Sandra Stewart Holyoak: This begins our second session with Peter D. Klein on the 31st of May, 2011.
Peter Klein: The reason for the "D" is because there is another philosopher whose name is Peter Klein and he hasn't published as much as I have [laughter] and I don't want to be mistaken. Every once in a while, when I send something in, I leave the "D" out, which is a mistake.
PK: But, anyway …
SH: Professor Paul Clemens and Sandra Holyoak are also here this morning; again, our thanks for continuing.
SH: We left off last time discussing the period after you finished high school.
PK: Right, good.
SH: We were talking about some of the subjects regarding that time period. Please, continue.
PK: So, my high school was what today might be called a magnet school. It wasn't a district school in the sense that you had to live in some area near it or adjacent to it. You had to pass a test to get in and you had to be recommended by your sixth grade teacher. So, it was seventh through twelve. Frankly, I didn't enjoy high school very much. It was an extremely competitive environment, intellectual environment. I don't mind that, but I like competition with cooperation. My closest friends and I were smart, but we didn't study all that much, [laughter] and I remember my high school math teacher. We had a math exam, quiz, every Monday, and it was a strange thing--I had this Monday illness [laughter] that would come almost regularly. She would say on Tuesday, "Oh, I see Klein has recovered." She was not a very pleasant person and a lot of the high school teachers I found to be relatively unpleasant. I had a Latin teacher, Mrs. Renfro, who was from, I don't know, Alabama, Georgia, deep Southern voice, little, squat woman who wore this huge iron cross, huge. She was the Latin teacher and, at one point, I don't know if I said something like "percipio," [pronounced "per-sip-io] rather than "percipio" [pronounced "per-kip-io," Latin word meaning to secure, perceive, learn or feel]--I don't remember which way it's supposed to go. I think the standard Catholic pronunciation was with a hard "C," I think, and I said it the other way. She said, "You know, Klein, you don't know how to pronounce that correctly," and I said, "What?" just to antagonize her. [laughter] She said, "You don't know how to pronounce that correctly," and I was impudent and said, "How do you know how they pronounced it?" She said, "Well, that's the way we pronounce it in church," and I said, "Yes, and?" From then on, I sat in the back of the class and she never called on me again. [laughter] This was generally the way my high school intellectual life went.
I probably graduated with a "B-" or a "C+" average. In order to graduate from this school, we had to take the advanced placement exams and score relatively well. I think the advanced placement in math, they graded you five, four, three, two, one, something like that. It might have been four, three, two, one, but whatever it was, let's say five's the highest. Well, when the scores were read out loud in the classroom, she was reading and people were getting--let's say five, again, is the highest--people were getting two fours, every once in a while, a four and a five, and, when she came to Klein, she said, "Klein, five, five. There must be a mistake here." [laughter] Then, she went on. So, that's how things went in my high school.
There were some really good things about my high school. I mentioned last time, I think, that my high school had fraternities and sororities. Now, they didn't have houses, but they were social clubs and they would meet at various people's houses and it was a very segregated high school. Cincinnati is a very, very Southern town. Of course, I had realized it in terms of the treatment of blacks, but I hadn't realized the degree to which the culture was a Southern culture, even though my mother was born in the hills of Kentucky and all of her relatives were very Southern. So, there were black fraternities and sororities and there were three or four fraternities that had three or four sororities paired with them. If you were black and relatively rich and the star of the football team or the president of the student council or something important, or the best fiddle player, [then, you would be in a particular fraternity]. By the way, Jimmy--egads, shows how old I am, the conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, Jimmy, James Levine--so, Jimmy was my neighbor and, if you notice some time, you'll see that he has, on his right hand, his little finger is crooked. I did that. [laughter] We had a little sandlot football team and I stepped on his finger. James is about three years younger than I am, but he was always heavy, so, he was playing a lineman on the football team. [Editor's Note: James Levine has served as Musical Director of The Metropolitan Opera since the early 1970s.]
Anyway, so, back to the sororities. There were black fraternities, there were Catholic fraternities and sororities, there were Jewish fraternities and sororities, there were Protestant fraternities and sororities. My friends, my male friends, and I pledged and you actually had to go through a rather nasty thing. This was high school and the school tolerated it, which ticked me off. We stayed in it for about six months, because we had to get through the pledging. That was a test, but, then, after we got through the pledging, we all thought, "You know, we don't really like all these people especially and a lot of our friends are in these other things." So, some of us looked around and there's an organization called Fellowship House that was in Philadelphia and it was primarily for adults. Now, remember, this was '55, I suppose. A bunch of us decided, "This is just silly. We like these other people," and so, three of us left the Jewish mid-level fraternity and a bunch of people left the Catholic fraternity and a bunch of people left the Protestant one and sorority and the black one. There was no significant Latino population in Cincinnati at the time. I don't know what it's like now. We established [a youth component]; there was already an adult chapter of Fellowship House in Cincinnati, mostly progressive white, black, Catholic, Protestant leaders in the city, and they had a house. They would lend us the house on Friday nights, Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons. We worked together to establish Fellowship House for Walnut Hills High School. [Editor's Note: Founded in the 1940s, the Fellowship House of Cincinnati functioned as an organization to promote cultural awareness between different racial, ethnic and religious groups and was one of the first organizations in the area to promote integrated programs.]
That got me connected with--not me, the house was connected with it and I was part of the house--with CORE. [Editor's Note: The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), founded in 1942, played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-twentieth century and pioneered nonviolent direct action as a way to achieve desegregation and voting rights.] Cincinnati, as I said, was a very, very conservative, racist town. Movie theaters were segregated. Bowling alleys were segregated. Some restaurants were segregated. Woolworth's was segregated. There could be blacks serving you, but blacks were not allowed to sit. It was the same stuff going on in the South.
One of the first things we did, there was a roller rink and it was a public roller-skating rink six nights out of the week. Sorry, it was a private roller-skating rink six nights out of the week, a public one, one night. Public meant black. When you approached the ticket place--you had to buy a ticket to go in--they would ask to see your membership card and, of course, whites had membership cards and blacks did not. So, on the six nights, if you were white, you could get in. If you were black, you couldn't get in, but, on the night that it was black night, only blacks went. The whites stayed away. Well, what CORE did, we would send two to three or four students and it'd be a white group of students. The membership committee was there and it could meet and you could pay an extra dollar or something, and then, you got a membership card and you could be admitted. If a black group went up, the membership committee was just not there at the moment, and so, they couldn't get in, and then, we could send another white group right after that and the membership committee would miraculously reappear. Two, three years later, it took a long time to document this, but we were able to demonstrate, to a court's satisfaction, that this membership thing was just a dodge. There was nothing illegal about having a membership [requirement], but what was illegal, of course, was that the membership was based on race. It took a little while, because, remember, you know, they could always argue, "Well, it's true. The membership committee wasn't there." Well, after [a longer period of time], you could establish a pattern. We did the same thing to movie theaters. Movie theaters would only allow blacks to sit upstairs in the balcony. They couldn't sit on the main floor. If there were too many black kids wanting to go to the theater, I don't know how they determined when it was too many, but, even though there were seats upstairs, they wouldn't allow people in. So, we did the same thing, sending whites, sending blacks, and it was very clear what was happening. We did the same thing at Woolworth's, at the counters. That was a mind-awakening thing to me.
The city was like many cities--you would have the poorest and the most recent immigrant population, which happened to have been blacks at the time, in the core, the center, of the city, then, the next ring, so-to-speak, was the group that had just moved from the core and the next ring was the group that had moved from the ring that had moved from the core. We lived in very segregated communities, so, all the other high schools were very, very segregated. Our high school was not. Our high school drew people from all over. One of my best friends, who also was in Fellowship House, is a guy named Robert Martin, and he'll come up later again in the story. [Editor's Note: Dr. Robert Martin served as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cellist in Residence at Livingston College, Rutgers University, from 1969 to 1974, before leaving to play and tour with the Sequoia String Quartet from 1975 to 1985 and serve as a professor of philosophy at California State University-Northridge. Since 1994, he has been a faculty member at Bard College and now serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Philosophy and Music there.] I also became part of the--you remember Tom Lehrer's song, the Folk Song Army?
PC: I remember Tom Lehrer, but I do not remember the song. [Editor's Note: Humorist and singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer included Folk Song Army on his 1965 album That Was the Year That Was, a collection of satirical tunes that skewered topics of the day.]
PK: He's poking fun of all the folk song singers and he called it the Folk Song Army. I was one of them [laughter] and I learned to play the banjo, five-string banjo, halfway decently, listening to Pete Seeger's [songs]. Pete Seeger had an album or two that taught you how to play. One time was at Fellowship House. Fellowship House was also connected with the labor movement, as well as the Civil Rights Movement, etc. There was an interesting connection in college, because it was also connected with the Highlander Folk School, which I'll tell you a little bit about in a minute. [Editor's Note: Founded in 1932 near Monteagle, Tennessee, the Highlander Folk School initially provided education for workers to support the labor movement, and then, trained Civil Rights activists with workshops on integration, protest tactics and cultural awareness.] Everybody brought their instruments and we sounded halfway decent and we were sitting around and there were some adults there, including one very tall guy with a red nose, a very tall, thin guy. After a while, he said, "Do you mind if I play your banjo?" You know, a banjo is a personal thing, and I said, "Do you know how to play?" and he said, "A little." So, I gave it to him and he started playing and I said, "My God, you sound just like Pete Seeger." He said, "I am Pete Seeger." [laughter] I had never seen him and everybody else there, I think, knew who he was. I have a habit, every once in a while, of making a real fool of myself and that was one. [laughter]
Another fool-of-myself story, I wrangled at this dude ranch in Montana and we had a rodeo, sort of. [laughter] Mine was the boys' camp and it was Riverdale boys, in New York. The girls' camp all came from a school called Dalton, a private girls' school, and they were eighty miles away. During the summer, the camps would meet each other and we thought it'd be fun to have a little rodeo. So, we had a little rodeo and the horses that we were riding, that hadn't been broken, were two-year olds. They weren't real bucking horses and the steers that we were dogging were not really big steers. They were little steers. So, nobody was going to [get hurt]. I didn't want to get hurt and nobody got hurt, but the last event was a tug-of-war, which is not normally in a rodeo. The thing was, though, we tied the ropes around our waist and knotted it, and then, the next person tied the rope around their waist and knotted it. In the stud's corral, the stud paces around on the outside, I mean, along the fences, and, in the middle, pisses and shits and there's sort of a pond there. The tug-of-war was on either side of this little pond. [laughter] So, you can imagine what happened if you lost. Well, lo and behold, we won. It was probably because we had one guy on our team whose nickname was Moose and he was at the back and Moose definitely did not want to be dragged through this thing. On the other team, there were twin boys and I was probably fourteen or fifteen or something and they were eighteen or nineteen or twenty. They were real rough-tough cowboys. They claimed to be--Kurt and somebody--they claimed to be professional wrestlers. Now, that just meant, probably, they wrestled in some bar somewhere, because Montana used to allow, in a bar, a little wrestling [ring].
PK: On a mat. They also allowed fighting in the bar, but this was controlled somewhat. [laughter] They got dragged through the muck. My group was standing around laughing and Kurt came up behind me and grabbed me like this [in a headlock] and threw me out into the mud puddle. I was mad and I got up and said, "You son of a bitch. You wouldn't do that if I was looking." He said, "Are you looking?" and I said, "Yes." "Boom," he laid me out. [laughter] Oh, well; so, I do get into trouble every once in a while with this mouth. [laughter] The important thing was that--you asked about mentors--there was no teacher in high school who was a mentor, but this Fellowship House thing was extremely important, I think, in my getting outside of my little shell. I dated a black girl named Willamena Jones, "Billy" Jones, gorgeous, just gorgeous, and her parents were as upset--in fact, probably more so--than my parents, because, before my parents were divorced, we had a fairly good-sized house. It's like now--you don't know what your neighbors are doing and you don't give a damn. Billy lived in what now would be called the projects in Cincinnati, and so, everybody knew everybody and it was difficult for her, because it was not a thing to be doing, to be dating a white guy. She eventually dated Oscar Robertson. I lost out to Oscar Robertson and that struck me as okay. [laughter] That wasn't a bad person to lose to. He was already in college, and so, it was a college guy. Well, anyway, it was Oscar Robertson and, in college, he was terrific. [Editor's Note: NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Oscar Robertson attended the University of Cincinnati from 1957 to 1960.] So, there wasn't a mentor in high school, but Fellowship House played that role for me.
SH: When you were documenting segregation at the roller rink, were you aware of what you were doing?
PK: Oh, yes.
SH: I mean ...
PK: Oh, it was very clear. We would sit with the lawyers with CORE and they would say, "You have to do it this way, rather than that way." It was very clear why we were doing it.
PK: It was the tip of the iceberg for me. I guess my initial reaction to it might have been something like, "Well, what's wrong with that?" There were some roller rinks that were all-black roller rinks. Whites never went there and the reason whites never went there was because the blacks, when they skated, boy, it wasn't to a waltz. This was fast. You had to know what you were doing or you'd get run over. That was another good thing--I learned how to roller skate pretty well, because I went on some of the black nights and there were no waltzes. [laughter] Everybody was skating backwards and doing all sorts of things and going in and out and all the rest. On the white nights, you had to stay in line and you were not allowed to skate in and out. So, after we integrated, won the court battle, blacks hardly went on the white night, on the nights, because they were playing these waltzes and why do they want to do that? It got me and others [involved] and that was the whole point of the adults in Fellowship House and Highlander Folk School, I'll tell you in a minute. They saw it, of course, as a political move to integrate some of the facilities. Barbershops were segregated, completely segregated, and we worked on the barbershops, too. I think I began to see how unjust this all was, and you might think, "Well, how could you miss that?" Well, we were living in these communities that were isolated from one another and I just missed it, but that opened my eyes a little bit; go ahead.
SH: Were the lawyers that were talking to you from Cincinnati?
PK: Most of them, yes. CORE was a very regional [organization].
SH: Was it?
PK: Yes. I mean, it was a national organization, but what each group did depended very much on what the circumstances were in their region. Now, the Woolworth's stuff was a nationwide thing. [Editor's Note: On February 1, 1960, four students staged a sit-in to protest the whites-only lunch counter of the Woolworth store in Greensboro, North Carolina. Over the next six months, students across the South embraced the sit-in tactic of nonviolent resistance to protest Jim Crow segregation policies and try to force integration.] This was before--I was a sophomore in high school--this was before there was a national move. I don't know the degree to which that was a conscious trial period, because although Cincinnati was a segregated city and the treatment of blacks by the cops, which is still rampant in Cincinnati, the mistreatment, even though it was a Southern place, there was a large Jewish community that had always historically been allied with some of the Civil Rights movements and the labor movement and the suffragette movement, but mostly the labor movement.
PC: It was a center, if you go back a hundred years, of abolitionism, at a time when it was a Southern city.
PK: Yes. So, it was a place where there was a conflict.
PK: I mean, it was just above the Mason-Dixon Line.
PC: Peter, if I have got the date right in my head, this was also right at the time of Brown v. the Board of Education. There must have been some awareness. [Editor's Note: In Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka (1954), the Supreme Court overturned the separate but equal precedent established by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and ruled that state-sponsored segregated schools were unconstitutional. The ruling marked a milestone in the Civil Rights Movement and led the way to the desegregation of public schools. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) represented the plaintiffs in the case and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) contributed legal arguments.]
PK: Yes, that's right. There was. The ACLU would come every once in a while to some of these meetings. They'd send a lawyer, because they were interested in precedent-setting cases. We were not just trying--I hadn't remembered this until you mentioned it--we were not just tools trying to do something locally. They wanted to establish cases that they knew would get challenged and go on up. So, they wanted things to be done really correctly.
PC: I have one question about something you were talking about before. Before you won a court order, if you had wanted to go, and perhaps you did, because you said you did later ...
PC: On a black night ...
PK: I could go.
PC: You could go. Some whites were going on the black night.
PK: Yes, very few, but some.
PC: Some did.
PK: Because the black night was public night.
PK: You didn't need to be a member of the club.
PK: You didn't have to pay the dues. Their main argument was, "No, you really did have to pay the dues," and you really did have to pay the dues, but it was fake. I mean, the restaurants didn't make a pretense of anything. If a black family went, or an integrated group went, you weren't allowed in. I mean, they wouldn't say, "Oh, the whites can come in." They would say, "No, you people can't come in," and nobody would do anything about it. The KKK was rampant in Cincinnati, too. For all I know, it was selected as a place to try some stuff in the North; I don't know. [Editor's Note: The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a white supremacist organization, used intimidation and violence to resist the goals of the Civil Rights Movement and try to preserve the social order existing under Jim Crow segregation laws in the South.]
SH: To challenge the "separate but equal" precedent.
PK: Yes, yes. Well, it clearly wasn't equal. [laughter]
SH: No, just the pretense.
PK: [laughter] Nobody could claim it was equal, but it was private property. Restaurants were private properties and barbershops [were private properties]. The notion of public accommodation and having a license by the public to be a barber or to be a restaurateur, that wasn't the common way that people looked at it. It was either public or private property. There wasn't this notion of a public accommodation.
PC: Small footnote--the first major Civil Rights issue I noticed in New Brunswick involved barbershops. They were still segregated here in the 1960s. Because of that, Rutgers tried to create a barbershop in the student center, so that the black students would have a place to get a haircut. The barbers complained, because they obviously did not want the competition. On the other hand, they did not want to admit blacks. I do not know how it actually got resolved in the end, but it was one of the first local civil rights fights.
PK: I didn't know that.
PC: Barbershops were segregated everywhere in America.
PC: It was one of the oldest segregated institutions.
PC: Even in Boston.
PK: Yes, and the argument was, "Well, we just don't know how to cut black hair."
PK: That was the argument. You'd say, "Well, somebody figured it out," but, oh, well, anyway. [laughter] So, I was this mediocre-to-poor high school student, but I did really well on tests. The math test, I mentioned, the great thing about the math test was, there were some sort of math essay questions. So, they would give you a problem and they assumed you had had pre-calculus, but they didn't assume that you had really studied calculus and that was a correct assumption, in our case. Our high school, we had all the pre-calculus stuff. They would give you problems that would test beyond what they thought you had learned in high school. So, they would say things like, "Well, look, maybe you won't get to the solution, but outline what you would do if you couldn't get to the [solution], what the problems would be," and I loved it, the test. It was great. [laughter] I did pretty well on the SATs. I went to the summer camp, to the [camp] in Breathitt County, I think we talked about last time, the American Friends Service [Committee] summer camp. I had had a good feeling about the American Friends Service Committee anyway, because they got my father out of Nazi Germany. I had decided I was going to stay out for a year, because I was sick and tired of school and I didn't like it. I went to this summer work camp sponsored by the AFSC, American Friends Service Committee, and many of the people there, who were counselors, or there were some older students who were already in college, went to Earlham College. It's a place you've probably never heard of. [Editor's Note: Founded by Quakers in Richmond, Indiana, Earlham College is a liberal arts college with a student body of approximately 1,200 students.]
PC: I definitely have.
PK: It's a tiny, little place in Richmond, Indiana. It had a thousand students when I went there, total, a thousand students. I only applied to one place and that was Earlham, because it sounded like, "That's the place I want to go." Thank God, that was the year they decided to admit Jews. [laughter]
SH: That was the first time.
PK: Well, they may have admitted some Jews, but it was by accident. [laughter] So, there were twenty of us who were admitted that year. I assume I did not have very good letters of recommendation from high school, [laughter] but my SATs were really good. In my presence, they had in their hands a copy of the advanced placement math test and the guy who was interviewing me was a chemistry teacher named, something--his last name was Strong--and he became a very famous teacher for developing a way to teach chemistry. He was going over the exam with me as part of the interview process to get into Earlham. He said, "So, I see you did this. How would you have gone on?" and I said, essentially, "I don't know how to go on," and he said, "Well, think a little bit." That was the first time a teacher ever asked me, "Think a little bit," [laughter] you know, that strange concept, a teacher asking you to think a little bit. So, I thought a little bit and he said, "Okay, think a little bit more." [laughter]
PK: We stumbled around and, eventually, I, quote "I," solved the problem. Of course, I didn't solve the problem--he asked the right questions. I knew, "That's going to be my home," and it was an absolutely life-changing experience at that college. The faculty members lived very close to the college, [laughter] for protection from the KKK-ers in Richmond, Indiana, but one of my teachers, a guy named Wayne Booth, that you might have heard of, everybody in the English Department will have heard of him, he's now dead, but he wrote a book called The Rhetoric of Fiction [published in 1961] while he was at Earlham. He was a Chicago Ph.D., came to Earlham for four or five years. I happened to be there in those four years. This book was a defense of old-time literary criticism, because there were sort of inklings of this deconstructionist stuff and, "Who cares what the author's intention was? We just pay attention to the text and no historical location," and all the rest, and that pissed Wayne off. I was in their honors program and, luckily enough, I was assigned to Wayne. They would have faculty at-homes. So, every Sunday night, and they were assigned eight to ten people, there were eight to ten people having dinner with Wayne and Phyllis and his two children. He was, in many ways, more of a father to me than my father. I met my first wife at his place. I got straight "A's" at Earlham. Well, I got a "B+" in Shakespeare, not from him, from Warren Staebler. I probably deserved [it]. [laughter] Wayne one time told me, he said, "You know, you're getting 'A's' here, but, if you were at Swarthmore or Haverford," other Quaker schools, Earlham's a Quaker school, "if you were at Swarthmore and Haverford, you'd be getting 'B's' at the most," and that was disconcerting a bit. [laughter] He was wonderful. He taught me how to study. I don't think I looked at television the whole time I was in college. I studied all the time that I could.
I lucked out. This was the year they were admitting Jews and this was right after the Hungarian freedom fighter stuff and there was a guy named Andy Klein, K-L-E-I-N, same thing, who had been one of the Hungarian freedom fighters, who was about, probably, eight years older than I am. [Editor's Note: Beginning on October 23, 1956, Hungarians revolted against the Communist government installed by the Soviet Union after World War II. Following an invasion and brutal occupation by Soviet forces, most resistance ceased by November 10th. Approximately 200,000 Hungarians fled the country after the Hungarian Revolution and many settled in the United States.] Well, they must have thought--I never asked them, but they must have thought--Andy was my nickname. They must have thought, "Klein, we haven't seen that name before. So, could there be two Kleins?" So, they assigned us to the same bed. [laughter] I got there about an hour before Andy did, so, I had unloaded my stuff and put it in my room and Andy graciously went someplace else. I ended up on a floor in Bundy Hall that had, for years, the highest GPA [grade point average]. You didn't stay on that floor if you didn't study. One kid had a television--they made him get rid of it. [laughter] Again, I lucked out. It was just absolute luck that I was on that floor. Andy ended up in Barrett Hall, which was the hall for jocks. Now, Andy was a self-possessed, confident and competent person, so, it didn't affect his life, but had I been there, I would have been a jock, I think. [laughter] So, which dorm I got into mattered and Wayne Booth mattered to me very much, but he was only one of the teachers who mattered.
This guy Strong, whose first name I don't remember at the moment, the first day in the chemistry class, we were to split up into groups of five or six or something and we were given a shoebox that was taped shut. What we were to try to figure out was what's in it and that was our assignment, "Figure out what's in this box as best as you can." You were not allowed to put it in an X-ray machine or something, but you could do anything else. You couldn't put it in water and you couldn't open it, but you could do anything else you wanted and you were supposed to figure out as much as you could about the contents of the box. My team and I thought we had figured it out, because, when you would take the box and go like this, it'd go, "Thump, thump, thump, thump," and then, you could turn it over and it'd go, "Thump, thump, thump," and we could count the thumps. We could say, "Well, we think this thing is a four-sided thing, so, it's a cube." We could weigh another shoebox and we could weigh this thing, so [that] we could figure out the weight of the thing inside. We could figure out approximately what its size was, so [that] we could figure out its density, etc. So, we worked and we thought, "Okay, it's a piece of wood. It's a wooden block." That was our hypothesis. We were right about the wood. We were wrong about the shape of the thing. The box, he had corrugated on the inside, so [that] when it rolled, it rolled into those corrugations. That was a terrific lesson, that sometimes the hypothesis you jump at and seems so obvious is just wrong. [laughter] He was a great teacher. For developing this method of teaching chemistry, he became nationally known and everything.
Wayne Booth stayed there for the five years, then, went back to Chicago and became a leading defender of old-fashioned literary criticism. Wayne was a Mormon, educated by--his son is in the English Department here. I'll think of it in a second. The son's name is Michael, Michael something; very famous Aristotelian scholar, was Wayne's teacher. I worked in the fire towers in Montana for lots of time.
SH: During the summers.
PK: During the summer. He gave me The Complete Works of Aristotle [The Basic Works of Aristotle (1941)] by and edited by this guy. How can I do that? McKeon, Richard McKeon was the Aristotelian and Michael is his son here, edited by Richard McKeon. Aristotle, without a typewriter even, [laughter] imagine, now, the truth is a lot of Aristotle's work isn't [in his words]. It was his work, but it was compiled by people a lot later, from student lecture notes, in many cases. Now, some of the original manuscripts are around, but a lot of it was compiled from student notes. That's why it's repetitive and confusing at times. [laughter] He gave me that thing and he said, "Okay, I want you this summer to read the whole thing." Now, this was probably a twelve-hundred-page book, really thin paper and tiny, tiny font, [laughter] and I didn't know what the hell I was reading. It was so foreign to me, but, then, I would come back and he'd talk about it and talk about it and talk about it. Wayne changed my life. He had a son named Peter who was killed in an automobile accident and I think he really liked me. He, one time, in one of his books, in a book called Please Don't Try to Reason with Me [Now Don't Try to Reason with Me: Essays and Ironies for a Credulous Age (1970)], [laughter] he was talking about the attitude that students had towards reason and, in there, he referred to me as his best student ever.
SH: Oh, how nice.
PK: He had many students after he wrote that book. [laughter]
SH: No, no.
PK: But, he was just terrific. Anyway, during college, I did well in terms of grades. I took a course, first semester, sophomore year, from a guy named Grimsley Hobbs and, at a Quaker school, you used both names. So, you never referred to Professor Hobbs, you'd never call anybody Grimsley, you'd never call anybody Hobbs--you refer to them as Grimsley Hobbs. Everybody uses their first and last name. It was an old-fashioned school. They didn't have buckles on their shoes, but it was close and it was a conservative side of the Quaker [tradition]. I toyed with the idea of becoming a Quaker, and then, they did some things, I'm going to say, to me. They did some things which had an effect on me, which soured me, not towards Earlham and not towards--well, some of the faculty, actually--but never Wayne and never some of the others. Richmond, Indiana, was one of the strongholds of the KKK in the North. The relationships between the college and the townies was pretty terrible, because, during World War II, there were a lot of COs, conscientious objectors, COs, who were at the college. Now, it didn't matter that they later became smokejumpers and that they were medics in the military. A lot of them, they did alternative service in the Army, so [that] they would drive ambulances. They wouldn't carry a gun, so [that] they'd be easily shot. None of that mattered. The relationship with the town--first of all, it's a redneck town. The white population was transported from the South. The black population, which had grown during that period, was also from the South. So, they had a long tradition of how to get along or not get along and the way you got along, if you were black, was to get off the damn sidewalk if a white person was walking towards you. Literally, you'd step off the sidewalk. Well, they had a skating rink that was doing roughly the same thing as the thing in Cincinnati. I contacted the local CORE group--there was a local CORE group--and said, "Hey, you want some help with this?" Their initial response was, "Hell no." [laughter] Well, this was not Cincinnati. This was Richmond, Indiana, and you don't dare do that. Well, I didn't abide by that, and so, we did it on our own, the first couple of times.
SH: Who did you recruit?
PK: Other students. There were some Jewish students there that I knew. I mean, we sort of found each other. There were very, very few black students. Of the thousand students, my guess is fifteen, ten, fifteen students at the most. We made some friends with some high school kids in town, black high school kids in town, whose parents were not very happy about this. The school wasn't very happy about it, because the Richmond whatever it was--I'll think of it in a minute. It wasn't the Richmond Tribune, but the Richmond--it wasn't the Picayune. It was some Southern name, [The Richmond Palladium-Item]. The newspaper, of course, turned this into an Earlham-versus-town thing and these students, coming from outside, disturbing the order that's been established in the town. Anyway, the movie theaters were segregated. Of course, the barbershops were segregated. There was a Woolworth's in town. Wayne supported me in this. He cautioned me about the effect on the college and the way in which the college-town gown relationships would be disrupted. When I said, "That's not my problem. That's the town's problem and that's the college's problem. This thing is wrong and we'll change it," he respected that. He wasn't sure that was the thing to be doing. [laughter] I think he was worried a little bit about our safety and I think he was worried about the college's safety, because there were counter-protests by some of the people in town and students were treated badly. Earlham students were treated badly by some of the merchants in town, students who had nothing to do with what we were doing. It wasn't an easy decision, because, in Cincinnati, you were sort of anonymous, but there were a thousand people at this college, a thousand students. It's not like Rutgers, stretched out all over hell. It's a very compact, little thing, and the relationships with the town were terrible, because of the COs and because college-educated people were weird, given the town.
When it came time to [go for] graduation, I'll go back to a couple more things, what soured me a little bit on the place, when it came time for graduation, the person with the highest GPA would give the graduation talk for the students and I had the highest GPA by a tenth of a point or something, really close. I think this other kid probably got two "B+"-es and they changed the rules, because they knew it'd be me and they knew what I would say about how Earlham had not supported [civil rights]. Here's a Quaker school, you know, the Quakers were deeply involved in the abolitionist movement. They were leaders of that and, here, they were timid and they were afraid and they were going along with the established order and they knew I was going to talk about that. Well, I didn't get to talk at the college graduation, because they changed the rules. They decided that, "No, we should," very much like what Livingston did, "we should ask students to submit short, little essays on why they liked Earlham College." They would go over those essays, pick three or four, then, interview those people and help them write the essay to read at graduation. Well, needless to say, I was slightly ironic in why I liked Earlham. [laughter] I mean, "It taught me how to deal with a group of people who couldn't see social injustice when it was right before their eyes," and things like that. [laughter] The next year, they went back to the old thing, where the person with the highest GPA [would speak]. We also had a required convocation on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the college. Every, I don't know, fifth, sixth, seventh one of them was "The Faith I Live By," and students would give talks for that. No, I never was asked to do that. [laughter] Oh, well, but I learned how to study.
I took this course in my sophomore year from Grimsley Hobbs. We read Descartes' Meditations [on First Philosophy]. I loved it. Grimsley Hobbs was six-seven, 260 pounds, runner-up national wrestling champ, so, he must have been a heavyweight. His wife, Lois, was six-foot-three. They ran a mill and, by mill, I mean one that was water-powered. They had bought an old mill. They refurbished it. It hadn't been running for years and years and years. They refurbished the damn thing and they produced a thing called Hobbs Flour. You'd walk into this mill [laughter] and there'd be these giants, Grimsley and his wife and their seventeen-year-old kid, who was a monster. I mean, he was six-seven and he was seventeen years old and they had thirteen-year-olds who were bigger than I was and stronger than I was, and you'd walk in. You know, the mill, you have to carry the wheat and stuff up to the top, and then, it goes down some chutes and gets all ground up in various ways, and then, it goes into a big bag. Well, these monsters were carrying these bags of flour around. [laughter] Grimsley was just an absolutely wonderful teacher. I read Descartes' Meditations and thought, "You know, I can get paid for doing this, for reading this stuff and thinking about this and writing about this? What a life." [laughter] So, that did it. From then [on], I mean, it's just clear, that's what I was going to do, and with Wayne having been a student of McKeon and an Aristotelian himself.
So, it was Aristotle's theory of literary criticism that Wayne was defending in his Rhetoric of Fiction, which is not a very popular view around here. I mean, the view that every book has a beginning, a middle and an end, even though it may not be quite in that order, [laughter] because the temporal order didn't determine beginning, middle and end, it was what was the final cause in the book--anyway, Aristotelian stuff. It was just mind opening, and I loved math again. I always loved math in elementary school, except for one teacher, and I got to love math again. I was a math and philosophy major. The way they taught math was just terrific. It was not, "This is a certain formula and it's that kind of a problem." It was, "Okay, how would we go about solving this problem?" and you could come up with alternative ways. If you could show that your way was either equivalent to or, in some cases, better than the textbook, they loved it. It was just great.
By the way, we integrated. We won and we integrated the roller rink and we integrated the movie theater and we integrated some of the restaurants. I was trying to remember whether it was in my sophomore year or the beginning of my junior year--I think it was in my sophomore year--there was a place called Highlander Folk School in something. I should have looked it up before I came, but it was in some little town in Tennessee called Monteagle or Mounteagle, or something like that, up in the hills. [Editor's Note: The Highlander Folk School was located originally in Monteagle, Tennessee.] It was founded, I'm guessing, in the '20s and '30s as part of the labor movement. It might have been earlier than that, but, initially, it was dealing with coalminers and it was organizing some of the union's activity in coal mines. In the late '50s and '60s, it shifted its attention to the Civil Rights Movement and it was a place where SNCC and SCLC and CORE and the ACLU would all come together and learn from one another. [Editor's Note: CORE, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the student-run Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) formed the core of organizations that spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement prior to the rise of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s. Since its founding after World War I, the efforts of the ACLU have focused on protecting individual rights through the court system.] It's a fascinating place. I don't think its role in the Civil Rights Movement [has been fully recognized]. Maybe somebody's written about it and I don't know about it. I think I would have seen it, but maybe I missed it. I went there. I was invited to go there because of the stuff in Richmond. One of the CORE people there suggested that I represent CORE, me. I think I was a sophomore. [Editor's Note: The role of the Highlander Folk School in American social movements has been explored in several works, including John M. Glen's Highlander: No Ordinary School, Frank Adams and Myles Horton's Unearthing Seeds of Fire: The Idea of Highlander and Jeff Biggers' The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment to America. Several collections house primary sources associated with the Highlander Folk School, including the Harry Lasker Memorial Library at the Highlander Research and Education Center, Wisconsin Historical Society, Tennessee State Library and Archives, and W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection at Appalachian State University.]
PK: When I was there, Martin Luther King was there, Stokely Carmichael was there, H. Rap Brown was there, and so, I got to meet [them]. [Editor's Note: Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) and H. Rap Brown (born Hubert Gerold Brown and later known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin) were Civil Rights leaders and activists. King's beliefs represented the moderate portion of the Civil Rights Movement, with Carmichael and Brown positioned on the more radical side of the movement. King founded the SCLC and posed the most visible leadership of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Carmichael served as a leader of SNCC in the 1960s and later advocated black power, and then, Pan-Africanism. Brown led SNCC after Carmichael, became involved in the Black Panther Party and converted to Islam.]
SH: This was during the summer that you were there.
PK: No. I don't know if it was in the fall or spring of my sophomore year, but it must have been right in there, somewhere. I could figure it out by going back and checking the history of the Highlander Folk School, because, shortly after I was able to go there, the State of Tennessee, on really trumped up charges, closed the place down. In Tennessee, like in most states, you're not allowed to sell beer unless you have a license. What they did, they had a spy there, who was probably there when I was there, because this happened a couple of weeks after I left. So, I could pinpoint when I was there, because I know it happened a couple of weeks after I left.
SH: This would have been in 1960 then.
PK: No. I think it was probably closer to '59 or '60, yes, yes, '59 or '60, yes, right, exactly. I believe it closed in '61, so, it might have been the Spring of '61, which would have meant the spring of my junior year. What happened was, they took up a collection to send somebody into that little town, whatever its name was, Mounteagle or Monteagle or something, to buy beer and the guy came back. He didn't have enough money--they didn't give him enough money--so, people contributed additional dollars. [Editor's Note: Dr. Klein snaps his fingers.] So, they were nailed for selling beer and they closed the [Highlander Folk School]. The police raided. The spy, of course, said what was happening. They reopened again a year or two later, outside of Knoxville. [Editor's Note: Under pressure from opponents of the Civil Rights Movement, Tennessee closed the Highlander Folk School in 1961. The institution reopened as the Highlander Research and Education Center in Knoxville and later moved to New Market, Tennessee, where it still functions as a center for education and training.]
SH: By the same name?
PK: Originally, it was called the Highlander Folk School. Then, it reopened as the Highlander Center for Research and Leadership or Leadership and Research or Research and Education and Leadership, something else, but the word Highlander was in there. When I was there, it was a really interesting time, because this was before things had really heated up. We were learning nonviolence, the nonviolent technique. Well, sorry, you see the side I'm on. The kids from SNCC thought of nonviolence as a technique, [laughter] because they didn't want to get killed, whereas the people from SCLC, Reverend [C. T.] Vivian, something-or-other, and King, saw it as not a technique at all, but a basic principal of the way in which you treat one another, whereas the kids from SNCC [would say], "What? Are you nuts? [laughter] We'll go along with this now, but, if we get enough people and enough power and enough authority, we're off this." It was an interesting dialogue to see those two. [Editor's Note: Dr. Klein is referencing disagreements within the Civil Rights Movement over the use of nonviolent civil disobedience. Initially after its founding in 1960, SNCC members explored ideas from Gandhi, Christianity and American pacifism, but always reserved militancy as an underlying tactic, as SNCC established projects in areas of the South deemed too dangerous by other activists. Additional disagreements occurred between Civil Rights groups over strategies and, ultimately, the goals of the movement. By the mid to late 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement split between those who advocated nonviolence as a means to achieve integration and those who considered themselves part of the Black Power Movement and advocated the development of black political, social and cultural institutions.] Well, H. Rap Brown said, at one of the meetings, that--Carmichael had already emerged. Carmichael was a philosophy major. He, later, of course, became nuts, I think, but Carmichael was a philosophy major and very, very verbally acute. He had the ability that King and others had of repeating things in a way that would grab an audience. He would structure his talks the same way that ministers always do. There's some sort of horrible thing and some suffering going on, but, in the end, there's redemption. So, it moves from tragedy to conquest, and that's how Carmichael did it. H. Rap Brown said, one time, in a public meeting--well, at the [Highlander] Folk School--that, "You guys in the SCLC should be thankful for Stokely and me, because we make Martin Luther King look like a white man." [laughter]
SH: Oh, dear.
PK: And King and the others thought that was very funny. I mean, you could have imagined a different reaction, but they thought it was very funny, and so, I learned a little bit more there. I didn't participate at all in the Southern bus rides. [Editor's Note: Beginning in May 1961, organized initially by CORE, African-American and white "Freedom Riders" began testing the desegregation of interstate bus travel made legal in the 1960 Supreme Court decisions Boynton v. Virginia and Morgan v. Virginia. The Freedom Riders gained national notoriety when they were attacked by violent white mobs in several Southern cities, where local police protection was conspicuously absent.] I should have and I didn't. We did practice [laughter] nonviolence in Mounteagle or Mount whatever-it-was, Monteagle, because of the Woolworth's stuff, because that had already started nationwide. Of course, the people in the South got it, but, out at Earlham, as soon as there was a national movement, the local Woolworth's store desegregated completely, but we were still picketing in it, in Richmond. The people there had a [problem]--people in the college, too--they could not understand that this was a national chain and we couldn't just target the Southern Woolworth's, because a lot of the money that Woolworth's was getting was from the North. So, even though they had desegregated right away, that wasn't good enough, and that embittered people. The people in the town could not understand that one, because, "Our store is doing the right thing. Why are you picketing it?" Wayne even had trouble with that one. It was successful, so, we were right, [laughter] but that was an ambiguous situation, because the local store was not participating in it, but they were part of a chain that was doing it and you had to take responsibility for the chain that you were a member of. That was the line, anyway. [laughter]
PC: Go ahead.
PC: This was 1960 and you did not get to Rutgers until ...
PC: Okay. I know some Rutgers professors went down, even Dick Schlatter, maybe when he was provost, and marched somewhere, Birmingham or Selma. Warren Susman went down, but that would have been before you got here. [Editor's Note: Dr. Richard Schlatter, a Professor of History at Rutgers since 1946, served as University Provost and Vice-President from 1962 to 1971. Dr. Warren I. Susman, a cultural historian, taught at Rutgers from 1960 until his death in 1985.]
PK: It must have been.
PC: Yes, if you were here in 1970.
PK: Yes, yes, I came in '70.
PK: Are we back on?
PK: There are lots of other things that happened at Earlham, but I'm trying to explain why I ended up at Livingston and what was attractive about that to me.
SH: Since you were involved in this movement since high school, what did you think of Montana and the West?
PK: Oh, I loved it.
SH: You saw no ...
PK: Oh. [laughter] There's an expression--that I hesitate to use--Native Americans are referred to by many of the local Montana whites as "prairie niggers." Needless to say, that didn't go over very well, and so, the circle of my friends in Montana is smaller. [laughter] There are not many people out there anyway, but it's a little smaller than the typical. I think, because I was involved in fire suppression and involved in fighting forest fires, detecting and fighting forest fires, primarily in my local, little district, which is a place called Condon, C-O-N-D-O-N, Montana, which, when I first went out there, I went there first in the Summer of '61, yes, the Summer of '61, my roommate--I was living with my first wife at the time. We weren't married yet, which also was a little strange at Earlham, anyway, but my college roommate had, former college roommate, gotten married and had applied for fire tower jobs. He got two, one in Kings Canyon National Park in California and one in the Flathead National Forest, where Condon is. I had been there--well, not right there, but over the mountain. I had never seen that part of the mountain range, but I had been on the other side of the mountains when I wrangled at this dude ranch and I thought, "Wow, this is fantastic." So, Tom, I told Tom, "Don't tell them you're not coming until about a week before and, at the same time, tell them you know somebody who really would like the job," and he did that. They said you had to get married, because they wanted couples, so that they didn't have to pay overtime, ever, because, if there were two people there, you wouldn't have to pay more than the minimum wage at the time. It's also a safety feature, too, because you're up there by yourself and God knows what can happen.
I'll tell you a couple fire stories, and then, we'll go back. I know this is going to sound unbelievable, but it's true. Remember the McCarthy period and how Communists were everywhere? [Editor's Note: Senator Joseph McCarthy's accusations of Communist infiltration in the US government led to a nationwide witch-hunt in the 1950s to unearth alleged Communists. Many institutions required employees or members to take oaths of loyalty.] In order to get a job in a fire tower for the Forest Service, you had to pass a national security test. You had to have what was called a "sensitive clearance" because new Forest Service documents were marked "sensitive." They probably thought the Commies were going to burn the woods down or something and I was a little afraid, given my activities and given that my soon-to-be wife and I weren't married. We were going to say we were married, my future wife [said], "We better get married." [laughter] So, we got married, so [that] we could be in the fire tower together. We were married for twenty-one years, which is not bad, given that we didn't know what the hell we were doing, and we're still very close friends and we grew up together, actually, I mean, after being married. I met her at Earlham.
Anyway, so, some of the fire stories; the Forest Service had, in this little district, had, to my knowledge, when I got out there, maybe there had been people before, but I was there for six years, there was never a black hired, never a Native American hired, in this little district. So, I made a ruckus, [laughter] which didn't endear me to some of the people, but, to other people, they understood. The interesting thing about the folks in Montana, they, in general, are self-reliant--not the new group that's moving in, but the group that's there, that was there--were the sons and daughters of homesteaders, in some cases, the grandsons and granddaughters of homesteaders. [Editor's Note: Homesteaders refers to farmers or ranchers who settled land west of the Mississippi River under the Homestead Act of 1862 and subsequent land settlement laws, which allotted acreage to settlers.] Montana, in the winter, is really hard and those people who survived that, there are a lot of Swedes and Norwegians and Finns there. They came from Minnesota and Wisconsin.
One of the things about the Civil Rights Movement, or any movement, "Umm, don't know--movement? Groups of people banding together? We came out here to be independent and be on our own." The saws, the sawyers, the saws were really, really misused by the companies. In order for the logging companies to make money, they have to have the equipment working all the time, the heavy equipment working all the time, because these things cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, the big skidders and the road graders and all the rest. So, if they're just sitting idle, you've got that money wrapped up in that thing and it's not earning any money for you. Well, in order for the skidder--that's a thing that takes the log after it's cut and skids it up to a landing where they stack them, and then, they're moved onto the logging trucks. Now, it's more mechanical now. You send a thing down, it's a tree snipper, it cuts the damn tree off, grabs it, picks it up, runs it through a delimber and, like a pencil sharpener, takes the bark off, takes the limbs off, puts it on the landing. So, you don't need saws. There are very few saws anymore and you don't need the people who were [sawyers]. The most dangerous job in the woods, it's not the saw, but it's a person who--it's called a tongs slinger. So, it's like ice tongs. The tongs would be on a cable and the skidder would go like this and throw the tongs out. The tongs would grab the log. This thing is going to have to make money, so, it's working really quickly. The tongs slinger has to get out of the way, because that guy's going to pull that log, and they get injured a lot.
Anyway, in order to make money, if you imagine this as a hill, a saw, a sawyer, would have a strip of trees to cut, and then, there'd be a space, and then, a strip of trees to cut, and then, a space, because you didn't want to be right alongside the next guy. First of all, because you're running a saw, you can't hear anybody say, "Timber," anyway. So, you have to put these strips, the general rule was, two tree lengths apart. So, if the average timber was 120 feet, you'd have a 240-foot strip between you and the next sawyer, so that if you fell one and it hit a tree, it'd have to hit two trees to get you. Well, the company, as they had to get more and more wood out, they made these strips smaller and smaller and smaller. So, a lot of saws were injured because of that and the sawyers would not band together as a union. They're just too independent.
Some of my friends were saws. I did it on weekends and I learned how to do that and they just would not [unionize]. They all knew the cause. There wasn't any question about it. It was [that] the strips were too narrow. Also, the strips would have to be wider if you were on steep ground, because you had to be able to get out of the way if something was coming from the other direction. You could tell--by the way, nobody yelled, "Timber," and saws never wore earplugs. OSHA would insist, when it came along. [Editor's Note: In 1970, Congress passed legislation to create the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the Department of Labor to protect the health and safety of American workers.] They weren't in the picture when I first went out there, but they would insist that you wear earplugs and none of us ever did it, because you couldn't hear the other saw. You could tell when the other saw was just about through the tree, because you'd hear it go [Dr. Klein imitates a sawing noise], and then, [Dr. Klein makes higher pitched saw noise], right before the guy's going to cut if off. So, you knew, when you heard that, cut your saw, because it was loud enough. You could hear it over your saw. You'd cut your saw down, so [that] you could hear what was happening with the trees up there. Anyway, because I worked for a real local, what's called a gyppo logger--I don't know the history of that word, but small, independent logger, called gyppos. [Editor's Note: Gyppo logger is a slang term used primarily in the Pacific Northwest to describe a small logging operation with equipment.]
PK: Because I worked for a gyppo logger, because my wife and I were really, really good at spotting fires, we didn't miss a one. Then, when I went down to the station to be the local dispatcher and my wife stayed at the tower, then, we were earning double money. Now, that was good. [laughter] So, we got the fires early enough and I knew the valley better and the woods, the location of things in the woods, better than almost, almost anybody else there. They respected me, and so, my political views were okay. One year, we had two guys on the fire crew from Texas. One of them was named "Little Tex" and the other one was named "Big Tex" and they were little and big. Now, Little Tex was gay before it was cool to be gay, [laughter] and Big Tex was a real, real redneck. He and I would get into it all the time. Big Tex had a birthday party, and so, everything that we made for it, it was a half-black, half-white cake and black icing on the white side of the cake and white icing on the black side of the cake. There were black cupcakes and white cupcakes and we dyed the beer black. [laughter] We got the local bar to go along with this. Tex, Big Tex, became a legislator in Texas, a state legislator in Texas, and helped pass some of the desegregation things.
SH: Good for you.
PK: Pretty good. Two or three fire stories--one, so, here we are, sitting in the lookout tower. The myth is that all the lookout towers were up very high, I mean, on the mountaintops. Some were, but, if you have a valley, which you have if they're mountains; [laughter] well, anyway, if you have a valley and what you're looking out over is a valley, fires start, the majority of fires start, about a third of the way up the mountain. They start from lightning strikes and the lightning is, you know, hitting the whole face of the mountain, but the warmest spot on a mountain is about a third of the way up, because it gets the heat currents rising from the day and, at night, when the currents reverse, it doesn't get that much cold air. So, it stays warmer and it's drier, and that's where most of the fires start. In the late afternoon, there's a haze that comes off the valley floor and, if you're up very high, you can't see a damn thing, because the haze is between you and it, whereas if you're lower, sometimes, you're actually lower than the haze level, but, often, you're right in the middle of it. The smoke shows up beautifully in a haze, especially against the sun. So, if the sun is behind the haze cloud and there's smoke coming up, you can see it easily.
They thought we were miracle workers, because we'd find these things at, I don't know, four o'clock. They start usually between one-thirty, four-thirty, five-thirty, somewhere around there, because the heat of the day is then [the greatest], the wind picks up, goes up canyon around one-thirty, two o'clock, and most of the fires are what are called hangover fires. They hit the top of a tree. The lightning goes down the tree, into the root system, and, maybe three or four days later, it comes up, because it burns around in the roots. When it comes up, it has a relatively big base, because it's been burning in the duff for all that time period and not putting out any smoke, and it starts between about one and four, typically. If you have a fire at night, you try and send a crew out, even at night, and Big Tex and Little Tex did not get along at all, because Little Tex was pretty clearly openly gay. It was just pretty clear, and I sent the two of them out one time on a fire. [laughter] They wouldn't talk to each other. They would call each other names, etc., etc., but I sent them out. [laughter] In those days, the pack, the fire pack that you were carrying, weighed about forty pounds and the radio that you were carrying weighed about twenty pounds, because it was these old Motorola radios with these huge, big batteries in it, big, square batteries. Big Tex was big, so, he got to carry the radio and you would pin the microphone, the mic, on your vest or on your shirt. He did that, but, unfortunately, the buttons stuck, and these are, of course, one-way transmitting, so, if your button is stuck, you're transmitting, you don't know you're transmitting and you can't get to them to tell them, "Say, your button is stuck," because they're transmitting. So, they can't hear you. So, for about three or four hours, we're entertained by these guys going through the woods, trying to find this fire. It's dark and they stumble into a swamp and Big Tex blames Little Tex for--he was in front--for leading them in circles. You could hear they're starting the verbal--the discussion is getting a little heated--and you are afraid, "Uh-oh, this is going to end up badly." [laughter] Since they're up pretty high, they're drowning out every other radio, so [that] nobody else could talk. The people in Kalispell, where the central headquarters were, were hearing them, too, and it was an interesting discussion, let's say. They didn't find it [the fire].
The next morning, I sent out the packer, because we were still packing with mules and horses to get to fires and to get to the lookout towers, etc. I sent out the packer, a guy named Tuffy Anderson and Tuffy talked like this. [Editor's Note: Dr. Klein imitates a nasally voice.] I had an old, big [dog], a cross between a golden retriever and a black lab, and it was the shape of a golden retriever and the color of a black lab. He was a gorgeous dog and, of course, Tex and I, I was explaining how wonderful it was that this was a mixed breed. My dog's name was Winston, after Churchill. [laughter] When Tuffy first saw Winston, he said, "If I had a dog like that, I'd skin him and eat him," [laughter] but I loved Tuffy. He was so great and he knew the woods. He was one of the people who knew the woods a lot better than I did. So, we could stand down on what we called "the highway," which was, at that time, a gravel road, we would stand down on the highway and we could see the smoke and he knew exactly where it was and he got right to it. Do you know what bear grass is?
PK: Okay. So, Tuffy is on this radio [laughter] and, again, he's up pretty high. So, I call him, as the dispatcher, and he said he was at the scene of the fire. I said, "So, how's it going?" and he said, "Well, it's crowning out in the bear grass and I'm going to piss on it and get it out." [laughter] This is over the whole radio system, because he's up high, and the people in Kalispell can hear. [Editor's Note: Dr. Klein snaps his fingers.] A phone call to my boss, Herb Styler--Herb had a pulse rate of about forty-five. He never got excited about anything. He was my boss on many fires when I was just learning how to fight fires. He never ever, ever got excited, never raised his voice, except once. The people from Kalispell called Herb and said, "You know we can't have that kind of talk on the radio," talking about Tuffy pissing on the fire and getting it out. Herb went into a fit, because the guy in Kalispell, Herb used to be that guy's boss, but Herb liked staying at the [local level]. He could've risen up through the forest system at the time; couldn't now. Herb, I never heard Herb use a swear word in his life, except he was cussing up and down the guy in Kalispell, who was telling Herb that he had to tell Tuffy that this was a no-no and Herb said, essentially, "You get your fat ass down here and, if anybody's going to tell him anything, you're going to tell him anything. I tell you, as soon as you tell him that, you'd better run," and that ended that conversation. [laughter]
Oh, well, so, a couple of other stories; in our lookout tower, you could hear some of the other towers, because we were up high and we didn't have as strong a radio as, actually, the firefighters did, because all we had to do was talk to the local people. We didn't have to talk any great distance. There was a guy named Charlie something-or-other in one of the other lookouts, a French-Canadian, and he'd been there for many years. Charlie would always get excited, no matter what. You would have to call in every other hour. "Four-sixteen," means routine check-in. So, you would call in, the name of our lookout was Cooney, so, "Condon, this is Cooney, four-sixteen, clear," and that'd be it. Well, he would call in to Big Prairie, which was his home base, "Big Prairie, Big Prairie, this is Mud Lake, four-sixteen, clear." You know, it sounded like the woods is burning up. Well, one day, we heard, "Big Prairie, Big Prairie, this is Mud Lake, over." "Yes, go ahead." "Fire," the microphone went dead. [laughter] They sent a spotter plane over and they didn't see him on the tower. They didn't know what the hell had happened. Two days later, "Big Prairie, Big Prairie, this is Mud Lake--got the son-of-a-bitch." So, he had walked to the fire, put it out, walked back to his tower, didn't tell anybody what he was doing. [laughter]
Oh, God; other stories, yes, dispatchers, I became the local dispatcher after six years in the tower. Dispatchers, by law, had the right to commandeer people who were healthy to fight fires. So, where did I go? to the local bar. [laughter] That's where all the loggers were and, you know, they knew the woods and they had fought many fires. So, I would always go to the bar, if we didn't have enough crew of our own, which was almost always, [laughter] and I'd go to the local bar and they knew me. They knew, when I walked in the door, I'd say, "Okay, I need about six," and, all right, so, six of them would go, but what I would allow them to do was, if they could carry the case of beer along with the fire tools, they could take it and they weren't allowed to drink until they had the fire under control, because once you get the fire under [control], it's not out, but, once you get it under control, that means, unless there's some really, really unique weather event, you've got it. It's not going to go anywhere. It may not be completely contained yet, but it's good enough for that night. Then, they could have their drink and they all followed the rules. They all did it; enough fire stories--one more, one more.
So, I was young and, at the time, I had fallen in love with philosophy, but I also liked working for the Forest Service and I liked Montana. Eventually, by the way, I had an accepted, not E-X, A-C-C, an accepted indefinite appointment, just like tenure, accepted indefinite appointment for the Forest Service for three months every summer. [laughter] So, I had worked my way up to that. Anyway, I was toying with the idea of, once I finished the philosophy degree, going back, maybe getting a degree in forestry and working for the Forest Service permanently, although it was mostly toying. When you're out in Montana, it's seductive. That's what you think you want to do.
I was coming back from a fire with the guy whom Herb had yelled at. His name was Shorty Manealy and Shorty was short. He was about five-three, Montana guy, probably finished high school, not sure about that, but he had worked his way up through the Forest Service and he knew what he was doing. He was a terrific fire boss. I happened to catch a ride with him back to Kalispell, where some other crew people were going to be picked up and I would meet with them and we'd go back down to Condon. I asked him about our local ranger. A ranger in the Forest Service is not like a ranger in the [National] Park Service. A person in the Park Service is called a ranger and that can be a guide or whatever. Everybody's a ranger. A ranger in the Forest Service is in charge of a fairly large area, in charge of the fire suppression, the timber, the wildlife management, the recreation, the roads, etc., in the national forest. So, a ranger can have a hundred people reporting to them, if it's a big district, and our district was probably about thirty. Anyway, the ranger was a guy named Fred Matzner, who had been trained in forestry in Germany. They were way, way ahead of us in forestry management practices. They knew how to make use of everything that was useable in the woods, but not too much, because they wanted to regenerate things. So, they were way ahead of us; still are. The Forest Service, at that time, had a ten-year plan for the forest (it used to be five years), and those of us who had actually worked in the forests thought it was ridiculous. Now, trees, the growing period in Montana is two-and-a-half months. It would take eighty years to get a tree about this big, and we had a ten-year plan? You wonder, "Who's thinking?" [laughter] Now, it's down to five years. Anyway, [it is] because the college-educated people had taken over, [laughter] because they learned, you know, "You have to have a five or a ten-year plan."
Anyway, so, I was riding back with Shorty, and I asked Shorty, "So, what kind of future does Fred have in the Forest Service?" because here was an educated guy. Fred was something like me. He had been a history major or something, and then, switched to forestry. Shorty said, "He don't have too good a prospects, because he ain't got too good a command of the English language," [laughter] and he was dead serious and what he meant was the truth. Fred didn't know how to talk to the people and it dawned on me, "Neither do I." [laughter] Now, I can, and, when I'm out there, I do say, "He don't," and I don't laugh, I don't giggle--depending on who I'm talking to. You have to make other grammatical mistakes or you're viewed as an outsider; enough of fire stories, okay.
PC: Peter, just to put this in context, you started doing the Forest Service work when you were in college.
PC: You went on doing it for how long?
PK: From 1961 to 1983.
PK: So, I did it after I was here for many [years], because the fire season used to coincide with the summer break.
PK: No more. So, I couldn't do it now, because, now, the fire season goes, in Montana, goes from--it's already starting out there now [in May].
PK: And it won't end until mid-October.
PC: Really? Wow.
SH: Even though, right now, there are floods.
PK: Yes, yes. Well, what happens, when you have a lot of moisture, everybody thought, "Oh, great." Well, it is great if you don't have a hot summer, because, if you have a hot summer, you have all this ground fuel that's built up that now is dying, and so, you have a fire that can move on the ground as well as in the tops of the trees. So, you have a dual-layer fire. Those are the hard ones to get out. If it's on the ground, it's not so hard, if it's in the tops, it's not so hard, but, if it's all the way up and down the tree, it's called a fire ladder, if it's starting on the ground and getting to the top, then, the borate, the retardant, won't reach the ground. So, it'll keep going on the ground and the ground will heat up the tree again and it'll take off. So, it's much harder if you've had a really green spring, and then, you have a hot summer. Then, it's worse than if you didn't have the green spring. So, you know, I did that every year. I missed it one year. I missed it in the Summer of '72, because that's when my son was born and he was born three months prematurely. He weighed one pound, eight ounces, when he was born and he got down to one pound, four ounces. It was the third child. The other two were also premature and they didn't make it. We didn't know until the third one, until the third pregnancy, that this was a pattern. I mean, the first time, the doctor said, "Oh, just, this happens," and the second time, they had a particular reason why they thought it happened, that we avoided. [After] David was born, he was in an incubator for two months. He was the record at Mount Sinai for a boy to survive. Girls survive better, because their neurological system develops earlier and they don't get what's called the "Kennedy baby syndrome." [Editor's Note: Respiratory distress syndrome, also known as hyaline membrane disease, occurs in premature newborns whose undeveloped lungs do not produce enough surfactant. In the summer of 1963, the youngest son of President John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy was born prematurely with hyaline membrane disease and died two days later.] They don't get hyaline membrane disease as readily as boys, because their whole system is further advanced. They had just, just figured out that putting the kid in a super-oxygenated environment caused blindness. So, they didn't do that to David; terrific doctors at Mount Sinai [Medical Center], Dr. Fox.
SH: What year was that?
PK: '72, and so, I didn't go. He was born in April. So, we didn't go out that summer, but, every summer after that, we went out and David was on the fire tower.
SH: Was he really?
PK: Yes. I mean, would they allow that now? Of course not. [laughter] I think they probably didn't allow it then, either.
SH: You did not ask.
PK: They weren't going to lose the best lookout they [had] and my wife was terrific. My wife was terrible at trying to locate the fire. You have what's called an alidade board. It's a board, a circle like this, and you have, like, gun sights. The map has the tower at the center and, when you rotate this thing around, of course, the wire crosses your tower and crosses where the fire is. So, you know what the azimuth reading is, the directional bearing, so, you can give that, but the question is, "What's the distance?" They had this phony thing where you could raise the sight
PK: And then, you could measure the angle--nonsense, absolute nonsense. [laughter] That might work if the ground's level, but, you know, if the ground's like that, try it. [laughter] Dana was terrible at estimating the distance on this thing, but she was terrific at being able to [remember certain things to help locate the fire]. She would say, "Remember that day that we saw the glint off the rock? This is a hundred yards north of that," and I'd remember where that rock was and all the rest. One reason I quit the Forest Service, lots of reasons, but one reason I quit was, they got fascinated with technology and they would fly over with the high bombers and they would use infrared photographs to check where the heat sources were. Then, they'd compare it. They'd send it to you, fax it to you, and you would compare the hot spots on that with what were known hot spots. Well, the trouble is that a logging truck engine would show up and a hot rock that, when the standard picture had been taken, because they compared it to a standard photo, if there had been a little cloud cover over that rock that day, it wouldn't have been hot. Well, the damn sun hits on this rock, it's hot, and so, we were sending people out all the time for these phony fires, and you had to do it. You had to send them, because, if you were a dispatcher and you screwed up and there was one of those things reported and it got away, well, you know, you were fired. The other reason I hated it, it was the time they were really getting fascinated with what the computer could do.
Here's what you were supposed to do--there are sort of three ways you can deal with an initial attack. You can throw everything you have at it and order other things. So, you could order a retardant plane and you could order a big retardant plane. So, you could order a DC-4. Some of the people were still flying those old Ford Tri-Motors, because they were so slow, they could go around canyons and they could bank in time, so [that] they could drop the fuel. We were using DC-4s. We were using old B-47s, because, again, they were slow. You had this program and you would enter it in. I forget what computer it was, but it was some horrible thing. [laughter] You had to estimate the weather, what the weather was going to be that afternoon, including the relative humidity, the wind speed, the temperature, the cloud cover. You had to estimate the damage that would happen if you did one of three things--if you attacked it with everything, how much was that going to cost and how much timber would you save or wildlife, or what was called watershed value and aesthetic values. [laughter] You had to quantify it. The watershed value meant, if a hillside burns, then, the creeks below it are polluted from, not the ash, but from the mud that is going to be there for years. So, the fish are harmed, etc., and you had to estimate. It was called the "view-shed," watershed and the view. It wasn't called aesthetic, the view-shed. So, there was a watershed and a view-shed, [which] meant, "What was going to happen to the panorama if this thing got out of control?" You had three choices. You could put in three variables. One was, "What's your estimate if you throw everything at it? What's it going to cost and how much do you save? What if you just send a crew and attack it, but not that vigorously?" and, "What if you just stand back and watch?" You had to estimate those three things before you decided on what to do. Well, it was ridiculous and none of us did it and the people we were reporting to knew we weren't doing it. The relative humidity in Montana, in our valley, in the afternoon between two and four-thirty or two and five, could get down to fourteen percent, sixteen percent, eighteen percent, normally. Every once in a while, it'd get down to ten or nine percent. So, the fine-fuel moisture--so, things smaller than this finger were called fine fuels--they'd dry out first. Then, the mid-range fuels are about an arm and the large fuels are anything above. You had to estimate the fuel moisture content at the spot of the fire, not anyplace, but, if you were off a little bit, you could be off on the flame length--instead of the flame length being four feet, jumping from one place to another, it could be eight to ten feet--and that was ridiculous. By the way, it didn't even allow for the timber type. So, you couldn't put in that it was a Doug[las] fir or a lodgepole [pine] or a spruce. Spruce hardly ever burned, unless it's really, really hot. Lodgepoles [burn] like this. [Editor's Note: Dr. Klein snaps his fingers.] So, none of us paid any attention to that, none of us. We would do whatever we thought and we'd do the paperwork afterwards. [laughter] It was amazing how well we turned out to be right. We were just right most of the time.
One other fire story, then, I'll quit, I promise. When you ordered a borate plane out, a big one that might carry eighteen thousand gallons, that's a lot of stuff. The damn thing can't land with that stuff in it, because it's in big tanks and, even though there are baffles in the tanks, when the plane is landing, you know, it's going to shake a little bit. Well, imagine, this stuff is about the consistency of Peptol-Bismol. So, imagine the weight of that shifting. Well, it'd be very dangerous to land the plane. So, you had to drop the borate before it landed. Well, it cost about twenty-five to thirty thousand bucks to load the plane with that fuel, spend the money for the fuel, get the plane off the ground, circling above the fire, and then, back, thirty thousand dollars. That was a lot of money then, a lot of money. Every once in a while, you'd get a little too energetic and you'd order one of those things out when it turned out, by the time they got there, you really didn't need it. It rained a little or the crew got there. You thought they were going to have to walk three miles--actually, they could drive within fifty feet of the fire and they had a pumper and stuff like that. [laughter] So, you could make a mistake. Well, we always had a "secondary drop zone" [laughter] that we would say over the radio and we'd tell the pilot, "Well, you don't have to go to the first target. You can go to the second drop zone." That was a farmer's field. The borate has fertilizer in it. So, the farmers loved it, if they had a field they hadn't plowed--fallow field, is that what it's called? If they had a fallow field, they loved it. So, I had lots of farmers who ...
SH: Signed up.
PK: Lined up, [laughter] and the pilots knew where the secondary target was and, of course, I'd call the farmer and say, "It's coming," because you couldn't be out in the field. If you were out in the field, you know, that thing'd knock you over. Even though it's a slow plane, it's flying at a low level and it weighs a lot. So, you have to get out of the way of the damn thing or you have to know what to do. If you lie, actually, parallel with the flight of the plane and put your feet towards the plane, you're okay, but imagine [the headline], "Dispatcher Kills Farmer." [laughter] It wouldn't have been good. Anyway, enough of that; so, I wanted to go to graduate school in philosophy. I applied to only one place and that was Yale. The reason was that it had people from the Continental tradition. Philosophy sort of split after [Georg Wilhelm Friedrich] Hegel. So, there's the Continental tradition that traces its history to Hegel and the analytic tradition [that] traces its history through Hegel. [laughter] It went like this. There wasn't a distinction. Then, when Hegel started writing, actually, not Hegel himself, but Maurice Merleau-Ponty and some of the French folk and some of the British people, [F. H.] Bradley and [Bernard] Bosanquet, the real metaphysicians, the old-time metaphysicians, followed Hegel and the empirical tradition became the analytic tradition, the contemporary analytic tradition, that most people trace back through the logical positivists. So, in some sense, the analytic tradition ignores Hegel. They think of it, by and large, as a blip and a mistake. That's changing. The Continental tradition is dead, essentially, except on the Continent, [laughter] and it's almost dead there. We're going to kill it in the next ten years. It'll be gone, but we've absorbed--the interesting thing is, there are now a lot of people whom one would consider in the analytic tradition who do study Merleau-Ponty and Hegel; not [Michael] Foucault and not [Jacques] Derrida, but the sane part of the Continental tradition. I'm actually broader than that, but [Martin] Heidegger plays a role in the analytic tradition, [Edmund] Husserl plays a role in the analytic tradition, not the role it plays in the Continental tradition, but they're not an anathema, whereas somebody like Derrida, that is, that looks like he could have written a book, "Please Don't Reason With Me." [laughter] So, I went to Yale because I had read a book by one of the faculty members there. I knew that it was a broadly-based place that had the analytic tradition and the Continental tradition and I was interested in both. It was the only place I applied to.
SH: Had you spoken to some of your professors at Earlham?
PK: No. The only writers who wrote in the twentieth century that I read, that were assigned to me by the philosophy department, [were] one essay by Bertrand Russell, one essay by [John] Dewey and one essay by William James. That was it. We never read the logical positivists. We never read the analytic philosophers, except for Russell, but I had read some of it on my own. We weren't assigned the Continental tradition in the twentieth century, either. I mean, we just, I don't know, didn't read it, but I had read some on my own.
So, I applied to Yale and, somehow, I got in. I had eight hundreds or whatever it is, the highest score you get on the GREs. I had eight hundreds across the board, because I studied for it this time. I had done well on the SATs, so, I knew I'd do well on the GREs if I studied. The third year I was at Yale, there [were] cardboard boxes on the sidewalk, ready to be picked up, full of gorgeous blue Yale folders, just, you know, these pocket folders with the pockets in it. I wanted those folders, because they were just neat to keep notes and stuff [in]. Lo and behold, it was the applications from my year, the year I applied.
SH: Oh, no.
PK: All the applications. So, I got to see my application. One of my professors was a guy named D. Elton Trueblood, a Quaker theologian. [laughter] I'm not kidding, D. Elton Trueblood wrote the letter of recommendation that was roughly this, no longer than this and these were almost the exact words, "I highly recommend Peter Klein. He is a good scholar and Christian gentleman. Regards, D. Elton Trueblood." [laughter] There was a letter from Wayne Booth. That's what must have gotten me in, because there were loads of people from schools much better than [Earlham], people who got "A's" at Haverford who deserved them, including Bob Martin, my high school friend.
Bob was my age, is my age, lived within two hundred yards of the house that my mother and I moved to after my parents were divorced, tiny, little house. We had had a big house, but, then, we moved to a tiny, tiny, little house. [laughter] Bob and I had gone to elementary school together, to high school together. He was a cellist. So, I had James Levine and he's a pianist. So, I had Jimmy and Bob and a girl named something Sharon, that was her last name, Sharon, but I don't remember her first name, was a great violinist, just terrific, and the three of them would play a lot--Linda Sharon that was her first name, just terrific. Anyway, I went off to Earlham, Bob went off to Haverford. [laughter] Bob left for Haverford one year early. In eight years, I finished high school and I finished college, which was okay, and, in that eight years, Bob finished high school, Haverford and he went to Curtis School of Music, which is a three-year thing. So, in that eight years, he did four, four and three--he did eleven years' worth of work--but that meant we ended up going to graduate school at the same time. In five years, five years, he finished high school, Curtis and Haverford. So, he did eleven years, yes, in five years. We ended up in graduate school together, by luck. I didn't know what he was doing. We hadn't kept in touch very much, because he'd beat me at everything, except football. I was better than him in that and in track. He was not an athlete of any sort, but any girl I wanted to go out with, he went out with first. [laughter] He told me about Fellowship House and got me interested in Fellowship House. He was never a member of one of those fraternities. His father was a labor organizer in Cincinnati, so, he was much more politically advanced than I was.
Anyway, so, we ended up in graduate school together. Here were all these admission folders, kids, you name it, from Stanford, Harvard, who had straight "A's," eight hundreds on their GREs, glowing letters from people whose work I knew, because they were great philosophers, and, somehow, I got in. I think the reason I got in was because I had a Danforth Fellowship. They don't exist anymore. The Danforth people, William H. Danforth, conservative schmuck who ran the Ralston-Purina Company, he was a religious guy and he wanted to provide full scholarships, so, tuition plus a fellowship, for people who were interested in value education. It didn't have to be Christian, [though] it helped. It didn't have to be Christian, but it did help. I won one of those things and I think that's probably why Yale admitted me, because I didn't need a fellowship. I went to Yale because of this broad-based department. Second year I was there, I went to study with a guy in particular named Wilfrid Sellars. He died about twenty years ago. He became a very important philosopher and I went to study with him. He was also the graduate director. So, I met him and he said, "Why did you come?" Obviously, he hadn't read my folder, [laughter] because I said in my folder, "I came to study with Wilfrid Sellars," and I said, "I came to study with you." "Well, what have you read?" and I said, "I've only read two of your articles, but that was because I did it on my own." He said, "Well, what did you think of them?" and I said, "Well, I don't see how they're consistent," [laughter] and he said, "Oh, tell me more." So, we met every week for two hours on Friday, not for a course, not for anything. This doesn't have a happy ending. This was wonderful, right. I mean, it's great. Every week, we'd read another one of his essays that he'd already published and, every once in a while, he'd give me something in draft to read. I thought we were getting along famously.
My second year, first semester, second year, I took my first course from him and it was a course on [Immanuel] Kant. He was a peculiar teacher, but, as a teacher, he was good, except for this one incident. He would say, as we were reading through the Critique of Pure Reason, he'd say, "Now, put a bugle in the margin. That's really important. Call your attention to it," and I, dutifully, would draw a little bugle. [laughter] Kant may use the word isomorphism, but, if he does, he didn't use the German word; whoever did the translation [used the word]. I could read it in German, sort of, and it wasn't in German; isomorphism between states of the mind and states of the world, so that knowledge for him was something like an accurate representation of the world, because your mental states mirrored the world and it was that isomorphism, there's a one-to-one correspondence between objects in one set and in another set. So, I knew the word "isomorphism" from chemistry, because there are isomorphic molecules, where they're just mirror images, and I knew it in mathematics, where it meant if the two sets were isomorphic, their cardinality was identical. So, I knew that word, but Sellars kept using it to describe Kant's view. So, in the class, it was an open discussion, in the class, I said, "I don't quite see why you're calling this isomorphism. There are certainly features in the world that are not mirrored in my representations. So, the book has a backside, but my representation doesn't represent the backside, and things have a future and a past, but my representation doesn't represent the future and the past, and there are things in my representation, like the intensity of a color can change depending on what I saw before I looked at this color, whereas the thing in the world doesn't change. So, how can these things be isomorphic?" Well, that was not the thing to do. [laughter] He said, "Well, Mr. Klein, when you've done your homework, you can ask that question again." Well, that did it. [laughter]
We didn't talk again ever, until an APA [American Philosophical Association] meeting maybe twenty years later. He looked at me and he said, "I know you," and I said, "Yes, you do." "What's your name?" "Peter Klein." "You were a student of mine." "Yes." He had moved to [the University of] Pittsburgh. "Yes, I was." "Were you a good student of mine?" and I said, "I was a good student, but I wasn't a good student of yours." [laughter] He said, "Why?" and then, I told him about this isomorphism thing. He said to me, "Have you figured that one out yet?" [laughter] and I said, "Yes, I think I have," and he said, "Explain." I explained and he said, "Yes, you're right, and that's what I wanted you to see then." It struck me as cruel and vicious. He was actually getting me to see that Kant had a different notion of representation than the one that I used when I just explained it to you, because the one I used was Hume's notion of representation and Kant's is very different. For Kant, it is isomorphic. [laughter] Strictly speaking, it has to be, according to Kant, and I didn't get it at the time. He did put it in a cruel way. He didn't have to embarrass me in front of the rest of the class, but he really meant, "You'd better think about that question a little bit more, because that gets to the heart of what Kant's all about and you're missing it." That's what he meant, [laughter] but he didn't put it that way.
Anyway, at Yale, there was a faculty member in the philosophy department named Bernstein and Richard [J.] Bernstein came up for tenure and he did not get tenure. This was Kingman Brewster's [era]. Kingman Brewster became the President of Yale the year that we're talking about. [Editor's Note: Kingman Brewster, Jr., served as President of Yale University from 1963 to 1977.] Bernstein did not get tenure and he didn't get tenure because their equivalent of the PRC [Promotion Review Committee] here voted against it. The department had voted in favor of it. I don't remember the exact numbers, and so, these numbers are going to be off a little bit, but the point's right whether the numbers are wrong. The vote in the department was something like eight to three in favor of Bernstein, but the review committee said no.
Well, some of the students, including me, were upset about this. So, we organized the students in a protest and this was Yale, you know, and unheard of. So, some of the students, graduate students, that I was, and undergraduate students, met and we decided, "This is Yale. We are not going to have a sit-in, because they would not know what to do." So, we had a candlelight march and we would parade around Woolsey Hall or something at night with our little candles and The New York Times covered it, because this was Yale, right, and this was in 1964. Now, there was Civil Rights stuff going on all the time, but not at Yale, and we got Kingman Brewster to agree. We met in this big, fancy alumni room with this huge, long oak table with these red chairs and it was supposed to be very impressive. Kingman Brewster would come and chair the meeting. We met as a group before and what we decided to do, and you'll see how this came in handy later, what we decided to do was not to treat him as a president of the university at all. "He's one of us. We're not going to show any deference, no nothing, because he has all the power. We have nothing. The only thing we can do is to sort of shake him up a little bit." So, we would come dressed as sloppily as we could, etc. He would address us and we would be talking amongst ourselves and he would think we would stop talking and we wouldn't, because he thought, "Well, I'm the president. They'll shut up as soon as I start," and we didn't. Then, one of us would say, "Oh, are you talking? Let's be quiet, guys." [laughter] Then, we'd start talking again, and we'd practice that. I learned that at Highlander Folk School, that you cannot allow the opponent to set the tone and the agenda. You just can't do that. If you do that, [Dr. Klein snaps his fingers] you've lost, because they're better at it than you are. So, you have to disrupt what they expect. Anyway, they decided to reconsider the case. They did. The department that had originally voted eight to three in favor changed their vote and voted seven to four against. It switched and the reasons given, one guy who was on my dissertation committee later, Norwood Russell Hanson, N. R. Hanson, said to the press [that] he hadn't read the research material before, but he took some of his colleagues' word that it was good, but he immersed himself in "Bernstein-iania," he called it, the night before the meeting and he thought it was very bad scholarship. That's why he changed his vote. The chair of the department, a guy named George Schrader, who was on the Continental side of things, who taught a variety of graduate courses, but every one of them was just simply, "The essence of a human being is to be free. We are not causal agents. We can be. I mean, of course, in some sense, we are. We can be thrown out of a window and we'll hit the ground, but, when we're acting qua human being, not as a mass, when we're as a body, but, when we're acting as a combined person, we are free and we are not subject to causal laws," and all that crap. [laughter]
Another thing I learned at Highlander was, you always tell your opponent before you're going to do anything public. You let them know in advance, so that they're prepared, because if you startle them, you know, they'll attack you. [laughter] So, you let them know what you're going to do, and so, I would always tell George Schrader. He didn't like being called George, but I always called him George. [laughter] He would refer to me as Mr. Klein and I'd refer to him as George. [laughter] I would always tell George what we were going to do and George would go along with it. Then, George changed his vote and I met with him and said, "George, why'd you do that?" He said, "Because I was not going to let you force us into reconsidering." [laughter] I said, "I thought you were a free being and that I couldn't force you to do anything," [laughter] and then, George and I didn't talk. Then, of course, they turned Bernstein down. Looking back at it, he didn't deserve tenure. His research was schlock, but he was a great undergraduate teacher, great. He taught the big intro class, and I TA'd for him, and he was terrific, in a big auditorium, eight hundred people, bigger than Scott Hall [at Rutgers], huge, and he had those people on the edges of their seats. [Editor's Note: TA serves as an abbreviation for teaching assistant.] He was just terrific, and so, he should have gotten tenure for that reason alone. I taught in the--what's the name of the guy who invented the cotton gin?
PC: Eli Whitney.
PK: Yes, in the Eli Whitney building, a tiny, little cottage with a room about the size of these two together. I had just come back from Montana, forest fire fighting and all that. It's my third year and I was TA-ing for Bernstein, because that was his last year. I asked the students a question and there they are, all sitting with their little ties and, you know, these sport jackets. You know what they look like. [laughter] George [W.] Bush was there when I was there, I believe. I don't remember ever having him, but I fantasize that this was the person who asked me this question. [laughter] So, I asked the person a question and they gave a stupid answer and I said, "That's not the right fucking answer." They looked at me like, "Whoa." [laughter]
Oh, well, anyway, so, my time at Yale, I did get involved, to some extent, with the Civil Rights activity in New Haven. Since I was married, I didn't live in graduate student housing. They didn't have married student housing, or, at least if they did, I didn't know about it. I don't think they did. We lived on--the name of the big avenue--Dixwell Avenue, black neighborhood. This was a time when it was very clear what redevelopment meant. It meant relocate the poor even to poorer places and that's what was going on. There were lots of community organizations and I got involved in that a little bit and we did sit-ins and we did the normal stuff.
Okay, so, I got my Ph.D. in '66. I studied with a guy named Rulon [S.] Wells, [III], who nobody's ever heard of in philosophy, because he published one or two articles. There's a philosopher named Quine, Q-U-I-N-E, Harvard, extremely influential, and Rulon wrote a critical piece of Quine's work and, as far as I can tell, demolished it, just completely demolished it. It's not well-known. That and one other piece is the only other thing he wrote in philosophy. He was a linguist by trade and I don't know how he ended up in the philosophy department. They didn't have a linguistics department. I don't know the history of that. Rulon had some sort of a blood disease, or maybe it was a hormonal [disease], I don't know. He couldn't regulate his body temperature. He couldn't stay warm. So, on the hottest day of the year, you'd go to his office and he'd have the heater on. [laughter] He'd be sitting there, all huddled up, and he looked like Ichabod Crane. I mean, of course, who knows what Ichabod Crane looked like? but you could imagine, long arms, long hands, this long face and a big roll-top desk. [Editor's Note: Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow features the schoolteacher Ichabod Crane.] In the roll-top desk, there were pieces of paper this thick, but three-by-five pieces of paper, but thin, like this. He'd open up the roll-top desk and on the top, right-hand side of the piece of paper was the author's name of whatever article or book, then, some publication information, then, his own little summary of it. Then, you'd turn it over with his questions, and this is a roll-top desk, big, huge, roll-top desk drawer, with three things ...
PK: Drawers, that's the word, thank you, drawers on either side full of these things, just packed. He had these little three-by-five index cards with a tab on the top, so that he could find things. He never, ever--he was a marvelous teacher--he never, ever gave me the answer to it. Just like my Earlham teachers, they never gave me the answer, but he would say, he'd pull this [and say], "Have you read this?" Of course, the answer was no. "Have you read this?" "No." "Well, I suggest you read this," and then, "Have you read this?" "No." [laughter] "I suggest you read that next," and then, "Have you read this?" and maybe the answer would be yes and he'd say, "Well, don't read that now. Read these other two first. Then, read that again." I'd say, "Why?" and he'd say, "You'll see," and I would always see. I mean, he was terrific, great.
I had two other people on that committee, Norwood Russell Hanson, who wrote a book called Patterns of Discovery: An Inquiry Into the Conceptual Foundations of Science (1958). It's a pretty important book in philosophy of science, not so much anymore, because what he's claiming has gotten to be so commonplace, it doesn't seem at all original, but it was. The other person I had was Paul Weiss, [laughter] who wrote a book called The Modes of Being [(1958)] and Paul was an old-fashioned metaphysician and Hanson was a logical positivist. Weiss had been Bernstein's strongest supporter. Hanson had been the person who immersed himself in "Bernstein-iania" and changed his mind, which meant he went against Weiss. The person whose judgment he had trusted was Paul Weiss and, when he went against Paul, they didn't speak to each other. If one of them was in a room and the other one walked in, if the one who was there didn't leave, the one who walked in would turn around and walk out. When I went to Wells, Wells said, "Who else have you asked?" I asked Wells to be the supervisor, "Who else have you asked?" and I said, "Hanson and Weiss." He said, "Why'd you do that?" and I said, "Well, because I think they each have a perspective on this issue. Weiss has the Hegelian kind of perspective and, although I think it's wrong, I want to take account of it, and Hanson has a perspective that follows [Ludwig] Wittgenstein, and I also think that one's wrong, but I want to take account of it." He said, "Well, my advice to you is that you never tell one of them what the other one said, if, as a matter-of-fact, the other one liked the chapter," and I said, "You mean I should say he didn't like the chapter?" [Wells] said, "I think that would be a good idea." [laughter]
At Yale, the Ph.D. defense was a big deal. The whole faculty would show up. A lot of the graduate students would. We do that, sort of, but this was a big deal and that was the first time that Weiss knew that Hanson had approved of it and that Hanson knew that Weiss had approved of it. They hadn't talked to each other before and I hadn't told them and Wells didn't talk to them, either. At the meeting, George Schrader, the one who believed in freedom; [laughter] your advisors get to ask questions and they did. Wells had sort of prompted me on what they would most likely ask, but he hadn't talked to them. He just guessed and he was right, so I was prepared for them. Then, the next person who gets to ask the questions was George Schrader and George said, "Do you consider yourself a post-Kantian?" [laughter] and I said, "Yes," and silence. He said, "Could you elaborate a bit?" and I said, "If you make the question clearer. What do you mean post-Kantian?" and George said, "That's enough." [laughter] I think the truth is, he couldn't have made that question more precise.
Sellars was no longer there. I went to study with these great analytic philosophers, just terrific, and these great Continental philosophers. After the "Bernstein Affair," as it's referred to, the department split and they then agreed that they would always hire in pairs. So, they'd have to wait until there were two open slots. Then, they'd hire one Continentalist and one person from the analytic tradition. [laughter] So, if they had one position, they could never fill it. They had to have two. When the Continental people picked a person who the analytic people thought wasn’t very good, four of the analytic philosophers picked up and left. Three went to Pittsburg, Sellars, Anderson, and Belnap, and Fisk went to Indiana, and that destroyed [the department]. Hanson didn't want to do it. He had an offer to go, but he didn't, because he liked living in New Haven and he didn't want to go to Pittsburgh, because he went to Europe a lot and it was right there, so, it was easy to do it. Anyway, those are the Yale stories.
SH: We will stop for this session and return again next week.
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