Oregon State University Libraries and Press

E.B. Lemon Oral History Interview, March 16, 1979

Oregon State University
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JL: Dean Lemon, you mentioned before that Professor Horner had come to Grass Valley representing OAC and talked to some young people in the town.

EL: Yes. That's more or less common with all institutions to occasionally recruit a little bit, keep the name of the institution before the young people. When I was registrar I did a lot of it.

JL: Yes, I want to talk about that later on. Was it common practice for a faculty member to go out into the communities and talk about the college?

EL: Oh, yes. It is.

JL: How did people feel about it back then?

Oh, people are always interested. Of course, they understand things now much 00:01:00better than they did in those days because of news media and communication and one thing and another, but I've never met a hostile crowd-either students or parents or other people. I've talked to some fairly good-sized crowds in different communities--parent-teacher groups and that type of thing.

JL: When you came to OAC from Grass Valley High School in 1907 did you feel you were prepared for college?

EL: Oh, I didn't think much about it. I worried about it, of course; but I soon found that I could get along all right, and I didn't have a very good high 00:02:00school preparation as it goes now. I think we have some high schools in Oregon today--some of them are larger and better prepared high schools--that are just about the equal of what Oregon State was when I came here. I can remember when we had five what they called standard four-year high schools in Oregon. There were lots of one-year high schools, and finally they all got up to four years.

I've heard President [William Jasper] Kerr, [president of OSU, 1907-1932], discuss that topic several times. I've heard him tell the faculty--I can almost quote him: "We want to raise the standards of the institution in every way as 00:03:00fast as we can, but it isn't our job to get ahead of the people. It's our job to give them the program that develops education in Oregon as fast as possible and as efficiently as we can, but with so many of our people living out in rural areas where schools are very limited we can't do the things that we would like to. The biggest mistake we could make is to get ahead of the students."

JL: So he was talking at that time about having high school standards?

EL: Yes, yes, that's what he was talking about. We were too good. We couldn't go any faster than the people that we got and were prepared to handle, you see.

JL: So you had an average preparation for 1907?


EL: I had an average preparation at that time, but by present-day standards it was pretty weak.

JL: When you came to OAC and started classes, what kind of subjects and activities did you particularly enjoy here at college?

EL: Oh, I enjoyed most everything that I did. There were some subjects that were harder for me. I never was a good foreign language student. Foreign language was always difficult for me. I enjoyed my math classes. I enjoyed about all of them.

JL: What did you do for entertainment?

EL: Well, I think the kids of those days had better times than they have now. 00:05:00The opportunities were very limited and certainly no ways near as extensive, but we made our good times. There were no fraternities here then. Fraternities hadn't invaded this part of the country, (chuckles) And we had literary societies, so-called. There were six literary societies for men and six for the girls, and Friday nights were kept free for the literary societies.

I think the enrolled total was under 800 at that time, so these 12 literary 00:06:00societies, six of each, covered the field pretty well. They served somewhat the purpose that fraternities and sororities do now. They were selective. The groups recruited their own members just as the fraternities do, only with a lot less seriousness and less formality. We had literary programs. All of us had to give talks of one kind or another, or participate in debate, or oratory, music, or something.

JL: This wasn't part of classroom study? This was voluntary?

EL: This was voluntary. No one had to join but the competition, I would say among the better students--more interested college-type students--the 00:07:00competition was pretty keen to get into the societies of their choice. I didn't know anything about them when I got here. I was recruited by two or three and I joined one, oh, a couple or three months after I got here.

JL: Which one was that?

EL: It was called the Philadelphian and we had about 30 men. We were paired off--[men's and women's groups]. Once in awhile we would have a joint meeting and once or twice a year we'd have social meetings--just the two groups meeting.

JL: What did you do in these social meetings?

EL: Just about like they do now only we had picnics in the good weather. Summer, 00:08:00spring our group always had a big picnic and we sometimes had joint meetings. Once in awhile the men would put on the meeting, and other times the girls would put it on, you see. Sometimes they were mixed.

JL: Was there alcohol present?

EL: No, no alcohol. No. Alcohol seldom got on the campus in those days. Very seldom. Now, it's hard for you to believe this at your age, and [with conditions as they are] here now, but we didn't have any smoking on the campus. Smoking was taboo.

In my senior year a group of us decided that we wanted student self-government; 00:09:00I mean working with the administration. We'd set up the kind of student-body organization that we wanted and so on, and we wanted the privilege of enforcing discipline. We were given that privilege and I remember we had what we called a student council then to enforce discipline. I sat on the first council. I think there were 12 of us on that council.

JL: Who started this?

EL: Oh, they were people who took the lead, (pause) This was my junior year, I guess it was. I was editor of the paper-that is, the Barometer. A group of us 00:10:00who had some student-body responsibility- the president and vice-president of the student body and the editor of the paper and, oh, I don't know, several officers like that, and some members-at-large, too-worked hard on that and got it set up. Actually our decisions were recommendations but the administration went along with us mostly; certainly if we were right they did. I participated in decisions that expelled students.

I'll mention one illustration now just to show the difference in the way things 00:11:00have turned around. I think a college administration or student-body administration should run their jobs. I don't think everybody should take a hand in it. I think they should vote and elect their representatives and let those people get on top of the job and handle things. I see this very plainly and I'll say it's kind of a sore spot with me, too. But, you know, my side is very unpopular [now-a-days]. Now even the president of the institution has his hands tied.

I'll give you an illustration. One of the first decisions I participated in, as a member of the group that took care of disciplinary cases, was in about my 00:12:00senior year after this council got going. In those early days the military training was quite different than it is now. It was mostly drills and so on; but every man had to take military training so we had quite a military show when we were young people. We were invited to Portland pretty near every year to march one day in the Rose Festival Parade, and on one occasion one of our boys got drunk. He had an OAC pennant on his back, and he walked up and down on the streets in Portland making a fool of himself. As soon as we got back to the campus the Student Council expelled him, and the institution approved it.


Now what do students say? They say it's none of the institution's business what a boy would do in Portland. That's the attitude today. It's almost that if you're [anywhere] off the campus. You see? It's just the reverse [of what it was], and it hasn't helped things any. I'd get in all kinds of arguments if I made that statement before a group of students now, or before a group of the younger faculty people.

JL: Did most of the students support the Student Council?

EL: Pretty much so to the extent that there wasn't any smoking on the campus, (chuckles) Oh, occasionally somebody would break over. We never had much trouble 00:14:00enforcing it, though.

JL: What about faculty members? Was their smoking restricted also?

EL: Yes, they respected it. Some of them smoked in their offices. They didn't smoke in their classrooms. They were pretty careful about it.

JL: What other decisions did the Student Council make while you were a member?

EL: We set up regulations, for instance, for governing the number of dances we could have so that we didn't dance all the time, and that type of thing. We did 00:15:00about the things that the dean of men and the dean of women do now. They cooperated with us very much in those days, but we took quite a hand in doing that. We made some mistakes later on.

After I was out of school quite awhile, we [the College] adopted the honor system and the Student Council put that in. An honor system, you know, is that examinations are not supervised at all. A professor comes in and gives the examination, then sits down and turns his back, or even leaves the room. People write their examination and turn in their papers. Well, that worked 00:16:00pretty well for a year, or two, or three, and then it got pretty bad. Somebody invented the saying, I guess it wasn't on this campus, but it was used every place: The faculty had the honor and the students had the system. (chuckles)

JL: What motivated you and the other few students to organize the Student Council?

EL: Well, I think it was just a little bit of human nature [on the part of] people who were interested in leadership and government and so on. We wanted the experience; and we thought our students were mature enough to do these things, and that we would do it in a way that would please students more than what the faculty would do, you see. That doesn't mean that we were more lenient than 00:17:00faculty would have been particularly, but we just did it our own way. We felt better about it.

JL: You were the voice of the students?

EL: Yes.

JL: Dean Lemon, did you date much as a student?

EL: Oh, yes, I did my part of that. (chuckles)

JL: Was this through the literary club?

EL: Yes, some, but not entirely, no. I met my wife in my freshman year. I didn't date her till the sophomore year but she was not a member of the group that we had at all. She was a different group.

JL: Where and how did you meet her?

EL: I met her through these cousins of mine that I told you about. I mentioned 00:18:00yesterday I had a great-uncle living here, and a couple of cousins who met me at the depot, and so on. A girl in that family was a close friend of Lora's and I was at the uncle's home one night, and Lora and her mother came over and called. They just lived a few blocks away and that's the first time I met her.

JL: What was her maiden name?

EL: Hansell. Lora.

JL: Hansell?

EL: Yes.

JL: Where would you take your dates?

EL: Oh, took her hiking, (chuckles) And there were other things to do. There were dances on the campus, a good many of them open to the student body, and 00:19:00lots of parties that different groups of students got acquainted at. It wasn't particularly different than it is now in the way of meeting and getting acquainted and doing things.

JL: Where would you go hiking? Would it be around this area?

EL: Oh, yes, it would be around [the area]. Used to be lots of that. See, there wasn't any cars. I rode in my first automobile when I was a senior.

JL: Tell me about that?

EL: (chuckles) Well, there's not much to tell about it. This uncle of mine got a car and, of course, we were all anxious to ride in the car. I think Lora was with me that night, and this cousin was with us and two or three more. My uncle loaded the car and took us to Albany to call on some friends we had over there.

JL: Do you remember how you felt when you first rode in the car?


EL: The only thing I remember was that it was faster than a horse and buggy. (chuckles)

JL: Did you ever ride the ferries or steamboats on the Willamette?

EL: I never rode one that came clear to Corvallis. Where did I ride it? I don't know that I rode [any steamboat] on the Willamette nor that the little steamboat was coming up here all the time. Lora, as a student, worked in the office of a creamery that was located down on the bank of the Willamette River. She was helping with the bookkeeping and worked there for a couple of years after she graduated. All their butter that they shipped out--quite a bit, a boat load a 00:21:00week anyway--all went on the boat to Portland and towns along the way, mostly to Portland.

JL: What did she graduate in?

EL: She was in Commerce. She pretty much took the same kind of work I did.

JL: Did you ever ride the train to the Coast?

EL: Oh, yes. Everybody did that. The senior excursion, they called it, went every year. Everybody that could possibly do so went on that senior excursion, and then we went other times. There was a little train, the Corvallis and Eastern, which has quite a story of its own. It ran a daily trip; came through 00:22:00here in the morning, went to Newport [Yaquina], and then came back in the evening. Every Sunday, particularly in the good weather, spring and summer, that train was a four- or five-coach train filled with people who went over, and a pretty good share of them were students.

JL: Sunday was the day to go to the Coast?

EL: Well, that was an excursion day always. I think they gave rates on Sunday, and that was the time when people were free. It ran daily. Oh, I rode in that train many times. We were married eight years before our first boy arrived, but 00:23:00after we had two boys and they were four, five, six years old, we bought a cottage in Newport. We didn't have an automobile yet. There were automobiles. They were not uncommon anymore but we didn't have one, and not many people of our status did have one.

JL: Students especially.

EL: No, there weren't any student cars; and we would ride that train over, and take the boys over there, and stay at our cottage over the weekend, and come back, and so on.

JL: How long would it take to get there on the train?


EL: Oh, I've almost forgotten now. I'd judge about three hours.

JL: A pleasant ride?

EL: Yes. It was not a fast train at all. The train didn't get clear into Newport. It went to the head of Yaquina Bay and then you got off the train and got on a ferry and crossed the Yaquina Bay to Newport; and then we had to walk from there to our cottage which was maybe a quarter of a mile. But, we enjoyed that very much and then finally we got a car. Lora used to go over with the two 00:25:00boys when they were little fellows, and stay all summer. I'd go over when I could.

I mentioned our summerhouse out here when you were looking at the yard a little while ago. When we first came out here we built it just as a play place for the kids. Well, after they got to be 10, 12 years old they lost interest in going to Newport every weekend. They didn't want to go unless we took a couple of dozen kids along, you know, and that got kind of old. (chuckles)

JL: I bet.

EL: So we sold the cottage and took the money and turned this play place into a summerhouse; and then we used it much more than the boys did although the boys had parties out there, too.


JL: What were your sons' names?

EL: One of them is Berlan and the other one is Mardis. They both live here in town. Berlan is on the staff of the School of Education. He's the student advisor over there and also a professor.

JL: Before we stop speaking about your student days at OAC, I want to ask you about ROTC. You mentioned that you were part of that. Can you say something about what it was like?

EL: Well, I enjoyed my military training; lots of kids didn't. It was organized just like an army. We had colonels and majors and captains and non-commissioned officers and so on. The officers were always taken from the senior class and 00:27:00everybody drilled an hour a day, except in the senior year the boys who weren't appointed to officer positions were excused; they called themselves the grand old cadets, (laughter)

JL: Were you one of them?

EL: No, no, I was not one of them. I liked the military and was an officer. I enjoyed it. I regarded my military training as one of the very fine things that came out of college for me. There are three things that I did in college that I prize highly because it's done me as much good as any academic course I took. 00:28:00One was military; I learned a lot of discipline there. I learned how to handle men somewhat. I was a captain in my senior year and was a non-commissioned officer in my junior year. I guess in my sophomore year, I started at the bottom of the commissioned officers and I liked that training very, very much.

I made the statement to one of our fine professors, oh, maybe 20 years after I stopped working, that I regarded military training as being as valuable to me as most any course I took, and he looked at me a moment and he said, "I'm glad you're not in any of my courses." (laughter)

JL: What do you remember about U. G. McAlexander?


EL: Well, I had my four years in military training when he was the commanding officer. Great man. Just a remarkable man. He's one of the real characters that I admire greatly of the men that I met and got acquainted with in the college days. I think he was great.

JL: Why is that?

EL: Well, he was just the kind of a man that I liked. He was a leader, a great disciplinarian, a very successful man. He was a successful Army officer. You see the head man of the military was assigned here by the military department of the United States.

JL: Yes.

EL: He came here as a captain in my freshman year; that was his first year. He 00:30:00was a captain then and, I guess, he was a captain through that period. After I had graduated he was back here for a second tour of duty when he was a major, and then he came back here for another tour after the World War I when he was a general.

JL: Did you know him personally?

EL: Oh, yes. Very personal. I could talk with him just like I'm talking to you. I've had dinner in his home and been in his office many times. He come to me when the World War I started, I guess this was in 1915 something, when we were 00:31:00getting into it and getting started, and wanted me to go to Officer's Training Camp with him where he was going to take some boys; and I was interested. But in those days they were pretty strict and I've got a bad arm.

The first time he approached me was in my senior year when he had the privilege of recommending five men out of his senior class that could go into the Army as second lieutenants. I was interested in that, I fell off a horse when I was a kid. I showed him my arm, and he just shook his head and said, "I'd never noticed that before, but they wouldn't look at you when they see that." In those days they were real careful.

JL: I bet you were disappointed.

EL: Yes, I was disappointed although it was probably a good thing. I do not 00:32:00regret that I didn't go for a career in the Army. I'd rather have the career that I've had than any that I would have [had] in the military.

JL: The captain must have admired you greatly if there were only five students chosen, and you were one of them.

EL: Well, I'd worked with him in the cadet regiments and so on.

JL: Why was he close to you especially?

EL: Oh, I don't think he was any closer to me than he was to all the boys. I think I probably took his work more seriously than a majority of them did and so [to] that extent probably did fairly good work, you see. Now, I told you there were three things that I took and military was one of them. It wasn't an extracurricular activity--we had to do it--but it wasn't what they then called an academic thing at all.

Then, I always had the desire to be able to write; not be a writer, but a reporter so to speak. I wanted to be able to write things that would get printed. I liked newspapers; I was interested in newspapers and magazines all my life. I'm not a heavy reader either. I'm just interested in those and always was, and I wanted to be able to write some. That got me, in my junior year, an 00:33:00appointment to the staff of the Barometer.

JL: You were appointed? You didn't volunteer for the position?

EL: No, I was willing to take it. I think they knew I would take it. As far as that I had an interest in it. But, I was appointed and that led to my election in my senior year as the editor. In those days the editor was elected. Now he's appointed. I think he ought to be appointed but in those early days it was elected.

JL: By the student body?

EL: By the student body, and I was elected editor and that got me on the way to one of the things that I liked. I learned a good deal about newspapers then, and 00:34:00writing; and I edited the paper through my senior year, and had a little experience on other papers afterwards.

The other thing--I always wanted to be able to stand on my feet and speak, and it scared the life out of me. (chuckles) But, I stayed with it, and that's why I took debating, things of that kind.

This literary society was a great help to me in that regard. Each of these literary societies would develop debating teams, and we would compete with the other societies. In my sophomore year I was on our society debating team, a 00:35:00three-man team, and then in my junior year I participated in intercollegiate debate--debated against some other colleges. And so I got training there that I liked. To be honest with you, if I'd not had any one of those three things I doubt that I'd ever been dean of administration.

JL: During this time when you were a student what kind of encouragement did your family give you? Were they supportive of what you were doing?

EL: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, sure. My family always supported me in anything in education.

JL: What do you remember about the community of Corvallis at that time?


EL: Well, a little background. When I first came here I told you the student body was about 800. If I remember correctly the population of Corvallis was about 4000. That's about one-tenth of what it is now, you see. The town was all grouped right around what's now the main part of Corvallis. You started to ask awhile ago where we went hiking. This was all hiking territory to the north. My wife had to earn part of her way through college as most of us did, and she remembers picking strawberries during strawberry season, just off of Monroe Street between 11th and about 15th, a big strawberry field in there. That's 00:37:00where she made part of her college money. And out on what we call the hill now, everything past 26th or 27th streets, that was all farms.

JL: What effect did the students have on the community? Did they have a good relationship with the townspeople?

EL: Oh, I think so. About as good as they have now only there weren't so many of them. The town was like all towns were in those days in this country; this was a new country then, you see. I told you that I can remember when there were only five four-year high schools in Oregon. I think the population of Oregon at that 00:38:00time was about 200,000. Now, it's well over two million, you see, two and a half million, I guess nearer three million than it is two and a half now; and so this was a pretty open country. Your neighbors lived quite a ways away from you except right around the edge of town, and transportation was limited. We didn't go anyplace much so our acquaintances and our activities were all pretty close to the town, but even so, there was some little conflicts, I guess, now and then.

But, to go on with what the place was like, I don't think there was a single 00:39:00foot of concrete sidewalk, let alone streets, in Corvallis when I came here. It was all boards. Jefferson and Monroe Streets were just as they are now as far as location is concerned till you got up to the campus, but there were board sidewalks, not too good walks at that sometimes.

JL: Did the students go downtown very much?

EL: Oh, yes, oh, yes. They went downtown for everything they bought. There wasn't any other place else to get it. There wasn't any campus bookstore in those days, anything like that; there wasn't any upper Monroe Street business 00:40:00either. It was all downtown; so you went.

JL: Did people from the community participate in activities on campus?

EL: Oh, yes, they came to events up there, athletic events and that type of thing, just like they do now.

JL: Did you find there was a camaraderie between the students in the School of 00:41:00Commerce? A feeling of closeness?

EL: Yes. There was a pretty good relationship, I think, between the faculty and the students in the School of Commerce. I think it was particularly good. I mentioned Dean Bexell to you yesterday. He was in my judgment a great college man in that he tried to make friends with all of his students and did a pretty good job of it, and there was a good relationship there. He selected a pretty good faculty and there was, I think, a pretty good relationship all the way around; better than in some of the schools I know, anyway.


JL: How did he happen to choose you as an instructor in 1911?

EL: Well, I started to tell you about that. I took business and I wanted to get into business and was open for a business job. As I recall it now, about two or three weeks before graduation in my senior year I had been downtown afoot. We all went that way. There was a big walk. You've observed the big walk down through the middle of the campus; probably never walked it. (chuckles)


JL: Yes, I know what you mean.

EL: You've been down that central walk?

JL: Yes, right.

EL: Well, that was the main thoroughfare and I'd been to town and I was coming up that walk and Dean Bexell was just starting down that walk. Right about the foot of the rise, in front of Benton Hall however, we met. He stopped and we talked a moment and he said, "What are you going to do after you graduate?" "Well," I said, "I wish I knew. That's something I'm quite concerned about right now. I've been thinking a lot about it. I want to get into business of some kind, if I can."

And he said, "Well, I'm serious in asking that question." He says, "I've just been going over my plans for next year and getting things outlined. I've got two elementary courses in accounting that I haven't any instructor for. If you'd like to maybe take some graduate work or have a part-time job or something and 00:44:00teach those two courses I'd be glad to have you give them a try."

Well, I jumped at the chance because it was the first tangible thing I'd run into, and I was getting a little panicky. I didn't want to have to go back up home and say I'd had my four years of college- folks had paid for most of it--and I still didn't know what I was going to do. Oh, there were several things that entered into it. I was engaged to Lora by that time and she lived here in town and I wasn't very anxious to leave; (chuckles) and several factors that entered in.

But, I still never thought that I would stay in teaching. That was just a stopgap. So I taught those two courses--the fact of it is, it wasn't a little while till something happened, there was more enrollment expected or something, and I got a third class; so I had three classes. I got lined up as correspondent 00:45:00to the Oregon Journal from the campus, campus correspondent to the Oregon Journal.

JL: How did that come about?

EL: Well, the Oregon Journal wanted a man, and I'd been editor of the paper here, and I was recommended for it by the journalist people here. It was a paid job for what you did. You got paid by the inches that you got printed and I was able to get maybe a story that long [one foot], something like that every once in a while, and I'd get in quite a lot of short things. So I picked up, oh, I suppose $20.00 to $40.00 a month that way. And by the way, my salary for 00:46:00teaching the courses was $40.00 a month.

JL: Ohhh. That's not much.

EL: (chuckles) Well, the dean at that time was getting $1800.00 and I felt if I ever get to where I can earn $1800.00 I'll be pretty happy, (chuckles)

JL: How did the dean happen to choose you over other students?

EL: I'm sure a lot of other students didn't know what they were going to do after graduation. Oh, I don't know. I can't answer that question. Why does anybody get chosen? Somebody thinks that you can do the job and you're available and give you a chance; that's all.

JL: Did you enjoy teaching?

EL: Yes, I did after awhile. It was a little difficult at first, and I didn't think I would like it, but in a little while I got very interested in it. I did 00:47:00reasonable well, I guess, and promotions came fairly rapidly to me. The second year I went on full-time for $900.00. That was pretty good for a young fellow at that time. Several times I would think about leaving and then I'd weigh the balance and think, "Well, maybe I'm going to be better off to stay with what I've got. I'm liking it and doing all right." I still thought I would go into business sometime, but I just kept going and it kept getting better and better, and I never did. I don't say this to brag. I think it's just the way things work out if you do your job well.


I've advised hundreds of young people, when they talk to me about getting a job, to line up with something that's got a future. Generally that means something that there's quite a number of people in, because the turnover of people in any organization is quite surprisingly heavy when you follow it through because of all the things that happen to people, you know. I said, "If you get lined up with an organization that's got a future and got a number of positions, and you do your job, you'll find your place along the line and you'll keep going up." And that was my experience.

I never asked for a job in my life. I've stayed with teaching in the School of Commerce for, well, I was in my tenth year, between my ninth and tenth year, nine and a half years, and President Kerr called me into his office one day and 00:49:00said, "I want to talk to you about a job that I think is very important, and might be very important to you, if you're interested. Do you know that our registrar has resigned, and that position is open? I'd like to consider you for it, if you're interested."

Well, just two or three nights before that, I was working with Dean Bexell in the office on the campus and he said to me, just casually-he knew what he was talking about, I didn't-he said, "You know, [Harold M.] Tennant's resigned." Tennant was the registrar. And we talked about it a little bit and he said, "I wonder who will get that job?" And I said, "Well, it's a job that I'm not interested in at all." And there we dropped it. Well, just two or three days 00:50:00later than that I was called over, and Dr. Kerr began to talk to me about the job. I didn't think when he first started I was interested at all. Before I left his office I was very interested in it.

JL: He was very persuasive?

EL: Well, yes; but that wasn't it. I didn't know much about the job. I knew it as a job where students went in....When I was a student I went in and registered and stood in line and waited awhile to get things, and so on, and some way it just didn't appeal to me as offering much. But when he began to tell me what the job was, and what he had in mind for it, and citing me some illustrations of men in registrars of other institutions, what they've done and what it had grown into, I was very interested in it. So about a week later I accepted the job and 00:51:00I stayed with it for 21 years.

JL: Before we stop talking about the time when you were an instructor, I want to go back to 1913. Do you remember when the School of Forestry was formed?

EL: Oh, yes. I remember.

JL: Can you say something about that?

EL: Well, now let me think just a moment. I think then we had some forestry courses but they were mainly in the department of, well, I guess in the Botany Department. Of course, this was-~has always been a great timber country, you know. And the president was anxious to get forestry developed as much as he 00:52:00could and so, to get a forestry department on the way, he selected Dean [George W.] Peavy whom Peavy Hall is named for, you see. And Peavy came here as a professor of forestry [in 1910], Had no building. No staff. He just came here and went to work in forestry, starting from scratch, to build a School of Forestry.

JL: But, they had had courses in forestry since 1906 or 1907?

EL: Oh, I suspect earlier than that there have been some courses, some botany courses and things like that, maybe some in agriculture, that were related to forestry and were forestry courses.

JL: Where did George Peavy come from?

EL: He came from the University of Michigan.

JL: How did Kerr hear about Peavy?


EL: Oh, just like you would recruit any faculty person today when there is a vacancy, an important vacancy on the campus, particularly one like a field of forestry was at that time. With the vision Dr. Kerr had for it, he'd look over the country, see Where's the best young man he could get that was available, and so by doing that he found Peavy.

JL: I understand that the students of forestry wore red ties and that there was a great esprit-de-corps among them?

EL: Yes, well, Peavy was that kind of a fellow. Oh, I knew Peavy very, very well; he ended up as president, you know, for a period of time, and I worked very close to him. He used me a great deal when he was president. We were good 00:54:00friends and I know the Forestry School very well. Well, he was a kind of an eccentric sort of a fellow. He was an extrovert, outgoing, and he always wore red ties.

JL: Why is that?

EL: Well, I don't know. Why do I wear what I do? I wear blue or brown. Now why? I don't know. I do. But he wore red ties and it got to be kind of a fad with him. People noticed it because he always had a red tie on and he liked that (laughter) and so on. So the students got to wearing red ties. It ended up that one day of the week, I've forgotten now what day it was, every forestry kid had on a red tie.

JL: How did the rest of the student body react to this tradition?


EL: Oh, they'd take it all right. They wouldn't mind it. Why would they mind it? Probably admired them; wished they had a dean who would get the same thing started in some other color, (chuckles)

JL: Can you tell me what Peavy was like as a person and as an administrator?

EL: Well, he had some shortcomings. Peavy was a very aggressive, hardworking man, made friends readily, and was very informal in his dealings with students and people. Strict. He was a disciplinarian but he was just a good hand with making friends with people on all levels. He had a good personality, always outgoing. He was a little bit loud in a crowd. You could hear him talk above the 00:56:00others, and so on, but nothing undesirable about it.

He was extremely popular with students, and the college administration got to use him outside of forestry a good deal for certain jobs that go to faculty people around the campus. For instance, that was before we had a dean of men and Peavy was sort of looked upon as the leader of men on the campus while he was still dean of School of Forestry. That was his full-time job but he had a lot of authority in dealing with students in one way or another.

JL: People respected him?

EL: Oh, yes. Yes, very much so.

JL: Would you say he had charisma?


EL: Oh, yes. Yes, very much so.

JL: You mentioned that he had some shortcomings.

EL: He was a little bit, particularly in his older years, he let that which was his strong point at one time go to the extreme a little bit, and he got a little selfish and just a little bit cantankerous when things didn't come his way and so on, so that by the time he was president he wasn't as popular as he was when he was a young dean of the School of Forestry. But, nevertheless, he was a good man always and did a good job.

JL: Would you say he was a competent administrator?

EL: Yes, he was as competent I'd say as the average college president. I 00:58:00wouldn't say he was outstanding.

JL: I read that the architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, came to the campus. Do you remember his coming here?

EL: Yes, yes. Remember it very well. He was the first real college planner, campus planner, that we ever had.

JL: When did he come?

EL: Oh, this must have been, gee, I don't know. Must have been early twenties. By that time we had begun to grow enough till President Kerr, who was a very far-sighted man, a great administrator, a great college president, saw that we 00:59:00needed a plan, a long-time plan. Again you ask how he picked Olmstead. Well, he tried to get the best man that was available to come.

JL: He was very well-known in the country.

EL: He was well-known. He was a national figure and so he came here, and came back several times, and he established the main outline for the campus pretty much as it is today, [although] he didn't go as far as the campus is today. There are only five buildings standing now that I didn't see built [after I came here].

JL: Which ones?

EL: Well, there are the three buildings in front, you know, the three distinctive buildings in the front of the campus. Have you ever noticed the relationship in appearance between Education Hall and Benton Hall and Apperson Hall?

JL: Yes.


EL: There's the three first good buildings that we had.

JL: That's where all your classes were in these five buildings?

EL: Yes, well, there's one or two very poor buildings that had to be torn down in addition to that, but there's five standing now. The other is a playhouse. The playhouse [Mitchell Playhouse] when it was first built, was the Armory and physical education building for both men and women. The floor of it, which is the floor of the playhouse now, took in the whole building. When I first looked into that I thought that was the biggest room I'd ever seen and I guess it was. And that was the Armory. It was just the walls; around the walls was the gun racks and so on, nothing out of them at all, no stage or anything like that. 01:01:00Then the basement was divided in two parts: one half of it was Women's Physical Education and the other was the Men's Physical Education.

JL: Do you remember how and when the School of Pharmacy was started?

EL: I don't know when it was started, to tell you the truth of it, but I don't 01:02:00know as I've ever observed it enough to remember it anyway; but it was going strong when I came here. [Pharmacy was established as a department in 1898; organized as a School in 1909.]

JL: What about the School of Education?

EL: Well, I doubt if there were any schools of education back as early as 1907, because education as organized in the schools is a fairly recent thing.

When I was a student we brought a man, the institution brought in a man who had been over at the School of Education at Monmouth, at the Teacher's College it was then, to start giving some courses-they were called then industrial pedagogy. Pedagogy was the name for education, and we being an industrial place, why, he attached the name industrial to it. This man was brought over then to develop some teachers of home economics and agricultural subjects--you know, industrial arts-which were almost unheard of as being taught in high school in those days.

There was a demand for them and Dr. Kerr wanted to begin to prepare teachers in 01:03:00that. So we got Dr. [Edwin D.] Ressler [in 1909]. That's the first teacher, and I took one of those courses. Then finally it got to be a department by adding another teacher or two. Then it got to be the School of Vocational Education and much later just the School of Education. Now that developed from, well, Ressler 01:04:00came while I was a student but, I think, it was pretty late in the twenties before we got the School of Vocational Education [organized in 1918], and then the School of Education has come since 1930 [in 1932].

JL: Tell me about the Education Exposition. I understand that was nationally known.

EL: Well, that's one of my babies. These things all get tied into other things. We were talking about recruiting awhile ago, and I told you I visited high 01:05:00schools and so, on and you said you wanted to hear some more about recruiting.

JL: Yes.

EL: Well, this Education Exposition was part of my recruiting program. After getting out into the high schools and so on, I found how little the students in those days knew about colleges. Now, we bring high school kids in by the score, you know; give them a chance to get acquainted. Well, high school students didn't have much opportunity to visit higher education in those earlier days. I'm talking now about the twenties.

I started Educational Exposition in 1924. But I found then that many of the high school kids had such an elementary conception of what a college was all about, 01:06:00and also that they had very little opportunity to get information that helped them make up their minds as to what they wanted to take, this being an institution of schools of a vocational nature, more so [in the] earlier days than now, that when kids come here they had to know what they wanted or they lost time.

I was influenced by one example. The California Power Company invaded southern Oregon about that time, early twenties. The California Power Company is a big 01:07:00company, and they were establishing electrical plants and getting electricity used a great deal more, and we had a regular influx of students that wanted to take electrical engineering, some that didn't hardly know what it was about and had no qualifications for it and so on. I thought it would be helpful in a case like that if those kids could see a little electrical engineering as a start in college.

That was just one example. I've seen the same thing happen in dozens of fields. It's true yet today to a certain extent, not nearly to as large extent as it was earlier, but you start a new field now, well, oceanography is one. How long has 01:08:00it been since you've first heard of oceanography, or did you know what it was? I was on the teaching job before I got a conception of what oceanography was, particularly of it being a school and using the ocean as a laboratory. Anything like that that's new attracts students, and if an institution isn't prepared for it they would get more students than they can handle, and most of them will fail because they don't know what they are getting into, and aren't qualified for it, and don't like it as soon as they find out what it is.

That was the background that went through my mind when I said that [it would be helpful] if we could get students here to see those things; and then I thought, 01:09:00"Well, the way to just bring them here and let them see the institution doesn't answer the purpose--the institution has got to be on display." So I conceived the idea that we would have a little, maybe a state fair or even a small world's fair that dealt with those things that we were interested in built around our different schools. I was able to sell that, first of all to our president and then to our deans and our faculty, and I got the program set up.

I got a little help from a friend of mine at the University of Michigan who had had a little experience of that kind. He hadn't done just what I did. I think we did it on a better scale than he was doing it, but he had done something of that kind and I got all the help I could get from him which was considerable. I got a 01:10:00few of our people interested in the thing, and I conceived that thing and told our people that I thought we'd get 500 high school students here, but we'd have to control it to know what we were getting into. So, as we got the plan set up and began to extend our invitations, we limited it to five students and a faculty man per high school. I told our people that we'd get 500 students and they shook their heads, most of them, and thought that it was futile. I shook my head before we got through. We got 1500.

JL: (chuckles) Oh, no.


EL: And we brought them in on Friday night and kept them [into Sunday]; started a program on Friday night in which we had the whole institution lighted up and on display with things that could be displayed, that were actual yet more spectacular. Electrical Engineering could go to town on that, you know, and so could Home Economics and a lot of them--in fact, even Business; they all did very well.

We brought those kids in and organized them into groups with group leaders. They toured the campus the first night and that was extended over into the second afternoon. Saturday morning was devoted to discussions and talk about the 01:12:00display--a big group together all the while and then some group discussions and so on. Then we closed it on Sunday with an appropriate Sunday program, but one that fitted into the program and just carried it on--we talked college. Well, we never had any trouble with attendance from then on.

JL: It happened yearly?

EL: We had it yearly. From 1924 to 1930. In 1930 the University killed it off because we were getting too much attention. We were too much of a competitor.

JL: You mean a competition to Eugene?

EL: Yes. The University of Oregon. This was when they began to talk about State System of Higher Education which is another deal too, you know.


JL: Yes.

EL: But that was the end of the Educational Exposition. But it really was a fine thing.

JL: Sounds like it.

EL: We brought men from distances to be the keynote speaker. I canvassed this country to find a man that in my judgment could do the job better than anybody else.

JL: Name some people that you brought to speak.

EL: Well, we brought Dean [James Russell] Jewell. We later hired him. What we were doing was right down his line and he'd never seen anything like it, and he was so impressed with it that...

JL: What was his field?

EL: Education. He was at the University of Arkansas. He had a son and a daughter, and the night we visited the campus Mrs. Lemon came in and joined me, 01:14:00and we took Dean Jewell in hand and showed him as much of it as we could. Several times that evening he said, "My, if my kids could see this!" or "If my institution would do something like this and help kids find out where they belong, it would just suit me fine." And we had a vacancy in the School of Education then.

Before the evening was over I said to him, "If you're really as interested in what we're doing at this institution as you sound like, there is a job here you might get." We kind of laughed about it, you know, but before he left I told the president about him and he said, "Well, I'd like to talk with him." I took him 01:15:00over to the president's house and they talked for 15 or 20 minutes just in general about things here, and the president didn't offer him a job or anything and he left. I asked him before he left if he was serious about being interested, and he says, "Well, I'd have to go home and talk with my family." But he said, "We are." And I had a letter from him within a week saying he was very much interested, and then I turned the thing over to President Kerr and he took up the correspondence and hired him.

Well, now, I can't think of all the men we had but the first we had was the dean of men at the University of Illinois. A man by the name of Dean [Thomas A.] Clark. I'd heard of Dean Clark in a number of ways. I never had met him but I'd gotten some firsthand information and became convinced that he'd do us a good job. Well, he did us a great job. He was just a dean of men, but he did just 01:16:00exactly what we wanted him to do and that was great.

JL: Do you feel that this Educational Exposition increased the enrollment significantly at OAC?

EL: Well, I think it did. Yes. I think it did. More than we had any idea that it would. Of course, you can't always pinpoint those things because there's lots of other things that enter into it. At least, we were doing a job that the schools were all talking about.

JL: I understand also that you instigated a student loan program at the College? Is that correct?

EL: No. I didn't start student loans. I don't think I had a great deal to do with student loans, except in the general business way that any dean of 01:17:00administration would have had. But, I had some [experience with them as dean], and that got me the starting of background that got me known well enough so that I got the governor's appointment for the State Scholarship Commission. I served as chairman [of the commission] for nine years after I retired.