Added to website
November 1, 2017
first evening of November in 1967, Oberlin College's student radio
station aired part of a famous Beethoven symphony.
John Heckenlively played four different historical recordings of the
Ode to Joy movement, featuring the interpretations of
four different conductors.
preparing its listeners for an upcoming Musical Union
performance. Dating back to 1837, MU presents a great work for
chorus and orchestra each semester. Many of its 140 members are
students in Oberlin's Conservatory of Music.
year before, the Musical Union had performed Brahms' Ein
As a college sophomore, I had heard excerpts of that work on WOBC as
well, particularly the powerful chorus Denn alles Fleisch, es
ist wie Gras. I decided to attend the concert.
However, I went by myself; I didn't take a date.
the college's young women I did have friends or
colleagues, as Jack Heller preferred to call classmates
whom one knows by their first names and a few idiosyncrasies.
But as I explained later, I had nothing against girls; I just
was afraid to get that serious with them.
in 1966, I did work up the courage to actually start going
out with the fairer sex. I took Susan
Titus to a performance of Ruddigore. The next spring,
Jan Olson, who was on Social Board, talked me into overcoming my
shyness by being matched up with a stranger via computer
dating. After that, I took Sherry Burian to a performance
of The Alchemist, and I got turned down
by Karen ter Horst.
I was a junior, and the Musical Union was going to perform
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on November 3, 1967. Three weeks in
advance, I asked Jan to go with me.
would be the first time I'd ever dated her, although we'd been
friends for over two years. We were both majoring in
physics. After our last class ended at 11:50, we'd sometimes
walk to the dining hall and eat lunch together.
she'd borrow my lecture notes, or I'd borrow hers (left).
Olson actually had a serious boyfriend in the senior class, so I
remained merely one of her colleagues.
weekend I wrote my parents, I probably won't take Jan out very
often, since she does have several other friends who are much better
at the social game than I am. But as long as I don't make a
nuisance of myself, I think she and I will stay pretty good
friends. She's a good girl.
that performance of the Ninth Symphony Alle Menschen
werden Brüder, all humans become brothers Jan
shed a few tears, although I didn't notice it at the time. She
told me later that she sometimes cried from happiness and
events which move me.
we walked from Finney Chapel to nearby Wilder Hall. Up on the
third floor, Folk Fest was on the air live from WOBC's Studio A.
was the station's Sports Director,
and at 11:00 that night I would be hosting a preview of the following
afternoon's football game against undefeated Ohio Wesleyan. It
always tried to speak conversationally on the air, so I had included
some fragmentary sentences in my script. Jan scanned it and
questioned the informality of beginning one paragraph with the word
Yep. However, I changed nothing.
11:30, following my Oberlin Digest, we
stayed around to watch the live broadcast of Backgammon 101, a
comedy sketch show that nowadays might be described as a radio
version of Saturday Night Live on a much smaller scale.
12:30, Studio A emptied out. Jan and I went over to the WOBC piano
and sang songs from the Oberlin
College Song Book. At her suggestion, our session concluded
with the traditional Good Night, Ladies. The
Backgammon kazoo happened to be lying there, so I added my two
next day found me in the press box at the football stadium. It
looked much like this photo taken 35 years later, except the weather
wasn't as pleasant.
was sitting beside my broadcast partner Jeff Hanna. But
because WOBC broadcast only away events, not home, we weren't there
to call the game on the radio. Instead, Jeff was the public
address announcer, and I served as his spotter.
Gellman would write about the event for the following Tuesday's
edition of the twice-weekly campus newspaper, the Oberlin Review.
freezing day and far superior opposition combined to make last
Saturday one of the most miserable Homecoming days ever for the
Yeoman gridders as they were devastated by Ohio Wesleyan 55-0.
Battling Bishops methodically picked apart the Obie defense all
afternoon, scoring five touchdowns in the first half.
Primarily a running team, OWU gained 440 yards passing.
the game, Jeff and Larry and I walked back to the radio studio to
present a sports talk show we called Yeoman Scoreboard.
programs the following week included Continental Theatre,
which featured a recording in French of Jean Cocteau's The
wasn't listening, (A)
because I don't know French and (B)
because my Physics 33 professor, David Montgomery, had invited
several majors to join him that evening for supper in his
Saturday, November 11, would be the final football game of the
season. Our radio crew signed out an Oberlin College station
wagon and drove the 45 miles southeast to the College of Wooster,
where the Fighting Scots were hosting our Yeomen.
the play-by-play announcer, I took the air at 1:55 PM.
we were working inside a nice warm pressbox (this is a much more
recent photo), because it rained steadily throughout the game.
the second week in a row, Oberlin was shut out by a lopsided score,
this time fifty-six to nothing. All in all,
I wrote my parents after returning to campus, it was quite a
it had been a miserable 1967 football season. Not only were we
outscored 111-0 in November, we won only one game all year, and that
by a narrow 14-13 margin. (Kenyon College handed us that
victory courtesy of a high snap on their second extra-point
attempt.) Larry described the disappointment of a 1-7 record.
coach Bill Grice referred to his team before the first game as
the best-looking team we've had in three years." As
the season progressed, however, it became painfully apparent that
this was not going to be the year everyone had hoped for. On
the contrary, the locals came within an extra point of going winless.
year only 11 freshmen came out for football, the lowest figure in
the Ohio Conference, which seems to spell a real difference as far as
the future is concerned. This fall's record could well be the
best for three years more.
next afternoon's outcome was happier. My Physics 35 professor,
Robert Warner, welcomed a dozen members of the class to his house on
Forest Street. We drank hot cider and snacked on cookies and
ham and cheese.
invitations to professors' homes in five days? This was not
all that unusual. There was remarkable faculty-student
interaction at Oberlin.
previous spring, I had been among the students visiting the homes of
Grover Zinn (religion) and Joseph Palmieri (physics).
wrote to my parents that all the faculty seem to be really
nice people. During my freshman year, when I was still awed by
professors with doctor's degrees while I had only graduated from high
school, I certainly didn't expect that two years later I would be on
practically friendly terms with over half the physics department staff.
pointed out that this was the result of a good student-to-faculty
ratio. There are seven physics professors, and only eight
majors in the class of 1968 and fourteen in my class of 1969.
And the Physics Club meetings and these invitations to their homes
make it simpler to talk to the professors about subjects other than
that which they profess.
IN DECEMBER: I receive a promotion at the radio station, Jo
Ann Frech sports a black eye, and Jan and I attend a church service
of Christmas carols.
here to continue.