Meagan Atkinson: This is Meagan Atkinson. It is March 5th 2014 and we're inWaldo Hall room 230 interviewing Dr. Dave Brauner. So can you describe your current contributions to Oregon State, teaching and projects that you're working on?
Dave Brauner: Okay. I'm a full professor with the department of anthropologyhere at OSU, and besides my teaching responsibility, which I usually teach 2 courses a term, from introductory courses on human evolution to upper division classes in various types of archaeology. My specialty is historical archeology, and currently I have 2 research programs going, in other words multi-year focus: one of them is focusing on US military in the Pacific Northwest, from about 1849 00:01:00through the end of the civil war. Over the years I've done excavations at Fort Hoskins, Fort Yamhill, and Fort Stevens; Fort Stevens being up at the mouth of the Columbia River, Fort Hoskins and Yamhill in the central coast range of Oregon, and these forts date either to the civil war period or two of them, Hoskins and Yamhill, were built in 1856, and they were part of the Indian removal process. And then they morphed into the civil war. My interest in the military? One, it's very poorly historically recorded for Oregon.
Although there's getting to be more and more interest and more and morepublications by historians, but there still are no books out there other than 00:02:00what we're doing archaeologically about the average soldiers, and the forts that weren't fighting forts. The historians love our Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington forts and some Puget Sound forts because they were in conflicts with the Indians. Our forts in the Oregon Coast Range at the mouth of the Columbia never had any battles. The soldiers only occasionally were on extended details that involved any fighting, but they were more administrative centers. Yet they were heart and soul of the military operation. So, few people even know about the existence of these forts, and I should also add Fort Umpqua on the central Oregon Coast, a fort which we're going to start doing some work on. But the life of the everyday soldier and the history of these non-fighting forts has really 00:03:00yet to be written. And the only way to get at the everyday life of the soldiers, including the officers at the forts, is through archaeology. Very little written information exists. So that has fascinated me for years. The other major research project that I'm engaged in is the early agricultural settlement in the Willamette Valley which involved primarily French Canadian fur trappers and voyagers working for the Hudson Bay Company. In 1829 they began to retire from the fur trade, were allowed to stay in the Pacific Northwest and with their Indian wives and children, started establishing farms, particularly in the Beaverton, Tualatin area, and a place called French Prairie between Salem and Woodburn. So these people have been completely left out from the history books, 00:04:00these French Canadians. And this whole farming venture, very successful farms that started in 1829 and continued until the opening of the Oregon Trail in 1843; these people have been left out of the history books. You know Oregon history starts with the American pioneer, and our history, other than a brief glance at the fur trade, practicing fur trade, we jump right to the Oregon Trail and the settlers, who in our mythical history started the agricultural industry. But yet there are hundreds of these French Canadian farms that pre-date this, and so my mission is to locate as many of these sites as I can, and we're in the process of conducting excavations at some of them, and basically putting the decade of the 1830s back in the history books.
MA: Thank you for that. To get started, could we talk about some of your00:05:00personal background? You were born in Corvallis, did you grow up here?
DB: No. My dad was one of those of generations of returning G.I.s from World WarII, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, and he went to college at University of Oregon. He was one of the first graduates of the Landscape Architecture program at U of O. But in those days, they had to have a year of "plant work", as my dad calls it, where they had to learn plants and life cycles of plants. And Oregon State College was the university that did that, the Agricultural College, so he and my mom moved here. They lived here in Corvallis for a year. And during that particular year, 1947, they had me. I was born in a little hospital that has now 00:06:00been converted into apartments, but they called it Sacred Heart or something like that. But right after my dad graduated, we moved to Vancouver BC where he started his first practice. And then in second grade, I believe it was, we moved down to a town north of Seattle called Edmonds, and I lived there until middle school and then we moved down to a place called Federal Way where I went to high school. And from there I did 2 years at Highline Community College just south of Seattle. I was sort of a self-funded student and I also wanted to go into Fisheries program in University of Washington.
They had the pre-fisheries program at Highline. And some unfortunate events withthe Head of the Fisheries program at University of Washington that drove me to 00:07:00becoming a History major, and I sort of got tired of great men, politics, and war. That's all history was about then. And so I transferred to Washington State University the beginning of my junior year, still thinking I was going to graduate in history, and I was particularly interested in Asian history. But while I was there my junior year, I took an archaeology class, introduction to archaeology as an elective, and wow, that was it, the skies opened up, the cherubs sang, and I realized the kind of history was I interested in which was the history of the everyday people that made the world turned around, that made every culture work, that have remained nameless, faceless. And the archaeological record, the artifacts, the garbage these people have left behind for hundreds of thousands of years is how their story is told. And so when I started, or when I transferred over into archaeology, at that point in my 00:08:00educational life if somebody were to ask me "would you ever go to grad school?" I would have laughed at them. You know I was looking for the bachelor's degree, get out, you know, start life, get a job. But when I found archaeology it was like, wow how much of this can I get? What do you mean I have to stop with a PhD? And I didn't. I got a job [laughs] as an instructor and eventually a professor here at Oregon State.
MA: Well you mentioned the interest in fisheries. Was it tropical fish? Therewere projects that you worked on in high school that kind of got you interested?
DB: In middle school, I saved up my pennies and I bought an aquarium. A friendof mine, a neighbor kid, he also got an aquarium and we started reading books on tropical fish, and that one thing led to another, and we started actually 00:09:00selectively breeding a tropical fish, a livebearer called a swordtail. And they were fairly genetically plastic with their colors, so you could start breeding these fish, start selecting for certain color combinations, and I thought that was fascinating. So I started selectively breeding swordtails, as did my friend. And one thing led to another, we got more aquariums and more aquariums, and my bedroom looked like a, you know, a marine aquarium for tourists. But, yeah, I started creating some color combinations that were pretty interesting. At the beginning of high school I entered the state science fair, and in my category I got ribbons and for a couple of years thereafter I would win. This was all with genetic experiments. And so I really thought that my life's work was going to be breeding fish, not tropical fish. I was fascinated by some genetic work being 00:10:00done on salmon and steelhead in the Puget Sound area. And there was a gentleman by the name of Dr. Donaldson at University of Washington that was doing these experiments, so I thought that's what I want to do. So in my senior year, I visited University of Washington to visit Dr. Donaldson. Turns out he was the Head of the Fisheries program at the time, and after waiting quite a while in his outer office, with his secretary making constant excuses that he wasn't there, I could darn well hear him in his office. But anyway, he finally came out as though he was leaving, and his secretary reminded him he had an appointment with this young man, and I was really treated with disdain. I mean, you could tell that not only was an undergraduate, you know, not to be mentioned that weren't worth anything, but that a high school student coming into his office 00:11:00was worth even less. He didn't give me, very little time, and he was very disparaging in terms of any potential career opportunities in fisheries. I tried to show him my genetic work, and my charts, and my, you know, awards, and he just kind of nodded and he just told me don't bother to go into this discipline. There's no jobs unless somebody dies and then he walked out of his office. Well, I was unimpressed and also depressed because I thought he was going just to welcome me with open arms. I was kind of delusional.
But, so, when I started college, I actually for the first few semesters, or thefirst year, I stayed with the fisheries program, the pre-fisheries program, and discovered I wasn't going to get to see a fish until my junior year. And one of the first courses was biochem[istry], which I discovered what side of my brain 00:12:00worked and what side didn't. So, I was taking some history courses, and I really liked the history teachers. I love history, I could just read a book and it just stuck. I could remember names, dates, which meant I got A's on all the tests. It was easy, but it was also interesting. I'd always been interested in history, and so I switched my major to history. But like I mentioned earlier, I got tired of history being about great men, politics, and war, sort of like our History Channel today still is. But during that period, I gained a real fascination for eastern Asian, or not eastern Asian, but Far Eastern history. And Washington State University had a good program in that area, so I transferred over to Pullman. In the beginning of my junior year, I was once again becoming very 00:13:00dissatisfied with history. When I was-no offense to any history teachers, high school history teachers, because they definitely earn their money. Thinking about my only career options being middle school or particularly high school history, my life was seeming like a shade of grey, and I couldn't see anything really exciting except some periodic travel. But at Washington State University I took an elective in introduction to archaeology, and that course and the instructor in it was amazing. Dr. [Richard] Daugherty was his name. At the time he was a leading Northwest archaeologist that as a kid I remember seeing his picture in the newspapers and I used to love reading about his discoveries, but I never thought I'd meet him or even get close to the discipline. So I took a course from him, and it was one of the most fascinating courses I'd ever taken. 00:14:00But I also realized that it was the history of the average people that really fascinated me, and the only-I mean certainly you could go into archives and get some of that deep history, but not thousands and thousands of years ago, and that really intrigued me. So the material culture, the artifacts these ancient people left behind was the only way to know who they were, what they did, and when they existed. And I found that to just be very compelling, you know, it was a way, it was a type of exploration of the past. It wasn't just reading about it. And by the end of the semester of that introductory course, and [Dr. Richard] Daugherty's lectures, I was hooked. I remember at the end of the first semester going to the Department of Anthropology, meeting the Chair of the program, a little reluctant based on my previous experience with the Fisheries people. And I walked into that office, I had an appointment, and they were 00:15:00waiting for me. The secretaries were nice, the Head of the program came marching out of his office when he heard I was there, he greeted me with gusto, he was incredibly enthusiastic. I found out later you don't get a lot of Anthropology majors [laughs], so I was kind of a rare bird I guess.
But it was the welcoming "we appreciate the fact that you're considering ourmajor" approach that was very different, and I had a two hour discussion with him, and then he took me around, introduced me to the archaeologists that were in that day, the whole staff, and they all greeted me with, you know, open arms, and couldn't wait to get me into their classes, and were already telling me about field opportunities I could get involved with. So I switched my major and never looked back. And that's when I realized that to be a practicing archaeologist you had to get a PhD. And being the okay student I was, but not 00:16:00dedicated, like I say if anybody who knew me then or talked to me then would have asked me if I would have gone on for advanced degrees I would have laughed at them. But when I found out you needed a PhD for archaeology, I finished my bachelor's program, I jumped into the Master's, and I just didn't even slow down, going through the PhD. I got all three of my degrees at Washington State. Mostly because they just kept offering me more money than I could refuse to keep going, so [laughs] it worked out really, really well. But the lesson I came away that's still with me today based on my experience as a senior in high school and then as a junior going into the anthropology department was that you treat every student with respect.
When a kid, a young person, walks through your door, you know, and they'renervous and can be somewhat hesitant to talk to a professor they don't know. But 00:17:00when a student walks through my door, I always treat them with respect. I take why they're here serious and try to be as welcoming as I can. And to be honest, we don't have enough archaeologists out there to accomplish even a beginning understanding of the past. We need more good practitioners, and so every time a student walks through this door, you never know if they're going to become the next generation of archaeologists. And over the years, I've been at OSU now 38 years, and over the years I look back on all the students I've had and, you know, the first time I met them, those timid people, gently knocking on my door, hesitantly walking into my office, who are now practicing Master's or PhD archaeologists and most of them are very good. So you never know when a kid walks into your office how you're going to change their lives. And I think that 00:18:00most of us that teach at the university level understand the impact we can have on young minds, and lives, and future careers. And, man, you've got to take that serious. I have a number of colleagues on campus that don't want to teach undergraduates, they don't think that's worthy of their skills. But if we could get a student as a freshman interested in archaeology, they're as rare as hen's teeth and man, we take care of them! By the time they get there, their Bachelor's degree, in many cases, they're well in advance of many of our Master's students. Archaeology and anthropology are a discovered discipline. There are very few high school kids come in to the university knowing that that's what they want to do. So, it's those students that are experimenting, picking, choosing, exploring what universities are all about, and what they want to do, that's where we pick them up and most of them we, also like I did, we 00:19:00find in there about their junior year. But, [enunciating] you treat students well. That was my lesson from way back in high school [laughs].
MA: It's interesting you mention a couple things. The rarity of having afreshman come in and that very much parallels how you got started a little bit late, and you said, by the time they get through they're in advance of a lot of other students. Do you feel like starting a little bit later than everybody else that that was an impact for you, and also during those times when you started [school] you were teaching as a TA, working on short-term projects near the end 00:20:00of the terms and summers and when you were just going and going and going? Is that [starting a bit later] maybe why?
DB: Yeah, you know, when I look back on the early stages, particularly of myeducation in anthropology and archaeology, switching major as a junior, I felt like I was behind the eight ball. There were-of course, you're going into classes that have juniors and seniors and graduate students. And of course the-I remember the graduate students to me seemed like bronze gods. You know, I mean they'd been working in the field, they got those deep dark tans, and they're very confident about what they do, and they'd been doing archaeology. I mean, I was kind of combined in awe of them and intimidated by them. Once I got to know them later, it's kind of like, "whoa". It's kind of like that song, "Is that all there is?" [laughs]. But initially, I was in awe and intimidated. And in the 00:21:00upper division courses I was taking, during classroom discussions, they had read a lot more. I really felt like I needed to catch up. And so, I went into a, which was unusual for me, a very, you know, sort of a disciplined, trying to start disciplined study habits. And I read everything I could get my hands on, I read the assigned books and articles in the classes like right at the beginning of the semester. I would go to the library and you know, read things that were related but not part of the class. And mostly so that I wasn't intimidated in the classroom discussion, knowing also I really felt like I had to catch up.
So I remember a number of my friends and colleagues in the classroom, it wasquite common in those days to, at the end of a day, to retreat to a local tavern 00:22:00in downtown Pullman. And so they went to the tavern. I went to the library. Or when I was a grad student I had an office space, and I stayed there, and I just remember thinking that while they're out having their beer, I'm catching up, and they better watch out! [laughs] And then my lady friend at the time, at the end of my undergrad career, turned out to be my wife later. But she was one of those straight-A students that if we ever went on a date we'd met at the library. So it all worked out pretty well. I was trying to catch up, and she wouldn't ever leave the library until she had all of her assignments done, and if I wanted to talk to her, that's where I had to meet her. So, it was an interesting time. But the beauty of that was that I got into sort of a study regime when I started 00:23:00graduate school, I mean, it just benefited me a lot. Of course, then I married that young lady. She was going on for a Master's the same time I was and so, you know, the study skills continued to be reinforced. And, with my kids growing up I tried to "Come on guys, get serious". But like myself-I've had 4 children, two boys and two girls-and they were kind of like me. It's like, they were good students, and I was an okay-I was a B student, not that serious about being a student, but they were too. But like me, when they got into college and they found what they wanted to do, fortunately, my kids found where their individual passions were. My youngest is just starting college, so he's really excited about archaeology. He's the only one out of the three, but we'll see if that lasts. But when they found their passions, then they went for it. All of them, 00:24:00you know, except the youngest-they really have good careers, so I guess that trajectory may be genetic, I don't know.
MA: It sounds like a lot of your college experience is focused mostly around-yousaid you were an okay student, but really there was a lot of time focused on your-you and your wife were married while you were both in grad school?
DB: Uh huh.
MA: She was in Microbiology?
DB: Uh huh.
MA: And so much of the focus was on these projects that you were working on andteaching and pushing to the next level with it. And then, towards the end of getting your doctorate, there was some overlap where you came to OSU before you had gotten your doctorate, and were an instructor. Is that correct?
DB: Yeah, I was encouraged by my major professor at Washington State, a guy by00:25:00the name of Frank Leonardi to-I volunteered a lot of time over spring breaks and Christmas breaks doing field work that needed to be done in eastern Washington at the time. And most of my fellow graduate students, you know, went on vacations, spring breaks, and went home for Christmas breaks. But I think part of that feeling that I had that I needed to catch up translated over to "I wanted to get as much field experience as I can". And so I took advantage of these breaks when different archaeologists in the program needed somebody to go out and direct a project for them. I did that. And I was also encouraged to start getting involved with at least our regional professional meetings, the Northwest Anthropological Conference. And my major professor said "Dave-this is when I was beginning my PhD program, you know, -I want you to go to this 00:26:00conference, I want you to give a paper, and start getting involved." Well, that was a frightening experience. And the first conference I went to was in the late, or the early 1970s, it was '70 or '71. I went to the conference that was at Portland State University, and (I don't think I told you this last time) but this was the very first public presentation I was going to give and I was really nervous. You know in those days you did your own dark room work, you prepared the-we didn't have PowerPoint, we didn't have computers, so you tried to do magic with kodachrome slides. And I learned some pretty interesting special effects techniques in those days.
But I put a program together on a dig I had done, and I had made out verycarefully a set of 3 x 5 cards to guide my presentation. And Frank kept saying, 00:27:00"Dave, just get up and talk, you know this stuff" and "don't use notes, don't use cards, and don't read it". And, well, I didn't believe him, I was panicky. So I had my whole talk on 3 by 5 cards and every card went with a slide that I was going to put up on the screen. So that slide? [snaps] Say this. And I was about third, I think, in the session that day. And the session was on a-the podium was on a stage, there were three steps to get upon to the stage, and the room was dark because there was slide presentation. And so my name was called and I was just sweating bricks. So I had my little cards in my hand, and the slides were put on the projector and ready to go. The title slide got put up for me while I was walking up. And I remembered two steps, not three. And I missed the last step, and I fell, you know, my butt facing the audience, and my 3 x 5 cards just shooshed across the stage for about ten feet. And they were all mixed 00:28:00up, and it was dark, I couldn't pick them up, I couldn't organize them, I was embarrassed laying on the floor for a second. Got up, went up the podium and everybody was having a little chuckle at this incident. But I didn't even dare to reach out and pick up my cards. So I started the program. And I knew it. I knew it frontwards, backwards, and sideways. So by the time it was done, 15 minutes, I didn't even need to hide behind the podium, it was all in my brain. That's the last time I ever used notes. My whole career.
MA: Even in teaching?
DB: In teaching, I occasionally will have yellow sticky pad, a page with somekey dates or couple key points that "remember to talk about this while in lecture". And my whole career has been "you don't use notes, you just talk". With PowerPoint, now I mean it's a real crutch for instructors. You basically 00:29:00put your images up on the screen and a whole lot of people I know just read their lectures off the slide. It's like why bother? I use PowerPoint but I use images, not text, and/or title maybe, but that's all. So PowerPoint's actually been an enhancement to the way I like to teach, because the images are there and beautiful, better than they ever could be on slides. But no, I just-I've always had the adage that they hired me to be an instructor, to teach, because I'm supposed to know what I'm doing. And if I know what I'm doing, why do I need notes? So that's the way my career's been.
MA: So was that the conference where you were met about the Oregon State job-?
DB: Oh yeah back on the job, yeah. It's one of the things I tell my gradstudents to this day, is one: I try to get them involved with the professional meetings, you know, when they're right at the beginning of their master's. Every 00:30:00once in a while I actually get a pretty good senior that I try to encourage to give a presentation, at least at our regional meetings, if not national meetings. And one of the things I tell them is that you never know who's going to be sitting in that audience. Your entire life can change based on a presentation you give. And that's what happened to me, that's why I'm at OSU. I mentioned before that when I was getting close to finishing my PhD, the only jobs for archaeologists in the country was in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, down in that southeast. I did not want to live or work in that of the country. I remember my ultimate dream was-my dream job was at a place called Oregon State University. As a kid I had a set of grandparents that lived here in town, on a farm out by Lewisburg. So I would spend time on the farm every summer, from the 00:31:00time I was in grade school, and some of the best memories in my life happened around this town called Corvallis. I had another set of grandparents that lived in Eugene. My granddad there was a Southern Pacific Railroad engineer, and down there I got to ride the steam engines and up here I got to be on the farm. But Corvallis was a magic place for me, as all the memories. And I mentioned before I grew up in a kind of "Leave It to Beaver" lifestyle where we-I wasn't abused as a kid, I wasn't neglected, we had a pretty good childhood. So sometimes I feel like I'm on the wrong side of "cool" history, but that's okay. I like the way I grew up. I just remember when I was a kid, my grandmother, or my uncle who was three years older than me.
We'd come in to town and hit some of the old the first drive-ins down on 9thstreet (they used to have roller skate gals delivering your food). But we'd come 00:32:00into town every once in a while and every once in a while my grandmother'd drive me up on to campus, and I thought it was such a pretty place. Of course that was the summer time. It was gorgeous. But I always thought the tree-lined streets-Jefferson out here was so pretty to drive up. So I've had all these images of this perfect place in my mind. But in those days, finishing my graduate program, that dream was never going to be realized. I knew I was going to go-I was going to be traveling for a while trying to get to where I eventually really liked to work. But I gave a paper at a Northwest Anthropological conference the year after the Portland meeting, and it was in La Grande, at Eastern Oregon University. And it was a very poorly attended meeting, nobody wanted to go to La Grande. But I went, and I gave a talk. It was a site that we worked on in the middle of winter. And no archaeologists worked in the wintertime back in those days. And so we were coping with snow and freezing 00:33:00temperatures and rain and horrible conditions, landslides around the site. And my presentation turned out to be kind of a standup comedy routine, just dealing with the problems we were having while excavating that site. And after the session, this gentleman walked up to me in the hallway and said, "Dave, I'm Dick Ross". And I knew Dick Ross as a grad student. He was getting his PhD when I was in my Master's program. And he was a TA for a couple of courses I'd taken as an undergrad. That's kind of how I knew him. You never talked to him. He was one of those bronze guys that I always admired at the beginning. But he came up to me and said, "Dave, I'm over at Oregon State University, and Buck Davis, our other archaeologist is going to take a year of sabbatical. I was sent over here by the faculty to find somebody who looks like they could teach and to cover his 00:34:00courses for nine months". And so, "Whoa, really?", and he said, "yeah, you interested?" And so, you better believe it!
So that fall I was charging across the Palouse and Oregon, and my wife and Iarrived here in Oregon State. And I found out when I got here I was also supposed to direct a dig down by Junction City that Buck had a contract for. But he wasn't going to be around town, so I ran the dig, and commuted teaching courses for three quarters. And I just really enjoyed it. I realized then that being in the classroom and teaching was something that I got a lot of fulfillment out of. Plus I got to do some archaeology in Oregon, so it was really a cool experience. At the end of that academic year, I went back to Pullman to finish up my dissertation. Once again, wishing I-like I had a taste 00:35:00of my favorite place and I liked it. But the reality was, "David, you're going to Georgia" [laughs]. I had a couple of my fellow grad students that had just gotten jobs in Georgia, and they were kind of recruiting me for a job down there, so that's where I figured I would end up. And the Chair of the Anthropology program here was a guy by the name of Tom Hogue. And Tom was a younger faculty, very dynamic cultural anthropologist, but he was an applied anthropologist. He viewed anthropology as not a strictly academic discipline but there are lots of issues between cultures, between people, and understanding subcultures that anthropologists could get involved with, which also were real-life situations like communities being replaced by-or sent somewhere else 00:36:00due to construction projects, and that type of applied work: understand the community before you tell them to get up and move. So that was what Tom's background was. And in 1974, '74-'75 was the academic year I came over here for that nine-month appointment. In 1974 a Federal law was passed that required that any Federal agency doing any ground-disturbing activity had to locate archaeological sites, evaluate the sites, and come up with management plans to either excavate them or manage them in place.
That was a massive, massive change in the way archaeology was done, and is doneto this day. It was like a jobs bill for archaeologists. So every Federal agency was needing to gear up for archaeology. There were very few students in the 00:37:00pipeline, mostly because you had to get a PhD to do archaeology, but with this new Federal law, after a few years they defined a professional archaeologist as somebody with a Master's degree. So grad programs began to gear up and what not. Well, Tom Hogue (this is about a few months after I got back to Pullman). I never expected to come back to Corvallis, it was a dream that I just had to set aside. It was fun to taste it, but forget it, David! And I got this phone call from Tom in Pullman, and he said, "Dave, would you be interested in coming back to OSU?" "What?!" Because I knew that Buck Davis and Dick Ross weren't near retirement yet, and there'd never been anything said about adding another archaeologist to the program. And Tom said, "You know, I just became aware of this Federal law that was passed-" about a year ago, and he said, "these 00:38:00agencies are screaming, the Forest Service, BLM [Bureau of Land Management], everybody screaming for archaeologists. And they'd been calling the department, and we don't have-we have two academic faculty members, and neither one of them want to go out and start doing fieldwork for the agencies." And he said, "Dave, I can see the handwriting on the wall". He said, "One, we have to start training archaeologists different than the pure academic training we've given you guys in the past. There's a brave new world out there, and there's a huge demand and nobody to fill it". So what Tom came up with was "You want to come over here and work at OSU? We'll get you half salary-" so I had a 0.5 salary-and then you make up the rest of it with grants. You fill out your salary. And we're going to provide a service to the Federal agencies through OSU to do their archaeology for them, and we'll call it Applied Archaeology. But this is the way of the future". That's what he thought. He was right. "So we're going to get a jump on 00:39:00everybody, 'cause there's nothing like this out there (there was a program in Louisiana like this but that was it). So, we're going to start a Contract Archaeology program under the umbrella of the Anthropology department. You have an academic appointment but your primary responsibility is going to be to do field work", then I said, "But I'd like to teach, Tom", so he said, "Okay, well, you know, you can pick up any, a course a term, if you want, and we'll start actually teaching applied archaeology then, that would kill two birds with one stone". So I couldn't wait.
I remember he called me at Thanksgiving and by Christmas we were over here, gota little apartment down in Garfield street. I came into the office and Tom and I talked about what the possibilities were. So he said, "Dave, we're going to give you a car, and we're going to give you two weeks, and here's a prospectus we 00:40:00wrote up of what we can do for the agencies, you throw your vitae on top of that and you drive around, giving out your business card and this packet, and let them know we're open for business". And so I did that, for two weeks I drove all over Oregon, I hit every District Ranger office I could find, BLM office, any other fish and wildlife, and you know, just talked my head off for two weeks. By the time I got back here I had a stack of those little pink "While you were out" phone message papers, and it was all these agencies wanting to contract with us to do their work. So I went through that, picked and chose what we could reasonably do. And that was it. Never looked back at OSU. We had a very dynamic program. I had every grad student; I had most of our seniors and about half of our juniors on the payroll. The problem was getting them to finish their coursework on time because they were so busy working. But that worked really 00:41:00well for probably 5-6 years. And then as the grad students that were attracted here, because of that applied approach, they were my staff for years, and we were in the field, six months, seven months out of the year, and sometimes even longer. I had two or three projects running simultaneously. I still made time to at least teach one class a term because I knew that I wanted to-I was in this position that they turned into half-time tenure track, but I wanted to be full tenure. I wanted to teach and do research on the side, but this was my life. But I tried to get as much teaching experience as I could which even created a more dynamic situation.
I mentioned to you before that we did a power line survey and test excavationsin the Dalles down to the Nevada border. So I can truly say I've walked the 00:42:00length of Oregon twice, south and north. But while on that project, it was really cool. Because it was a Bonneville power contract, and they ran helicopters up and down their lines to inspect the big power lines all the time. And so when we were down in southeast Oregon around Lakeview and that area, we had my class schedule for 3 hours one time a week, in the evening, so I could be here at least once a week. Well they flew me from Lakeview with this beautiful jet ranger helicopter, and the baseball field was not developed well yet, like it is now so there was no fences around the baseball field. And I remember the pilot would land me in the outfield, out in left field here in the baseball field. I'd jump out of the helicopter, run into Waldo Hall, teach my classes, and then all the students would go out to watch me take off in the helicopter. That was-that was the coolest thing ever. But, it was a real-doing all these 00:43:00projects, getting all these contracts, meeting incredible people all around the state, and just visiting almost every corner of Oregon was a really neat way to start a career. And then eventually I trained my own competition. My grad students, when they finally graduated, there wasn't a lot of job opportunities out there so some of them started what were private consulting firms, which didn't exist before. So if they couldn't get a job anywhere else, they teamed up, they created their own companies, and they just start outbidding me on projects. So they knew everything, everything I did, they knew the way I thought, so it was sort of like, okay, the next generation is on their way. You know, "Good for them but I think I need to get more into the academic side, and 00:44:00to continue to train really good field archaeologists". But we couldn't compete in terms of lower budgets than the private sector, because of our overhead at OSU and all that. So-it wasn't because of my salary, I mean, salaries at OSU are horrible in those days, and the only thing that kept me and I think most of the faculty on this campus was this part of the valley was so cool to live in. You're so close to the mountain and the beach and the quality of life here has always been incredible. So, Buck Davis finally retired. And I applied for his position and fortunately I got it. And I'd actually converted over to full tenure track before that so I had some seniority coming into that faculty position, but from that time on it was really nice because I could pick and choose. I'd made enough contacts out there that I could pick and choose projects I wanted to do. And they were sort of contract archaeology in response to legal 00:45:00obligations, but I would pick the bigger ones that required excavations and I had some research topics that I was really interested in. So I just started working on contract programs that also fit my own research interests. And I started developing a strong relationship with Oregon State Parks and the National Park Service in those days. Between the National Park Service and Oregon State Parks, it's been sort of the working in those venues and five years up on the Klondike Gold Rush and Skagway and Dyea for the Klondike Gold Rush National Park, and a little bit of work for the Fort Vancouver, National Park up in Vancouver. And a lot of work with Oregon State Parks on sites that relate to our early Oregon history. And every project I worked on has been an unwritten chapter of history. That's what has continually fascinated me about archaeology. 00:46:00
MA: So as you switched into Buck Davis's-as he left and you moved into that[position], even when you got full tenure, it seems like a major shift for you in terms of going from grad school, your first seven or so years here, being constantly on the go, travelling all the time, family getting pulled with you. What changed over the years during these constant projects?
DB: When I was younger it was fun and exciting and dynamic. My wife was a prettytough lady, but she was very supportive, I mean, she was always standing behind 00:47:00me. She got a job on campus as a microbiologist, so she was practicing what she wanted to do, and I was doing what I wanted to do, and in the interim we were having a few children and the kids were basically raised on digs, and my wife used to run the field labs in the summer. She could work 9 months on campus, and this was true, when she was a grad student at WSU as well as working here. Her programs, her labs, pretty much took the summer off. She had taken archaeology classes with me and she ran my archaeological field labs for years. My kids were, all of them, basically raised on digs in the summer time. Often the time they were, well, my oldest daughter was 3 months old, living in tents and in dusty, dirty, blowing, dry conditions and the tents being ripped apart by windstorms and-but her crib was always, that was kind of the main structure of 00:48:00our tent. She was in the crib and the tent with us, and if we got really bad storms and the tent got ripped to pieces, we could always pull under her crib with our sleeping bags and finish out the night there. The storms never bothered her; it's silence that actually started bothering her after the field seasons were over. And I mentioned before that in the '70s and the early '80s my crews were made up of students but a lot of counter-culture types, the "hippy-dippies", and great people, worked really hard. For a lot of them they volunteered on my project, all I had to do was feed them and get them a place to live during the summer times. They were kind of gypsies. But a lot of long hair, a lot of beards, and the gals had hair down to their waists, you know, just wonderful people. But kind of wild-looking and particularly after a day in the field, you can't see where your clothes start and your skin begins, you're so 00:49:00dirty. But that's what my kids grew up with. And it was always funny when we'd come out of the field and go back to Pullman-our apartment in Pullman, or come back to our house here in Corvallis-and if somebody really clean-cut visited the house, the kids would run away screaming. They'd be scared of a clean-cut-somebody in a suit and clean shaven, they would panic and they'd run into their bedrooms and shut their door. They were used to-I mean, most kids would be panicky if they saw the kids that were on the digs, but not mine. The norm was shaggy and dirty [laughs]. So, it was a really dynamic time. But I got to admit that after doing that for quite a number of years, the traveling got hard, being in the field all the time when the kids are getting older was hard, and it was hard on my wife not being there very often, and so she start to develop her own network of friends, and I had my network of friends. And after 00:50:00while we just grew apart, and we ended up getting a divorce, but not a nasty divorce, we were just sort of "well, we need to go different directions". But it was during that period that I really began questioning what I was doing, and to be honest, I was getting burned out. It was heady, it was-got the adrenaline going, I could begin so see why high power business people were just "eh!" after it, it was real competitive. But every day was a new discovery, something new, and you look around the next corner of the past and you see something nobody's seen for thousands of years. I mean, that has been part of the career I've always loved. But, I was getting burned out, and through all that I was still trying to teach classes, which meant I had to come out of the field at least once a week, so the travel was horrendous. But when my first marriage fell apart, it was a time for a lot of soul searching. And so I took a sabbatical, 00:51:00the only sabbatical I ever took, and I like to think that, when people ask me "What'd you do on your sabbatical?" "I went crazy". And I got in my car and I put a million miles on my car, just driving, listening to music, and trying to sort everything out. But at the end of it all, I came away thinking, "wow, the one thing I have that I enjoy the most that nobody can ever take away from me is being an archaeologist". So, I'm not giving that up. After the sabbatical I came back kind of regenerated, at least as far as the job, but I just swore I was never going to put that much of my life into it anymore. But you can do good archaeology, project by project.
Not multiples. You can get your research, your field data, in the summer months,and you can do your teaching and be at home as much as you can during the school 00:52:00year. And so I swore the next marriage wasn't going to be like the first one, and I'd learned a lot. And it wasn't. My second wife and I-she's also an archaeologist by the way. We're going on 23 years. And my first marriage was 14 years, so I think I did it better! [laughs] I've been doing it better. But still, there's still a lot of fieldwork. I've spent one-the most of one summer-in Siberia. So I didn't see the family very much. That was in 1993 when Gorbachev-the Soviet Union fell apart, and I was able to go across Russia from Moscow out into east central Siberia on the Trans-Siberian train, not speaking a word of English. But it was quite the adventure. And visited with archaeologists out in central Siberia that were working on some very old sites. But there was no phone service out at Siberia, there was no mail service out of there, 00:53:00everything, all the government had broken down. I found the Russians to be incredibly nice and welcoming people. The experience that way was incredible, but the minute I got into Moscow-my family hadn't heard a word from me for almost 2 months. And about the time they knew I was flying, from Krasnoyarsk out to Yakutsk, they kind of knew my general schedule. And there was a Russian passenger plane [that] went down, killing everybody on board out in central Siberia, and my wife just got panicky because it was about the time I should have been on about that same route. So she worked with the American Embassy and the Russian Embassy trying to get names, to find out if there were any Americans on that plane. So that was a pretty stressful period for them, and they didn't see me until I got off the plane in Portland at the end of that summer. Great 00:54:00weight loss program, I lost almost 40 lbs [laughs]. Most of it was stress. But other than that, my second wife has been on a lot of the digs. She was a field archaeologist during my contract days and then we hooked up a lot later. But she ran the labs also for years, until we had a child and then she worked at Ashbrook School, so she could be home with our son. But so I learned my lessons and tried to be a little more domestic that second time around. I think it's worked. But it's hard to ever give up the excitement. You just never know when the phone rings, where you're going to be in space and time. And now when you get an email, you know, open it up, and a week later you may be back 300 years or a thousand years in time, and, you know, you're up in some beautiful gorgeous part of the Northwest in the middle of a forest or the deserts. That's one 00:55:00prerequisite for doing archaeology; you always have to be in gorgeous places! [laughs]
MA: I was going to mention, there is a whole slew of awards and appointments[that you've been given over the years]. After that points when you decided to back off a little bit, you didn't necessarily slow down. It just seems like your time-instead of being split a whole bunch of different ways it was put into projects that would then come to completion. Or as a member of a committee. Some of the big Oregon state committees that have been focused on awareness and 00:56:00preserving some of our state relics. So you didn't necessarily slow down [laughs].
DB: Yes, I sort of shift focus a little bit. Most people I find that areattracted to archaeology-I mean they like archaeology, they like studying human culture. But instead of working with living people, kind of the mindset of people who become archaeologists, they don't work so well with the living but they really get along well with the people in the past that can't talk back to you. And I find them to be, most of my colleagues, to be a little reclusive, not really the big outgoing extroverts. There are exceptions. But one of the things that I had been taught at Washington State, working with Richard Daugherty, was that if we don't fight for our discipline, if we don't fight to educate the 00:57:00public about the importance of archaeology and those archaeological sites out there being the library of the past. And we have to protect it, we have to save it, and we have to occasionally open up one of those books we call "sites" to find out what people were doing in the past. But his approach that I took to heart was you have to be politically active. If you don't fight for your discipline, it's going to go away. And I've seen that begin to happen so many times in my career where you're always dealing with land use, land use and development, and we lose thousands of acres a day to development in the northwest. And every time a big chunk of earth is turned into apartments or a highway or a shopping center, we're losing archaeological sites. And unless the public and the politicians are aware of that and consider the resource to be 00:58:00important to protect and to save, we're done. We're toast. And so every time there's a major budget cut, and-used to be in Washington, now in Oregon-you have to fight for those limited funds so some of them keep going into the heritage arena. Whether it's museums, or whether it's classes in the universities, or whether it's working with saving and protecting archaeological sites. So, early on I realized, even though I'm kind of an introvert myself, I always considered myself as an introverted extrovert. It's like put me in front of a group of people, I don't care if it's 3 or 300, and I feel really comfortable. I enjoy lecturing, I enjoy talking, I enjoy educating, but get me out of the classroom and oh my god, don't invite me to me party I'll just panic. I don't like to be 00:59:00in too many regular normal social situations. You know, you get a few close friends and then that's good enough.
I'm really an introvert when I'm just on my own. But [enunciating] you can't dothat. You have to get involved in uncomfortable situations and getting the word out that this is-you know, I used to, for Federal and State, laws and bills going before with the legislature, I started contributing written testimony and then I was asked actually going into situations to give oral testimony, and so I got past that hurdle and it became more comfortable to do. But that then started leading to being appointed to State and one Federal committee, but State level 01:00:00committees mostly. And then county and city, you know, all different levels of government where you can make a difference. The Benton County Heritage ordinances and-I was on the committee when we wrote those ordinances. I had some input. And for most of our Oregon State Heritage laws now I had quite a bit of input on those. But it's all about putting yourself out there in front of the politicians and the public to advocate for archaeology, and for the past. And it's usually a pretty-it seems like it should be a good sell. As a politician, mom, apple pie, and your history, you can't be against. But what goes on under the tables and behind the scenes is another thing when it comes to allocating tax dollars or other Federal-or any kind of grant. Then you just have to be out 01:01:00there. You've got to be an advocate, and you've got to also be out there with regard to research. You can't just "every 3 or 4 years I'll go do something in the field". You got to be out there, and the kind of "out there" that I enjoy is-that's why I'm very interested in continuing my research within Oregon State Parks. My research interests-there are sites in those parks that continue to add to my research goals. But within parks, there's tourism. And inviting people to the archaeological sites and giving them tours and letting them meet and greet the students right on up to my staff, being able to rub shoulders with archaeology.
Most people in the public, they see archaeology on TV but they never have anopportunity to be on a dig, and go up to a screen, and kind of help a student or 01:02:00somebody discover things in the screen. You get a little bit dirty. And I've really pushed that through my career that we don't do archaeology behind a "No trespassing" sign, and that involving the public is what we do. We use archaeology as an opportunity to educate the public about archaeology, because there's a lot of misconceptions that come out of TV shows. And/or Indiana Jones kind of movies. And then we're also educating the public. "Here's a chapter in history I bet you guys have never heard about. Now look there, look at what we got, this relates to this chapter in Oregon history, the Northwest history". And the kind of stuff we're doing, they've never heard about. It's not in the history books. And they love it when they leave. They learn something. And they actually saw archaeology, they got to talk to archaeologists, they got to see what we're doing in the labs and how we take care of the artifacts. We let them 01:03:00handle the artifacts and the little kids they-I have students that come in occasionally now as undergraduates that (of course I've been doing it so long that-) I'll have a student come into my office that "Dr. Brauner. I was in my 4th grade class, I was out on your dig at Fort Yamhill and you showed us this, this, and this", and "I'm getting a degree in engineering but I still remember that day and just want to come by and say hello". I mean, those are the rewards and they remember the experience. Every once in a while you get a kid that was either on one of those projects, or I used to-as my kids went through schools here in Corvallis area, particularly fourth grade, they're doing their History/American Indian segment, and so I'd come in, I'd lecture, I'd bring in artifacts to show the kids. And a number of years ago, I had a young man walk 01:04:00into my office. Freshman. And "Hey Dr. Brauner, I just wanted to say hi". He said "I've been interested in archaeology for years ever since you in my 4th grade class and you brought that great big seal skull". (It was a sea lion skull that came out of a site on the Oregon coast). "I was so impressed with that skull. And I remember everything you said. I remember those artifacts you brought, and I'd always wanted to be an archaeologist, so here I am". And he was one of our freshmen. That fourth grade classroom got him excited and all through school, he was destined to walk through that door. And now he's out, he's doing archaeology in California now, getting big contract crews. He's running the crews now so you never know. You never know. So that's always fun. I don't do as much with the schools anymore just because my kids are all out of the schools. So basically the teachers don't you exist. [laughs] But we do a lot of public 01:05:00education in the summers. And I do spend-on my vitae, I've got the conferences I go to, titles of the talks I've given, but what I don't put in my vitae are the talks I give to community groups. And every year I'm probably doing l 10 to 20 talks a year to historical societies, to Rotary Clubs, to Lions Clubs, to Knights of Columbus, Civil War re-enactors now. I give talks to them, and I'm going to be their banquet speaker for their awards ceremony up in Portland this year. So, I continue to do that kind of stuff beyond the schools but you give that 20 minute talk to a Rotary Club, you get people excited about what's around them. It's amazing when you start telling people what lies under their feet as 01:06:00they walk around every day, they're absolutely fascinated. And even this campus is just amazing what we walk over.
MA: And occasionally people recognize the work that you do. The most recentNational Association of State Park Directors gave you the 2012 Park History Award. Was that for your work at Champoeg?
DB: Yeah, that was really cool. That was kind of an accumulation of-we've beenworking off and on at Champoeg State Heritage Area since 1990, and before that we located the Jason Lee Mission back in 1980 that was a new state park being developed. They couldn't find Jason Lee's Mission and didn't want to destroy it during construction so the historians gave up. So we jumped in and it took us a few months but we found it and then we excavated it and the state had missed it 01:07:00by 50 feet after purchasing over 1000 acres. It wasn't on their property. But we rectified that. They added 5 acres to the park and they own the mission now. But, my involvement with state parks really started in 1980. We went up to Front Stevens State Park in the mid '80s and found old Fort Stevens, a Civil War fort that had been bulldozed flat in 1940 and everybody sort of lost it. And so we found that and worked there for two years, and I've worked down at Shore Acres State Park and found the big mansion that used to be on the property: the Simpson Mansion. That disappeared right at the end of World War II and then nobody was quite sure where it was. So we found it. That was like working in the Mediterranean. That Shore Acres State Park is one of the most gorgeous parks on the coast. So, we've done a fair amount of work up at Silver Falls, but mostly 01:08:00at Champoeg, and now at Fort Yamhill. So we'd been working for several years in a row at Champoeg and we were running a thousand to three thousand tourists every summer through the dig and giving tours. Really high profile because it's pretty close to Portland and it's close to I-5. That came out of left field, that award but you don't do the work for awards, you know. I don't even think about it. But every once in a while one comes along like that and it's kind of that nice thank you from people. And I've won a few awards over the years here at OSU. The Meehan's Teaching [College of Liberal Arts Thomas R. Meehan Excellence in Teaching] award was probably one that I was really proud of because I enjoy teaching so much. You know, having an award or not is not going to change what I do, but realizing that someone was paying attention-that's always nice. I won the CLA [College of Liberal Arts] Alumni Award which was from 01:09:00the College of Liberal Arts Alumni. The Dean (it was Dean Wilkins at the time), they submit a short list of names of faculty in liberal arts that the Dean thought was doing pretty good work. Then the alumni do interviews and all kinds of stuff and they ultimately vote on who gets the award. That was a wonderful one. At the time, that came with a five thousand dollar stipend and that was the biggest award on all of campus at the time. Unfortunately the alumni association sort of broke up. They're-they went through some troubles and they don't offer that award anymore, but there's a really small group in liberal arts who got that award. And that one was really cool. That's from the Dean's level. The alumni groups-and very few of those are anthropologists, they're coming from all the corners of liberal arts---so to be recognized that way was really neat. And 01:10:00then [I've been given] a variety of other local awards. But as an academic and as a researcher, you do your thing because you like what you do. I've got to admit, when once in a while someone says thank you-you don't hear that a lot but they do, it's pretty cool.
MA: I understand what you mean, but there had been-you mentioned Fort Yamhill.That was one of those awards where as an ambassador for anthropology you were able to mobilize and actually be able to save the Fort.
DB: Well that was Fort Hoskins. And they are both sister forts from the same01:11:00time period. So Fort Hoskins was actually-when I came to OSU in 1976, that's when I started my actual-that contract archeologist employment. But I wanted to do-I had been running archeological field schools over at Washington State down in the Snake River Canyon and I really enjoyed it. I mean it was early in my career but I really enjoyed archeology field schools. That's where the kids get their first training in real field work as archeologists. And so, in the summer of 1976, summer was coming up and I had contracts around but I needed people on those that could work fast and knew what they were doing. And there wasn't any project going on that I could interject a field school into an ongoing project that summer.
And I had a few projects in mind, but I remember a student walked into my officeand said, "Are you Doctor Brauner" and I said, "Yeah". And he said, "Well I'm taking a technical writing class over in English and I need to write a term 01:12:00paper. And my Professor said I should write a paper about a place called Fort Hoskins. It's a Civil War fort out by King's Valley." And I looked at him because I'd never heard of it. Even though I had taken a lot of history classes, I didn't know the Civil War happened in Oregon. I mean, that's back east! So I quizzed the kid for a little bit and he didn't know very much. He was just starting. And he said, "Well my professor wanted me to illustrate my paper on this fort with pictures of artifacts." I said, "What do you mean?" And he said, "Well he wants me to go out and dig up some artifacts at Fort Hoskins and then take pictures of them and put them in the report". I said, "What do you mean? Is a professor telling you to go out and loot a site?" And the kid got quiet. I said, "Who is this professor?" Well, it was Preston Onstad. He was an English 01:13:00professor. And, "Well I've got to meet this guy. I've got to set him straight". I was young enough at the time to still be a super-crusader. "I want to meet this guy and I want you to go introduce me to him". So a couple days later this kid and I walk over to the English department and we walk into his office and there was Colonel Sanders from Kentucky Fried Chicken. I mean he looked just like Colonel Sanders! Little goatee, moustache, white hair, he had a white sport coat on. That took me aback and then we introduced ourselves. Preston-his avocation was history. He should have been a history professor. He was fascinated by military history. He had written a couple articles that he showed me on Fort Hoskins. He said, "Well I'll take you out there. It's a private farm but I know the land owners and I'll give you a tour out there". And we just started talking. And I don't know, we talked for 3 or 4 hours. And somewhere that student finally slipped out the door and we never even noticed. I don't 01:14:00ever know what happened to that kid. But the paper was never written and no artifacts were dug up. Preston-about a week later took me out to King's Valley. He introduced me to the property owners and showed me where the fort was. And there was nothing above ground. It was later farm buildings that were there. But you started looking around on the ground and artifacts from the mid nineteenth century and some of the military buttons and other things were popping through the surface. "Whoa! There's a major site here!" The property owners told us that there was a developer interested in buying the farm and they were going to put condos out there. Kind of a country resort. And this was just before land use laws got stiffened which didn't allow that. But the site was threatened. There was going to be development on the site. So I thought, "Man! This is the perfect place for a field school".
I didn't have much money but it's close, we could do it fairly cheap. I mean I01:15:00didn't have a dime. So the first place I went was the Dean of Undergraduate Education and told him about the opportunity. He gave me $5,000. The State Historic Preservation Office gave me $5,000. The department kicked in some money. We had enough to run a field school. In '76 we were out there at Fort Hoskins doing that. In '76 and '77 we dug out at Fort Hoskins and it was an amazing place. It was so rich with artifacts. And, we were going to dig out there in 1978 but the State of Oregon published a book called The Insiders Guide to Oregon and somehow they got the information about Fort Hoskins and they put it in their book as a place to visit. They didn't tell anybody that it was private property. And so people started coming out and they started trespassing on the farm and they were even threatening the property owners because this book said they could be there and it got to be a real mess. So we didn't do the '78 excavations and basically we walked away from the site and I thought I'd never 01:16:00see it again. And then in 1990 I got a phone call from the husband I had met had died and his wife who was still living-she was living up in Olympia. And she said, "Dave it's been a long time but hello" and she said, "My grand kids are getting up to college age and I'm going to sell the farm down there in Kings Valley. I want to get rid of it. But it was my husband's wish that this place go into public ownership. He always wished that it would become a park because of the Fort. So I'm calling you Dave to see if there was anything that we can do." And so I called County Parks and they didn't have any money but they thought it was a really cool idea. So I put a citizens group together. Just people I knew who were interested in that history.
And it took us about a year, but we raised the $180,000 she wanted for 130 acreswhich was a darn good deal. Even back then that was a good deal. So, we raised 01:17:00the money and we owned the property. Benton County State Parks owned the property, because we quickly deeded it over to them. Since then, we've raised over a million dollars to develop the place. Interpretive signs, vegetation, management, and a lot of building roads, restrooms, and all the stuff that goes with the park. That's something I've been involved with off and on since 1976 and since 1990, continuously. I still chair the Fort Hoskins Advisory Committee. That place has been really important to me in terms of having enough input-Benton County Parks and Benton County Commissions have been behind it since the beginning. But they also have been willing to listen to me and a few other people; wildlife people, vegetation people, the tribes--the Siletz and the 01:18:00Grande Ronde. So we developed the park slowly, very deliberately. We raised the money; we were fundraising all the time. We didn't want to do anything hasty. We had this kind of collective vision of what we wanted that park to look like. I remember at the grand opening ceremony-the day we had that we had the tribes, the Civil War re-enactors, we had hundreds of people come out for the opening ceremonies for the park. I just remember sitting back in the central area on the property and looking around and when something happens that's better than the way you dream it-I mean that's incredibly rewarding. Most projects I've done over the years have been, you know, a week before a bulldozer and where ever you're working it's going to quickly go away and turn into a subdivision or a 01:19:00highway or a dam and a reservoir. I've done a lot of that. But with Fort Hoskins, it started as a derelict unknown piece of property and it's now a gem in our park system in Oregon. It's a county park but it rivals anything out there. So it's gorgeous and we're still working on it. So, that's been probably one of the most rewarding involvement throughout my career that I've had. And to have input that matters. I've worked with a lot of other agencies-I mean the state parks and the national parks are great. They're wonderful. But I'm a little cog in a great big machine. And with parks at that level, you know, I don't have a heck of a lot of input that works its way up to the upper management. I mean, a little bit, particularly at Champoeg and Fort Yamhill. But with Hoskins, that's been my baby. That's been my fifth kid. [laughs] That's 01:20:00been a lot of fun.
MA: So if you had to pick a favorite project over the years, do you think youwould pick Fort Hoskins, or is there another one?
DB: Well, Fort Hoskins for the reward of taking it from a piece of derelictproperty to a beautiful park that people can enjoy the natural setting, they can enjoy the history. We're adding more of a historical side all the time. So that's been incredibly rewarding but when people ask me, "What's your favorite project up 'til now", it's hard because every one of them has been different. Every one of them has been fascinating. Learned things, seen things that I would never have dreamed. Working on sites like-the Jason Lee Mission is one small example. Jason Lee is a pretty major character in Oregon history. He's in all 01:21:00the history books. Kids learn about him. Of course then Oregonians lose where he lived, his mission. I've always thought that was fascinating that even some of our most famous public people in our history books, when it comes down to "Well, where was the mission". You know, "I don't know! We lost it!" So that's always been fun to find things that people have lost. It's an incredible privilege to be able to excavate a site like that. Where you find the main mission building and you excavate the floors. There's the remnants of the fireplace and you're sitting on that floor where the last people to have ever been there was Jason Lee and his people.
The last people to ever see it was Jesse Applegate the year after they abandonedthe mission. And then it was dust, dirt, vegetation grew over it and that was the last time anybody even knew where it was. And then to be sitting in front of 01:22:00that hearth, 150 years or more later, and seeing the remnants of what those people way back saw and made and touched. I mean it's just the feeling of privilege on some of the sites is just amazing. It's like you're the next visitor to come by and you walk in the house and look around and, "Oh!" you know, "Hello!" You know you meet the people over there. I've excavated prehistoric semi-subterranean houses on the Snake River, these winter villages that were 2500-3000 years old and we worked on a site for three years. When the village was vacated in the spring, when the Nez Perce band was going up into the Blue Mountains for their seasonal gathering cycle, for some historical reasons they never came home. The army intercepted them and took them over to the 01:23:00reservation. The village was right next to a big sand dune on the Snake River and the prevailing winds blew that sand right across their houses. And it was kind of like Pompeii where as soon as they took the mats off the top of their house, sand started blowing in. And those houses were sealed just the exact way they had walked out and nobody had ever gotten back on those floors and didn't even know those houses were there. And so when we excavated those big houses they were 12-15 meters in diameter, they were a meter deep with beautiful stone rings in the middle for the fireplaces with all of the ash still in the hearths. All of the tools, all the debris that they had used, that they had left behind, are sitting in the exact same spot as when they left. You could see that there was-what we call hopper mortar bases, there was a crushing plant processing tool, there was an anvil, stones, and chopping tools, left right where they had placed them in a row. There were little sharp chert flakes all lined up that 01:24:00they would use to cut the tendons off the meat when they were processing the meat. And then there was the open spot. It was almost a "butt-print" where she had sat. It was her kitchen. This is where she sat to work and you could see exactly where she sat. All the tools were within arm's length in categories. It was like having a little drawer with your knives, forks, and spoons in it. It was all organized. This whole house was just-they had just walked out, the sand blew in, and nobody had ever been in there. And we excavated those houses as just massive units. We opened up the whole house and mapped everything from top to bottom in three dimensions.
But when we had those original floors exposed with everything left right wherethey had left them, I remember going out on a moonlit night and just sitting on that floor right where that gal sat in her food processing area and just looked around. Wow. Your imagination could just run away with you. It's those 01:25:00experiences-it's I think the same feeling of explorers going into places that no one has ever seen, or at least not any-I guess no Euro-American had ever seen when they were exploring the Americas. You come upon things and nobody has been there for 3000 years and you're there and you're sitting on that spot. And it's so intact you literally expect to-you feel guilty like, "They're going to walk in and find me here?" Those are really unique experiences. And fortunately I've been able to have a lot of those in my career. The days of exploration are over, but the days of going back into the past and exploring have just begun. And so there are a few of us here that can do that. There are times you're walking 01:26:00around and you never know where you are in space and time. When you're trained as an archaeologist-when I'm lecturing in a classroom, part of your brain is doing the lecturing, and then the part of your brain that gets bored and is wandering off and doing other things. That part of my brain that tends to like to wander when I'm lecturing, you know, you look at the students, you look at the eye glasses, you look at the jewelry, you look at the shoes and the buckles and the snaps. And your mind is getting rid of everything that is organic in that room leaving the inorganic stuff just dropped in place. And you view the world as a site. The roof's not going to be here, the walls are crumbling. Archaeologists are going to find that stairway going out and that doorway.
You just-you see that place, this place, as an archeological site. It gets realstrange at times because part of your head is looking at what our colleagues are 01:27:00going to find 1,000 years from now at this place we call OSU. I must admit, at home I'm very conscious of that. So, in these days of modern garbage disposal I'll take a one week sample of garbage and I'll go out in the backyard and dig a deep hole and put it there. Because otherwise an archeologist won't find anything we use today because it all goes down to the dump. And recycling, forget it. If we don't put it in the dump, archeologists aren't going to find it. I tend to put stuff in the garbage at least periodically that I should be recycling, but I've got to give my colleagues a chance. But it's the pits in my backyard that I hope somebody will find some day and find some interesting stuff. [laughs] I've even put notes in a sealed-bottle or something, you use a wax seal on lead so if the metal cap-well you like to use plastic because that's not going anywhere. But seal notes and stuff and put those down there. Just 01:28:00playing games. [laughs]
MA: I'm sure they'll thank you in a couple hundred years.
DB: I suspect that soon after I move that-I live so close to downtown that youknow, my place will someday be bulldozed away. I do live in a historic home. I live in an Eastlake Queen Anne and I've lived there since 1980. That slow process of restoration, the money pit. But it's a gorgeous house, so I think it might last. It might be a lawyer's house but it will last. [laughs]
MA: Is there a least favorite project that you've worked on?
DB: Yeah, when we-well, when I was back at Washington State University, we weredoing salvage work, archeological salvage we called it back then, behind Ice 01:29:00Harbor Dam and Lower Granite Dam. So those big reservoirs-we were trying to get what we could while we could out of those reservoirs. So we tended to learn to work on it not just summertimes, but we would end up working in the winter. That was pretty uncommon back then. But after 1974, when these federal laws hit, archeology is done year round. I've got to admit, here in the Willamette Valley, trying to excavate in this mud in the valley floor in the wintertime is not fun. I try to avoid it-I can now, but every once in a while something comes along on a significant historical site that we got to get a crew out there. When it's raining and pouring and the mud is up to your knees, I don't like that. I've had to work on sites in the middle of winter where it snows like east of the mountains, where the ground freezes solid. We had one site that we excavated in 01:30:00December, January and the first part of February out in the middle of nowhere, but it was super cold. And the ground kept freezing faster than we could dig. We had to excavate by using crowbars. We would mark ten centimeters up, we were digging ten centimeters levels, but to get ten centimeters-our shovel was too frozen for any of our equipment to work-so we would take a crowbar, put a line where ten centimeters was, and then take a propane heater and heat the end of that crowbar up red hot and drive it ten centimeters down and basically perforate a little square ten centimeters deep. And then take the crowbar and pop it out like a postage stamp. And then you take that square of frozen dirt and you had another heater on your screens you'd heat the water screens up red hot. You put that chunk of frozen dirt and kind of let it thaw and melt through 01:31:00the screen. And the wind would blow 30, 40, 50 miles an hour out there. And it was already like 15 degrees. And then you've got 40-50 mile an hour winds. We tried to build shelters but we weren't very good engineers and almost every shape we picked didn't pass the wind tunnel test. So our shelters were blowing off over the horizon half the time. Tumbleweeds were the biggest problem because tumbleweeds are real gregarious. You know, they grow individually, but they are big bushes. And they got stickers on them. So when they break loose in the winter time and start tumbling they get together in big crowds and they form these masses of tumbleweeds about the size of a Volkswagen bus. And with the strong winds, those big things are rolling across the desert.
We were excavating just below a little rise and so we couldn't see thetumbleweed coming at us until they were right there. So we had-one of our crew members had to be on tumbleweed watch and alert the rest of the crew when this 01:32:00stuff was coming. One of the kids was supposed to be watching for tumbleweeds had to go to the restroom and disappeared. I had just lifted myself out of a pit and-when we knew tumbleweeds were coming everyone just ducked down in the pit and put a heavy coat over their heads and it would blow over you. But I just remember standing up and I looked over and right there was this giant-the wind was blowing about 50 miles an hour, and this massive tumbleweed was just coming down at us. I yelled and I had time to duck down because I'd seen it. I had five people working with me at that site, all four of them because one guy was often taking a constitutional, they all stood up to see what I was yelling about. Of course they stood up just as that tumbleweed hit. Most of them had just enough time to turn their heads. The back of their hats got ripped off and they got cut 01:33:00pretty bad on the back. But one guy took it right in the face. He had the stickers in his eyes, his face was ripped up, bleeding like mad, and he spent a couple days in the emergency room. I don't enjoy sites like that. They make for good stories but nah.
MA: I see how that could be a comedy routine once it's over-.
DB: Well yeah, in years after it's kind of funny, but it was out near a towncalled Connell, Washington. I'll never forget. And then they didn't-it was the center line of a highway they were proposing to build. That's why we were out there when we were, because they weren't going to start construction right away. They didn't build that road for two years. We could've been out there in the nice springtime, beautiful weather. So there are a few I don't look back on with fond memories, but every site is different. You're entering a different past with every site you work on. You're seeing artifacts that, you know, sometimes 01:34:00there are certain kinds of artifacts you find time after time. But every time we put a hole in the ground we find something new and that's always exciting. There isn't much I haven't liked about this career.
MA: Going along with that vein, how has your life been different from how youimagined it would be up to this point?
DB: Well I learned early on that you can always try to imagine where you will bein a year or two but it has never worked out. Never has. I'm always somewhere else, like I say, in space or time. You know all your friends and relations around you-I've learned-I'm old enough now, that that's not stable either. It's been probably within the last decade, of course, I'm getting up to the age where friends and colleagues are going away. Certainly the older generation of my family and a lot of the people I've met over the years: the property owners, the 01:35:00people in historical societies, just a whole bunch of people who were interested in history, in organizations or just individually; kind of avocational historians. And I've met so many really neat people. But I was young and they were old at the time, so over time I've watched these older generations disappear. I mean, having a sense of what was in their heads and the knowledge we've lost. When you work with some of the older generation, you get bits and pieces because you have specific questions. Very few people ever have the ability to have somebody really document their life, you know, like somebody like yourself that has a set of very specific questions, and kind of end up doing a biography approach, oral history. Even fewer people get their life 01:36:00history written down, and even fewer write their own history. I remember my grandmother and my mother said well, "I've got to write down my experiences [from] when I was a kid, I've got to write this". When we were growing up they would tell us stories, and, "Now you've got to write that down." Well one, even as an anthropologist I've never sat down with a tape recorder with my own family and I certainly should have. And, none of my family members that have some incredible stories have ever done that. And when you consider that, as we're walking down the street or at a football game and everybody in that stadium has interesting stories, you know what I mean, just worlds disappear with the loss of every generation. We're working with the World War II generation.
I have colleagues out at Benton County and up at the State Historical Society,the State Archives, that are desperately trying to capture the stories of our World War II veterans and now Korean War, but we're losing them faster than 01:37:00anybody can even begin to document their lives. And then so few objects that are created within the lifetime of any generation actually end up in landfills. When somebody dies the family comes in and throws almost everything away. Very little makes it into our museums or historical societies and that's a shame. My dad-who was in World War II-he's the last guy on earth I ever would have thought would have sat down to write anything about his life. Well, he's now got a 90 page manuscript of his autobiography. And my mom, who was always going to write about her life, and I thought would, not a word. So I've got stories that I'll remember, but, "David write them down", but am I doing that? No. So, the loss 01:38:00of-with everybody I know that dies that I've worked with over the years, or that are relations, it's just, we're just losing them. Of course that's why archeologists will always have a job. [laughs] But it's just too bad. As you get along in your career-I mean, when I started working here, I started when I was 29 and I was one of the younger people out of the WSU program with a PhD, and that's part of that drive and motivation and feeling that I was always behind, that I got through that fast. But I was here when I was 29. And, back in those days I was doing the same thing. I was going to historical societies and Civitans clubs, Lions Clubs, giving talks along with the professional meetings. But I was this kid in the crowd and the historical society people-it was always this sea of blue-haired ladies. I always wondered what happened to the men. But, 01:39:00you know, like 50-60 people interested in history and there might be two men in the room and the rest of them were blue-haired ladies. Now I go to the same places but I'm talking to my generation, you know, the little blue-haired ladies are not quite the same looking because they're my generation now, so I look at them a whole different way. But still, it's a sea of older people. That's never changed. So I was kind of an anomaly when I started. I was always the kid in the room and I was the kid in the department when I started here. For years I was the youngest one here and always felt like the kid. And somewhere I blinked and now I'm the oldest. It's like, "What happened? When did that happen?" and of course all my colleagues have retired or have died. So it's a little weird feeling now. It's like the tables have flipped. [laughs] As long as I don't look 01:40:00in the mirror I'm ok. I don't feel old on the inside. [laughs]
MA: Who has been the biggest influence on your life and what lessons did theyteach you?
DB: Well, I think over the years, bits and pieces of these people I have met, alot of the older generation, have certainly influenced me. But as a professional archeologist, it goes back, you know, the people that really got you excited and focused in the early part of your career. And I think Richard Daugherty, who was the Dean of Northwest Archeology for years; he just died less than a week ago. He was 91 and had a heck of a career. Interesting man. I looked to him for being my original role model of what an archeologist should be. Most archeologists back in the last '60s and early '70s, they were kind of cowboys. I mean, a lot 01:41:00of them kind of equated themselves with cowboys. You moved around a lot, you were living in the field a lot, and in very isolated places. You drank hard, you played hard, and you worked hard. And jeans and an old Sear's blue work shirt was your uniform. And an old pair of boots, actually usually desert boots, these old Clark's. I still wear them. The teachers in the universities, the archeologists, were sort of-archeologists and geologists are always coming from the same mold. Geologists have always run around with beards and kind of long hair until they get old and lose their hair.
They keep the beard. And jeans, work shirts, very casual but they spend a lot oftime living in the field, and I've always equated the mentality and the 01:42:00worldview of my geology colleagues as the same as the archeologists. And the professors that used to teach wore blue jeans, blue work shirts, nasty old boots, and back in those days they used to smoke like factories. But you had to have a pipe. If you didn't smoke a pipe you weren't as-the thing that differentiated a field archeologist that didn't work for a university with the university archeologists was the university archeologists always smoked pipes. I didn't like to smoke. I had a pipe, just for looks for awhile. Sometimes [inaudible] I was finishing I would sit there and chew on a pipe stem and hold it because that's what everybody around me was doing. And the big black horn-rimmed glasses back in the '60s? Oh god, you had to have horn-rimmed glasses. And I had 20/20 vision, so I went to the point of getting a pair of horn-rimmed glasses with clear lenses just to look like the academics. I didn't wear those for very long, nor did I have my pipe very long. There was kind of a 01:43:00uniform and a look. You'd get confused by the geologists some times, but you could spot the archeologists. And so the professors would teach classes in the same uniform, and slouch up against the blackboard, and kind of talk informally, and all that "field-y" kind of look to them. You know the wild kind of look. Well Daugherty was different. He wore a suit. He wore a tie. He always looked good. But he was the only archeologist that I knew that worked with the politicians, he was the one on national committees, he was the one who taught us that if you don't get involved you're going to lose the discipline. You've got to be professional. He said there's time to be a field archeologist and in the field Daugherty looked like the rest of us. But when he got on campus and when he had meetings, he was dressed to the nines. So, he was an anomaly. An 01:44:00archeologist wearing a tie? That's unheard of! But I thought that was-coming into the discipline, you know, I was hearing what he was saying and thought that's the way to go. You know? You're a professional, look like it when it's appropriate. And days you don't teach, particularly when you're in the field, you wear your field clothes. You're comfortable. There's no sense putting on pretenses. He was good at raising money. He had a seminar in grantsmanship. I learned well in that class. I've been pretty good over my career at getting money. But I paid attention. I remember most of my fellow students going, "oh, you're not going to be money-grubbing to authority, and you know, blah, blah, blah" it's like "we're not playing that game". Well yeah you're not going to be practicing your career very long. So, he really influenced me there.
And then, well, two other influences. One was a guy who turned out to be my01:45:00major professor on my Ph.D. Frank Leonardi. He was, he got into archeology playing a guitar down in Tijuana, laying back and one day it just hit him that he better do something with his life and he got into archeology. He was not the kind of guy who dressed like Daugherty did. He didn't talk like Daugherty did. It terms of professionalism he was a field archeologist. He used to call himself a dirt archeologist. He would teach classes, he would come into the class room three or four days stubble of black beard and have a cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth and as he lectured, the cigarette was bouncing up and down and he was slouched up against the blackboard with jeans and old work boots on. He had a real deep, low voice, and he had these big bushy black eyebrows, and he'd tilt his head down and look at you kind of through those eyebrows and scared the scrap out of new students because he looked like he was about to 01:46:00murder the entire room. But one of the nicest men you'd ever want to meet. He was my field mentor. He was the guy I did my field school with, and I was on his staff for a few years, and then he had a heart attack and after that I ran his field projects for him on the Snake. He taught me that being a dirt archeologist was something to be proud of. When I was in grad school, and even today in academia, the theorists think they're so hot shot, and if you're not a practicing theorist you're not really academic. There are people that say, well, everything we need to know we've already dug up out of the ground.
All we have to do is-the best application of statistics and we can learnanything. Well, they're not field people. They don't know how to get things out of the ground and if you don't get your data out of the ground right, nothing can fix it after that. Frank taught me that. And he taught me that the proudest 01:47:00profession in archeology is be a good field archeologist, because if it doesn't come out of the ground right, nobody can ever fix it. So, when Frank died, at the national meeting I did kind of a eulogy for him and it was all about what a dirt archeologist was according to Leonardi. And I developed these points that he instilled in me. That turned out to be a real popular talk. So Daugherty for the professional side, the suave and smooth but still a good archeologist. That it was okay to wear a tie. And with Frank, that it was okay to not. Know theory, use it when you need it, but you better be a good field archeologist. So those two guys. And then there was a physical anthropologist in the program. A guy by the name of Grover Krantz. Grover was about 6'8', 6'9", he had a wild hairdo, 01:48:00and a great big bushy beard. And one of his side interests was Sasquatch and, my god, he looked like a Sasquatch. But he was an incredible scholar in terms of osteology and human evolution. He was a master at posing research questions, in just throwing ideas out there to get students interested in pursuing unusual ways of looking at things. And, he never used notes, but his lectures were so organized and meticulous. They are the only set of notes that I still have; that I took from him. Just because it was so elegant the way he presented the material in the classroom. He had a real deep radioman's voice, but he had the most active brain, thinking out of the box, all the time. A lot of the theories he had about human evolution that he would put out in the classroom in those 01:49:00days, that everyone thought were out there and crazy, well they're coming back now, proving he was right. He died a few years ago. Just to try to give you an idea of his personality, he donated his body to the Smithsonian Institution because he always was real proud of his cranial size. It was on the far upper limit of human crania capacity. Of course his whole body was huge. So he donated his body to the Smithsonian. And he had these two big Irish Wolfhounds as pets. He would bring those dogs to his office and you'd be going up to the main anthropology office at WSU, the elevator would open up and you were eye-to-eye with two Wolfhounds that would sit there looking at you and this great big giant of a man behind them. But when those Wolfhounds died, he buried them in his back yard. And when he donated his body to the Smithsonian, the two dogs were dug up 01:50:00and the skeletons also went back to the Smithsonian. And it was freakier than all get out. A couple years ago I was back at the Smithsonian. He had them mount his skeleton and mount his dogs. He's in a display case at the Smithsonian standing up with his arm up and one of the Wolfhounds is jumping up at his side to get something out of his hand and the other Wolfhound is sitting on the ground right at his feet. But knowing that man as well as I did and those dogs, and then going to see him, his skeleton, mounted in a very life-like-that was freaky. But, I admired him so much. And I've tried to emulate a lot of what he did when I teach. I mean I probably never will be as good, but I think those three guys. They were the big influences on me. Your biggest influences, I 01:51:00think, are early in your career usually. So, there were others along the line that I admired and respected but, those three got me started.
MA: It seems like those three really fostered the different kind of facets as anexplorer, but so much of what you do is telling the stories of what you're finding, you know, and the sites that you visit. As a story teller-
DB: I've been accused of that.
MA: Were there influences that fostered that ability?
DB: The story telling? No, that's me. The last time I mentioned that when I wasa kid, my grandmother that lived down in Eugene, my mom's mom, was a story teller. When my brother and I would stay down there, in the evenings should would put us up in a big old feather bed upstairs. She would sit down on the 01:52:00edge of the bed and tell us adventure stories. I mean we were the main characters, but she'd put us into these adventures and she was really good at telling stories. My mom when she wants to be can be a good storyteller but she doesn't tell much. But I think that that came out of that and that my grandparents that lived here in Corvallis, their youngest child, my uncle, was only three years older than me so he was like a big brother. So when I'd stay in Corvallis, he would make a point of-they never wanted my brother and me together at the same time. So, my younger brother was down in Eugene when I was here and then we'd switch places. I mean, we were kind of a terror when we were together. So we had our grandparents to ourselves whenever we'd visit them. And so my uncle would make a point of, when he had bicycles we'd go on long bicycle rides 01:53:00here in the valley, but not just bicycle rides. There was an old house or an old barn up there a few miles, and let's go explore it. And I just remember creeping through old buildings looking for cool stuff with him as a kid. When he built his own truck because his mother wouldn't let him buy a vehicle, so he just gathered parts and built one in his barn. But we used to go up to the Bohemia Mining Country up in the Cascades, and we used to go up above Santiam Pass. He was real interested in tracking down old mines with the buildings still standing up in the woods. We used to go up and camp in the woods for a couple of days and just explore the old mines and it was magic. And so I could spend the rest of the school year when I was home in Edmonds or even in high school in Federal Way, you know, dreaming about those places we had seen. He used to take us over to ghost towns over in eastern Oregon and explore around. 01:54:00
Between those experiences, those kind of adventures of going to old and derelictand out of the way places with my uncle. And my grandmother's stories-she was a collector, also, down in Eugene. She got me started on coin collections and stamp collections and sort of those basic kid things. But stamp collecting to me was fascinating. I mean it sounds kind of poindexter-like. It's the pictures on stamps that would just take me to different parts of the world. I used to love to look at the pictures and then stick myself into those pictures. Every corner of the world, when you're looking at stamps, have great pictures. So I got pretty hardcore into stamp collecting until I went to college and then that ended. I've still got the collections but I don't pursue them. But as a kid, I used to like to read, but it was more the pictures on stamps that took me to 01:55:00different places. All of that ultimately wound into-I had a pretty good imagination as a kid. Give me a few pieces of wood and a little toy car and I could keep myself busy for a good half a day making up stories. But that's the way my brain works, and so when I try to get information and the academic ideas across to students, it's easier for me to do it in the framework of storytelling. And a lot of students like that. Students who like the world in black and white don't like that. You know they want the lectures to be in an outline form. Boom, this is the major topic, this is first subtopic, these are secondary subtopics; no, I can't do that. So I weave the historical narratives into stories, I weave the archeology into stories. When I'm speaking about specific archeological sites or discoveries, I like the kids to know the context 01:56:00of those discoveries. So you talk about the Leakeys finding the first ancient human remains in Africa and there was a story, an interesting story, behind those discoveries. It never is about scientists going into the field thinking they're going to find something and find it. Never! It doesn't work like that. Discoveries are made when somebody is pissed off, when somebody is drunk, when somebody is this, that, or another thing. And, of course, then it gets into the academic books and it's all straight and serious. But the stories are better behind the discoveries. And most of them remember that. Mary Leakey was contemplating divorcing Lewis. Because she was so pissed off at him she was sitting on a rock.
On a trail, in the middle of the Olduvai Gorge, she happened to look down andthere was a three million year old human tooth sticking out of the trail. And therefore we find this specimen. It had nothing to do with "Oh, we're going to 01:57:00look here for an ancient fossil". That's not how it works! You know? So I like to tell the [story]. I think most kids remember it, but on my course evaluations you've got a few people who think you walk on water, then you've got the middle group, and then you've got a few people that hate your guts. I always wish I could put in an attendance thing with those comments but we can't. If there's a negative comment about my courses, the written comments it's like, "You tell stories and we start getting fascinated by listening to the stories and we don't know what you want us to write down for notes." Well I do kind of verbally italicize the important stuff, I think. [laughs] But yeah, my grad students and the students that have taken multiple classes from me, it's, "Dave's a storyteller. That's just the way it is." [laughs] 01:58:00
MA: Which is a good compliment I think, in a lot of ways.
DB: Most of the kids like it.
MA: It's a communication for the passion that you have.
DB: It's getting a little worse, since I've been in the discipline for so manyyears. There's so freaking' many stories! And so, you know I've often thought I need to teach a class, an archeology class that is just about the projects I've done. And that's just what the course is. There's this project, and there's this project, and we'll kind of chronologically work up -for budding archeologists, they need to know that it's not all science and predictive and we're all smart and find exactly what we're looking for. Accident in our discovery and chance is a bigger part of the game. What we know about the past is funneled through individual minds and the way people think and their behavior and their outlook on life, you know, plays into what ends up in a textbook on the past. If you 01:59:00don't know the people, you can't really evaluate the quality of the information you're getting. So, at least for the Northwest I try to give my kids that. But I need more than a quarter. This quarter system is crazy. You know I came out of a semester system at WSU, and I've been here for 38 years and you think I can get all my information into a single quarter? Forget it! I could do it in a semester. So I never end a class where I want to end a class. A few years ago-well a few decades ago we almost switched to the semester. I wish we would have.
MA: It definitely takes some getting used to.
DB: [laughs] Did you come out of semester schools?
MA: I'm from Texas [with the semester system] originally and so there's somethings I like more about it. I feel like there's sometimes a lull in a semester that you don't ever have in the quarter because it's- 02:00:00
DB: Yeah. It's intense. I developed several courses that I had into turn intotwo quarter classes. The problem is that students aren't required to have to take a two quarter sequence and so people come into the second half but they haven't had the first half or they don't take the second half after they've had the first half. So it's always a bugaboo to get everything in. But I wouldn't trade it. This has been an incredible career.
MA: What does the future hold for you?
DB: Good question. Right now, I mean I've been over that 30 year retirementthing for quite a while and last year I turned 65 so you know the official retirement-I guess 66 this year is Social Security retirement era, but I still feel like I'm in my late 30s inside. I can't believe how fast time has gone as 02:01:00long as I've been here. It seems like it's just yesterday that I was doing a lot of this stuff I did in my early days here. I still really enjoy working with students. You know the new grad students and the next generations that are coming along are always a challenge and always interesting. And the freaking past doesn't go away. It's like there's so much to do out there. I've got projects in my head lined up that I could be 200 years old and still have projects that I know I want to do. There's very few people in the Northwest doing historical archeology. The University of Idaho and our program are the only two academic programs in the Northwest where you can take courses or get a degree in historical archeology.
So, you know, I hope when I do retire this carries on. We've got a very longtradition here. But, I still enjoy what I do. I still wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work. And why stop? You know, it just to me it doesn't 02:02:00make sense. I still like what I do and I still can do what I do. Now, periodically, you know, the last decade, there's been some health issues pop up that slow you down for a little bit and make you realize you're not as young as you used to be. But then you get past it and away you go. Right now my wife is having some health problems, and that's worrisome. But, I find that with the issues with her, you know, I'm not going to stop and hang around the house. I mean, she's got a routine that serves her well. And, you know, coming to work is what I enjoy. If she needs me home, I'll be there. And so, I'm kind of thinking-there's been a couple of faculty members on campus that have reached that 40 year mark, and I'll be damned if I'm going to quit before them. And so 02:03:00I'll at least have a couple more years. I want to have been here at least 40 years just because it's a nice round number but I suspect I'll be a year or two longer than that. If it gets to the point that I don't enjoy it or it gets to the point where garbage builds up too deep-I mean so far at this university they-bureaucracies here have-they're bureaucracies and every bureaucracy, no matter which administration we've had here at OSU has their points that as a faculty member you don't like or you don't agree with. But, in the big scheme of the world, it's never really very serious and you adapt. But, there's kind of a freedom to being over retirement age because you can get out if the crap gets too deep, you just say good-bye. And that hasn't happened. My health is 02:04:00generally good. I still like teaching and I like the students. I've still totally got research projects lined up that I want to explore. So, minimally two years, probably four or five. One of my professors over at Washington State, he just retired last year and he was at the university for 58 years.
DB: I don't think I want to go that long. I mean I do have things I want to do.I have restored motor cars for railroad motor cars and I want to get out on the tracks and run that thing around the country. And I really enjoy fly fishing and I would like to go to beautiful places and go fly fishing longer. There are just like tourist-y places around the world that I would like to hit not as an archeologist, because I've been some mighty beautiful places, kind of behind the 02:05:00scenes wilderness tourism if you will. Places where nobody else has certainly camped for thousands of year. So my career has put me in places that keep you refreshed and recharges your batteries, particularly in the summer. But there are places I would like to go and see that I would never get to in an academic position. So, when the job gets less interesting than the lure of retirement I'll still be here. And if I don't feel I can teach effectively, then okay, sayonara.
MA: Is there anything important that we haven't yet touched upon?
DB: I don't think so. We've hit pretty much every corner of the universe.
MA: I probably shouldn't say "important" because there's just so much to fit insuch a small amount of time.
DB: There is a heck of a lot. But no, I think we've covered a lot of territory.02:06:00
MA: Okay. I'd like to thank you again for participating in this interview andletting us practice our oral history interviewing, and for your contribution to the "Voices of OSU Oral History Collection" in the OSU Library.