to a defensive reaction to being alone with a member of the opposite sex.  Ah, well, at least she is talking to me, even though she isn't doing much listening.


T1969 Wed 10.8

Upon receiving the Sept. 27 issue of the Oberlin Review, I discover that the Student Senate we took so much trouble to elect back in March has fallen apart completely.  So, they held a by-election, and Paul Wilczynski tried again, and he almost made it this time had it not been for the write-ins.

I probably never mentioned it, but PJ was my computer date  once.  In the spring of my sophomore year, the computer matched me with a girl who wasn't available that night.  So I was all dressed up with no place to go, and Mr. Wilczynski was hanging around the station similarly unattached, so we decided to go to the CFR faculty show at Finney — telling everyone that the computer had goofed.  Great fun.

I understand that the rock band Three Dog Night got its name from the Australian aborigine practice of bundling up with one's dog for the night for warmth.  The colder the night, the more dogs would be needed, so a three-dog night would be a very chilly one.

 

J1969 Fri 10.10

How do you know about Australians and dogs?

 

T1969 Tue 10.14

On my way to campus one morning, I noticed a shaggy dog following me.  He turned out to be a sheep dog from Perth, and that's how I found out about the aborigine customs.  Fascinating conversationalist.

 

J1969 Fri 10.10

Congratulations on receiving the Review!  You'll be getting the Program Guide, too, unless I decide to write you.  That was the problem.  I was going to save the station 6¢ and enclose the Guide in a letter, but I didn't have time to write, so....

I'm having a delightful year — no longer work co-ordinating at Harkness.  I'm eating off-campus.  It's really great — and I didn't even have to go crazy to do it.

About the Guide:  Graphic Services is really sloppy.  They scratch the heavy letters, so I've gone back to typing the days like TC did.  It's easier and in the long run it looks a lot better.  You'll see. 

B&G did build the new pop cabinet.  It's very nice.  However, they built the shelves in the outer office and we're pretty sure that they cannot put them in (of course, our trigonometric calculations may be wrong).  At any rate, the shelves haven't been installed, so we're storing the blackboard and a sleeping bag in the "new" "pop" "cabinet."

 

Incidentally, we also illegally "borrowed" a mattress from Noah, so sleeping with Igor is somewhat more enjoyable.  A few of us are rotating Saturday nights, so it's my turn this week (as well as my regular Wednesday, after Dickinson). 

More gossip:  Hootle. is a real drag.  When they do it, it isn't exciting, and they keep finking out.  Tomorrow I get to do it (while I label Guides?).

Gary is working 20-30 hrs a week ($3.75 per hr) at Guilford's in the industrial area of Oberlin.  He's an engineering assistant and doing very well.  He made $110 this last week.  He's now pretty much a WOBC administrator, with Larry doing most of the work.  We'll see about new console (Larry has the pre-amps done).  Actually, there's no reason to be at all concerned.


Gary Freeman
Chief Engineer


Jacqueline Cowley
Business Manager


Wilson "Larry" Abbott
Chief Technician

 Gary and Jackie's wedding was in June 1969

~

Larry, Gary, Jackie, and I really get along very well.  Lar and I are very much alike and, evidently, "just friends."  But we all play Monopoly together, and go out for dinner, etc.  It's fun.

 
For autumn recess, I'm going to visit 72, I guess.  We shall see.

When are you coming to visit Oberlin?  Why didn't you come for Homecoming?  I really miss you.

Jenny

 

T1969 Tue 10.14

Tuesday evening, October 14, 1969     

I'll get off a prompt reply to your prompt reply to my last letter.  I just received your reply an hour ago upon returning to my room after dinner, after a long hard day at the library; I think answering within an hour qualifies as "prompt," doesn't it?

Normally I'd put off writing for a couple of days until I had a free morning or afternoon  But somehow this time I just can't wait to write.  I'm fully aware of the reason:  it's the way your letter ends.  That's the sort of thing that can make my whole week.

Now, being made to feel wanted simply shouldn't affect me that way.  I mean, the indication is that I'm insecure, unsure of my place in society, desperately wanting someone to like me and be concerned about me.  That's a problem.

You should know that I, too, miss you.  In line with that, to answer one of your questions, I plan to be in Oberlin around Friday, November 28, perhaps for more than one day; I'll know more definitely a week from now, and in my next letter, since you no longer have a co-op job, I'll ask you out for dinner, long talk, etc. for some specific evening.  Which I've been intending to do all along, by the way.

 

J1969 Fri 10.10

 

If you read the Guide carefully, you'll see Rich Kesner is doing "A Salute to Mother!"  The mother in question is me.  We shall see — I'm both flattered and furious.

 

T1969 Tue 10.14

Only you could be "both flattered and furious" about something.  I can imagine exactly how you'd be acting.  How did — gee, I do miss you.  Running around losing your sanity, yelling at Rich who grins back, resenting in a somehow charming way being treated like that.

...How did the salute-to-Mother show turn out?

Before WOBC signed off on Friday, October 24, for Oberlin's autumn recess, Jenny mailed the weekly Program Guide to me as usual.  To make up for the lack of weekend listings, it named members of the staff who didn't necessarily speak on the air.  I found a few additional annotations on my copy.

 

T1969 Wed 10.22

 

Wednesday afternoon, October 22, 1969

It's snowing here in upstate New York!  Already?!

The just-finalized plans call for me to arrive on Thursday, November 27, around Dinner Date time and to stay until Friday around Oberlin Digest time.  So, may I have the honor of taking you to dinner on Friday the 28th, at an hour to be agreed upon later?  Thursday night and Friday daytime I'll spend at the station or other places on campus, catching upon the latest situations, not excluding you of course.  I'm looking forward to seeing Igor again, even if they have dehumanized my computer friend by taking away his voice.  And I'm hoping to see some spectacular new new-console hardware or blueprints or completed modules or whatever.

 

J1969 Mon 11.3

Thank you for the dinner invitation.  Of course I'd love to... I'm really looking forward to your visit — it's so much easier to talk than to write.

Ted Gest was drafted.

I think Nixon is a dumdum.  His speech tonight lacked a lot.

Vacation was fun.  72's station is neat and has a lot of good equipment, but also a lot of really stupid things.  Like crummy sound-proofing.  Oh well.

 

 

 

At Syracuse, I had been assigned a paper about televised Presidential debates.  After 1960, there would be none for the next 16 years, and I needed to explain why there had been none in 1968 in particular.  It turned out that the Democrats wanted to include third-party candidate George Wallace, but the Republicans feared he'd siphon conservative votes, so there were no debates.  WOBC subscribed to the trade paper Broadcasting, which reported all this from the TV industry's perspective.  I wondered whether any year-old copies remained.

 

J1969 Mon 11.3

We did throw away Broadcasting.  You were correct: the library doesn't get it.  I'm sorry.

 

T1969 Mon 11.10

Don't feel bad about not finding Broadcasting.  After I got your letter, I gathered up my ambition, ambled over to the library, and got all the information I needed in a two-hour session with a microfilm reader and a New York Times microfilm collection. 

I hope the Station and Program Directors are aware I'm coming to Oberlin, as I would like to talk to them sometime during my brief stay.  I'm hoping there's someone I know up at the station Thanksgiving night; it might get boring just talking to the classical announcers.

 
See you soon!

 

The memories are fuzzy after 50 years, but as I recall, on that Thursday evening, November 27, I went straight to the third floor of Wilder Hall and met up with part of the old gang.  At some point, Jenny and I briefly visited her off-campus room three blocks away; then I went back to my room at the Oberlin Inn.

On Friday, after our dinner, we returned to Wilder Hall and reconvened in the basement Snack Bar at the opposite end of the building from WOBC.  Popular music was playing as we sat and talked.

This photo of the Snack Bar comes from the 1968 yearbook.
That is not Jenny yawning in the booth, nor is it I keeping her awake.

Jenny told me what happened during her autumn recess when she visited 72 at his current radio station.  He invited her to stay at his place and take the bed while he slept on the floor.  They started out that way, but she felt sorry for him being uncomfortable, so she invited him to come up and share the bed with her.  “And that's the last decision I had to make,” she told me.  And that's all she had to explain.

It was getting late, and I'd soon have to head home.  I would fly back to Syracuse on Sunday.  Peter, Paul & Mary's recording of a John Denver song had just played, and I mentioned how it was echoing. 

Every place I go, I'll think of you...
'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane.
Don't know when I'll be back again.
Oh babe, I hate to go.

We never saw each other again.

However, that didn't stop the mail.  I wrote eight days later.

 

T1969 Sat 12.6

Dear Miss Rengaw,

Warm, affectionate thoughts.  (But friendly ones, of course.)

In reading news reports about last Monday's draft lottery, I didn't find any references to the lottery ceremony's being broadcast.  So was there a huge crowd gathered round the teletype during your Evening Concert that night?  Did the station director decide to lock the front door to keep non-authorized persons out of the station, as though it were an election or something?

 
John Tiemstra '71 recalls, “I was really close to the people in the Oberlin Christian Fellowship. We supported each other spiritually and emotionally, and were great friends. I remember vividly the night of the first draft lottery. We all crowded into one dorm room to listen to it on the radio, and commiserate with those whose numbers came up early. That was a tough time.”

My birthday was #302; Jan Olson's was the lucky #366.  But it doesn't make any difference in either case, since I'm classified 1-Y and she's classified F.  Some people are doubly lucky.

I hope new console and related projects are all going well.  Somehow, I'm a little nervous about this business, now that the Big Step of tearing out the old and trying to put in the new is about to be taken.  They've been planning for this moment since I was sports director, and now, two years later, they think maybe they're actually going to do it.  (But "they" is no longer Tom Ammons and Gary Freeman; now it's Larry Abbott and Randy Bongarten.  How times change.)  And since I've done a little of the thinking about some external aspects of the new console, I feel a little like a consulting engineer who had a little to do with designing the Lunar Module control panel:  I sure hope everything in the mission works right.  It could be disaster if it doesn't.

I'd like to stop by Oberlin late in January during our semester break here, which may be only a few days long, to see how they're doing and what the board looks like; but rumor has it that our TVR group will be going on a trip to New York or Toronto or someplace to see how a real TV studio works, whoopee do.  So maybe someone can send me some photographs, and I can look over the new equipment that way.

 
To change the subject almost completely:  Maybe I should clarify a little better what I said in Oberlin about my preferring not to have children.  It's not only that I would consider kids to be a nuisance disrupting my daily life, but also that I don't think I could be a good father to them, partly because I'd resent their presence and partly because I just don't have the talent for it (judging from what I've observed of me so far).

I probably I should also clarify why I said anything to you about this.  It was partly a desire to share some private thoughts with you;

partly a subtle move to establish the probability that my grapes were sour anyway, thus making it easier for the fox and the grapevine to go their separate ways without regret (you can be the fox in that fable if you like);

and partly a searching for some way out of my little dilemma through something you might say.

I hope all that makes some sense to you, but if it doesn't, don't worry about it.  Enjoy yourself, have fun in Carolina, and try to write before Christmas if you can with any news.  Fa la la la la, la la la la.

 

What happened after the holidays?  January, of course.

I returned to Syracuse for the end of my first semester.

Jennifer returned to Oberlin, although her first semester had already concluded.  The month was designated for independent study in a special between-semesters Winter Term.

WOBC did not return to the air.  The engineering staff had set aside the month to rewire the station with a new audio-mixing console for the main control room and a new mini-console, which we called a consolette or “cette” for short, for the disk jockeys.

 

J1970 Mon 1.26

January 26, 1970

Believe it or not, I actually wrote you a letter over Christmas vacation, but couldn't remember whether your address was 139 or 239 and, besides, you weren't there anyway.  I didn't send cards because I'm inefficient and all my addresses were here and I was there.  Dumdum.

Actually Winter Term is sorta dull too.  But at least there are a lot of people.  Last night Jan and Marc took me into Lorain for tacos.  It was fun.


 

 



Marc has an olive-green Mustang for station business.  It had to happen eventually.  He's like that.


WOBC is coming along pretty well.  Randy says we'll sign on for the first day of classes.  Since that was the plan in December and it's now the end of January, things must be OK.  I can't tell by looking.

I passed all my courses.  Other than that there's nothing exciting here.  Sewing, cooking, reading, studying Greek ... typical lazy Winter Term.  Tomorrow I have to go to the post office and get a permit for the Guides, so you should be getting them again for this semester

Shira and Schroeder are "going together" so I rarely see her, except when we make a specific appointment.  It's sad.  You can sort of thank her for this letter.  Yesterday I mentioned that I hadn't written to you for a ridiculously long time and that I really should.  She gave me an incredible lecture and then I felt even guiltier (which was almost impossible).  So I stopped procrastinating.  Even if there is nothing interesting.  Oh well.

T1970 Sun 2.8

I couldn't place the name Schroeder at first until an article in the Review about his ExCon course in music theory for guitar whangers reminded me that his last name is Weed.  I still think Schroeder Weed is a classic name.

J1970 Mon 1.26

42 moved out.  80 moved in.  You may remember her from the WOBC open house 2 years ago.  She arrived late, in a lavender see-through dress.  She made quite an impression on Gary, as well as Marc and Randy.

I had left by then, so I don't know what really happened.  Some of the stories are wild exaggerations.

80 is very nice and quiet.  It's nice to have someone up here to talk to, but 3 rooms for myself was even better.  Sigh.

80 has a stereo and just put early Beatles on.  I can't write letters to that....

There really isn't anything exciting in Oberlin.

 

T1970 Mon 1.12

Syracuse is still on the archaic system in which the first semester does not end until mid-January and is followed by two weeks of Final Exams.  In our Studio Operations class, I received one of the four PaFaTaM awards.

During the second week of the finals period, since we TVR people have no more exams, we're going to take a bus down to The City (that's how its provincial inhabitants refer to New York oftentimes) for three days of talks by people in the broadcasting industry down there.  Then, back to Syracuse for second-semester registration.

 

J1970 Mon 1.26

The trip to THE CITY sounds interesting.  Was it?

 

T1970 Sun 2.8

Yes, it was. 


One presenter was the producer-director of the CBS Leonard Bernstein Young People's Concerts.  We got a good idea of what it's like to direct a show like this.  Eight cameras he was using!

Most of us went on a special tour of the NBC studios.  The man taking us around actually worked there as a unit manager.

 

T1970 Tue 3.17

Tuesday, March 17, 1970, 9:30 am

Well, WOBC must be on the air.  The only Oberlin person who's written since January is Bob Steyer, who wrote to thank me for the information I'd sent him on what it's like here at Syracuse and to tell me, on the basis of that information, he was going to go to Northwestern.

(Though Bob has a girlfriend here in Syracuse, he says our grad program is "more technically, philosophically, and managerially oriented than I care for.  N.U. has a much more interesting news-oriented program.")

In November Bob had complained about the station being off for January, which would preclude basketball broadcasts.  In his recent letter he didn't complain about anything station-wise, so I assume he's back at the mike.

The fact that WOBC is apparently on the air is not conclusive proof that new console/cette is in full operation.  Is it?  And how is it working? 

I've already asked Marc Drass, as he's called in Broadcasting Yearbook, to fill me in on this, but he hasn't replied.  Maybe the WOBC top brass is getting a little tired of my suggestions.  From time to time this year I've:

explained how to engineer Oberlin Forum,

passed on some McCartney rumors, 

proposed a way to broadcast in stereo to the dorms using only a mono FM transmitter plus the dorm AM system as a "subcarrier,"

reminded the program director of the possibilities of making a documentary on retiring President Carr from materials in the historical tape library,

suggested that Sunday Afternoon Recital include discussion as well as music,

and recommended ways to improve the fidelity of live Studio A music by getting better mikes and diffuser panels along the walls.

I just can't ever completely forget WOBC.

 

The preceding Saturday, I had received a Program Guide indicating that the station was resuming normal operation.  I noticed that 21 now had a time slot, albeit the least desirable one.   She was perhaps the station's least popular DJ and had not been on the air the first semester.  I offered a guess as to how this might have come to pass.

Jim, I've changed my mind.  I decided I want another pop show.

Well, uh, all the pop shows are filled for second semester already.

Can't you put me in someplace?  I've got experience.

No, I'm sorry, I've promised everybody certain shows.  And besides, we've got half a dozen other people on a waiting list.

I've got an idea.  How about a Sunday morning Sunrise!?

A Sunrise! on Sunday?  We can't do that; it would have to come just before Exultate, and that's bad continuity, pop before classical.

But when we had Igor, he played pop music right up until Exultate.

Oh.  I guess he did, come to think of it.  Well, there won't be anyone listening before 9:00 on Sunday morning anyway, so I guess it won't do any harm to put you on then.  (At least no one will have to listen to you before a class.)

... Am I close?

 

At Syracuse, we have this course second semester in which every week we produce a half-hour newscast. 

The professor insists that all stories be rewritten, as would be the case in a real TV news operation.  That means we can't just "rip and read" the UPI, but must improve the UPI style, add other facts from other courses, delete irrelevant material, and so on.

This is probably a good thing.  There always was a slight feeling of embarrassment about ripping and reading at WOBC.  But rewriting takes time.

Judging from my speed last week, to rewrite enough news for the WOBC 15-minute newscasts would take about four man-hours.  The newscaster and two assistants would have to come in at 9:30 to start preparing the 11:00 news.

So tell people not to be embarrassed about reading teletype copy.  Doing things the right way would be hard work for several people, and no fun.

 

T1970 Sat 4.18

 

My high school alma mater was evaluated recently.  "In the program of studies offered by the high school, only 60% of the students were receiving an adequate education while the other 40% were 'up in the air' as far as knowing what they will do upon graduation."

Apparently "an adequate education" leaves you with only a single alternative for what to do when you get out.  (Is Oberlin giving you one?)

 
Saturday afternoon, April 18, 1970

I saw Larry Abbott briefly at the Cleveland airport between planes on April 5, and he did tell me that new console is in fact functioning and that no problems have cropped up.   He also told me that all the programs are being done from console with its new turntables, since there was no new consolette built.

 

So I now have the word officially.  But that still doesn't relieve you of the responsibility of writing me, for my curiosity is non-satiable. Why wasn't new cette built?  Are there any plans for a new one?  Is the old cette still useable for recording newscarts, Digest interviews, and the like while console is on the air?

 
I'm also kind of curious about how you're getting along.  Have you made any plans definite for what you'll be doing two months from now?

 

In the spring of 1970, faculties and student bodies across the nation vehemently protested President Nixon's decision to send American troops into Cambodia as part of the war against North Vietnam.  At the campus of Oberlin's nearby neighbor, Kent State University, four students were killed by National Guard troops on Monday, May 4.  That triggered massive response on campuses across the nation, including Syracuse University where I was a grad student.

At Oberlin the next day, mourners for Kent State ringed Tappan Square.   College President Robert Carr simply canceled final exams, gave all his students credits for their courses, and turned over the campus to anti-war planning. 

About 500 members of the college community departed on Friday of that week for protest rallies being held in Columbus and Washington, DC.  Jenny joined as many as 100,000 protesters in the nation's capital. 

There, on Sunday afternoon, May 10, a hastily-arranged 250-member orchestra and choir composed of Oberlin faculty and students under the direction of Robert Fountain performed Mozart's Requiem to an audience of over two thousand in the National Cathedral “as a memorial to those who have died for peace.” 

One singer was Jenny's WOBC friend Jan Weintraub, who recalled in 2020:  “I sneaked into the choir.  It was supposedly a community effort, but almost everyone was a College Choir member and thus nearly professional.  I am okay in the real world, but at Oberlin where you have to be stellar... well, I tried not to sing very loud.  The experience is seared in my memory.  The bells of the Cathedral tolled at the end.  The hush at the end... it brings tears to my eyes, even after 50 years.”

Below, from the Class of 1970 50th Reunion website, are links to mp3 files of that actual performance.

in

Confutatis (When the accursed are confounded)

Introitus (Grant them eternal rest)

Lacrimosa (That day of tears and mourning)

Kyrie (Lord, have mercy on us)

Domine Jesu (Lord Jesus Christ)

Dies irae (Day of wrath)

Hostias (We offer thee praise and sacrifice)

Tuba mirum (The trumpet's wondrous sound)

Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts)

Rex tremendae (King of fearful majesty)

Benedictus (Blessed is he who cometh)

Recordare (Remember, kind Jesus)

Lux aeternae (May eternal light shine on them)

 
The baccalaureate and commencement were scheduled to take place on campus on May 24-25.  Jenny's senior class voted to go ahead with the ceremonies, but not to wear caps and gowns.  Jesse Jackson was the commencement speaker.

We will create the new world, where no man shall starve!  A new world, where every man will respect his fellow man!  A world where men will take their swords, beat them into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, study war no more!

Stand up!  Say I am a son — I am a daughter — of the universe.  I want to help somebody!”

 

J1970 Thu 5.28

May 28, 1970

Thank you for all your letters —I'm sorry about my lack of answers.  Obviously life has been very busy, but that is really no excuse, I'm just lazy.  Please excuse my "stationery."  I'm at work and there is literally nothing to do.  I do have Steppenwolf here, but an electric typewriter is such fun.  This one is even worse than WOBC's.

I've been reading science fiction.  (No, I don't consider Hesse sci-fi.  This is the exception.)  C.S. Lewis, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein ... very interesting.

I suppose you want to hear the latest on the station.  Console works quite well, except
   – the carts aren't connected yet
   – and cue can be heard over the air if the mikes are on in A 
   – and audition doesn't exist 
   – and the cue meters aren't hooked up 
   – and we haven't been monitoring our own signal for 3 months
... not to mention Igor and cette, who aren't even in the near future.

Next year's executives, as far as I know:

Glenn Davis

station director

Janice Derr

program director

Prue Klein

pop music

Rich Kesner

classical music

Hank Dolmatch

sports

Sue Fitzwater

money

Alan Gleason

news...I think

The last I heard, no Program Guide editor or chief control engineer.  I'm irreplaceable.

Actually that's not true.  I quit the station on pretty good terms the beginning of May.  After the Kent thing, regular programming was really messed up so it switched to emergency programming  (some music, lots of news and announcements).  They were doing fine without me and I wanted to go to Washington and be free of that place and those people.  It was great.

 
Incidentally, 72 was down for commencement week.  What a drag; I hardly talked to him at all.  It appears that most of my old friends are either crazy or mad at me or both.  Shira is crazy.  How are you?

I haven't really unpacked yet, so I don't have your letters here, so I probably haven't answered anything you asked, but ask again and I probably will get around to it.  Summer school starts in 3 weeks, education courses; probably more in the fall, then someday I can teach ... whoopee doo.

There isn't anything else happening, at least that I can think of&ldots;..

What are you doing now, or next year??????  Please answer ... set a good example for me!

 

. . . End of 2nd Chapter (JW @OC, TT @SU)


The story continues in Chapter 3, coming next month.  Jenny gets a job at an FM radio station while I get a job at a cable TV studio.

 

1.

Introduction

2.

JW @OC, TT @SU

3.

Moving On in 1970

coming in April

4.

The Next Few Years

coming in May

 

 

TBT

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