Phillip R. Ager
Associate Professor Emeritus of Music/Dean, Fairhaven College
BAE, WWU, 1952
Interviewer: Tamara Belts
Date of Interview: September 19, 2003
Location of Interview: Interviewee's home, Winthrop, Washington
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TB: Today is Friday, September 19th. My name is Tamara Belts, and Iím over in Winthrop with Phillip Ager, whoís both an alumni and was a faculty member at Western as well as in Fairhaven. And heís just signed the form and consent agreement, and weíre going to start our oral history.
So, as a student, why did you choose to attend Western?
PA: You know, Iím not sure I ever thought about whether to come to Western or not. A very good friend of mine decided to come, and we sort of came together, and it was just about that simple. I think in those days it was kind of not a planned affair as much as it is today. It was pretty simple.
TB: OK, I think you came in the fall of 1948?
PA: Right. Graduated in June of í52. It was right at the time when that the college, which it was referred to then, had become Western Washington College of Education. And Iím not sure what the year was, whether that happened just as I was arriving, or whether it had happened just a short time before I came in í48, but it was a new name, basically. I got a Bachelor of [Arts] in Education and Provisional Certification, which was also a new program at that time. It was, up until just shortly before I arrived, or maybe even during my first two years, that they began the Fifth-year Program, which meant that you graduated not with full certification but with a Provisional Certificate and then were required to come back for a fifth year to get a Continuing Certificate. It was kind of an interesting time; there were a lot of changes at that time.
Another thing that was really unique about those years, I think, is that veterans returned in huge numbers, so that the college population at the time was sort of a mix between us young kids -- seventeen, eighteen, just out of high school -- and people who had been through the Second World War and were pretty mature, even though, you know, they might have only been three, four, five years older than we were, many of them had been through a lot. In a way, it was really exciting to have those kinds of people in the classes. Youíd sit next to a student who was in the mid to late twenties and possibly married with kids. My memory is that there were a lot of kids on campus. When I was a junior, I believe, I lived in the veteransí housing, even though I wasnít a veteran, and there were kids all over the place, and they were not only hanging out near the vetsí housing, but they were on campus. A lot of wives who were not enrolled in school were there. It made the classes, I think, more interesting.
TB: Where did you live most of the time?
PA: I didnít live anywhere most of the time (laughter)! When I went there, I lived in the YMCA downtown, right where it is today, I believe, if itís still on the corner of State and Holly. A lot of students lived in the Y. There was a great deal of student housing that was run by community people, all the way up and down Indian Street, High Street, all over the hillside, and they all had to be, I believe, college-approved, in those days. When I finally discovered that getting from the YMCA to an 8:00 class on foot got to be difficult, I moved up to a private residence on Indian Street, and I think that was the third quarter of my freshman year, and I was there spring quarter and the following fall quarter. Then I moved into the MRH, the Menís Residence Hall, which was now, I think, where the Speech and Audiology folks still are.
TB: Journalismís actually there now.
PA: Journalism, OK.
PA: And I stayed there for the remainder of that year and the first two quarters of my junior year, and then I got married during spring vacation of my junior year, and we lived the rest of our time there in the vetsí housing over where the tennis courts used to be, which was on the way to Fairhaven, which is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of where Huxley is nowadays. Even when I was at Western as a faculty member I was never quite sure of the geography (laughter) because it had been bulldozed and changed and leveled and flattened and that sort of thing. It was a great experience; it was a really maturing experience, partly because of the various places I lived, and also because of the presence of all of these older people on campus. It changed the atmosphere from what it probably would have been had we all just been freshly graduated from high school.
The first two quarters, when I lived in the YMCA, I lived with a friend from Bremerton whose name was Clem Modisett, and I think Clem was the first black student to ever go to Western. Iím not sure of that. He left at the end of winter quarter my freshman year, partly because it was really difficult for him. It was not a welcoming place, either the school or the community. He was really a good kid. He was a boxer, I remember, and Iíve always felt that was a real privilege to be with him at a time when race was not an issue in society.
It was not difficult at all for me to do that because one of my best friends, when I grew up at Bremerton, was the only black student in the city of Bremerton, and it was so interesting because nobody considered him black. Then the Second World War came, and the town became full of all different ethnic backgrounds, including a lot of black people brought up from the South as labor in the shipyard in Bremerton. And, actually, I think the shock was as great for Bill Wilson, who was the person I was talking about, as it was for us. Weíd never really known that there was a difference.
But, Iíve always looked back on that with a great deal of, not pride, but just a sense that I felt really fortunate to have had that experience to spend some time at a time when there were no issues around that, at least in this area. It was a real wake up when Clem just said, "You know, I canít stay here anymore."
TB: Do you know more about why he felt that way? I mean, was it just that people, either they looked at him or they ignored him, orÖ?
PA: He wasnít welcome, and a lot of it was in the community. And, of course, this is a very personal observation, but I never felt that Bellingham, as a community, while I was there, was very welcoming.
TB: So even towards youÖ
PA: No, no no. Toward blacks.
PA: Even when I was a faculty person there. I donít think the university was particularly welcoming. They did begin to encourage minorities to come, but, it was a long history of never having to deal with other ethnic groups. I donít remember a single person during my student days there that was of any other ethnic background than Clem, and he was there and gone very quickly.
TB: Where did he go?
PA: He went to New York City. He became a real estate agent and was extremely successful. At least thatís what I was told.
TB: So he did go onto college, he just went somewhere else?
PA: Yes, and I donít know if he went onto college or not. I heard about him after I graduated. And I really had no way of tracking him down. He just left, and that was it.
TB: Now, did you work while you were a student?
PA: I did. I lived on $25 a month when I was a student until I got married. I got a job in the student coffee shop which was in the basement of the old Music Building, which is in the same place as the new Music Building, but it was much smaller. Sixty cents an hour, but I could eat there, so it was great. I did that mostly my freshman and sophomore year, and then I got a job at Columbian Optical. I had met the owner when I lived at the YMCA because Columbian Optical was right in that little corner store on the ground floor of the YMCA building. I made eye glasses. He was an avid boater, and he had a boat out at Fishermanís Cove, and so he took me out, and I worked on his boat because I could work on engines and do carpentry work. The fellow who owned Fishermanís Cove then hired me during my senior as a boat builder, which I did all during my senior year, and I got an apartment in exchange, plus a small salary. Harold, gosh I canít remember -- restaurant and marina. I donít know even if itís still there, probably is. Itís where the Lummi Island ferry docks.
TB: Who were your favorite or most influential teachers during that time?
PA: Well, thatís interesting. Does Lucy Kangley ring a bell?
TB: Oh, yes, I have heardÖ
PA: Oh, Lucy was a wonderful, tough, in-your-face lady. I loved her classes. She even used bad words once in a while, which is unheard of in those years.
TB: I would have thought, yes.
PA: And she was just sort of enfant terrible, the one that everybody sort of picked on as this terrible person, this immoral lady (laughter), but, gosh, she was a good teacher, and she just really turned a lot of us on to literature, which is what she basically taught. And Arthur Hicks, too.
I took the required literature courses from Lucy and Arthur Hicks, and I really liked Arthur. He was a friend when I went back as a faculty member.
And there was a young man in the Science Department named Kermit Bengston, and I was really into mountain climbing, and so was Kermit, and he was one of the few faculty members -- most of the faculty members in those years were pretty reserved, and they were nice people, but you never felt you could get close to them -- but he was a person you could, you know, get close to, you could do things with out of school, and I did a lot of hiking and climbing with Kermit, and I really enjoyed him.
Ed Arntzen was great, and someone that everybody learned to mimic. He had all these speech things, and I could still do them if I set my mind to it.
Annis Hovde was a very close friend of my wifeís sister and brother-in-law. Annis was a fairly new teacher, and in terms of English comp, he was the first person that told me I could write, and I really appreciated that. Other people, all they could do was tell me what I did wrong. He said, "No, you could write if you just sat down and spent more time with it."
Iíve never forgotten that. He was a faculty member at Fairhaven when I went, still very supportive, a really kind and really solid guy.
Nora B. Cummins. I can remember History 105. We would all sit in this classroom the first day, and this lady came in, she looked like someone out of a Victorian picture: lace collar, you know, long black skirt and a white blouse with lots of frills on it, and she was another one like Lucy, but she wasnít quite as crazy. She was really in-your-face, boy, I mean, if you didnít know history, you werenít getting out of this school, and you werenít worth anything, and, you know, kind of on and on. In addition to that, I think she was an excellent teacher. She was quite near the end of her career, Iím sure, and she was right there, she knew, I mean, she wasnít teaching people [stuff] from ten, fifteen years ago. She knew what was [going on].
Bill McDonald was a great guy. He wasnít really a teacher; he was the Dean of Men. But he was always there, not only if you needed him, but heíd kind of always anticipate it, and I think that would be fair to say a lot of people would say the same thing who were there during my years, that he sort of watched out for everybody, and if people were having a hard time, he didnít wait till they came to see him. He kind of figured out a way to shoehorn into your life and kind of lend a helping hand. I really respected him, and we worked the first several years of my time as a faculty person, I worked very closely with him. We had a great relationship, I thought.
Harvey Gelder, a really dear man. I baby-sat his kids for a brief time. I lived right across the street from where he lived, and Iíve had a friendship with Harvey since . He was fairly new, I think, to the faculty that year.
TB: When you came as a student then, he was a faculty person?
PA: Yep. Iím sure he just had arrived. He was living in vetsí housing, too.
I didnít know Paul Woodring very well, but I did take a couple of classes, and I think one of my proudest moments in the whole time I spent at Western was catching him in a mistake. And he said, "Ah, very good!"
And I thought, All right! Thatís made my four years here! Because nobody every caught him.
There was a woman in the campus school named Eileen McMillan. I think of all the people there, she probably had more influence on me than anybody. I student taught there quite early, maybe the first quarter, the short student teaching. In those years you did a short one and a long one, a half day and then a full day. I donít know if thatís still the case or not. I did my short student teaching at the campus school, and she was the music teacher there, and she was also, I think, a music faculty person. She took me under her wing; somehow, there was good chemistry between us, and she really was the one that began to forge my teaching philosophy, I think. She was very adept at somehow figuring out how to get you to figure it out for yourself, rather than telling you. She went from Western, before I graduated she left and went back to Columbia to teach, which was where she had done her undergraduate work. She was very, very good and highly respected, sort of on the national scene.
Those are pretty much people that I remember as being quite influential on me. The Music faculty was very standoffish, very formal. They were OK, the classes were fine, I felt I learned well, but I never felt close to any of them.
TB: Like Don Walter, you worked closely with him, he was band director, right?
PA: Right, and I was actually the student conductor of the College Band, and he was very kind to me, and I liked him, but I never felt a personal connection with him. He was all very, I donít know; itís hard to describe. He was of course in the department when I came back.
TB: Was it different when you came back as a faculty person?
PA: Oh, he was fine, and we got along just fine. Actually, I got along with everybody. Iím never quite sure why, but I think the person who preceded me had created so much antagonism amongst and between various members that anything was a relief. I really tried hard to play fair and to use people in ways that suited what they could do and what they wanted to do, rather than just sort of arbitrarily assigning people like kind of by the number. When I came back as a faculty person, I never really felt any real sense of nervousness about my relationship with them. Bernard was there, Don Walter was there, who else? Anybody? You know the department was tiny when I was an undergraduate. Really there was only the three people: Frank DíAndrea, Don Walter, and Bernard [Regier]. They were the three fulltime faculty. Everybody else was part-time. Oh, Myra Booth, excuse me. She would have been, they would have had four faculty. By the time I left the department, including affiliates and full-time faculty, we had over forty people.
PA: That wasnít forty FTE, of course, but forty names, bodies, some of whom, you know, may have only taught four private lessons a week or some of them taught fifteen private lessons. There was a lot of people to manage, but also a lot of people to bring their expertise, their personality, and their point of view into the department. But when I was an undergraduate it was basically [four], Myra was about to retire, and she taught music history, that was about it.
TB: What about Frank DíAndrea?
PA: He was an enigma for me. I always had the feeling, even as an undergraduate student, Frank wanted to be somewhere else. And, actually, he ended up going back to Columbia at the end of the first year when I came back as a faculty person.
TB: Do you have any other memories of like Dr. Haggard or other -- you talked about McDonald -- but any of the otherÖ?
PA: Dr. HaggardÖ Two really specific memories. I didnít write these down, they just immediately came out. The first one is that, by the first day of school, he knew everybodyís name. He walked the halls; he was always in the halls, like an old-time principal. It was like he was checking to be sure everybody was in the right place at the right time. He always knew your name. He called me by my name the first time I saw him.
PA: He came up, and just said, "Hello there, Phil! Nice to see you! Glad you could come!" You know, that sort of stuff. And it wasnít long before everybody knew that he knew everybodyís name, every single person.
The other thing was that I had come to Western on a Washington Club Scholarship, which I think the club is now defunct. I donít know if they still have it. It was a Bellingham club. So, as part of the requirements of that, I had to go to a meeting and be introduced and had to say something nice, so President Haggard, called me, and said, "Now is the time. Now I want you to understand that you may hear some language that youíve never heard before."
And I thought, whoa, boy, I donít know! Is it Czechoslovakian or what?
He said, "Just donít pay attention. Here are the things I want you to say." (Laugher) Sort of command performance. So he said, "All right, Iíll meet you at Edens Hall."
I canít remember, I donít believe he drove, he had somebody drive us downtown to the Bellingham or the Leopold or something. We went down and went to the meeting, and it was fine, and came back. I donít think Iíll ever forget this: We were walking from Edens Hall to Old Main, and we were walking together, and we were just chatting, and on the sidewalk was a prophylactic. And we walked along, and without missing a step, he just went with his foot, pushed it off -- and I noticed all this -- pushed it off into the bushes, never hesitated in his conversation. It was a beautiful move. But I donít think that should be part of the history here. Anyhow, thatís a memory that has never really left.
And there were a lot. I skied at Mount Baker. I had never been to a place so beautiful in my life. We did things like ride the mail boat through the San Juans. I donít know if thatís still something you do. There was a lot of things that we did that I thought were really kind of fun things. Of course there was no TV, none of the distractions [there are] now, so you sort of had to figure out things to do. I always felt there was a really nice balance between experiencing life and doing the academic thing. The emphasis was not so overwhelmingly on doing the academic stuff, and I think it really makes a difference. I think the time to contemplate is valuable and to think, rather than just keep grinding away at reading and writing. I really enjoyed my undergraduate days at Western. I enjoyed the people; I enjoyed the student body.
TB: Now what about, for example, band and the music program. You did a lot of trips?
PA: We took a trip every year to high schools, and that began to sort of fall by the wayside after I left, partly because high schools become a little more unruly, and band music was not something that all student body groups really liked. They became more and more difficult. When I was there, I took the band on tours, but we did it a little differently, and so did our choir when Bob Scandrett was there. He went often to churches and to neutral venues so that, you know, students could come if they want, and we would contact schools and say, "Weíre going to have a concert here. Maybe youíd want your band or choir students to come."
But almost every year there was a major tour of the band and the choir. When I was chair of the department, a lot of the smaller groups took sort of mini-tours -- the Collegiums, chamber music groups, small vocal groups, and the jazz choir -- so a lot of kids were on the road, so to speak, and stage band.
TB: Were those your closest friends then too, when you were a student -- the people that were in band with you?
PA: That was pretty much the circle that I ran in. Also, when I was there in Edens Hall the women were in rooms which frequently had four occupants and the three other women who roomed with my first wife and their husbands, who werenít husbands at the time, were sort of a circle that we ran in, too. But, it was mostly Music, and the other thing is that Music is a pretty social thing. There are rehearsals; youíre essentially studying, but youíre with a group. I think you develop a lot more close relationships with students in those, as you do on a team or in a drama production; itís just a given, I think. I still keep in touch infrequently with those three other people. Tom Springer is one. Heís taught in Lynden for years. He and his wife are still there.
TB: How about construction? A lot of building was going on when you were a student. Did you have that sense? They were building the Auditorium; they were building an Industrial Technology Building (Art Building).
PA: Right. And I think the plans were, they were startingÖ I donít know if they were excavating for Haggard Hall at the time.
It was a really interesting time when I was there as a faculty member. It was a period of really fast growth, and it was also a period of feast and famine. It seemed like every two years, I mean, itís hard to explain all of the intricacies of it, but Iíve thought that a lot of Westernís problems in those days, including the problems of Fairhaven, stemmed out of that fast growth, a lot of new programs starting. One year there would be lots and lots of funding, and so theyíd hire on people, and then theyíd have a big state-wide crisis. You know, there were a whole bunch of mini-depressions during that period, from í60 to í75, í78, í80. Then theyíd have RIF. Youíd have to reduce. Then people became very protective, and it became a sort of survival contest. The people became very cannibalistic. Often it turned out to be people that you didnít agree with, people you didnít like, and it was just impossible to objectify the need for retaining or getting rid of staff and faculty.
Itís just constant turmoil, which seemed to get in everybodyís way. It was the thing that was on your mind. You never really knew, the final budgets never came out until the summer, so people would leave in the spring; they didnít even know where they stood. So then the people would be let go, staff would be shuffled, and the last in-first out -- you know all that stuff -- would all take place. And then, there would be another surge of enrollment and another economic time that was fairly good, and so, theyíd start pulling on more faculty and, of course, the late Ď60ís and Ď70ís really changed the face of the curriculum, and during that five-year period of time, all of these new programs -- you know, the College of Ethnic Studies, Huxley, Fairhaven was there, but it was only about four or five faculty -- all of those things were sort of what students were demanding. Recreation program, all ofÖ And the people in the traditional programs were feeling really hammered and had all these terrible arguments about, "Well, you know, this is just a passing thing. And this is the real meat of it."
This would go on and on, and I think people got really angry. The thing that was easiest to get angry at was the constant frustration of not knowing where you stood. But the real situation was that we were trying to do way too much given the kind of resource base we had. And, you know, I donít know where the university is. It was still, when I left in í85 or í86, whatever it was, they were still in that mode, I felt, although not nearly so much as during the early 70ís to late 70ís. But that whole sort of interactive domino thing seemed to be controlling the culture of the college.
Then we had all sorts of people came in and said, "You know, weíve got the answer." There was a guy named Jerry Anderson. He had this plan, but nobody ever found out what it was, and then he finally left. Jim Albers had a plan, and, you know, everybody had a plan, weíll fix this, by golly! Most of the plans failed because of lack of cooperation, as I see it; that may not have been the case, but thatís how I viewed it. I think thatís why Huxley, to some extent, suffered; thatís why the College of Ethnic Studies died; thatís why Fairhaven was always the favorite hit, because, I mean, after all, theyíre just doing all this flaky stuff. Why should we support all this flaky, non-academic stuff? Often, you know, it would get really personal.
Oh god, who was the guy? Ed somebody. He was always railing at Fairhaven. After awhile, it gets personal when they start screaming at you in meetings about what a bunch of low-lives you are, you know? So then it becomes personal, and thatís when it really gets out of hand.
It seemed to be a shame that that had to be how it was. And nobody was able; I never felt anyone was really able to get a hand on it. I think Jim Talbot came as close as anybody. And I think one of the reasons, the reasons that, of all -- see, I had very little dealing with any of the college presidents, and very few of the deans did. We always dealt with whoever was the academic dean or the provost or whatever they called him, because along the line they renamed it. And I think Jimís great strength -- although I was extremely angry at him when I left -- his great strength was that he could say, "No." He could say, "You know, Iíd like to help you, but I canít."
Whereas people always wanted to sort of keep their base, their personal relationship base, by sort of being wishy-washy, so you didnít really feel like you were accepted or rejected, you know. Jim had the courage to say "No" or say, "We can do this much and thatís it. Hereís your budget. You donít get a penny more."
Now thatís how, to be perfectly honest, I prefer, as an administrator, to work. It was really important to know where you stood, so then you could go back, and you could lay things out in sort of the same way: knowing what your budget was, knowing what your FTE allotment was, knowing what the resources were, what rooms you had, and that sort of thing, then you can do the best with what you have. If you never know, you start by putting the faculty off. I canít tell you that because I canít get an answer fromÖ Iím sure you know what Iím talking about because I know it happens all the time.
A lot of administrators simply donít have that real courage, and I think that was Jimís great strength. I really appreciate him. He was very supportive of Fairhaven, although he was quiet about it. I think that was also a very smart move because it did not make him appear to be guilty of favoritism. He didnít go around saying what a great thing Fairhaven is, and Iím really going to support it. He just did it, without a lot of public pronouncement. He was the person all the time I was there that I reported to. I could go anytime, ask anything, and get a straight answer, 99% of the time. I really did like that about him.
One of the things that wasnít a question was, thereís a second level of administrators, and those are the people I worked with, and there were some great ones when I was there. Iíll just mention their names. Bill OíNeill, who was also there when I was a student. He was just fresh out of somewhere. I think he taught a couple of years and then came to Western. Barney Goltz. Barney and I and Henry Klein built the new music building. Henry was a cellist and thatís why we picked him.
TB: I did an oral history with him this summer.
PA: With Henry?
PA: Oh, Henry is one of my most favorite people in the whole world. Iíve never kept in touch with him. He is a fine architect, but most important, heís an architect that listens. He listened to everything. We would have long meetings, just he and I, and we would talk about the most minute details. Heíd go away. Heíd be back the next week, and it would be all done. I just think that experience was good, one of the best I had at Western.
Pete Elich was a really good friend, very supportive of Fairhaven. Tom Schlotterback, who was the Art Department chairman for many years; heís one of my closest personal friends. Gene Omey understood that really good musicians donít always have great academic records, and he would help me get students in that we really wanted to be in. And, with the exception of three or four, they did not disappoint either of us. They just didnít have great high school records. Paul Ford was Provost right at the end, and he was a good friend; we had a lot of good times together. Sam Kelly was one of my really good friends, Dean of the Graduate School. I donít know if you know Sam.
TB: Name only.
PA: He was actually the one that nominated me to go to Fairhaven and supported my tenure there very much. And we had a sort of a betting -- what should I say -- a habit? We would bet on things, different things. Weíd had bets on whoíd retire first andÖ
END OF TAPE ONE SIDE ONE
PA: Are we still going?
TB: Oh, yes.
TB: Letís just back up and see if we finished with your student time. You were also Senior Class President; you were on the Board of Control, any other last thoughts about your undergraduate time?
PA: Oh, I donít think so. I had my own dance band, and we played probably half or more of the college dances, which were down in the old gym in the basement of Old Main, which has now been converted to something else; in fact it was when I was there. I remember that was the one time, a lot of the faculty would come. After I left, I discovered they were assigned (laughter) to be there. But there was always eight or ten couples, and they seemed to have a good time.
TB: What was the name of your dance band?
PA: I donít know.
TB: Oh, OK.
PA: I havenít the faintest notion (laughter)!
TB: When you came to Western as a faculty, what were you originally hired to do? I know you were hired into the Music Department and specialized in the instrumental and band music and were in the Marching Band, so were you originally assigned to do the Marching Band at Western?
PA: Well, itís interesting. Harvey Bunke came from the Midwest, and he just couldnít stand it that there wasnít a marching band for football games, so he harassed Jerry Glass, who was the band director, who was strictly a no-marching guy. I was assistant band director at the University of Washington, and a couple of odd circumstances took place. The fellow who was the director was a man named Bill Cole, who was my mentor and surrogate father and just about everything else in my life and probably one of the most respected people in the state in the music business and education.
He was hired to come to Western in the fall of 1965 from the U of W. He had gone there in í57. I started my DMA program in í57, and he came the same year, and we got together, and we created what is now the University of Washington Marching Band. And, you know, thatís a whole story which I wrote up for the university last year. He didnít have a doctorate at the U, so they werenít going to promote him. He was probably one of the most popular and respected faculty people at the UW, so they offered him the job at Western before Harvey Bunke got this thing about a marching band, so he agreed to come. Well, then they promoted him (laughter) at the UW when he got a job, see. Sound typical? So he, late in the spring of í65, said, "Sorry, guys, but, you know, I just canít afford to come now."
They said, "What are we going to do?"
He said, "Hire Phil Ager. Heíll do a good job for you."
I mean, thatís what Bill said. So they called me and said, "Would you take the job?"
And I said, "I donít know."
They said, "Well, just write an application and a resumť."
And I said, well, kind of like, "Whatís a resumť?"
And they said, "Just, list the things youíve done."
So I got some friends who knew what a resumť was, and I did my resumť.
I had been teaching at Edmonds High School, and I had taught instrumental and choral music. We had probably one of the best high school music programs in the state; it was a real powerhouse. I had kids graduating and going directly into professional music. I had a kid in my choir who graduated and went a year to the UW and then went to the original cast of "Jesus Christ Superstar."
PA: I mean it wasnít because of me; it was just that there was this incredible talent pool at that time, and all it needed was just to kind of pull it together.
I did all of the formal things. I donít know if they
interviewed anybody else, to tell you the truth, but I had this very formal
TB: And who was it with?
PA: [Bernard] Regier, [Frank] DíAndrea, Don Walter, someone else, maybe someone from the administration; I donít remember. And so they said, "OK." I got a thing back in about a week, and they said, "You have the job, if you want it." I didnít even have my MA then.
TB: Oh wow.
PA: They said, "Youíve got to get your MA."
And I said, "How am I going to get my MA in thirty minutes?"
Iíd gone on a doctorate program which bypassed the MA. I had all the class work done; I just didnít have a dissertation done.
They said, "Well, I donít know, you figure that out. But youíve got to have an MA or we canít hire you."
I went to my high school principal, and he said, "What do you need?"
And I said, "Well, Iím almost done with something that would do for a masterís thesis."
And he said, "Well, why donít you take a week off and just write the thing?" And he said, "Iíll give you a week off."
And so I did, and I wrote it, and I got it in at five minutes to five on the deadline at the UW, the last day you could turn it in.
So I had the MA, and then I said, before I finally signed on, I said, "Now, I understand that, youíre really anxious that people have a doctorate before you get promoted. Am I going to go up there and find out when I get there that, Iím good for two years and then Iím on the street again?"
[They said], "Oh, no, no, no, no."
Well, I had found out later that they had already written a letter to the administration -- this was Frank DíAndrea -- that they would probably be looking for someone in the future with a Ph.D. I never knew this. Finally Jerry Glass, who was an interim chairman, briefly, was the one that discovered it, and he sort of got rid of it, somehow; I donít know. He never would tell me what he did.
At the same time, a guy named [Charles] Murray North walked out of the chairmanship -- just packed up his office and left -- on Friday the 13th of June in I think 1968 or í69, at the time I was to come up for tenure. I was on at that time the Executive Committee of the Department. R.D. Brown, who was the academic dean at the time, called the three of us over -- Jerry Glass, Bernard Regier, and me -- and said, "Dr. North has left. He no longer wants to be chairman, and so one of you needs to be chairman."
He started with Bernard, and he said, "So, Bernard, youíre chairman."
And Bernard said, "No way."
And he turned to Jerry Glass and he said, "Well, Jerry, than youíre chairman."
And Jerry said, "No," he said, "Iím tenured and I donít have to take it if I donít want it."
He turned to me and said, "Youíre chairman." And I said, "No, I donít want to be chairman." I said, "Besides, I need to talk to my wife."
He said, "Well, you can talk to your wife all you want, but," he said, "youíre chairman. Youíre untenured. You are chairman." And thatís how I became chairman of the department which was really kind of weird. I did it for a year and then I stayed, mostly, I think, because nobody else wanted it.
It was a good time to be a chairman in the Music Department. We grew and grew and grew. It was a combination of -- I donít know -- the one thing that I thought worked is that we were able to put aside the kind of artistic craziness that usually happens amongst artists. The department was willing to put that aside to do the right thing and we grew. Like I said, I think we had about twenty, we had twenty-two FTE, and I think weíd eighteen full-time faculty, and then the last four FTE were split amongst maybe fifteen, eighteen affiliate faculty. The enrollment grew, and the reputation grew, and it just worked.
TB: So it must have been that Dr. North was kind of a difficult person?
PA: He somehow managed to alienate the faculty, and I donít know if I should be using all these names (laughter).
TB: Youíll get a chance to edit it or not.
PA: Then he stayed in the department, and he was just a thorn in everybodyís side, he just stayed and stayed, and finally left. He would come in and vent. He would start a sentence and for twenty minutes it was non-stop, just vent against somebody or something. But, it was kind of cool, because everybody else just pretended that it didnít happen and that it wasnít there and that sort of thing, and so it worked out fine.
TB: So how about you getting tenured then when you were chairman of the department, was that difficult or made it easier, or?
PA: No, Jerry Glass just did it. I donít know how he did it. I didnít do anything! One day I was untenured and the next day I was tenured. I didnít have to turn in teaching evaluations; I didnít have to deal with all this nonsense that is part of tenure and promotion.
TB: Can you say anything more about Jerry Glass, what he was like as a person?
PA: Jerry was one of those people that you really liked or didnít. I really liked him. I had had a lot of contact with him in the Music Educatorsí National Association prior to my coming to Western. My brother and several of the students that I had at Olympic College came to Western before I did, and they all liked Jerry a great deal. He was very opinionated; he hated marching band; he hated PR; he really wanted to make music in a serious and professional way. And I admire him for that. Unfortunately, when you have a president who wants a marching band, and you donít want it, I mean, there has to be some placeÖ And he just said, "You know, if you want a marching band, then get somebody else."
But the hilarious thing about it all was that by the time Bunke left, we had only marched for about two or three games in that three-year period. We got rained out every single game. It was hilarious. But I came and I said, "Are you sure you want it?" I said, "You have to remember that you have to have at least three days of rehearsal before a show, which means it canít be pouring down rain." And I said, "It may well rain at the football, and then, all of that time is gone." (laughter)
Thatís exactly how it turned out to be. I went over and talked to him (Jerry Flora) when he was first appointed. I knew him through the Biology Department and the fact that he was an incredible teacher, very popular, involved in a lot of things on campus. I did some social things with him before. I said, "You know, Jerry, this isnít going to work." I said, "We can keep wasting the whole fall quarter doing nothing but preparing and then not doing it, or," I said, "we can just go back and teach people how to play." I said, "What we could do is that we could just play at the games." I said, "Weíll even walk out on the field and stand in a kind of a formation. Weíll play some good music."
Which is what we did for another couple three years until I just had to give it up. It was just too much to do the department and all of that, too, because just doing the football show is a full-time job. It takes hours and hours: you write music; you write charts; you conceive the show; you rehearse; you do all the logistics of getting everything from here to there. It just took too much time. Then I finally got Bill Cole from the UW, and that was great.
TB: So what were some other major changes, or were there major changes, in the Music curriculum while you were here?
PA: Oh, yes. I think our graduate program settled into a really first-rate MA program. We started a Classical Guitar Program. We started an excellent Jazz Program, which is still going, I think. And then I think the curriculum itself, as a whole, was really upgraded into standards that would match large universities. I donít know where that is now, but Iím assuming that itís probably still there, that quality. There was a time when Western was the place to go, that we had managed to sort of become the destination, especially for Music Education.
I think one of the things that happened toward the end of my tenure was that music in the public schools began to die, and itís pretty dead now, not much going on. The demand for Music Education people probably is reduced. I donít know how that affects the department now, but Iím sure that it does, but the standards during that period gradually increased to where a lot of the kids now are headed into professional performance, composition. We started a Music Composition Program. We started a very serious Early Music Program. That all happened during those years. A bit of an Opera Program that kind of fluttered and had some strong moments, but I donít think really ever matured.
TB: Was there any problem with having students who just love music participating in the music program?
PA: Never, no. The one thing that happened is that, from time to time, we had to restrict private instruction. If there was a student who was a non-major who was really committed, we gave them private lessons anyhow, as if they were a Music major. But, one-on-one instruction, as you well know, is terribly expensive, and we simply, in a lot of the fiscal down periods during that twenty-year period I was there, we simply couldnít afford to provide private instruction. But all of the performance groups were open to people based on their ability, not whether they were a major or not. There were times when we had to close some of the Music classes because if we had a big influx of students in the fall and we only had so many sections, and they were filled with Music majors, we had to restrict it. We had a really hard time with guitar for awhile, because everybody played guitar, you know. They thought that if they could come in and just hold it, they would qualify. So we began to require on everything, all of the instruments, an audition, and there would be a minimum level. During the years I was there, that minimum level gradually increased to the point that kids had to sing or play pretty well to quality for private instruction, but a lot of non-majors qualified. They were very good.
TB: I have a question on the timing, you went, did you say you came from Edmonds and you were also at Olympic College. Were you at Olympic before you went to Edmonds?
PA: Yes. I went from Olympic to UW Ė then Edmonds in 1960. í53 to í57 I was at Olympic.
TB: Right after you graduated almost from WesternÖ
PA: I taught at Sequim for two years and then went to Olympic College. Then I went to the UW from í57 to í60, and I ran out of money, as is often the case. My wife and kids lived in Bremerton; I lived in Seattle. And I just ran out of money and sort of burned out doing the Marching Band. I was a student advisor. I was also an instructor; I was a faculty at the UW (a lecturer). I taught brass class; I taught conducting. God, I taught so many things that it was unbelievable. I taught a full load, did Marching Band and I worked at night as a cop -- King County police officer.
TB: Wow. And you were also going to school then?
PA: Also going to school.
TB: Yes, I guess youíd burn out. (laughter)
PA: I got really burned out, and thatís why I ended up with three full years of full loads as a student and nothing, no degree at all to show for it.
TB: What about at Western what other campus activities, like Faculty Council, were you involved in?
PA: I was on the Faculty Council once, I think. I was mostly on committees. I preferred that because both the Music Department and Fairhaven were pretty much under siege all the years I was there. The Music Department because of the high cost of private instruction and just the curricular cost, so itís sort of self-protection, and I was on a lot of the financial and curriculum committees, that sort of thing, a lot of evaluation committees. Man, I canít believe how many committees, commissions, whatever that were going all the time. Every time anything came up, they formed a committee. Maybe that still happens, who knows? And so I think I was on practically every committee that ever existed at Western at one time or another, and at Fairhaven, the same thing. I just felt I had to be involved in these things if, for no other reason, to get information, or to sort of know which way the wind was blowing, to have a voice, to be able to explain what was happening and why it was expensive to run a Music Department and why people taught the way they taught at Fairhaven.
TB: So how did you get to Fairhaven?
PA: I donít know. I was on the Fairhaven Evaluation Committee with Pete and Paul, Pete Elich and Paul Ford, and we were kind of three musketeers. We sort of had a lot of subcommittee meetings, and we originally recommended that they ought to be sacked (laughter). And then, you know, we did that, and we had another subcommittee meeting and we said, "Now, wait a minute now." And so we sort of reneged on that, and it ended up that finally they said, "OK, weíre going to give you a chance, but hereís twenty-two conditions," or twenty-four or something. Theyíre in the record. I got rid of all that sort of stuff.
Oh, there youíve got it. How many are there?
TB: Well, youíre right. Itís a million because youíve got these aís and bís and [word].
TB: At least eight, but, I mean, thereís all these aís and bís under all the numbers, I mean you can look at it in a different way.
PA: Yes, I think once I counted upÖ
TB: Thereís all those subsets.
PA: Yes. Well, anyhow those got drafted and then they decided that they needed a Dean. And so they asked the second layer of administration, I think, to nominate people. Sam Kelly nominated me, and I think both Paul and Pete supported my nomination, because I canít imagine that I would have been considered unless there had been some strong support, maybe Bill McDonald, too. Because they were all people that I was really close to during the years I was in the Music Department. I think it ended up there were maybe four candidates, and I was the only one that you might describe as liberal. The rest of them were really hard-nosed (laughter), and so the Fairhaven faculty just really embraced my point of view.
I went over not thinking a whole lot of the place. I thought it was pretty messy and pretty arrogant. By the end of the first year, I just had a real sort of epiphany. It was a kind of education that I had always thought about but never felt would work: where you give students responsibility; where you donít teach but you create a learning environment; where you encourage students to question and to argue and to fight for what they believe and try to persuade them to your point of view but encourage them to try to persuade you to their point of you, sort of thing. I had always believed that that would be an ideal thing. I had read about it, the curriculum.
I had a son who was dyslexic, and I discovered, in that process, working with medical people and doing a lot of reading, that thereís more than one way you learn, and a lecture is not always the best way for everyone, that people deal with abstractions in different ways, that thereís a multitude of ways that people learn well, but that, in most educational settings, itís a single mode kind of presentation. And basically itís either a lecture, or itís dealing with abstractions in an academic and an intellectual way. I really discovered over at Fairhaven, in spite of the anarchy and the different teaching styles and the incredible diversity of the student body, that the kids came and they selected the way, somehow, that they were able to do what they needed to do. I really, at that point, embraced the whole notion of that kind of an educational structure thatís loosely structured. I was able to see the structure without it being a sort of lockstep. You think this, this, this, and this, and youíll get this. It always amazed me that our Music students did this, this, this, this, and this, and they very seldom got that. There was something that didnít work.
I also discovered that almost all of the programs are vocational. The first priority is not to teach them to think or to be creative, but rather to prepare to enter a particular profession or the workforce as it is now, not how it might be in the future, but as it exists now. And I think there are some things that you can say are fairly the same but that thereís a lot of stuff out there that you canít prepare students for specifically as a vocation or profession. And I really saw that whole other side of what truly was a liberal arts kind of curriculum could be that came out of the creative side of people or the experiential side of people where they could go into a situation, analyze it, and make it work in a way that was not in line, sort of progression. Am I making sense?
PA: My wife worked in a bookstore. She probably knows more about childrenís literature than just about anybody, not because she reads bibliographies or book reviews. She has read almost every single childrenís book that has ever been published and continues to do so even though she doesnít do it now. She was fascinated with that. She was also fascinated with how to get the word out about childrenís literature. Some people might call that marketing, I guess. She was also interested in writing childrenís literature. Now, where on Westernís campus can you find something that would give you the kind of background and the skills you would need to do those three things? They seem compatible to me, even though I donít know the area, but they seem to make sense as a group. Well she was a Fairhaven student and she put that together as her major. It made very good sense, at least to me. I thought it made it sense, rather than getting an English major and then not knowing what to do with it, or having to do all this on your own, separate from your education, your so-called formal education. She got a great education.
She worked with Don McLeod, writing. Thereís nobody better. She took courses in the Education Department, and she took courses from English faculty. I think she [worked independently with someone in the library]. I canít rememberÖ
TB: Was it [Enid Haag]?
PA: Maybe, yes.
I think she came out with a first-rate degree, and in the process, she was so motivated by her contact with these people. As I said, she read, cover to cover, everything -- young adult books that took more than half an hour to get through. She knows the literature better than anybody I know.
I saw that sort of thing happen time after time after time. I also saw a lot of flakes. I saw a lot of people, who came and used the system, and at some point, I finally made the connection, I think -- there are a lot of C and D students that probably arenít any better than the flakes who used Fairhaven.
My association with David Mason taught me that thereís two kinds of science -- I always thought there was just one -- thereís a science thatís an integrative science and thereís a science thatís narrow and theoretical. Both of them are important, but Huxley and Fairhaven give students the opportunity to study, for example, environmental issues, which require a knowledge and an ability to move through biology, zoology, geography, geology, all of those things that you donít get as a Biology major or that you donít get as a Physics major. And I saw kids go through those programs.
One of my friends here in the valley went through Huxley. He was a straight-A student at Western and Huxley -- very bright. He ended up being a mapper for the Forest Service here and did a lot of really high-level creative things as a person who just did maps. I think what Iím trying to say is that I discovered that thereís a place for both of these kinds of educations to exist and that both of them can and should be respected, and thatís not to say -- I never said in all the years that I was there -- that a Fairhaven education was a better education than a Western education. If a person wants to go into research biology, do a Biology major. If you want to do something different but have that as a base or one of the bases of your understanding, there wasnít, when I was there, an opportunity to do that.
What really interests me now as I look back is that, by the time I left Fairhaven, Independent Studies was a part of almost every departmentís menu. Travel, foreign travel -- that sort of thing was a part. I mean, they even hired an administrator at Western, finally, to coordinate all that stuff. Integrative classes, team-taught classes are now part of the standard curriculum. Nobody questions them. In 1978 when I went to Fairhaven, people thought those were nuts, that they were crazy ways to teach people anything. Well, you canít teach, I mean, if there are three people, how can anybody learn anything specific? Undergraduate seminars -- theyíre all over campus now. They were unique at Fairhaven, before I went, where students actually ran the class and discussed. That was unheard of on campus. They werenít ready to do that. Weíve got to stuff this all full of them.
We had in the Music Department -- before a kid could be a composer -- we had all these prerequisites. You had to have traditional theory, traditional harmony, all of these things from the past, and then as a junior or more likely a senior, youíd say, "OK, compose."
What do you think the music sounded like? It sounded like the past. We had completely conditioned all of the sort of creativity and experimental courage out of kids. It wasnít a conscious thing on our part; it was just something that everybodyís done for years. The whole twentieth century is full of that, and the only people to escape it -- there are very few people who have escaped it -- most of the people who have escaped as composers, havenít been in a formal education. Itís because they just write down what they hear before theyíre influenced by it.
I think that analogy applies in many ways to how other programs work, too. Iím not sure, but I think so. Thatís my rant on education. I think itís important to recognize, especially at the university level, that thereís a lot of different ways to do things. That people ought not to be shot down because they do it one way. That if there are certain ways to teach language, then they ought to teach it that way if thatís the most effective way.
Fairhaven was crazy, too. I mean, Iíd go home at night and just shake my head. If we had a faculty meeting, if there wasnít anything really exciting on the agenda, nobody would come. Iíd walk the hall and Iíd say, "Oh, come on! Come on, we just got a few business items. I canít do this without your vote."
"You got my vote, just do whatever you want. Donít bother me."
Or there were the faculty meetings where there was an issue and, God, the kids hanging from the ceiling! And you sort of bring the meeting to order and chaos would erupt. Everybody saying, "You canít do this! You canít do this!"
And I said, "Weíre not doing anything! Weíre talking about it! OK!"
Everybody talks at once. An hour passes. Everybody leaves. Nothingís happened. And then we had fairly ordinary faculty meetings, too.
But, you know, we had all this stuff we had to do which we did in two years. We did every one of those things that are on the printed sheet. I think except one, and we got excused from that for some reason. I canít even remember what it was. But a lot of those things were designed to systematize and to homogenize Fairhaven, which at its roots, was not a homogenous group. It was not a group of people who thought alike. It was not a group of people who agreed that there was a way to track education into a specific formal curriculum. What I used to say is, "If youíre at Fairhaven, you have to tolerate ambiguity."
You do a lot of things on faith, and you fail at things, maybe sometimes more than you want to fail. But that you learn from all those things. You learn certain things that allow you then to move forward. If you can tolerate ambiguity, you donít get locked into opinionated situations. If you can tolerate a little chaos -- I think probably the most chaotic form of life is democracy. Democracy is a terrible mess. Fascism is much better because itís well-organized: you know whoís in control, and you do what you said, and you be at the right place at the right time, and all of these things, but Iím not sure that thatís the best way to live.
When I first came to Western, I can remember students whoíd come in and say, "Why do I have to take this?"
And I couldnít explain it. Iíd have to say, "Because thatís a requirement." Sometimes I would just throw my hands up and Iíd say, "You know, it doesnít make sense to me either, but read in the first part of your catalogue. Itís a contract. We contract with you that if you do all these things youíll have a degree and you say, ĎI can count on having a degree if I do all these things.í" And I said, "Itís very well-organized, itís a very straight line from here to there."
But when you get down to the point sometimes of having to explain to a student why they need to do this, it gets pretty tough because thereís a lot of stuff that you take at Western or any other college or university thatís there for reasons other than an education. Itís to support a department who needs student credit hours, so it becomes a GUR; you know the story, and so does everybody else. Itís like Willy Wade Haggardís kicking the prophylactic under the underbrush. We just donít talk about it because we donít want to talk about it. We donít want to hear about it, we donít want to have to explain it because we canít. I think the most exciting time for me in all the time I was at Western was when the kids were rebelling, and I hate to admit that because for some people that was a hellish time.
TB: You mean like í69.
PA: í69, í70. I can remember I taught Music in Western Civ (non-majors), or I canít remember, it had all different titles, I had anywhere between 100 and 150 kids every quarter. We would get in there, and Iíd say, "What am I going to do? These people donít like classical music."
But thatís what I have to teach, so I have to figure out how to make it make sense, and they would fight, and Iíd say something and they would argue, and it was wonderful. When I went back to the Music Department, I taught that class because everybody hated teaching it. I liked it. I went back, and I just worked so hard, and Iíd have a class, at the end of the class, Iíd feel, boy, now I think that was pretty good. Iíd say, "Any questions? Somebody say something! Tell me it was lousy! Do anything!
And theyíd say, "Is that going to be on the exam? When are we going to have a test? When are we going to get the last test back?"
I donít know if that still is there, but I know where the pressures are for students now, and it wouldnít surprise me. I have a granddaughter thatís going there. Itís all she does. She doesnít do anything else. Sheís a very bright girl. I mean, sheís bright in mathematicsÖ
END OF TAPE ONE SIDE TWO
PA: Öhow hard she works and how thereís nothing else, and it makes me sad because I think we all need time to relax and to contemplate and to think about things, and when you donít have time to think, when youíre always reacting, I think itís too bad.
I value the time at Western, when I was a student, that it wasnít that way, that there were plenty of demands, but we also had time to do things on the weekend and to do social things. Most of the social things were kind of college-wide. They had a lot of activities that the [college] sponsored, and I thought that was kind of neat.
TB: You seem to think the changes over time that youíve seen of students, has it been gradual, evolutionary-like, or is it kind of different, more sudden?
PA: Iíve tried to think about that, and I donít think I remember it. I just would be suddenly aware that things had really changed. Now, the most dramatic one, of course, was when I left the Music Department and went to Fairhaven and then came back five years later, or six years later, whatever it was, and I think that there was a dramatic change in the student body. Now part of that was being involved with Fairhaven students, who were quite different, and so it may have been more dramatic for me. Thatís one of the places that I noticed it. Students were quiet; they were obedient; they were like you wanted them to be when you taught high school. Donít get in the way. Donít confuse me. Just do what youíre told. I think a lot of that is based on national attitudes.
Thereís a wonderful article in the new Harperís magazine (September 2003) by, whatís his name, [John Taylor] Gatto, who writes on education, to some degree very bitter, but he taught for [thirty] years in Manhattan, some of the best and some of the worst schools. He said education is basically to create an uneducated middle class. I think the way he presents it, thereís a lot of truth to consider in that. He talks about warehousing students, and I think back on lecture classes of 1200 that we had in the auditorium, and thatís what they were. Kids played cards in the back. I donít know why they even bothered to come. Machine-graded tests.
You never spoke withÖ, I mean Herb Taylor, do you remember Herb?
TB: I knew him, yes.
PA: Herb Taylor, man alive. I mean, he was a stand-up comedian, a carnival barker; he was all these things. A lecture, if you listened, was absolutely stunning. And he taught some of those big classes.
TB: How did that change? How did they get away from having those large classes?
PA: Iím not really sure because that happened the first couple years I was at Western.
I think, this is a very personal and maybe even prejudiced point of view, and I donít even know if it would be agreed upon by others who were closer to it: my take on that was that, when it began, some of the best instructors at the university were involved, and so, a little by little, they sort of burned out, and what happened was, it became a sort of a place to put people that didnít perform well in the departments. I know of two or three departments where that was very true. People who had no charisma. I mean, you got to have something when youíre dealing with 500 to 1200 students. I know the person from our department was just [not good]. We kept him there because he generated a lot of SCH, which we desperately needed, and there was no place for him in the department.
I think that sort of happened [across campus]. I know from two other chairmen that were close friends of mine thatís how it worked with them. By the time I came to Western, it was right at the end of that. I think by the end of the second year they had moved in a new direction. It was not working well at all. I think students at that time were beginning to get restless. It was, after all, í65, í66, í67, and people were feeling that machine-graded tests and gigantic classes were not good ways for them to learn. Thatís simply an observation. I have nothing to back it up except just, my own reaction to how our department behaved and a couple of friends who confirmed that they felt that way. There were still good people in the program at the time, I just think that there were too many weak links. And it was, I mean it was hard work, preparing a lecture for that size, just the logistics of getting the stuff there on stage, if you were teaching music, you had to have all this sound stuff coordinated. It took a lot of time and energy to put that together, and I think people just got tired.
TB: Going back a little bit to your [time at Fairhaven], one of the things it seems like they were really trying to do was cut cost and streamline registration and acceptance, I think, even into the college and stuff, was that really a problem or difficult to do or was it pretty easy to just send that over to the main campus?
PA: No, we did have two years, to pull it together, and it does take time. It takes time to increase enrollment, it takes time to cut cost, you canít just fire people on the spot, you canít stop expenditures in mid-season, and that sort of thing. But, no, it wasnít difficult. I think those were the kinds of things that people were more willing to accept. They were quite willing to accept, you know, well, so if we got to restrict the Xerox machine, thatís OK, and, if we have to pay for our own coffee, or whatever, there was no issue with that. If they had to have classes in an inconvenient spot, that wasnít a big deal.
What was a big deal was people telling them how to think, what to teach, and how to teach it. That was an issue that was really difficult for Fairhaven faculty because the college had been created to do things differently. I would have to say this about myself: in a lot of ways, Iím a company person. If Iím told by my employer to do a job, I do my best to do that. I accept the situation. I accept that condition or I donít take the job. I donít think any of the other Fairhaven deans accepted that reality, that they had any responsibility to be fiscally responsible. If kids came, OK, if they didnít come, OK, if the classes were two or twenty. I just donít think it entered their consciousness to feel any differently because of the sort of culture of the alternative nature of the place, that they were somehow different and didnít need to conform. My sense was that we need to conform as best we can. If I accepted [something], and then it turned out that I didnít feel that we should be held to that, I would go argue that and either be excused from it or theyíd say, "Sorry. We expect you to do this."
Now we modified some of the things on that initial list. I think that list is pretty much the same list that Paul [Ford], Pete Elich, and I drew up, all three of us being somewhat ignorant of the culture at Fairhaven. We saw a lot of the good things; we saw a lot of the bad things; but we never saw the total culture. So, this list never came to me as a surprise, and when I accepted it, I felt that it was possible to do. When I got there, it turned out to be a whale of a lot bigger job than I thought. But some of the things that I thought would be real stumbling blocks werenít a problem at all with the faculty or the students or the staff. Like every place, we had great teachers and we had ones that werenít so great. We had staff people that really worked and we had staff people that drank a lot of coffee. We had students that performed and students that didnít perform. I donít think there was anything unusual about that because I think you could go into any department anywhere on campus or any other campus and find pretty much the same mix.
The real issues came when they said, "You got to teach this way. You got to make a curriculum that you can put down on a piece of paper and that a student knows."
Thatís where they balked. They said, "Look, it doesnít work that way because every student who comes here has two options. They can either take a Western major and do their GURís at Fairhaven," which was pretty well-organized; they knew what they had to take. "Or you can do an independent self-designed major at Fairhaven and do your GURís at Fairhaven, in which case every program is individually designed, so we donít really need a printed curriculum for those folks. We have one for the people who want a Western major but want to do their GURís here."
Most of the people who were critical of Fairhaven were totally ignorant of how it functioned and how it worked. It was very well-structured to deal with the unstructured nature of the place, so there wasnít a lot of that to do. What there really was to do was not to change the structure, but to police the structure. That is to see that the process for designing their major was followed, and that was easy to do. They just had to send it all to me. I never sent one back because, when the faculty and the students knew that they had to go, that one step, then they did it. They just did it right. They didnít want it back on their desks; that just meant they had to do it again. It wasnít that difficult to follow the process; it was just that it had gotten so informal and so lackadaisical that they didnít attend to the details of a process that was already in place. But what happened is that, to those of us on the outside, it appeared there was no process at all. Even though, in the evaluation, these processes were well-known and well-publicized, I donít think it really occurred to us until the very end that they simply werenít being followed. It wasnít a matter of a lack of process, but a lack of not following the process, and that was a simple thing.
Now the fiscal things were a little more difficult because Fairhaven was never over-budgeted. They did a lot of creative budgeting, as you might expect people of that ilk to do, but they never got a lot of money, budget-wise. In terms of materials and classroom equipment and stuff, they were pretty impoverished. So some things were hard; some things were difficult. The most difficult thing for me was just getting the faculty to agree on some things and to do say what was really true. I would have to send these reports in, and Iíd say, "OK guys, hereís what we need to do. I need you to just say, Ďyes,í by voting that we are doing this."
And someone would say, "Weíve always done that."
Iíd say, "I know youíve always done that. Weíre doing it better now, OK? Just say, ĎYes, weíre doing it.í Vote." Weíd take a vote. Three yesís and fifteen noís, and Iíd say, "Why are you voting Ďnoí?"
"Because this is a bunch of crap! We shouldnít have to do this!"
How do you deal with that kind of stuff?
The unfortunate thing about getting the Fairhaven faculty together is it tends to exaggerate the differences in peopleís approaches, in their philosophy of teaching and of education. If theyíre independent they sort of attract their cadre of students who do their thing and are completely happy doing what theyíre doing. When you get them together and you try to make generalizations specific, the arguments and the fights remind me of a kindergarten playground.
Iíd say, "Are we adults?" (laughter)
Itís like the "no" vote, not because theyíre opposed to it, but because "we shouldnít have to do this in the first place," sort of thing.
You take people like David Mason and Don McLeod and Bob Keller, Katherine Anderson, Connie Faulkner, theyíre fine teachers, and they expect a lot from their students, always did. But, as a group, you name those same five people, and, man, theyíre as different as night and day, from each other. So when you try to regularize, when you try to print a catalogue with that kind of confusion and that kind of disagreement about whatís important, it becomes difficult.
We just took a year and a half, and we got through it, and we got through it well enough that apparently it was OK. It was probably a combination of more than getting through it. We may have been in a fiscally more-flush period, and we werenít such a threat to the traditional orthodox departments. And as I say, Jim Talbot was always supportive, always communicated, came to faculty meetings -- and I must say that even when he was there they didnít behave.
For me, it was a great experience, one of the greatest educational experiences I ever had, even though it was hard, and I didnít necessarily agree with everybody, it opened up a whole world of different ways to look at the same thing, some that I could deal with, some that I thought were nuts -- but that others didnít and that worked.
TB: Then you went, I think, back to Music, taught music history, symphonic band and jazz ensemble -- talk a little bit about your last three years at Western.
PA: I think when anybody comes back to a department from an administrative post; youíre sort of a man without a country. I had a lot of friends in the Music Department. Personally I was treated as well as I ever was in the department. But I came back, all of the things that I had done, someone else had been hired to do. In a way I was an albatross around their neck; I was an FTE that they could have used more efficiently doing other things, things I couldnít do. I always felt that -- I donít know that the department made me feel that or whether I just knew that, because as an administrator, I was very aware of that. I had been an administrator for two-thirds of my time at Western, and I knew what it was like when somebody came back. I knew what it was like when Murray North bummed out of the chairmanship; there was nothing he could do. There you have a full professor, top salary in the department; and you donít know what to do with the guy.
Now, fortunately, I could pay my way, because I was willing to do the big GUR courses, which generated a lot of SCH, and nobody else wanted to do them, really. I taught band; it was kind of the second group, and there were people in and out. It was kind of a come-down after all the years that I had the top performing groups, but I had made the decision to retire before I left Fairhaven, that I was going to retire in either one year or two years, and Iíd made that clear to the administration that thatís what I was going to do. It was a time to mark time, and it was a time when I was in the process of being re-married, and it seemed like a good time to leave, kind of left on the uphill climb. I had known for years that wherever I was I didnít want to hang around feeling like I was kind of out of date, out of step, and an albatross around somebodyís neck. And so, when the opportunity came, I had an early window and I just took it, and I knew it was coming.
TB: Oh, so you did take an early retirement time. I mean, it was during a time of early retirement?
PA: Well, actually, you see, it wasnít early for me because I was on State Teachers. Incidentally, thatís how Sam Kelly and I came became very close because we, early-on, when we both came to Western, we came out of the public schools, and we were supposed to have been given the option of staying with [State Teachers Retirement] or going on TIAA-CREF. It turned out that the university didnít want anybody on State Teachers Retirement, so they just plain told us we could not do it. It came to light a few years later (very few), because the law then changed, then you had to go on TIAA-CREF; you could not continue, even if you were entitled in the state system. But, they misinformed us, and we were part, Sam and I were part of a class action suit that was actually brought by Central, I believe, by Central or Eastern -- by several other people -- that contested the fact.
Everybody did it, all the state universities did it, they said, "No, you canít continue," when in fact, legally we could have. It never came to trial. The universities backed down, then did inform us that we could roll over, back into the state system, which, I think Sam did, and I did, and Iím glad I did because, with the stock market the way it is, the folks on TIAA-CREF are not doing really well, but they were doing better then I did when I first retired.
I mentioned, when we were out on the porch, that I had left Western pretty angry, and that came out of my retirement. The State Retirement requires that your last two years establish your salary.
PA: Well, all of the other deans that retired got a really nice retirement package. I got nothing, and that was because of the person who was in sitting in charge at the time. I got the same salary: they canít reduce your salary.
TB: When you switched from Fairhaven as a dean to Music, you kept the same salary?
PA: Right, but it was only a nine-monthís appointment. I was on twelve-months as Dean. I was paid the least of anybody as a dean. I found that out, also, in the process of applying for retirement. I requested that they match my yearly salary on a nine-month basis, and I guaranteed that I would retire. Well, it probably would have worked except somebody in the Language Department, they did the same thing for them, and then the guy said, "No, Iím not going to retire."
So I was denied that, which meant that my State Retirement when I retired was substantially less than it could have been. And I felt, you know, Ö As Music Department Chair and as Dean, I worked seven days a week, often sixteen hours a day, because there was stuff [to do]. I went to work every morning at eight, everywhere I went, that was the only way I could get the work done. Then at the Music Department, we had stuff at night and weekends all the time, which I had to be involved with. I was involved in recruiting both places, I was involved in the Concert Association both places, and on and on. I figured that should be worth something. I never asked to be promoted because I donít do research. As an administrator, you either do a good job as an administrator or you donít be an administrator and you spend the time doing the research. But, being that, doesnít count for promotion, and I just decided that it wasnít worth applying and being denied. I donít know if my salary at Fairhaven was based on my faculty rank or not, and it doesnít matter anymore. So what? But, at the time, I was very discouraged and very disappointed and felt that I was treated very unfairly.
TB: [And would that be by upper administration in generalÖ?]
PA: Yes. It was by one of my greatest supporters, by Jim Talbot. Paul Ford fought for me. Paul went in as Provost when Talbot went up to Acting President. He had gotten really badly burned with this person in Languages.
TB: Ford had?
PA: No, Talbot had. Talbot was the one that made the decision. Paul approved it; Talbot denied it.
TB: What were your greatest achievements, any significant failures, thoughts in general?
PA: Achievements, what would I say? Well, building the Music faculty, saving Fairhaven, I think, are some things that I was able to do and that Iím very proud of. It sounds kind of arrogant and self-serving to say that, but I know that if I hadnít gone to Fairhaven, it wouldnít have worked out as it did. I know that the Music Department would not have enjoyed the reputation it did. Building the Music Building -- it took forever. We got it half done, we made a terrible risky decision to leave it unfinished when we ran out of money. Instead of reducing the size, we built it full-size and didnít finish it, and we waited two or three years for another appropriation. I thank God for Barney Goltz, who, by that time, was active as a candidate for [State] Senate.
Another funny thing about the building is that, as it sat vacant as a big huge shell, we had transients living in there. I donít know if anybody has ever said that, but, they had work lights, they couldnít leave it totally dark, and every once in awhile you could smell marijuana wafting out of the bowels of this cement cavern. They built fires down in there, you know, weíd go down and find that residue. It was a place for people to crash, very interesting.
I was selected my last year as a Distinguished Music Alumni. I think they said my picture would hang forever in the Concert Hall vestibule. I hope theyíve taken it down.
TB: Thereís something about you in there, I know Iíve seem a little plaque to you.
PA: Yes, fortunately if itís a plaque, thatís better. I felt really good about that, it felt nice to have that recognition. I always felt, I enjoyed being chair of the Music Department. I never thought of it as a chore. It was a challenge, but it was never something that I disliked. I accepted the Fairhaven Deanship because I felt that I had sort of run out of ideas for the Music Department, that I was kind of housekeeping. Iím a good housekeeper. I keep people and budgets and stuff like that on track because I think itís important. I think itís safe to say that every person on the Music faculty was a friend -- certainly different levels. I never felt I had an enemy in the department.
TB: Everybody said you were a very nice guy, I mean everybody that I know thatís ever mentioned you has said you were a very nice guy.
PA: Oh, OK.
TB: Thatís why I wanted to come meet you because everybody says youíre a great guy.
PA: I think that simply came out of being more open than most people I know. I had a strange experience coming to Western. I taught at Edmonds High School, which was one of the most progressive high schools in the state when I was there. Our principal, Carl Opgaard, went on the be president of one of the North Dakota state schools and then came back and was president of Tacoma Community College, a wonderful guy. The kind of guy that said, you know, he would call me in Ė I was head of the Music Department at the high school. We had a Faculty Senate and he would call. He said, "I donít know anything about music. You do what needs to be done. I only ask one thing: let me know what youíre doing and let me know if you do something stupid that is going to cause me to get a bunch of phone calls." And he said, "Iíll back you 100%." And he did.
It was a great experience, and we worked hard and worked together, and there was almost no animosity in the faculty. It was so open, I mean, it wasnít like faculty lounges everywhere else that Iíd been where people just came in and kind of crashed and moaned and griped about students and stuff like that. I mean, we really talked about significant stuff and educational things and ideas for improving, and that faculty room was full of that kind of stuff all the time. I came to Western, and I thought, oh, boy -- you know, itís going to be more of the same and even better. I canít believe my first year at Western, how much prejudice and close-mindedness I discovered. It had to do with the way, I think, universities are divided. Theyíre divided into very discreet divisions of people with very highly educated backgrounds in very narrow kinds of disciplines. They donít see often the whole picture. Then, it was sort of -- everything was competition -- in order for you to grow, somebody else had to shrink.
That was the case for the most part all the years I was there. I think that was what was the basis for a lot of the antagonism against Fairhaven. It was the antagonism against new programs, the antagonism against one department. They finally got rid of Home Economics, not because they didnít have students, because they did, not because they werenít doing a good job. Itís just that Home Economics is irrelevant, which can be translated often to really mean, we need to put those faculty in more important areas. And, of course, my area is the most important so I should get at least one of those four or maybe all of them.
Jerry Flora used to say, "This faculty is like a tribe of cannibals. If you donít watch out, theyíll eat you right up." (laughter)
I have to make it clear: I donít say that in a highly critical nature. I just think thatís how it is. Bill Gregory Ė do you know Bill or who he was?
TB: I know his name.
PA: He was a Dean. Oh, thatís another thing that I feel really good about. Bill Gregory and I created the College of Fine and Performing Arts.
TB: It was í76, yes.
PA: To hopefully create some way of saying, hey, look, there are some things about drama, music, theater, and art that are different from more academic disciplines, and weíre lumped with those same folks, that we need to be able to sort of create our own life in some way. And we felt that it was better to go on our own with all those risks than to stay in the College of Arts and Sciences and be demeaned daily by Ed Kaplan.
Do you know, is he still there?
TB: He just retired. A couple years ago.
PA: Oh, God. Iím not violent, but I had to be restrained one day in a meeting, and I donít remember what the committee was. He started railing against Fairhaven, and I sat there for a long time, and then he looked directly at me and said something really, really insulting. I got up in my chair, and I went right across the table. And Iím sure it was Pete Elich because he was sitting next to [me] he grabbed my belt and pulled me back before I could grab Ed Kaplan by the throat. And you better delete that out of this! (laughter)
Oh, man, that man was hateful. He hated everybody. I mean, I should have realized that he treated everybody that way and not just me.
There were a couple of people that were not quite as bad but were constantÖ And a lot of that personal stuff was really hard to live with. You could ignore it in public situations, but youíd go home with it and it would just eat your guts out, and that really hurt me a lot because I never asked for anything more than I felt we needed or that we wanted to do what we needed to do. I always felt that resources should be distributed rather than closing programs and that sort of thing. Those kinds of accusations used to really eat away, and that was probably the only real sadness that I experienced at Western. I enjoyed every morning getting up and going to work. I never regretted going there, and when I left, I left it behind, and I donít know if thatís something thatís unique to me. Iím able to do that.
I donít do much in music anymore, except I listen. I love to listen. I donít regret that I donít participate anymore. All my life I wanted to do things like woodworking and just explore new things. Since I retired, Iíve become an EMT and Iíve gotten involved as a volunteer firefighter.
When I said I really wasnít academically inclined, what I really meant was I donít enjoy the sedentary parts of academia, of sitting and researching and that sort of thing. Music is always active. You certainly have to do a lot of study and research, but then you get up and you do something. You conduct. You have these incredible demands to create or recreate the music and itís a real -- itís a passion to do it right and to do it well. Thatís what you live for: you do the research in order to do the active part well. Itís not like you do the research to do the research. I fought for years at Western against the tenure system.
First of all, I think itís very unfair for women.
TB: Why is that?
PA: Two reasons: first of all, theyíre expected to do more than a man to get the same reward, and secondly they are judged, basically, by men. Now that may not be entirely true now, but it was when I was there. There might be two or three women faculty in a department like Music; we had three full-time. And when T&P comes up, who judges their application? The senior faculty, who are all men. A lot of men donít like the research that women faculty do. Look at the research that Katherine Anderson does. There are a lot of men that think that is a waste. Now sheís convinced people that itís not a waste, but I can remember when people used to say, "Thatís stupid. Thatís really silly."
My experience has always been that most of the research that is done for tenure and promotion, with some exceptions, is third-rate at best, and is promptly forgotten. It would be interesting to go through all of the research volumes that are published in Wilson Library and find out who reads them, if anybody does.
Jim Talbot and I had our one kind of shouting match, and it was kind of in fun; it was not real serious. And I said, "Jim, name me three faculty members who, in your estimation, have done significant research."
"Well," he said, "thereís Bill Wilson."
Do you know him?
Who does stuff for NASA, I mean his stuff is reallyÖ And then I said, "Come on, come on."
He could only name one person whose research he considered to be significant.
I had made this proposal for years: instead of the standard T&P Ė research, public service, and teaching -- and we donít give public service any weight anyhow, do we? No, we donít, really we donít Ė why donít we, just with a group Ė one yearís group of people Ė why donít we have a contractual arrangement where we say, "Look, weíve hired you because youíre a really stunning teacher. We need some really good teachers, particularly in your area. Now letís sit down and set out a program for three years, of what you will do, and then we will grant you promotion and/or tenure based upon how well you meet these goals. Maybe all of your criteria will be based on teaching -- maybe a couple of research projects where you present, make a public presentation or something -- but basically weíre going to say, hey, youíre a great teacher; we need a great teacher. Letís give you tenure or promotion or both based upon your teaching, and whatever set of criteria you want to set up. In three years, weíre going to sit down and you and I are going to evaluate this, and then weíre going to apply for promotion and tenure. Weíre going to get evaluations from the faculty; weíre going to say, ĎHey, this is the contract. How well do you think this person met this contract?í"
Well, I presented that I donít know how many times, and people just laughed, and they said, "You know, that would never fly with the AAUP." They have a stranglehold onÖ I mean, tenure and promotion has to be a national thing, you guys, I mean, everybody knows that.
I said, "Whether itís good for the university or notÖ"
END OF TAPE TWO SIDE ONE
PA: I said, "You know, you force people to put their teaching aside to do this third-rate research to publish in a third-rate, unjuried journal or self-publish it in order for them to get promoted or to get tenure, and it goes away on the shelf, and itís nothing; itís a waste of everybodyís time, and you lose them. Theyíre doing this when they could be doing something more valuable to the university."
Now when you get into the areas of Fairhaven and into the areas of music, research is not only less important, but itís harder to define. Itís really hard to define. Some of the best research I do is listening to other people perform, and I said, "Ah, yes!" Itís aural. It has nothing to do with writing or setting up studies or questionnaires or any of that stuff, but thatís what they want. I think that is something that has created what Bill Gregory used to describe as the dinosaur, that we now know as a university, hanging on to those kinds of practices at the expense of the development and growth of the university. I donít know, maybe in the majority of academic areas thatís important, but the fact that we canít identify very much significant research coming out of that makes me think that maybe thereís a better way to do that.
Anyhow, retirementís been great. I built a house. I built a shop and a studio. I do cabinet work. I turn bowls, sell them to galleries. Iím a volunteer firefighter.
I just finished this spring an EMT course and Iíve run with the ambulance. We have local medical services here in this area. People who live in urban areas have absolutely no idea of how much life-threatening situations you face in a place like this. The closest hospital is at least forty minutes away in good weather, an hour and fifteen minutes away in bad weather, and thatís from the time you get them in the ambulance to when you get them to the hospital. That doesnít count for the fact that you may have to drive a half an hour to find them.
So a lot of that kind of stuff is done by volunteers. We have about thirty EMTís and about six paramedics here in the valley, and we have a very highly-organized rescue service that has absolutely state-of-the-art equipment because people in the valley have floated bonds, done yard sales, made significant contributions. Everything in an area like this is run by volunteers. All of the things that people in Bellingham would see sponsored by the university, by a business, by the city, by the county, we basically do as private citizens. Weíve set up our own structure, we [utilize] volunteers, we create our own funding. I mean, we do get funding from outside sources, but it doesnít anywhere nearly cover the cost. And then all of the manpower is fundamentally volunteer. We have two paid people who maintain the records and do the sort of legal requirements. The same way with the volunteer firefighting.
Itís the same with the scholarship programs for students. I donít give to outside people; I give to students. If youíre a high school graduate and, in my view, you need some help, I might send you $100 a month, anonymously. I donít give to Western, because I canít afford it. I donít give to United Good Neighbors. I give to people that I know are desperately in need of something. The same way with my neighbors, I take care of my neighbors who are older than I am because they need somebody.
Itís a great experience. Everybody should have to have that experience sometime in their life, and Iím sure they do, but itís a whole different world. Iím busier than I ever was. Iím doing more and different things, and I love it. (I loved my days at Western). Places like this are a hard place to live. We have a lot of snow. In order to get out, some days I have to plough clear down. Thatís two miles.
TB: So you have your own plough up here?
PA: Yes, and, you know, it takes a month to get ready for winter. You have to get the house ready; you have to get the vehicles ready; you have to get the yard ready; or, if you donít, you get wiped out.
TB: What time of year do you first start having to get ready for winter, I mean Ė September, October?
PA: Actually, I would have started slowly by now. I have to clean the chimney because we heat entirely by wood. I have to go out and get the wood, which I do. But, Iím doing this cabinet job for the clinic now, so Iím feeling just a little bit behind, but once the snow comes there are a lot of things you just canít do. You have to take up the irrigation system; you have to weatherize all the outside faucets. It doesnít sound like a lot until you start doing it, and then it just takes hours and hours and hours and hours. It takes about a week of full-time. You can do it in a week.
It means everything thatís outside has to get under shelter. It means that you have to winterize all your vehicles, check the antifreeze, put snow tires on. Itís about a dayís worth to get my snow plough all ready so that I donít go out there after the first snow and find out that it wonít work and it wonít start. You have to anticipate that when it gets down around zero, a lot of things donít work that work fine in the summer. Between the heat and the humidity, you have to buy a set of tires about every two years. Itís just a lot of things.
Itís a challenge. I didnít realize this when I came here that it would be a challenge. I have a well. You never know when itís going to go. You donít have water. Until the last two or three years, we had major power failures. A tree would fall over the transmission line up in the mountains and, you know, they canít get in to fix it sometimes because thereís too much snow, so youíd be two or three days without power. So I have a generator, and we have stuff like this all over the house -- candles. I buy candles by the case. You have to have cold weather clothing, so you have to start sorting out all your summer clothes now and pack them and put them away and get out theÖ
Itís just a lot of little things that add up over time and it really keeps you going and I just, like I say, Iím healthier than I ever was when I was at Western, and part of that is just sort of the stress; thereís a lot of stress at the university -- Iím sure Iím not telling you anything that you donít already know -- which kind of comes and goes through your life, and it can be as a result of the institutional problems or problems with students or problems with faculty. One of the things that I did for thirty-five years is that I worked with huge numbers of people. I added up the other day, I figured that in the thirty-four years I taught, a minimum of 25,000 students came through my classes. I had huge classes at Western. I had huge classes when I taught high school.
PA: I tried to figure out, just for the fun of it, a few weeks ago, how many there might have been. And what I had to do was sort of figure out, the ones that I saw two years in a row or something like that, and that was a pretty conservative estimate, I think. That doesnít count all the students. I used to do guest conducting in Alaska, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California when I was actively in music, where youíd go out and do choirs or bands, a lot of people, a lot of kids. The logistics of all that can really accumulate over the years. I just felt so good just kind of not having to deal with that anymore, and thatís one of the reasons that I didnít really want to get involved directing choral groups and instrumental groups here in the valley when I came. Iíd had thirty-five years of that, and it just felt nice not to have to get up every morning and think, God, how am I going to move these seventy-five people from here to there tomorrow or today and to get all the equipment and print the programs andÖ It was really nice to get away from that. Iíve enjoyed doing more personal and individualized things.
I love to go out and get lost in the shop for hours and just come back and feel really good. I just accepted a lot of that as how it was. And then when it disappeared from my life I thought, Wow, you know, itís gone! Why didnít I find this out a long time ago?"
TB: Would you have liked maybe a career of woodworking instead ofÖ?
PA: No, no. I met so many fine people, adults and students and students who are now adults and that I still keep in touch with. I really had a passion for teaching and for music, probably more of a passion for music than teaching, at first. There was nothing else I wanted to really do, and I discovered that I didnít want the life of a musician, the kind of travel that was involved and the hours and the fact that I knew a lot of people who were in it who, you know, were not were not very healthy.
I really loved the outdoors. One of the things when I went to Bellingham, two other fellows and I created the Bellingham Mountain Rescue Council because we were mountain climbers, which is now, I think, Whatcom County Rescue Council.
TB: I think its Whatcom County Search and Rescue, isnít it?
PA: I donít know what itís called now.
TB: I think itís the Whatcom County Search and Rescue Council.
PA: I was active in that all the time I was there. As it turned out, it was the only time I had a chance to get out in the mountains. When I could get up and say, "Sorry I canít be here; I got to be there."
It was good. It was just great people, from the first year I taught, I still remember every kid from the first year I taught. Along the way, you remember the special students and the colleagues that are really special. I would have not have wanted to miss that, I think.
Harley Hiller and I started at Olympic College. We were good friends then, socially, and he left and we both graduated the same year, we said, from Olympic. But I went to the U, and he went to Western. We remodeled his house in Bellingham up in what we used to call the Edgemore Slums. What is that?
PA: Yes, somewhere up in there, yes. I lived on Clark Road for quite awhile until I went to the farm.
Another thing that I really felt good about while I was in Bellingham, I was involved in the beginnings of the organic farming movement, both philosophically, and I had a farm, and farmed. A lot of students lived there or came out and worked, and that was a great experience.
I tell people I never had a career; I never planned anything. It all just happened. And when something interesting came along, I either took it or didnít. Iíve never applied for a job, except once. I applied for my first teaching job in Sequim. All of the rest of the jobs Iíve had, as I described my thing with Western, all of the rest of the jobs I had just somebody said, "Are you interested?"
And I said, "Yes, I think so."
We sort of went through an application process, but I never initiated an application anywhere. And that was kind of neat, because you just kind of coast along and suddenly something happens.
My dad had a lot of opportunities, I remember, and he never took them. He always stayed in one spot. I always thought, boy that was not very smart. [He] had opportunities to do things that [he] really loved and get paid for them. But he always used to say, "Oh, no, I have a government retirement that I can really count on."
The terrible thing was that he died two days after he retired.
TB: Did he have a heart attack?
PA: Had a stroke. And when that happened, I thought, Iím never going to do that. He was a wonderful guy. Just really, a tutor and a friend, but that was what I now think of as a real blind spot. He could have, I donít mean been more, because that sounds like thatís sort of a hierarchical thing. He could have done things that would have been more creative and challenging and interesting for him if he could have gotten past that sense and that notion that he had to stay where he was so that he had a guaranteed retirement.
TB: He probably lived through the Depression, right?
PA: He sure did.
TB: Job security and a good pension made good senseÖ
PA: That was it, that was it.
And he was loyal to a fault. I have a lot of that. Iím loyal when Iím there, but if I leave, then Iím loyal to wherever Ė I think I am, anyhow, I hope I am. Because I think thatís an important virtue and something that seems to be missing in the world of work nowadays. Corporations arenít loyal to their employees and employees arenít loyal to the corporations, which makes good sense because if thereís no sense of loyalty on one side, then thereís simply not going to be on the other.
Are you getting bored?
TB: No, no, it was great stuff, and I was actually just thinking you obviously have invested a lot in the community, which is great; you are being loyal to your community here.
PA: Oh, I really believe that. One of the reasons we came was because we wanted to be in a small community where we could contribute directly rather than out of your checkbook. Where you could put a sweat equity into it. Iíve come sort of 180 degrees from being on boards and stuff like that, partly because they mostly talk; they donít do a lot. Iíve come to the realization that if I control my contribution, if I take care of two or three of my neighbors, as Pam and I both do, I really get something out of it. I get their friendship, Iím connected with them. They help me, I help them.
If I can help a student that is desperately in need of financial support, and I know that, and I have a lot of regard for what that kid has done and is doing, I feel much better about that than dropping money into what could be a bottomless pit. So many charities, I think, are really problematical. Thatís the kindest thing I can say. I donít know about universities because I really had made this decision before the push started.
I mean, gosh, you canít imagine how much stuff I used to get from Western. I finally called and said, "Look, hereís what I do. I really believe in the institution. I believe in all of this. I have a very limited amount that I can spend, and hereís where I put it. And, all this stuff that you send me costs you a lot of money and youíre not getting anything back and youíre not going to get anything probably, so I donít need it, and if you want to keep sending it, thatís OK."
Well, the woman at the other end -- I canít remember who it was -- said, "You know, I wish I lot of people would say that, because our printing bill is astronomical, and maybe we donít need to print half of this stuff."
PA: And the same with the UW. Iím an alumni there, and I keep getting all this stuff, [like] travel to Europe with your UW friends. I said, "I donít have any UW friends anymore, and Iím not a Ďdawgí with a Ďw.í" (laughter)
Even though I was employed by the athletic department, I could care less about football scores now.
TB: Oh, the band at the UW is paid for out of athletics?
PA: Oh, yes.
TB: It makes sense, but I hadnít thought about that.
PA: Yes, and the cost is astronomical.
Cheerleaders are paid. Yes, when I went to the UW, I couldnít believe it. I was hired. I mean, Bill just said, "Hey, youíre assistant director; this is what youíre going to get."
And the first check I got: UW Athletic Department. And I thought, whoa, what am I getting this money for.
Then I was an undergraduate advisor for the Music Department, and the first check I got from that was: ASUW, Associated Students University of Washington. I thought, whoa, whatís this? I didnít realize how those things worked and how, advising students is important to the ASUW, and, boy, did they have bucks. They had bucks to burn when I was there (laughter), and so did the Athletic Department.
Sending the band, for example, to a Rose Bowl game: 120 kids, plus adults. We actually had to have one airplane just for uniforms and instruments and all that kind of stuff and equipment.
PA: When we chartered an airplane, the planes werenít that big in those years that I was there -- three airplanes.
TB: Wow, so one for the equipment andÖ
PA: Right, and, you have to be there a week because you have to rehearse. Itís during school vacation, so they have to pay for housing and meals and they have to rent a rehearsal space, which is a football field, from somebody, and buses to take you everywhere, including the game. And, you know, all that stuff, the insurance, health coverageÖ Itís a lot.
In comparison to the athletes, we traveled third-class. We always got the propeller-driven airplanes and they got the jets. But it was still great stuff. It was a great experience at that time in my life. A lot of things came of that, and it started out, as a volunteer.
I keep thinking of how both Pam and I haveÖ Almost everything weíve started that has become a fulfilling and a paying kind of job always started as a volunteer. She came here and she went down the first day and introduced herself to the librarian and said, "You need some help? Iíll volunteer however you want."
She volunteered for a year. The librarian and her husband are some of our closest friends, and pretty soon, she was paid.
I volunteered to do the band, and before the season was out, I was employed. I was employed by the student body also because somebody, I donít know who, said, "You know, heís got a wife and three kids and heís trying to go to school here."
Stanley Chapel at the UW, he was director of the music school, put me on the faculty, probably at the lowest possible end of the salary schedule, but I got a little money there, a little money from the student body, a little money from the Athletic Department, and I made it through school fine, and all those things I was doing before I was hired.
[Pam] volunteered at the clinic and now she has a really satisfying job that she loves. It doesnít pay a lot, but itís fine.
TB: Thatís good.
PA: A lot of people donít see things that way, I think.
Well, now youíre bored.
TB: No, is there anything else that I havenít asked you that you want said?
PA: No, Iíve talked way too much.
TB: No, itís been great; itís been great, well, thank you very much.