CGP Community Stories

Albert ("Al") C. Bullard, November 19, 2013

Title

Albert ("Al") C. Bullard, November 19, 2013

Subject

Cooperstown Graduate Program in History Museum Studies
Folklife
Hops
Antiques
Teaching

Description

Albert C. Bullard is a long-time upstate New York resident, who spent 35 years teaching in Cooperstown Central School. Raised just outside Philadelphia, his interest in folklife was piqued by his father's antique business, and it eventually led him to pursue a master's degree in folklife studies and museum management at the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New York. While there, Mr. Bullard met his wife and got married before returning to Pennsylvania to teach. After just a year, the couple returned to Cooperstown, and Mr. Bullard began studying hop growing in upstate New York while also teaching at Cooperstown Central School.

Mr. Bullard's research focuses primarily on the technology involved in cultivating hops. According to him, the history of hop growing in the United States is fairly well understood, but the technology involved in hop cultivation in his region is poorly documented. He is writing a book to fill the gap in knowledge, and is well-known as a local expert on the subject. Much of his collection was loaned to The Farmers' Museum for its When Hops Were King exhibit.

Mr. Bullard's recollections focus on the Cooperstown Graduate Program and his experiences there, as well as his experience with oral history, hops, antiques, and teaching. Some of the most interesting material in the interview concerns his analysis of how history seems to overlook common people, and how the study of folklife can help fill those gaps. His description of the antique market as well as his critiques of the Cooperstown Graduate Program and The Farmers' Museum are also quite interesting.

I interviewed Mr. Bullard at his home in Milford, New York. While I attempted to preserve the colloquialisms and mannerisms of his speech, I have mildly edited this transcript to improve the readability of certain sections. As a result, I strongly encourage researchers to consult the audio recordings.

Creator

Fred Gold

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta

Date

2013-11-19

Rights

New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

Format

Audio/mpeg
Image/jpeg

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

13-06

Coverage

Northeast U.S.
1944-2013
Milford, NY

Online Submission

No

Interviewer

Fred Gold

Interviewee

Albert ("Al") C. Bullard

Location

Milford, NY

Transcription

AB = Albert C. (“Al”) Bullard
FG = Fred H. Gold

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]

FG:
This is the November 19, 2013, interview of Al Bullard by Fred Gold, for the Cooperstown Graduate Program's Community Stories Oral History Project, conducted in his home in Milford, New York.

You attended CGP, is that correct?

AB:
Yes.

FG:
What sparked your interest in folklore?

AB:
Well, I don't know that I had much interest in folklore. I had a lot of interest in folklife. My father was in the antique business in the Philadelphia area—suburban Philadelphia—and we spent a lot of time in Northeastern Pennsylvania and out through the Dutch country all the way to State College, traveling down through Maryland. He had lived on a farm when he was young, and we used to pay attention to the barns, and the fields, and things like that. We became interested in iron and the painted stuff from Pennsylvania. My father had a huge collection of slipware—Pennsylvania slipware. We were interested in that, and those kind of artifacts were...they're artifacts that the people made, so that's how I got interested in those things. I was, oh...well I say 1959 was the beginning, but I probably was doing it before that, and from then on I've always had that kind of interest.

FG:
So you define folklife how?

AB:
Folklife is the everyday common things that the people use, and the way that they lived, and the stories of their life and times. I suppose the folklore—I feel that's songs and stories and that kind of thing—I am interested in that, but not as much; I'm a[n] object [person]. Whether it's a house or a hop house or a piece of stoneware or a handmade tool, that's what I like.

FG:
Tell me about your decision to go to CGP.

AB:
Ha. Well, it's funny you ask that because I was thinking “How did I find out about that?” I guess today you go online or something, huh? I think they sent fliers around. I went to Lebanon Valley College, which is a small college near Hershey, P.A. I think there was a flier that came in and I probably saw it, and really, I didn't know what I was going to do after college. Actually, where I wanted to go was the Winterthur [program] down in University of Delaware. I got to the final cut and then I discovered I had no chance. I told you that the other day. I had applied up here, and so I got this. I also applied to Kent State University, and I had a full graduate assistantship there. I probably would have been there when the massacre was if I'd have went, you know? Those kinds of things you don't know back then, but anyway, I didn't want to go to Kent State. I couldn’t' figure out how to get there easily, so I said “Phooey with that, I'll come up here.” [The Cooperstown Graduate Program] offered me money, too, so [it] sounded like a good idea. I never came up here, though, until I came. We came in the summer, just to look around and get a place to stay, and that was the first time I ever came to Cooperstown. It happened to be the day when Stan Musial was put into the Hall of Fame. Talk about a poor day to pick to come. I mean, we were driving through up here, and suddenly, here's downtown Cooperstown. Mobs of people, you couldn't hardly get through the red light [laughs]. Of course, why did they tell me to come? They weren't in the offices when I got here, and I told them I was coming and everything. So we had to hustle around and I got a place. That's how I got started up here. [laughs]. In a weird way.

FG:
What were your interactions like when you first came up and when you just arrived and started your program?

AB:
Interactions with teachers or interactions with students?

FG:
Teachers, for now.

AB:
Teachers. Well, I liked most of the teachers—I liked all of them pretty good. I liked Buckley. Dr. Buckley. He was a real good fellow. I liked Per Guldbeck 'cause Per was an anthropologist and he was sort of a hands-on guy. We did things, and I liked that aspect of it. I actually won a pen knife in the shooting contest we had that fall. I won first prize: a Barlow knife. There was a fellow named [Frank] Spinney. I forget his first name. He had been up to Sturbridge, I think, and we got along real well because he was very practical and liked antiques and such. They exempted me from the—we had to take a course on—I don't know how to describe it. It was on knowing what periods were of furniture and glassware and china, and they exempted me of it because I'd been studying that stuff since I was in Junior High. I didn't take it, and we got along pretty good. Dr. Jones, he was alright. We didn't interact a lot with him, you know. He was an administrator. He would come in on some projects sometimes. Minor Wine Thomas, he was there. And again, he was an administrator. And the one, the administrator I liked the best was Fred Rath. Fred Rath was a real nice fellow. I actually lived on Pioneer St. next to him, and he would give me a ride sometimes when it was like ten below zero walking from Pioneer Street all the way out up there. Very much appreciated. Then I knew him later too, and he was a good fellow. You know, I got along with them fine. But Dr. Buckley was the one that really got—he had the folklife classes, and those I really liked.

FG:
You talked about a shooting competition, which is very different from any of our assignments today.

AB:
You don't have a shooting competition? Oh my heavens, the curriculum has gone down hill [laughs]. Well, we went over to what is now the office in The Farmers' Museum. That was the Folk Tech room, or what do you call it, and that was where Per Guldbeck worked. I guess he repaired things and did some tinkering with things for the museum and stuff. We went over there and we'd have different classes and we did different things, and it was interesting. It was good stuff. It was practical. You know, I still have a little pot cleaner. We made it out of some kind of wood; we whittled it down and everything, and you were supposed to clean your pots with it. I never used it, but I still have that. I think it's upstairs somewhere. I don't know where it is, but those were the kind of things we did there, and that kind of stuff I liked.

FG:
Was the program very tech-focused? Was it focused on materials?

AB:
Well, it wasn't really, no. I was very disappointed. I wanted more. I always wanted to be really able to know. I wanted to handle stuff and see it, and we didn't do enough of that for me, but what they did was fine. We had people in the program who didn't know anything hardly. And then we had other people who had specialized in certain areas and knew a lot about it. We actually had one boy who came here and was looking for a program on nautical stuff. He quit after the first week, because we don't have too many ships sailing into port by Cooperstown [laughs]. He just made a bad choice. I don't remember his name. I've got a picture of us and I'll show it to you. He was in that I think. Some of the people, like we had Mike Winey, he was a big military [and] Civil War guy, and the other fellow from up Albany way, he was into that a lot, and one guy liked signed brass. He was from Louisiana and he really liked that kind of stuff. You know, everybody had different interests and some people just.... You might have met John Ott, who was head of the graduate association for a long time. Well, John came from Philadelphia and I was from suburban Philadelphia and he just, he didn't know a lot about much of anything, you know, but I'm sure he does now. It was different. See I have a joint degree in folklife studies and museum management, and so there were some courses on museum management, and they were—I don't even remember them. I don't remember learning anything about how to manage a museum, but they had such courses. We had to go and look at—what do they call the lady who accessions the stuff? We had to go to her office, which was in the Fenimore House. We went to three [museums]. We had to go and look at the Baseball Hall of Fame, the museum that was up the river...up the lake on the left. What was that thing called? The Busches built it. It was a Woodland Museum. It had animals, and the neatest thing they had was a wonderful display of 1930s Lionel-type trains. I mean they had nice stuff. Then they had a real little...well, it was some kind of a small train that ran through the woods a little bit. It was very different. Oh, and we also went to the Indian Museum on the foot of Pioneer Street in Cooperstown and had to write up about what we saw. It was called the “Village of Museums” back then, but you know the Indian Museum, the fellow died, and that disappeared. I don't know what happened to the points, the Busches closed their museum [because] after a period of years it didn't work, and the Baseball Hall of Fame, I think that's still there.

FG:
Uh-huh.

AB:
Yeah it is, it's on Main Street down across from the library. Or across from the Post Office, but it was very different back in 1966 [laughs]. I actually liked it. It was sort of weird. I remember doing that when we were in the [program]. I guess we had people come in and talk to us about how museums run. I don't know. It didn't impress me very much, I guess.

FG:
Okay.
AB:
[Laughs] I liked the folklife stuff. That I really liked. I don't know why I had a double major, but I did. Most of the people were in the museum thing. There were a handful who were just the folklife. Most of them were in the museum part, and I was in double for some reason.

FG:
Okay.

AB:
Yeah, they came, and when we first got here they had an interview, and Dr. Jones and them said, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I had no more clue about that than the man in the moon. I gave the best answer I could, which I wasn't even remotely near that in 10 years. But you know, I didn't know. I didn't plan ahead really, like that. Lot of people do, but I didn't, you know. So what else do you need? [Laughs]

FG:
Well, you talked about the folklife program, and there is legend, around CGP currently, that there used to be a project where you had to spend the night out in the woods behind The Farmers' Museum.

AB:
Totally wrong. Never done. Absolute lie. There's no truth to that whatsoever. I was here the third year, and I was here subsequent to that. I've never heard that until you said it right now. So put that down in the category of blatant lie.

FG:
I will.

AB:
No it is. There's no truth to that. We didn't do anything like that. Our folklife projects were...we went out and mapped a square mile and found every man-made project on it. Mine was up in Springfield. We did a hop house project. Everybody had a hop house and they photographed it, did drawings of it, interviewed—I think we had to interview two people that related to hops. I interviewed Young. Mr. Young, whose hop house I happened to do. And Willsey, his last name was Willsey. LaVerne I think? I don't know. I can't remember his first name. He was 91 or 92. It was the best hop interview I ever had in my life, and I didn't know what to ask him, because we didn't know. He was something. He never had done anything but grow hops, and when the hops went out he retired. His family had done that before. He hated cows. He was one of the few men, men, who worked in the hop yards and in the hop houses. They were very hard to find. You could find a lot of women who remember picking, but the men, because it had to be adults, and you figure the hops, by [the] end of World War I, in 1919, they were out. So, you're talking a guy who is pretty old in 1966. And he was. Oh, then we did an individual artifact thing. Everybody put a whole bunch of things on the table. I cheated on this. You weren't supposed to know what they were. Well, I knew what everything on the stinking table was, so I picked a niddy-noddy. Two heads, one body. You know what a niddy-noddy is?

FG:
Mm-hmm.

AB:
Okay well I picked that. I knew all about that thing and that was easy for me to do. These other people were running around, but I did that in about one afternoon.

Another thing we did which was sort of fun, we each took a painting in the museum, and you had to document every object in the painting. Mine was [William Sydney] Mount's Cider Making on Long Island. You had to photograph it, too, [but] I found an easy way to photograph it. I bought a print of it, and put it up in my room on Pioneer Street, and photographed it cause then you didn't have to worry about the lighting, and the reflection of the painting, and all that baloney. Nobody knew the difference, so that worked good too. That was easy. It was easy for me. I looked at the painting a couple months ago, and I said that was sort of ironic, the way I like to make cider [laughs]. I got the Cider Making on Long Island. I enjoyed that. I remember Mike Winey had this one picture of a horse, and it had a soldier on it, and it was Civil War vintage. 1860s, maybe early 1870s. We all presented these in the Hall of Masks, and Dr. Jones came in and [said] “oh yeah, this is wonderful, get this new information.” Somebody had that overmantle, you know, with the funny wagon on it from down on the Hudson, and [he said] “Oh that was a wonderful presentation.” Mike Winey told them all about this [painting], and of course, he knew every stinking button on the Civil War uniform, and he talked all about that. Then he says “but this painting was not done by a man. It was done by a woman.” He explained how the guy was not on the horse right, and oh my God did he get raked over the coals by Dr. Jones and the Grand Poobahs. “Hey, you can't say that! Blah blah blah” [laughs]. That was sort of funny. But Mike, he could take it. He was an older guy. He'd been in the army and was like 24 or 25 or so. I remember that very distinctly for some reason. I was probably behind him or next on the list and was scared what they'd say to me [laugh]. You know, because you're young, and I was always young, you see, I graduated from college when I was 21, which was relatively young, because I started school when I was five. You were impressionable and such.

FG:
Did you get along well with your classmates?

AB:
Some. You don't like everybody and everybody doesn't like you. There were some people there that were very interested in what I was interested in and there were some people who weren't. There were some people who felt they were better than some of the people. There weren't too many people there. I don't think we had but 20 people. They had that place, they call it Fanny Hill or something, that old garage with the place upstairs. Well there was a group that ate up there, and I never was in that group, and they thought they were really quite something, and some of them probably still do. And there was Web Slack from Vermont, I don't know what ever happened to Web, but we had a great time. We'd go to auctions and ride around the country in his little Volkswagen. There was a fellow named John Scherer. He just retired from the State Museum out in Albany. He'd been there forever. John was a good guy. Bill McNeil [William K. McNeil], who was a great—oh my God, he could sing all night and never repeat himself. He was from Arkansas. He actually was given the Buckley Award a couple years ago, and he's dead now, but he was something. He was a real country fellow. He could talk. He had a sound to his voice, and he'd get that old autoharp up here and sing 27 verses of whatever. I don't know what the songs were. He wrote a couple books on ghosts in the South that were quite well known. He made his whole career [a] folklore kind of thing. He wrote [his thesis] on the little booklets where they'd sign, autograph booklets [where] they'd put a little verse [for] kids or girls. He did his thesis on that, which was sort of—I found it interesting. You still see his books once in a while. Sandy's got I think one or two from her family. I got along great with those guys. I mentioned John Ott. I got along with John. There was another fellow who went up to the Peabody Museum, I think, up in Salem. I liked him a lot. There were none of them I didn't like, but my family background was my father worked on the railroad, his father worked on the railroad, I was not from any kind of upper-crust family. My brother, who went in the army and started college the same time I did, we graduated the same day together, one from Pennsylvania Military College down there in Philadelphia, and me from Lebanon Valley up near Hershey, so my parents had to speed run to get to both graduations [laughs]. We weren't that kind of people, and some of these folks were maybe a little bit more pretentious for me. I'll tell you another thing: none of them had anything in common with me. I played football and wrestled in college. I had a scholarship, and there [was] nobody [who] could talk sports. [They'd say] “You're interested in sports? What's wrong with you?” I wasn't a baseball person [but] that sort of separated me a little bit, you know? And then we had a couple older guys, too. Mulligan, Winey, there was a fellow who came from Alaska. He'd been in the Peace Corps in Alaska. He was really...he was an interesting guy. I forget his name. I've never heard about him since then. The only ones I ever kept any contact with were really Mike Winey, and he's dead now. He lived in Cherry Valley, and his wife and my wife taught school together. She wasn't my wife then, but you know they taught school together. That was a bond. We still get a Christmas card from her. There was another fellow, too, from Illinois. He was a real nice guy. I used to get cards from him at Christmas, but I haven't in a long time. Now I don't know...I forget his name. See, I don't keep up with the people. I read the graduate news, and I see names there, but that's all that is, because I'm not in the museum field. Though not all of them stayed in the museum field, either. Some of them went other ways, I'm sure. When McNeill came and got that award, a fellow came here from Albany, and I couldn't even remember he was in the program. I had to go get the picture out to look, and he makes posters and signs and banners for over the roads. [His] family business, he got into that. There was another guy too, [Robert] Schwabach, I think his name was. He was a piece of work. He was like a free spirit. He was in the museums, and [W.] Ross Fullam. I liked Ross Fullam. Now Ross Fullam was an interesting fellow. His family was real wealthy, and he played poor. He lived in squalor, and oh my God, he'd been married and had a kid, and they didn't want the kid to have a name, so they called it Friend, and when it got older they would let it pick its name [laughs]. I guess he was a little bit of the hippie type in the [19]60s. Ross, you know, actually we roomed together when we went up to Sturbridge in New England. I had a good time with him. He's a good guy, you know. He went into some kind of museum work for a while, but I don't know that it lasted. That's interesting. See, I don't think about these people very often [laughs]. You're stimulating brain cells that haven't fired in a while [laugh].

FG:
That's good.

AB:
We basically had a very pleasant time. Nobody really hated each other, but sometimes we did disagree and such on things, just like you would expect. That's just the way it was. That's the way it is in life. I'm sure you don't get along with—well you don't really know the people yet very well. You'll find some maybe you wouldn't walk across the street to say hello to, but you'd wave to them [laugh].

FG:
[Laugh] that's a very apt description.

AB:
Actually the ones I've seen that I haven't seen in a long time, I've spoken to them and been very cordial and friendly. It's interesting. [Laugh] that's the way it is. I'm not one of these people who looks back to the early days and has kept relationships with a lot of people. Some I do, some I don't. That's just the way it is. I'm a quiet kind of person. I'll sit in the back for a long time and absorb before I have anything to say or interact too much, which is my style. It always has been. Now I can say something, because I've absorbed a few years [laughs].

FG:
Did your classmates and you ever get into any mischief while you were here?

AB:
Mischief?

FG:
Yeah.

AB:
Like what?

FG:
Did you ever play pranks on one another?

AB:
No.

FG:
Did you ever play pranks on any of the staff?

AB:
No. They're your teachers and administrators. You don't do that kind of stuff. At least I don't. Maybe somebody else did. I don't remember anything like that at all. Like I say, there was one group there and they might have done something like that, but I wouldn't have known. I just kept myself busy and worked on what I had.

FG:
Now, as part of the folklife program, you did a similar interview to this, is that correct?

AB:
Many. We did several. I don't know how many.

FG:
What were they like?

AB:
What do you mean?

FG:
Were they enjoyable?

AB:
I told you about that big old hunk of Wollensak 500. They had to send one of them down to the Smithsonian. They've probably still got them up there. By the time you got that thing set up, they were usually pretty intimidated. I think it even had a speaker that you had to aim at them. You know, it wasn't like this [laughs]. But you know, you let people's mind flow. See, my thesis [on rural diet], I did a lot of that for. I interviewed people. I kept my questions open-ended, and we got started, and next thing you know, the words were coming out. It was good. I enjoyed doing that, and like I say, I've done it with other people since then. I've even used a TV video camera with it. It's been something I used. That's why they make such a big fuss about it sometimes, and I think basically its just getting a person comfortable and getting them to converse with you. That's what it's all about. You have to show that person that you're interested in what they say. Like I can tell that you don't give a crap about what I'm saying. You're just doing this to get the grade. Right?

FG:
No, not at all actually.

AB:
No, I'm just joshing you. It is interesting to do. I enjoyed doing that. That's the way you learn about the way people lived. Just people. That's the thing that I miss in history, a lot. It's hard to get to. It's hard to get to. Once in a while you get a diary or letters or something like that, but so much of that has gone by. I was very much stunned last Saturday. I was listening to a radio show and they were talking about the death of John F. Kennedy in 1963. I was coming home on the Pennsylvania turnpike. I had fractured and dislocated this arm [indicates left arm] against Muhlenberg [College, from Allentown, Pennsylvania] and I couldn't play and we were going to play

[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]

the Pennsylvania Military Academy on Saturday and it was Friday afternoon. I was coming home, and we heard it about...I think it was about 12:45 on the radio. [There was] a report that shots had been fired in Dallas. That was all it was. It took about two hours to get to my house in Philadelphia, and of course, in the ensuing two hours, it went from shots to the president's been hit, to he's dead. By the time I got home, we knew he was dead, and I was just stunned when listening to the radio, when they said, well, Walter Cronkite's famous for the way he emotionally reported that. But he didn't report it at first to a camera. It was a spoken word. It took twenty minutes for the camera to warm up. I thought “I didn't know that.” I never realized that. My heavens. You know, you talk about the way everyday life has changed. 1963 to 2013? What a change I've seen in my life. I used to be in awe of my grandmother. She was born in 1893 when [Benjamin] Harrison was president, and she died at 96, and I thought “Wow! Look at what she's seen.” She could remember when women first voted, and all that stuff, and I'm thinking, “Well, that was something.” But look at what we've seen. A lot of how that change impacts on people never gets written down, and that was with everything over the years, and that's what I liked about folklife study and stuff. It was a lot of fun to find out about, and I'm still learning. Just yesterday we received a letter and in it was a letterhead of David, Wilbur, and Eddy Hops, Milford, NY, I think it's 1856 or 1858. Never saw that letterhead before. Never saw it before. Probably it's the only one of them that exists. It's over in the library at Gilbertsville. So that was really interesting to me. It's a beautiful image of pickers and the hop yard and everything there. It's a very, very neat kind of thing, and that's the kind of stuff I like. Sort of the everyday simple things.

FG:
Since we're talking about it, what sorts of things have you seen that you would want recorded?

AB:
Well, I worked in the school. I think there's a need to record the educational history of our school up there in Cooperstown. That, to me, is fascinating, because I came there in 1968-69. I taught one year in Carlisle, PA, and then we came up here. I was about the last person hired in a group of teachers that stayed there for 30 years. The group before them was the same way. They were there forever. There was an old principal named Nick Sterling. He went out maybe the third year I was there. [The] very same people were there for 30+ years. I was there for 35 years. I was, again, one of the later leavers. They're pretty well thinned out by the time I left. That's the kind of thing you can talk about. You can talk about transitioning the agriculture around here, how that's changed drastically and is changing. You know, we're seeing some of the smaller kind of crop things come in, but there's been tremendous changes in that. You watch them do haying today [and it's] one person, one machine; you know they couldn't do that, most farmers couldn't do that when I first came up here. They were still making square bales and pitching them up by hand, many of them, and now they make them big round things. I understand what you're saying. I'd have to think about it more, but I'm sure there are other things that I've seen, and one of the things we really need to do is we need to talk to older people about how they used those big dairy barns, which are sitting idle all over the place around here. They have no function anymore. So many of them have gone, and I'm sure there were some techniques and things in using them. I don't know a lot about dairy farming. Something we haven't looked at very extensively around here is the chicken business, which went out in the [19]40s and [19]50s. I can remember the last people who had chickens and egg runs and that kind of thing. That would be an interesting thing. You know, there's stuff like that. Unfortunately, that's what The Farmers' Museum should be doing, instead of having displays of pickup trucks and carousels. In fact, they've only ever had one agricultural exhibit over there, totally devoted to agriculture. You probably know what it was.

FG:
No.

AB:
When Hops Were King. And that should have been followed by something else. They don't have the staff and the drive to do it, but that's what it should be, because it's a farmers' museum, you know? But that's just my opinion. Doesn't count for much. I'm just a poor country boy.

FG:
You talked about a project where you studied hop houses. Is that where you first got into hops?

AB:
The first time I saw hop houses was when we documented a square mile, and I was up in Springfield, and there were many hop houses. There were probably four or five in the square mile I had. It was really interesting. I ran away, because my father and I, we'd look at barns and observe how they were set, and right away I said “You know, [I've] never seen these buildings before.” That tells you something, because I'd been over a lot of Pennsylvania, a lot of Maryland, Delaware, and you would've thought maybe we'd have seen something like this. Never saw them. So I knew right away that this was something that was really different and really special about upstate New York. From there, I went on to look at things and gather and collect and study for all these years. Before I kick the bucket, I've got to get it all together. I've got it all written down. I wrote it in 2003, when I first retired, but I can't figure out how to put the pictures with the words. I'm marginal on a computer, you know. I can do things, but I'm not very good at it. I'll tell you, that is one of the hugest changes I've seen, because we didn't have anything like that. God, when I did my thesis, I had to hire a girl to type it, because I was so terrible. Even then, if you made a mistake, oh boy, you mimeographed them. Did you ever run one of that? You've never run one of that. Junk gets all over you and if you drop something. It's just a mess. Well, I hated that. But I had to hire somebody to type it, because I just couldn't. I wasn't good enough. It would've taken me about fifteen years to type that thing out. [Laughs.] So I got a girl to do it and it worked out all right, but boy, that's such a change. Such a change, you know? I've got two grandkids and they can do so much in fifth grade. You've got to know it, nowadays. You know that. You've probably had a computer in your hands since you were three. [Laughs.] 1990s is when they come in.
FG:
I know you're fairly well-known in this area for your work with hops. Is what you've written down a history of hop farming in this area?

AB:
No, it's a study of the technology in the hop houses. I have a huge collection of tools, of equipment, that goes with hops. Probably 60% of When Hops Were King, the exhibit, came from our collection. I have pictures, I have paper, I have poems, I have all kinds of stuff related to hops I've been gathering and collecting. That's what it's about. I don't make any pretext. The national history of hop growing has been written by Michael Tomlan. It's good, though it's weak in New York State, because he's a professor at Cornell and he wants documents. It's great on the West Coast. He's got all the documents and everything out there [laughs], you know...I'm not being critical of it, but that's just the way it is. It's a good book, nevertheless. That's why, when people get things wrong, all you got to do is open the book. It's statistics. It doesn't take ten seconds of research, and they get so much wrong these days. It just bugs you. But the tools and the technology are what has not been adequately written on. I mean, I've got maybe 11 kinds of pole pullers—devices to pull the poles with—that I've identified and can talk about. You've got different kinds of presses, you've got different kinds of yard setups, you've got where all about the hop house and how it works and where it's built and different types. There were five or six different types of hop houses that we have around here, all the way from the round stone Oast house to those that look like Ohio-style barns with those peaking tops, so they run the gamut. That's the kind of stuff that I like, and I've been into for a long time. I do have some kind of a goal for that. Two years from now will be the 20th Hop Fest in Madison County. [Dot said] you ought to try to get that done for that; that would be a good thing to have for that. I'm hoping to dedicate time this winter to it, and less time to some other frivolities that I get into, like refinishing furniture and that kind of stuff [laughs]. That's another way that I got into this. I like crafts stuff. I'm a very good refinisher of furniture. That's a no-no, but you see, in the 1950s, when I was a young fella, nobody wanted painted furniture in the original finish. I can look at a piece of furniture and tell you when it was redone, just by the finish, because [of] certain things that you can see. I say “Oh yeah, that's a [19]50s/60s job,” and I even know the work of some of the guys around here who did it, so I can even tell that. That's been something I've done. I've done a lot of it. I'm very careful now; I don't do a lot anymore for other people, but I don't take off old finishes that can be saved. I do restoration of finishes, and I don't take paint off anymore. I have stripped beautiful paint off of Pennsylvania pieces, but nobody would buy them painted, and my father was in the antique business, in addition to being on the railroad, and you're in the business to sell stuff. So that's what we did. I started doing that in 1959, so [it's] over 50 years I've done that. I used to do a lot. I did 70, 80 pieces every summer for years when I taught, so I didn't have to work in the summer. I had dealers I would work for. We've got pictures of big trucks pulling up down here and loading up. I even hired. One time I had two guys working for me, but I often had one guy. The BOCES over here has a carpentry program and such, and I got in with them, and they'd recommend a guy to me. He came over, and it went from there. He's still one of the best finish carpenters around, fine staircases, that kind of stuff, and he finishes them better than anybody else. When I see David's finish, I say, “Did David do this?” And they'll say “Oh yeah, he did it” [laughs]. I like that craft kind of stuff. I always have.

FG:
Did you ever get into the family business?

AB:
Well, I refinished for my father up here. He would come up here and buy and leave stuff, and then the next trip he'd pick it up. I did that for a long time, but not really, no. I have always sold, too, on the side. That goes right along with finishing. You can buy stuff from me, and I'd get the job, and that kind of thing. Since I've quite teaching in [20]01 I have two antique shops, and I do shows once in a while. I'm slowing down on shows. That's a lot of work. People don't appreciate how much work it is, and sometimes how little return it is. Though, there is a big thing out here by Oakville in August. It's pretty good. It's a week-long extravaganza. In New York, it's the biggest open. It's like Brimfield in New York. I used to do that, but even that I don't like to do anymore. I don't like that kind of stuff too much. I like the shops. I don't have to be in the shops. I just take the stuff and they sell it for me. [I] rent a space. You talk about something you want to interview people about? The history of the antique business in upstate New York. Nobody's ever done anything with that, that I know of. It has changed drastically, real drastically. I mean there's a guy named Buster Campbell. We talked about Campbell. Well, Buster Campbell was his brother, who had an antique shop there in Hyde Park, where they have that tent rental building? That was an antique shop. The guy started [as a] young man, and he walked around the streets of Oneonta and gave out the cards. You know, he bought Gone with the Wind lamps for five dollars in the [19]30s, and on and on he went. Up on the Mohawk Valley there was two or three towns in the [19]20s and [19]30s, they had five and six antique shops. They just sucked the antiques out of the valley, and I think a lot of them went to New England. A lot of people came from New England and bought stuff. There was a lot out on Route 20, too. Route 20 was the main drag east and west for years, and dealers would come in from the West, and that's where they came. That's an interesting thing. Then, around the end of the 1970s, the individually owned antique shops dry up, and we start to see these combination rentals, and also we start to see antiques stop being antiques [laugh]. You know what I mean. McDonald's glasses, that kind of stuff. I guess that's what you got to do. People want it, but I'm resisting it [laugh].

FG:
Do you specialize in a type of furniture that you refinish?

AB:
I like to do mid-nineteenth century things: country furniture, cherry, maple, mahogany-veneered pieces—pieces today that people just stick their nose up at. But I tell you they're surprised, when you get about a quarter inch of old varnish off of them, what kind of lumber is under there. It's beautiful stuff, and high quality. It was never meant to be covered with black varnish. The first coat of varnish they put on, you could see the wood. Then over the years, you put your polish on, and the dirt gets into it, and you do that for 120 or 130 years, and you have black. I like to do that kind of stuff. I don't like to do anything much—I don't even like to do late-nineteenth century oak. I don't like to do that. I will do it, it's easy to do, but after that I don't like to do anything art deco or that kind of crap. No, thank you. I won't do it. I mean, people call me, and I say, “No, I don't do that anymore.” I just don't want to bother with it anymore. The problem today is that you can't make an hourly rate on refinishing and buying and refinishing and sell stuff. It's very difficult. You got to make thirty bucks an hour, and people don't want to pay that. Some will, but most don't, so as soon as you tell them [they say] “Oh, that's awful!” I say, “What do you pay to have your car fixed? $65 an hour?” I've got all the expenses they've got, probably, and maybe more. What I like is glass. I like tools—handmade tools. I like tools a lot. I like decorated stoneware. You know, the blue stoneware? That kind of stuff [I like] a lot. I like good china, but I don't do as much with china. I don't know why, I just haven't done a lot with nineteenth-century china. Country furniture, that's what I try to do, but if I did that I'd never sell anything if I stuck to that. Really, that stuff has tanked. That's one thing, too, in the antique business, is the way trends have changed, and the way different things have become popular, and prices have changed, and not always up. I love the [Antiques] Roadshow, now; I watch it on Monday night because they have pieces and they say, from 15 years ago, how they have done—up, down, or level. A lot of times, down. It depends. A lot of people don't realize that. But that's all right. So what else you want to know about the graduate program? Academic rigor?

FG:
Was it rigorous?

AB:
No. It was a joke. You don't want to tell them this, but it was the easiest degree I could probably have ever gotten [for] a master's degree. I mean, it was not like work. It was just like this is so common sense and easy. I had no trouble doing it. I worked hard in undergraduate. Our school was a good school, and it was a fairly rigorous small college, but when I came up here I said, “We're going to get graded for going out in the country and looking at buildings? Yeah!” [Laughs] That's my idea of a good thing. It's too bad there weren't a lot of jobs in folklife and that kind of thing, because I think I would have really enjoyed that. I should have probably thought of going on and maybe gotten a doctorate in folklife or something, but I was sick and tired of education when I was done. I mean, I really had just had enough. I said, “I got to go work.” So I did, and got married. That was one of the great successes of my graduate program. I met my wife. I lived here, she lived there [directly next to my house] on Pioneer Street, and my landlady and her landlady were buddies, and they thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread. They got us together. [Laughs] My landlady Mrs. Whalen was a wonderful, wonderful woman. One of the things that impressed me when I first came up here—and some people didn't have this reaction—I found that people up here were just super friendly and outgoing and willing to help you and all of this. I know even some of the people in the graduate program when I was there [said], “Oh my God, these people are terrible, blah blah blah...” You know, I don't know what it was, but that wasn't my feeling, my reaction, at all. I found that to be the opposite, which was nice. It was nice. So then we went away for a year and came back, and been here ever since. She's been here longer than that because this is her family's property here. I think I told you, [it's] from about 1821. There's a great English thrashing barn up there that they must have built shortly after they came here. It's got hewn beams and everything, but they've raised it for cows, like they do with so many of them. The basic barn is in there. I enjoyed my year immensely up here. I had a good time, I got to see a lot of things in New England. I had never been to New England before we made our Spring trip to New England. That to me was great. We went to Mystic, we went to Sturbridge, we went up to Boston. Where did we go? I don't know where we went in Boston. I didn't like that place. It was an art museum, and, gosh, they had a guard in every room who'd watch you [suspiciously] when you walked in. It's like, “What am I going to do, loot and pillage?” [Laughs] I don't remember what that was. We went to a textile mill place, too, somewhere. I think it was Connecticut, but it might have been Massachusetts. It was a real fine trip. I enjoyed that immensely, because I had never been to New England. I was always from Pennsylvania and Maryland. [It's] very, very different when you're used to that, and then suddenly you go to New England. Then, guess what? There's this thing in New York State that's different in between them, too, which I had never realized. I just never did. That was fun. That was a good experience. In the fall, we went to Pennsbury, down in Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia. It was William Penn's recreated mansion. That was a good trip, too. That was nice. That was just a weekend. They had a conference there about things. Oh! You didn't ask me about the parties.

FG:
Were there parties?

AB:
Oh my God, that was unbelievable. Now, I'm a temperance man now, mostly, but back in them days, they were something else. Every weekend there was [a party]. The professors put most of them on. We'd go to different people['s] houses, they'd have these parties; it was really nice. You know, all the food and booze; it was great! Free living. I was always in favor of that [laughs]. That's the other reason why I didn't think I worked too hard. You don't want to put this in your report, because most of them are going to tell you how hard it was, and [say], “Oh, we were pushed, and all of this.” No, we weren't. It was not that. You can go back and look at my transcripts, my grades. I had good grades. I had everything done. Of course, that's the way I worked back then. I would have a paper written two weeks before it was due, and that kind of thing. I always did that in college. I was not an “all-nighter” person. I went to bed at ten o'clock, especially the night before finals and things like that, but I enjoyed it immensely. It has had immense impact on my life, in making me so much aware of my environment and the world around me. Also, it brought me up here. Well, I'm fairly amalgamated to being a New Yorker. I've been here long enough; it's my place now. Though, it took me a long time. I was going to go back to Pennsylvania.

FG:
Why?

AB:
I like Pennsylvania. I like the country in Pennsylvania. I grew up about ten miles outside the city. I did want to go back there. I actually applied for a position there in the Landis Valley Museum, which is their open-air museum. I could've gotten the job, because my father knew a man in the state legislature. [They were] very good friends. My grandmother babysat and took care of their kids. He actually told me, “Well, I'll get you the job, but you've got to take it.” I said, “No, I'm not going to take it that way.” That's one of the things I did not like about the graduate program. When I was in it, they picked you for the job they thought you should get after the program, and they wanted to tell you. I wanted to go back to Pennsylvania. I did probably make a mistake, because they came down here from Albany. The State Museum in Albany wasn't even open then, and they came and they hired everybody who wanted to go. I could've gone to Albany, because I had one, two, three, four people from my class who retired from the State Museum system in Albany. There were two others who worked there part—well, the one guy I guess he worked in Ticonderoga, and then he did go to the State Museum. I could've very easily done that, but at that point, in the spring, I was still thinking about going back to Pennsylvania, so I didn't do it. That might have been a—who knows? You do one thing, you do another thing, it all comes out in the wash. You never know. You never know. That was an interesting thing. They did try to tell you where you would be best fitted. They would hear of job openings, and they wouldn't post them and let people openly compete for them. They would say, “Now, we've got this job, and would you be interested in that? We think you could do good.” And, they'd have little meetings, you know. That's how it would go. That, I didn't like. Another thing [I didn't like], and you can probably feel it in some of the things I've said, I'm not saying it negatively, but there was a very definite feeling that certain people were more important than other people, and I didn't like that. I'm a great believer that you put your credentials down and you weigh people honestly and fairly, and say yay or nay. Either I want you or I don't want you based on what you have, not on who you know or where you went to school, or who somebody worked with once that you know. I don't like that kind [of stuff] and I never have. I don't like it now. It happens; it's continued to happen all over the place all the time. I don't know how it is up there now. I would hope that's long behind them. It was very different when we were there. It was one year, in and out. I will say they helped me get an

[START OF TRACK 3, 0:00]

internship. I worked in the Lane County Historical Society in Lyons, New York. That was part of the requirement. You had to do that. I did. Dr. Jones got that for me, which I thought was wonderful. I had [a] good experience there. We helped set up a little museum there. It was good. [We] did that. I left here in '67, and so it was next summer, '68, that I finished my requirement up and so I got my degree then. That part of it I didn't like. They have made it academically more rigorous, from when I was there. They've expanded it to two years. I don't know when that happened. It must have been in the '70s. I don't know, I don't remember. It's much more professional than it was then. Most of the teachers, like Spinney, he was a museum director before, at Sturbridge. Dr. Buckley was a folklorist, but he was a good teacher. Per Guldbeck was a trained anthropologist, [who] came here from the Southwest. These were not people who were college professors, necessarily. That was not their career. They did come into this, but they didn't have any college professors who could come over here. Well, they did have a guy, Dr. Fink, [who] came from Oneonta State, and he taught local history, but I didn't take that either. Why didn't I take that? I didn't know New York State history. Maybe I did take it. I don't think I did. It was funny because it's supposed to be part of the State University system at Oneonta. [I] only ever went to Oneonta once. They put us all on a bus and took us down there for the grand tour. They said, “Oh yeah, this is wonderful.” I'd never been to Oneonta at that time. That was it! Never went to Oneonta State again. It's all up here, which was fine, but I always thought that was sort of weird. Well, they have to have the affiliation, and they do. It was interesting. It was interesting.

FG:
Did the process of sort of selective job offers ever breed contention?

AB:
I don't know. It didn't with me. I ignored it. They tried to push me somewhere, but I forget where. I sort of had a plan by the time I was done with this, and my plan was that I would go back to Philadelphia and teach, work summers with my father in his antique business, and go that way. Then I met my wife, and that plan didn't quite go that way [laughs]. [It's] probably for the best. Anyway, that was what I wanted to do. That's actually what I did. I didn't do it in Philadelphia. I did it here. I taught, and I worked in the summer on my antiques, and raised my family here and everything. That's all you can do. We had three kids, and that keeps you busy for quite a few years of your life, to say the least. [That's] what life is about, so there's no problem with that. Then, in 1997, my son graduated from Bucknell, and I suddenly said, “Wait a minute. We've got more time. We've got more money. Where'd that come from? Oh, we're not making them big tuition payments twice a year.” I was very lucky. My daughter went to Vassar and got enough money almost to pay the whole scholarship. This was back in the late eighties, when Vassar was 29 or 30 thousand dollars, which was a lot of money then. I don't know what it is now, but that's probably a down payment. She walked away from college with no indebtedness, [and] didn't owe a nickel. My second daughter went to SUNY-Purchase, which is a state school, which was less expensive. She walked away [with] no indebtedness. My son went to Bucknell, which is a very good school down in Pennsylvania. He got a little help. He was a good thrower; he threw the disc and hammer, and he got a little help and he was able to get through college. That was one of my goals. I walked away from college with no indebtedness, and I said “I'm going to try and do that for my kids,” because I can't see starting a life with 40 or 50 thousand dollars in the hole. I think that's pretty hard. So they did. All three of them went to graduate school. Now I didn't pay for that. My son knows what debt is. He went to American University for one year, and transferred to Georgetown, and ended up with 93 thousand dollars of debt from law school. But, his first job? $125,000 the first year. You can pay that off when you're making that. I don't know what he makes now, but they moved him to Singapore, paid his apartment [for] $5500 a month, and everything else. [They] pay all his air and travel. His territory is India, the Pacific Rim, and San Diego, so he travels. His home office is right outside of Washington. He told me he was a little tired of travel, after a year and a half of that. I can see why. All I travel is the little counties around up here. Up and down every little road, and I have a good friend whose done a lot of this with me, a guy named David Petri. We traveled the roads a lot, looking at stuff over the years.

FG:
Do you wish that you had traveled a little more?

AB:
No. I haven't seen it all here. I haven't been up along the St. Lawrence very much. There's other places I haven't been. I mean, we went to Scotland, I guess three summers ago, my wife and I. That was fun. Edinburgh is a fantastic city. Old, with a big castle up here, and the queen's house down here, and this godawful street that goes [indicates a very steep slope with his arm]. [Laughs] It raises up. That is some street. The buildings there were fascinating, because they were like three-story buildings on the street, but then you get down behind them and they're like five and six stories. It was a neat place. It was the first time I'd ever seen anything like the big cathedral there, [this] 1200 or 1300 Gothic cathedral real thing. I enjoyed it immensely. Again, here I am, we're out in the middle of the country, we went out to this...well, a bus trip, and then we had to walk a mile into this old castle. We're sitting there looking, and I'm looking at the houses and I'm looking around, and I look over here, and there's a World War I monument. There's nothing there, [the monument]'s just there. That sort of started me looking, and every place I'm looking. There's so many World War I monuments in Scotland; they must have slaughtered the Scots in World War I. The impact of that war, it seems far greater than World War II on that country. They must have just said, “Anybody in Scotland we can put in them trenches, we're putting them in there.” It was really something. That really got to me over there. I loved to look at the houses, and the enclosed courtyards, and the farms, and things like that. I was doing just what I do here. When we went, we traveled by train mostly, and it was sort of nice. That was fun. I'd go back over to England again. I'd like to go to the hop country in England, down in the southern part below London—Kent is where they grow. I'd like to go there. I might. Who knows? Tell them to give me a grant out of the graduate school. By the way, do you want to know about financing?

FG:
Absolutely.

AB:
Financing was wonderful back then. They gave us scholarships. I think everybody had a scholarship. If anybody paid, they were fools, because they had all kinds of money. They wanted to get this thing going. I don't know what it was like the first two years, but they were still wanting people to come and they were giving you lots of money. They discovered they were going to get more in December, so everybody got called in, and they gave us a little more. That was wonderful! [Laughs] Of course, I told you about Mrs. Whalen. She took me under her wing, and she commenced to feed me dinner. She even washed my clothes, made my bed, everything. This was all for like...I don't know, fifteen or twenty bucks a week. It was really cheap. It was wonderful. Then, if you did it right, they had a coffee break [in the] morning and afternoon, and we all chipped in. Whether you had a class or not, you charged in there and you get a big handful and a coffee, and you wouldn't have to buy any lunch. [Laughs] You might have to make an English muffin or something for breakfast. I didn't eat bagels back then. I never ate a bagel until 1996. Now I have them every day [laughs]. I had a regular routine, you know? It was great. It was fantastic. When I left, I had $600 in the bank, after one year, and a degree. That's a fairly inexpensive degree. I didn't owe any money from college, so I started out fairly solvent. Well, I should say, I had a National Defense Education Act for $500 from college, but since I went and did teaching, and I was in an Appalachian school district in Cooperstown, it was reduced every year with no interest, so when I finally paid it off, it was like $150 or so. I got a good cheap education, but I earned it because I got paid to play football, and I'm still paying the price for that a little bit. I'm sure that's a little different than it is today. A lot different.

FG:
Quite. [Laughs]

AB:
They were throwing money at the program. Well, it was just starting, and they wanted to get people [to] come and everything. That might have been one of the reasons I came. They must have offered me a pretty good financial—well, we didn't call them a financial package back then, but...whatever. I don't really remember too much. The reason I didn't go to Kent State, I know what it was. You had to do a foreign language, and I'm terrible. That was the biggest waste, I had to do. I went to a liberal arts college, and you had to take two years of a language. I took French. Oh man, I was awful. I was not a French student. I wanted to take Latin. I did three years of Latin in high school, and the guy said “Well you don't want to take Latin, you're a history major. You can't do Latin.” Well, that's so wrong. We use Latin for everything, you know? I said “Oh alright, I'll take French” and I took French. [Shudders] The first day the lady—I had this lady, she was a French woman—I don't know they just hired her. She comes over and she starts yabbering at me in French. I just look at her and smile; I didn't know what she was saying. Then finally she says “Monsieur Bullock, would you open the window for me?” I said “Okay.” [Laughs] I tell you, I didn't improve much in two years from that. [Laughs] Oh, that was awful. That was just awful. That pulled my grade point average down. It used to be, back then, to get a master's degree in history, you had to have fluency in a foreign language. I knew I wasn't ever going to be fluent in French. I could go over to France and die and I don't think I'd ever be fluent. That was a big negative there, but that's alright.

FG:
If you were starting again, here in Cooperstown, is there anything you would do differently?

AB:
Oh, I don't know. What would you do differently? I should have probably tried a job in a museum. I should have probably tried that, but it didn't happen. For many years, I kept hoping somebody would call me who knew me, and offer, and say, “Hey we got a job, are you interested?” It never happened. It took me ten years teaching to sort of figure it out, and say, “Well, I guess I'm going to be a teacher.” After that, I just never gave it a thought anymore, which was alright. I had no problem with it. I enjoyed teaching. I had good experience in a school district that. It was probably one of the easiest places in the United States to teach. There were no major problems; the kids were basically pretty good. The staff was very interconnected for many, many years. After I'd been there...oh, by the early eighties, they basically left me alone. They didn't bother me, and I liked that. I got very upset when they put me on a cart. I lost my room, that I'd had for twenty years. I was on a cart, and that really upset me until I did it for a year, and I said [it was] the best thing to ever happen to me. I got to know the other teachers better. I had science teachers who would stay in their room and listen to the history talks. That's the way it was. My thought about teaching is not like a lot of people. A lot of people like to spend a lot of time on how do you teach and that kind of thing. My idea was what you teach. I'm a reader, and I've always been a reader, and I never stopped studying. It always bothered me that some of my colleagues graduated from college, and that was it. They didn't keep studying. I'm still studying. I'm still studying. I get into a period and I read books on it. We never taught wars in New York State region's curriculum. You don't teach about the Civil War or Revolution. You don't teach that stuff. I'm a late bloomer on the Civil War. I've really only gotten into that in the last ten years or so. That's just the way I work. I've always thought I don't know what I would do if I couldn't read anymore. That really bothered me with my grandkids, because I was afraid they wouldn't read, but they took to books like a hog to slops. They love to read. I'm pleased with that. I always...all I ever read was history. My mother started a library in our elementary school, when I was in elementary school. All I read was biographies of famous people and that kind of stuff [during] fourth, fifth, sixth grade. I never stopped reading that kind of stuff. I was tempted once, by flowers and plants. I thought for a while I would have liked to go into ornamental horticulture, greenhouse work, that kind of thing, but my father informed me there was no money in that. [That] was not exactly right, but [it was] a lot of hard work, so I didn't do that. I used to have kids in school, and they had their whole life planned out in high school. I've seen several of them like this. I had no clue. I would have never gone to college if it hadn't been for my high school football coach. He called up the coach up at Lebanon Valley, who had been the captain of one of his undefeated teams back in '48. They set it up, and I went up there. I said “what do we got to do for an application?” He says “You mail it to me and we'll take care of it.” That was that. I went to college. It's funny. You think you've got a lot of experience, but you're only beginning. I thought that way, too, everybody does. You've had other people tell you that, but it's an interesting thing if you make it to...I'm 69 now, just 69, but you certainly look back and you reflect on things, and it's interesting how things go along, and what happens. I guess you're lucky if you get [to] live that long. I've a nice house, I own 25, 30 acres here, and enjoy myself, so what more can you ask for? This did have a big influence on me, and it influenced my teaching immensely. I always tried to bring in the human factor, the way people lived, and that kind of thing. It had a big influence, no question about it.

FG:
That's good.

AB:
Well, I don't know if it's good, bad. It is. [Laughs] I'm very fatalistic, as you can see. Things are as they are, so what are you going to do? You can fight it or you can say “yeah, okay.”

FG:
Okay. Well I would really like to thank you for your time.

AB:
Oh you're welcome. About an hour and twenty five minutes, that ain't bad, I guess. I don't know. It will be interesting to see how my interview meshes in with some of the people that were there when I was there. I've been around people when they [say] “Oh this was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. We did so much, we worked so hard,” and I think I missed something. [Laughs] I had a bit different experience, but the work was fun. I enjoyed it. It's not work if you really, really enjoy it. I've never been the person who said you have to love your job. I always felt [that] you got to eat, you got to pay the bills, so you got to work. If you like it, that's good. Now, I own two antique shops, I'm a pastor at two churches, and I stay very much involved and help a lot of people, and that's good. I enjoy that immensely. Probably about the only time I really was uncomfortable was when I first started to teach. That first year I had a hard time, but a lot of people do.

FG:
What made it so difficult?

AB:
Oh they threw me in. I was teaching eighth grade, and they threw me in with five almost students—many of the students would be in special education today, and they weren't then. Some of them drove to school in eighth grade. I never met people who didn't want to learn, really. It just blew my mind that there were kids there that all they were doing was occupying a seat until they were 16. There were a lot of them in that school. This was in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. [It's an] interesting school district, because it had the War College there, so they had kids from...you know, Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels, really smart people, smart families, motivated kids. They had working-class kids. Then they had what they call the hillbillies. These were people who had moved in. Carlisle was right on the edge of where the Appalachian mountains began. They'd moved into the city there, and those people didn't give a hoot about nothing. They had a significant number of blacks there. It was an interesting combination back then. I was teaching the year that Martin Luther King got shot, and the day he got shot—and to this day I don't know why they did this; I thought it was the stupidest thing, I thought it then and I believe it now—they dismissed all the black students from the school. They were afraid something was going to happen. That was absolutely the wrong thing to do, because parents aren't home, this was [the] middle of the day, and it was really strange. There was only one or two small incidents in Carlisle, though police in Baltimore or Harrisburg, which weren't too far away, had problems. That was not a good year, not a good year at all. Then I came up here and that was much better. [Laughs] The second or third faculty meeting up here, these old ladies are up there [saying] “These kids are awful blah blah...” I started laughing. They didn't know what they were talking about. I had to knock a girl down in Carlisle. She come after me, and I literally had to push her down in a chair. You don't have things like that happen up here. That could have been the end of my teaching if it happened today, because she was a black girl. She was nasty, and she was coming after me, and I put her down in the chair like that and I said, “You sit in that chair and don't get up.” That was that. That's the kind of people they had there. They paddled them. They had a vice principal and his job was to paddle kids. He had this big wooden paddle up there, and I tell you, he walked down the hall, it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. [Laughs] He was a feared man. He was a big dude, too. He'd actually known my high school football coach, and they'd played together at Westchester State. He was a lineman; he was a big man. [Laughs] That has nothing to do with this stuff.

FG:
That's okay.

AB:
It's one of those things you remember. You know, all the years after you get into a job, and it becomes routine, I can't differentiate years. For years and years, 1976, 1982, 1985, I don't know. It was such a routine. I was telling my daughter the other day, I can remember them in high school, because they rode up [with] me and went to high school, but when they were young, we had three kids, and it's very hard to differentiate—for me, maybe most people don't have this problem—I remember things we did, but I can't say we did this in 1974. I don't know. [Laughs] You weren't even here in 1974, were you? When were you born?

FG:
[19]89

AB:
[19]89? My oldest daughter graduated [in 19]87. So you were young in the glorious years of the [19]90s. The [19]90s were good years. You'd get your receipt from your investment and you'd say, “Oh my God, 35% increase? What have I done to deserve that? I don't care.” [Laughs] You don't get that anymore, but you know, financially, it was an interesting [time]. I compare the [19]90s to the [19]20s. In the 1920s, there were new technologies that drove the economy, like the automobile and such, and radio and so forth. The 1990s is where you get the internet and computers coming in. They had that explosion, that internet bubble or computer bubble that burst right at the end of Bill Clinton's years. I think there's a comparison there. The 1920s was one of my favorite decades. I liked that that, and I like Jacksonian America. My son's name is Daniel Andrew Jackson Bullard. I named him after Jackson, and we call him Andy. Jackson, when I was in college, was hailed as one of the great presidents of America. Today, he's vilified and looked down on. It's crazy, you know? You take out of context what he did. That's the thing people don't understand with history. It's always being re-written. They say “Oh, you're changing it!” No, you're not changing it, you're just reinterpreting it. I have [a] friend [who is] afraid to write anything down, because people will take it wrong. Well if you don't write it down, they won't take anything. Don't get old and tight like I am. Then you can't get up.

FG:
Well thank you again.

AB:
You're welcome.

Duration

30:00
30:00
25:58

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps

Files

Citation

Fred Gold, “Albert ("Al") C. Bullard, November 19, 2013,” CGP Community Stories, accessed August 20, 2019, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/154.