Lloyd Gardner: Does it record video too?
Kathryn Tracy Rizzi: Yes, I am recording the video, and then I also have an external audio recorder as my backup.
LG: I'm teaching a Zoom course this fall in the Princeton Senior Resources Center called "The Lady was a Spy," and I've taught lots of espionage courses down there for the last three or four years. My wife said, "This is the hundredth year of women's suffrage. You have to teach women spies." I said, "Okay." I didn't know anything really about it, but it's very interesting. [Editor's Note: Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women the right to vote.]
KR: Oh, that is really interesting. We are on and recording. This begins an oral history interview with Dr. Lloyd Gardner, on September 10, 2020, with Kate Rizzi. This interview is a part of the Class of 1970 Oral History Project. Dr. Gardner, thank you so much for joining me to do this interview.
LG: Oh, I'm happy to be here.
KR: To start off today, you started teaching history at Rutgers College in 1963. During the early part of your career, what classes did you teach?
LG: I taught a basic history of American foreign relations. All of us taught a junior seminar, and I also taught a graduate class, graduate seminar, particularly after I got tenure. I got tenure in one year; I was given an associate professorship in 1964. I started teaching graduate students very early. The class was usually seventy-five, eighty, something like that--well, sometimes fifty. It depended.
KR: The junior seminar that you taught, was it a research seminar or a reading seminar?
LG: Well, it was both. It was for history majors and they had to produce a paper in that seminar, so in that sense it's a reading seminar. After 1963, I taught the "U.S. Survey II." Dick McCormick, the elder, Richard P. McCormick, taught the first half, and sometimes I taught the second half from 1865, 1870 on. We had it in Scott Hall. Do you know Scott Hall? You've got a zillion students out there, a whole corps of teaching assistants, and we did an honors program in that. This was Richard P. McCormick's idea. He brought it back from England, from the year he had been there. Both the TAs--and there were several TAs for all those students--and the professor would take a section of the honors students, the ones who signed up and were able to do that, and so we would meet once a week with those people two or three at a time. For a big university, in the History Department we had a lot of one-on-one contact. I think that's what helped us build a reputation in the 1960s. [Editor's Note: Richard P. McCormick (1916-2006), who earned his B.A. in history at Rutgers College in 1938 and M.A. at Rutgers in 1940, spent his career at Rutgers as a history professor and administrator. In 1961-'62, he was appointed as a fellow at Jesus College, University of Cambridge. Richard L. McCormick, his son, served as the president of Rutgers from 2002 to 2012. Scott Hall is a classroom building and lecture hall on Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers-New Brunswick.]
There were three people who were responsible for building the History Department, Richard P. McCormick, Henry Winkler, Peter Charanis. I mean, these were the three who had usually final judgement on things, and then we came in and we started hiring very good people. I had been to a very, very fine graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in history, and so was Warren Susman, who was my friend here, and we used to boast that we were building Wisconsin on the East Coast. We tried.
KR: Many members of the Class of 1970 have talked about the senior members of the History Department that you just mentioned, McCormick, Charanis, Winkler. Some people have also talked about Don Weinstein.
KR: What were they like as professors and as colleagues, and what did you learn from them?
LG: [laughter] Richard P. McCormick was "Mr. New Jersey," "Mr. Rutgers." He had gone to Rutgers. He had then taken a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, so he's just all the way in Philadelphia. He, of course, taught New Jersey history here. Also, he was interested in political parties. As I look back and saw some stuff about his career, he was a student-activist at Rutgers politically. Basically, when one crisis came in 1968, when there was a big shutdown in the university, and particularly Black students were complaining about treatment, McCormick brilliantly managed that and instituted Black history courses and tutoring and he really held the university together at that point, because he loved it so much. He chaired the History Department for a while and then he was dean for a while. He didn't want that administrative path--he wanted to be a teacher--but he loved Rutgers so much that he accepted these burdens when they came to him. He was a paragon. You see what I'm describing. He was not given to a lot of small talk at any time, although sometimes he was. [Editor's Note: Richard P. McCormick chaired the Department of History from 1966 to 1969 and served as the Dean of Rutgers College from 1974 to 1977.]
I have always tried to model some of my stuff on Richard McCormick's just general atmosphere--that's not the right word--the atmosphere he created. I've seen him calm down History Department meetings. I've seen him calm down professors that were complaining about one thing or another, and he always did it with a very firm hand but a very friendly hand. He was great in that sense. I dedicated my book on the Lindbergh case--I did a book late, in 2002, I did it the first time--I dedicated it to him because it was about New Jersey and we sat and talked about some of the events around the Lindbergh case. He was, of course, retired by that time, 2002, long since retired, but I gave him a copy over in the faculty club. I have undying admiration for him. [Editor's Note: Lloyd Gardner is the author of The Case That Never Dies: The Lindbergh Kidnapping. The work examines the kidnapping and death of Charles Lindbergh's infant son in 1932, subsequent investigation, and trial and execution of Richard Hauptmann, while delving into problematic aspects of the case.]
Henry Winkler was just a stalwart person, a great chairman, when he was chairman, and could be counted on to pick good people in terms of promotions and so on. He was like Dick McCormick. I think they belonged to the same poker club, I'm not sure. I think Peter Charanis was in there too. I'm not sure, but I know they played poker and there were a couple doctors and other things. I started one in later years, and so it was poker club one and poker club two. [laughter]
Peter Charanis, I don't think there'll ever be another Peter Charanis. I don't know how wild you want this to go, but I have to tell you a story. When I was chair of the department, which I was willing to take only for three years--I didn't want administration, again--we gave a party for a retiring secretary and it was at my house in East Brunswick. At that time, we lived in a development in which all the houses looked alike, different paint maybe, but they were all the same model on one long street. Peter came with his wife Madeline. She was an artist and a teacher of French in various places. We had another colleague, Traian Stoianovich, and his wife, Marcelle, and she was a serious, serious artist. We have a painting that we purchased in our bedroom that she did. She lived in Paris as much as she could, and Traian would go over whenever he'd have leave.
At any rate, the point of this is that some people, when they get to the door to leave a party, they don't leave. They talk at the door. Madeline and Marcelle stopped at the door on the way out, and they got into some long discussion. They're standing there sort of going on and on. Peter gets tired of this. Now, Peter never got a driver's license. He was a Greek immigrant. He never got a driver's license, so he depends on her, on Madeline. They're talking away, and finally everybody leaves. Then, a neighbor, two doors down, comes up to our house and says, "We had the strangest thing happen. This man opened the door and said, 'Where is my wife.'" [Editor's Note: Dr. Gardner imitates Charanis' Greek accent.] [laughter] Peter had gone to the wrong house and just simply opened the door, and it was like a New Yorker cartoon, because I just imagine the husband sitting there in his undershirt, smoking, watching TV, his wife over there ironing, just like in a New Yorker cartoon, and in comes Peter Charanis and says, "Where is my wife?" [laughter]
Oh, yes, Peter, again, was also fiercely loyal to Rutgers, and so his judgments on people were--we all have emotional factors in them--but his judgments on people sometimes had a lot of emotion in it. I won't say he ever faulted for that. I used to take him to football games, he and Warren Susman, for a while. Then, they said that he couldn't go anymore, that they upset him too much. Is that what you wanted? I mean, I didn't learn any history from Peter Charanis or Henry Winkler because they're not in my field. I didn't learn any history from Richard P. McCormick especially, although I did about early America, yes.
He taught the survey course first half, as I said. In my first years, he asked me to come give a lecture, and I had a feeling this was part of a tryout. This was just to see where I was. I came and gave a lecture on John Adams, President from 1797 to 1801, and the story was not too easy on the Jefferson side. I think I had a kind of feeling back then that people now have about Black Lives and all the rest, okay, Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, but let's not forget, he was also a slaveholder and so on. At any rate, I gave this lecture which sort of praised John Adams, how he kept us out of war and that's what he wanted on his tombstone. Afterward, Dick was a big Jeffersonian liberal--nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying--and he said, "Well, you have some special interest in John Adams." I said, "Yes, I do." [laughter] But he liked the lecture, so it was fine. [There were] all kinds of little incidents like that.
Oh, I have to say another one. We were sitting in the faculty dining room at lunch. I'm sure that Dick McCormick was there, Joe Huthmacher, I think, maybe, and somebody from the sciences. Somebody said, "Why do so many historians go into administration?" You've probably noticed that; you have one as president now [Jonathan Holloway] and Dick McCormick. They're all through the deanships and so on and so forth. They always have been, and they are at all universities. We're sitting there, and Dick McCormick says, "Well, I think it's because historians are able to see all sides of an issue and so therefore they become good administrative people." Someone else said, "Well, it's the temperament of historians, that they're able to moderate these things usually." And the scientist said, "No, the reason is that your discipline is so boring that by the time you get to be forty, you have to do something else." [laughter] That is true, that happened, and we all laughed like hell. I mean, it was a good experience. [laughter] [Editor's Note: Richard L. McCormick and Jonathan Holloway, who became the Rutgers President in 2020, are both historians.]
KR: In your oral history of 2008, you talked about Warren Susman being your mentor.
LG: No, no. I don't think I meant mentor, not a mentor in a sense that I'm a pupil and he's teaching. I saw him, again, in the same light as Winkler and McCormick, but Warren and I were friends more than with the others. Sometimes, we'd be on the phone for twenty to thirty minutes at a time. He had rather harsh views of some people. But Dick McCormick loved him and the reason Dick McCormick loved him was because Warren Susman was loyal to Rutgers too, and that was the main thing that counted, because you've got to understand, lots of Rutgers faculty lived in New York City and they would go to Columbia seminars. They would go to New York University seminars, or they lived down toward Philadelphia. Where was their loyalty? This was always a question. I remember Dick McCormick, when he came back to Rutgers--and he's too stuck in Rutgers in one sense--but he told his wife, "Find us a house, but it can't be more than ten minutes away from the university." Susman lived in what was then Bishop Towers [in New Brunswick]. It's now [Riverside Towers]. He lived there, and Charanis and Winkler in Highland Park.
Warren was a paragon of sorts. He was a great teacher, and, in that sense, I might have tried to model some of my teaching after him. Basically, you can see I'm a hands-and-feet person, so that I have to teach a course, as I say, at Princeton, on Zoom this fall and I don't know how I'm going to handle it without being able to get up and walk around and shout and scream and so on. Go ahead, about Susman, there's probably some other stuff you want to ask about.
KR: Why was Susman a paragon?
LG: Not because of his temperament. His love of students, his desire to be the best for them and to bring out the best in them. Great lecturer. There's a book the Rutgers Press put out on Warren Susman when he died. Have you seen that? It's a small book. I can't put my hand on it right now, but several of us have essays in there and that's the best thing to read about how I felt about Warren. In that memorial lecture, I described him, we had been in England recently and stayed in an inn across the street from a church with a tower and there was a legend about how a monk got up there and tried to fly, and I said, "Warren Susman, that was Warren Susman." He was so intense. We were very close. [Editor's Note: Warren Susman served as a history professor at Rutgers from 1960 to 1985. He died of a heart attack while addressing the national convention of the Organization of American Historians in Minneapolis. The book is entitled In Memory of Warren I. Susman, 1927-1985: Papers Delivered at Scott Hall, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, May 5, 1985.]
KR: I will look for that book.
LG: Yes, do.
KR: In the early part of your career, who were some of the junior faculty members in the History Department?
LG: We're talking about fifty-five years ago, right? Michael Adas and Paul Clemens. Just remember, in the early part, Douglass was separate, so that women were over there. Sam Baily. The guy who just retired ...
KR: Rudy Bell.
LG: Yes, Rudy Bell. Those were the first group of young people that I remember.
KR: One member of the Class of 1970, who actually became an economics professor at Rutgers, Jeffrey Rubin, in his oral history, he talks about Harold Poor. [Editor's Note: Jeffrey Rubin is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Rutgers University. He graduated from Rutgers College in the Class of 1970. After earning his Ph.D. from Duke University, Rubin joined the Rutgers faculty in 1976. He retired in 2016. His three-part oral history is available on the Rutgers Oral History Archives website.]
LG: Oh, yes, sorry, I forgot about him.
KR: How well did you know Harold Poor? [Editor's Note: Harold Poor served as a Professor of History at Rutgers from 1966 to 1991.]
LG: Well, I knew him from the time he came until the time he died of AIDS. I knew him. He directed the Rutgers year in Germany, in one part of Germany one year, and invited me over to lecture. I stayed with him for a couple of days. We traveled to Switzerland and back, and I gave a lecture and so on. I don't know what you want me to say about them. Harold didn't participate in teach-ins or anything like that. He was a good teacher on the European side. That's about all I can give you on Harold. Phil Greven was his good friend, and we hired Greven in colonial history essentially after McCormick retired, I believe, or just to fill in colonial history. Phil and Harold had known one another at Harvard, as I remember.
[laughter] Let me tell you about an incident that happened at Warren Susman's apartment at Bishop Towers. Susman gave a party there, and it was sort of like the same thing as what happened with me and that party I told you about. Sidney Ratner, a professor of history, taught economic history, Ratner was an old 1930s leftist who had left the left behind and he was big for the Vietnam War. That was Ratner. That was the issue in the later 1960s really, where were you on that Vietnam War. Susman gives this party. Sidney and his wife [Louise Rosenblatt were at the party]. I can't remember her name. She was a famous linguist, and, I mean, seriously, she was a famous person. At any rate, there was some drinking at this party. Sidney's at the door just like Marcelle. He doesn't leave. He's talking to Warren. His wife disappears. Ratner reopens the door, and he says, "I can't find my wife." We went out to the elevators, and we started going up and down the floors to see if we could find her. Finally, we find her, I don't know why, on the sixth or seventh floor. She had had apparently too much to drink because she was sitting on the floor across from the elevator smiling. We got out of the elevator. She says, "Hello." [laughter] How about that? There's a side of academia that you're not too familiar with, I'm quite sure. [laughter] It doesn't matter, all these people are gone now, you know what I mean, but it happened.
KR: That is why it is really important to get these stories on the record.
LG: Yes, I think so too. The department was not really as huge as it is now. There was a lot of social interaction in the department.
KR: What do you remember about the rise of the student protest movement and the counter culture?
LG: Well, we have to talk about the 1965 teach-in. A couple years ago, there was a lecture given by someone who wrote about the Rutgers '65 teach-in. You know who you can talk to about that is Paul Clemens, I believe. That paper might be around somewhere. If you can find that paper, you definitely want to get a hold of that. There wasn't a student protest movement when the teach-in movement began, not at Rutgers. Rutgers was not Berkeley, where there was the Free Speech [Movement] and so on. That was a little later. But this is the spring of '65, early in the war, and several of us were alarmed at where this was going. The first teach-in, I believe, was at Michigan. I'm not sure where the second one was, but Rutgers was either third or fourth in terms of the teach-in movement. [Editor's Note: B. Robert Kreiser presented "Championing Academic Freedom at Rutgers: The Genovese Affair and the Teach-In of April 1965" at Rutgers University on the evening of April 23, 2015, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the teach-in. The paper was reprinted in the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom in 2016.]
I went to it, and the idea was we were going to start late at night, go right through the night and so on. Here we are at Scott Hall, the ones who organized this thing, Susman and several people from other departments as well, myself. I picked Warren up at the Bishop Towers, drove down on campus, and I thought, "What if nobody's there?" We got into Scott Hall. It was packed. Have you ever been in there when it's completely packed? People sitting on the floor in front of the stage, people standing in back, oh, my God.
Of course, one name I've forgotten to mention, how could I forget, Gene Genovese, because he was the one who really triggered the response to that teach-in. I got up and I gave a very realistic kind of a talk about empires and the dangers of spreading empires, et cetera, et cetera. It was Gene Genovese who got up and said, "As a Marxist and a socialist, I do not fear the impending Viet Cong victory, I welcome it." I thought to myself, "Oh, boy, this is going to be trouble." Of course, the right did [react], and that's why you ought to get a hold of this paper because there were letters to the Board of Governors, letters to the president, "Get rid of Gardner. Get rid of Susman. Get rid of Genovese. Get rid of all these terrible professors." I would go around after that, saying, "For all those of you who have recorders in the first row, please move up closer, so you can hear everything I'm going to say." There was that.
[Editor's Note: Eugene Genovese (1930-2012), a scholar of slavery and the American South and history professor at Rutgers from 1963 to 1967, made the controversial statement at the first teach-in at Rutgers on April 23, 1965. Amidst the firestorm of controversy that ensued, Rutgers President Mason Gross, with the support of the faculty, resisted public pressure to dismiss Genovese and staunchly defended the principle of academic freedom. Douglas Dillon, a member of the Rutgers Board of Governors, also went on the record in support of academic freedom. Genovese's statements became a campaign issue in the 1965 New Jersey gubernatorial race, with the Republican candidate, New Jersey Senator Wayne Dumont, demanding Genovese's removal and incumbent Governor Richard J. Hughes supporting the University's decision. Genovese later resigned and moved to Canada, where he taught at Sir George Williams University. Subsequent teach-ins occurred in the fall of 1965 and continued in 1966.]
It wasn't students to begin with. You see what I mean? It was the teach-ins that started this protest about the Vietnam War in '65, at least at Rutgers. I'm not denying that the student protest movement would have grown up in the '60s probably, but that's what triggered it, the Kennedy assassination, other kinds of things like that that just made people feel these ways. That was the 1965 teach-in. The Targum ran, you should see the post-'65 teach-in Targum issues, there you can see everything we said, the controversies and so on, so you can review that. Then, there was succeeding [teach-ins]. I was gone then, '65-'66. I had a fellowship down in Washington, D.C. That's when the student movement really began, the year following the first teach-in, but I think it grew out of, at that time, at Rutgers, the anti-war movement. You need a social historian to give you the answers there.
KR: As the Vietnam War was escalating, what were your beliefs about the war?
LG: I thought it was unwinnable. I thought that from the beginning. I thought that the people who planned this war had an exaggerated version of what American military power could do, that we had very few people who even spoke Vietnamese in this country, so how could we possibly expect to do that? I thought it was part of our effort to manage the world economically, bringing Japan in and helping Japan, which would ultimately help the United States and so on. I took a panoramic or an all-inclusive view of what was wrong with the Vietnam War. I obviously thought that things like napalm and that sort of thing were immoral kinds of things, the victims of the Vietnam War. Then, 58,000 American soldiers died, a terrible, terrible sort of thing. Lots of us who were on that teach-in in '65 felt pretty much the same way.
KR: I am curious, did you know anyone who served in Vietnam? Did you have any students who served in Vietnam?
LG: I must have, but I don't remember any of them talking to me. I had a guy that I went to graduate school with who was in the Air Force and he was getting a master's degree in history, Norman Eaton, and he was killed. He was one of the first American flyers killed in Vietnam. That, I think, was the closest person I knew. I don't remember. Some of my students must have served in Vietnam, but none of them, that I remember, came back and talked to me about it. I'm trying to move this [camera], so that I'm not looking down all the time. It's hard, I don't know how to get the screen exactly right, so I'm not looking down. [Editor's Note: Colonel Norman Dale Eaton served as an Air Force pilot in Vietnam. He and his co-pilot went missing in action on January 13, 1969. A graduate of the West Point Class of 1949, Dale earned a master's degree at the University of Wisconsin in 1957 and then spent four years as a member of the History Department at the Air Force Academy. In 2007, Dale's remains were identified and returned to his family. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.]
KR: I'd like to ask you about the spring of 1970.
LG: Oh, boy.
KR: Yes, this is a big topic of conversation with members of the Class of '70. The United States expanded the Vietnam War and invaded Cambodia. In May 1970, the National Strike started on campuses across America and at Rutgers, and then the university shut down. What are your recollections of that period of time?
LG: Well, I think we all saw this as a desperation move on the part of President Nixon, that going into Cambodia while at the same time talking about deescalating and so on, that this demonstrated once and for all that this was not a winnable war, and that there was just outrage. At this time, this is the point from '65 to '70, the momentum changes in terms of now it's the students who are driving the situation. This was growing then from '65 to '70, and '70 is the kind of culmination, both for Nixon going into Cambodia and for the students at universities across the country.
The campus erupts and demands action. We had a wonderful Dean of Students then by the name of Howard Crosby. Do you come across that [name]? He, as much as anyone else, deserves credit for saving the situation at Rutgers. We began with a sort of all-faculty meeting in the gymnasium, I remember that, and how are we going to respond to this demand to shut down the university, to do this, to do that? We created something called the Action for Peace Committee. Has that come up? Since you asked me for this interview, I was trying to see who would remember who my co-chairman was. I can't remember his name, Williamson, if you can dig that up? Of course, it's fifty years now, fifty years ago.
KR: Was he a faculty member?
LG: No, a student.
KR: He was a student, okay.
LG: The Action for Peace Committee was co-chaired by him and me, a student and me. We sat together, this Action for Peace Committee, in the college dean's office, and he was very nice. He helped out. He let us use the phone, et cetera, et cetera. How are we going to prevent violence from coming to the Rutgers campus as it had come to Wisconsin with bombing and so on and so forth? What could we do to ensure that this didn't happen or hit it off? What we did was we said that we would write all the representatives and senators from New Jersey and invite them to a town hall meeting, where they would talk about this and meet with students and meet with local people in the area. This then was on a Sunday, and only the two senators came and only the representative from the area where Rutgers voted. He was an old-line Irish politician. I can't remember his name, but he said that he had received more mail about the Cambodian thing than anything since Pearl Harbor. That was kind of the tone of that, and it was really remarkable. [Editor's Note: Edward J. Patten served in the House of Representatives from New Jersey's 15th District from 1963 to 1981. During the 1960s, New Jersey's two Senators were Clifford Case and Harrison Williams.]
My two daughters, who at that time were about eleven and eight, they read, in the New Brunswick Home News [in] a letter to the editor, the professors who shut down the campus just wanted time to cut their grass at home and this was terrible, all the rest of it. They were upset that I was down on campus and they were home and they couldn't see me, but they went to their mother and said, "We want to write a letter to the editor of the paper," so they did. When I got home then, a day or so later, there was this phone call, and the person on the phone said, "Professor Gardner." I said, "Yes." [The person] said, "We know where your daughters are" and hung up. We didn't tell them. From that time until the end of school, my wife or I, especially she, took them to school and brought them home. That was how tense that period was.
The students occupied Old Queens. There were several of us down there who were talking about negotiating with them, and part of it was the (new association?) for this town meeting on Sunday. We talked with them. What we understood later, I don't know whether this was true or not, what we understood later was that the governor was about ready to call in the National Guard if things got worse at Rutgers. It didn't, and that came off very well. [Editor's Note: Following President Richard Nixon's expansion of the Vietnam War to Cambodia, a nationwide student strike commenced in the beginning of May 1970. The strike began at Rutgers on Friday, May 1. On Monday, May 4, two thousand protesters gathered on the Old Queens Campus, and Rutgers President Mason Gross addressed the crowd, calling the protesters his guests. That day, two hundred students occupied the second and third floors of Old Queens, including Gross' office, resulting in a two-day sit-in of Old Queens.]
Later on, a professor in the mathematics department, Terry Butler, does that name come up? He was at the teach-ins; he was a participant in the teach-ins. Terry told me he had a student who confessed to him to being Army intelligence and that he was an agent provocateur and he was the one who encouraged the students to occupy Old Queens, which makes me suspect that there are agents provocateurs now in some of the city stuff that's going on, on both sides, that they're there deliberately to cause trouble. [Editor's Note: Dr. Gardner is referring to the protests occurring in cities across the nation and globe, following the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.]
At any rate, the students walked out--they cleaned up the president's office, they cleaned up Old Queens--they walked out. There was no violence. We called The New York Times and said, "Why aren't you covering what's happening at Rutgers?" They as much as said, "There's nothing violent. There's no action there." That made me feel very bad about what we had achieved. I think we pulled off a kind of minor miracle at Rutgers. There were no broken windows, there were no people shot, there were no fires. There was none of that.
In fact, President Bloustein, one night, during this period--I'm not sure it was in that May of 1970, it might have been another time when there was dangerous kinds of occupation--I had President Bloustein call me up at my home, "Would you come and negotiate and talk with these people?" [Editor's Note: Mason Gross served as the President of Rutgers University from 1959 to 1971. Edward Bloustein served as the Rutgers University President from 1971 until his death in 1989.]
The student who was my co-chair, late at night, when we had finished trying to keep things calm, we'd talk, talk about his career at Rutgers, and he told me he had been on eight or nine LSD trips. Have you heard about this? Eight or nine LSD [trips]. Jesus, you know, we drank beer as undergraduates and thought that was really dangerous or sometimes whiskey at parties at Christmas and so on. We'd keep it away from the fraternity mother, the house mother at the fraternity house. There was somebody always assigned to talk to her in a room, while the rest of us were off somewhere doing various things. At any rate, he told me about that, and I just sat in shock. He said the last time he had a bad trip, so he would never take it again. His father and Howard Crosby were good friends, so that helped too. All those things helped.
Part of the deal was that I speak at commencement, that there would be somebody that they would trust who would speak at commencement. Here I was, out there at the Rutgers commencement, I get up and I'm looking up at all these parents who were thinking, "What the hell's happened to our kids? How have these students been ruined by all these left-wing professors?" I don't know if there's a printed copy of what I said that day. I have very little memory of anything I said that day, but I was praising the students. What I was talking about was peace and negotiation and all of that. It was wonderful in the sense of what we accomplished--not the Cambodian invasion, that was terrible--but I have a good feeling about what happened in 1970 at Rutgers.
KR: How did you get into this kind of position of leadership in May of 1970? Did this student approach you directly to co-chair the Action for Peace Committee?
LG: [laughter] I don't know. I can't remember. I can't remember how it was created. I may have had some role in helping to suggest this, but it was cooperation between administrators. I think the reason I was involved was I had a lot of students and I think I had student leaders who liked me and who wanted me to do that. That's all I can remember. That must've been it because my co-chair, I had not had him in a class, I don't think, at that point. That's terrible that I can't remember that.
KR: It's fifty years ago.
LG: That's right.
KR: Tell me a little more about this town meeting that you organized. You said it was on a Sunday, so it was probably Sunday, May 3, 1970.
LG: Wait a minute, when was the incursion?
KR: The student strike started on Friday, May 1st. Monday, May 4th was the occupation of Old Queens, the building, and then Tuesday, May 5th was when the Rutgers College faculty voted to effectively end the semester and make finals optional, classes pass/fail.
LG: That must have been after that. I think that must've been part of the agreement somehow. I don't think it was May 3rd, so that would push it off to May 10th maybe. I don't know. It had to be a Sunday. That was the only time that things would not be in use, so it had to be a Sunday. It could have been the 3rd, but I think it was later. I think it was after that, but I'm not sure. [Editor's Note: It is likely that the convocation took place on Sunday, May 17, 1970, in the College Avenue Gym.]
KR: Tell me a little bit more about that town hall meeting and about the politicians who came.
LG: Well, only the two senators came and the one representative. The rest begged off for one reason or another, did not want to get involved. One of them from down in South Jersey said, "It's church, I have to go to church" and so on. In that sense, it was unsuccessful, but in the sense that the senators came and talked, it was successful. Was it the thing that prevented violence? I don't know, not entirely. But I think that the demonstration of students and faculty working together in this thing called the Action for Peace Committee, I think that's what was key. Maybe not, I don't know. Maybe the Class of 1970 had very level-headed people who helped this, prevented this [violence]. Obviously, they did, if they wanted to do this oral history project. Do you have some names there?
KR: Of the politicians who were there?
LG: No, the names of the [students]. I can't remember the names of senators at that time.
KR: Oh, sure.
LG: Do you have some names of the students there that were active in this that I then might pick up on?
KR: Sure, yes. I'm going to screen-share. I have the Class Day program from the day of commencement, June 3, 1970.
KR: Okay, so let me screen-share this.
LG: Mine is already on shared screen.
LG: Okay, here we are.
KR: Can you see this?
LG: Yes, I can see it.
KR: This is the class dedication. You can see that the Class of '70 recognizes the role that you played in events in 1970, and I'll read this for the record. It says, "We congratulate the faculty of Rutgers College, particularly Dr. Mason W. Gross, President of Rutgers University, and Dr. Lloyd Gardner, Professor of History of Rutgers College, for their encouragement, not only of the Class of 1970, but of all students to fully assume their responsibilities as true citizens while yet within the shelter of the historically silent and heretofore negligent academic community."
KR: Do you remember being recognized at the time by the class?
KR: What did it mean to you?
LG: Well, I had several opportunities to leave Rutgers and go other places. I just love the school, and I just had a feeling for the students, for everything about the university with all its faults and flaws, and the sense that we were building something very important here. What else can I say? It meant a great deal. It also meant a terrific deal to me when I got the Gorenstein Award as outstanding faculty member. I got three or four of those things, research, teaching, and so on. What can I say? [laughter] I very much appreciate it.
KR: I'm going to share my screen again. I'm going to scroll down, and you'll be able to see some of the names of the students.
LG: Okay, good. What else did you expect me to say, by the way? [laughter]
KR: Okay, now you can see.
LG: Yes, Richard Levao. He's the one I know there on the Senior Week committee. I've known Richard, oh, all the way now, I mean, for years, years, years. We've had lunch. We've done things, and he's written me--he hasn't written to me recently. He's retired now, I think, but that's the name that really jumps out at me. [Editor's Note: Richard Levao, RC '70, served as the President of Bloomfield College from 2003 to 2019. Levao served as a member and chair of both the Rutgers Board of Governors and Board of Trustees.]
KR: Did you know Mike Freeman, who was the class president? He is a Minnesotan, and his father was the governor of Minnesota and then a very high-level Johnson administrator. [Editor's Note: Orville Freeman served as the Governor of Minnesota from 1955 to 1961 and then as Secretary of Agriculture from 1961 to 1969. Michael O. Freeman, RC '70, is a Minnesota politician and attorney. He served in the Minnesota Senate from 1983 to 1991. He was elected County Attorney of Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, and held the position from 1991 to 1999. In 2006, he was elected again as Hennepin County Attorney. On May 29, 2020, Freeman announced criminal charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.]
LG: Wait a minute, Orville Freeman, yes. Michael Freeman was here as a student. Michael Freeman--see, you're bringing it back now--and there was some sort of parade of ROTC students who were against the war and they wore a black band around their ROTC uniforms. Yes, I knew him in that regard. He wasn't someone who met with me, talked with me like Dick Levao. I knew Michael Freeman on campus. I knew that he was the son of Orville Freeman and so on, yes, but he was not close. I can't remember any long conversations with him.
KR: Yes, he was the cadet commander of Army ROTC.
LG: Right, that's why I say, but he was still a protestor with a black band around his uniform.
KR: Was Dick Levao one of your students?
LG: Yes. His brother later on taught at Rutgers in the English Department, I believe. Dick has been on various committees with alumni and so on. We used to talk about Rutgers. He was very loyal to Bloustein, as I remember, yes. [Editor's Note: Ronald Levao, RC '70, joined the English faculty at Rutgers in 1989.]
KR: I'm going to stop sharing.
KR: Interestingly, Mike Freeman is the County Attorney of Hennepin County, Minnesota, in which Minneapolis is the county seat.
LG: Oh, my God. [laughter].
KR: We are going to try to interview him.
LG: You should, obviously. I mean, my heavens, what a position to be in.
KR: You've credited Howard Crosby with keeping the peace at Rutgers …
KR: … In the spring of '70. How much credit should Mason Gross get for handling events?
LG: Well, quite a bit, but you have to understand also that he had a very good second from the History Department.
KR: Yes, Dick Schlatter. [Editor's Note: Richard Schlatter, a history professor at Rutgers beginning in 1946, served as the provost and vice president at Rutgers from 1962 to 1971.]
LG: Dick Schlatter. Schlatter showed up at the teach-in in '65. He just stood down there below the stage a little bit, sort of waving a benign blessing over the group. But there's no question that Schlatter and Gross handled things well because Gross could have flipped and said, "Send force into Old Queens. Get those students out now. They've been in there two hours. I want them out." In that sense, all the administrators at Rutgers share credit, Schlatter, Gross, Howard Crosby. It's just that I dealt with Howard Crosby on the Action for Peace Committee, and so I talked with him more than the others. There was an inner group around Mason Gross that I was not part of. They'd go to the faculty club and drink with him at noon. But later on, Bloustein had kind of an inner group and I was much more involved in that. Gross viewed this whole stuff benignly and not [as being] malignant.
KR: There were several faculty meetings in early May and what was being debated was whether to continue the semester or to make classes and final exams optional, essentially acting in solidarity with the National Strike. What was the debate going on inside of those faculty meetings?
LG: Well, it was also about taking credit away from ROTC at some of those faculty meetings. I think that, rather than closing campuses and suspending students' classes, I think the debate over the ROTC was the biggest one. The way that worked out was that we got a military historian in the Department of History, who then became so important with the oral history project, John Chambers, right? One of the compromises was that the ROTC military history stuff and so on be taught by Chambers. Again, you see, this was worked out through things that met some of the demands, not others. I remember Peter Charanis was vehement in discussions about keeping ROTC and keeping classes on the military there. We managed to avoid that crisis with this compromise of military history and so on. ROTC was never kicked off Rutgers campus. It was kicked off some campuses, but I don't think it was ever kicked off Rutgers campus. I could be wrong again. [Editor's Note: In solidarity with the National Strike, the Rutgers College faculty voted on Tuesday, May 5 to make classes and final exams optional and instituted pass/fail grades for the spring semester 1970. The faculty also voted to eliminate ROTC on campus the next year, though that was later reversed by the Board of Governors. Dr. John W. Chambers II is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Rutgers. He served as a history professor from 1982 until 2017. Chambers was one of the faculty members involved in establishing the Rutgers Oral History Archives in 1994.]
KR: Right, ROTC continued to be offered and, like you said, it was the military science teaching portion that was taken away from ROTC and actually has only just recently been getting introduced back into the School of Arts and Sciences.
LG: When Chambers retired, did the History Department hire a military historian? I don't think so.
LG: That's a whole different issue about where the History Department's going.
KR: In the faculty meetings that were going on in May of 1970, you are the one who actually introduced the resolution to make classes and exams optional. [laughter]
LG: [laughter] Is that right?
KR: Yes, that was Tuesday, May 5th, and the faculty voted in favor and that's what ended business as usual at Rutgers College. [laughter]
LG: [laughter] You played a trick on me. You are a naughty person. You played a trick on me. [laughter] You didn't tell me that at the beginning. Obviously, I had a bigger role than I knew, but it must've come out of discussions that I had and people said, "Well, you do it, you do it." I think it's partly because I did teach the sophomore survey of American history. I did reach a great number of students, and so my views were [well known]. I was a participant in the teach-ins. I think that must be it, that they came to me. Somebody designed the resolution. I don't think I could have done it by myself. Now, if you're going to tell me I did about five minutes later ... [laughter]
KR: No, I don't know. I just read a Targum article and it is called the "Gardner Resolution."
LG: [laughter] Okay, well, I'm proud of it then. It kept the peace. It kept Rutgers safe. [laughter] I don't think there's anybody in the History Department from then that's still alive except me.
KR: Rudy Bell.
LG: Yes, but he came later, yes, but okay.
KR: I think Rudy Bell came to Rutgers in the '60s. I can't tell you the year.
LG: It must've been the late '60s. [Editor's Note: Rudy Bell served as a history professor at Rutgers from 1968 to 2020, when he retired.]
KR: Yes, and in his oral history, he just very briefly talks about these events. He wasn't as involved as you were.
LG: No, he was not involved, no.
KR: How about Ross Baker?
LG: Oh, yes, political science.
KR: Yes, poli-sci. What do you remember about his involvement?
LG: Well, yes, he was involved. I don't remember very much about it. Ross and I have since had a disagreement about the Afghan War. He was for some of the Afghan stuff. Yes, Ross was a good guy on Vietnam and we'd talk a lot, had lunch in the faculty dining room once in a while together and so on. He was a very hail fellow well met, he is, I guess.
KR: What do you remember about the protests that were going on Old Queens Campus and then the actual occupation of the Old Queens Building? What do you remember about those protests?
LG: Well, I remember watching them, and as I said to you before, we talked with the students who were occupying Old Queens. I talked with them and other people did, and we told them all these things. Presumably, that happened after the faculty meeting, right, the occupation. So, I was able to talk to them about the classes, examinations, that I would speak at commencement, the town hall meeting. We had all these tools, and that was because the students I worked with, and I wish I could remember who was my co-chairman of the Action for Peace, I can't, but he had a big role too in this. He was an activist. We were able to--as I say, they left Old Queens peacefully.
A rumor we heard, while they were in there, and this is the way agents provocateurs operate, they spread rumors. Of course, we don't know anything about that right now, right? I mean, that doesn't happen anymore. But here we were trying to negotiate with them and we were being told that there were motorcycle gangs forming in Newark that were going to come down and throw the students out. Then, we were told that the governor was going to send in the National Guard and so on and so forth. All this is kind of background noise, as we're talking and negotiating, and we succeeded.
KR: I want to speak to the rumor of people coming down from Newark to take back Old Queens. I interviewed a person who headed the Air Force ROTC contingent.
LG: Do you mean a faculty member or a student?
KR: He was a student. He was the cadet commander of Air Force ROTC. He got called to a veteran's organization in Edison who were taking up arms and they were going to go to Old Queens to fight off these student protestors, and he actually talked them down. These rumors of armed gangs …
LG: They were true then.
KR: Yes, they were true, but what I think is interesting about the agent provocateur rumor, do you think there is a possibility that Students for a Democratic Society or another group started that rumor about an Army infiltrator?
LG: I didn't hear about it until I talked with Terry Butler long afterwards, and Terry said that he had--it was either Terry or somebody else in math. I use Terry because I knew him, but it might've been somebody else who told me that he had a student who came a couple years later to him, or a year later or something, and said that he was in military intelligence and he had been sent in to try to cause trouble. He was a student. I mean, he was one of these people who posed as [a student]. There was a guy in sociology much later who wrote a book about students at Rutgers and I can't think of his name, but he was talking about, he was so young looking, he posed as a student and so on. God I wish I could remember his name; somebody around the oral history project may remember it. I don't know. There are people who look young enough to be students who do that stuff, there's no question, and Terry Butler said that the guy who organized the occupation of Old Queens was an agent provocateur, okay. I don't know that firsthand at all; I have no idea. All I know is that if he were, he was outvoted by the reasonable students in there who said, "Okay, we have gotten A, B, C. We didn't get E, F, G, but we got A, B, C, so let's end this occupation and let's do it peacefully and clean up this place," and they did. Now, if you're talking about Wisconsin, you're talking about bombs. You're talking about different kinds of things, but it did not happen at Rutgers and lots of people deserve credit for that. I didn't know [it was] my resolution. [laughter] [Editor's Note: On August 24, 1970, a van loaded with explosives blew up outside of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Sterling Hall, killing a physics researcher and wounding three others. The bombing was carried out by four anti-war protesters who were targeting the Mathematics Research Center, an Army-funded research center located in Sterling Hall.]
KR: Then, of course, there were the four students who were killed and the nine who were wounded at Kent State.
LG: Oh, yes. It was amazing that we were able to keep the peace in the aftermath of that, just amazing. You could argue, if you are a leftist-minded sociologist that, yes, all these places where privileged students were, they erupted. Then, you take a place like Rutgers, and a lot of the students are first-generation students. See where I'm going? They don't have assured positions waiting for them no matter how they behave. The gentleman's C at Rutgers is not enough.
That's why this man John Adams that I did have as a student--do you know about the seminar named for me? [Editor's Note: The interviewer shakes her head no.] No? It's in political science. I had this guy, John Adams, who became a lawyer, had a hedge fund, made a lot of money, and his wife said, "You're always talking about Rutgers. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is?" Here was the situation. He sat in on the picking for the--what's the fellowship to Oxford named after a colonial leader? There's so many students from the American universities who get these things at Oxford--Rhodes, Rhodes Scholar. He sat in on the selection committee, and he watched these students from Harvard and Princeton and other places, they came in--this is what he did--they all had a certain polish and that Rutgers students did not have that so much. Do you know what he did? He got upset with this, he founded this seminar, honors seminar, here at Rutgers, and he named it for me. What he does is this seminar pays for a couple of weeks for certain students over in England, right in the summer between their junior and senior year, and then they come back. Then, they write their papers, and it's a seminar on public service.
Here's the kicker for this. When the dean, [Douglas] Greenberg, told me about this, that he wanted to name the seminar "The Gardner Seminar," he said, "You remember him?" I said, "No, I don't. I don't remember him." He introduced us at the faculty club. We had lunch together. I'm happy to meet him, that he was doing all this. I said, "What did I do? What was it that I did that made you want this thing?" [laughter] He said, "Well, one day you were talking about the Cleveland Browns." That's kind of a nice story, and so that's how that happened. [laughter] It's a great story. [Editor's Note: John Adams, RC '65, endowed the Lloyd C. Gardner Fellowship Program in Leadership and Social Policy. The fellowship is a year-long global issues research seminar for juniors in the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences.]
KR: That's a great story.
LG: Well, I'm just happy that it's going because I've attended--at the end of their second year in this seminar, they present orally, their papers, and they're really very good, very good. There's also a Gardner Research Fund at the History Department. Alumni can donate.
Now, in this class I'm teaching this fall in the Princeton Senior [Resources Center], there's going to be two students from Rutgers I had in the '60s in it, Michael Perlin and Ken O'Brien. Isn't that something? [Editor's Note: The oral history of Michael Perlin, RC '66, resides in the collection of the Rutgers Oral History Archives.]
KR: That's really amazing.
LG: There may be some others, because the class is very popular. There's seventy-two people signed up for it. [laughter] I'll have little faces all over the screen.
KR: I have a question about how you were affected by events in the spring of '70. You talked about the threatening phone call to your daughters.
LG: To me about my daughters.
KR: To you about your daughters. Did you face any repercussions from the administration at Rutgers for your role?
LG: Never, never, never.
KR: How did you and your wife feel after getting this threatening phone call? What did you do for protection?
LG: Well, I told you, we took them to school and we told the principal that they were not to be left alone outside to walk home, that we would pick them up, and just simply to keep an eye out for anybody. Then, nothing happened. It was obviously a crank call, but you don't know that. I think that the most amazing thing is despite all the violence in colleges around, not a single faculty member got shot for participating, not a single one. The atmosphere in 1970 was determined; we are going to try to force a change in policy. Across the country, that didn't happen. Certainly, Nixon's invasion of Cambodia, I think, was the beginning of his downfall. I think that's what led him then to break in and that kind of pressure. Some people obviously don't feel that pressure today. It's amazing to me.
KR: Several of the Class of '70 members that I've interviewed, they talk about commencement.
KR: They remember a protest that was done at commencement, that all of the graduates stood up and they turned their backs on whoever was speaking.
LG: They didn't on me.
KR: It couldn't have been you, but nobody can remember who the speaker was.
LG: On the ride over to commencement, riding in the van over to commencement, there was a New York Times columnist, and I can't remember his name, and he kept asking me questions about the students. I mean, he was doing a reporting job, even as he was getting ready to speak. He was on the good side of things too, so I don't think they could've turned their back on him. Are you sure that didn't happen, say, in '71 or '72 or something?
KR: It's '70. Four different members of the class all recalled this, and I didn't mention it to them. They remembered it. I have a couple of guesses of who it could be.
KR: It's possible that it was William Cahill, the governor. [Editor's Note: There were a number of honorary degrees given out at commencement on June 3, 1970, including those to John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, the jazz musician and trumpet player, William T. Cahill, the Governor of New Jersey, and Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and principal speaker earlier in the day at the Class Day Exercises on Voorhees Mall on College Avenue.]
KR: Then, the class speaker during Class Day was the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Glenn Seaborg, and he got an honorary degree. [Editor's Note: Glenn Seaborg was a Nobel Prize-winning chemist who served as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971.]
LG: Did he speak?
KR: He spoke at Class Day.
LG: Not the commencement.
KR: I actually don't know. Unfortunately, the commencement records are all in University Archives, which are closed, and I can't get in to see them. They're not digitized.
LG: Why are they closed?
KR: Because of COVID.
LG: Oh, right. That's a different kind of censorship, isn't it?
KR: Yes. [laughter]
LG: Oh, okay. I'm ready to talk about political censorship, and you've got COVID. [laughter]
KR: Yes, this is just a public health issue.
LG: That's funny, well, not funny, but it's different. Yes, maybe Cahill. He spoke at commencement? Did they speak long? Because I remember, when you give honorary degrees, honorary degree people don't speak unless they're the chosen speaker. I don't know how, because here it is May and they say, "You're going to do this speech," so I couldn't have been the only speaker. They must have let the others, whoever was designated to speak, speak, so it could've been somebody with the government that they would turn their back on.
KR: Eventually, I'll be able to get into University Archives.
KR: Ultimately, Mason Gross's last year as president would be the following year, 1970-1971. How much do you think events of the spring of '70 impacted the next year being his last year?
LG: I think it was more a health issue. I don't think he was chased from the university. He could've gotten just simply tired of it, you know, because there was a lot of nonsensical things, but I didn't know Mason Gross. I was not one of those who was close to him. I knew Schlatter much better, but they were a pretty good team.
KR: What happened to Schlatter? Once Gross retired and Ed Bloustein came in and had Ken Wheeler as provost, what happened to Schlatter? Did he return to history?
LG: Not in the department, just like all former presidents, in a sense, return to the department, but they don't vote. They've been high-level administrators, so they don't do that. I think Schlatter organized faculty get-togethers for a couple or three years. He had an office in the communications building next to the library. If you face the library and then the building over there on the left, I think that's where they stash a lot of former presidents. [laughter] But in any event, I remember Schlatter was pretty good about this. You weren't a permanent member of the seminar, you would get invited, and it would be a dinner in the faculty dining room and then a speaker, which at a big university, really, there should be much more of that in a sense of I want to learn from scientists, too. I want to hear what they have to say, and so these dinners where somebody from a totally different field would talk were very useful, very good.
One night--and this gets into feminist thinking--one night, the paper was presented by a woman who talked about a drug that pregnant women were given and their children, they got mixed up in their sex identities because of this drug. She was speaking about this, and one of the other [attendees] from a different branch of feminism got up and said, "No, no, it's environment. You give little girls guns, they'll be like boys," and so on and so forth. She was saying, "No, no, this is proof of this drug," and so on. It was a pretty lively evening all in all. [laughter] Schlatter did that for a few years. After that, I don't remember what happened to him. He just retired, I guess.
KR: Yes, I think, ultimately, he had cancer and ended up …
LG: He committed suicide.
LG: A gun, wasn't it?
KR: I don't know. He had brain cancer, and it was terminal.
LG: Yes, somehow, he locked himself into a restroom somewhere, I think.
KR: Okay, yes, I've heard stories like that. Would it have been the Harvard Club in New York City?
LG: I'm happy you mentioned that. The year following the teach-in, Gene Genovese got an offer from some school, and that was about the only way you'd get raises for a while around here was get an outside offer and then Rutgers would match it if they wanted to keep you and not if they didn't. Gene got an offer. Schlatter backed off from being willing to promote Gene and give him more money and so on right away, and he called Gene to the Harvard Club, which was a mistake in the sense that Gene Genovese, at that time, [was a] rabid leftist--did you ever seen the movie On the Waterfront?--[and] a longshoremen family kind of New Yorker and so on. Schlatter invites him to the Harvard Club to talk him out of pressing his demands, saying, "Why don't you wait a year or two? We'll take care of you down the line." Gene went around talking about that and how enraged he was by that.
Dick McCormick was chair of the department and Gene came in with an offer from some small school in Canada, and so what did McCormick do? I think this is one time he misplayed. He went over to the library. He looked up the number of volumes that this school had in its library and came back, and he said, "Gene, how do you expect me to match this offer from this place, this awful place?" and so on. They were yelling at one another, apparently, in the office. I went in and talked to Dick afterwards, and he was chewing gum, trying some way to calm down. He said, "What can I do to make Gene happy?" I said, "Well, Gene is one of those people I don't think you'll ever make him happy in that respect." So, Gene left. He went to this place [Sir George Williams University], and then, of course, he went to [the University of] Rochester, I believe, and became chair of the department there and was one of those who denied tenure to this guy who later on was now working for the AAUP, who gave this paper on the anniversary of the teach-in a few years ago. Of course, Gene then flipped over to the other side. Gene said that he prayed that all of us who were on the teach-in with him that night will be forgiven.
Well, Gene started his own history society you know. What is it? The Historical Society, I think it's called. I don't think it's flourished, but Gene decided that the American history profession was moving so far to the left that you couldn't get papers except on women's rights or transsexuals or some other issue and constantly attacking, so he started another history society. He asked me to be one of the founding advisors on it. I said, "No, I'm not interested, no." [Editor's Note: The Historical Society was founded in 1998 by Eugene Genovese, Donald Kagan and Mark Trachtenberg.]
KR: I have a few more questions that have to do more generally with Rutgers-related developments. Now, you talked earlier about Richard P. McCormick being really responsive to the Black student protest movement and their calls for better representation in curriculum and then also being better represented on campus in terms of enrollment.
KR: In 1969, Livingston College opened.
KR: There was a greater effort at Livingston to recruit faculty and students who were people of color.
KR: What do you remember about those early years of Livingston College? Of course, you are from the perspective of a Rutgers College faculty member. What do you remember about the early years of Livingston?
LG: Well, Ernest Lynton, he was the dean. He didn't seem to want anything to do with us. We were kept out of decisions over there, and that was true until the section was formed, these sections that had meetings and tenure meetings of all three departments together, Douglass, Livingston, Rutgers, and the night school as well. Lynton, I would see him at conventions when he was picking out history faculty, and he did the interviewing himself [bangs fist]. He would do it. There was nothing really to say about Livingston College. They hired who they wanted. Okay. I thought that was sort of strange after the way we had handled the Vietnam War peace movement as cooperation and inter-discussion, and Lynton didn't want anything to [do with us]. I don't have anything against him. I just wondered why he did that. Did he fear that we were so old-fashioned over here? I mean, you're talking about people who loved Rutgers deeply, like Richard P. McCormick and so on and so forth. Well, wow, what is this?
KR: Ultimately, those Livingston College history professors who ended up staying would become your colleagues once the Faculty of Arts and Sciences formed in 1981.
LG: Whoa, whoa, the cooperation began earlier in history with the section meetings.
LG: Okay. You can say everything happened in '81, but we had moved in that direction before that, I think.
KR: What was it like when the history departments became more consolidated?
LG: More people talking at meetings. [laughter] I think everything went very smoothly. I think it went off all right. There wasn't anything to really dislike about it. I think as the History Department got larger, the kind of spirit that was there in the Rutgers College History Department in the 1960s was not present because first of all when you get bigger--we had sixteen when I came to Rutgers College, then you get up to forty-five or fifty people in the History Department--you don't have the same relationships. That was different. It had a different feel to it, but there's always an inner core, you know, people that I knew very [well], like Paul Clemens. His office was next to mine. It changed.
I think I have had, if you go back and look at the statistics--someone told me this--I had more Henry Rutgers Honors students than anybody else. I don't know that for a fact but I think so. Of course, I had an almost fifty-year span to do that. I think the number of PhDs I have either was the first or second. I can't remember all my PhD students. I keep in touch with about ten, eleven, very close. The bigger anything gets, the less familiar it is.
Then, there were always the football games. We had a tailgate group, Sam Baily, sometimes Rudy Bell, sometimes not, and friends from other departments, so there were ten-fourteen people, and my friend from Newark by this time too, Warren Kimball. I was a leader in proposing--this was my resolution too--that the graduate students, that there be a consolidated graduate program in history with people from Newark teaching in it and people from Camden teaching in it who wanted to. Camden was much more, they felt much differently. But we did that. We pulled that off too.
KR: What was the transition like when Rutgers College became coed in 1972? You would have had Douglass and Livingston students in your classes before that, but what was it like when Rutgers went coed?
LG: I don't think it was much different because I did have women from Douglass College in my classes. I don't think it was much different. Here's one thing. When I first came to Rutgers and you'd go down through the roster, it looked very different than later on, when all these changes are happening. The roster would look very different with a lot of names that are hard to pronounce for me, but you have to include, in the later years, you have to include all the Middle Eastern and Asian students that came to Rutgers. There's a very big, I think, Korean community around. I went to my grandson's graduation just a couple years ago, and they're flashing the names up on the board around the athletic field and you get to the names of Indian students and you get the names of Korean students. It's a wonderful change that's happened, and, again, I think the integration has been pretty good. I can't speak for how they feel on campus now, but it seems to me, wow, well done.
KR: Well, I've reached the end of my questions. I just want to thank you so much. This has been really fun, and this has been really interesting. It has been great talking with you.
LG: Yes, there are probably a lot of anecdotal things I could tell you. When Susman and I were teaching--Susman and I taught the second half of the survey together--I would just sit back and watch him lecture while it was his turn to lecture and think, "My God, do you guys out there realize what you're getting?" I mean, new viewpoints that just shatter old assumptions. He gave a lecture on--were you an American history major?
KR: Yes, American history.
LG: Susman gave a lecture on the three great trials of the '20s, the Scopes trial, Loeb-Leopold, and the famous one of the two immigrants up in New England ... [Editor's Note: On May 21, 1924, Nathan Leopold and Robert Loeb kidnapped and murdered fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago. Ten days later, they both confessed to the crime. Their trial gained national attention, with Clarence Darrow serving as the defense attorney. Darrow convinced the defendants to plead guilty, thus avoiding a trial by jury, and then argued against the death penalty. The judge sentenced each to ninety-nine years in prison for the kidnapping and life in prison for the murder. The Scopes trial refers to the 1925 prosecution of John T. Scopes for teaching evolution in a Tennessee public school in violation of the Butler Act. Darrow served as the defense attorney for Scopes. The jury found Scopes guilty and fined him one hundred dollars. (Simon Baatz, "Leopold and Loeb's Criminal Minds," Smithsonian Magazine, August 2008)]
KR: Sacco and Vanzetti. [Editor's Note: In 1927, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian immigrants and proclaimed anarchists, were executed for a 1921 double homicide during an armed robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts.]
LG: Sacco and Vanzetti. The liberal position, the traditional liberal position, would be you defend them against the state, et cetera. For the Scopes trial, and he said, "Look, all you people out there believe in community choice for boards of education, right?" This was when New York was erupting when there were not enough Blacks on the boards of education and so on. "You all believe in this local thing, okay. So, then don't you believe that the state was right or the group was right in saying Scopes can't teach evolution? How are you going to reconcile those things?" Then, Loeb-Leopold, everybody says Loeb-Leopold were caused by their environment, rich kids who the pressure was on them to do these things and so on, so they killed little Bobby Franks. But you were supposed to feel, you see, at that time, if you were liberal, that, again, it was all the pressure of the environment, no individual responsibility. "Do you believe in individual responsibility or not?"
Then, Sacco and Vanzetti, he said, "Okay, the rational guy kept thinking the state's going to save us, somebody's going to save us and so on. Nobody's going to save you. The atmosphere was ..." I just sat back and I watched that and I wondered if the students realized that he's throwing new light on each of these traditional things. He did that lecture after lecture after lecture. I watched him do that. Jesus, he was good, a brilliant, brilliant lecturer, brilliant. When I talked about him as being a mentor, that's maybe what I meant, that I could sit back and I could watch him. The other thing was the reason that we were successful probably, the reason is that our junior seminars in history, I had fantastic students. Many of them went on to be historians in there, and so there was a coterie of students.
The other thing is, when my grandson and other people, when my daughter went to Rutgers--my daughter was a librarian at Alexander Library in the library system. She retired. Can I believe that? To my grandson, I said, "You know, when I had office hours, very often nobody would come." If [it is] a big university and students complain about feeling lost, how many of them actually go to office hours? How many of them actually seek out professors? I don't know. The one thing that really bothers me about Rutgers is that so many of the students go home on the weekend. Do they still do that?
KR: The students that I have contact with, they live on campus, but I'm sure there is a decent number of commuters, as there have been historically.
LG: Well, I'm not talking about commuters; that's one thing. I'm talking about people who are in the dorms maybe on Monday, [Tuesday], Wednesday, Thursday and then go back home for the weekends. Maybe that's changed for the better, but it was a problem. That was another thing, you know, the administration sort of collaborated on that because professors didn't want Friday classes, right? These ninety-minute-period classes we had Tuesday-Thursday and Monday-Wednesday, that facilitated all the faculty living away from the university too. Your major was English and you've graduated?
KR: I was a history major.
LG: That's right.
KR: Yes, and I did my Henry Rutgers Thesis with John Chambers.
LG: You did?
KR: Yes, in '02. Chambers was on sabbatical and still took me on as a Henry Rutgers Scholar. I would mail my manuscript to him, and he would mail it back to me. I got second place in the Harold Poor Prize for my thesis.
LG: What did you write on?
KR: I did my thesis on the Marine Corps in World War II and the use of technology in the implementation of amphibious warfare.
LG: My God.
KR: I drew upon oral histories for my thesis.
LG: That's terrific. That's terrific. What are you doing now?
KR: I've been with the Rutgers Oral History Archives for ten years, and now I'm the assistant director.
LG: Well, that's great. You're having fun then while you are working.
KR: I am, yes.
LG: How many children do you have?
KR: I have two children, a seventh grader and a third grader.
LG: You're doing this work from home then.
KR: I am, yes. All Rutgers staff are working from home.
LG: Do you know the woman who is a sports writer? She was a student. I had her all four years. [Editor's Note: Tara Sullivan is a sports columnist for the Boston Globe.]
KR: She is a journalist and she is a sports writer?
KR: Oh, no, I don't know, but I will look her up.
LG: Talk to her about me.
KR: Okay. What sports does she cover?
LG: She covered them all. I'm trying hard to think of her name.
KR: That's okay. I'll look her up, and we can add her name to the transcript later.
LG: You should talk to her.
KR: Yes, okay.
LG: That's it, right?
KR: That's it. Dr. Gardner, thank you so much for meeting with me.
KR: Thank you, Lloyd, for meeting with me and doing this interview.
LG: Congratulations on your family and your job. I'll bet you're proud of your kids, so that's good.
KR: I am, thanks. Good luck this fall teaching your class.
LG: [laughter] Yes, okay, thank you. Here is one of the books I'm using. You've heard of Mata Hari, right? I don't want you to tell me about her, but you know the name Mata Hari? [Editor's Note: Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod, also known by her stage name, Mata Hari, was a Dutch dancer who was convicted of being a German spy by the French government. She was executed by a firing squad on October 15, 1917. Her guilt is debated by historians.]
KR: Yes, yes.
LG: The World War I spy who was executed.
LG: She was probably not a spy. Christian Dior now, even today in 2020, has a Mata Hari Perfume.
KR: All right. Well, thank you so much.
LG: Well, thank you. I enjoyed it immensely.
KR: Okay, great. Have a great rest of the day.
LG: Thank you.
KR: Okay, bye-bye.
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Transcribed by Jesse Braddell 10/19/2020
Reviewed by Isabella Kolic 11/13/2020
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 12/7/2020
Reviewed by Lloyd Gardner 12/15/2020
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 12/22/2020