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Bing Francis Oral History Interview, November 1, 1991

Oregon State University
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Jennifer Lee: Okay, Bing. I know you were born in 1910, and where was that?

Bing Francis: Where was it?

JL: Where? And what's the exact date.

BF: Gilbert, Minnesota.

JL: Oh.

BF: June 12, 1910.

JL: Wow.

BF: And Gilbert, Minnesota is way up in the north in what they call the iron range area. It, a lot of iron mines up there at that time. My father was just out of medical college, Rush Medical College, which is University of California, and he went up there, accepted a position up there as an assistant to a senior doctor who operated, or rather, I probably should say practiced, in Gilbert and the communities around Gilbert. So he and mother went up there, and I was born 00:01:00up there.

JL: How did he have this contact with this person, just through the university?

BF: Through Rush Medical College. I have no recollection of it at all because I was still sort of a grown up baby or something, or whatever you'd call it, when the family moved from there down to Woodstock, Illinois. And my first recollections in my childhood are at Woodstock. But I have pictures of things up there and I heard the folks talk about Gilbert, that it was quite a high country and very cold and in the winter, of course in those days all of dad's calls in the country were made with horse and buggy or horse and sled or cutter. And in 00:02:00the winter months he would drive off across the lakes just right across the lake to go out to some remote spot to call on a patient. One time coming back he was aware that his horse seemed to be a little bit skittish and he was wondering what was the cause of that and then happened to look out to the side and here was a wolf, a timber wolf, just trotting alongside his buggy.

JL: Oh no.

BF: Just looking like he was enjoying life to the fullest. So when Dad got back he'd ride around a bit and decided maybe he better take, get a pistol. And so he bought a little Iver Johnson .32 caliber. I don't think it would ever of killed 00:03:00a wolf but it might have hit it hard enough to scare it away and he was no expert with a handgun. But there was quite a roughneck element in amongst all those miners out there and they, like some of the teenage gangs of today, they would gather together and create a commotion and his horse that he always used from the livery stable was a pretty high-spirited horse with a lot of vigor because he had to have it that way to make these long calls to the country. So one day when he started out through town and he passed one of these gangs and 00:04:00they sicked their dog onto the rig.

JL: This is in Minnesota still?

BF: This was still Gilbert, Minnesota. So he decided, he'd scare the dog. So he just reached out the side of the rig and shot back in the direction of the dog. He killed the dog.

JL: Oh, no! Oh gosh.

BF: And his reputation was set. He didn't have any more problems with the roughneck element of Gilbert, Minnesota while he was up there.

JL: They didn't try to retaliate, then?

BF: No, my no. They...

JL: They respected him, huh?

BF: They were leaving him alone.

JL: So part of his medical kit, then, was a pistol?

BF: Yep. Speaking of this rough element, Saturday nights would be terrific in 00:05:00the saloons. When they first lived up there they had an apartment up above the office where he and the other doctor practiced, where he and mother and I lived. On a few occasions on Saturday nights they'd be having a brawl over in the saloon across the street and a time or two they would get shooting, and mother would get me out of the crib and lie down on the floor in the apartment in case there were any stray bullets. Then they built a little house out on the edge of Gilbert and moved out there. These things I learned from mother and Dad telling 00:06:00me about their life up there. And some photographs that I have of things that went on up there. It was quite a place. But that's where I was born. That was quite an elaborate answer to a very simple question.

JL: Well, I'm glad that you said...well, why did he move from Gilbert, then? It seems like he liked it.

BF: Yes, they enjoyed it. But he was second fiddle in that office, and this opportunity opened up down in Woodstock, Illinois, which is about, oh what, 40, 45 miles a little north and west of Chicago.

JL: Okay, so his family, his mother and father and your mother's mother and father were in California, or...?

BF: Oh, no. they all were in the Chicago area.

JL: So that was another draw, then, to there? Okay.

BF: Oh yes. It was literally coming back home.


JL: I see.

BF: So we were in Woodstock then until World War I when my dad was appointed a first lieutenant in the medical corps.

JL: Now how did that come about? Wasn't that unusual for a father and an older man?

BF: Not necessarily. I guess he volunteered for the service and the medical corps and served overseas. Mother and one of her very life-long and dearest friend, almost like a sister, both went to Washington, D.C., and they did war work and government work in Washington, D.C. I lived with my grandparents, my mother's parents, in Oak Park, which is a suburb of Chicago.

JL: So how long was she gone then from you?


BF: Well, see 1917, '18, oh, I imagine a year or year and a half or so during when Dad was overseas.

JL: That shows a lot of dedication. I mean, wasn't that unusual to leave your child behind and go work on the war cause?

BF: It would've been if I hadn't had a good place to stay, but with her, my grandparents, in Oak Park and that was just close to a very fine school, which I thoroughly detested.

JL: Oh no.

BF: I liked my little small town grade school in Woodstock and so I... then, when the war was over, and Dad came back, we went back to Woodstock.


JL: Now what's the name of your grandparents? What's your mother's maiden name?

BF: Ham, H-a-m.

JL: And her name was? What was her...?

BF: Millie.

JL: Your mother's name was Millie? Okay, and what's the name of the friend that she went to Washington with?

BF: Lottie Wells.

JL: Oh, okay.

BF: And I have pictures among my Siletz Indian pictures of... I always called her Aunt Lottie, of Aunt Lottie and the last time we saw Aunt Lottie after I had retired, Beth and I made an extensive trailer trip, in our travel trailer. We were out for seven months, and on this trip we went through Chicago and we stopped and spent a day with Aunt Lottie. And it was a wonderful time, and we did a lot of reminiscing.

We just had a glorious time. She wasn't too well at that time. So she enlisted 00:10:00her son and his wife to be with us also and show us around to these places that she wanted us to see, go by where my grandparents had once lived and where I had spent my time there. I asked where my Grandfather Francis, who was also in Chicago, lived and saw that old home. And much to the surprise of everybody, Aunt Lottie went along. She just kind of got quite a pickup from this visit.

JL: Oh.

BF: And then when it came time to go to dinner that evening, why, she had made 00:11:00all the arrangements, made reservations and all for our dinner, but it didn't include her because she just wasn't going to be able to go. But she went.

JL: Oh no! [Laughs] she had a lot of spunk!

BF: And we just had a marvelous time. But this was Aunt Lottie Wells.

JL: Aw. That's special.

BF: She's quite a precious person. Then after World War II and Dad came back...

JL: World War I?

BF: Or, World War I, excuse me, after World War I and came back and reopened his practice in Woodstock. And oh it would be 1919 that his sister, who was Mrs. William Arthur Jensen, W.A. Jensen, who at that time was executive secretary, 00:12:00now the position is known as Dean of Administration, but then they called him an Executive Secretary on Oregon State campus, which was then Oregon Agriculture College campus.

JL: Right, oh.

BF: And Aunt Lillian persuaded dad to come to Corvallis and open a practice.

JL: Now why would he want to do that if his family was in Woodstock and everybody was settled?

BF: But it looked like it was a good opportunity, and it turned out that it was.

JL: Well, meaning... did he have a partner in Woodstock?

BF: No. no he was just...

JL: Oh, he had his own... but opportunity meaning to make more money or as an adventure or see another part of the world or...?

BF: No just a growing community, and they were short of doctors at that 00:13:00particular time. They needed another doctor, and she just prevailed upon him to make the move.

JL: They were close, then. They had a close relationship?

BF: Yes. Dad and Aunt Lillian who was his sister. So we came out, and we came out here in the winter between Christmas and New Years of 1919 and settled in Corvallis.

JL: And by that time did you have any other brothers or sisters?

BF: No I had a brother at one time when I was about 3 years old, I believe, who only lived about 6 months.

JL: Oh.

BF: And he had a congenital problem of some sort, and he just didn't survive. So then I didn't have any brothers or sisters until my current sister was born 13 00:14:00years. I was about, I was 15, was 15 when she was born.

JL: Oh, my. You were almost an adult then.

BF: Yes. She... we often have a lot of laughs about some of the things that went on. She and her husband now live in Florence, and we get reminiscing and she said I always seemed like a second father.

JL: I bet.

BF: Because we were very close and have always been very close, and we had many an interesting time.

JL: So in 1919 you arrived in Corvallis, and you were 8 at that time.


BF: Nine.

JL: Nine at that time. Oh, right, because of the winter. So do you remember your first impressions?

BF: Oh my I should say I do.

JL: The journey over?

BF: Yes. We had, we disposed of a lot of things, of course, but many things were shipped out by freight at that time. Coming out to Corvallis we didn't, there wasn't any snow like we had in Woodstock, Illinois, and ice and this sort of thing. So I sold my sled and I sold my ice skates, and we came out to Oregon. Dad met us in Portland and at that time you didn't drive from Portland to Corvallis all in one day. That was...


JL: Oh, so you took the train to Portland?

BF: From Chicago, yes.

JL: From Chicago to Portland. Okay.

BF: To Portland by train, and I might divert from this just a bit. The highest point that I had seen up to that time living in Illinois in the flat country was Gregory Hill which was 3, 4 blocks down on the edge of town, and we used to ski on what we called it, we'd made skis out of barrel staves and we'd slide down Gregory Hill and that was quite a spot. Coming out on the train on the Great Northern, we went through Glacier National Park.

JL: Oh.

BF: And I got visiting with the Pullman Porter as we were traveling along and he learned that I had never been out of the Middle West and I had never seen 00:17:00mountains. So one day, one evening, he said tomorrow we're going to be making a stop early in the morning right in the heart of the mountains. This turned out to be Glacier Park itself. He said, would you like to have me get you up and get you off the train? He said we'll be there for about 15 minutes and he said you can see the mountain. Oh, sure. So, it was of course dark. He came and woke me up, and I got dressed. Train stopped, and I got off the train, and here was the first time that I ever saw mountains and I was standing right in the middle of Glacier National Park.

JL: Whoa.

BF: With these huge towering mountains covered with snow. I can see that, I 00:18:00could paint a picture of that if I was an artist. It's just as vivid to me as can be. I was just utterly spellbound and I can remember so well the Porter coming over after a while and my family all called me "Sonny Boy" as a youngster, and so I was known to him as "Sonny Boy." He came over and he said, well, Sonny Boy you can close your mouth now and get on the train, we're about ready to leave [laughs].

JL: [Laughs].

BF: I just literally was agape at these mountains.

JL: Oh that's wonderful.

BF: Then we got into Portland, and we drove from down to Salem and stayed overnight in a hotel in Salem that's no longer there but was quite well known in its day at the Argo Hotel. The next morning we were driving through Salem heading for Corvallis and I saw a tall, the highest church steeple I had ever 00:19:00seen in my life, and in those days Dad and Mother were Papa and Mama, and I said, Papa look at that big church steeple. What kind of a church is that? Well, he said, let's just drive around the block and see. So we drove out and around and came by the church, and here it was the First Methodist Church in Salem. And we were Methodists. So this was quite a landmark for me.

JL: Huh.

BF: Later on when I was active in our Methodist Church in Corvallis in the high school Epworth league they called it then we held district meetings over there, and I attended those in the church in Salem and had some very interesting 00:20:00connections with that church.

JL: Oh.

BF: Then we got to Corvallis, but as we were coming down through the Willamette Valley and into Corvallis here was the biggest winter snowstorm that they had had for years, and years, and years, maybe the biggest one on record. Here this snow piled up 1, 2 feet deep all around, and I had been told to sell my sled and ice skates.

JL: Oh [laughs].

BF: And I was just heartbroken because of all this snow, but then we got to Corvallis and my aunt and uncle soon convinced me that this was most unusual and I might not ever see that much snow in Corvallis again, and I don't recall that 00:21:00I ever did.

JL: Well, your father had come before you.

BF: Yes. He had come and had found a home. We rented a house at that time from the first few years we were here from Dean Peavy, who was Dean of the School of Forestry and later president of the college or the university.

JL: He was mayor of Corvallis, too.

BF: Yeah, that's right. So his youngest son, Norbert, of course they lived next door to us and Norbert and I literally grew up together for a few years there.

JL: Now where was the house located?

BF: On 23rd Street.

JL: Okay.

BF: 23rd and Jackson. It's still there.

JL: It's still there.

BF: It's a duplex. And we lived downstairs, and other people lived upstairs.

JL: Uh-huh.

BF: Then we built our home out on 31st and Van Buren, and the family lived there 00:22:00and my sister and I were both gone and mother's health broke, and she was put in the nursing home and Dad had had a stroke and was getting pretty dependent. So my sister, who was then living, she and her husband were then living in Salem, and they prevailed upon him to sell the family home, and they bought one for him just across the street from them.

JL: In Salem?

BF: Yes. And he lived there for a few years. Then had another stroke, and then he had to go into a rest home there in Salem.

JL: Well, so, but in 1919 he found a house to rent and he opened his office. And 00:23:00where did he open his office?

BF: His office was upstairs on the second floor of what used to be the First National Bank there that building has been torn down and something else is there now. I forget just what it did. But that old bank building isn't there anymore.

JL: What street was that on?

BF: On 2nd and Madison, I believe.

JL: Well, oh, there was a restaurant. The building wasn't torn down was it?

BF: Well, caddy corner from it is the old Benton County State Bank.

JL: Oh, okay.

BF: Which is now a dining place.

JL: Yes, right. Uh-huh. Oh, so it was were the Clothes Tree is.

BF: Is that it?

JL: It's a women's clothing store then if it was the caddy corner. Huh.

BF: It was two stories, and his office was upstairs.


JL: Were there other doctors in that building with him?

BF: Not at that time. But later on his closest friend and a fellow student, medical student, at Rush Medical in Chicago.

JL: California? Rush Medical is in Chicago?

BF: Yes.

JL: Oh.

BF: It's now not called Rush anymore, it's called University of California Medical School.

JL: University of California Medical School?

BF: Excuse me. University of Chicago.

JL: Okay, earlier in the interview you said University of California, too, so I was confused.

BF: Oh, yeah, I'm sorry.

JL: We'll just change that when we look at the written one.

BF: My having been employed by the University of California, I'm a little bit University of California oriented on some of this discussion.


JL: Anything that starts with a C, I know what you mean.

BF: So this was Dr. Henry Whitelaw and he had three daughters, the oldest one of whom married Clifford Smith and Clifford Smith was later a, what, an assistant director, I believe, of extension service here.

JL: Not the Clifford Smith that was the vice president?

BF: No.

JL: No. Okay. Oh, huh.

BF: And Clifford, Cliff died just about a year or two ago. I think he'd been retired for quite some time.

JL: Well, I know that Dr. Waldo Ball was a doctor here in the early part of the century, maybe a little bit, well in the '20s, I think.

BF: Oh, yes.

JL: Do you remember Dr. Ball?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: But he was in the Crees building, I think, wasn't he?


BF: I don't remember.

JL: Well, anyway, you probably have a better recollection then of that. I wonder if you...

BF: Waldo Ball was more than closer to my time.

JL: Well, he's 95 about now. I guess, you're not that old.

BF: Well, not quite. But he was a little bit older.

JL: But not...

BF: Some of his younger brothers were my age, but I knew him.

JL: But he was later than your father by a long time? Okay.

BF: Yes. Dad and Dr. Whitelaw were in practice together then. My father continued being active in the military medical corps.

JL: Why is that?

BF: Well, he was just interested in it, and after World War II he just continued on.


JL: Now, World War II or World War I?

BF: World War I.

JL: Okay.

BF: Partly in connection with that when he came here to Corvallis he also had charge of the veterans' activity and medical work. He was the veterans' doctor because there were many veterans who were attending Oregon Agricultural College at that time.

JL: Oh.

BF: And he was providing the medical service for the Veterans' Administration. But he continued on with his military work and he took special flight training and became a...what they call a flight surgeon in the service. Finally he reached the rank of Colonel. At the time of World War II, while he himself was 00:28:00over-age for service, he was the senior ranking reserve medical colonel in the country.

JL: Oh.

BF: They pulled him out of practice and sent him up to Fort Lewis, Washington.

JL: What did he think of that?

BF: Well, it was alright with him. He was quite patriotic-minded, and so he served up there. Then they brought him down to Portland and put him in charge of the medical department for the 10th Port of Embarkation, no, I mean for the Port of Portland, excuse me, for the Port of Portland. So he figured, well, this was his assignment for the duration because he was way over-age, even to be in the service let alone Foreign Service. One day a major general came to their place, 00:29:00and he had a staff with 2 or 3 officers with him, and they wanted to look over the medical department. So of course dad was accustomed to these surprise inspections and sort of thought nothing of it and showed him all around the whole thing and when they got through the general said, well, I'd like to go into your office for a little while. So they went in and the general said I want you to be ready to go with the 10th Port of Embarkation overseas. He said we're due to leave in 30 days. I discovered just the other day that my medical 00:30:00department is in total disarray.

JL: Oh no.

BF: And he said I needed somebody that would put it back in shape ready to leave for overseas. And he said the war department referred me to you. So I came up here to see what you did with the Port of Portland, and he said, I'm satisfied and he said you will report down to San Francisco, was where they were head quartered, just as soon as you can get there.

JL: Oh my. Let me turn the t-[recording cuts out]. Alright, go ahead.

BF: So then he made a flying trip to San Francisco and within less than a month 00:31:00they took off for where they had no idea, because the orders were entirely secret.

JL: And how old was he at that time?

BF: Oh he was right around 60. He was past age to be in the service.

JL: Right.

BF: So they took off, and when they were on the high seas the orders were opened and they were headed for Africa.

JL: Africa.

BF: And they made the North African invasion, but...what did that general that became so famous for that invasion? Anyway, the 10th Port of Embarkation of course is the unit that would land the troops and embark them and whatever, and 00:32:00Dad was in command of the medical department. So they landed in North Africa and they made the North African campaign, and he lived out of a sleeping bag and in fox holes at his age for a considerable period of time. Well, then he got ready to go he... all of this was on such short notice and I had a fine down sleeping bag and he was going to have to have something in the way of a sleeping bag and I showed this to him, and it was so compact and all and it just suited him fine so he took it with him. Well, from time to time in corresponding with me he would tell me about some of his experiences and almost, well I shouldn't say 00:33:00almost every time, frequently in the early hours of the morning they'd be routed out with an air raid because the Luftwaffe was just in complete control of everything around there, and they'd have to get out of their sleeping bags and into the fox holes.

JL: Oh my gosh.

BF: And I got thinking about that sleeping bag, and I remembered one time when I was on a horseback trip, a hunting trip, sleeping in that thing, and I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and I saw a buck going across the meadow and that buck sauntered across that meadow and into the forest beyond before I could get out of the sleeping bag and get hold of my rifle. And I wondered how in the world he could navigate that thing. So in one of my letters to him I asked him, 00:34:00I said, how in the world can you do that in such short time? He sent me a postcard, and I probably still have it somewhere, I kept it for a long time anyway, all that postcard had on it in addition to my address was "Incentive."

JL: [Laughs]. Oh, that's a good. Yes, that's true.

BF: I knew exactly what that meant [laughs] because anyway, went across North Africa, and then embarked Patton's Troops for the Italian invasion and the southern France invasion and along about that time he picked up a disability.

JL: Oh.

BF: And he had to come home.


JL: Well, was your mother, not, was she still alive?

BF: Yes.

JL: Oh she was?

BF: Yes, and she lived in Corvallis in the family home, and he came home then with this disability and he was in the veterans' hospital.

JL: Do you want to share what that is, or you'd rather not say?

BF: Well, I don't really know exactly what it was. It had something to do with the continuing air raids that they were put through, and it was a nerve condition.

JL: Ah.

BF: And he was in the hospital, the veterans' hospital, in Vancouver, Washington, and he was in the veteran's hospital in Presidio, San Francisco for a while and was finally dismissed on disability, full disability, and he could 00:36:00never go back to practice, because he in his later years had specialized in eye, ear, nose, and throat, and this problem from the war service had given him quite a tremor, and he just couldn't get back into practice.

JL: I wonder if he would've thought it was worth it to go there and come back with this kind of disability?

BF: Well, he never discussed it from that standpoint. He was quite a patriotic sort of a person.

JL: Well, he wasn't a complainer then?

BF: No.

JL: How was his outlook towards life?

BF: Oh, it was fine. And when he came back, after he was back or, let's see, when he came back for a short while he was connected with the Veterans' Administration in Portland, and at that time they recommended him for promotion 00:37:00to be General. But in the Army there can only be a General appointment when there is a vacancy. There's a certain stipulated number of generals and there has to be a vacancy before you can apply, and that's why once in a while a general officer will be appointed, and he'll just be on a temporary basis until such time as there is beneficial opening and he can actually be in.

JL: So how long did he end up being in Africa?

BF: Oh he was over there for nearly the duration of the war.


JL: Four, five years?

BF: Oh, I wouldn't, find it that way.

JL: Gee.

BF: See when they made the North African invasion and of course that was the early part of our entry into that part of the war and then they went across the North African campaign and they made the Southern France invasion, or I mean the Italian invasion and then the Southern France invasion and at the time he came back the war proper didn't, that part of the war didn't last too much longer, and they signed the armistice over there on that side and then just the Pacific War was on. But...

JL: Gee, and he had been through World War I, too? He was a seasoned soldier, 00:39:00wasn't he?

BF: Yes he really was.

JL: I bet he had some war stories to tell?

BF: Oh my, I should say. Many.

JL: Was he a good story teller?

BF: Well, yeah, somewhat so. He wasn't a great hand at public speaking, per se. He could do it. But he didn't spend a great deal of time talking about the war. Of course, being in the medical corps he saw the sadder side of it all the time and wasn't very prone to spend much time talking about it. Then after he had to retire completely, then he started traveling and he made trips all over Europe 00:40:00and the orient and South America and Alaska and just very extensively and thoroughly enjoyed that. Took just, well, what happened was when he retired, when he was forced to retire, and had to face that...

JL: So this was about in what 1947 or so...

BF: Along in there, mm-hmm.

JL: Yeah, uh-huh.

BF: When he was forced to retire, I thought he was going to lose his mind. Because he had never developed any hobbies at all. His whole life was just dedicated to his work and to his military and he just, not any hobbies, didn't have anything to do. So my cousin, Francis Jenson, who is now Francis Simons, 00:41:00was teaching in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Dad had never been to Alaska. So between Francis urging him to visit her and me urging him to make the trip, he finally decided to go to Alaska. When he made that decision, then I prevailed upon him to take one of my cameras and take some pictures.

JL: Oh, and your mother went along on all these trips as well?

BF: No. no. mother's health was very bad and she couldn't travel at all. And this was one of the problems that he was having, because he didn't like to be doing things that she couldn't do and she just couldn't do very much. So I 00:42:00talking to mother one time and we just decided that we were just going to have to set about get my dad involved in some kind of activities or he was going to lose his mind, so this Alaska trip was the first one. So I set him up along with my camera and he took some pictures up there, slides. Came back. And this started him off. And he, I have all of his slides at home now, but he just thousands of pictures all over the world.

JL: Oh, how valuable.

BF: And he just had a marvelous time with them.

JL: That's great. Well, we got a little bit ahead of ourselves, and I want to get back to when you moved to Corvallis in the 1920s. You were 9 years old and 00:43:00you were a youngster starting... you went to Harding Grade School?

BF: No.

JL: Or was that not there?

BF: I started at what was then called North School. We were living on 23rd Street at that time.

JL: Oh, okay.

BF: So I was going to North School.

JL: North School, okay.

BF: And continued there.

JL: And where was that located, then?

BF: Well, I could drive to it, but I couldn't tell you the streets. It was out towards the... let's see, we go 23rd, 21st, 20th somewhere along in there and go straight north and the school was out there. It was within walking distance of our home, I'd say maybe 15, 20 blocks or so.

JL: So what was life like in Corvallis in the '20s, when you, from 10 to 15, 20?


BF: It was interesting. Of course, it was the bicycle days, and we're kind of back in those again. But most of the streets were paved but not all of them. And the streets were narrow, and Corvallis was pretty concentrated, and the business district was downtown. The college was quite the center of activity and interest.

JL: So did you spend a lot of time at the college? Or just playing around?

BF: Oh, just playing as a kid.

JL: What were your hobbies?

BF: Well, I of course was a Boy Scout and I used to love to go hiking and 00:45:00camping and overnight camping and the family did quite a bit of overnight camping.

JL: So your father took time off from his practice?

BF: We'd go out for a weekend or so, and this was when I first went over to the Siletz. And you have a picture amongst your collection here of John Ponsee, the Indian over there, with me beside him, and I was then 12 years old. I'm wearing my Boy Scout uniform, or part of my Boy Scout uniform. So we spent some time over there, and about that time was when I got interested in photography and 00:46:00some of those pictures that we have, one of the reasons that I've been so interested in them, some of those pictures are pictures that I took and I would have been about 12 years old.

JL: And you got interested in photography through the Boy Scouts, then?

BF: No, mostly from my dad.

JL: Oh, your dad. I got the impression your father got interested in photography after World War II?

BF: Well, that's right, but he, when he was overseas in World War I, he had an Eastman folding camera that was popular in those days, and he took some pictures over there and he would take a few pictures. He wasn't any ardent photographer by any means, but he was just taking some pictures, and so one time when we were going over to Siletz for a weekend of camping I asked him if I could take the 00:47:00family's camera and take some pictures. Sure. So we got some film, and I took some pictures, and among them are some of these pictures of John Ponsee and my grandfather and this Aunt Lottie that I spoke of that's close friend of my mother's, one of those Indian pictures with John Ponsee of my Aunt Lottie, who was out visiting us.

JL: Well, now I'm... let's see. So how... was it just happenstance that you were out in the Siletz and you met this John Ponsee or was he a friend of your father's before?

BF: No. I don't know how the family learned about this campsite, but this spot, 00:48:00well, I say a campsite, it wasn't any more than just a level piece of ground alongside the Siletz River, but it was on John Ponsee's landholding, little landholding up there, and we were directed up there. Just who or how, I just, I never knew. If I did I forgot. But that's where we went.

JL: And your father went there as a vacation, not as a medical doctor?

BF: No, that's right.

JL: Okay.

BF: Just as vacation, just as campers.

JL: Campers, okay.

BF: So when we got there, then we get camp and we were there overnight for 2 or 3 days and through that contact we learned about the Indians and their Indian baskets and the family and my grandfather in particular got trading then with 00:49:00Indians for Indian baskets.

JL: Now your grandfather, Francis, or...?

BF: Francis from Chicago.

JL: And he was out visiting?

BF: He was visiting.

JL: And so, and you were allowed to camp on someone's land without their permission ahead of time, or...?

BF: Well, we stopped, we'd get permission when we'd get there. You had to go through his gate and up his little lane and on beyond to the edge to the river and you'd... I think they, I think they paid him something if I'm quite sure of that. I think that they paid him 50 cents a night or 25 cents a night or a dollar for the weekend. And then through him they, the family got acquainted with other Indian families out there who were making baskets.

JL: And so your grandfather saw this as an opportunity to trade?


BF: Yeah. And he'd gather up a whole bunch of stuff: clothes and bedding and particularly tobacco, Velvet tobacco. And I still have one of the original cans of Velvet pipe tobacco that the seal isn't even broken on it.

JL: Oh.

BF: That he had purchased to trade with the Indians.

JL: So he purchased those things in Corvallis and then went out there to trade for...?

BF: And we'd go out there and spend a weekend, and he'd trade with the Indians for their baskets.

JL: And what would he do with the baskets, then?

BF: He'd take them home and give them to friends for presents.

JL: To Chicago?

BF: To Chicago.

JL: So he would just be out for the summer visiting?

BF: That's right. He'd come out, usually came out every summer for a month or 00:51:00six weeks and always stayed down at the Benton Hotel.

JL: Oh, he didn't stay with you people?

BF: No, he didn't want to be that dependent. He wanted to be totally independent. So he'd go down and stay at the Benton Hotel and then he'd ride what we'd call the jitney in those days. It would be a bus today that came up Monroe Street and then spend the day with my aunt and her family on Arnold Way or come on out to our place on 31st Street.

JL: And then you'd, but one of the things that he did every summer with you is go out to the Siletz reservation and he just had a lo-was he an artistic type? Or was it entrepreneurial?

BF: Yes. He was quite a, he was quite an opportunist. He just loved to trade. He 00:52:00just loved to barter with those Indians.

JL: Who'd get the best? Who'd do better?

BF: Well, that'd be a tossup. They used to have a lot of fun over it, joking and kidding and joshing as to who got the best of the deal and it was, they seemed to enjoy it. Well, the Indians did.

JL: Did he always trade with the same Indians?

BF: Pretty much.

JL: And do you remember who they were?

BF: No, I couldn't give... I don't think I could mention a name. They, many of them you knew by their first name: Julia, Ann, or Old John, or Chief John, or whatever. Not very often would, do I recall the other names. Then I continued 00:53:00this on through...

JL: Continued what?

BF: Going to the Siletz.

JL: You mean to camp?

BF: Yes.

JL: To trade also?

BF: No, I never traded.

JL: What did you think of all that trading? Was that something as a child you liked?

BF: Well, it's kind of, that wasn't my cup of tea. I've never been much of a barterer [laughs]. But when I was in college particularly and I was majored in, well I had two majors: animal husbandry and zoology and this was when I became so closely connected with Dr. Kenneth Gordon. Then I continued to go over to the Siletz and I was in connection with my Zoology studies. I continued my close 00:54:00contacts with John Ponsee.

JL: In what way? Meaning close contacts, meaning just friendship?

BF: Yep.

JL: Or?

BF: And camping on his place.

JL: And when you camped did you fish?

BF: I was never much of a fisherman. There was a period in my life, which is a whole story in itself, that involves World War I also indirectly, that I fished quite extensively. But it interfered with my photography too much, and I had a friend, a special friend that I used to go fishing with quite a bit, and we'd go up on the Siletz too and would fish up there. It was a wonderful fishing place at that time and we'd start out fishing and I, when the light would be right and 00:55:00things were just good for photography, I'd stash my fishing pole some place, and I'd start taking pictures, and one time he caught up with me up the river and he said let's go up to the gorge and up above the gorge, and I said, well, okay, we'll go get my fishing outfit, so we started back, we hiked, and we hiked, and we hiked, and we hiked [laughs].

I had gone a lot farther than I had realized. Finally got back to where my fishing pole was and turned around and went up the gorge, and as we were going up to the gorge, Lyle said, you know I sometimes wonder why you bother to bring any fishing pole at all. He said, you come out and stash it behind a log and 00:56:00start taking pictures. And that was the last time I took a fishing pole out.

JL: His comment hit a-it was true, huh?

BF: Yeah. It was true. And I just though, well, shoo, I really go out on these trips to take pictures and not fish. And I just never fished again, and this was, oh it was after I was out of school, it was after Beth and I were married that this occurred.

JL: So you're not an artist, meaning with a canvas and paint, but you're artistic in photography, then?

BF: Well, I'd like to think so [laughs].

JL: [Laughs].

BF: That's my hobby, and later on when I was in agricultural extension work and then particularly when I was in public relations work and with the bank I did a great deal of photography. Still pictures and moving pictures both. And I have 00:57:00continued to. When we had just recently completed the construction of a new healthcare center at capital manor in Salem and 84, 83 villa units out in the big area behind the manor was a 4-year project and when they got started on that, the Board of Directors asked me if I would make a photographic record for them of this construction.

JL: What an honor.

BF: So I took, it was interesting because I was counting them here just the other day: 3,357 pictures.

JL: Whoa. Good for you. I bet they're very grateful.

BF: Well, it makes quite a record. That's how many I took. But they... in some 00:58:00of the photographic training that I had, I had a couple seminars with Ansel Adams.

JL: Well, we may, I would like you to talk to me about that. You had mentioned that earlier. Tell me about it.

BF: Well, one of the times that, well, many times when he was talking to us about taking pictures and formats and...

JL: This was in California?

BF: Yes.

JL: Mm-hmm.

BF: And he would say you want to remember that you can never take a picture yesterday. So as soon as you see a good picture, take it. And then if you think maybe you could get in a better position, why, do that. And if it's something 00:59:00that you know you can't go back to, well, shoot the whole role if you need to because this way you'll be sure, be more apt to be sure that you'll get the picture you want. So in one of these sessions he had us taking pictures and there were 22 of us I think in that group, and he gave us four subjects. He said I want you to go out and take six pictures of each of these four subjects, a 24-exposure role. Different positions and angles and whatever. And we did. And those were developed and printed and we had them back. Now he said I want when we were back in session the next day he said I want you to line up these in 01:00:00front of you in the order in which you took them.

And we did. Now he said with subject A, how many of you was your first picture your best one? And there wasn't a single one. And out of those 22 people, I believe, four subjects, six pictures of each subject, if I remember correctly, there were 3 times three people who, at one time or another, their first picture was the best one.

JL: Interesting.

BF: Now this was quite a lesson to me. And as a result I just shot a lot of pictures. Now that doesn't mean that I will make up an album or a set of slides 01:01:00or whatever 3,357 pictures.

JL: No, no. but of course your select the ones that are the best.

BF: Over the four year period, I imagine there were many aspects of that that, but...

JL: Well, what year did you have these seminars with Ansel Adams?

BF: Oh, let's see, it would be in the 19... in the late '50s and '60s. Along in there somewhere. And he was doing... they were both up at Yosemite where we had these seminars. Because he was a great photographer of Yosemite National Park.

JL: And by that time everybody recognized that?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: And you wanted to take from an expert?


BF: Yes. I was just interested in learning the technique, and I think probably the thing that I learned the most about from him, or the part that was most significant to me, was seeing a picture and this again was a term of his: seeing a picture.

JL: Okay, seeing a picture before you take the picture?

BF: Yes. Know how to maneuver around and have the trees or the buildings or the clouds or whatever it is in the right place. He kept referring to it as seeing a picture, or framing a picture some people speak of it that way. Composition of the picture itself.


JL: And other photographers didn't have this, the eye that he did?

BF: Well, there might have been some but none that were any better. He was, and he himself was such a gracious person. Another good example of his approach to things: the first seminar, the first of the two that I attended, he came into the seminar with one of these little simple old-fashioned Eastman box cameras that... and everybody looked at that camera. He set it down on the table and after a few introductory remarks, he said, now there's one thing that is basic to this whole course. This whole seminar. And he picked up this camera. He said, 01:04:00I can take just as fine a picture with this camera as any of you can with those fine cameras that you have as long as I am taking it within the capabilities of this camera. The only thing that these more advancements do that this one doesn't do is more things, more techniques, more mechanics. But as long as I'm taking a picture within the capabilities of this camera, I can get just as fine a one as you can with yours.

Well, one of these fellas in that seminar spoke up and said, I don't think there's a man here that would argue with you, but what you could take as fine a 01:05:00picture with anything as any of us here. And then his humbleness came to the foreground. He laid the camera down on the table and he looked a little flustered and he said, well, I should apologize for that remark. He said, I should put it another way. You could take just as good a picture with this camera as I could with any one of those that you have as long as it is within the limits of the camera.

JL: Oh.

BF: So what he was telling us is it is the composition and the technique and seeing that picture properly and maneuvering around. And this is why you'll read about it on National Geographic photographer will go out on an assignment and 01:06:00take several thousand pictures for some feature article and maybe 6 or 8 of them will be used in the article. You never know, you never know when you're taking the pictures which are the ones you're going to need and want or which one will be just right. Have you ever seen the famous picture of his of the gray yard? It's one for which... it's a black-and-white, but it's one for which he's famous.

JL: Is that New Mexico? Is that where it is?

BF: Somewhere. This little old church and the cemetery.

JL: With the moon, yeah.

BF: Well, he was telling us about that picture. He was driving down the road at the end of a day, and he saw this picture, this just a beautiful picture. So he 01:07:00stopped, got out, and said I took my camera and I took a picture and then I went back and got out my equipment and set up my tripod and got my bigger camera and got it all set up, and the picture was gone.

JL: Oh, boy.

BF: And the only one that I got was the one that I took when I first got out of the car and saw that picture.

JL: Oh.

BF: Well, here was a classic example of what he was telling us.

JL: Sure.

BF: See the picture, and remember that you can't take it yesterday.

JL: Aha.

BF: So on this construction work there at the manor... well, for instance, the first scoop of dirt that was taken in the excavation. I have a picture of that. The last scoop in the big excavation for the healthcare center, I have a picture 01:08:00of that. And, well, there's no way you can get a picture of that yesterday.

JL: No.

BF: That happens once.

JL: So do you think that Ansel Adams influenced your photography development more than anybody else?

BF: Yes, as an individual, probably yes. Another one was who was a big influence was Dr. Kenneth Gordon.

JL: Oh, he was a photographer too?

BF: He was quite a photographer. Yes. And I did a lot of photography when I was in college over on the Siletz and various places.

JL: Was this mostly natural, or you take...?

BF: Yes.

JL: You don't take people as much?

BF: I don't take people's pictures at all. I will family and this sort of thing, 01:09:00but people's pictures is a field of its own, and when I was doing moving pictures I did a lot. 4-H club pictures and, well, I guess I shouldn't make it quite so restrictive. Probably one of the best set of pictures that I ever took was when I followed the vast sheep herder operation through a whole year.

JL: Oh, you did?

BF: Yeah. I don't mean I was with them the whole year, but it was when I was in northern California, and I learned that the last of the big sheep ranches down there was going out of business the following year because they were losing their summer range. So I got together with the owner and made arrangements. I 01:10:00inquired around, and I found out that there didn't seem to be any photographic record of these vast sheep herders in that part of the country, so I made arrangements, and the following year I went out time and time and time again. I'd get up at 2:30, 3:00 in the morning, drive out...

JL: What year was this?

BF: Oh, it was in the '60s.

JL: Oh, okay. Not so long ago then?

BF: Not too long ago.

JL: Oh.

BF: About, let's see, I went down to Southern California [counting], I think it was about '62 or '63, something like that. And that of course was a lot of people's picture with the sheep herders.

JL: But even when you were 12, and that was the first time you ever took your 01:11:00first picture was when you were about 12, and you got your camera from your father and you prefer the natural scene? Is it the...?

BF: Well, at that time I didn't. Because most of the pictures that I took then I was taking over on that Siletz Indian River trip and I were taking pictures of Indians. I should go out to the restroom [recording cuts]. When we were talking about photography, and Dr. Horner was quite a photographer and consequently he augmented my interest in photography too, because when I was doing the work in the museum and going to school and between him and the museum and Dr. Gordon and the birds and...


JL: You mean, the birds, meaning out bird watching and taking pictures? You were encouraged greatly, then?

BF: Yes.

JL: And was your father a photographer then?

BF: No, he was never particularly interested. He took quite a few pictures until he got on those travels, and I got him started taking slides and then he really...

JL: So you just sort of found the cam-rediscovered the camera in the house and said I'm going to take it out to the Siletz and take some pictures?

BF: Well, I knew that he had a camera because he was taking family pictures there around the house.

JL: Oh, I see. What was your first camera then?

BF: Well, that was just an Eastman, oh the kind that you could write on the back 01:13:00of the film and autograph it or something.

JL: You didn't develop your own film then?

BF: No, I never did any processing or printing.

JL: You never did?

BF: Never did. I just spent all my time taking the pictures and had processing done somewhere else. But the first camera that I owned personally was a ZEISS camera that I bought from the Howell's Studio here in Corvallis. It had originally belonged to Dr. Dreesen who was one of the professors on the campus and I knew Dr. Dreesen very well and I learned that he had a new camera. I 01:14:00forget how I happened to find out. And I was asking him about his other one, and he said, well, he had traded it in and it was now at Howell's. So I went down and I bought this camera, which was a roll film type camera and I used that camera quite extensively. It had, it was a splendid camera. It had a beautiful lens, a ZEISS lens, and I used that very extensively when I was first in extension work up in Washington County.

JL: This was in the '30s?

BF: Yes.

JL: Mm-hmm.

BF: Then I was transferred down to Medford in extension service, and while I was down there the 35 mm size camera began to come into vogue and the color film 01:15:00began to come into vogue, and I also got started on moving pictures and so I had moving pictures and slide pictures. I just recently took an 8 mm moving picture that I made down in Jackson County, along about 1938 or '39, of the beef cattle industry down there. Cattle ranching. And I just recently took that 8 mm reel down to the museum down in Medford.

JL: Oh, I bet they were excited.

BF: And all of those ranchers that were in there, the Charlies and the Binghams and the Ohnses, and others. They're all gone. They're all gone. And so it's 01:16:00quite a little touch of history.

JL: Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful gift. Well, being back to your young life, how did you acquire the name Bing?

BF: Well, my uncle, my dad's youngest brother, came to visit the family up in Minnesota, and I was just a baby in arms. And he brought me a book for a present, a father goose rhymes. Not mother goose, but father goose.

JL: [Laughs] yes.

BF: And the first one in there was about Captain Bing the Pirate King. And my uncle Gordon would get me up in his arms and be reading this thing and he'd, 01:17:00captain Bing the pirate king sailed the broad seas over and many a lark he sailed his bark where none has sailed before. And it goes on for about 6 or 8 verses like that. They got calling me Captain Bing the Pirate King. And just fun. They'd say, well, how's Captain Bing the Pirate King? What's he doing today? They dropped, finally dropped the Pirate King part, and I was Captain Bing for a while. And I very nearly became nicknamed Cap as a result, but somehow or other it got swung around and it was Bing, and I've just been Bing all my life.

JL: So you like it, then?

BF: Yeah.

JL: Oh.

BF: When I was promoted to vice president in the bank here in Oregon Chamber of 01:18:00Commerce, they had a little recognition for me one luncheon time, and I never knew where they got this story, but I've always suspected that they got it from Beth. She's never denied it nor has she ever admitted it. But when he, the president of the chamber of commerce, was commenting about it, he said, I don't know how many of you know where Bing got his name. And then he told this story about Captain Bing the Pirate King. And he said you know if his family then had known that he was someday going to be a banker, they never would have dropped the Pirate King part.

JL: [Laughs].

BF: But that's where it came from.

JL: That's where it came from, okay. Now, as you were growing up, were you 01:19:00closer to your mother or your father in your relationship?

BF: I don't think that I was closer to either one particularly. By temperament I'm a great deal more like my mother.

JL: Well, you mention, you talk more about your father than your mother, and I thought, maybe you felt close-

BF: Mother had very poor health all the time I ever knew her.

JL: Oh, even as a young child then?

BF: Yes. She had a serious sinus infection and those were back in the days before they had all of the facilities they do today to check infections. And as a result she was very restricted in what she could do. But mother and I were 01:20:00always very close.

And even when I was in college I, most of the time, I would be helping mother do the dishes and the kitchen and after dinner in the evening particularly morning and noon I would never have time but in the evenings. Now we spent many a time together in the kitchen that way and we were very, very close. My father was an entirely different type temperament. And no one ever felt really close to him in the sense that I would with my mother. But I admired him tremendously for his ability. He was a perfectionist and very demanding and very exacting.

JL: Of his family as well?


BF: Yes.

JL: Oh.

BF: Oh, yes.

JL: So he's quite a task master?

BF: Oh, he was. Many times I would come in from school, and I'd bring an examination paper, which he insisted on. He... every exam I took, grade school, high school, college I had to bring the paper to him so he could see what I was doing, and I'd say, well, here's my midterm exam from something. Well, what did you get? He said, you know anything less than perfect is rotten.

JL: Oh my.

BF: And he was not only that way with the family, but he was that way with himself. And when he had a surgery coming up, he, if the family had been invited 01:22:00out for the evening before, he'd have mother cancel it and he would go down to the office and sit down with his books, anatomy books and what not, and review once again.

JL: Oh my.

BF: All the aspects of that anatomy and that surgery. And he was just a perfectionist in his own right, and I've talked to officers who have served under him [laughs]. And they'd say, boy, you just... there wasn't anything that would suffice but perfection, and he said not very many people could measure up to that, but he said it was a pretty good sort of standard to have in a hospital operation or a medical operation because there you just have to exercise every 01:23:00precaution that you possibly can. And he was just that demanding.

JL: So was he unhappy most of the time because no one's perfect, or he..?

BF: Oh, no. he wasn't really unhappy but...

JL: Or dissatisfied, maybe?

BF: No. But he was just constantly, you were constantly aware that you hadn't gotten there yet.

JL: And so he would just show disapproval if you didn't get perfect, huh?

BF: Yeah.

JL: That must have been tough.

BF: And the only person that I know of, the only person that I know of, and I have a sister too, that he ever was outspokenly in approval of is my wife.

JL: Oh. Really?

BF: And...

JL: Why is that?

BF: Well, he admired her very, very much, and obviously. And she's was a very 01:24:00dedicated mother. We have a son and a daughter. And she was just a completely dedicated mother and took care of those two youngsters to utter perfection, and of course, this would please my dad. And one time he came to the house to visit and he came in, and he was just kind of walking around and looking, and I hadn't been particularly aware of it until in retrospect I realized that he walked along and he had run his finger here and did something there, and finally he said, you know I haven't found a speck of dust in this room.


JL: Oh. He was [laughs]. He admired good housekeeping, too.

BF: He admired. It was just the nature of his perfection. But this was dad, and...

JL: Well, how did his patients regard him? He didn't have those expectations of his patients, certainly.

BF: Yes, he did. And it would hurt his practice because approach was well, if you want to get well and you want to do this my way, fine' if you don't you'll just have to get somebody else.

JL: Oh.

BF: Because he just wasn't going to fiddle along and have somebody get partly well. But I know that Dr. Scullen was one of the entomologist here one Oregon 01:26:00State campus, and Dr. Scullen was one of Dad's patients and had been all his life, or I mean, all his adult life. And Dr. Scullen onetime said he'd reached a very advanced age. I mean, he'd been retired for years and years and was still doing a lot of research work and he came up through northern California, and he stopped to visit us for a couple days. And he was, we were commenting about his good health and his old age, and he was then way up in his 80s and still just going strong and he said, I think I owe a lot of this to your dad. He said, you know your dad didn't have very much patience with people, and you either did it 01:27:00right or you went somewhere else and he said he literally scared you into doing the thing that was right, and he said apparently it's paying dividends now.

JL: Oh. Well, now, I remember in the interview you did with Rick Reed in 1980 you mentioned that many of the deans on campus, Dean Bexell and Milam and Cordley and I can't remember the others, but you called the aunt and uncles, and is that because your father knew them, or...?

BF: No. See, my uncle, William Arthur Jensen was the executive secretary. And because of that we got to know those people very well, and of course Dean Milam, 01:28:00Ava Milam, and my Aunt Lillian Jensen were high school and university of Chicago chums back in Illinois. And it was Dean Milam who brought my aunt Lillian to Oregon, and after she came to Oregon was on the faculty of the college that she met my uncle.

JL: Oh.

BF: Who had been with Dr. Kerr in Utah.

JL: Oh.

BF: And when Dr. Kerr came to Oregon State as president he brought my uncle with him to be the executive secretary.

JL: Now, did your uncle, was he interim president at one time?

BF: No, he never...

JL: It wasn't the Jensen that was the...wasn't there a Jensen?


BF: No, no. There was a Jensen that was a president but not related at all.

JL: Oh, golly. So you knew, did you know Dr. Kerr then?

BF: Oh yes. I should say I did. He's one, though, that I never called uncle. You didn't. He was just a little bit too, well, I didn't I wasn't that closely associated with him. But I knew him very, very well. But these others I'd gotten to know when I was just 10, 11, 12 years old, and they and their wives were just aunt and uncles to me. That's just the way you addressed them.

JL: Did you know E.B. Lemon? Did you know...?

BF: Oh, yes. Yes.

JL: Oh did you? Oh.

BF: Not too well. Well, I knew him very well, but I mean, we were not very close 01:30:00friends. Not like some of these other people that I've spoken of.

JL: Well, now, so tell me about these other people that you've spoke of. What were they like? I mean, if you were to describe them, what would you say? Like Ava Milam.

BF: Well, Ava Milam was a great deal like my mother.

JL: And, okay, go ahead. Cause I don't have a feel for what your mother was like, either.

BF: Ava Milam was a good organizer and a good administrator and rather reserved person in many respects, one that would win your admiration and affection. She was very efficient and very competent. Of course she was single for many, many 01:31:00years and didn't marry until long after I was out of college and gone that she finally married, but she was just Aunt Ava to me.

JL: And she related to children very well, then, as well?

BF: Yes, yes. Dean Bexell was the dean of the School of Commerce they called it at that time. And he lived just about a block from us up there. He lived on the corner of 30th and we were up a block on 31st Street, and he was just, he was an older man. I never knew him that he wasn't white-haired and very dignified. Very 01:32:00friendly, and he... Uncle Bex, and his wife was Dina, Aunt Dina. Then the Ziefles, he was dean of the School of Pharmacy, and he was Adolph Ziefle, and he was Uncle Dolf to me. He was an interesting fella. One time we were on a picnic with him, them.

JL: You mean you're aunt and uncle and you?

BF: No with the Ziefles. And my family and the Ziefles were on a picnic. We were on the long, some river, I don't remember particularly which one it was. That's 01:33:00immaterial. We were walking along, and I was looking at this and, gee whiz look at this and oh gosh look at that. Pretty soon he said, you know Bing, you ought to quit that slang. He said, that's a sign of inadequacy. He said that means you can't think of any better words to use than that. So went along talking to me about using slang and that didn't increase your vocabulary, and pretty soon he reached up and brushed at the back of his neck and went on talking a little bit and he reached up and brushed his neck again and pretty soon he reached up and said, Dammit I'm stung.

JL: [Laughs].

BF: [Laughs] I guess I looked very startled, and he said, now I shouldn't have 01:34:00said that [laughs].

JL: [Laughs] Oh that's funny.

BF: This was Dean Ziefle.

JL: And what was he dean of?

BF: Pharmacy.

JL: Oh, Pharmacy. I'm sorry.

BF: School of Pharmacy. He was a great character and when we first lived in Corvallis, they lived just a few doors from us. Later after Dean Bexell passed away the Ziefles bought the Bexell house, and so then the Ziefles were back within a block of us again.

JL: Oh.

BF: And we knew them very well.

JL: Well now your father, being such a perfectionist, what field did he want you to study?

BF: He never indicated. When I was in high school I felt the notion that I was 01:35:00going to study medicine. And I started college.

JL: And you wanted to go to OAC then at that time?

BF: Yes. Of course this was right in the depression time.

JL: So you started in '29 or '30?

BF: Let's see... my first year was the fall of '27.

JL: '27, okay.

BF: And so I decided that I was going to study medicine and we, my grandfather died, and the family all went back to Chicago for the funeral. And on the way home we stopped at Rochester, Minnesota and visited the Mayo clinics. And they 01:36:00took my dad and me through, and my dad told the doctor that was escorting us that I was interested in studying medicine. So when we would come to a place, a room or a patient, the chart would be outside and the doctor would tell my dad just the history of this particular case and then they'd go in. Well, we came to one and he said, this is a little girl. I forget how old she was, just a youngster, 8, 9, 10 years old. And he said, her whole family was in an automobile accident. And the father was killed. And I think one other youngster 01:37:00in the family was killed. The mother and the little girl were badly burned before they could be gotten out of the car. He said the mother died this morning. And he said, and the little girl doesn't know this yet. This was all when talking principally to my dad. He wasn't talking to me. So we went in, and this little girl was in bed of course and all bundled up and bandages and what not. And her head was turned towards the window, and as we walked in she turned her head back. Oh. Said, I was hoping it was my mother.


JL: Aw.

BF: I left the room.

JL: Oh.

BF: I couldn't take it. I went out in the hall and when they came out I told my dad I said, I'm going down to the waiting room and I'll wait down there. So I went down to the waiting room. I was in college then, and we came on home and didn't discuss any of this anymore.

JL: You mean, you didn't want to go in because it was such an emotional?

BF: Oh, I was just upset. And I could hardly talk.

JL: Oh.

BF: And I...we got back home. I don't know how long we'd been back and one evening I went into Dad's den and sat down and I said, Dad I'm not going to study medicine.

JL: My goodness.


BF: I said, I just, I couldn't take it.

JL: Oh.

BF: And he said, well, that's okay. He said, there are people that just don't have the temperament, and he said if you don't feel that you do, why there are other occupations.

JL: Oh.

BF: So that was the extent of that.

JL: How interesting. How significant.

BF: I just always been way too sentimental. Even there now, at capital Manor, when Beth's mother was ill here at the last, she died just Easter Sunday. She was 98. And she had been in healthcare for about 5 or 6 years and I used to go 01:40:00down. But I finally got so, I just couldn't take it.

I'd go down and I'd leave down there and I'd go out and down in the glen and try to find something to do. I'm just too emotional. And I immediately came to the conclusion that I would be so, my emotions would be so affected that my judgment would be affected.

JL: Is this the way your mother was, also? Was she very emotional?

BF: Yes. Yes. Mother was.

JL: Oh.

BF: and I remember one time a little girl down our street died and the family had her, it was customary in those times to, they'd say to lay them out you know. And the kids in the neighborhood had been asked, or invited to come in and 01:41:00see this little girl. I went in. I never did anything of this sort without asking my folks, and of course at that age I was about 11, 12 years old. Mother called me Sonny Boy. She said Sonny Boy, I don't think you should go. She said, that's not the little girl that you knew. And you don't want to remember her that way. And you ought to remember her like you enjoyed her as a playmate and as a happy, friendly little girl. She said that part of her has gone on to heaven. And this was mother. And from that time on I have been this way. I won't 01:42:00go to funerals. I don't remember people like that. But at the same time I have been asked to give eulogies, and one time even to conduct a whole entire funeral service for a very dear friend of ours, which I did. But this is rather characteristic of my mother. So I then switched over to agriculture.

JL: I'm going to ask that we stop now.