Below is unprocessed text taken from a scan of our PDF document. It's messy;we know. If you would like to help us clean up these transcripts, please email Devin Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org
SAM: ...George Morey Miller.
TS: Oh, yes. He was I think if there was any one person on the faculty that;everybody knew, it was George Morey Miller. Hefd been here a few years before I came. But I met him on the day I enrolled. And we had quite an argument because I wanted to take a course that freshman weren't supposed to take. But he, it was a course in journalism and I had some practical experience. He said okay. He forgave me when I went out for debate. And then we stayed good friends up until the time of his death. He came to visit my folks in Boise. And he gave me lots of good advice when I was first getting started. I think the, Bill Banks summed George Morey up in a nutshell. He said was a combination of Falstaff, Sam Bohnson and Mr. Pickwick. He said he has Falstaffs love of the good things of life, and Sam Bohnson's intellect, and irrascability, and Pickwick1s benevolence. And that just about summed it up. He was rather heavy, H had a scratchy kind of voice. He was interested in everybody and in everything. He wanted to know, if you had an unusual name, he wanted to know where you got it. Liked to know where you came from. And I, when I came to Moscow on the faculty, course, in his department, the first contact I had with him, I was on Third Street, and I had my two ;children with me. And heard this old cracked voice from across the street oh fifteen, twenty feet^along,nHey, Ted. Wait a minute!" And I looked over, and there's George Morey."Bust wait a minute, on't go anywhere." I just had parked the car. In a minute or two he came back across the street with ice cream cones for the two kids, and shook hands and welcomed me to town. But that was the start with George Morey. I think one of the, everybody in town knew him as well as everybody on the campus. And you can see how well known he was, when at least fifteen or twenty years after his death on one very bad winter day, I was in the Moscow Hotel barbershop, and somebody said, this has certainly been an awful winter, and somebody said, yes its about the worst one we've had since George Morey died. Didn't need to say Miller. And everyone of the four barbers and two of us who were in the chairs, I think there was only one person in the shop, had something two or three waiting, everyone remembered and wanted to talk about George Morey Miller. That was what happened when you just got the kind of cross-section that's in a barbershop, everybody knew the old boy.
SAM: - He made that kind of an impression on people that everybody remembered?
TS: Everybody remembered him. Ho had idiocyncracies, but he was warm-hearted.His home was the most hospitable place that anyone could ever hope to find. His wife was a very sensitive, very talented woman. She wrote a good deal. I never had a chance to read what she wrote. Some of the people that did, Cushman, for example, thought she had a real talent with writing. And George Morey was absolutely devoted to her, and she to him. The, I imagine the year that George Morey died, one of the most dramatic things I remember about him uast.htbat the last two Christmases ninaini which he was alive my wife and I and daughter were guests at their house for Christmas dinner. I think the reason that wo were picked out of anybody in Moscow as his friend, the reason we were picked out I think, we happened to be the only people in town that knew the young man that, one of their sons was spending Christmas with. This young man happened to be a cousin of mine and he and Smith Miller, one of George Morey's sons were spending Christmas together and we were the only ones that could talk to him about this Lewis Shaw that his son was with. And so he asked us. And the first of these two years, everything was perfect. Mrs. Miller was a wonderful cook and served meals beautifully and so the people were coming in all the time we weren't eating, everybody wanted to come and see the Millers on Christmas. And the turkey was perfect. When the plum pudding came on it was blazing beautifull; and, it was just a storybook ocassion. The next year, George Morey had had a heart attack in early November. I can even come up with a date, November seventh.
I'll tell you why I know the date in a minute or two.And he had had to stop teaching and hadn't been back on the campus and was in bad condition. And, but nevertheless, against doctor's orders, he put on his robe and came down. They asked us to Christmas dinner again. They didn't want to have it seem they couldn't have Christmas dinner just because he was so very ill. And this time, things seemed to go wrong, I can't remember everything, but some little thing wouldn't be quite perfect the way it had been before and Mrs, Miller for the first time in her life I ever knew that she didn't have everything so she could cope with it perfectly. And to cap the climax, when they brought in the plum pudding, they couldn't make the brandy light. And so the plum pudding wouldn't blaze. And the difference between those two. Well, George was so striking. He came down, he insisted on coming down even in his dressing gown when he wasn't supposed to. But he would keep on acting the, keep on going no matter what happened. If he wanted to do something, he'd do it. And that was the last day I saw him alive. Within the next month, he and Mrs. Miller were both dead. I never saw either of them alive again. She had a cancer that was incurable, and he didn't even know it at that occassion. Neither did anyone else.
SAM: What year was that?
TS: That was, I think, the winter of 1936 and 1937. I'm pretty sure that wasright. The reason I remembered the date, the exact date when he got sick well, was that I got a call at eight o'clock on a Sunday evening asking me to take his class in Victorian literature which met the next morning at eight in the morning. And he said,"Ted, I want you take my class in Victorians, I'm sick and I can't make itf" And I said, alright, but that's not very long to get ready fdr it. It was his pet class and he had faculty members, one local clergyman and some faculty wives in it. But he said, well, talk about Browning. You can always talk about Browning without any time to get ready. And so I went in.
SAM: Were you a Browning specialist?
TS: I'd done a good deal of work with Browning. I'd written inmy Master'sthesis on Browning and he was my hobby as George Morey knew. Goeoge Morey said,I've been talking about Tennyson, its time to start Browning anyway. And he said, Jfou can probably keep up with Browning until I get back. Well he never did get back. And I finished the semester out of the course and taught it the next sememster and actually went on teaching that course til the time I retired. But I remember the date so well because that stuck in my mind that from November seventh until the end of the semester, I was teachin George Morey's Victorians.
SAM: Was his son and your cousin in Boise?
TS: No they were both in Los Angeles, This was a cousin of mine, a first cousinonce:'romoved named Shaw, He was living in Los Angeles and that.'s where Smith Miller, he got acquainted actually through Talbot Jennings. Jennings was a good friend of this cousin and his whole family. Jennings was also a very good friend of the Miller's. And through Smith Miller. this cousin of mine, and, through I mean Talbot Jennings, Smith Miller got acquainted and hit it off very well. And I think for a while they shared an apartment, but I'm not sure of that.
SAM: Was George Morey overly concerned for his son?
TS: Oh, no, ho wasn't concerned, he just wanted to know more about the man thatSmith Miller had shared an apartment with. This good friend of his son's down there. No, he wasn't worried about him. Nobody ever needed to worry about Smith Miller. He's very capable. He could take care of himself anywhere I so I think that's why there was something a little bit special that we had that nobody else had. I don't moan that I was his closest friend, we were close friends, but a great many people could say the same thing. And...
SAM: What made him a great person, what was so special about him?
TS: Well, course, there was his scholarship. And I respected George Morey asa scholar. But I think it was the interest he took in everybody else, and the warmth of hiseersonality And his hospitality. But perhaps more than anything else, that Geogre Morey took an interest in you. He knew all of his faculty, he knew all about their children, he wanted to know, if he met somebody, he wanted to find out more. Oh, you could go on about George Morey forever. He loved to go hunting. And I can remember, he came from Indianna of course, and his dog, his hunting dog was named Hoosier. And both George Morey and Hoosier were getting pretty well along toward the time when they weren't going hunting any more. And I can remember on one occassion when he called his office at the university and said to the secrtary,"I won't bo in to work this morning. Hoosier died." And hung up. That was, I think he probably, I don't mean he wasn't attached to the dog, but I guess he felt that this was the begining of the end of an era. He used to go out, get his gun and go out in the hills within three or four hundred yards of his house even when he couldn't go anywhere else, I got, oh, thinking of his hunting, he loved to go fishing too. And one episode of his in fishing involved my closest friend, Geoffry Coop And another member of the department, John Beckwith, and George Morey. George Morey had gone hunting until they told him, the doctor said you go out and try to climb those hills again, you'll probably have to be carriedjback. But this time George Morey wasnted to go fishing. And Geoffry and John Beckwith had gone fishing with him before and so they took George Morey fishing. They went out to one of these streams, I don't remember which one, and they had this understanding, that Geoffry would start downstream and John would start upstream, that each one would go quite a distance up or downstream as. the case might be, and George Morey would fish between them.
And they suggested that. They said, well, we:.can'tall fish in the same place and this was closer, so you take this and they didn't mind they do it that way, because if anything happened to George Morey, one or the other of them would catch him, would find him. Well, they carried out their plan, one fishing upstram, one fishing downstream. And finally they met. And neither of them had encountered George Morey,in the meantime. And they were just worried to death. They knew he had angina. They knew that he could have a heart attack. They didn't see how they could have missed him. But there they were. Just of death and they down stream went the first few hundred yards up and gain and then didn'o know what else to do but they just stood where they'd met. And both yelled at the top of their voices,"George Morey, George Morey." "Where are you?" And from oh? a hundred, hundred and fifty yards off in a field somewhere, George, "I'm right over here, I'm right over here. Nothings the matter. Don't get excited." They went over there. They wondered how, he was heavy, how they'd ever carry him out if, and there was old George Morey, he was sitting in the shade of a rock drinking beer. He said,"I busted a blood vessel in my leg," he said."So I decided I better not fish any more." And they looked down, at the blood on his sock there, that was all, he didn't get excited, busted blood vessel in my leg. But they said that they were almost mad enough to because they had just been sick ano they been wondered, what had happened, and there George Morey was, perfectly happy, sitting in the shade, drinking beer. Noboady that knew him would ever forget the old boy.
SAM: Did he hold forth as a speaker?
TS: Well, when he really took the time to prepare, he could give a wonderfullecture. Lots of times he really didn't do justice to himself in the class room., but he could give a fine lecture and he could give a very fine talk. But I don't know that he had any special reputation as a speaker. He wasn't one of those, (unintelligible) was the one that had the reputation as the university's speaker. But, I had another lucky break with George Morey when He never lost his interest there. I had a seminar with him once. I can remember that when he wanted to explain his teory of continental origin of the; popular ballad, that he would explain a bunch of primitives around the fire, they were acting out really the things that they had done and that one of them would say, I'm the great bear of the mountain and jump into the middle of the circle. And someone else, brandishing a weapon, I kill the great bear of the mountain. And that would be the way that the ballads, talking in lines like thatwould be somehow, ballad would be put together. And he always used that same illustration, I kill the great bearrof tho mountain. So we had the seminar up to his houlse before Ghistmas. So we bought him a Christmas present. We bought a toddy bear and we stuck a spear into and spread red ink all around it and said that we had, for his benefit, we had stuffed the great bear of the mountain which vUC had killed so often. He thought that was more fun. Once in a while, somewone would get him just a little bit provoked. Howard Packenham, one of the early old timers, a member of our department, a good friend, we were supposed to do somethino about reoorts on these ballads' in'.this seminar and Packenham I ... know whether he had time to prepare anytning serious or not, but he started, what he said was an attempt to find racial traits in the versions of the ballad as they differed from race to race. And Dr. Miller thought that was fine. And then it turned out that Packenham had do such things as see whether the Scotch version of a ballad showed their tendency to be stingy by referring to money more often, that sort of thing.
SAM: He didn't go for that too much?
TS: Oh, he stayed good natured but you could just see that this was seriousbusiness, this ballad. And, lets see, asked for some of tiie ballads that were supposed to show what would be done with them in various circumstances, I can remember one,Packenham,"Oh, mither, mither, make me a pie. And make it soft and gooey. I feel I must have pie tonight or I will go through the whole thing yoil heard one ballad or I said ire got a little bit angry with me, when I wanted to take this court in journalism that freshman supposed to take. But he felt there were certain books that everbody should read. He used to lecture to the whole freshmen class in English once a week. He put copies of three books on Reserve and everybody was supposed to do. some reading in those. And the ojdl boy went in six weeks later and I happened to be the only one who had ever taken any of those books off Reserve and done any reading in them. From then on he forgave rne for wanting to take a journalism class.
SAM: Do you remember what those books were?
TS: Oh, let's see. I think one of them was Alice in Wonderland. I can't rememberwhat the other two were, though. One of them I do remember was Alice in Wond erland. And...
SAM: I had read that downtown there was a place that he used to hang out andhold forth, was that any place in particular?
TS: That was Jerry's.
TS: That was at Jerry's. Jerry Jelwake was the man that operated it. You mayhave heard other people referring about Jerry's. Do you know where it is? Its, oh, what do they call it now?
SAM: Was it Mexican...
TS: Case de Elena, or something like that now. Its had other names. But that waswhere George Morey was hanging out anywhere downtown, that's where you were very likely to find him. He, his enthusiasm was contagious, As you I think mentioned when we were talking before, this enthusiasm about ballads and anything that came close to folk literature or anything of that sort, he created a whole interest in the town, .imaybe I should say the university and the state on that particular time.
SAM: He really maintained faithfulness to balladry and folklore.
TS: Oh, yes, he was enthusiastic about that until the day that he died, I think.another that starts,"Oh i rather" Pack i had his own sense of humor that he was in a class by himself. But, no Miller never gave up love of ballads and folk literature.
ITS: Ballads were the centerpiece of his interest in folk literature
TS: They were. The popular ballad and his theory that one person would writea little bit from there. And that, no you couldn't say who wrote them then but they would be sort of^in§existence by a little because they weren't the work of an individual, they grow out of an authentic folk situation.
SAM: Could Miller get outrageously angry when he got ma
TS: Oh, he'd get, I don't know as he was ever thunderously angry but he'd getpretty hot and pretty hostile. I never happened to be there when he would really, blew his top as they say now. But if he felt somebody was on the wrong track entirely, he would not hesitate to say so. He used to love to garden. Turned up once, I know on the campus, in coveralls. He had a class to meet and he hadn't had time to change clothes. Chinese exchange student wanted to take his picture. He said he wanted to take it back to China to show that in the United States, that college professors really worked. No^he was a very colorful character.
SAM: Do you think his friendship extened in helping his students find a careerin English, an interest in their own development in work in literature?
TS: Yes, I think so. Of course I think it was through Miller's recognition ofTalbot Jenning% .that Jennings really got his opportunity to study under George Pierce Baker which of course was the begining, which may have gave him the contacts which launched him on his career.
SAM: Who was George Pierce Baker?
TS: He was probably the best known man in the country in drama and drama workshopand that sort of thing. And Miller was so pleased with Talbot's work on the pagent here. Let's see. Baker was at Yale for a while and at Harvard for a while, and I don't remember where he was when Talbot went back. But that was, he was the best known, man in the country in that and he was a man who give a person the opportunity to make contacts with people in the theatre.
SAM: Was that pagent the most inportant work that Talbot did when he was here?
TS: Well, that was the first splash. That was the thing that established himas a man with a great d.eal of talent in writing. I don't know whether, the only other thing that I know about that Talbot wrote while he was here that drew much attention was a treatment of Romeo and Juliet, which was done here. And then out of that he developed the treatment that I believe it was Leslie Howard acted in later in a movie version. And I wasn't here when he did that, so I can't speak with so much certainty about when he did it.
SAM: Were you here for the pagent?
TS: Oh, yes. I was on the book committee that wrote the pagent. I didn't contributeanything, but...
SAM: Can you tell me any background on the development of that pagent?
TS: Well, it was Dr. Miller's enthusiasm. He decided we should have a pagent.And what would have come of it if he didn't. This was before he realized the talent that Talbot Jennings could bring to it. That Dr. Miller decided that we should give a pagent on the early development of Idaho. And so he was instrumental in getting the committee to work on it. See, Jennings was on the committee, I was on it. I don't remember if Ruth Hawkins was on it or not. She might been I can't remember, oh, Cushman was on it. Course, he was in charge of drama at the university at that time. And we had to meet quite regularly at Saturday morning at eight o'clock. After I missed a couple of meetings, George Morey got the habit of having me called at seven thirty in the. morning, .on Saturday so some freshman answered the phone at the house and he said, "' Sherman isn't up". "Go and wake him up. This is George Morey. Tell him to get over to my office at eight o'clock, there's a meeting." But it soon turned out that Talbot was the one who had what it took to produce the pagent. And I can't say, I can't remember that much of anyone else wrote much of any part of the pagent. I know that I didn't contribute anything except applause now and then. Cut Jennings really had quite a, he had the natural talent and he had the background for it because his father had been an Epicopal clergyman here, in early times and he was named after Bishop Talbot. He was an early Episcopal bishop in Idaho and so he, his background maPe him really appreciative of Icaho and made him real interested in history with his parents haveing, his own father having contributed to it in that manner. And whether Talbot discovered himself then or whether he knew he could write all the time, I don't know.
SAM: Where in Idaho did he come frsm?
TS: Nampa, originally. I'm pretty, it was either Nampa or Cauldwell. I thinkNampa though. But I wouldn't, I would not swear to that.
SAM: So the first performance of the pagent was quite a big thin,.
TS: Oh yes. It had to be big. They broujjfct in the Nez Peujce Indians up fromthe Lapwai, that reservation and they, I don't know how many people were in that, but it was a, they had a big cast, and of course they had dancing and I don't remember if they had singing. The chorus' oh cowboys singing a ballad on the range. They had I-DA-HO, The Light of the Mountains. Abe Gaff was the first I-DA-HO and they had an old artificial horse that they had from a harness shop and at a certain time, there comes this thunder of the drums and the light would turn up and there would be Abe Goff on the horse. Nobody could recognize Abe.He was way high above the crowd. And it was a big and ambitious job.
SAM: How was it staged?
TS: Well, it was staged on what was then the football and baseball field whichis where the women's physical ed building is now. And it was kind of a natural.ampitheatre effect. They waited, the land came up behind it. So that people could sit there and watch it in that manner. It took an immense amount of staging to do it. But given four times. Once here and once about oh, it was given here in the spring of 1923. given in Boise then in the fall of either '24 or'25. 24, I'm sure. And then its been given here twice since then. And the. original idea was they'd give it once every four years. But that turned out to be impractical. It takes an immense amount of organization and enthusiasm and pooling of talents to make it go. And quite an expenditure of money too. But...
SAM: I'm sure George Morey Miller was very pleased with the realization of hisidea.
TS: Oh, yes. He was delighted about that, there's no question. That was reallyone of the great events of his time here was having that pagent which of course was produced three more times before his death. And I don't remember when the last year was. I think it was done here or 1927 orS or somewhere along in there. And then a third time, the third time it was done in Mosccow, that is. was somewhere in early 30's. I know I was on the faculty at that particular time. Bits of humor would come. I think that one of the dances was the dance of the spirits that trying to bring down the rain on the dry places. And it'd been raining all through the pagent up until the time the spirits of rain got out and began to dance and try to bring down the rain and the rain stopped. And then a scene in Idaho City, I believe.
(End of side A)
TS: ...then of Idaho City where somebody was saying, get your bets down, gentlemen;your bets down. Everything down, genltemen, everything down. Just then the wind blew over one of the pieces of scenery. You can't give a thing of that size and not have time to gcthrough it fifty times to perfect it, without ' a few little quirks. But that didn't spoil it, it was a wonderful experience. I think in connection with doing original things in general, that when people see something original, I think of this because of my own connections with musical comedies, writing lyrics for musical comedies and that sort of thing, that when they see a professional production on Broadway or after its been on Broadway, they're seeing it after it has had a trial run in Boston, another in Philadelphia and they've juggled the cast, they have eliminated what they thought was weak. They've built it up where they thought it was good and could be a little more emphafied. And what they see is not the first production. What they see is after its had the work of professional experts and has been in front of an audience time after time after time ,so. .that you can see where it' be , improved. You do something that is put on the stage before an audience for the first time, when you actually see it, you don't have the advantage of all that. And if you take this thing that is done originally and move to, an have a trial run in Seattle or Spokane or so forth and then bring it here and put it on, you would see a vastly improved production.
SAM: Did this have more than a dress rehearsal?
TS: No, that was the first time it had been done before a big audience. I wasn'tthere while they had all their rehearsals, but its pretty hard to get all those things, to bring it all together. You can't bring up fifty or a hundred Indians, I don't remember how many, and their horses and so forth from Lapwai and keep them here for several rehearsals. Its pretty hard to put it all together, a pagent lie that. I don't know if they ewer put it all together the night before it opened. I ' don't remember how manynights it ran. But its just too big a thing to do all at once, until its really prepared, or until you know its the payoff and you have a crowd.
SAM: When did you do musical comedy writing.
TS: Oh, well I don't know.' that's enough Moscow history to be...
SAM: Well, its about yourself.
TS: Yeah, but then I figure^tnepanteresting thing in these talks of mine ismyself. Its things .1 can remember in which maybe I played a very small part but, I'm not anxious to publicize myself. I did along with Geoffry Coop, whom I've mentioned as taking George Morey cut fishing, he and I did the book and lyrics to two musical comedies that were produced here. Hall Macklin did the music. And one of them was G.I. Right which was done when we hsix hundred soldiers and six hundred sailors on the campus during the war. And the other was Sing,Senator,Sing which was done twice, once in 1948 and then again in 1952, And as the name suggests, it had to do with the political problems of the singing senator. And I thoroughly enjoyed the project. And I'm sure that Coop and Macklin enjoyed:it too. We managed to fill the auditorium four nights in a row in both cases with standing room only. So I guess the crowd seemed to like it. But I could tell all of stories about producing a musical comedy but, as I day that's not ancient history.
SAM: No, it isn't.
TS: If you're interest, well some day, when you want to turn the tape recorderoff, why, there are a few episodes that arc amusing enough to repeat, but...
SAM: Why don't you tell me a little bit about it.
TS: Well, I think the most amusing thing about it that I can remember was thatin connection with Sing, Senator, Sing, no, wait a minute, in connection with G.I. Right, the hit song was a rather sacherine thing called "Tomorrow and Tomorrow". We wrote the song because we trying to write the best words we could, Coop and and Macklin was trying'to write the best music he could, the best music that's fitted to a musical comedy* and Coop, one evening when we were together said,"You know, there's one thing that we don't have, we don't have anything that is so obviously a steal that everybody is going to be pleased'cause he can recognize where we got it." And Macklin and I agreed, oh, we should have something like that, alright. And Geoff and I decided, we'll steal something that everybody rco.gnizesy something from Shakespeare. And Macklin, I don't remember where he got his tune for it, but at least the first three or four notes of it were enough of a theme, if a person knew enough music he would have recognized it. I wouldn't have. I'm not trying to take anything from Macklin's originality for that tune, it was a marvelous thing, I must admit.
Anyway, Geoffry andI decided we'd take something from Shakespeare and we got this line of Shakespeare's,"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow." And we could only work, in two tomorrows but we sat down and threw the whole thing together, just the most slapdash form we could imagine and we thought it was completely trite, completely banal, and just absolutely horrible. And Macklin, I don't know how long he labored on the music, but I don't think he worked too awfully long at it, and it just happened that in the war when people were wishing things as they had been, that song hit them. It was the hit song. And oh, when they took an orchestra, a singing orchestra on tour, they always put that tune in. It was the only song they ever had, it was a finale for the show. And the payoff came, well, when we had G.I.Right, one woman came from Potlatch, not when we had G.I.Right, but when we had this singing orchestra that. I mentioned, she came from Potlatch because she said-she wanted to hear "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" again. And, let's see Dr. Church whose home, now, the museum that wef-re talking in, went to see it a second night because he wanted to hear that song again. We thought it was terrible. But, then the real payoff came when Reverend Mr. Walter of the Presbyterian Church, next Easter told Mr, Macklin that to end his Easter sermon, he wanted to quote the words of "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" while Macklin, who was -che Presbyterian organist played the tune, soft music in the background.
SAM: Was it Shakespeare's words of ^tomorrow and tomorrow"?
TS: I wish I could,
SAM: I'm trying to think which Shakesperian play its from. Is it "Macbeth"?
TS: I don't remember, I just...
SAM: Its so familiar to me.
TS: I know, to me too. And if I weren't working so hard, I could probably comeup with it fast. But Macklin was horrified. He said,You can't do that." And Mr. Walter said,"I not only can, I'm going to." I might mention that Mr. Walter's son was in that show. But I don't think that's what rna^e him like the song. His son didn't sing it. But he said,"What's more, I'm going to." He said,"And; you are going to play that beautiful tune of yours in the background." Macklin said, Macklin has colorful language, said,"Don't you know the words of that song were written by a couple of English profs that^throw up every time they think about it?" And Walters said,"If they don't recognize something that is beautiful, that is not my fault." And Macklin...it really was a sucess.He said "We write a musical comedy and the hit song sends the audiencei home weeping because they did cry during this." "And the use it as a theme of an Lastor sermon'. He said, "We really had it made in our field in musical comedy." I did think it was really funn^ enough to...
SAM: What about that song. What was it do you thinwmade people feel...
TS: because all..they wanted all during the war was to have things the way theyused to be. The-most unimaginitive, worse line I can think of that I ever had any connection with JM6 "We'll do all the things we used to do' We had an "rhyme, you see. Wo had to have blue, and true and you and I can remember I said,"What else are we going to do?" And Geoffry said,"We'll do all the things we used to do." Well, that scans, so we threw it into the song. It's just what people wanted. They wanted things to be the way that they had been,
SAM: Not the way things had been in the Depression?
TS: Oh, no this was in 1946 or so, but oh, I can when the war was overand we wore able to revive football. I was in charge of the deal at that time, the business side of it. And some of the kids that had been in and out of the office a lot came in. We were going to have football. And we were going to have Homecoming. And they said,"Oh, do you suppose we can have a fireworks display.the way that we used to?" mostly girls in the student body during the war. And I said,"Of course we're going to have a fireworks display. I just finished ordering a couple thousand dollars worth of fireworks and a man down from Spokane to shoot them off.c Those kids began to cry. They said,"We didn't think we'd ever have this experience. Other people have had it. We thought we would come and go here and we'd never hav;e the things that the other people had had. That "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" just seemed to get under their skins, I thought.
SAM: Sing, Senator, Sing makes me think of McCarthyism in that era of 1952.What kind of effect do you remember McCarthyism had on the campus?
TS: I don't, I can't remember anything striking. There was supposed to be atone time, somebody on the campus to, as an undercover person for the McCarthy committee. And whether there was any truth in that, I could not say. But, oh,people would get a little bit alarmed about something once in a while, but I don't recall. I know it didn't affect my teaching, I said what I wanted to say and I don't know of anyone else among my acquaintenccs who was afraid to say what he thought, whether, I don't mean there was anything in what they thought that was, that should have aroused anything, but you never knew what was going to arouse some excitement, at that time, I can't recall, maybe there are other people who can, who know things that I don't but I wasn't aware of any great impact here. Any fear on the campus or in the faculty or anything like that,
SAM: I don't know about it here, I know where I went to school, and it wasrather devastating there. At Reed,
TS: Well, at Reed, it would be. It had a reputation for going pretty far outon some things, and I say that with all the respect in the world for Reed, which, never let it be said that I don't respect that school, or that some people thought it was radical means that I think any the less of it. That was never my opinion, to think badly about it. But I would think it would think it would be much more likely there to stir up that kind of problem there than here. This has been usually a fairly conservative school and a fairly conservative state,
SAM: Do you think the faculty members were concerned individualy about McCarthy?That they felt this was a destructive influence?
TS: Yes, I think the ones that I knew were almost unanimously of the opinon thatthis was a very destructive thing to do. That reputations were being torn down and alarms being raised without any justification at all,
SAM: That reminds me of a story that you told me in part before about PresidentLindley's son:coming to campus in the 30's?
TS: That was in the 30's, I'm sure. I'm sure it was not in the 40's.
SAM: You told me it was in the 30's. Now, what was the story?
TS: He had, Ernest of course, was a well known writer and journalist, he'd beena student here when his father was president. Was a Rhodes scholar then afterward. And he was brought back to give the commencement address and came back a few days before commencement just to meet people that he knew and^his father knew, and spend a few days in the town. And during his talk he mentioned having been, being around the town where he'd gone to school and where his family had lived. And been interested to see what it was like know that he'd been away for a while, came back with a perspective. He said,"One question that interests me, that M-have asked a good many times, as I've talked to people, I've asked, are there any communists in Moscow?" And he said,"I've always had the same answer,"No. There isn't a single communist in this town." He paused for effect and then he said,"I Iconsider that most unfortunate." You should have seen the audience straighten up. Because communism, whether we like it or not, is a force in this world that is going to be heard from. And we had better become aware of existence and know something about it. And it would not be a bad thing at all for people to have first hand exposure to what a communist really is. He certainly brought the audience to its feet on that.
SAM: Ycu think they accepted what he had to say
TS: I believe they took it. I believe as they thought about it, why they realized,why, there's no sense in hiding ypur head in the sand. If something exists, you better know something about it.
SAM: He was coming at this time from an Eastern experience, right? He was comingfrom a city.
TS: Oh, yes. He'd already become one of the best known pews writers in thecountry. And that meant, he was living in the east and met everybody in the eastern establishment. Everybody antiestablishment in the east, too.
SAM: So he was exposed.
TS: He was exposed. Nq question about that.
SAM: Did you know President Upham?
TS: Not very well, no. Not enough, that I'd anymore, met him at receptions,and oh maybe talk a few minutes in at group at a reception or something lik that. I know enough"about him to know he was immensely, peopular. And that for many years after he left a great many people thought of the years when Upham was here as kind of the "golden age", but I didn't have the experience myself.
SAM: The man who followed was only here for two years. What was his name?
TS: Kelly, man named Kelly,
SAM: Did you know him at all?
TS: I met Kelly when I was teaching in southern Idaho and there was some kindof a ban quot in which Kelly was down there as speaker. And I had a chance to meet with Him and tail: with him a little while on that occassion. I couldn't say I knew him well. But he was gone by the time I came back to the faculty. I never did feel that I entirely understood what wore the difficulties with him, any stories I've heard or any explanations are so far in the past that I don't think I$J|ould even attempt to recall them now.
SAM: He was committed to the junior college approach, I believe. He believed inthe two years of broad preparation.
TS: I think that was the way of it. That he had in mind, now I could be wrongon this, but he had in mind a situation in which all students would be enrolled in a junior college for the first two years. And thereafter would enter the professional colleges or continue in the liberal arts program. And that ho ran into opposition from the deans of colleges such as Engineering, Mines, Agriculture. That's the way I've heard it, but I can't say from personal knowledge that I know that to be the case. I do know that not long after he left, the junior college, of course, was eliminated. And so that seems to make tha story sound plausible.
SAM: Was George Morey Miller chairman of the English department the years thathe was here.
TS: Yes. From the time he came until the time he died.
SAM: Did being chairman entail much in those daysj what did it mean?
TS: Well, it would mean of course, that you would be responsible for choosingthe faculty, although you might consult other faculty members if you wanted to. But pretty much that time, the department head acted on his own. They called it head then, not chairman. And it would mean handling the budget. I'm going to have to get a drink here. My voice is going,(pause in tape)
SAM: ...what the shape of the English department was when you were a student.
TS: Well, the chairman was responsible for choosing the new faculty members.He probably had more say than anyone else about who should stay and who should not stay. He did more than anyone else about deciding wh^s courses should be offered and what should not. He assigned the teachers to the courses that they were to teach. And so in that way he pretty much had control. He handled the budget, of course. Which was for the most part was salary. But in general, he did just about everything except teaching all the actual classes* He ran the show. And at that time in our department, and I think in every other so far as.I know, it was not by any means a faculty participation in decision making that has come to be the natural thing now. And as for what the courses were, I think that, considering the size of the department and the number of faculty available and the number of classesAyou could fill with students, I think they had a pretty good representation of material. They had, of course, their general survey courses of English and American literature. They had a pretty good selection of coursesiintibhe periods. They had special courses in Shakespeare and Chaucer.They had courses, genre courses, you might call them. Courses in such areas as drama or the novel or poetry. They had some work in creative writing. And of course, they didn't have as many in each of those lines as you might have in a larger school but I don't know they would have improved the situation if they had had more and more courses because the individual could only take a certain number of credits anyway. And if you only take a hundred twenty eight credits to graduate, there's no particular reason to think that if they brought in some peripheral courses, that which some people had. substituted for what you|» the Basics, that many people would have come out with a better, general standing in the field.
SAM: Talking with other people that know about the same time period of historyon campus, it sounds like there was a lot of talent on campus, right around that period. Where was the impetus for creative writing, for instance?
TS: I don't really know where that came from. I hadn't especially thought thatwe were any more numerous then' than we became later. But I couldn't really account for it. And for that matter, I guess there tJ' plenty in waiting now, but I can't, don't know enough about what they're trying to get them to create now,
SAM: I was wondering that if the faculty then had any particular hold on thudonts then. It seems like they might have pretty good models. Wall, I don't know of either of those two or for that matter, the faculty in general, trying to do much in the way of creative writing themselves.
SAM: I don't mean just the writing. I'm thinking of the literature, newspaper etc.
TS: We had a stimulating faculty at that time I think. But then I don't thinkanymore stimulating than its been since then. As I think, compared to the people who were on the faculty then, those that I knew for the thirty six years, begining in the early 1930's, I think that we stacked up pretty well later on too. Plenty of people that stimulator students enthusiasms. Bill Banks for example.
SAM: Was he a very highly regarded teacheer?
TS: Oh, yes. He was. We hadn't better get started on Bill, he's a subject inhimself
SAM: We should save him for next time,
(End of side B)
Direct segment link:
Segment Synopsis: George Morey Miller, chairman of the English Department at the U of I, was a combination of "Falstaff, Sam Johnson and Pickwick". His greeting to Mr. Sherman as he joined the faculty. Memories of him remained alive to Moscowans many years after his death. Visiting at the Millers' for the last two Christmas dinners. He called upon Mr. Sherman to take his Victorian class when he became sick.
Direct segment link:
16:00 - Reading books on Miller's reserve; his assistance to Talbot Jennings, Jennings' work at university
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
34:00 - Sherman's collaboration on original musical comedies at the university; war recovery of students
Direct segment link:
Segment Synopsis: Mr. Sherman's collaboration on two original musical comedies performed at the university. In G.I.'S Right, their song "Tomorrow and Tomorrow" a slapdash parody, was deeply moving to audiences; it reminded them of life before the war, which they wished to recover. Emotion of students at renewal of fireworks for sports contests after the war.
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link: