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September 1968
Added to website September 1, 2018


Although my senior class was not yet due back at college, by “special WOBC arrangement with Dean of Students George Langeler” I returned to Oberlin on Wednesday morning, September 4.  I was now Station Director, and my Executive Board and I had to get ready to resume broadcasting the following Tuesday.

The incoming members of the Class of 1972 arrived for orientation that weekend, and we invited them to our WOBC open house on Saturday night.  A lot of interested freshmen signed up to be considered for roles at the station.

We tried to impress upon them early that our call letters were to be pronounced in full as “double-you oh bee see,” not reduced to the woefully colloquial “woe bee see.”

Jan Olson stopped by, too.  As I mentioned last month, her sprained and broken ankle had required surgery to remove bone chips, so she was now wearing a walking cast.

She was amused to see me conversing with a young first-year student of the female persuasion.  Afterwards Jan remarked on how the girl had been flirting with the powerful broadcast executive — me.  I had no idea that any flirting had been taking place.  I'd missed that completely.


Services the First Week

The next morning we went to church.  Jan had become a Methodist less than a fortnight before, and she had answered “I will” when asked if she would uphold the church with her attendance.  Therefore I invited her to accompany me to the First United Methodist Church in Oberlin.

I had begun attending here as a freshman in September 1965.  But by September 1966 there was a different minister, Forrest J. Waller, who didn't impress me.  “I haven't been getting much at all out of the services lately. He seems to know what he's doing, but so far his sermons haven't said too much.  In the first one I heard, he just related the story of Moses, occasionally inserting a comment but never really drawing any conclusions from the story as a whole.”  The following April, I gave up and switched to the First Church in Oberlin, affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

Now here I was back at First U.M. for the “third Sunday in Kingdomtide.”

At the 11:00 service Rev. Waller preached on Isaiah's vision of the Lord “in the year that King Uzziah died.”  I wrote my parents that little had changed in the past 17 months and the sermon still lacked depth.

Jan was bothered by that, too, “but also by the fact that it apparently made little difference to the people sitting there.  Although they undoubtedly didn't agree with everything in the responses, they still repeated them without thinking.  Having gone to church all my life, I'm used to that, but she hasn't gone since junior high school.  Her church at home is a smaller, more personal one, without this ritual formality.”


Firing Up the Transmitter

The following evening, Monday, September 9, WOBC staff meetings were held in Studio A.  Control engineers conferred at 4:30 PM, the news department at 7:30, and the popular and classical music departments at 9:00.

We began regular broadcasting the next morning with “Sunrise!” at 7:00 AM, followed five hours later by a live broadcast of President Robert K. Carr's annual assembly address from Finney Chapel.  That night at 11:15 on “Oberlin Digest,” incoming freshmen were interviewed about their first impressions of the campus.


Serving Time in Oberlin

For my first three years at Oberlin, food for the dining halls had been provided by the SAGA Corporation, which served more than 400 universities, colleges, hospitals, and retirement homes.  We frequently complained about SAGA and referred to it as the “South American Garbage Association.”  Did our complaints have any affect?  Possibly.  At any rate, a different food service took over for my senior year:  Hi Continental Corporation.

I wrote home that as a new company, Hi-C had made some improvements:  better-quality meat, more interest in serving the students, less obsession with making a profit.  But Hi-C was still using the same facilities and the same lower-level employees, including students.  They did continue the tradition of steak on Saturday evenings, though we had to wait in line for half an hour to be served a steak that wasn't really that good — except when it was prepared as London broil. 


Church the Second Week

Church-going people customarily attend every week, right?  In a note to Jan on Saturday, September 14, I courteously suggested two possible timetables for our church attendance the next day.  However, I was still rather inept socially, and I failed to phrase the alternatives in the form of a question.  Her indignant response:

Boy, you are an original!  How to ask a girl if she would like to join you for church:  “You have a choice of two plans for tomorrow...”

Suggestion #1:  No matter how confident you may be that a girl is just dying to do something with you, don't throw away that nice little formality of asking her first.  No girl likes to feel that she is “Good ol' __, always available” (whether she is or not).  Asking her to do something with you as if you considered it a pleasure and a privilege is courteous, and it shows a little respect for her person.  Besides, someday you might be surprised at her answer.  A very important clue for dealing with any girl (or woman) on the face of this planet:  NO ONE LIKES TO BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED!

Now I've told you bluntly what I think.  This is the first time I've let you know that I was angry at you (other times I've shouted harmless tirades at my mirror).  I'm sorry to be so hard on you, but you're going to be getting to know girls personally from now on, and there are some fundamentals you should know.


— If you were to invite me to join you at church tomorrow, I would probably accept the invitation to meet you at 10:40 AM (as I usually take only five minutes for breakfast).


Cast Parties

My parents came up to Oberlin one weekend.  We were going to drive over to the Milan Inn for lunch, and at their suggestion I invited Jan to join us.

When she approached the car, limping slightly on her walking cast, my father exclaimed, “Tom, what did you do to that girl?”

Jan wanted some photos of the autographs she had collected on her cast before the time came to remove the plaster.  One day she stopped up to see me at the radio station.  I was temporarily unavailable.

But toward the end of the month, I was able to spring for $1.98 to accompany her to a bargain-rate ragtime concert.


COMING IN OCTOBER:  "There are places I'll remember all my life."  A football analyst keeps the mic to describe a game-winning field goal attempt.  During the Star-Spangled Banner, other athletes register their protest against discrimination.  And a long conversation leads to "growing recognition and appreciation of much that is going on inside you."

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