Arthur Mattingly Brought History to Life

Arthur Mattingly, history prof, SEMO c 1966When Jim Stone headed off to Ohio University, he and I would trade audio tapes instead of letters. It’s almost painful to listen to the two of us half a century later, but I was playing part of one the other day and heard myself describing my history prof: “He’s talking when he walks into the room, and he’s still talking when the bell rings and people are walking out.”

That was Arthur Mattingly, one of the best profs I had at SEMO or Ohio University.

Founded historic preservation program with Dr. Nickell

The Missourian had a story in 2006 saying that Dr. Mattingly and Dr. Frank Nickell were being recognized for founding SEMO’s historic preservation program 25 years earlier. A 1973 article he wrote does the best job I’ve ever read in explaining the value of historic preservation and how “old” doesn’t always translate into valuable.

Taught history in present tense

Arthur Mattingly, history prof, SEMO c 1966 One of the things I liked about him was that he delighted in debunking all those myths about history that we had been taught from grade school on. His accounts of battles were told in the present tense. He didn’t dwell on dates and troop movements, he made you feel like the enemy was going to come up over that rise any minute.

He, John C. Bierk, and Fred Goodwin are three SEMO profs I remember well.

Things are going to slow down here

I got a call from a perky and squealing Curator Jessica this morning. A grant we had applied for to put on a week-long workshop in Athens, Ohio, in August was approved. Since I really hadn’t expected it to get funded, I drug my feet on preparing for it.

I have to pull together an update for my Smelterville project by July, figure out what I’m going to do convince a bunch of amateur photographers that shooting pictures today with history in mind is fun, and knock off my Last Generation project for an Immigration Conference in Altenburg in October.

To get everything done, I’m going to have to throw some babies out of the lifeboat. I can’t give up food, sleep and afternoon naps, so it’ll be blog posts that go splash. I may plug in re-runs so you don’t forget about me.

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Beware Curators with Cookies

Sign on Richland Ave 10-26-2013My Road Warriorettes have been coming through in a big way. A big box of cookies from Curator Jessica from the Athens County Historical Society and Museum arrived last week. This week it was a package of the best peanut brittle in the world that Anne Rodgers picked up on her way through Marianna, FL., on her move to Texas.

I got a text from Jessica this afternoon: “Awake?” She knows that I am a frequent napper, so she always checks before calling. When I gave her the OK, she made some small talk, then said, “OK, now for the bad news.”

I wondered if she was going to tell me that this sign was for her. I wasn’t looking forward to breaking in a new Curator Jessica. No, it wasn’t that.

 No chance to take it easy

Athens Train Depot c 1968Then, I figured we had been turned down for a grant we had applied for. Nope, No news on that front.

“We’re taking down your Friends on Robinson Road exhibit on Monday, and we hoped you had something that we could replace it with.”

The first time I met Curator Jessica, I was about three hours out of Athens when she called to ask if I could pull off a major exhibit on Martin Luther King’s National Day of Mourning in three weeks. I liked her spirit, and we did it.

Three weeks is doable, but three days is stretching it, cookies or no cookies.

A tailor in 1968

F.R. Richey - Tailor - 12-21-1968We agreed that one that focused on Athens downtown landmarks, particularly where I could contrast photos from the late ’60s and early ’70s with contemporary pictures would be something quick to pull off. That’s why you get to see tailor Frank Richey looking our over Court street on December 21, 1968.

Frank’s building in 2013

Court Street 02-27-2013Frank is long gone, but the building his shop was in survives.

So, instead of a normal post, you’re going to see a huge data dump of the photos we’re considering. We figure the 100-plus photos here will cut down to about 30 when all is said and done. Not shown are two panoramas I shot last fall. They are going to be almost four feet wide by about 10 inches tall.

Waiting for Anne to call

Peanut brittle from Anne Rodgers 06-16-2014_6439If I see Anne’s Caller ID show up on my phone, I’m going to be slow to pick up. No telling what she’s going to want me to do for my package of peanut brittle.

Athens, Ohio, photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then navigate through it using your arrow keys.

A Photographer’s Dream

Kayla Wickersham - Mallory Widmar - 05-13-2014

It was finally time to put Athens in the rearview mirror. Friend Anne and I were waiting for Curator Jessica to come back from fighting the Civil War over in Marietta for a bunch of school kids (the Yanks won again), so we headed out to pick up some more road food and for me to get cash for the trip. It was seriously warm: the temperature was 85, with a heat index of 89.

As I turned down State Street, Anne asked, “Did you see the blow-up swimming pool in front of that house? It looked like it had a couple of college girls in it.”

I glanced back and acknowledged her vision acuity: “I’d have killed for something like that in 1969,” I muttered.

‘The girls? I thought you were married by 1969,” she noted.

Taking the pressure off

Kayla Wickersham - Mallory Widmar - 05-13-2014“No, not the girls, the chance to knock off a piece of feature art at the start of the shift. Having something in the bag for the next day takes the pressure off.”

With that, I did a U-turn and headed back for some easy blog content.

Kayla Wickersham, Dayton, and Mallory Widmar, from a suburb of Cleveland, had just moved into the house behind them a couple of days ago so they could start their senior year at Ohio University. Feeling like I was back at a freshman mixer, I asked the usual lame question, “What’s your major?” I didn’t write the answer down, and I retreated before asking for their signs.

The guys in the first photo had been talking to the gals when I walked up, but I must have spooked them. They leaned on a parking meter for a few minutes, but then meandered off.

This third guy wandered up just as I was starting to cross the street to climb into my car. Before I could even get my seatbelt fastened,  he had jumped into the pool with the girls. The bait, clearly, was working.

May 4: Compare and Contrast

2014 Jackson HS Prom pix in Jackson Park 05-03-2014Mother and I were on our way to Wib’s in Jackson for my last BBQ before leaving Missouri. On the way past Jackson’s city park, a flash of glow-in-the-dark green and a small crowd caught our eye. I did a U-turn (causing Mother to gasp uncharacteristically when she thought I turned too quickly in front of an oncoming car) and headed into the park.

We drove around spotting other gaggles of kids in fancy clothes and even a horse-drawn carriage. Pulling up to the Green Gal gaggle, I rolled down the window and asked, “Wedding or prom?”

It was the Jackson High School prom.

The Green Gal Gaggle

2014 Jackson HS Prom pix in Jackson Park 05-03-2014The foursome provided names: Tessa Long and Amanda Matlock are in the front row, left to right, and their dates are Mitchell Graham and Alex Wright.

[Editor’s note: When I asked if was a wedding or a prom and was told “prom,” I joked, “Well, since you are all dressed up anyway, why don’t you go ahead and get married?” I got a call this morning that I must have had that on my mind when I was typing at 2 in the morning, because in the first posting of the story, I called Amanda Matlock “Amanda Wright.” I guess I was determined to marry her off. I have officially annulled her marriage and given her back her maiden name. Another note: the kids were home by 1 a.m. The prom ended at 11 and the stopped at Denny’s on the way home. I guess the younger Jackson generation doesn’t have the stamina that the Cape Central Class of ’65 had: our party lasted all night.]

Color coordination

2014 Jackson HS Prom pix in Jackson Park 05-03-2014Alex’s tie matches Amanda’s dress, but Amanda went him one better with her green socks and shoelaces. This is a gal who looks like she’s ready for some serious dancing.

Our May 4th memories will be different

Meeting on Ohio University Main Green after Kent State shootings 05-05-1970When Tessa, Mitchell, Alex and Amanda wake up on May 4, their memories of that date are going to different than mine. They are going to remember the clothes, dancing, music and fun.

I’m going to remember four Kent State students who were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. Former Palm Beach Post chief photographer John J. Lopinot sends me an email every year: “Never Forget.” I don’t intend to.

Another photographer and I were on our way to Marietta, Ohio, to a surplus store where we were going to pick up riot gear and head up to Kent State. We were about half-way there when a radio news bulletin reported the shootings, although the initial garbled reports had the guardsman as being the ones shot. We elected to get the gear and head back to Athens and Ohio University, because we didn’t know how our campus was going to react.

4,000 gathered on College Green

Meeting on Ohio University Main Green after Kent State shootings 05-05-1970The protest movement up until that point was fairly small and made up of “radical” students. That afternoon and evening, though, as many as 4,000 students, professors, townspeople, preachers and even a congressional candidate crowded onto the College Green to listen to speeches and to figure out what was going to happen next.

The most moving moment was when a young woman who said she was a Kent State student came out of the darkness and grabbed the microphone. She said she and some of her friends had witnessed the shootings and had agreed to fan out to the other state schools to beg the students not to allow a similar bloody confrontation to happen.

“The kids at Kent are running scared,” she was quoted by Tom Price in The Athens Messenger. “Don’t bring that here. Don’t throw rocks here. You don’t know how good it is to be here tonight. Just stay this way, please. Keep cool and stay together, please – male and female – because there have been two girls killed and two guys.”

Ministers call for 24-hour memorial fast

Meeting on Ohio University Main Green after Kent State shootings 05-05-1970After the young woman spoke, Rabbi Joseph Polak called for prayer, and silence fell over the 4,000 persons on the green. Each minister then offered his own short prayer.

“I’m calling you to prayer for your brothers and sisters at Kent,” the Rev. Thomas Niccolls said. “I’m calling you to prayer for your brothers and sisters in Vietnam. I’m calling you to prayer for your brothers and sisters in Cambodia.”

“As we pray for the dead and the dying,” the Rev. Robert Hughes said, “let us pray for the living and for ourselves. We have seen enough dying and enough pain for a lifetime.”

The Rev. Thomas Jackson concluded the prayer

Meeting on Ohio University Main Green after Kent State shootings 05-05-1970“I’ve gotta try one more time. I just want a moratorium for one day on the terms ‘jock’ and ‘Greek’ and ‘hippie’ and all the things we use to punch each other out.”

Praying the students realize what it’s like when people who are shot and killed, the Rev. Thomas Jackson quoted a Kent State student who said he thought the National Guardsmen were firing blanks, “until I saw her head blown open.”

“It’s time to quit blowing open heads,” the Rev. Jackson said. “It’s time to quit splitting up and hating and disgusting each other. Can’t we just once do it? Just one day, that’s all I ask. Please remember that head that was blown open. Do something embarrassing tonight. Like don’t kill each other. Like touch someone. Be a fool.”

A lengthy standing ovation from the demonstrators followed Jackson’s prayer.

OU Closed on May 15

Ohio University Protests May 1970Ohio University managed to stay open until May 15, when it closed after two nights of tear gas and rioting.

Previous posts about the Kent State eraPeace demonstration at Ohio University 02-22-1968