Oregon State University Libraries and Press

E.B. Lemon Oral History Interview, March 29, 1979

Oregon State University
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JL: Dean Lemon, will you tell me what your major duties were as dean of administration?

EL: Well, the dean of administration is about the same thing as a vice-president. I had some specific duties, but in general I regarded my job as helping the president in every way I could, and I had no trouble finding lots of things to do in that field. I was acting president whenever he was off the campus.

JL: What kind of duties did you perform as acting president?

EL: No different I'd say than I did any other day except I had top decisions to 00:01:00make when he was gone if there was a decision that needed to be made. Of course, I always had a lot of decisions to make but [when he was gone] I would make the decisions that he would have made if he had been there. I don't mean that I made all of them, but there were things that needed to be done and I took care of them.

JL: What do you feel are some of the major decisions you made as dean or as acting president?

EL: Oh, gee, (chuckles) I don't know where to start on that. They were so varied and I did so many things, (pause) I remember in my early days when the president 00:02:00was in the east one time. It was when the program [with] young men going into the service was just coming into existence, and the Army was sending us quite a bunch of men. We got word of how many were coming and when they were coming; it was earlier than we expected. I remember that Dr. Strand and I had talked a little bit about what we would do about this but we had made no decisions. But anyway, I had to move on that, and we moved most of the girls out of the dormitories and cleared the way for these boys and made quite a lot of housing 00:03:00adjustments. Then when I got through I wired the president and told him what I'd done. (chuckles)

JL: Ohhh.

EL: Now that didn't worry me at all because there wasn't anything else to do. They had to be taken care of. But things like that were happening right along. My job was to look after the physical plant. We had a director of physical plant, but the director of physical plant reported to me all the time and that meant we had to make decisions about buildings; use of them, repairing them, all 00:04:00that type of thing. Just about everything the College did I had to get a hand in some way at some time or another. Maybe if the president had been there I wouldn't have done many of those things, but when he was gone I had to do that. Ultimately I did a great deal of that type of thing.

JL: Did you still work with the State Board of Higher Education?

EL: Oh, yes, I attended all the meetings of the State Board of Higher Education.

JL: Who was the chancellor during your time as dean?

EL: Well, let's see now. Hunter was the first one, and then [Charles D.] Byrne, and then [John R.] Richards. I worked under three chancellors, I guess.


JL: Were your relationships with them friendly? I mean after the turmoils of the thirties?

EL: Oh, yes, I never had any trouble with them.

JL: I read some place that Kerr said, "A college administrator must live entirely in the future and refer to the past only as it might guide the future."

EL: Yes. I've heard him say that.

JL: Did you keep to this philosophy as dean?

EL: Pretty much. Pretty much so. Yes, I would subscribe to that 100 percent and followed it as much as I could.


JL: Were there major changes after the war with the consequent influx of military men? What kind of decisions did you have to make then?

EL: Oh, we had terrific decisions to make then. First of all we didn't have enough instructors and we couldn't find them and...

JL: You couldn't find them?

EL: Instructors were very hard to find in those days because so many more [students] flocked in than we'd had when the war started. Many more students came back because they got federal aid, you see, and that encouraged a great many students to go to college that normally wouldn't have gone, couldn't have gone. We had a terrific time finding instructors, and we had room problems. Gee, 00:07:00we had room problems galore, and not enough money. In the beginning, money wasn't available to start building, and housing for students was a major problem.

I think I mentioned to you the other day about us ultimately taking over the hospital at Camp Adair and building that into a married student headquarters. We had a population of 1,000 people out there. We took over the buildings that had been hospital buildings but they weren't ready for student apartments 00:08:00by any means. That all had to be done: getting approval of the State Board of Higher Education to start with to make the requests; getting the money from the federal government; it was a busy time. I've fluctuated between my office and Camp Adair and Portland and Seattle. Seattle is where the General Services Administration for the federal government was where we had to get approval for whatever we did that they were supporting. And it was a very busy, strenuous time.

JL: Were you involved in the process of OSC's gaining a four-year liberal arts 00:09:00program? I understand that the School of Humanities and Social Sciences was established in the 1960's. Were you involved in that at all?

EL: Oh, I was involved somewhat, I guess, but I wouldn't say especially so. The president handled that mostly and the liberal arts people on the staff, deans of lower division and so on. I couldn't help but be involved in it but I wouldn't claim any major part in it.

JL: You agreed with the change?

EL: Oh, yes, sure. Sure, I agreed with the change. We should have had it earlier. We shouldn't have had to make the fight for it that we did.


JL: Why was it a fight?

EL: Well, that was the field of the University for a long time and people couldn't think of us really needing liberal arts too much. It was a long educational matter among people, and state officials, and the State Board of Higher Education, and satisfying the University that we weren't stealing all their program, and that type of thing.

JL: Why do some people refer to you as Mr. Oregon Stater?

EL: Oh, I don't know. Just because I've been here a long time and been mixed up 00:11:00in about every phase of the University for so many years that I just got that hung onto me which I' m very proud of.

JL: I understand there was an article written about you as Mr. Oregon Stater; that was the name of it. (chuckles)

EL: Well, there was that calendar that you saw. I've been referred to [as] Mr. Oregon State many, many times, many ways, but I don't recall now of any article being written specifically on that. I've been mentioned in a good many articles.

JL: During these years we've discussed, you were always active in the community, weren't you?

EL: Yes, I'm that by nature. I always have been even from my younger days. I've 00:12:00always been interested in what was going on wherever I was affiliated, and tried to be a part of it. It's that trait I suppose that got me to be the editor of a college paper, the Barometer, and various other things that I did as [an] undergraduate. You don't have to do those things, you know. You've got to show an interest in them and make some moves of your own or you don't do those things; and as I say again, that's just my nature.

JL: What are some of the special activities that you remember or enjoyed the most?


EL: I enjoyed them all. I enjoyed student government. I mentioned the other day that we organized a student self-government and the Student Council in the early day. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed very much my intercollegiate debate. I enjoyed the publications.

JL: Outside of the University what activities have you enjoyed?

EL: Oh, gee, I don't know. I've enjoyed them all. I enjoyed being president of the Chamber of Commerce of Corvallis for three terms. I enjoyed the School Board for two terms.

JL: What kind of decisions did you make there? What was happening in Corvallis 00:14:00with the school system then?

EL: Well, we built the Corvallis High School that's over here on 11th Street.

JL: You were part of the decision process?

EL: I was chairman of the Board of Directors when we made that decision, and then we had to get the money for that and get the approval of the people. We had some strenuous times with that, too. Remember now, that was a good many years ago and Corvallis didn't go out as far as the Corvallis High School in those days. I remember when we first began to talk about that location.

Somebody had mentioned it, and I remember one Sunday getting on my bicycle and 00:15:00riding out there to take a look at it. It was a wheat field, big wheat field. There was nothing out in that area at all. The town stopped this side of it, and there was lots of opposition from some of the people about going out there. They thought there was no need of going out of town to build a school. They were used to a school being downtown, and they didn't want the kids to have to wade through the mud to get out there (chuckles). So some of my very good friends thought that was a terrible mistake.

But we had a good school board, and a good superintendent [Harold Adams]. We put it over, and got some commendation after it was done and going, of course. Same 00:16:00thing happened only on not such a rapid scale when they built Crescent Valley High School out here ten years ago. I didn't have anything to do with that. I was retired. Nothing in the world to do with it only as an active citizen, but people thought that was going out way too far. Some of my best friends did. I told them the only mistake in going out there was that they didn't go out far enough because the area will experience the same thing [as happened when] Corvallis High School was built. They could just as well have gone a couple of miles farther (chuckles) and got something that would be the heart of the city sometime.

JL: What part has religion played in your life?

EL: Oh, I think quite a bit. I've always been active most of my life--I've been 00:17:00active in church work.

JL: You are Presbyterian?

EL: Yes. I've given much more to the church since I've retired than before because I've had more time. It's been one of my major activities since I retired, but I've been a member of the Presbyterian Church down here for, oh, 50-odd years.

JL: Have your religious beliefs influenced decisions in your life?

EL: Oh, yes, sure they have. Sure. I think they've got to be a part of everybody that makes decisions. Probably influences more decisions than the people who make the decisions realize. I think I've known very few people who have not been 00:18:00influenced by religion in some ways or another. It's kind of hard to recognize it sometimes. I don't mean church necessarily, but they recognize religion in its place. I think they are guided by it quite a lot. I've been surprised a good many times by people that I'd known for quite awhile, that I never thought of them as being particularly religious people, and some crisis comes and it comes out. Well, I think most everybody is influenced more or less; I don't think as much as we should be.

I wish I had been more active in my younger days, but nevertheless I've been affiliated with the church all my life. My people were church people and didn't have very much opportunity [to participate in church activity]. I've spoken to 00:19:00you about my kid days up in Sherman County in Grass Valley and the lack of facilities, school and otherwise; same way with churches. But religion was in evidence anyway, and I've always thought of it as necessary. Still do.

JL: You've seen OAC grow from a small institution into a large university. In what direction do you think the school will go in the future?

EL: Oh, it will just keep on growing. People talk about an institution reaching its peak, or a town reaching its peak. I get amused and disgusted both, now, by 00:20:00just talking to people, and reading the papers about the attitude of people toward the growth of this community and what's going on in it. I just can't understand it. I don't think any group of people can determine whether somebody else comes to live in the town or not. That's their business.

As far as I'm concerned, if I had more years to live, I could be quite happy with Corvallis being just as it is; but I know it isn't going to stay that way. It hasn't. It's grown tremendously since I first saw it, ten times over, and it isn't through yet in spite of what people say. You talk now about controlling 00:21:00the population, controlling the growth, and keeping out industry, and that type of thing; why, to me it's foolish. Right now there's a sizable group of people that are doing everything they can to stop this company over here from building a fiber glass plant.

JL: Evans Products?

EL: Evans Products. There was a time when Corvallis would have been right up on its feet to right a thing like that, because we needed more people and needed industry and so on.

JL: Why do you think people have changed?

EL: Well, I don't know. People have changed a great deal. I think war has had a 00:22:00factor in changing these things. People get awfully fed up with war and what comes out of it and so on, and that influences the thinking some. There is one thing now all people are generally more interested in seeing, let's say, a physically nice town. They like to see good streets and good buildings and an orderly [appearance] and like that.

In earlier days in towns like this nobody paid any attention to that; they were just glad to see something doing, something developing. But, when you get those things started there's a lot of people make a hobby of it, and there's so many 00:23:00new things now we're talking about. I guess they are good. All these federal agencies and so on. I think they are good but I think so many of us don't know enough about what we are talking about when we begin to judge things like land use planning. Now, that of course is necessary or we are going to run out of something to eat one of these days.

Those things all come into the picture, and these people who are fighting the Evans Products over here have got a point in general. The big point is that we want to look out for the health of the community, and not let things develop that are going to be detrimental to health and to the welfare of most of the people, but the trouble of it is so many people just make up their minds without 00:24:00really knowing what they are doing. Now, I don't know anything about fiber glass but I take the word of the experts, the people who are supposed to know and [that] I think do; and they say there is no great danger to a fiber glass plant located out in a place like that in a city like this.

But there's people now that would do anything in the world to block that. They have been trying to prevent the permit for the construction of the plant. Well, that's just about decided now; they have been whipped on that. Last night the paper had a big story that they are turning to the noise factor now. They are getting up a petition [that claims the plant is] undesirable because of the noise.


JL: You don't think it would have been like that some years ago?

EL: No. It wouldn't have been like that at all.

JL: Why is it different now?

EL: Well, that's what I've been trying to say. It's hard to say, but there is a reason for the basic philosophy. We're getting more people. Land is getting scarcer and communities are becoming more complicated. We've got to look out for the general health standards of our community. I think we've got to protect land. I think there should be land planning and that agricultural land particularly should be protected as much as possible. You can't keep it all just to grow food, but we ought not to use good agricultural land for other purposes 00:26:00if it can reasonably be avoided.

Now, you take the highway construction that we have. Just think of the land that we've put under concrete. Those highways are necessary, and I don't criticize where they are, at all, but they have taken a lot of agricultural land out of use. Housing developments do the same thing, and perhaps we will have to come to more high rise apartments and that type of thing rather than individual houses that reach out and take in more land. Those things are necessary but we've got 00:27:00to be reasonable about them, and there are so many people now that make so much noise that, I think, don't understand, or know exactly what they are talking about.

Now, to me it has been almost a disgusting thing that they've tried to block the building of this Evans plant. It throws people out of employment. I've thought several times that I'd just like to know if most of these people that are fighting the Evans Products aren't also some of the loudest growlers about taxes. Evans Products glass plant is going to pay a lot of taxes. I think we don't think too straight all the time.

JL: What do you think of the way that people are educated today?


EL: Oh, I think we're doing a pretty good job of that. My guess is that education will always be controversial and so on, and it swings back and forth. I'm one who believes in the reading, writing, arithmetic philosophy with enough other things thrown in so that people who go through high school, or go through college, get some training towards making a living, because I think that it is a pretty important factor that people can take care of themselves. I think we've 00:29:00got entirely too much....I'm not saying what I mean. I think now we have entirely too much unnecessary poverty.

But people lean on the federal government now much more than they used to, and we're all guilty of it; we are all hollering about the federal debt. The federal debt scares me when I stop and think about it; it's just scary, that's all, and I can't understand why Congress don't get terribly scared about it, but they don't seem to. But, at the same time if we want some project in Corvallis now and we need money, the first thing we do is try to get as much out of the 00:30:00government for it as we can. If they'll do it all, we are just as happy as can be; and if they won't do it all, we'll just criticize and dig up the rest of it; but we want the government help, and so we can't blame Congress for not being very much different than the rest of us.

JL: I'd like to hear your philosophy on education today. Why don't you start from where you were saying that education is different, that you're glad that you got out of administration when you did.

EL: Well, I got my training in the time when we had efficient administrative leaders; I mean presidents and deans of schools, or school superintendents and school principals, and all the people who really ran the schools. Now those people don't dare turn around without knowing how the people are going to react, 00:31:00because people are the main hurdle you've got to get over now. I don't think those people are capable of [criticizing as they do]; if they are they ought to be in the school administrative jobs.

I think we got a crazy situation here in Corvallis on city management. We used to elect a City Council just at-large, it didn't make any difference where we lived; and if we lived in town we were eligible to be elected to the School Board and so on.


Here a few years ago we changed all that. We have nine school areas now, and the city is divided into nine divisions, each one of which elects its own representative. So, these nine people who sit on the council now are elected by nine separate groups, and they've got one group that takes in the College down here, the University, and the area right close around it, and so you can't hardly help but have a student on the council. Well, to me, I can't think of anything more ridiculous than the student who lives in Chicago, let us say--I'm maybe taking an extreme illustration now--comes here, and gets elected to the Corvallis City Council. He's going to be here four years at most, and then he'll 00:33:00never see the place again, and yet he's a councilman now telling the rest of us what to do and how to do it, and so on. I can't swallow that.

JL: He might bring in new ideas.

EL: Well, he might. I don't know. I don't think I've seen many of them.

JL: In retrospect is there anything that you would have done differently if you had the chance?

EL: Oh, yes, I think we all go through stages when we want to do things differently.

JL: Can you think of anything specific?


EL: Oh, no. It's hard to be specific on those things. It just involves everything that goes on.

JL: What have you learned from personal experience that might make other people's lives easier to live?

EL: Oh, if there was more cooperation by people in groups on all levels. Of course, that's always desirable and never will be all we want it to be. I get 00:35:00back to the thing I've been saying all the time. I think we ought to put more faith in our leaders and not try to take over. Let them have time, not trying to convince us, or to fight us all the time, but to do the job that they are supposed to do. I believe in elections and everybody voting and all that. If an official doesn't deliver, vote him out. Most of the time you have a chance to vote him out before he does very much harm. In the administration of the University, though, you have no chance to vote him out.

JL: What do you do in those situations if you do not agree with the administrator?

EL: Oh, well, when you have situations like that it isn't hard to determine how 00:36:00people feel, what their reaction is to people. True, you don't move at once to vote him out but you're talking about a college president; now the Board of Higher Education really is the determining body, the selection group, and it isn't hard for them to find out how a leader, one that they have chosen, is doing--how the president of Oregon State College is doing, or how the president of the University of Oregon, or the president of any place else. We have free discussion and free presses and we aren't backward about expressing ourselves. That doesn't worry me very much.

JL: You've been 90 years in this world. From where do you derive all your 00:37:00energy, Dean Lemon?

EL: I don't know, (chuckles) Just habit, whatever I've got. I've always wanted to be busy and always wanted to work, and I've never had any trouble in finding plenty to do, and that's the only explanation I've got.

JL: I'd like to hear about that. You retired in 1959?

EL: Yes.

JL: I think you've been even busier since then than you were when you were working.

EL: No, I haven't been busier. I've been busy but I haven't been busier. I've enjoyed it very much. I can't understand these people who don't enjoy retirement, who can't find anything to do.


JL: What kind of things have you done since you retired? Are you still active with the University?

EL: Well, I'm getting less active each year. Right now, I'm not very active. Yes, I've been active all the time.

JL: You were awarded the First Citizen of Benton County Award in 1959, the same year you retired.

EL: Yes, that's right.

JL: How did you gain that honor?

EL: Well, a group of people just elected me. That's all I know. Appointed me.

JL: Oh, come on.

EL: I never turned my hand to get it. I know that. (chuckles)

JL: You're very modest.


EL: Well, that's right. I never have asked for anything. I can't understand people who do. Oh, I ran for election a time or two. Yes, I've done that.

JL: What was that?

EL: Well, the School Board and that type of thing. You have to do that. I didn't go out and say, "I want the job and I want somebody to support me," but after my friends started the ball rolling I didn't want to fail and so I took a good hand in the campaign. You're talking about the influence of people and with this type of thing, I agree. I had this experience. I got on the Board in the first place by being appointed to fill a vacancy and at the end of that period, I've 00:40:00forgotten what it was now, a year and a half or so, my name was put up again for reelection and I assented to that. There wasn't very much interest in it. There was only a handful of votes. As I remember it now, there were 12 votes cast and I got 11 of them. Two years later, maybe it was three years later, I got between 750 and 800 votes, but I lost by, oh, 400 or 500.

Now that shows what happens if you get dissatisfied with somebody. Apparently 00:41:00the people then--well, not apparently, evidently--it's very evident they were dissatisfied with what we were doing. That was soon after the high school was built, and they were still figuring on it being out in the mud, or they didn't want their kids to have to go [that far]. And there was another crazy idea started. The schools were originally on what's Central Park. You know what I mean by Central Park, the two blocks downtown in there?

JL: Yes.

EL: That's where the schools were located when we went out [to the present Corvallis High School]. The school down there burned, and it had to be replaced, so we located it out on 11th Street where it is now. Then a group there wanted to get a basketball pavilion started that would serve both the College and the 00:42:00town. They picked the site of where the school building had been sitting down there; we were taking the high school away so they [thought they could] just as well put that pavilion there.

Well, first thing they wanted was for the School Board to give them the site, and I took the stand that the school district had no authority to give them the site. It was school district property, and we were representing the school district, and we had no right to give away that land; and that got to be quite a controversy. Well, those were really the two things that defeated me. I was sorry to be defeated but that didn't worry me any; but when you talk about 00:43:00people not having a voice, just let somebody that's unpopular enough [be in office] and the powers that be will hear the voices.

JL: I was interested in your governor's appointment as chairman of the State Scholarship Commission.

EL: Well, that came the second or third year after I retired.

JL: Had you had some association with the commission previous to that time?

EL: Oh, yes, I knew the governor real well. However, I've known other governors, too, that didn't appoint me to anything. No, I appreciated that appointment. At 00:44:00the time there had arisen a need for such a commission. There hadn't been any state scholarships that amounted to anything up until that time, and there was beginning to be a demand for them and they wanted a program organized. Governor [Mark] Hatfield had the job of picking five people to take it over and organize it; he picked them and I was one of them. Now, why he didn't pick some other five I can't tell you. I didn't ask for the appointment, I can tell you that.

JL: And you became the chairman of the commission?

EL: Yes.

JL: How did you set that commission up? What was the process?

EL: Well, there were five of us appointed and we just had to pioneer our way. We didn't get any instruction. They just told us to work out a plan and see if we 00:45:00could get it under way. We didn't have any trouble. We had five good people appointed. We didn't have much differences of opinion--we could meet and argue out a situation and make some recommendations; and we got going. I held that position for nine years and I enjoyed it very much. It was one of the things that tided over retirement.

Retirement is quite a serious step for people; you realize that it's getting toward the end of things. I think everyone is emotionally affected by it. I had 00:46:00a very easy time of my retirement. I had only one little emotional spell and that was all to myself; after I took my last check down to the bank and handed it in (chuckles), and turned around and walked out I began thinking, "Now I'll never do that again." (chuckles)

JL: Ohhh.

EL: That was a difficult moment. I got a little emotional at that moment. But the first thing that tided me over was Rotary. I've been very much interested in community work from the time I went into the Rotary Club and still am. I was 00:47:00elected to Rotary Club in 1943 soon after I became dean of administration. I returned in 1959, and just before I was retired I was elected district governor of Rotary.

JL: What did you enjoy about Rotary?

EL: Oh, I enjoyed Rotary tremendously, and I enjoyed that year as district governor and the other offices that it led to. It just made my retirement altogether different, because that first year when I was elected district governor I didn't have any time to think about anything else. That was a big 00:48:00job, and I could just give every minute I had to it. I retired on the 15th of May and on the 17th, I think it was, Mrs. Lemon and I left for New York to attend what we call our Rotary Assembly, which is a compulsory thing. It's a training period for new governors.

Rotary is divided into districts, and each district has a governor. Before you can qualify to take over the governorship, you have to attend the assembly and 00:49:00the assembly was held at Lake Placid, New York. The district governors from all over the world, Rotary world, were there and we had a week together, one of the most pleasant weeks we ever had in our lives. See, Rotary is an international organization. They operate in 154 countries now; not quite that many at that time but it was over a hundred countries anyway--120 or something like that. The Rotary International organization took over the Lake Placid Club, and we all lived right in the Club. Had our meals there and all for a week, and that 00:50:00started us off.

That was followed by the international convention down in New York, and we were there for four or five days. We were there longer than that but the convention lasted four or five days. It brought lots of people from all over the Rotary world; 16,000 people there, I think. Then when I came back [I took up my duties as] district governor. The district governor is an officer of Rotary International, and he's an advisor for the international organization to the clubs of his district.

Our district here includes about two-thirds of Oregon and part of northern 00:51:00California. I think I had 28 to 29 clubs; and you visit all of those clubs, make addresses to them, and so on. So, it was a very busy, very interesting time. Then we went to several international conventions after that: second year we went down to Miami Beach; I'm not sure where the third one was, probably St. Louis or Chicago; I remember we went up to Toronto once.


JL: So for you retirement was not traumatic as it is for some other people?

EL: Oh, no. No.

JL: And you attribute that to being kept busy in Rotary?

EL: Being kept busy. I could keep busy anyway. I wouldn't have any trouble keeping busy; but that was something that was right down my alley, and I was interested in Rotary anyway, still am very much interested in it, and so it was a great experience for me. And then that led to, let's see, that presidency is only for one year and they never repeat. The Rotary philosophy is that there's enough good men in Rotary so that no one person needs to serve more than one year in an international presidency or a club. We change every year, and I think 00:53:00that's a fine thing.

JL: What kind of responsibilities did you have as district governor?

EL: Well, my responsibilities were to carry out a program of Rotary. I don't know whether I've got anything here [to show you about Rotary] or not.

JL: Don't you think, Dean Lemon, one of the reasons you were so successful in your life is because you did look to the future. You're progressive, and you change with the times, and don't harp back to what life used to be?

EL: Oh, I think that's necessary. Yes. It's what Dr. Kerr said, when you make progress you look to the future and rely on the past only for the lessons 00:54:00it gives you as a guide for the future. But that seems to be hard especially for older people. Oh, yes, I appreciate that. Some people never change except to go the wrong way.

JL: I wanted to ask if you'd ever done any international travel?

EL: No, no, I've never done any international travel to amount to anything. I never had any great desire to. I've always had enough to do closer to home to keep me as busy as I could be. I wouldn't mind--I'd like to see China right now; I'd like to see China because there's a great country. Think of the people they've got--high percentage of the people of the world and largely undeveloped. 00:55:00It will be a great nation sometime. It's developed a lot [during the time span of] my memory but it hasn't started yet. I think it would be great.

JL: What are your goals for the future?

EL: Oh, I haven't got any future, (chuckles) My future is about ended, (chuckles) I am 90 years old and...

JL: People have lived to be 120.

EL: Yes, I know they have but I don't want to live that long.

JL: Why do you say that?

EL: Well, what good could I do by living to be 120? I've enjoyed my life tremendously up to now. Still enjoying it, but that's about all I can do. I'm 00:56:00not physically able to, and I don't expect to get back to where I can do what I have done in the past; I'm just happy that I've had 90 good years.

JL: Don't you think with your experience though, and everything that you've learned, that you can continue to contribute to the world?

EL: Oh, yes, I can think of it as a contribution, but that isn't as easy as you think. Young people particularly aren't much interested in what a man my age has to say.

JL: There's been an intensity of interest in history recently. You've certainly been instrumental in the history of this community and school.


EL: Oh, yes, yes. Yes, I'll admit that I've had a good part in this community. I appreciate that but I really wouldn't want to....I don't mean that I'm in a hurry to move out, nobody is, but I don't think I would get great enjoyment after being, say 100; you said 120--that's just clear out of the question. How many people are there 120 years old, or has ever lived to be 120? I don't know, but there are very few. Of course, in Bible times some of those people are supposed to have lived to be 900 years old, but I think they 00:58:00counted differently than they count now.

JL: Does death frighten you?

EL: No, why would it frighten me?

JL: Because it's unknown?

EL: (laughs) No, it doesn't frighten me at all. I've never worried very much about that. I've never worried about my own future very much. I've had confidence that I would get along. I've had lots of surprises in my life. As I've told you in these interviews, all the jobs I've had have come to me; I've asked for very few of them even the extracurricular ones. I've spoken to 00:59:00hundreds of high school kids, young people, and one of the things I've said, "First of all find something you're going to enjoy doing. Get into a field that you like and then work at it. Do the best job you can and if you're going to be employed get with an organization that has a future. An organization that's large enough so there's a place for people to go and you'll be taken care of." I believe that.

I think I mentioned to you the turnover that I have experienced in organizations 01:00:00that I have been affiliated with. I spent between nine and ten years on my first job with Dean Bexell in the School of Commerce, and when I was made registrar I was the senior member except the dean in a staff of about 15. Now what happened to them? Well, we had some deaths, we had some promotions, [and we had people who] went to other fields of the University, or went to other institutions.

There's always something ahead if you're with an organization that's going places and has got room. I read an article once about this that said there is 01:01:00more room at the top than there is at the bottom, but people who are looking for the top jobs are all at the bottom, (chuckles) You move out of the bottom and you move up; but other things happen to the number that move up, or they don't move, so when you get to the top there is plenty of room. (chuckles)

JL: Would you like to say something about anything else you have done since your retirement?

EL: One of the most interesting ones was an ad hoc committee that Governor Hatfield created to study and make recommendations to him on the reorganization of state government. I think that committee was about, oh, I've forgotten now--maybe 17 or 18 people. We met about every week for, oh, 17 or 18 weeks, 01:02:00and that was a very interesting experience. It was a non--and I wouldn't say nonpolitical--it was, what's the word we use when they are mixed up? Anyway, we were about equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, and past district governors [of each party were] co-chairmen, and so we had a very interesting time and made a lot of recommendations. Not too much ever came of it--I think we 01:03:00knew that when we were doing it--but some things came of it. That was a very interesting time and I enjoyed that very much.

I had an appointment for the reorganization of Benton County. That was a committee of seven or eight appointed here in town by several sources, and we met and did a lot of work for two years. We made a recommendation and it didn't get very far. Rather our particular recommendations or report was practically 01:04:00pigeonholed. I think that was the second and third year I was retired. Since then there have been several things pulled out of that report and enacted.

But I've strongly recommended always that the law enforcement people should be appointed and not elected. The sheriff, for instance, he's supposed to be a fairly well-trained law enforcement officer. I think he should be appointed, not 01:05:00elected by the people. But I found out in serving on this committee that there wasn't any position in Benton County about which the people were as jealous of their prerogatives as electing the sheriff. To this day we are still electing the sheriff. Now why, I don't know. Portland, for example, appoints their chief of police. Every other big city that I know of does but you can't get it done here.

JL: Does it bother you that the young people don't listen to you?

EL: No. No, I don't expect them to listen very much. I used to, no, I don't know as I ever let things bother me very much.


JL: What do you do so things won't bother you?

EL: Well, I just let them bounce off. I figured that I had to do the things that my judgment told me to do and be honest, and if you've done that you've done about all you can do in the scope of what you're trying to do. I've got a lot of satisfaction out of just having that report here in Benton County, and finding that a lot of it had been picked up a few years afterward.

One of the greatest kicks I get now is picking up college literature and stuff or reading the Barometer--! read the Barometer pretty regularly--and it saying that something's been done for the first time, when the thing they are 01:07:00talking about is something that I did myself. I'll bet I've seen that 20 times. At the time I did it I suppose I thought that was the first time, too, but I think probably there had been 20 before me that had done it. (chuckles) They get named [differently and] twisted around a little bit but they are basically the same thing.

JL: What people in your life have influenced your philosophy the most? You mentioned President Kerr and you mentioned before we started taping, Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary.

EL: Well, of course, I've never known Paul Harris. I feel quite well acquainted with him but I've never met him. He was a great man, and since my connection with Rotary, and particularly since I was district governor and got quite 01:08:00well-acquainted with his record, much more acquainted with his record than I was before, he's been quite an influence in a way.

Dr. Kerr's dynamic leadership and his absolute honesty, yet his shrewdness and getting something that he wanted put over, has been a great influence to me. Great influence to me. I've worked with scores of men, I expect I've worked with a hundred men who have had some influence on me, because when you work with a good person you get something from him, but it would be hard for me to name very 01:09:00many people outside of Dr. Kerr and Dean Bexell who have been great influences on me.

We had a man by the name of [Harry S.] Rogers, Rogers Hall on the campus, engineer; I knew him after he joined our staff here. I didn't know him before at all. He was a high caliber man and we got to be very close friends, and I got a lot of things from him that I've admired very much. (pause)

I think very well of Governor Hatfield, Senator Hatfield. I don't know what you 01:10:00know about him, or how you feel about him, or what your politics are, but Hatfield has influenced me some. He's a very much younger man than I. When I first knew Hatfield he was really just out of Willamette University, but I think he's a great man, and I don't agree with him always.

I've got some good friends who take pot shots at Hatfield every once in awhile when we're around. I guess they know it irritates me just a little. It doesn't really irritate me but I try to correct it. I have high regard for Hatfield 01:11:00because he has got lots of ability and he's got a high degree of integrity; he's honest. Now, we've got a military man in Rotary that just despises Hatfield. Hatfield is opposed to the draft; he thinks it's wrong. I don't know as I altogether agree with Hatfield on his viewpoints on the draft. I'm not very strong for the draft, yet I recognize that we may have to have it. I think Russia is still a great threat and that we don't dare get weak militarily.


But I can understand why Hatfield is opposed to the draft and I admire his convictions. Hatfield is a very religious man--strongly religious man. He doesn't believe in war. He's not rabid; he's served in war. He served as an officer in World War II and all that, but he doesn't believe in a very strong military organization. He doesn't believe in training the youngsters all up that way and so on. Now, I know that that is a very strong conviction of Hatfield's--it always has been; and I don't lose faith in him just because we don't see things alike on some of these issues. He's a great man, Hatfield is. 01:13:00I'd like to see him president of the United States. I don't think he will be, but he's been mentioned a good many times.

JL: Have you had much association with President [Robert] MacVicar [president of OSU since 1970]?

EL: Well, yes and no. MacVicar and I have talked and I've been acquainted with him ever since he arrived on the campus, and yet I'm not close enough to him day-by-day and his operations to know him too well. But I think quite well of him. He's a man of very broad views, very broad training, and he's a very 01:14:00industrious sort of a fellow; he's a hard worker. I have a good deal of faith in him.

JL: What is your opinion of Dr. [James] Jensen [president of OSU, 1961-1969]?

EL: Oh, Jensen, he's one of the most congenial fellows I've ever been around. I think the world of him and he's a pretty good executive. He didn't have the....[Did not want to discuss Dr. Jensen further.]

JL: Dean Lemon, can you tell me about the beard controversy at the College?

EL: Well, the first time I was impressed by that incident was at convocation one morning, just as the meeting was called to order by the president.


JL: This was in 1968?

EL: I wouldn't be sure of that. I suppose it was. 1968. A group of the blacks on the campus, I suppose all of them, came in at the northeast door and marched right up to the platform and told the president that they were going to conduct that meeting. They got up on the platform and took over. I've always thought that that might have been a time to have put dealings with the blacks on an entirely different basis than it was for some months after that.

I think I would have listened to them if I had been presiding that day but I 01:16:00would still have presided. I might have said some things, too, but I wouldn't let them think they took over the institution at that moment; no, no, I wouldn't have stood for that. If I'd have gotten hurled off the platform that might have been a good thing.

JL: Did you agree with their complaint?

EL: No. I didn't agree with their complaint, wouldn't agree with it now. They just grabbed on that as a thing that they could make an issue out of, I think. I don't think the fact that that boy was asked by the coach to shave while all the 01:17:00other boys were doing that at that time [was cause for complaint] at all. It would be hard for me to think that today. I still think a football team ought to have pride in it's appearance, and make a good public appearance wherever they are.

JL: Don't you think there was a wider issue involved? [tape speeds up]

EL: Oh, sure, I said they just hit upon that as a chance to open things up, but I would have tried to keep them from opening it up on that kind of a point.

JL: Did things change on campus towards the blacks after this time?


EL: Oh, it was the beginning of a change; there is no question about that. I don't think the blacks were ever mistreated very much around here. I never saw any evidence of that, but I've agreed, for the whole country, that the blacks weren't getting a good shake. I think there's been a great improvement over the past few years all over the United States. I agree with all of that, but I don't agree with the way that they've done it, and I think they made a lot of mistakes.

I don't know why this comes to mind now but I've thought of it many times. Did you ever read Gasoline Alley? (chuckles) Well, I think that's been a pretty good comic; I followed it particularly, because Skeezix was found on Uncle Walt's 01:19:00doorstep about the same time our oldest boy was born. (chuckles) So, I used to read it to him a lot.

They had an old black mammy, you know, and I thought she was depicted as just a lovable character in that Skeezix comic. I thought it was a credit to black people. Yet that was made an issue until they had to take her out of the comic strip, and I think that's an awful mistake of the blacks. They should have cashed in on something like that. She was just a good example of a trait of the black people and a fine character. Now I think where they have been so wrong is objecting on the little things like that.


JL: Did you have any dealings or make any decisions having to do with the minority groups while you were an administrator?

EL: No. No, I never had any. I never had any. I don't think I ever had any at all.

JL: What could they have done differently at OSU during this time? How do you think they should have handled the situation?

EL: Oh, I think they [the blacks] could have gone to some of the administrative officers and made known that they were going to conduct a campaign. I think they would have gotten some cooperation that would have helped them, and I think they would have gotten some advice that would have helped them. I think it could have been done without making a loud noise about it. I remember when they staged a 01:21:00walk off the campus. They all walked down in a block and said they were through with Oregon State and would never come back. Well, they all came back within a few days. It was all showmanship.

But they've made great strides. You've got to hand it to them for that and I think it's all good. That has shown up in athletics more than any place else. They've just about taken over athletics across the country and they do that on merit; and I think that's good. I'd rather see more white boys, to be honest with you, and I'd tell them that. I'd rather see more white boys, more 50-50 deal on the basketball team or the football team and anything else then we've got, but I think the blacks have earned their spurs. I suppose there are some 01:22:00instances where they work their way in some places, but I think we could say that across the country they've earned their spurs in this athletic business, and that's fine. As long as they do it, why do we kick about it. If we can't produce white boys that can compete, well, let the blacks do it. I think that's fine and I think we ought to take that same attitude in a lot of other things.

We make lots of fun of some of the English mistakes, so to speak, that some of our German citizens make. We had a lot of Germans in that Grass Valley settlement up there where I grew up, and I think I've had as much fun [as anyone] with some of the remarks that some of those people made. But it's to 01:23:00their credit [they did as well as they did]. I would have been worse if I'd been in Germany trying to do the same thing, you know.