O.U. Is Not Your Mother

OU women protest dorm hours 04-18-1969A friend and I are going to do a presentation to the Ohio University History Association Thursday evening on the birth of the student rights movement in the 1960s.

Ohio University was a little more progressive than SEMO (where wasn’t?), but my friend Carol Towarnicky had to take a bus from Toledo to Athens during summer break to appear before a hearing board that could have expelled her for breaking curfew too many times. Fortunately, the editor of  The OU Post, where she was a reporter, backed up her story that she was covering news events.

Quick video overview

Here is a quick overview of some of the material we will cover.

Twirp and Student Rights

Student Rights protest 05-24-1969Friend and former Ohio University Post colleague Carol Towarnicky and I are going to do a presentation on the early days of the student rights movement to the OU History Association on October 24. It seems that stuff we covered as news has now become history. Or, as I like to say, “History is news with whiskers.”

The deal was brokered by Jessica Cyders, curator of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum. She’s heard so much about Southeast Missouri that she’s doing a road trip back with me. So, y’all be on your best behavior while she’s in town.

TWIRP (The Woman Is Requested to Pay)

I1967 Twirp DanceIt was appropriate (and somewhat amusing) to run across these photos from Central’s 1967 TWIRP Dance while working on the OU show. This was the era of Sadie Hawkins Day dances (where the girl asks the boy for a date) and The Woman Is Requested to Pay (TWIRP) affairs.

Notice how the girl is holding open the door for the boy?

For some reason, The Missourian didn’t run a photo with school reporter Margaret Randol’s story that on the March 11, 1967, Youth Page.

Littleton & Hirsch are Mr. and Miss CHS

I1967 Twirp DanceThe story said Gary Littleton and Miss Mary Hirsch were crowned Mr. and Miss CHS at the Twirp Dance Friday night in the Central High School gymnasium.

Mary is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Hirsch, 1855 Thilenius, and Gary is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Littleton, 2540 Marvin.


I1967 Twirp DanceThe candidates included Miss Jane Dunklin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Dunklin, 839 Alta Vista; Miss Mary Hale, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lemro Hale, 2209 Brookwood; Miss Georganne Penzel, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Penzel, 1844 Woodlawn; Charles McGinty, son of Dr. and Mrs. Charles McGinty, 2435 Brookwood; Larry Johnson, son of Dr. and Mrs. Earl Johnson, 1044 Henderson, and Mark Kirkpartrick, son of Mrs. Wilma Kirkpatrick, 903 Bellvue.

Ohio University Post

Layouts of Ohio University staffers in 1968There’s a big Ohio University Post reunion in Athens, Ohio, this weekend.

I was photo editor of the paper from the fall of 1967 through the summer of 1968, when I went to work for The Athens Messenger. I won’t make it back for the reunion, but I put together these layouts of some of the student newspaper staffers from 1968 – 1970 to display at the Athens County Historical Society Museum. For you folks who ARE in Athens, here’s a sample of what you’ll see. Curator Jessica Cyders said the museum, at 65 North Court Street, will be open Saturday morning from 10 a.m. until noon, so you can slip in before the formal reunion activities begin.

The museum will also have photos I took during the Martin Luther King National Day of Mourning on April 8, 1968. Some staffers like Tom Price, Clarence Page, Lew Stamp and others appear in the pictures.

And, finally, you can see protest photos I shot from 1967 through the close of the school on May 15, 1970. Rudy Maxa and others show up in them.

Photo Gallery of OU Post Staffers

The museum will have prints of these for sale. The prints are suitable for framing. I don’t know if that means you can frame the pictures or frame the people IN the pictures. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the picture to move through the gallery.

Ohio University Post

I’m going to stray off the Cape Girardeau reservation to run some photos of folks I worked with at The Ohio University Post in Athens, Ohio, in 1967 and 1968. April Fool’s Day is as good a time as ever to publish them. The student newspaper is celebrating its 100th year with a special alumni reunion April 13-15. Despite what some folks might think, I was NOT around in 1912 when the paper launched as The Green and White.

The event organizers are looking for photos of old staffers (old as in age AND as in former). You regular readers can tune out for a day while I wallow in Ohio nostalgia for a day or so. Click on any photo to make it larger.

The OU Post saved my college career

I was woefully unprepared for life in a big, impersonal university when I transferred in as a junior. It was a good thing my first stop after unpacking my bags in the dorm room I shared with two freshmen was The Post.

See, regular students in the Fine Arts program worked in gang darkrooms using chemicals mixed by other students who may or may not care if they got it right. The darkroom equipment was old and abused. I was used to working in my own darkroom where everything was well-maintained and everything had a place.

Post photo editor Walt Harrison saw my portfolio and hired me on the spot. He saw I was an experienced newspaper photographer, but didn’t know that I was a lousy technician with no formal training. When you print for newspaper publication, for example, you print differently than you do for prints that hang on the wall. Newspaper photos are made up of tiny dots that transfer ink to the equivalent of splintery toilet paper. The process causes the image to pick up contrast, so you have to print “flat” when you send it back to the engravers or it won’t reproduce properly.

Tiny, but efficient darkroom

I couldn’t understand why my instructors kept kicking my prints back for being flat. Fortunately, the folks on The Post and the Athena yearbook gave me the help and criticism I needed to understand what I needed to do. One night I went to cover a routine assignment, then made the first “good” print of my career to that point. A light went off in my head and I suddenly got it. My work steadily improved from that point as I grew in confidence. I cleaned up in the Ohio College Newspaper Association contest that year because most student photographers don’t have as much hard news in their portfolios.

When Walt stepped down as photo editor, I took over his job. I didn’t even know it was a paid position until I got a check at the end of the school year. It didn’t make any difference to me: all I knew was that I had a darkroom shared with only two or three other shooters, a boundless supply of film and paper, and a bunch of accomplished photographers who weren’t shy about critiquing my work. I learned more from them than from any of my classes.

“Radical” Editor Andy Alexander

There are lots of photos of Andy Alexander because I had a freelance job from The Dayton Daily News to illustrate a story former Postie reporter Carol Towarnicky wrote about him. (I always called Carol “CT” because I couldn’t spell, let alone pronounce Towarnicky.) CT’s story said “Andy Alexander never marched in an anti-war demonstration. But he has marched through a few rice paddies, which would explain why the ex-Eagle Scout something talks about the United States in four-letter obscenities. And why the short-haired radical sometimes disparages the New Left.

Because Andy Alexander has a jump on most college students. He’s been there. He’s seen Vietnam. And it appalled him.”  Here’s CT’s story on Andy Alexander.

Andy financed a trip to Vietnam the past summer out of his own pocket. “I went to make a name for myself,” he explained matter-of-factly. “I doubt I found any newsman who was there out of dedication… Everyone wanted to make it big, fast. Some of them died trying.” He spent two summers reporting for the Melbourne (Australia) Herald. A year before he found himself in Prague, reporting the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.

I liked Andy. The Dayton Daily News might think he was a radical, but I found him a solid, steady pro who ran the student newspaper as well as any paper I’ve worked for.

Clarence Page like you don’t see on TV

When you see Chicago Tribune Pulitzer Prize winner Clarence Page as a frequent talking head on the news shows, he doesn’t look like the Clarence I knew. Here, Clarance points what I hope is a toy gun at Mark Roth. Unflappable editor Andy, with his back to the camera, ignores the tomfoolery going on behind him.

Clarence was a solid reporter who was always ready to push the boundaries. One night he used the F-word in a story and The Athens Messenger’s production crew almost didn’t publish the paper that night. The fact that The OU Post has been in existence was in spite of Clarence, not because of him.

I heard Clarence pontificating about something on NPR the other afternoon and had the same sense of unease as when I heard that classmate Jim Stone was trying to explain science to politicians and that Bill Clinton had been elected president. I mean, aren’t they supposed to have adults doing those jobs?

Expectant fathers

This was the first edition of the new school year to come rolling off The Messenger’s presses in 1968. Jesse Rotman, Bill Sievert and Tom Hodson were pacing the floor like fathers-to-be in a delivery room.

Other Ohio-era stories

Ohio University Post photo gallery

Here’s a collection of photos of Ohio University Post staffers at work (mostly). Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.