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Bill Wilkins Oral History Interview, October 8, 2019

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CHRIS PETERSEN: Okay. Today is October 8, 2019, and we are in the Valley Library with Bill Wilkins, Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and former Professor of Economics, and I am very excited to have him here to talk to him about his life and his career at OSU. But we'll begin at the beginning and tell me where you were born.

BILL WILKINS: Paducah, Texas. Paducah, Texas, is the county seat of Cottle County, Texas, and it is located on the southern fringes of the Great Plains.

CP: Is that where you grew up?

BW: Family moved to Austin, Texas, the capital city of Texas, when I was a late 3 years old, maybe four years old. My birthday's in July. The only thing I can definitely remember about that first location house we lived in in Austin, family lived in in Austin, was that a neighbor was sitting outside reading the 00:01:00newspaper, and commented that Will Rogers and Wiley Post had been killed. That puts the date at 1935. We were in Austin by late summer 1935. I don't know exactly when we moved to Austin. We lived in Austin until, the family lived in Austin until I was in the seventh grade.

CP: And then what happened?

BW: Then we moved to Corpus Christi.

CP: And that's where you spent the rest of your upbringing?

BW: Right. Now, the move from Paducah to Austin was motivated by my father needing to make a living for the family and my mother needing to get out of the sandstorms, which plagued that part of the country during those years. She had vivid memories of the sandstorms and how nice it was to get out of it. So, yes, then after Austin I went to junior high school and high school in Corpus 00:02:00Christi. My first two years at college were at Del Mar College, which was a junior college, and the academic part of the junior college in Corpus Christi.

CP: What was your father's line of work?

BW: In my lifetime, he was primarily an insurance salesman-life insurance salesman. He had previously done other things, including he ran a confectionery, I think in Paducah when he was young. But he was essentially a life insurance salesman.

CP: Were your parents college-educated?

BW: No. I'm the first one in our family to complete a college education. I had two sisters. The older one, Roselynn Liberty Wilkins, was born in 1917. Note, the middle name, Liberty, in 1917. The younger one born in 1924, Dorothy Sue 00:03:00Wilkins. Dorothy Sue was the first to start college, but she married a Marine Corps person, man, during World War II and didn't finish college until many years later. I became the second to enter college and the first to actually get a degree.

CP: What do you remember about Austin growing up?

BW: Oh, of course it was the capital city and going to the capital to look around the capital was fun. When you walked into the governor's mansion it had mirrors on both sides of the entryway, and you looked there and you'd see yourself over and over and over again. There was a flood in about, I don't know, 1936, '37, that brought the Colorado River, that's not the one that runs through Arizona, but the Texas Colorado River, brought it up to where it filled, 00:04:00reached, the bottom of the only bridge across the river, which is the Congress Street Bridge, and everything closed down. The water system went under. The dam broke. The water system of the city quit working, and we lived off of artesian wells during that time for water. We'd go to the capitol grounds and pick up artesian well water. It was stinky water, hydro sulfuric kind of smell to it. Other than that, I remember being pleased. Elementary school was fun for me; everything except spelling. Went to what was called PEAS School. PEAS is still there, by the way.


It was old when I went there and it's still there and still operating. Then I went to what was called Allan Junior High School, which was over above the main street of the city. Austin had about 100,000, 120,000, people during the times that we lived there. One high school. Two junior high schools. That kind of thing from what I remember.

CP: Huh. Then how did Corpus Christi compare?

BW: Well, the family moved to Corpus because my father was offered a managerial job with the insurance company, so he moved and then I finished that semester in the seventh grade and moved at midterm to Corpus Christi, and my mother joined us whenever she could. The family in Corpus Christi bought the first house that it had ever owned with a FAA-no that's not right, anyway, the government backed 00:06:00loan that made it possible for modest income people to own their own home. It was a two-bedroom house, one bath, on Topeka Street, 3041 Topeka Street [chuckles]. Corpus was about the same size, but it was the middle of World War II. We moved in '43 or '44. There was a big, big naval air station in Corpus Christi, so the place was heavily into World War II. The junior high school I went to, called Wynn Seale, on the south central part of the city, and I guess it was because I was new to the school, and a new kid in the school I detested the place. I went to summer school to get out of there into high school. There 00:07:00was only one high school in Corpus Christi at that time, Corpus Christi High School. I relished that. I had a great time in high school. My graduating class of 1948 had about 650 people in the graduated class, so being a "W," I had to wait a long time to get my certificate of graduation, my diploma [chuckles].

CP: What were you interested in as a boy?

BW: Cars, as long as I can remember. Cars. While we were still in Austin, a driver came through selling rides in a Ford tri-motor airplane for a penny a pound a passenger to take you a ride around to see Austin at night for a penny a 00:08:00pound. My father paid fifty cents for me to take a ride in that airplane and I've been into aviation ever since. Cars, motorcycles, that sort of thing, occupied my interest. I had worked, I had paid employment, from the time I was about seven on, I realized early on that I needed to help, that if I wanted money to spend I had to earn it, so I had, in Austin, I had a Liberty Magazine route that I went door to door all over that part of town selling Liberty Magazines, I think a nickel a copy, and made forty or fifty cents a week, I guess, there. In Corpus Christi, I worked first at a grocery store as a stock and sacker and floor sweeper, that sort of thing and eventually ended up making 00:09:00fifty cents an hour at the grocery store. I went from that to a paper route. From that paper route for two years, two and a half years, which paid about sixty dollars a month, which was pretty good money for a kid in those days. Eventually I had enough money to buy a motorcycle, a motor scooter and a motorcycle. The motor scooter was a Cushman motor scooter. They were two-wheel vehicles. They came out just after World War II, and my best friend in high school, by the name of Joe Williams, and I rode our motor scooters one summer to San Antonio from Corpus Christi. That's about 175 miles because San Antonio had a roller coaster and an escalator, and Corpus Christi didn't have either.


We stayed overnight and then came back. That was about 1945, '46 maybe, the summer of '46. Then we took off on a motor scooter trip to visit our sisters. My sister lived in Lubbock, Texas, which was at least 500 miles away from Corpus Christi. His lived in Odessa. Odessa has been in the news recently because of the mass shooting and we rode together for a long way to a little burg in Texas called Sterling City, split up, and went by ourselves. When I describe that to mothers these days they all say I wouldn't let my kid do that [laughs]. I got into motorcycles basically because I had wanted to start taking flying lessons 00:11:00and my memory is, and this may not be correct, but my memory is the FAA or its predecessor, changed the rule about soloing, and my memory is that I couldn't-it changed it from 14 years old to 16 years old, so I had two years. That seemed like an eternity to me, so I went to motorcycles for a while. I did reasonably well in school despite all that. After graduating from Corpus Christi High School there was never any question that I wouldn't go to college. I then moved to the junior college. It was affordable. It was there. Could get to it easily. They did good work. They did.

CP: Was your family engaged in politics at all when you were growing up? Was that something that you had a connection to?

BW: My father had been a party, Democratic party officer, in Cottle County, at 00:12:00Paducah. As such he had taken part in party politics. I used to say, and I think it was true, that I could remember things from Texas politics that happened before I was born from the description of talk at the dinner table, specifically of the Fergusons. He was a governor of Texas who was impeached and removed from office and then his wife ran, Ma Ferguson, and became the governor. I never really knew about them but I had memories of them and that politics, which happened before I was born or when I was too little. Then my father made a run 00:13:00for Del Mar governing board. Unsuccessful, but he was interested. We were always interested. We always set up and listened to the election returns however long it took at night. So, yes, the family was politically inclined in a kind of non-candidate sort of way for the most part. My father, by the way, had resigned from his county party office in Cottle County, Paducah, when the county went for Hoover rather than Smith in 1928. He resigned in disgust [chuckles].

CP: You mentioned Del Mar College, so this was your first college experience. You didn't have your parents to serve as mentors as far as that was concerned. But you had this ambition of going to college. What were you hoping to achieve?

BW: It wasn't a choice on my part. That was a family decision.


CP: Okay.

BW: There was no doubt that I was going to go to college. I did, but at that time I was like most boys in South Texas. I thought I wanted to be a petroleum engineer. So, I enrolled, in my mind anyway, in the pre-engineering course at Del Mar, which was basically a Liberal Arts background heavy on mathematics and science. I did reasonably well in that, except calculus proved to be a very major challenge for me. Then after having graduated from Del Mar... well, let's backup. In the sophomore year at Del Mar I became interested in student politics.

In the engineering club I helped get a young woman nominated for homecoming 00:15:00queen, and then I ended up running her campaign. She tied for the club. Then toward the end of my sophomore year the student council election came along, and the nominating committee nominated a guy and a girl, a man and a woman, for the position. It was clearly a setup. The guy, the man, was the son of a wealthy oil-related family. The woman was the other candidate. I took it on myself to nominate, when it came to the nominations for the floor, I nominated the son of the union leader for the student council president. We got into the runoff. The 00:16:00girl, woman, backed, endorsed by a candidate, and we won. I'm sure that caused the chairman of the college great angst. But we won against the family that had a prominent position in town.

Then I worked that summer. That was the summer of 1950. I had a job at what's called Corn Products. The job I had was grain would come in from the harvest and 00:17:00I was one of the ones that would sample it to see what grade of the grain was, weigh it, certify the weight, start the lifts so it dumped into the conveyor belt and whatnot. That sort of thing. Did that all summer. Pretty good job, as a matter of fact. I had had other summer jobs, but that was that one there. Then in June of 1950 the Korean War started. It didn't seem to me to have much to do with my life, because I was already pre-enrolled at the University of Texas, at Austin, and went off to there. Then the war got very serious, as you may remember. It got quite serious. Then MacArthur did the Ichon landing and it went 00:18:00up North. But anyway, at the University of Texas, about mid-semester, that Fall of 1950, the Air Force, an Air Force team of recruiters, recruiting for the aviation cadet program. To qualify for Air Force aviation cadets you needed to have two years of college, which I had. I went because the draft was going full blow house. Nobody knew what was going to happen with the war. I applied for admittance to the Aviation Cadet Program for navigation and qualified. They sent after the original contacts where we did the paperwork and did a paper test, and 00:19:00that kind of thing, which was a preliminary kind of thing, two greyhound buses of guys, men, from University of Texas, went over to San Antonio, to Randolph Air Force Base, for the medical part, medical and psychological part, and I remember that the psychologist doing the psychology interview of the Airforce, they asked me if I knew what was going on in the world. I was able to answer: "Well, this morning's paper says that China has come into the war in Korea." And it had, as you know from history turned the war into something else. I thought World War III had started. Another thing the psychologist asked me is if I liked girls. I said, "Yeah, but I don't know much about them."

Then I qualified for cadets and all I had to do... because there was an 00:20:00overwhelming number of applicants it was a long wait until they had room for me in the cadet program. I dropped out of university. I actually quit going to class. I went to the football games, but I didn't go to class. I shut the university in, and went back and took up the job at Corn Products again and waited for the call to the Air Force. Eventually, it was clear that I wasn't going to get called to the aviation program directly while it was still not a draft program, so I enlisted in May of 1951, enlisted in the Air Force in May of 1951. Went through Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San 00:21:00Antonio, June and July of 1951. Then was assigned to Ellington Air Force Base which is famous because it's the location of the astronaut program. That's where, that area of San Antonio, is where the astronaut program is, the space program is, and that was the location of the aviation training school in those days. I worked as a private first class. Air Force was not yet calling averment. I was always in the black shoe Air Force, but we still had Army uniforms except for the shoes. I worked on the flight line and what's called the alert crew. 00:22:00That's the people who meet transit airplanes at the end of the runway with a Jeep that says on the back of it "follow me." You escort them to their transit parking place, help them unload, whatever they were going to do, then service the airplane: put fuel and oil and whatever else it needs into it.

That place was staffed by sergeants, which was a great eye-opener for me. Those were mostly World War II, I think all were World War II veterans, some of whom had been recalled, some of whom had stayed in. They knew a lot about airplanes. They knew a lot about the Air Force. They knew a lot about life, and they taught me a lot. I learned a lot in that three months until I got into the cadet 00:23:00program. Then the cadet program, I think it's fair to say I excelled. I became one of the leaders in my aviation cadet class, so much so that when we finished the original part of it I was one of the eight top people in the class who had a choice of taking what they wanted for their final part of the cadet program thing. The eight of us went to Mather Air Force Base in California. It's in Sacramento, or was, in Sacramento, California, finished up there where I was commissioned. I was also named a distinguished military graduate, which led me to an interview along with three or four other classmates from the whole class, 00:24:00not just from two of us from the eight, and the only people who got the regular commissions had college degrees. I didn't. That made me decide on the spot that I would spend the required time on extended active duty in the Air Force and get out and get my college degree. That's what I did. I was commissioned and went on back, continued on active duty with the Air Force. So, I was commissioned in 1952, I think '52, 09 was the designation.

I volunteered. The major thing was a program in low navigation and bombing 00:25:00technology which we knew would send us to Korea. I arrived after getting commission in wings and went to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina, for combat crew training. From there, a long home time leave and then survival training at Shaw, at Stead Air Force Base, Reno, Nevada, in January. The first time I ever saw snowshoes. I had to walk on the damn things. Furthermore, it didn't have the tie. I had to fashion my own tie out of a piece of cloth I got off of a parachute. Survived that, and went on to Korea where I flew a combat 00:26:00tour in RB26s, reconnaissance night photo reconnaissance. Finished the required number of combat missions over North Korea, and got my orders back to the United States for the rest of my 3-year commitment and had my 22nd birthday, in that order, in Korea.

CP: What was your role on the airplane?

BW: One pilot was RB26s, it's a twin-engine light bomber, one of the best things that came out of World War II. It was leftover, but an advanced leftover. One pilot and a navigator for the front of the airplane that did the target location 00:27:00and dropped the flash bombs, or flares. That's where I was. My partner navigator was in the back of the airplane keeping the records so that we knew where we were and he could help us find where we needed to go, because he had what's called LORAN back there. Our primary duties were to observe what was happening in North Korea on the roads. By that time the Korean front was basically static warfront. The bomb line, the line of demarcation through North and South was pretty much steady across the whole peninsula. From our side there were flood 00:28:00lights, so the whole front was pointing North or Northeast or Northwest was lighted along the front which got into North Korea was totally dark, and the problem was to find the targets that we were supposed to get pictures of. We photographed all the airports-our squadron-photographed all the airports in North Korea every night, except the ones far forth, which B29s were doing. We didn't go up around Pyongyang. We flew a route that took us, when the clouds were high above you and solid, you could see the lights of Vladivostok, in Russia, reflected off the clouds. You couldn't see the lights, but you could see the reflection on them. Following a railroad track hoping that we could locate 00:29:00an engine and help the intruders, also B26s who carried rockets forward firing guns. We carried flares so we could light the target for them. We photographed strategic positions all across North Korea and we did what's called bomb damage assessments. So the intruder, or the B29s, would claim a target was destroyed and we'd go to where they told us the target was and photograph it to verify. We would typically photograph twice-once where they told us it was and another was where we thought it was because there was a fire there.

All those pictures got processed and it was so cold. I've never been so cold in 00:30:00my life as I was in Korea. The first night there we had flown in from Japan. Came over in a truck and they issued us folding cot and a sleeping bag and we went to tents, the officers were, my company grade officers, they were called, were 8 to a tent, tents like you saw in the television show M*A*S*H, only not so funny. The first night there I set up in the middle in the dark. I set up my cot, got in the sleeping bag, and the Franklin-type stove quit working during the night, and I thought I was going to freeze to death. Then at 00:31:00altitude-5,000'/7,000'-above North Korea, the cockpit would be stationed in the plastic nose where I spent most of my time. It got down very cold indeed, -35/-40 degrees. I wore an electric flying suit the whole time to keep from freezing to death. We also stayed on pure oxygen from the time we took off until we got rid of all of our load because I couldn't see. We were trying to see in the darkness and at altitude you lose oxygen which helps your night vision. I would go on pure oxygen as soon as I could get to it once we got in the combat position. That's enough about the war.

CP: Well you came back to the U.S. Take me through the rest of your tenure of service.


BW: I came back to the United States to Mobile, Alabama, Brookley Air Force Base. It was what was then called the Military Transport Service. The Military Airline, as you put it that way, both passengers and cargo. The squadron I went to was C-124s. That 124 was the first wide-bodied aircraft. It had two floors, two levels. The cockpit was on the second level up above and you could put an intervening level. If you were carrying troops, for example, you could put a floor on the middle of it and carry 250 troops in there, probably. Troops with their equipment and what not. But we flew basically empty airplanes, not floor 00:33:00in them. And we carried cargo. That was the era of the United States encircling the Soviet Union with bases. A typical mission would be from Mobile, either out to Jacksonville, Florida, to Bermuda to the Azores to Africa or Europe, or, up the East Coast to Massachusetts, to New Finland, to the Azores, to Africa or Europe. The first time I went to that airplane went to Casa Blanca, the Air Force base there was still being constructed, under construction. We landed and they wouldn't let us off the runway. We had to park the airplane at the end of 00:34:00the runway because the taxi strips were not capable of holding the airplane. Those kinds of missions continued with trips to other places: Latin America, Puerto Rico, that sort of thing. I stayed there for about almost a year, 10 months, 11 months, then transferred to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio to C-54, which is DC-4, and civilian life four-engine cargo, passenger cargo plane. Was widely used in civilian. And finished out my tour, three years as is required military service, officer service, there. Those missions continued to 00:35:00Europe and Africa, North Africa, but it also added Saudi Arabia.

I made several trips to Saudi Arabia, and after the Durban flu happened they turned the fleet, us around anyway, and we began to go to Tokyo. To get to Tokyo from San Antonio, Texas, in a propellant-driven airplane, the route went: San Antonio, Travis Air Force Base which is San Francisco, to Hickam at Honolulu to Wake Island, to Tokyo, coming back to Midway Island, the famous battle from World War II midway on, Honolulu, San Francisco, San Antonio. It took about 80 hours of flying time and about 8-10 days to make that trip. Made several of 00:36:00those trips during that period of time.

When it was coming time for me to get out of the Air Force off of a continuing, extended active duty, I made a visit to University of Texas again to see about enrolling, and because I had all this travel and observing. Most of the guys would simply stay on base or stay in a hotel, but I had a habit of going out and exploring, so in Tripoli, Li Bai... I was the only one on our crew that went out in downtown Tripoli, and other places I did the same sort of thing. I went out to look around. I was startled by the prevalence and depth of poverty which one saw. I decided that the three places, four places that did not seem heavily 00:37:00affected by that were the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. They all seemed to be doing well, and in my naiveté, I thought it was the business community, business that made the difference.

I was looking to pursue a degree in business. I went to the University of Texas to possibly enroll there. Whoever it was that was interviewing me told me I had to live in an approved supervised place on campus. I said thank you, left, and went to Texas A & I in Kingsville, Texas, met with the dean of the college. It's a small college. Kingsville's in South Texas; the home of the King Ranch and the 00:38:00college. I met with the dean of the college, rather than a functionary, the second in command of the college. I said, "I have to go to Africa before I come back and go to school here, but I want to look for a place to live. Do you care where I live?" He said, "If you can get back from Africa in time to, I don't care where you live." So, I rented an apartment and went to Africa and came back and enrolled in the business program at Texas A & I. they didn't know the problem existed, the problem that motivated me to go to business. That academic business that represented Texas A & I didn't know the problem existed much less what to do about it. I took my BBA, then Caroline and I met. You might be 00:39:00mentioning that if she didn't tell you. But anyway.

CP: Very much so. I'm curious before that what was it like coming back to the university setting having been away for so long and having had these experiences and being around other people who were in a different mode of life.

BW: I found it easy, I guess. Academia was at that stage in my life was cut and dry. It was easy to be the best study in the class, I found, at least in grades. I had a good time my first year until I got the BBA. I didn't spend a lot of time on campus at all, just went to class, did things and went off back in Corpus Christi which is about an hour and a half drive away.


There were lots of us veterans at that time. It was a kind of easy experience, because there were a lot of people that shared the same kind of thing I do. One of the best friends that I made was an Army veteran. Most of them had not been officers. Most of them were enlisted. One of my friends that I made there in Kingsville had been an Army enlisted who had got trapped in No Man's Land for 48 hours, so he had special kinds of experiences. My best friends from Corpus Christi, who had all gone into the military the same time I did were all there, except one, the guy that did the motor scooter trips with me had gone to West Point and had graduated in class of '53 from West Point. But I had friends from 00:41:00Corpus Christi High School and what not that, we were there, they and I, the same time I was, so it was easy.

My father and I were precinct delegates to the county Democratic convention. That would have been '56, spring of '56, I guess, summer of '56. I managed with his help to get selected to be a delegated to the state Democratic convention. The fight there was who was going to control the Democratic party of Texas for the presidential election in 1956 and again in 1960. The convention was in Ft. 00:42:00Worth. By that time my younger sister and her family were living over in Jacksboro, Texas, which was an hour and a half drive away so I spent the nights with them then went back to the convention with them. I sided with the group that Lyndon Johnson and Speaker Rayburn. I sided with that group, not with their group. That happened also to be a group that was considered fairly conservative but not as conservative as the previous ones in 1952 and '56. In 1952 the Democratic party of Texas had endorsed Eisenhower, not Stevenson. That was 00:43:00because of the way the governor was controlling the party. I was voting with Johnson who was going to take over the party if he could. And I did so.

Anyway, when I came back Caroline who was reporter for the student newspaper, called The South, actually, was assigned to interview me. That impressed me that the student newspaper was at least that interested, but to be truthful about it, my delegate being a delegate to the state Democratic, to the convention was more impressive to the faculty than it was to any of the students, particularly the Ag faculty there. They were all agog that one of their students had been a delegate to that convention. That started Caroline and I, that interview. Also, 00:44:00I got the BBA, I had taken a class from a professor of Economics. His name was Joe Brown, a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, which was headquarters of a man by the name of Clarence, C.E., Ayres, whose economics came from Veblen; his pragmatism came from Dewey. It was the branch of economics was called Institutionalism, or Institutional Economics. He was really the intellectual head of it. That class from Brown made sense to me made sense to me in the way that the business school didn't. At that point, I switched my interested and 00:45:00stayed over for a year of graduate school there at Texas A & I.

CP: Connecting to the interest in poverty, specifically?

BW: Well, and development. Poverty may have fell behind, per se, because the problem was economic development and the institutional economics appealed to me because it had a theory of how economic development happens. Caroline and I were dating at that time, and with her help I became of the student newspaper, called The South Texas. I had never taken a journalism class in preparation to become editor. The faculty sponsor, there was only one journalism professor there, gave me a textbook and I read it between summer school and the time fall term 00:46:00started. I read that textbook and that was my sole preparation for being the editor of the paper. But that was a good experience. I had a good time with that.

CP: You also apparently quite quickly made a decision to change your career trajectory, if I'm understanding you correctly. Because you had received a business men's degree, essentially, and then after one year of master's study all of a sudden, you're on the track to become an academic.

BW: That's right. I had switched my interest to economics. Caroline and I decided to get married and that meant I had to get a job. The economics department at Texas Tech College, it was called in those days, in Lubbock, Texas, was looking for an instructor from Joe Brown's program, and they hired 00:47:00me. We got married, went to Galveston on our honeymoon, and then packed everything we owned in a trailer and started to Lubbock, Texas, which is in the north part of the state back on the plains. I took the position of instructor in economics.

CP: With essentially one year of experience.

BW: Yeah.

CP: [Chuckles].

BW: I never worked harder in my life than I did that first year trying to stay ahead of the students. I was assigned 4 classes. Three of what's called Principles of Economics, which is one that is taught everywhere, and one special class that they did-the sort of history and institutions of the economy. The economics department was part of the business school there. That class was 00:48:00required for business freshman and it was in a 202-seat auditorium and the place was full. The first time I lectured to any class was to 202 students and I took my notes in and lectured and it lasted about 35 minutes and in the next 15 minutes I told them everything I knew about everything, and I never went back to a class the rest of that year without having more notes than I would need for a 50-minute lecture. But we didn't like Lubbock. It didn't take us long to decide we wouldn't stay in Lubbock. So, 9 months there. I applied for graduate training around the United States. I was accepted at the University of Texas and some 00:49:00other places, and we moved back to Austin. That was '58. We moved back to Austin in '58. Started in summer term of '58. Also, that summer the guy who had won the student body presidency at Del Mar, that I had nominated, had finished his degree and then went to work for Lyndon Johnson in Washington, D.C. He came back and was running a race for state representative that summer. I enrolled at Texas and went to the University of Texas in Austin, which was the only University of Texas in those days. I went to summer school there but we also helped Ronald with his campaign. He upset an incumbent.

He was a very skilled politician, and he had learned tactics from the Johnson 00:50:00people and he upset the incumbent. Then I started at the University of Texas and was a teaching assistant that fall. Together we set a goal that Caroline would help financing by taking a job at the Texas legislature as a staff assistant of a guy we helped to get elected. Those were very good paying positions at that time-$10 a day, 30 days a month, so $300 a month. I was in a paid position as a teaching assistant and we bought a house and worked our way around that that 00:51:00whole time that first year. Graduate school was wonderful, I thought. I was absolutely intrigued with graduate school at the University of Texas.

CP: You developed an interest in Latin America at this time.

BW: Well, having grown up in South Texas you couldn't help but be interested in Latin America, Hispanic America and what not. Then having visited in the Air Force having visited a number of Latin American countries, I was interested in that. One of the things I did... I specifically was interested in the effects of what's called the Texas Railroad Commission. It set the price, the world prices 00:52:00for oil, petroleum, were set by the Texas Railroad Commission. They would vary the amount of oil being produced in Texas to maintain the price for a barrel of oil that the industry wanted it to be, and I was specifically interested in how that process worked on the economy of Venezuela. That's what my research or the doctoral part was about, was how that interacted. I think my doctorate or dissertation may have been the first scholarly mention of OPEC, because I did a paragraph or two of the possibility of an organization like OPEC petroleum 00:53:00exporting countries would take the place of the Texas Railroad Commission as the controller of world price. That came to pass.

CP: Indeed, it did.

BW: But after we moved to Oregon.

CP: Uh-huh. You ran for office during this time as well.

BW: I did. The Economics department was gracious enough to give me what's called a fellowship. It paid about the same as the student teaching assistantship but you didn't have to teach to do it. So, I got one of those, and after consulting with the department faculty I filed for state representative in an open seat in Corpus Christi. We ran a pretty good campaign but I ran third place on the 00:54:00runoff. We found another thing, the Texas legislature had changed the date of the election from summer to spring, that was to facilitate Lyndon Johnson's run of the presidency. At the same time, they changed the law so that anybody in Texas could run for two offices at the time, so long as one of them was President of the United States. Anyway, that upset the plans. It meant that I had to run while going to school, rather than in the summertime. Anyway, I ranked third and there were seven candidates, one of whose sole job was to attack me.

The guy that eventually won that became a very good friend, became our family 00:55:00attorney after a while too. Then Caroline went to work for him when he came to the office, to the legislature. I hung out, I didn't have any reason to be there, except interest. But it allowed me full privileges because I had all these contacts. I spent a lot of time in the Texas legislature, listening, consulting, that sort of thing.

CP: So you finished the degree and Caroline told me that you were looking West.

BW: I had, after the experience with the election, I took, can you picture the tower at the University of Texas?

CP: Yes, I can.

BW: Where the shooting took place?

CP: Yep.

BW: Well, the teaching assistants had offices on the 19th floor of that building 00:56:00and we were two of us to an office. One of my office mates was Azumi Taniguchi, whose family had been uprooted and moved to an internment camp in Crystal City, Texas. And then he volunteered to join the Army as an interpreter and came back. Azumi was my office mate for a while and good friend. A man I admired a lot. He was brighter than I was, I think. Anyway, he was very good. Then I got carrel in the University of Texas Library system. That tower is basically the library. 00:57:00Like this one, only it's vertical. That also, we were able to get Caroline permission to go into the carrels even though she was an undergraduate. I wrote my dissertation. Got it drafted. Got it agreed to by my major professor. Then the question was how are you going to get it done? Well, we ran out of time. I had gotten a job here. Charles Friday, Chuck Friday, was chairman of the department here. Great, great guy. Very much a man of interests in lots of things of the university. He offered the job to me, site unseen, over the telephone. He offered $6,500 for the nine months. I had an offer from a university, college. Of course, it was college here then, at that time. 00:58:00Actually, I'll come back to that. Anyway, I had an offer from another that was $700 more than that. I told Chuck that we couldn't come for $6,500. He countered about a week later and offered me guaranteed nighttime employment. There's a night class over in Salem. So, we thought about it and took that job. So, we moved in to do that.

CP: It sounds like the drive itself was pretty interesting.

BW: It was.

CP: [Chuckles].

BW: I have written down that. One of the things when we came here we moved into, we were fortunate in a number of ways. We moved into an apartment. We were the first occupants of the apartment, which was basically at the corner of 9th and 00:59:00Beca, Buxton Apartment. Mr. Buxton had had a mill, lumber mill, which had been forced to close because the post office went in on the area where his mill was. But he was one of the movers and shakers in town, and we got to know Mr. Buxton because of that. Then the carpool that I mentioned, that was Chester Garrison. Do you know about Chester Garrison?

CP: English faculty?

BW: He was faculty. He was also a member of the 82nd Airborne during World War II. You have in your collection here at the library, at least one copy because I donated it when we moved away, of his book, Ivy-League Paratrooper. Chester was 01:00:00well-established at Oregon State and Chester had been in the 82nd he had parachuted into Sicily, moved over Italy and fought in the mountains of Italy and then back for rehabilitation and leave and was in England at the time of the Normandy Invasion. So, he didn't go to the 82nd at that time, but he parachuted into what was the Bridge Too Far movie story was that, I think Mark something was the name of that drop, and went through all that and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, so second time. Anyway, a real hero in my view, but he was 01:01:00well-established here.

CP: And a close colleague of Bernard Malamud, as well. Chester Garrison.

BW: Yes, yes indeed.

CP: Did he ever tell any stories about Malamud?

BW: Not to my memory. Dave Finnigan, also from the English Department was in that carpool. He was well-established here and was working, I think he was still working on his Ph.D. at the University of Oregon at that time. There's more to that story, too, the relationships we had with the University of Oregon. Berlan was also in that carpool, that first term. Berlan was the son of E.B. Lemon.

CP: E.B. Lemon.

BW: Well-established and so, and Willie Unsoeld was the fourth one in that carpool with me, so there were five of us in the carpool. Unsoeld was in the Religious Studies Department at that time and he later made world history by 01:02:00climbing the wrong side of Everest, that sort of thing.

CP: Can you tell me more about him? He's no longer alive.

BW: Well, that basically I knew him only through that carpool. He was lively, but the whole group was lively in that thing. He would talk about it, talk about the mountain climbing. Not much about religion, as a matter of fact. But about mountain climbing he did. Then the second semester, Peter Anton took his place in the carpool second term. Peter was a professor of philosophy. Very opinioned, very forceful kind of guy. So that carpool gave me a great education about Oregon State that I couldn't have gotten any other way.


CP: This was to Salem?

BW: It was two from English, one from Education... and teaching over at Salem let us meet Salem kinds of people.

CP: Let's back up a little bit and talk about your initial impressions of Oregon State when you first got here.

BW: Absolutely delighted. The place was beautiful. The apartment was convenient and easy to get to and what not. We did have some interesting things about that because when we got here you couldn't rent an electric typewriter in Corvallis. You couldn't rent a bed in Corvallis. So, we ended up the first few days borrowing a bed from Chuck Friday's mother, which was 3/4 or maybe even a 01:04:00single. We went shopping over in Salem to Meyer and Frank, bought a king size bed, a Texas size bed it was called, and a suit. And the bed came delivered with a part missing, so the guy couldn't get it set up. I tried for a while but part of the frame, they left out one part of the frame so we couldn't get the bed set up. The suit came back to me unsewn [laughs]. That led us to meet Jerry Frank, the Meyer & Frank family. He not only fixed the problem for us, he gave us a refund.

Anyway, that was how we first met Jerry Frank. We were really lucky. I was 01:05:00astonished because what we knew about Oregon State University was what we read in the catalogue. All the correspondence that came to me was on the letterhead, was School of Humanities and Social Sciences. I didn't know that it had a Lower Division until I got here. The Lower Division... it had occurred to me that a place like Oregon State would be split as it was, that had implications for our stay here which were very real. Not that I was deceived by anybody, but we were not totally informed. That was certainly the case. One of the reasons we came 01:06:00here so was that Caroline could get a master's degree in English, Journalism, and History. Well, we'd read the catalogue. We knew that that was possible, we thought. They refused to let her do that. She met with the person in charge of that program and was turned down. I met with the Dean of Humanities, the H & SS, Dan Colby, who was an English professor and pointed out to him the language in the catalogue. And he said, "You're like a Philadelphia lawyer." So, when an offer came along during the second year, an offer came along to go to Mexico to 01:07:00teach in that program where she could get her master's degree as part of the compensation package, we took it.

CP: Sure. Tell me a bit more about, though-this was an important moment in the history of the university. It became a university.

BW: Say again.

CP: It became a university the year that you were there, and Liberal Arts sort of became a thing that same year.

BW: Oregon State became a university the same year we arrived, but we didn't know that... well, we didn't know that it had, well, we did know that it was Oregon State College, but everybody was changing the names during that time.

CP: Did it feel like an exciting moment?

BW: Absolutely. Absolutely. The trip out here was exciting, because I had been supplementing our graduate school income with Air Force Reserve. I stayed in the Air Force Reserve in flying units most of the time. I wasn't while we were at 01:08:00Texas A & I not in a flying unit while we were at Texas Tech, but back at the University of Texas in the graduate program I stayed in a flying unit called Navigator Training Squadron. The theory was that if the nation went to war, the civilian reserve fleet of airplanes would be pulled into the Air Force and the active duty navigators would go to supplement the airline crews because airlines didn't have navigators, and people like me in the navigation training squadron would go to fill in behind them with the Air Force crews. But on the way out we did a weekend at Navigator Training Squadron, which by that time was in Dallas. We overnighted the weekend there, which provided five days of active duty pay 01:09:00eventually and then started coming to Oregon and we drove out sort of directly west through New Mexico, all the way to California, through Las Vegas, the first time Caroline or I had even been to Las Vegas. Well, maybe I'd been to Las Vegas one other time, but basically not. All the way to California through San Francisco and then up Highway 1. Innocent as we were. Those coastal highways in Texas are flat and easy. Highway 1 is not flat and easy [laughs]. We entered Oregon, spent the first night in Oregon, in Grants Pass. But anyway, being here 01:10:00was exciting.

CP: Mm-hmm. And it was an exciting time here for the university as well, I'm sure.

BW: Oh sure, for the football season. I had gotten, in Texas I had gotten, in Austin we had gotten, I had a gotten a letter welcoming me to faculty from the athletics department offering me season tickets for football games. I wrote Chuck Friday and said, buy our tickets with the department. Everybody in Lubbock, at Texas Tech and at Austin, all sat together in departments. Turned out we were the only ones who had tickets to the football games [laughs]. First game that year was in Portland at Municipal Stadium, and so we drove up and it 01:11:00turned out there were two Heisman trophy winners playing in that game: one from Syracuse, I guess it was Syracuse, and Oregon State, Baker of course the next year became the Heisman trophy winner. It was an exciting time, and the teaching load, Chuck, Dr. Friday, did not assign me an upper division course that first term. So, I taught what by that time was very familiar with me, the principles of economics, and then started teaching the international course the winter term of that year. From that, my teaching assignments evolved. I also joined, I interviewed, went up and flew with the only reserve flying unit, Air Force 01:12:00Flying Unit in Oregon was at Portland International Airport's where their base was and they were an Air and Sea Rescue Unit flying SA-16s, it's a flying boat. I flew with them one time and decided that I didn't want to do that and furthermore, I didn't have the time to commute back and forth to Portland two weekends a month. It just couldn't be done. So, I didn't do that. And I joined the local unit, called the Little Red Schoolhouse Unit that met every night, every Monday night, during the academic year in the ROTC, the Air Force ROTC rooms, which in those days were on the second floor of Gill Coliseum. That was 01:13:00another interesting thing for us, because the people there one of them was Whitney Ball, Whit Ball. The Ball was very prominent here. So, I met and made friends with Whit Ball.

CP: He was a physician, is that correct?

BW: Pardon?

CP: Was he a physician?

BW: No, his father was a physician.

CP: Okay.

BW: He was an insurance man. He sold general insurance. The Ball & Church Company. The Ball Studio's downtown. We saw it.

CP: Yep.

BW: I don't know whether Peter Ball is still doing insurance here or not, but Whit died. But Whit was a part of that unit. I met Lloyd Anderson, who was a company tax assessor was a part of that unit. The only Democrat elected to any office in Benton County at that time. So, we met them that way too. So, in a 01:14:00sense that was for us a way to meet people in the community which we wouldn't have met had we not been in that. You're going to ask me later on about presidencies. A.L. Strand and his wife had set up a tradition of greeting all faculty at a reception which was mandatory for everybody to go to the reception. Well, we went, Chuck and Gene Friday were our host to go to that and Governor Hatfield and Jensen, I can't recall his first name now.

CP: Jim?

BW: Jim Jensen and his wife were... so the Hatfields and the Jensens were greeting everybody and shaking hands. By the time we got there Hatfield had left 01:15:00but we were in line with Ingalls, the editor and publisher of the Gazette Times and a major force in the community. Chuck introduced us to him. We had subscribed for the Gazette Times while we were still in Austin after we took the job. We had two months or something like that, so we subscribed for the Gazette Times and the Barometer. We had sent to so we could begin to learn something about the area.

CP: It came in the mail.

BW: Yeah, it came in the mail. Gwil Evans was the editor, I think was the editor, or at least was prominent on the-Do you know Gwil?

CP: I do.

BW: He was prominent on The Barometer staff, if not the editor. I thought he was the editor. I think he was. Anyway, that night one of us told Ingalls that we 01:16:00had been reading his paper for months. He asked what we thought about it, and I said by Texas standard it's on the New Frontier: Kennedy. And he a week or so later he wrote a feature called "Shark putts, P-U-T-T." and he quoted me and finished it off by saying, "Take that you liberals" [laughs]. But anyway, we met Bob Ingalls and had that contact early on in our career here. So, all that was fortunate. We went back to Texas in the summer, so we came here in '61, summer of '62.


One of the best, the best-known development economists at that time, economic development economists was on the University of Texas Benjamin Higgins. And he wanted to use part of my dissertation, and a contract that he had gotten was some kind of funding agency. So, we went back so I could work with his group to do that. Then we came back and gave up the apartment and took a house that was advertised and the address was 1 Hilltop. The house was just below the clubhouse, the country club. The owner of the house that we had the lease from was Barry Woodcock. The Woodcocks were a banking family in Corvallis going back 01:18:00several generations and he was the oldest son, I think, of her, son. His younger brother or younger half-brother, I'm not quite sure which, was in that Air Force training unit, the Air Force reserve unit with me too. So, we got to go to the Woodcocks, because we leased that house or rented that house for a while. The Woodcocks would come up to visit and check on the house from time to time. So we became good friends with them. She was a North Carolina or South Carolina belle. He, by now, I think had Alzheimer's. At the time, we thought it was the rest of him having been gassed during World War I. Anyway, they'd come up and spend an 01:19:00hour or so talking with us in that house. The house itself was very influential. It was a Swedish log cabin, in effect. It had no interior walls except around the bathroom, and it had a sunken bathtub. When we built our house on Roosevelt several years later we used a member of the architecture department here on campus, but that's the design we copied.

CP: How were you received as a Texan here? As somebody who came from Texas, you and your wife, Texas born and bred, how were you received?

BW: Over at the night school over in Salem, one of the students they were all older than average students. They were people taking night courses for whatever. 01:20:00One of them commented on my Texas accent, the way I pronounced the word: y-e-l-l-o-w, he commented on that [laughs]. But basically, we were welcomed. There were a lot of Texans from Texas A & M, there were several of those. Caroline joined, was part of the New Congress group and her sponsor, one of the hosts, hostesses for her was a Texas person. Texas was not an... I do remember them saying they didn't know there were any liberals from Texas. But no difficulty with that.

CP: Tell me about the state of the department in those early years.

BW: It was young and vibrant. Chuck was assembling a department after his own 01:21:00intellectual bent, which meant it was pretty much institutionalist, which I mentioned earlier, he was a Ph.D. from Colorado and had that kind of inclination. There were senior people in the department. The previous chairman had come in the 1930s. He was still around and teaching. I can't recall his name right now. I should be able to. The department was basically young. Ze'ev Orzech had joined two or three years ahead of time, all but a dissertation graduate from Berkeley.

CP: Married to a woman who made a big impact at OSU.


BW: Oh yes, indeed. Matter of fact, when I became active provost for the academic affairs here, I brought her in to central administration to take over the undergraduate part. Spangler used her for something else, but she moved up because she was a very able person. Lafayette Harter had joined from Stanford in teaching Labor Economics. Ken Patterson had joined from Nebraska, all within the last two or three years before I got here. I had as a newbie, had not yet been in possession of my Ph.D., I had to share an office with a graduate student from Ag Econ who was teaching the Principles of Economics for us. He became a good 01:23:00friend. I can't recall his name right now, I'm sorry to say, but I'll come up with it I guess. So, the department was basically young and vibrant, out to make a name for itself.

CP: Was there a close connection to Ag Econ?

BW: Yes, there was, formally anyway. In what had been lower division, economics and psychology were the only two departments that had graduate courses to teach. Economics because it taught the theory courses for Ag Econ, and psychology because they taught the theory courses for education. So, we had that formal 01:24:00connection with Ag Econ, and my personal connection was I had an office mate who was a graduate student over there, one of their better, and his major professor was Emery Castle.

CP: Major figure.

BW: Major figure. Emery gave me my first chance to do a professional paper as an economist, to something called the "Farm Form," which he ran. I did a paper expressing my take on where development economics needed to go, or was going as I understood it or whatever. Anyway, so, yes, we had that. But there was also tension between the two departments. Their philosophical, intellectual bent was 01:25:00much more conservative than ours was, and that led to some difficulties across the disciplines. Emery was not chair at that time. A man by the name of Burton Wood was chair over there at the time. Chuck Friday and I had an unpleasant meeting with him about what economics should be and could be. But they had a faculty which was very able and very skillful. So, we had a mixed relationship. Some admiration but some jealousy and some feelings that they weren't on the right track.

CP: I guess more broadly thinking, what was it like to be a Liberal Arts faculty 01:26:00memory at this time period at Oregon State. Or what was the sense of that amongst your colleagues?

BW: Well, the faculty as a whole was still dominated by people who had been here through the Lower Division years. They knew their place at the university and it was not full participant in the university. They were teachers, they were not researchers. For the most part, they were comfortable being undergraduate instructors and basically not more. They did take part in the affairs of the university, the faculty governance for example. But they clearly were not apart, a fully-functioning part, of the great land grant research university. That was 01:27:00kind of uncomfortable for me.

CP: How long did that stay the case, do you think?

BW: I'm not sure about that. I do know that while I was dean of Liberal Arts, I signed a retirement contract with the last members of the Lower Division faculty.

CP: Wow, so they were around for a while.

BW: In the college, anthropology, economics - anthropology I think were most ambitious and pushy. Geology, geography really, geography was a hybrid. Part of them were in liberal arts and part of them were in science so they were an exception. They had graduate programs of their own. I didn't mention that, but 01:28:00we taught these seminars at the graduate level I did anyway for them for their graduate students but they were an exception in the college. Because they did have their own graduate program. English department was big and large and none of them had published a whole lot. The first day Chuck was showing me around campus, Chuck Friday, Dr. Friday, we went through the bookstore. The book section was on the lower floor in those days. You could walk through without going back to where the trade books were and he said wait here for me. He went in and bought a copy of A New Life. I waited, everybody was talking about that 01:29:00book, of course, at that time, and he and Gene, his wife, read it I presume. And then I know it went to the dean of the college, school it was called, and then finally came to us, six months, maybe later. It came with an annotation of who the characters were. It must have been a piece of paper but not on the book itself because when I got that copy back many years later it wasn't there. But it was annotated when we got it. I bought a copy of the book and sent it to my mother in Texas, who by that time was a widow.


Her response after she read it was come home from that awful place [laughs]. So, the English department - and English had a dichotomy. There were parts of the English department that were ambitious and scholarly, parts of it were simply service. But a big, big, big part of it was simply service. History was also mixed. They hired George Carson as their chair. George was a first-class scholar and an interesting man. He in turn eventually hired Bill Williams. And you're going to ask me about Bill Williams sometime, I think. So, history had some of that dynamism that was missing. Of the social science departments, political 01:31:00science and of course geography is over there on its own, political science and economics were sort of partners and forward-looking you'd say. Sociology was not. Sociology was simply there. The humanities. Warren Hovland dominated the faculty of Religious Studies and of humanities and Warren was a wonderful man, there's no doubt about that in my mind. Philosophy had good people, but they were not leaders. Foreign languages: Walter Kraft was the chief there. Does his name come to mind?

CP: No.

BW: Well, Walter and his wife were entrepreneurs in the literal sense of the 01:32:00word. They were landowners. Much of what is now the corner of Circle Drive and 29th Street, the southwest part of that, that whole hill, much of it belonged to them, to the Krafts. When the Woodcock, the old Woodcock house stood downtown next to the courthouse, it was one block over, it was built the same era as the courthouse, multi-stories, classic 19th century design. When it came on the 01:33:00market the Krafts bought it and moved it out on the river. But anyway, Walter dominated the language department. I'm not even sure what it was called, modern languages or foreign languages, in those days. His field was German. Who am I missing under the humanities?

CP: Did you know Betty Lynd Thompson at all? Betty Lynd Thompson?

BW: No.

CP: She was in modern dance, she was there at the same time I think.

BW: No, I didn't know her. I did know the music department people and the theater. We became fans of the theater. The theater was in Mitchell Hall.

CP: Mitchell Playhouse, yeah.

BW: Yeah, Mitchell Playhouse. Jumping ahead, one CLA Day the first faculty 01:34:00meeting of the year, just before we started it, Ben Bennett and the set designer came to me and said our theater's been condemned [laughs]. That's way in the future, but... that area. So, the theater, it was part of speech communication. Theater attracted our attention. Speech did not so much. I don't remember them being significant players.

CP: Why don't we talk about Mexico?

BW: Sure.

CP: So, you were here for two years and you went to Mexico.

BW: We did. I went on leave without pay. Dr. Friday did not want me to resign. 01:35:00He wanted me to go on leave without pay, which I did. We had moved to the house at 1 Hilltop and a new dean had come in, so we had a dean, a sociologist, joined us from Stanford. So that changed. I got this opportunity to go to Mexico and we decided to do it and we went, the college there was called Originate. It was set up after World War II as a place for veterans who had experience and wanted to continue their experience outside of the United States to go to school in American school. It was called Mexico City College. It changed its name to 01:36:00University of Americas, but it had been there, it was at 16 kilometers from the Zócalo in downtown Mexico City on the road to Toluca. Dieciseis kilómetros to Toluca. I went to be part of the economics department. I taught everything. it was a small department. I think there were three of us in the department. That was a great experience for us. I lectured in English. Caroline was taking courses in English but also in Spanish. We worked on our Spanish some there. She got pretty good. I got to where I could get the car fixed and order meals and 01:37:00occasionally help with the translation. It was a very exciting intellectual experience for us, for me and I'm sure for Caroline too.

We took a place to live in a casita, a little house, of an American couple. He was a World War II B-17 pilot who worked for a chemical company. He was the Latin American manager for a chemical, a U.S. chemical company. Insecticides, planticides, whatever. They had a layout fenced and kept servants' quarters and a small house, and we rented the small house from them. You come off the main 01:38:00highway from Taluka on a dirt backroad, honk the horn, when you got over there the gate would be open. One of the Mexican hands would have opened the gate. Bruce was a Chairo. Mrs. Lowblock was Puerto Rican by origin, and they helped introduce us to life in Mexico ex-patriots, which we were clearly. The experience at the university was fun. I taught almost everything that they had that needed teaching and we spent, we were good friends with a couple that headed the business department and the four of us plus their little girl made it 01:39:00a point of exploring Mexico as two couples. We went all over Mexico and we drove back and forth to Texas several times. So we learned a lot about Mexico and life in Mexico. I remember one time going to a tourist hotel and stopping at De la Sal, which is a tourist town and had a spa. Hot springs and hot mud bath and that sort of thing. We stayed at a Mexican little motel the four of us. We walked into that place and the wife of the other couple, who was British, Scottish actually, said "a prize to whoever hears the first Spanish." [laughs]


But that was rare in our experience. We were basically living off the economy when we were out traveling. Had a great time. The university came along, it was accredited by the accrediting organization that accredits the school in Texas, and that's called Southwest or something like that. So, I became part of the accrediting process there too. That gave us another kind of experience to take part and learn more about Mexico and it was a great experience for us. Made good friends. We decided not to stay. We could have stayed. We decided not to. We wanted to come back to Oregon. I wanted to come back to Oregon State. Caroline 01:41:00finished her degree. We worked like crazy. She worked like crazy. She had typed my dissertation, as I said you couldn't rent an electric typewriter in Corvallis, so we went to Portland to rent an electric typewriter. The University of Texas required it to be typed on a device, a sheet, that would then run through a printing process. It was not mimeograph, it was a special printing process. I've forgotten what it's called. Couldn't get them in Corvallis, so we had to get them from Texas, I think. Maybe we were able to get them from Portland. Then in Mexico I helped type her Master's thesis [laughs]. But we did that on a portable Smith & Wesson portable typewriter. So, it had its good 01:42:00points and bad points.

CP: When you were at Mexico, that's when President Kennedy was assassinated.

BW: Yes. I was in my office on the university campus, which was a cavernous placed, unheated. A student who was Texan, undergraduate student who was Texan, came running in and said, "Dr. Wilkins, the president's been shot." I found Caroline in the library. I think that's where she was, or maybe I got her out of class, and we got in his car and he took us at high speed back down to the center of the city to an apartment which he had rented, and we listened on 01:43:00short-wave radio. You're not old enough to remember short-wave radio, but it modulates, comes in clear and then drops off and high and low and that's the way we first got the news, was on the modulation of a short wave radio, on a portable radio which he had in his apartment. After about three or four hours he took us back to the university where we could get our car and we went back to the Lowblocks, where we were living. They greeted us with great compassion. They thought we were maybe boycotting them because they were Republicans. They invited us into watch on their television. We didn't have one, they did. The commentary for the first 24, 36 hours was all in English until the Mexican 01:44:00networks could get their people to Dallas, or wherever they went. Then it switched to Spanish. So, we watched the first part of all that business on American television which is piped in or pirated, I'm not sure which, in New Mexico. Then the last part, including when Harvey Oswald was killed, we were watching in Spanish. The commentary was in Spanish. Lots of comments from Mexican people. I don't think I ever met one Mexican who believed it was a solo kill.

The people we knew in Mexico tended to be sportsmen. Anyway, that was a very 01:45:00telling period in our lives. I could remember telling in class, because we met, it was a down time I guess in the university in the morning. But then we started back up and I remember talking to the class about it, which were largely U.S. students. There were Mexicans in the class and other Latin Americans in the class, but it was largely American students there for a year abroad kind of experience. I remember telling them they could expect Lindon Johnson to move to the left as fast as he could [laughs]. That turned out to be pretty much the case.

CP: I think the last major topic I'd like to cover today is some of your research as a faculty member in economics.


BW: I started out publishing a couple papers in Latin American kind of things. Gradually since we were way away from Latin America here, almost no contact with that and no contact with oil, so that part of my career started to disappear. I moved to transportation, got interested in transportation and eventually became part of the transportation Research Institute where I did general aviation policy. We did a number of conferences here and that sort of thing. I had contacts with the regional office of FAA as part of that process. We were working together to put together training sessions for them. My professional 01:47:00interests became aviation policy. I did not publish widely in it, but I did lots of outreach kind of work in aviation policy.

CP: What was "The Economist of the New Frontier?"

BW: That came the first year. Caroline and I worked out the idea, the idea I guess came to me, that because there was lots of attention to the number of economists and the degree of economic interest in the administration, so the idea was to put together a book which would represent the thinking of the economists who were in high policy positions in the Kennedy administration. We 01:48:00did that. Got permissions from all that. Caroline did the typing. Chuck and I did the organization. He insisted that since it was my idea that I be the lead editor on it. We published it with Random House. I got the first copy the day after the assassination in Mexico. It was sent to me and I got it the day, within a week anyway of the assassination. The book died on the streets of Dallas. It's listed still. You still could find it listed and what-not. We had two problems with getting permissions: Galbraith didn't want to give us 01:49:00permission. He said he was tired of people reproducing his stuff. I wrote back to him and said beyond a fair amount of compensation that we make if there's any profits on this your proportion of that, which would be attributable to the length of your piece, we'll donate it to charitable place of your choice. He said, okay, go ahead and print it. The other one came from Heller, who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. We wanted to sue a piece by him, which was critical of the notion that cutting taxes would necessarily stimulate economic development.

That was the program he was pushing in Congress, so he asked us not to use it, 01:50:00to take something else. We receded to his request. We did not use that article. We put it aside and picked up another. Otherwise, everybody routinely gave us permission to use their work. But the book, as I said, died on the streets of Dallas. I actually thought it would become a major, an important, maybe not major, but an important part of the 1964 campaign, had there been a 1964 campaign with Kennedy, because it had to do with economic policy and would almost certainly have been criticized with one part and if not praise of at 01:51:00least defended on the other part.

CP: Caroline mentioned to me some work that she did on the 1944 U.S.-Mexican Water Treaty. I gather the two of you worked on that topic a little bit?

BW: Yeah, we did. Basically, part of the motivation was there was great fear here that politics would go to inter-basic transfers of water. People were afraid that California specifically would look to the Columbia and want to divert water from the Columbia down to California. Well, the same sort thing happened in the treaty, because in effect water in the Colorado, or vice versa, 01:52:00I can't remember now, which one, water in the Colorado river in Arizona was given up for water, or the other way around, in the Rio Grande. So, there had been an interv-it didn't actually take place, as they didn't move the water from one place to the other. But they substituted water in one place for water in another. We thought that that was an interesting parallel and worth working on, which we did. She took the lead on that, and that led to some changes in her relationship with the history department here. She probably talked about with you.


CP: I'm not sure.

BW: Well, she was teaching history. Then the work on the research project we had a small grant. She bought off her time with the History Department with that grant and became part-time in history and part-time on the grant, which was unusual in the school of Humanities and Social Sciences. Didn't have people buying off their time for research. She was certainly one of the first in that part of the university who actually bought off her time with a research grant.

CP: First in more than one way.

BW: Yeah.

CP: One of the first women faculty members in History, it sounds like.

BW: That's right. In the modern time.

CP: Yeah. Your vita lists a book-length manuscript called, "Established Economics: Aged Notions in a Revolutionary Age."


BW: Yeah. I was contacted by a graduate student colleague at the University of Texas who had a person who was trying to put together a string of books on the fringes of the disciplines. He offered me a contract to write a book about economics. That's what we went back to Mexico in 1969 on sabbatical. So we had an unpaid leave in '63, '64. Then in '69 we went back and I wrote that book, that manuscript, during that time and then the time that I ran past the deadline a little bit, a month or two, and then the publisher went out of business. So, 01:55:00it didn't get published by the guy who had agreed to publish it. Then I took the manuscript and used it for other things during that time, but it was fun to do. Looking back on it, 5, 6, 10 years later, I was appalled at how naïve it was. But anyway, it was written in Mexico.

CP: Okay. The last data point I have for research as a project on the history of economic thought. I don't know if that came to fruition or not. The vita I have for you was from 1975, so it's not-

BW: No, it didn't.

CP: Okay.

BW: Chuck Friday had taught the history of economic courses here and I took over that history of economic thought. Did a whole series of book reviews for 01:56:00academic journals on history of economic thought, but no original kind of publications on the history of economic thought but a bunch of book reviews, which probably show up on the vita.

CP: They do, yeah. Okay, well, I think this is a good place to stop here. So tomorrow we'll continue on with a further examination of your career and gathering more information about the College of Liberal Arts.

BW: Okay.