Dr. Saul Bachner discusses his educational background and professional experience in this interview. He grew up in the South Bronx and attended New York City public schools. Following his service in the Air Force during World War II, he settled in Detroit. He taught in the public schools there for 20 years. After completing his doctorate at Wayne State, Dr. Bachner moved to Wilmington with his family to begin his career in higher education. Topics discussed include his research and teaching in the fields of teaching literature, particularly African American literature. Dr. Bachner discusses the changing campus from the time of his arrival in 1971until his retirement in 2001. He was active in an athletics oversight committee with Coach Bill Brooks during the early part of his career at UNCW. Dr. Bachner received teaching awards for his work in the Watson School of Education.
Saul Bachner: Okay. Saul- [clears throat] Saul Bachner, professor emeritus, uh.. Watson School of Education.
Riggins: I'd like to start by saying that we've had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Bachner already for our interview series and this was some time ago, before I even got here. It was in 1998 that we interviewed you and the interview was only about half an hour long so I thought there is some more that we can talk to you about. We've interviewed a lot of people from Watson School of Education and I really want to talk you again myself since I didn't have the pleasure to be there in 1998 and to get your perspective on UNCW and your time here. I'd like to start, though, in the same way that you started back in 1998 and that's telling me where you were born and where you grew up.
Saul Bachner: Uh.. Born in New York City February 16th, 1924, and it makes me 82. Uh..
Saul Bachner: Yes.
Riggins: I would not guess that--
Saul Bachner: And uh.. grew up in New York City, product of the New York City Public School system, [clears throat] graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in the north Bronx. I suppose it's- it's an achievement with having John Garfield in the 10th grade. Maybe that's it. Uh.. And Tammy Mauriello was later on a heavyweight uh.. contender for the championship, got knocked out by Joe Louis in about two- [clears throat] uh.. excuse me, two rounds and uh.. actually we were located uh.. about a half-mile from the Bronx Zoological Park.
Riggins: You grew up in that neighborhood
Saul Bachner: Well, no. I didn't grow up in that. I grew up in the South Bronx, the Mott Haven neighborhood. That's the uh.. subject of Kozol's book Amazing Grace. Uh.. Cypress Avenue near the Triborough bridge, that's where I grew up. Uh.. It was- It was a tough neighborhood then and it's probably impossible now. There were a lot of tough kids in that neighborhood. That was it.
Riggins: You're a product of the public schools. What do you remember about your public school?
Saul Bachner: Oh, great. Uh.. Public school uh.. PS 65, uh.. Cypress Avenue and uh.. 141st Street roughly, just a little ways down from the Abraham Lincoln Hospital. Uh.. Clark Junior High School, that's PS 37, a tough school. I remember my first day at that school scared the daylights out of me. Those kids were toughed up kids. Uh.. And then from Clark I went to uh.. Peter Stuyvesant High School, which was kind of wiped out in 9/11, and after Peter Stuyvesant transferred back up to the neighborhood, Morris High School, and then finished up at Theodore Roosevelt, went up there to play ball. I was kind of an athlete in high school and uh.. graduated from Theodore Roosevelt and then went off to World War II. That's basically it.
Riggins: Was Peter Stuyvesant a magnet school?
Saul Bachner: Yes, it was. How'd you know that?
Riggins: I knew people who went there.
Saul Bachner: It was math, science. Yeah. You had to take- You had to take a test to get in there and get recommendations and have grades.
Riggins: I didn't know that it was destroyed in 9/11, though.
Saul Bachner: Heck, yeah. The-- Uh.. The new building I think was wiped out but I'm not sure eh.. uh.. down-- It's-- Sur-- See, the old b-- [clears throat] Excuse me. [clears throat] I went to uh.. the old building, which was on 14th Street roughly. [clears throat] That's where McCourt, the guy who did Angela's Ashes, taught uh.. and then they had a new building which was further down uh.. close to the Twin Towers and that got-- I don't know if it's destroyed or not but it was caught in 9/11, the new building.
Riggins: Not usable-
Saul Bachner: Yeah.
Riggins: -after- That's sad. I've certainly about-- Those are some famous places. You quote these names and authors who come from that area-
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, our- Peter Stuyvesant's illustrious graduate [clears throat] was James Cagney. He went to the high school. He was a poor kid and of course that neighborhood was a- was a poverty neighborhood too if you- uh.. in the immediate area if you went to it uh.. because it was immediate area. I used to travel down there by subway uh.. because uh.. it was a magnet school and it drew on the whole city, uhm.. very accelerated uh.. program and challenging, chemistry in the 10th grade, that kind of thing.
Riggins: The children were probably some of them first-generation Americans?
Saul Bachner: Right. That's what I was.
Riggins: -but not most of the kids.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. That's- You got that right. The whole city was practically at that time.
Riggins: Irish, Italian, Jewish-
Saul Bachner: Right. Right. Irish, Italian, Jewish. That's basically it and Afro American uh.. except Afro American uh.. that was Harlem basically. It wasn't as widespread as the other minorities.
Riggins: It was a tough neighborhood. My father's from east New York, Brooklyn, so the same kind of scene probably
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah.
Riggins: You talked about how it was a tough neighborhood and the teachers were not particularly easy or lenient or-?
Saul Bachner: No. They whacked you. Yeah. Uh.. You got-- You t-- I remember a teacher whacked me across the face, Miss Asman. I can still remember her name, a science teacher in the 9th grade. We were in the auditorium for some program. She come flying over about six seats, "pow." She says, "You got to keep your mouth shut in here." "Yes, Ma'am." That kind of thing.
Riggins: Were you even the one talking?
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I- I sat next to a kid once who was innocent as the day is long. Teacher come flying down the aisle. His name was Worshorski. I can still remember. I don't know what- what had happened. Somebody made a noise, you know, in class and she just whacked him around and I mean eh.. really beat him up and down and he says, "But I didn't do it." And she says, "Well, let that be a lesson to you." [laughs]
Riggins: They didn't need a reason.
Saul Bachner: No. No. No. No. You could- You could slap kids around in those days, no problems, uh..
Riggins: It wasn't an easy time. That's for sure. Coming out of that system, you said you went into World War II. Is that-?
Saul Bachner: World War II was uh.. air force. Uh.. I went different places in the country, got shipped- eventually went overseas, uh.. the China Burma India Theater, landed in Calcutta. Uhm.. The date's 1944 I guess uh.. and then from Calcutta went to China, Chentu, uh.. Hanchung. I was a uh.. air to ground operator. I- I gave planes beams and they came in on those beams and landed, directional. Yeah. That was it. It wasn't-- Eh.. We-- Uh.. We weren't very close to combat areas. We were eh.. air force and we went through a couple of air raids. That was about it.
We were in- in a position where our p- I suppose our- our posture was defensive and sent planes up. We had five or six fighter planes, eh.. well, maybe a little more, and- and maybe five or six B25s. That was our air force at that point. B25 is a small bomber, well, medium. Small would be A20. Uh.. B25, B26, they were the mediums. Then the big ones were the B17s and then later on the B29s. Uh.. We had B25s, basically.
Riggins: What were the conditions there?
Saul Bachner: Oh, they weren't bad. Uh.. We were- We were in barracks uh.. with mosquito netting uh.. but of course they were-- Well, I suppose the big danger at that point back there was uh.. alongside the signal corps was- uh.. uh.. was mosquitos, insects, rats, that kind of thing.
Riggins: The risk of malaria was there?
Saul Bachner: That's-- Uh.. Oh, uh.. we were on Atabrine tablets uh.. and we all walked around with yellow- yellow uh.. cheeks because the Atabrine turned yellow, bitter tasting stuff.
Riggins: How did it work, though? Some people came down with malaria-?
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. Well, they might not have taken their Atabrine or they might have gotten it anyway. I don't know how effective it was. Yeah. We had malaria cases. The worst- The worst thing you were- were concerned about there was any kind of stomach ailments like uh.. amoeba dysentery. That was the thing you didn't want to get because at that time-- I don't know what now, but at that time no cure and you had a stomach problem the rest of your life. That was it. Well, I don't know if anybody came down with it but a lot of us had stomach problems on and off. Uh.. That was- That was part of the physical conditions, I guess. I remember I came home about 30 pounds lighter, from 165 to about 135. Yeah.
Riggins: Where were you when the war ended?
Saul Bachner: Oh. Uh.. Right there. Uh..
Riggins: In the China-
Saul Bachner: China, right. Well, no. We had been shipped back to India by then because it was winding down. I was ch- at Camp Kanchrapara just outside of Calcutta, about this far away from Mahatma Gandhi's ashram. Uh.. My one regret is that I didn't go over there and just see him 'cause he w- you could see him walking by evenings- some evenings, uh.. arms and legs like sticks, that kind of thing. Uh.. Anyway, I was at- in- in India when it ended and then we were awaiting points. You got shipped back on the basis of a point system, points for how many- how much time you spent overseas, uh.. how much time you spent in service. It was just seniority and then uh.. any kind of citations were given points, that kind of thing. We awaited points and we got out of there, uh.. POA and out.
Riggins: How was your trip back?
Saul Bachner: Oh, fine. S- Oh, yeah. Merchant Marine took us back. They took us there and they took us back.
Riggins: Back to which port?
Saul Bachner: Oh, uh.. northwest uh..
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Uh.. Seattle, uh.. Fort Lewis- Fort Lewis, Washington. That's where we went, and then from there to Wisconsin, which was uh.. Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, for-
Riggins: You were discharged?
Saul Bachner: Yeah, eh.. and then-- Well, at the time I was living in Detroit. I got married. I was at South Ridge, eh.. which is around Clemens, Michigan, and in and out of Detroit and came back to Detroit and that's where I went to Wayne State. [clears throat]
Riggins: When you went into the service had you been to college?
Saul Bachner: No. No.
Riggins: It was right out of high school.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Well, my- [clears throat] my plans at that time were to go to C- CCNY, City College of New York. Uh.. [clears throat] It never got to that. The whole bunch of us went down and enlisted. [clears throat] A close friend, [clears throat] Sauly Silvera-
Riggins: You were saying a close friend of yours-?
Saul Bachner: Sauly Silvera- He was cited about six times. Uh.. He went through the whole Asian campaign. We sh-- We-- Every once in a while I call him w- just to see how he- ch- he is doing. He's in the same border I am, the same age. He- He en- enlisted with me to air force, wound up in infantry. They needed infantrymen and they took them. The guy is a terrific guy.
And then there's a third one, Herbie Tildman, who died last March. He owned the Sunset Casino in Las Vegas, managed the Aladdin. This guy was- And was shoulder to shoulder buddies at lunch with Meyer Lansky. He's also a success story. Herbie was a terrific guy. He got out of the navy, was- was pumping gas, and he said, "I'm getting out of here." He said, "Uh.. The money's in the west." He-- Uh.. He started what was called a furniture exchange, which was the first used furniture store in the city of Las Vegas. They have a book called The One Hundred, the one hundred people who founded the city. He's in it. He-- Yeah, very effective, terrific guy.
Riggins: He went out there and he had some foresight 'cause he-
Saul Bachner: Yes, he did- he did. He said, "That's where the money is. I'm going." And he made it and he set up this used furniture store. There's a ca- cab company out there now called Western Cab. That's his. He started with one cab. They- They got 335 now.
Riggins: He was a high school friend?
Saul Bachner: Well, a neighborhood- neighborhood. We grew up together. He-- Uh.. I'm trying to think. A good athlete. He's been dead about three months now. Uh.. Married, four or five kids, lost a son and that's terrible. You lose a kid, there's- that's about as bad as it gets. And three girls and they're all still living. I pulled them up off the internet the other day. Eh.. They were talking about him. He got a citation in the state senate, which I- which I ran off and I got to send it to Sauly, call him this Sunday and tell him this. I'm sure he doesn't know.
There are three of us left from the old neighborhood, uh.. Sauly, me and- and uh.. a guy name of all things Herman Sherman, Babe. We called him Babe after Babe Herman, Babe Sherman. He ran the security system for the New York Coord System. He was in charge of all security. Sauly went into the post office and became manager of one of the stations and Herbie, he's- he's our big success story. Uh..-
Riggins: I guess you ran with the people who had some ambition?
Saul Bachner: Well, we- uh.. we had a ball team. We- We- We banded together, sold raffles and bought jackets, Cypress Arrows, and we would play basketball all over the city uh.. and softball and meet on the corner Friday n- uh.. every night pretty much, on 141st Street and Cypress Avenue. You come on down and you like, you know, schmooz, what Meyer Lansky would call schmoozing.
Riggins: It was a tough neighborhood but if you had your friends you could-?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Those-- We were all friends and every once in a while some kids would come down and look for fights, but we stuck together and that was it. We had one guy who wasn't really part of our group but he had his own group, Sammy Barr B-a-r-r. He was built like a fireplug. We all got in a f- One- One Friday night there they came down looking for trouble. He cleaned up about six guys. You didn't mess with Sammy.
Had a guy in the neighborhood named Sammy Dobser, which it's a long time since I thought of this. He was our- our neighborhood uh.. loony. He'd go on the Triborough Bridge and where the edge was, which was like three feet wide. He'd run along the edge, on top of that edge. W- You fall down, you go into the river or whatever the bridge span or- or just flat down on the way to Reynolds uh.. uhm.. Stadium. W- He'd climb up on the superstructure too. He got our attention. Maybe that's what he wanted. [laughs]
Riggins: Fearless but maybe-?
Saul Bachner: I just wonder if Sammy's still around.
Riggins: It wasn't easy to keep in touch with the few that you do.
Saul Bachner: Other than that- Eh.. Well, just Sauly. That's all. Uh.. Good guy. He's got two kids. One of them is running Alexander's Department Store now, CPA and whatever.
Riggins: How is it that you ended up in Detroit?
Saul Bachner: I got married in- uh.. in Detroit, uh.. have a son who's back up in New York, uh.. works for New Line Cinema. My guess is- Yeah. He's- He's probably busy this week 'cause they're opening Snakes on a Plane and distribution. Snakes on a Plane next week. I'll put a plug in here uh.. and uh.. that's what I do pretty much, go up to New York and visit and-
Riggins: With the family.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Well, retirement is basically reading.
Riggins: You were married in Detroit and you started going to Wayne State on the GI Bill?
Saul Bachner: Right. That's right, under the bill. Uh.. Had some great people up there for teachers, Jake Kounin. Uh.. Withitness is his philo- his theory and he's a disciple of uh.. Kurt Lewin, actually one of the disciples, is one of the nine PhDs turned out by Kurt Lewin, which is tremendous. Jack and maybe four or five other professors, Chester Cable in English, who was just great. It was a good school. It was an interesting school at the time. Uh.. They- They tell me the people I see every once in a while, the professors there, that '46 to '50 was the greatest time to teach in the history of that college. All of that's- And we worked. We came back and we worked.
Riggins: I'll bet that's a sentiment repeated throughout and even here at Wilmington College when it was founded at that time.
Saul Bachner: Oh, I'm sure. Sure. Yeah. Well, uh.. you know, we- we lost four years. We couldn't- couldn't afford to fool around. None of this uh.., not that I'm knocking it, uh.. fraternity business, you know, with whacking kids across their rear end and assuming the angle and all that stuff. That was for kids. I mean, we were all- We grew past that uh.. unfortunately.
Riggins: You grew up and you saw things that you wish you hadn't seen and you were grateful to be alive.
Saul Bachner: That's it. That's right, and back.
Riggins: What did you study there?
Saul Bachner: Wayne State?
Saul Bachner: Well, I started out majoring in psychology and switched over to English 'cause I liked the reading better, and I did both. I t- had a double major and then went on to grad school and uh.. I worked for Kounin. Uh.. He was a professor of psychology in ed psych and he was doing a book on s- on- on some of Kurt Lewin's theories and he asked me- I got a job with him as a student assistant to go out to the schools and get anecdotal uh.. support for some of his ideas.
Went out to Highland Park High School, which was just outside Detroit, and the teacher asked me to get up and talk about something. I forget what it was. And I did and she called me aside afterwards and she said, "You- Are you in teaching?" And I said no. She says, "You ought to be 'cause the kids paid attention." She said, "I think you'd be good at it." Well, at that point I was married. I needed a job. This was the most immediate. I didn't have time to go on for a doctorate, which I'd liked to have done in psychology, but- uh.. so I switched over. I had an English major, got a teaching certificate, and then got a job teaching in Detroit with no problem. Uh.. And I'm trying to think, yeah, where I taught first.
Riggins: You got your teaching and your master's degree also or-?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. I got it all up there, all three up there, same school. You know, we had a Bruce Kinser here. I don't know if he's in the archive. [clears throat] Bruce was at Henry Ford High School as a student when I taught there. Yeah. He graduated in '65. I left there in '71 to come here.
Riggins: He looked you up?
Saul Bachner: Well, no. I didn't know him at the- at the school. I was going to look- Uh.. I didn't know he was gone. I g- I was going to look him up and ask him about the '60s 'cause I ran across something about the '60- Well, c- I'm reading about Anthony Newley now and the '60s and I- I remember about a thousand kids flying down the hall in the '60s just all of them going out- Eh.. They were protesting and I was right in the front, so I just stepped back into an alcove and they flew by me and I was going to ask him if he was one of those kids and he's not here.
Riggins: I remember the name. What department was he in? Do you remember?
Saul Bachner: History. He was a chair before Berkeley, before Kathy Berkeley. Kathy's around here someplace, sweet girl.
Riggins: You taught in high school?
Saul Bachner: Right. I taught junior high first, uh.. east side, Burroughs Junior High, then- then high school. In those days they had a three-year rotation program. You stayed in one place three years and they moved you out so you don't get too crotchety, I guess. And then they sent me from there to Cody, Cody High School on the west side, right next to McKenzie where the football player from Pittsburgh w- was at the time, the- What's his name? The Bus. Can't- The guy that won the Super Bowl last year. I got a block on his name. Bettis, Jerome Bettis. Yeah. He was down at McKenzie.
We were right down the hall- down the road from McKenzie and t- spent six years there and then I got- I was a liberal at the time, political, and I said, "You know, here I am talking liberal. I ought to put my- my philosophy where my mouth is." And I transferred out of Northwestern High School, all black high school, taught there- God, I don't know how long I was at Northwestern but uh.. that's right. I got interested in all the black rioters. I taught a course here in- in uh.. black lit and the resources for teachers and Naomi Madgett was there then. She's now Detroit's poet laureate and a good friend too. Uh.. I've kept in touch with her.
Riggins: She was a student or she was a-?
Saul Bachner: No. A teacher- teacher. Yeah. Yeah, a bright gal and-
Riggins: That's something that we addressed in your other interview- is your interest in the literature of African American writers and how you connected with the students based on those writers. I think that a lot of the writing speaks to young people.
Saul Bachner: Right. That's right.
Riggins: Which authors did you find-?
Saul Bachner: Well, James Baldwin. I'll tell you. Go Tell it on a Mountain- Eh.. That's one long sermon. The- The rhythms are iambic. It's just tremendous. You've got the- the movie here. New Line made a movie of it and I bought it for the course uh.. with money that was given to me for supplies. It's downstairs in the uh.. video collection. Yeah. Yeah. I used it after we'd read the novel, used it in the course. That's a good course. I enjoy that course. Uh.. At- Actually, that's what got me the job here. When I got interviewed they were inte- integrating the system here and Dr. Huguelet, who was- He's probably in your archives.
Riggins: I didn't get to interview.
Saul Bachner: No. No. He died before you-
Riggins: I'd like to hear about him, though.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. He- He interviewed me. He said, "Uh.. You g- You think you could set up a course doing this as our problem?" You know, with integrate- And I said, "Yeah. What I'll do is I'll let the writers tell the story." Said he'd call it The Black Experience. He said, "And that's fine." Well, we had a little trouble getting it- getting it approved at the time because there was like a c- curriculum committee. They thought it belonged in the English department, but we said, "No. The resources is ed." The first three or four weeks we did materials you could use uh.. in your teaching, the ESRA kit, We Are Black, which is just great. They gave me one to use for the course, the company. I wrote for them and I-- It's out at uh.. south uh.. Brunswick County, the old alternative school. I gave it to Charlene Porter, who was teaching out there and was a former student, good teacher, and along with a whole bunch of sports lit information that-
Riggins: Let's finish the '60s here. It sounds like you had a good, long teaching run.
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. I taught in Detroit 21 years. I got uh.. 51 years in of my life, about 62 percent of my life done in teaching. If I'm 82 and 51 and 5/8 is 62 percent. New York City School System gave me my numbers. Everybody who came through the New York Cit- uh.. k- City School System knew their tables, knew fractions, knew mathematics. They taught us that. I'll tell you. If- Uh.. If t- If you- If you were willing to learn they taught you that, you know, not fooling around and that kind of stuff.
Riggins: You taught for a good number of years. Did you go into administration?
Saul Bachner: No. Well, I was department chair. They asked me to- I- They asked me to- to take the principal as the chairman. I didn't want to- I didn't want to leave the classroom. That was the only- As far as I was concerned, that's the only reason for going to work every day is to teach class.
Riggins: What led you to get your doctorate?
Saul Bachner: Uh.. Well, I was getting student teachers and I had ideas about what teachers needed to know and how to qu- in quotes train them. And uh.. Minerva Peters, who was in charge of counseling at uh.. Wayne State, and I- I got to know her through Jake Kounin. They were good friends. She says, "You ought to get a doctorate and work with teachers." I said okay. Yeah, and I- I uh..-
Riggins: Did you do that while you were teaching-
Saul Bachner: Well, I did both, overlap. I would take courses. I remember t- I was teaching at Northwestern at the time, take cour- I'd sit there for the night class right by the window. Northwestern was a- was a disgrace at that time for its lighting. We had those globes that hung down from the ceiling. Had to sit by the window and read. You couldn't see in the damn classroom. Uh.. Anyway, uh.. I would- I would uh.. get my reading done, go to class, just take courses. I got a- finally got a- a teaching assistantship down there which allowed me to take four or five courses at a time. I would take a- a- a four-course load and then teach what they wanted me to teach evenings and I did both.
Riggins: Teach the-
Saul Bachner: Yeah. I got a good jump that way on it. Uh..
Saul Bachner: Oh. What- I know how I fini- I forgot now that ch- you reminded me.
Riggins: It's coming back.
Saul Bachner: I took a uh.. sabbatical one year and finished it up. We had sabbaticals in Detroit. If you had taught seven years, I think it was, you were in line for a sabbatical if they approved it. Then you had to come back for three and apply what you'd learned to the classroom. I did that. Uh.. The sabbatical got me- got me finished. The- The doctorate I had uh.. parceled out into five articles, general reading. My doctorate- My doctorate was sh- teaching reading and literature to the disadvantaged, but I- I should have brought my-- I ran a cl- Last night I was looking for an article by Jake La- about Jake LaMotta from Jimmy Kem sports, and I ran across a list of ERIC's r- r- ERIC- what uh.. was in ERIC, the article that I brought you. I brought in here today and the five articles- the five articles were on it. Uh..-
Riggins: They were all published in ERIC?
Saul Bachner: In general reading, yeah, which-
Riggins: We have a faculty scholarship collection, so I know we do have a lot of your articles-
Saul Bachner: Oh, good.
Riggins: -that we collected.
Saul Bachner: Well, I think they were listed in the- in the archives uh.. when I hit the- Good.
Riggins: When you look up your name and-
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Yeah. That's it. I- I do d- c- I use the computer a lot, uh.. particularly get ball scores and uh.. well, Google, Google a lot of things, yeah, people, that and reading. That's it in retirement.
Riggins: You keep up with people that way.
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah.
Riggins: That's something.
Saul Bachner: That's how I found out where Bruce Kinzer was. I looked him up in the- in the directory I kept, the last one when I was here. No Kinzer, and I couldn't understand it so I looked in the phone book. Still no Kinzer. Well, I punched him into Google. He's at uh.. Kenyon, department head. He's sh- eh.. sh- Uh.. Kenyon's a good school. He must be a smart guy. If you get to Kenyon you're ok- And they were delirious about getting him. They congratulated themselves over- the job search committee did. There's a picture of him there too. It looks just like him.
Riggins: I know the name. I'm not sure when he left here. It must have just been a few
Saul Bachner: I'd say uh.. 2000. Well, he's not in that book that I've got, which is 2000- '99, 2000, and so he's probably- He left around 2000 or '99, a good guy. I li- We used to talk Red Wings and Tigers. If he were here now, we'd be talking about the Tigers 'cause they're having such a good- eh.. good year.
Riggins: He was your student in Detroit.
Saul Bachner: No. He was a student there when I was at that school.
Riggins: He was a student in Detroit?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. Both Detroiters.
Riggins: How did you like Detroit? You stayed for a long time, so-
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah.
Riggins: -even as a New Yorker you
Saul Bachner: Well, I liked it- I liked it. Uh.. We used to go to a ball game, uh.. see the Tigers. Uh.. I liked Wayne State and that's where my son was born. Yeah.
Riggins: You did your doctorate on teaching reading?
Saul Bachner: Teach reading and literature to the disadvantaged, and I remember uh.. Peters was on my committee, that gal, that counselor who advised me. She scared me when we did the interview on uh..- She says, "You know, the things you're saying in here would apply to all students." I said, "Of course." Th- It scared me. I said, "Oh, my God. There goes- There goes the whole thrust." But she didn't say anything else, so I let it go at that. I just- I agreed with her. That's all.
Riggins: Maybe that was-
Saul Bachner: I says, "Good teaching always does," or something like that. Yeah.
Riggins: How did you end up coming to UNCW?
Saul Bachner: Well, uh.. she- I wanted to- After I got the doctorate, I wanted to go to a university and teach and work with teachers and I had a friend, Geneva Smitherman. She's uh.. well known in linguistics, uh.. out of Northwestern High School.
Riggins: How do you spell the last name?
Saul Bachner: S-m-i-t-h-e-r-m-a-n, Smitherman, Geneva. She was at Michigan at the time. She said, "I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll activate my file eh.. with your credentials and we'll see what comes up." Uh.. D- The uh.. acti- What do you c- The- They had a very good uh.. placement center and well, uh.. four or five came in and this one came in and it was everything I wanted, teaching methods and then just taking those same students and supervising them, which we didn't do at Wayne State. Kids take the methods of one teacher and get supervised by another, which I don't think was a good idea. Well, that- that- uh.. that was here and it had everything I wanted in- in- if I was going to teach so I applied here. And then Harold Hulon called me and uh.. he came out to the airport and he interviewed about five of us at the airport in his- his room. Uh.. He came up and did the interviewing up there, see, and
Riggins: You were by yourself though. The other candidates weren't there?
Saul Bachner: No. No. No. Well, I took a-- As a lark I took a- I took a business day from Henry Ford High School where Kinzer was, and then came out and met him and I just figured well, you know, these jobs are hard to get so if I don't get it I don't get it so that's uh.. what was my attitude. You know, I- I was informal with them and everything and when I left I remember saying, "Well, it certainly has been wonderful, [laughs] and nice meeting you." And then uh.. he called back and said, "Well, we're interested in you. If you'd like to come down" I t- I told them at the time- I said, "Look. If you invite me down there, I'll pay my own way. I'm not trying to hold you guys up." Uh.. That's what got me an interview down here, I think. He was saving money on the bu- That's m- That's my take on it. Well, we came down here, my wife and I, and we stayed at the Bridge Tender and so we looked at it as a vacation.
She was teaching at the time, Redford High School, and even that's a story in itself. Uh.. Well, I went out there to see the greasepaint, smell of the crowd, Anthony Newley, fabulous. The guy that had the lead eh.. was- Uh.. I forget what he was, at the- at the Sag Harbor Theater, the Bay Street Theater. That's a famous theater and all and you should read the sponsors. It's like Who's Who, Lauren Bacall, right down the line. Well, my daughter-in-law is a dancer. She was in Tommy up there. Well, we go up there and my son says, "Hey, uh.. Tony something-" I forget his last name. He was- Eh.. He was at Redford when Gwen was there. That's- That's my- That's my wife. Uh.. It's- It's-- Uh.. It's her stepmother now. Uh.. So sure enough, we talked to him about it. He- Uh.. He lit up. He said, "That's the first uh.. big show I did," and he later struck out for Broadway, didn't make it. He married somebody, though, who was great in costumes. She was doing the costumes in- in Tommy.
See? A small world, yeah. Yeah. We went up there and that was end- uh.. end of the s- June, the end of June, uh.. drove out there. It's about a hundred miles out, Sag Harbor, uh.. past the Hamptons, that kind of thing, saw the show and it was just great. I guess when the show was over they're all depressed. Uh.. She was good in it too. Well, she's- she's had some- She did uh.. Flossie on Broadway and on the tour and now next week she's auditioning, I guess, for the tour for Chicago. I'm not crazy about her getting it. It's a six months tour. My son doesn't n- be- need to be home- uh.. home alone six months. He needs to be married. He's- It's- It's okay. She can- Eh.. She just missed out on Pippin by that much and it would have been in Connecticut. That would have been great. And she knows it all- all those Flossie choreographers, Wayne Cilento and the guy that-
Riggins: The thing with that career is it can't last forever and she'll have to find something else.
Saul Bachner: Th- That's right. That's- Well, she does pilates now. She's uh.. in- This gal who has the whole Upper- Upper West Side of Manhattan in pilates, she's- she likes her. She does all the whatever and she keeps busy when she's- when she's not uh..
Riggins: On the road?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. That's right.
Riggins: That's a great story in and of itself. You stayed at the Bridge Tender. That was a hotel then?
Saul Bachner: Yes. Yes.
Riggins: It wasn't a restaurant, or it was-?
Saul Bachner: No. It was a motel, right. Yeah. We stayed there and- Oh. Okay. I'll pick it up. Uh.. Came down here and then I met- The department was Betty Stike, Calvin Doss, Harold Hulon, and Paz Bartolome. That was the department. That was- It wasn't a school. It was just a department. And I met them all and- and Calvin Doss- I guess he said, "This is the guy," or something as I remember it. Calvin-
Riggins: Eleanor Wright wasn't there?
Saul Bachner: No. She was in psychology, had started doing special ed or something.
Riggins: She was at the university then but she-
Saul Bachner: Yeah, but she wasn't- No, she wasn't with us, uh.. came down later though. She was right upstairs. That's that building over here, two stories. I was upstairs in that upstairs office for 15 years, I guess.
Riggins: You were in Kenan Hall, not Kenan
Saul Bachner: King.
Riggins: King, but before King you guys were right next- Kenan Hall or?
Saul Bachner: Probably. I wasn't there then. I was here at King. Eh..
Riggins: When you came?
Saul Bachner: They dedicated it in '72, one year later, right here.
Riggins: You came in the fall of '71?
Saul Bachner: That's right.
Riggins: Where was your office at first? Do you remember?
Saul Bachner: At first downstairs uh.. and the l- last office at the end of the little corridor and then-
Riggins: In the library or-?
Saul Bachner: No. No. Right over there. I forget who- who moved out upstairs and I took the upstairs office looking out- out the window with the little balcony. I was there I'd say 15 years until I retired. That's where I retired from. No. I went up over here for some reason. I forget what that was.
Riggins: In the library.
Saul Bachner: Yeah.
Riggins: It was during your phased retirement probably.
Saul Bachner: That's it. That's it. That's it. Boy, you've got that right. That was it.
Riggins: They started phased retirement around when you retired.
Saul Bachner: We started it.
Riggins: You were one of the first.
Saul Bachner: First, right, exactly.
Riggins: I have a list of the people who participated in that program, but-
Saul Bachner: Well-
Riggins: You came and they liked you and you liked them and
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Riggins: It was a good
Saul Bachner: It was a good deal. That's right, and well, I couldn't understand them at first. I couldn't understand Betty Stike and like I'd tell my wife, "What'd she say?" [laughs] You know, it's a difference in- uh.. intonations. Uh.. Yeah, that was okay. Harold Hulon was- He took charge of everything.
Riggins: He took charge and I think he was very cost conscious 'cause they didn't have money. From what I understand, he was very cost conscious.
Saul Bachner: Right. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. He told me when in my supervision what routes to take so we'd save gas on the mileage. Says, "If you go to Hoggard, you can go this way. If you go here, then" We weren't going out of town in this days, just in town.
Riggins: It was the Department of Education then but you had students right from the start, right?
Saul Bachner: Right. Right.
Riggins: Plenty of students. What did you teach?
Saul Bachner: Well, I taught uh.. methods and I taught the intro course, whatever the introductory course was. I forget. Had that and Jackie Blackmore w- I can still remember a lot of students. Blackmore is now the assistant principal at New Hanover and assistant coach of the Hammerheads. He was our coach here for a while, good. His wife is Becky Blackmore, the uh.. judge. Uh.. She was a student also, good kid, yeah, good person too. She worked with us for student teachers. I would send her history people if I did the history. I did both from time to time uh..
Riggins: You said there were five buildings on campus?
Saul Bachner: Yeah.
Saul Bachner: Nursing, the- that- that big building that faces College Road, that was one, at least as I remember it, King Hall, and I think two or three others and that's it. And the motor pool used to be right back behind you. Yeah. Not over here, right in the middle of the campus, then they moved it.
Riggins: The gym was maybe there, Hanover-
Saul Bachner: Oh, uh.. Hanover Hall, I think. Yeah. We had a little, bitty gym. Uh.. Then they got Trask Coliseum. That came later.
Riggins: What about athletics? Were you involved in coaching while you were a teacher? Did you get-?
Saul Bachner: Well, I coached New Hanover High School. Uh.. Had uh.. special teams with- uh.. when Joe Miller was the f- football coach. Uh.. Jimmy Volker was my kicker and that's the guy I remember best, and Arthur Hayes, who is a policeman now- I see him at the football games. He was our returner basically and I- what I did was I set up uh.. schemes for returning kickoffs, schemes for running punts back, uh.. and schemes for trying to block a kick that basi-- Uh.. We worked on those in practice like 20 minutes- uh.. 20- The kick getting a s- Special teams don't get much time during the week because you're too busy with offense and defense so I asked- I told Joe, "Hey, if you want me to coach I get 20 minutes a day." "Okay." And that was it. Yeah, and that- and that's where I coached.
Riggins: You coached in Detroit also in-
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. I did basketball in Detroit, JV basketball coach uh.. at Cody High School.
Riggins: Here it was football.
Saul Bachner: Football with the- with the special teams in New Hanover, yeah. Well, I played high school ball at Stuyvesant uh.. and Roosev-- No, not Stuyvesant, Roosevelt. Uh.. It was offense then. That's about it.
Riggins: How did you like the town when you came? It's a big change from Detroit.
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. Well, it was fine, you know. Cli-
Riggins: The change in the weather, that's for sure. Quiet.
Saul Bachner: Yeah, I know. The drawback was my son didn't want to leave Detroit. He was uh.. ice skating and playing peewee hockey. He says, "You can't play peewee hockey down there." I said, "That's right. You can't." So we came anyway, yeah. He still skates up there, I guess, once in a while for the fun of it but he played tennis down here at Hoggard so- and he m- had some friends, which helped. One kid he sees regularly yet, Warren Rich. Warren is in Africa as a- Through his church he does uh.. medical work, dental- dentistry. Uh.. Went- He went to Duke. Steve went to ECU. They remain friends. They're still friends. Uh.. So that helped. He lived right down the street, yeah.
Riggins: Did your wife teach here also?
Saul Bachner: Yes, uh.. at New Hanover first- Then she went to Laney as the first department chair and then she finished up at Laney, had Michael Jordan. Uh..
Riggins: She taught Michael Jordan?
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah, senior English. Uh..
Riggins: She was an English teacher?
Saul Bachner: Yes.
Riggins: You were busy here. You taught a lot of methods courses and you taught language arts.
Saul Bachner: Language arts-- Uh.. I- I- I started the 356 course, uh.. Teaching Reading in the Secondary Schools. That's basically my course, or was for a while. Uh.. Started a black lit course and I did a sports literacy course one semester, which was pure pleasure. I ran into a guy the other day at Sam's that I had in that class. I gave him The Curse of the Bambino to read eh.. th- eh.. f- for the baseball literacy section. Never got it back. [laughs]
Riggins: Did you mention it to him when you saw him?
Saul Bachner: I says, "You remember" I just mentioned it too. I said, "Remember I gave you The Curse of the Bambino, Shaughnessy?" "Oh, yeah, I remember that." No- Uh.. No comment. [laughs] "Yeah- Uh.. Yeah, you've still got it." [laughs]
Riggins: That's hilarious.
Saul Bachner: Well, I got another one 'cause I like the book uh.. too. I do a lot of ordering from uh.. half.com. That's an eBay company. I got- got that one for like 75 cents or- plus shipping. Right now I'm waiting on sh- uh.. Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, the DVD. I'm interested right now in Anthony Newley. See, when I r- uh.. retired I figured I'd- I'd read the people I was really interested in, Paul Bowles to begin with, the novelist. Uh.. I'm trying to think is- w- uh.. the hundred best novels. God, I'm getting a block on titles here. Uh..
Riggins: You have an amazing memory for names.
Saul Bachner: Uh.. Let's see. Paul Bowles- Uh.. What the heck was his- Oh. Uh.. Something about the dark- the- uh.. uh.. sky s- It'll co- Sheltering Sky. That's it. They asked him, "What do you mean, the sheltering sky?" He says, "Beyond that sheltering up there is the darkness. Who the hell knows what the darkness is?" He did. Just- Uh.. He's uh.. really the- the granddaddy of the beat writers.
Riggins: Do you remember a student, Wes Cower?
Saul Bachner: No.
Riggins: I ran into him. He graduated, I would say-
Saul Bachner: Wes who?
Riggins: Wes- I think the last name is Cower with a 'C.' He probably graduated
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I remember him. Uh..
Riggins: A lot of students I run into.
Saul Bachner: He's up at- at eh.. Pender County. He was- His father was a coach there. Uh.. He had a name. It wasn't Wes. It was- What the heck was
Riggins: You may be talking about something else.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Yeah. I remember him real well. Yeah. Yeah.
Riggins: He was teaching in Brunswick for a long time. I don't know what he's doing now, but he talked about you and
Saul Bachner: That was in the 1970s, '80s maybe, '80s.
Riggins: He probably graduated in 1990 or
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Yeah. That's about right. Yeah.
Riggins: What was your teaching style that was memorable? Did you get a teaching award? I don't
Saul Bachner: I got uh.. the- the- I'll tell you what it is. It's the board of trustees teaching one. It was the only one on campus.
Riggins: That's the biggest one.
Saul Bachner: That was at the time. Not anymore. Now they've- they've dovetailed it with the thing that Leutze brought in, the Distinguished Professor Teaching, and I got that too. Uh.. The nice thing about that was it kicked up pension because you got an additional raise in your salary and your pension is the average of the top four years so that's what I th- I'm thankful for, for that one. Yeah, that's nice. Uh.. I kept the plaque of the board of trustees. I like that 'cause be- I don't know if you've got Betty Jo Welch in the archives, close friend of mine, sweet woman, just adorable.
Riggins: We have some things to do with her. Unfortunately, I didn't get to interview her.
Saul Bachner: No. No. No. Sh
Riggins: She passed away.
Saul Bachner: Very quickly. She- She was a little short of breath. We used to see each other and have coffee. She always unloaded on me. Uh.. I'd share problems over there, I'll tell you, and- and she said, "You know, I'm short of breath. I think I've got- I may have TB." Well, it turned out it was lung cancer. Never smoked and didn't last very long. I remember just before she died she called me over there. She says, "Hey, uh.. how about you come over and have some coffee?" She was right across the- the campus from us in that- I forget what building. So there's a building over there uh..
Riggins: She was in communications. Right?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. And I- And she was eating a carrot cake chunk that big. At the time carrots were supposed to be an anticancer and I- it looked to me like she wanted to eat her way out of it, sweet woman, uh.. and we gabbed about five or six different things at the time. Yeah.
Riggins: Who also was important to you here? Did you get to know Dr. Wagoner? It seems like people got to know
Saul Bachner: No, not really- not really. I didn't get to know any of those guys. Uh.. I'll tell you who I liked was Marvin Moss. Moss is a good guy, just a sweet guy, uh.. and uh.. Mel McKorin. Mel's a good guy. I had his daughter. I did a- a two-week teaching stint at- at the junior high. At the time we were supposed to do that exchange with that teacher. She teaches your methods class once a week and I t- and I taught her class for two weeks and Mel McKorin's daughter was in there, Nicki.
That was a nice group. Mel McKorin's daughter was in there. Mel Gibson, who was our basketball coach, his son was in there uh.. and uh.. another guy who was over in the central office, Hosier, yeah, well, his- his boy. That kid was good-looking enough to go on a soap. He had two nice kids. I had his older boy, Donald- Donald Hosier, in- in a class. He was a history major, r- uh.. a great kid, I mean huge. He'd s- He'd stand in this doorway. You couldn't see past him. Uh.. Anyway, Donald was just a nice boy, baby face, and the other kid h- uh.. Greg- Greg Hosier, that's the boy, he was just a cute kid. I had him in class and then I saw him later on in seven English classes at New Hanover when I was supervising teachers, sweet boy. I d- I don't know
Riggins: I see you have a good facility with names. I heard a story that you told the college students, you can't forget names.
Saul Bachner: I didn't tell them that. No. You know, I used to tell them the first day I'd remember- I'd memorize all the names, didn't take long, and I'd say, "Uh.. I don't like to feel strangers. Now that I know all your names, I could feel any of you." That's the- That's the opening day gag. [laughs]
Riggins: That must have been it.
Saul Bachner: Yeah, that's it.
Riggins: You say you learn names quickly.
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah.
Riggins: Just from?
Saul Bachner: Well, you know what I do now- Well, I'm a little fearful of- You know, you get up in age. Uh.. A close friend of ours, his daddy just died of Alzheimer's, Linda Farrell, Claude Farrell's wife. You know Claude here from economics? Uh.. I walk every day two miles and on the walk there are certain places where I memorize license plates and then before I get there I call them off to myself as I'm walking. I'm do- Any kind of mental activity I figure may- may keep it going. Yeah.
Riggins: It doesn't sound like you have a problem in that department.
Saul Bachner: Well, hey, you never know. I didn't have a problem with heart. I used to jog all the time, ran in the Masters, and then "bingo," I uh..- I don't know what brought it up but I went for exam and the g- and- and the PA says, "Well, I think you've got a- a murmur." And I said, "I know that." So they gave me a- a thing where they look at it, some kind of scope, and they said there's some blocked arteries in there. Who would have thunk it? Well, uh.. my eating habits are terrible. You know, Jewish diet is not the best diet in the world. It's not heart friendly and I grew up on it. Uh.. Well, I got this guy March here, Howard March, I think it's Howard, uh.. superb uh.. surgeon. He- He did the bypasses and gave me uh.. a new valve, uh.. aortic valve.
Well, I-- That's why I took the phase-out. I was- At the time that was a problem and I- I would have taught 'til 100 if I could have. I teach, well, three- three classes a y- a semester a year. I do sports literacy for the literacy course for Brad Walker or Katie Schlicting, one or the other. They asked me and
Riggins: Lecture? You
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, and- and I go into the public schools and Peggy Shinoski comes back this year. She's on leave. She's the sweetest girl, a former student, history teacher. I do the Great Depression and I do the overview. I come in with one lesson. The kids like it and I said, "Well, uh.. any personal questions I can answer," you know, living through that, uh.. but I do call uh.. what the WPA meant, tell them the novels they ought to read.
Uh.. You want to read a good book? Read King of the Hill, Hotchner's book, just a- They made a movie of it and it didn't- didn't have the impact on me the book did. Uh.. My son used to read that book when he was at ECU. He'd come- He'd come down on a bus and reread it all the time and he got it made into a movie. The movie- He's- Eh.. Lisa Drew gets thank you. He and Lisa Drew are real close at New Line. He gave her the book to read. They told Shallon to get this book made into a- and-
Riggins: What does he do at New Line Cinema?
Saul Bachner: He's in distribution. He calls- He gets- You see, one of the big things for movies is getting screens. The- Uh.. He deals with the exhibitors and uh.. next week- It won't be hard to get screens for Snakes on a Plane 'cause it's already had all its preview uh.. publicity and it's got- it got a cover on Entertainment last week, just a great cover and great story. Uh.. Next week it opens so he'll be busy next week beginning Monday making bookings and speaking to theater owners. He- You got to make deals like hey, you take this for two weeks and I'll give you eh.. Edward Scissorhands, that kind of thing, next week and they h- uh..
Riggins: It's all business.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. He's good at it too.
Riggins: He lived here, of course, when he was growing up, his teenage years.
Saul Bachner: Ninth- Ninth- Ninth grade through high school. Yeah, that's it. Still loves Detroit, though. We're gonna go up there uh.. next month and catch a game with the Tigers hopefully 'cause they're selling out now that they're winning. Be hard to get tickets. He says, "Don't worry about it. I'll get" He went up there. See, New Line had a deal, a memorabilia deal with Mike Ilitch, he had L- Little Caesar's, for the movie Lost in Space and then Ilitch backed out of it uh.. but he went up there to speak to him, went up to see a hockey game, he owns the Red Wings, and met him and talked to him about it and after he backed out of it he made a mistake 'cause uh.. Lost in Space knocked off something that had been first for about 12 weeks and in its first showing it knocked everything off. He called him and he says, "See? You missed the boat." Anyway, he says, "I can get tickets." He'll get me tickets. You know, he will. Well, uh.. just as long as we can buy them, that's all. I don't care about freebies or anything like that.
Riggins: He lives in New York now?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Riggins: And his wife is in entertainment also. She's the dancer?
Saul Bachner: Yeah, that's right- that's right. Yeah, and he likes it up there.
Riggins: In the right city for now?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Oh, yeah. That's right.
Riggins: What do you remember about your student teachers that you taught? How did you help them?
Saul Bachner: Oh, well, Peg- uh.. Peggy Shinoski- She s- She- She said, "You know, if it wasn't for your support I would have never got through it." She was in a very difficult situation. I won't call names or anything. And I told w- d-, I'm just thinking of this case, her- her supervising teacher, "I think we ought to hold this class where it is. It's big enough now." See, they were going to combine it with another only she talked them out of it 'cause there were a lot of b- behavior problems in there. Her husband was sick at the time and she had two kids and-
But what I do is I observe the teaching when I go out and first I get them ready, methods course. The plan was uh.. objectives and procedure, motivation and that kind of thing. They liked the plan, most of them. It's direct teaching. Uhm.. What was his name? Chapman, something like that. I had him for a one-on-one course 'cause he didn't take it. He ju- He to this day raves about the approach. Well, as a- I got them up in the methods and they taught in the methods class and then we'd do uh.. give and take, you might want to try this, you should have asked a question here, that kind of thing. And when I went out there and saw them it was the same, and I encourage them, I nu- nothing negative. Hey, when you say something negative they go right down and that's it.
Riggins: A few years after Dean Harkin must have come-
Saul Bachner: Harkin came like two- a couple years I think after, yeah. We were good friends. Harkin was a reader. We used to talk books all the time. He did a- He got interested in uh.. Jewish immigrants. He went down to the Lower East Side when he'd go to New York and- and just scout around. Uh.. I said, "Roy, it's not the same thing as growing up there. Take my word for it." Uh..
Riggins: Nice to visit but
Saul Bachner: Yeah, that's it. Anyway, he did a novel on that which h.. r- I thought was a good novel. His poetry was good. I've got
Riggins: He wrote a novel about-?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. He- He still has it. Well, I've got uh.. copies of- of his poetry. I think it was Heartland Poetry or something like- Really good. I thought he w- I told him, "Send it to the New Yorker. H- Uh.. You might get published c- 'cause I think it's good stuff." He should have sent them all over. That's what you got to do with that stuff. Yeah, we were good friends.
Riggins: He was a poet and he brought some changes to the department.
Saul Bachner: That's right. He did. Well, we differed on some of the changes, uh.. differed on one- uh.. one or two of the people he brought in and I told him so but I supported him and I told- uh.. I says to Charlie Cahill, who was then the dean, or no, he wasn't dean. He was uh.. provost. I said, "Well, I'll get him through it. He deserves all the support we can give him the first couple years." So whatever he wanted I supported him in it, Cahill and I'll get him through it. Uh.. No- Uh.. That approach, that Gagne approach, I didn't particularly like it. Uh..
Riggins: What approach?
Saul Bachner: G-a-g-n-e, Gagne. Uh.. In fact, I still don't know what the hell it's all about. Uh.. They used that in their 303 course or 3- whatever. That was eh..
Riggins: Was that about learning to be a decision maker?
Saul Bachner: Yeah, that's it. Decision making, that's it. Uh.. That's out now. Teacher as decision maker, I think- Well, I heard- heard them say it at one of the meetings, well, decision maker is out, so who the heck knows?
Riggins: They're on to something else now.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Hey, you teach public school, you don't have to be told that. You know that.
Riggins: You have to be decisive.
Saul Bachner: That's right. You- You are the decider and if you're not you better get out of that classroom. That's- Uh.. You run the classroom. It's your classroom. Here are the rules, here's what we do, and here's tomorrow's assignment, and here's the l- what leads up to it, here's the background, here's what you need to know, here's what you should look for. That's it. You're ins- You do that and you keep them with you.
Riggins: That's the traditional route-
Saul Bachner: Yeah.
Riggins: -but you were in curricular studies then.
Saul Bachner: Right. No. No.
Riggins: Where were you?
Saul Bachner: Specialty studies.
Riggins: At the time specialty studies included secondary ed. Is that right?
Saul Bachner: Right. That's it.
Riggins: You weren't in-?
Saul Bachner: And technology, all those other things.
Riggins: You didn't do curricular-?
Saul Bachner: I might have been in curricular studies at first. I think I was.
Riggins: You were there when the Hayeses came.
Saul Bachner: Yes.
Riggins: They just-
Saul Bachner: That was a mess. I'll tell you why. We had a campuswide committee picking- No problem with Hathia but Andy Hayes was up against another candidate. I still remember the name, Hedgidas from Maryland, for a position called the research professor. The- The committee wanted Hedgidas. Harkin wanted Hayes 'cause he knew him from- I said, "Well." He came to me. He said, "Would you support me?" I said, "Yeah." I said, "But you're going to lose the vote." He said, "I won't let it come to a vote." Fair enough. Did you know Phil Smith who used to be here?
Saul Bachner: Phil's a doll. He chaired that committee, I think. Good friend of mine, real good. We used to talk football all the time. He's a navy man and I was army 'cause I grew up near West Point and that kind of thing. Uh.. He came up to me afterward and boy, he was livid. He says, "Hey, what's going on? We have-" You know, and I says, "Well, speak- speak to Roy. He's the dean. He makes the de- He's the decider." Only I didn't say that then. I said, "He makes the decisions and it's his decision." And that ended it. Uh.. Yeah, that wasn't- Yeah. They came after me. Uh..
Riggins: Because you support-
Saul Bachner: I supported Roy really.
Riggins: Both the Hayeses came.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Yeah. Well, they- The d- d- Everybody wanted Hathia because she was perfect for what we needed, the reading bit. She'd been with the state department, that kind of thing, and I still can't hear a word she says. [laughs] If you've spoken to her, you know what I mean.
Riggins: I interviewed her this year because they both-
Saul Bachner: You turn the volume up.
Riggins: She is soft spoken, but he's a different mold. He's kind of like Dr. Tindall was the dean. Were you there when Dr. Tindall was-?
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I liked Tindall. I thought he did some good things.
Riggins: Who also do you remember from the old days, from the School of Education or elsewhere?
Saul Bachner: Well, let's see. Well, Brad Walker's probably the most substantial. Uh.. Katie Schlichting is adorable. She is the sweet- I don't know if you've met her. The sweetest girl, New Jersey, uh.. taught at Dowling at uh.. State University of New York and came here from there.
[switching to tape number two]
Riggins: All right. We're back, and I want to correct the date. On the first tape, I said it was August 11th, but it's really August 10th, 2006.
Saul Bachner: Yeah, I was gonna tell you that. I think you're a day ahead.
Riggins: I'm a day ahead.
Saul Bachner: Because the 8th was a primary day.
Saul Bachner: That was Tuesday.
Riggins: Today is August 10th, 2006. This is tape two of an interview with Dr. Saul Bachner. My name is Adina Riggins. We're here in the university archives, and we're continuing our conversation about your long time at UNCW. You retired in- I have that written down.
Saul Bachner: 2001.
Saul Bachner: I would say June, probably, 2001.
Riggins: So you went on phase retirement starting-
Saul Bachner: Right, exactly.
Riggins: -starting in 1998 or so?
Saul Bachner: That's it.
Riggins: And you taught like half the year, or is that how it worked?
Saul Bachner: That's right.
Riggins: You taught half the year and then half a year you haven't. How did you like that?
Saul Bachner: That was nice.
Saul Bachner: It was okay.
Riggins: Went by quickly. I know I saw _________. You know Lou Zacko [ph?]?
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah.
Riggins: He said, "That was the quickest three years of my life."
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. [laughs]
Riggins: He said, "I wish phase retirement was longer." Actually, I think the administrators can't do it for longer.
Saul Bachner: Well, I wouldn't- I don't think I'd have liked that as a long-term thing 'cause I like teaching regularly.
Riggins: I see.
Saul Bachner: See?
Saul Bachner: Instead of every other year, every other semester. I would just as soon teach every semester.
Riggins: [laughs] You have the energy.
Saul Bachner: Well, I- yeah. I did then. I still do, I guess. I'm in good shape.
Saul Bachner: Hopefully.
Riggins: Well, I think you certainly would keep a class lively because, like I say, I run into alumni around town, and they hear what I do about doing interviews, and they say, "Have you talked to Dr. Bachner? You gotta talk to Dr. Bachner." So, if anyone thought being an education major was boring, I guess they should've taken your class, right?
Saul Bachner: Well, a lot of people that say it was interesting. Well, it's- hey, I find it interesting, so it's easy to make it interesting. Yeah, it's, you know, it's like talking about a good movie. You wanna see a good movie? And then you go on your, and you take off, and when you get finished, somebody goes to the movie. That's it. I think it's- that's the way you gotta teach.
Riggins: And teaching college must've come at a nice time in your career. You had done a lot of high school teaching.
Saul Bachner: Right. I c- I had junior high, high school, college. I graduated myself.
Saul Bachner: And then graduate school.
Riggins: Oh, you taught in the grad schools?
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Riggins: What did you like about teaching the college students and the graduate students?
Saul Bachner: Oh, uh.. well, the thing that's- that's really good about the university is if you like teaching, you can teach here because you can prepare. Teaching is preparation. You ca- when I taught the black lit course, for instance, I always reread the novel we were on plus an article or two that I could get my hands on that week. It came up once a week. I'd read the book and get a couple of more critical articles. Now, you can't do that in the public schools. Five days a week, five classes a day, I mean, it's- it's packed. University is perfect. Every lesson can be the perfect lesson.
Saul Bachner: Because you're prepared. That's what I liked about it. I never went into class not knowing what I was gonna do next, next, next, and if things got to a point where we needed to pick the class up, 'cause maybe interest seemed to lack, you pop a question at them that you prepared to pop. "What do you think it is?" Or "How about that?" That kind of thing. You can do that at college more so than you could at- in the public schools.
Riggins: Wow, so you were able to maintain high standards.
Saul Bachner: Well, I was able to prepare consistently. And add things. You can always add things.
Riggins: Paz Bartolome. She must've been an interesting colleague.
Saul Bachner: Oh, Paz's a good kid. Yeah, yeah. I used to- you know what she remembers about me? I would tap her on the head and say, "Paz, how come you grow so tall?" She- every time I see her, she says that. [laughs] I'll look at her, I'll say, "Paz, you're growing." [laughs] A sweet little girl.
Riggins: Yeah. Do you still see her around town?
Saul Bachner: Well, no. Just uh.. I run into her from time to time. But she- she called about a month ago and said, "Hey, Saul, I'm giving my last party." She used to give parties. "Okay. We'll go. We'll be there." And we went to the party, and that was the last time I saw her. And it's just, yeah- that was interesting.
Riggins: Does she still travel over to the Philippines?
Saul Bachner: Well, she used to a lot, and I don't know about that. We didn't get to talk to, about that.
Riggins: I interviewed her, but it was quite some time ago when I interviewed her. She has a lot of energy, too. Well, when you teach in a college, there's always a lot of other responsibilities that you have to do such as serving on committees and other service.
Saul Bachner: Well, I was the first uh.. chair of the Sports Committee. It was called the Athletic Council in those days. We were advisory as opposed to oversight, which made it nice 'cause we say, "Look here- here's where things are." You could go to the chancellor or whoever you had to go to, usually the provost. Charlie Cahill and I worked closely together and Bill Brooks, the AD. We worked closely together. If a problem came up, we could talk and say, "I think you oughtta do thus and so." We didn't have to, you know, ram it down anybody's throat. I thought it was nice. Yeah, that and uh..
Riggins: As there are issues, you mean, between a faculty member and a student athlete or something?
Saul Bachner: Well, no, the issues usually were- Uh.. one issue was we seem to have made overtures to an athlete in Florida to come to our school. That's tampering. You can't do that. And I remember Bill Brooks and I talked. I said, "Bill, this looks like tampering to me." He said, "It is, and we gotta get out of it." That kind of thing. Or, the boosters got a little overzealous one year and gave our basketball players extra money to have lunch. See?
And- and sure enough, that popped- that popped up, and- and I think it was Dave Miller I spoke to about uh.. he says, "Well." I forget who the president of the conference, Yeager, I think his name was of the conference, "He's coming down here, and he doesn't think it's- it's very serious." So, we talked it over and- and- and settled it then. It was like an out-of-court settlement, that kind of thing. And- and that kind- that was about the- but the pretty much the only kinds of problems we might've run into.
Riggins: Wow. So, Bill Brooks, I want to get in touch with. Again, my (previous) interview came a long time ago, but I'm trying to get in touch with him to interview him.
Saul Bachner: Brooks?
Saul Bachner: A good guy. He's just a good guy. Yeah. A sweet guy. Good man. Uh.. oh, he married Marsha Weaver. His son married a student of mine, Marsha Brooks, way back when. I don't know if they're married yet or not, but uh.. I wonder what the connection was with when th- when this came up just now. She's a sweet girl.
Riggins: ________. Yeah.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. She went off to Raleigh, and I guess he d- he's an economics ma- I think he got a doctorate in economics, Brooks's kid. Smart boy. Ask him about his son if you interview him.
Saul Bachner: I'd be interested to ________.
Riggins: Sure. Yeah. I'm trying. I'll get a hold of him. He seems very ________.
Saul Bachner: He is.
Riggins: He's a great _________.
Saul Bachner: Southern gentleman in every ounce of the word.
Saul Bachner: Sweet guy.
Riggins: Exactly. And did you work on your writing while you were here, or did you do most of that before you came?
Saul Bachner: Well, no, I- I uh.. I wrote here. All- all the material I published on black writers and black literature and teaching it, that was here because I was teaching here. And uh.. sports, also. Uh.. sports lit. I did articles on that. Uh.. I think one of them was called "Grab and Hold Them - Sports Literature Develops the Readers" or something. Some such thing l- I was an editor for Clearing House, which is a secondary junior high and a s- secondary education uh.. publication. I was one of their uh.. consulting editors. They would send me articles, and I'd read them and uh.. t- "It's a good article, publish it," or "Nah, I don't think this will do much," or that kind of thing. And then sign it, and that was it.
Riggins: So you went through the ranks of promotion and tenure.
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's it. Uh..
Riggins: And I guess Grace Burton must've come some time after that.
Saul Bachner: She came after me. Yeah, Grace did. Good friend. She was okay, Grace. And, I guess cancer claimed her just recently. That's too bad. 'Cause she didn't get a chance to retire very long. Well, she and a- you don't know Ann Lockledge either. Ann Lockledge was a faculty member right next door to me upstairs. Sweet woman. Just as nice as could be. Had a son who lived in Detroit, so we would talk Detroit a lot and that kind of thing. She went up to visit him one week and died in her sleep.
Riggins: After she retired?
Saul Bachner: No. She wasn't retired yet. Just still teaching. That was bad news. Just as nice as could be. Sweet woman. Did the social studies, uh.. secondary and- and elementary, both. Good teacher. 'Course she'd been in the public schools. See that's my- that's my index. If you've taught public schools, you belong here. If you don't, you don't. And I used to tell them that and make a lot of friends that way. [laughs]
Riggins: I doubt very many had taught as long as you.
Saul Bachner: That's just what Ro- Do you know Robert Smith, who's over there now in history? He te- he asked me once, "How long did you teach in the public school?" I said, "Twenty-one years." His eyes got big, and he says, "Hey. You've earned my respect." Just like that. Yeah.
Riggins: Now, if they've taught five years-
Saul Bachner: That's right.
Riggins: -they think that's amazing.
Saul Bachner: Well, my- my- my rule of thumb is if they haven't got at least five years in, they don't belong here. You gotta know the schools. The more the better. Ten is even better, I'd say. 'Course then, you know, you can anticipate responses and problems. I remember Geneva Smitherman coming to me. We're at Northwestern. Uh.. she was just a beginning English teacher. A sweet girl. Uh.. and she was asking about certain things. I said, "Look. Do thus and so, and here's what you'll get, and when you get that, do thus and so." And she came to me afterwards and said, "It was just like you said." Well, that's experience, that's all. That's not insight or anything. In all the years I've taught, that's what happens when those things happen. And you need that. You need that if you go in a class here to tell kids how to teach. That's probably how I helped them at, when you asked me earlier, "How'd you help your student teachers?" Had some great people.
I'll tell you one- I won't call any names. Had one student who had worked the mills. Older woman. Non-traditional student. Sweet woman, just as sweet as could be. Uh.. former fundamentalist, I guess. Uh.. when she took the black lit course, she knew all those Biblical references. Was just great. Well, I sent her out to a supervise, to a partnership teacher I knew was gonna be a problem. But I thought she was older, and she'd handle it. Well, she gave all our kids a hard time.
Well, she quit. And- and- and then she- when I went out to observe her, she wasn't there, and her supervising teacher said, "I think she quit yesterday." I said, "Why didn't you call me?" So, I called her home, and I got her husband, and I said- he said, "I don't know what. My wife has never done anything to that- that person, etc. etc." I said, "Would you tell her to come back, please? I'll- I'll straighten it out." Well, she came back. She said, "I came back to the parking lot to see you. Said, "Why didn't you tell me?" "I sat in the parking lot, and I cried."
Riggins: What had happened?
Saul Bachner: I don't know. They- she said, "I wasn't gonna take that stuff. I took all the stuff all my life at the mills." Well, she was kinda tough on her student teachers, and I guess she didn't agree with something she did and kinda yelled at her or something like that.
Riggins: The classroom teacher.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. And uh.. I said, "I'll tell you what. Do me a favor. Go back. I'll- I'll send you to a situation where things will be fine. You'll get a- a sh- a partnership teacher who will be encouraging." I sent her Linda Farrell. I'll mention her name. Linda's adorable. They don't co- she was just perfect. Uh.. I was thinking of all the student teachers she'd had, and I mentioned one the other day when I went up to her daddy's uh.. memorial service. I said, "You remember David Ka- member Kaps?" She said, "Oh, yeah. David." "David was a good teacher," she said, "but he just tried to get too close to the kids." That kind of- I'll to mention it. Kaps is a- he was a good teacher, so well, if that comes out on this, it's okay. It's positive.
Anyway, I sent her to- to Linda Farrell, and it worked out fine. About a week later, I go out. "How's it going?" And Linda said, "She's a doll." And then she told my wife, she says, "You tell your husband that that student teacher of mine, of his, is- is connecting with those students in- in- in better ways than I ever did." "So, I'm getting jealous," she said, but she could handle it, see. A- and she was just a- she- she taught ten, twelve years up in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Senior, and then she left teaching to go into childcare 'cause she didn't want the- the day-after-day hecticness of it. S- so she-- the last I heard, she was working with four or five kids in a family and getting the same pay. She said, "I'm getting the same pay, and I'm liking it." See?
Riggins: So she works maybe out of her home or something?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, she- she goes to see them, yeah, and takes care of the kids. Either that or she stays with them and takes, I forget, it's four or five kids. That it's a ha- she said they're hands-on. "They're both attorneys. They wanted these kids taken care- I'm perfectly willing to do it. They're paying me the same. And it's a lot easier on me." She was just a nice person.
Riggins: At least she gave ten to twelve years to the profession.
Saul Bachner: That's it. Oh, yeah. She was good. Up there in Jacksonville that I had some of her students, Martha Febis, I'll call her name. She was Martha Johnson when she came to it. Teaching in Southwest Ansdal now. Just adored her. I loved her up there at Jacksonville. So it didn't and- try to think of some other of her students. Yeah, they liked uh.. what's his name. Linwood Paget was the principal at Jacksonville. Terrific guy. And he asked me- called me personally. He says, "You got anybody down there? We need a person in January." It was the middle of the year, and she- she had just finished in the fall. I said, "I'll send you up a non-traditional student." He says, "That's okay. I like them."
Well, she went up to interview with him, and he hired her like that. And she started in January, so I was tickled. She didn't lose a n- a minute. See sh- by pushing it back, she got a job as soon as she got finished. Hey, getting a job is a- is an achievement right there. And she taught at Jacksonville, and they liked her for the all time she was there. And she was great with disadvantaged kids 'cause she's right out of the poverty in- in the mills. You know, those cotton mills and all that stuff. Yeah.
Riggins: Did you have a number of students who had been in the military?
Saul Bachner: Well, I had Bartlett, who's assistant principal at uh.. Ashley now. Stephanie Bartlett. One of our all-time great students. She made USA Today, 75 top students or something. That was a little feather in our cap. She- she did her student teaching in uh.. at uh.. in Lejeune and great. She was just great. Boy, she had a supervising teacher that she completely differed with. The - ha - but they liked each other, so it was okay. She's open. The supervising teacher was like me, structured, see. But they got along fine, and she did a great job in that. She's a sweet woman. She's in charge of curriculum at Ashley.
Riggins: Assistant Principal.
Saul Bachner: Or Associate, I guess. Associate. Yeah. Second in command. Just a doll, that girl. Sweet- two- raised two boys. Lost her husband. He was 27 years old. Died of leukemia. Bad news. And brought up two boys, two sweet boys. She's a good kid. And a real women's libber. We used to- we [laughs] she says, "You know, that's us. We don't have a sense of humor." We'd always have a joke going. She was just tremendous in class. She and- do you know Wetherill?
Saul Bachner: Karen Wetherill. Her son-in-law, Shawn Drummy [ph?] is one of the all-time best students that we ever had come through here.
Riggins: I did not know that.
Saul Bachner: He ca-- he went on teaching, and he- he didn't want the- the hectic pace of it. I mean, he had kids with discipline problems, you gotta handle them. Shut up. That's it.
Riggins: That's how you handle them.
Saul Bachner: Yeah, well, he uh.. so he left. Uh.. Patti Tyndall was the department head at the time, and she liked him. She, in fact, got him hired after the interview 'cause he- he's so smart. He was sharp. I ga- I used to give him books. I ga- he'd a he- I gave him two books I remember. One is The Final Cut, Stephen Bach's book about the demise of United Artists. Great book. And uh.. Dunkirk [ph?] but Leslie Gail [ph?], the uh.. editor at- at- one of the editors at New York Times. Really good book on history. He could've been a history teacher or an English teacher. He knew both. I gave him Paul Balls [ph?] to read, and he got offended. He says, "I'm a good Catholic." Well, hey, these stories are way out. Uh.. these are beats. He's ahead of his time. Uh..
Riggins: Did he teach for a little while, you said?
Saul Bachner: Huh?
Riggins: Did he teach for awhile?
Saul Bachner: Yes. He taught a year and gave it up. At Hanover [ph?]
Riggins: And Patti Tyndall taught in that.
Saul Bachner: She was the Chair at the time. English department head, yeah. Do you know Patti?
Riggins: No. She's married to.
Saul Bachner: Bob Tyndall. That's his wife, right. Yeah, I- I exchange e- e-mails with her regularly about the Braves. She's a big baseball fan. And uh.. and everything else, I guess. She's a sweet woman, too. Uh.. anyway uh.. she said, "He was a breath of fresh air." She says, "I'm gonna hire him." I said, "_________." I think he's- he would've been a good teacher. His student teaching was good. Everything was good uh.. but he didn't want to take the.
Riggins: What's the answer to that _________? What have you observed about the problem of teacher retention? I hear about that a lot.
Saul Bachner: Well, you gotta-- I think the answer to that is uh.. support from day one. When I taught in the inner city at Spain [ph?] Junior High School, I was the department chair, uh.. my job was to see that the new teachers were taken care of. I switched classes with one new teacher. She had a- a group that I thought was too difficult for a beginning teacher. So I gave her my class which was a- like an advanced class. Same hour, and I took them. I figured that was my job. If I'm the department chair, I oughtta be the best teacher. That's the way I felt. Well, you gotta not necessary do things like that, but you gotta help them the first year. Give them a teacher that they can lean on. Maybe a-- I don't know what you call that business where you pair people up, and one helps the-- a mentor. Give them a mentor to help them, plus-- well, I- I'll.
Riggins: Not everyone can be a mentor. You have to pick the right.
Saul Bachner: That's right. You get good people. Good teachers. Adeline Klimek [ph?] came through here at uh.. and I had her in high school. A sweet girl. Uh.. taught with Helen Younger [ph?] who was about as nice as anybody who's ever taught in this system. And things were perfect. She got a job at North Brunswick High School. Came back to me, she says, "Doctor Bachner, what you did to us was not right." I said, "What do you mean?" She says, "I had that teaching situation in the Hanover High School. It was perfect. I go to North Brunswick, I ran into things I had never seen before." Difficult kids. Kids who had trouble reading. That kind of. After that, I changed the student teaching assignment. They had to have one group that was non-college prep. See, they had them tracked at the time in Hanover. I said I want to get a little group as well as whatever else you got. And we wouldn't pick credit teachers or partnership teachers who had good- all good classes. See. Patty Tindle switched and took a- took a less than able group of kids so she could get a student teacher. Yeah. She thought it was a good idea. I did, too. You gotta have a tough group. I remember my student teaching in Detroit, I had a guy, Rolland Welch [ph?] was my partnership teacher. Just a great guy. He was like six feet five and weighed about eight pounds. I mean, he was tall and thin. And he'd glide around in front of the room. And he ca- came to me, and he says, "You got- you got that third hour class. It's a very tough group. They ran a student teacher outta here last year. And look out for Earnest Littlechick [ph?]." I can still remember Earnest Littlechick. What a sweet boy. Uh.. and I looked when I taught the class, "What's he talking about?" I was doing variation work in inner city in Detroit at the time. That meant uh.. I opened the gym at night, and all these kids came in, whoever came in. And we had some very, very, very tough kids. I had one.
Riggins: You would open the gym.
Saul Bachner: I would open the gym, and I'd run it.
Riggins: For recreation.
Saul Bachner: Yeah, recreation. In the afternoon, we'd play line games with the uh.. younger kids. Even if it was all basketball. I would ref the big games. Ke- keep them under control. See. Uh.. I remember once I went out to Dearborn. I'm getting off on a tangent here, to uh.. to rescue a guy who couldn't control the playground. I did that part time. I needed the money. Uh.. I got out there, and they didn't look like tough kids to me. And I played ball. I was a good ball player. And I remember, I got- I batted switch. Right side, left side. I hit one over the fence batting righty. Hit one over the fence batting lefty. I said, "Okay, you guys. Here's what we're gonna do." I earned their respect 'cause I could do it, and I think it's the same in the public schools. You earn respect by being in charge. And even if you- (clears throat) you don't think you can be in charge, you gotta act like it. That's all. So they think you know what you're doing. Firmness and fairness. That kind of thing.
Riggins: Firmness and fairness.
Saul Bachner: That- that part of it. And, you know, the other thing about retention is at Kershen [ph?], it's a very, very, very tough job. Five days a week, day after day, five classes. You're tired at the end of the day. When I first started teaching, I'd go home exhausted. One of the teachers told me, and she says, "You know, Bachner, you can't- you better learn to pace yourself." When I was a student teacher. "You can't do that five times a day, day after day, and teach school." Well, she was right. So, what I did, I did as much of it as I could. I'd go home worn out. The heck with it, and that was the end of it. But that- that's the problem with retention. Uh.. it's a hard job, one. Two, I think you gotta like your subject, and you gotta like the kids. You gotta like teaching it. I'll- I always liked teaching. It was enjoyable to me. College, it's more so. You always get, you know, you get-- if you make it interesting, you always got a good response. Public school, your first step is controlling the class. Taking charge. "Hey, cut that out. We're not gonna have that, and here are the rules. One, two three." I had three rules. One person talks at a time. I'm talking, you're not. You're talking, I'm not. What the heck else is it? I had two other rules. Oh, the bell rings, we start the class. I made _____________ my first rule. No talking. Once that bell rings, you're ready to go. Get your books out or whatever, that kind. Then one person talks at a time. Then there was a third rule. I forget what it was. But, that was it, and I enforced them. That's the hard part.
Riggins: Keep it simple.
Saul Bachner: But, yeah, hey. Hey.
Riggins: Hey, you're breaking the rule?
Saul Bachner: Cut that out, yeah. One person at a-- hold it. Okay. And that did it. Uh..
Riggins: Keep it simple and--
Saul Bachner: Yeah.
Riggins: Fair and yeah. That's true. Otherwise, it's mayhem.
Saul Bachner: You gotta, I tell you, you ge-- that's uh.. that's step one. Uh.. I- I had uh.. fifteen years in inner city, and uh.. seven or eight or six or seven, whatever's left, at it. I taught at one high school, Mumford [ph?] High School in Detroit. Had to be the best high school in the world, at the time, for academics. It was in a, well, it was in an all-Jewish neighborhood. That's what it was the-- these kids were book-conscious. You go- you go the- go to the lunchroom, and these kids will all have paperbacks in their back pocket, and they're all talking books and slide rules and that kind of thing. Well, you gotta go in there prepared. I- If you knew your field, you earned respect. That's how you earn respect. That-- so, if that's the situation, you go in there knowing your stuff. You don't know your stuff, you don't have to worry about control or anything. It was a pleasure teaching there. Those kids, they would argue back and forth with each other. I'd let them argue. Those arguments were just great. I remember we did Of Human Bondage, and they differed over Phillip's behavior. And they argued-- two kids back at the back of the room argued back and forth. One of them was Norm Levin [ph?]. He was a All-American-- well, he was a football player at Michigan State later on. Just a good kid. Smart as a whip. And he argued with another kid whose name I can't remember. Sat in the back of the room. Had a short haircut, and he was just as smart as- as- as Levin was. And they would argue back and forth and call each other names. They were nice na- Okay, Mr. Smart Guy, or something like that. And just as cute as could be. But they were both sharp, and they both respected academics. That kind of thing.
Riggins: So, you can have fun at...
Saul Bachner: Yeah, oh yeah.
Riggins: ...that course.
Saul Bachner: That was it.
Riggins: But get the work done.
Saul Bachner: In another, in a d- more difficult neighborhood, you gotta be physical. Not, I mean, you gotta step one, "Hey. These are the rules. That's it." Now that- at that school, I didn't need those rules.
Riggins: It was different.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it wa-
Riggins: What about teaching English at a time when students were reading less and less. You know, you had television being bigger than ever. Did that make an impact ____________?
Saul Bachner: No, I think-- Yeah, well, attention spans have come up from being shorter. I think that's probably true, but I think what you gotta do is you gotta compete with television or make it interesting. Hey, uh..
Riggins: And now, of course, you have to compete with computers, as well.
Saul Bachner: That's right. Well, you still have to read a- read a computer, so it's okay.
Riggins: Except for games. Computer games.
Saul Bachner: Yeah, that's it. The games. Okay. Uh.. but I'm talking in terms of lit. I can't imagine anything more interesting than s- for instance, Willa Cather, the s- The Sculptor's Funeral. Great story. And I'm thinking the things that I taught in the American Lit text. Or uh.. Most Dangerous Game which is the classic almost cliché. Uh.. you know, the business of General Zaroff. The game is- is- is- is uh.. the two compete, and whoever wins the game, Zaroff and I forget the guy's name who- who looks at the- of the boat, falls into the water. Zaroff's a hunter, and he's got bored by hunting animals because they're predictable. So, he hunts this guy. And, in the end, the guy wins. He says, "Okay, the game's over, and I've won." Which means he's gonna kill Zaroff, at that point. But all the ways you get to the end, the different traps and so on, well, I would say, "Look. Hey. One guy's hunting another in here." That w- would get a lot of people interested. And I'd say, "Here's what you gotta look for" and "Tell me what to look for in the next day." "Look for the first trap and see how," what the hell was his name, Zaroff's it'll come to me. I think it had a Z, well, whatever, uh.. "see how uh.. he anticipates it, and see what happens afterward." And I would take them through it like that. Uh.. tomorrow when we come in, maybe a little quiz. Easy, very easy quiz. One, what was the first trap? I would give them the quiz when I told the-- two, uh.. how did he get away from the Malaya [ph?] Man Catcher, which is a hole in the ground? Said, "It's easy if you read the story." And they- they liked the quizzes 'cause they could all get A's. They were easy quizzes. That's how I kept them involved.
Riggins: So, yes, if you're excited about the work of a _________.
Saul Bachner: Well, you gotta make it interesting. That's it. I thought I did in a lot of cases. Maybe not in others. Had a big voice, too, you know.
Riggins: I think that helps.
Saul Bachner: That helped. Yeah, I think it helped.
Riggins: With the voice.
Saul Bachner: That's what-- I've got a student, Karen Sue Powell [ph?] who was in Katie Slipting's [ph?] class when I spoke the Sports Lit. She said I had her thirty years ago. Said she took me for every course I had. I didn't remember that. Uh.. and she said, "I just sat back there and closed my eyes when you were tea-- It was like thirty years had gone by." And I thought it was just great, yeah. Wrote me an e-mail telling me that. Sweet girl.
Riggins: Wow. She had your class as a college student.
Saul Bachner: Yeah, she's re- re. What she did was she taught thirty years as a elementary school teacher, and now she wants to come back and do K's- pre-K. Do the preschool teaching. So, she's getting the master's from-- do you know Hengameh Kermani?
Saul Bachner: Hengameh's adorable. Sweet little girl. That's her advisor. Uh.. anyway, she has Hengameh and uh.. loves her to pieces.
Riggins: So, you came in in lectures _____________.
Saul Bachner: I uh.. did. Yeah, I do that- that Sports Literacy. She happened to be in it. Katie told me, she says, "There's a gal in here that had you uh.. about thirty years ago." She remembered me 'cause- because I called her Karen Sue. She says, "He- I always got a charge out of the two names _____________. Mary Lou. Karen Sue." So, I-- Karen, I used to call her Karen. "What do you think of that, Karen Sue?"
Riggins: Also, Betty Stike, I'm going to be interviewing her in a couple days. It actually towards the end of the month. She's another southerner, right?
Saul Bachner: I couldn't understand her. Don't tell her that though.
Saul Bachner: I couldn't understand what she was saying.
Riggins: But after awhile, I guess you could.
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah- yeah- yeah. Get- get used to the rhythms. Didn't help that I didn't hear that well.
Riggins: Well, I think we've covered quite a bit. What else do you remember or any other thoughts? I wanted to ask you, before I ask you what other thoughts you had, about your time in retirement. What do you spend your time doing?
Saul Bachner: Well, basically, I stay up late and read. That's- that's a pleasure. Uh.. right now, I'm reading uh.. Garth Bardsley's book, Anthony Newley. And- and usually, I get that interested, so I order some kind of video, like I'm gonna get uh.. Stop the World - I Want to Get Off and see what the songs were. The songs were pure poetry. Just tremendous. Uh.. before that, I finished the Howard Hughes book by Broeske and Brown. Unbelievable what some guys do with their lives. That guy had four lives. Uh.. read at night and walk after lunch. Well, I grab a cup of coffee around four o'clock at I-Hop. Big on the coffee or- or French Toast and ___________ lunch. Now, when I go home, I hear from this. The wife and I will go out to I-Hop, and we'll grab our coffee. Then when I get finished with that, I go home, and I do my walking about six o'clock when the sun's down some. Uh..
Riggins: You walk two miles.
Saul Bachner: Two miles. Well, I walk from my house up, down to the end of the block, up to the college road, up to "Somethin' Fishy" and then back down again to the f- to the corner of the left of my house and back down. I measured that. It's two miles. Yeah, I gotta- I gotta do the two. And I memorize license plates on the way. Uhm.. SVE1845. It's a Scion up at the corner, and next to it is the Yukon which is, the Yukon is PRP7984. I'm doing this.
Riggins: They park at the same.
Saul Bachner: They park right in front of the- their- their garage. On- on the- on the drive. Then it's JPO9772. That's the Jeep. TSX1504. That's the- that's the Ford 150. Four cars there.
Saul Bachner: Well.
Riggins: Maybe they don't even know their license plate numbers.
Saul Bachner: That's probably right 'cause down at the other corner, there's a- there's a Volkswagen. I'm talking to the guy one day on the corner. Some Vanderbilt. He's a lawyer here. But we were talking football. I knew Vanderbilt football 'cause I read all the sports pages. We're talking about the new coach and- and uh.. the old coach, deNardi, that went someplace else. Said, "Well, we got a new one now. He's gonna be great." And then I- I turned at the Volkswagen. It had- it was parked with the nose, the motor front ways so the license plate was in the back. And I said, "You know, I memorized your license plate." He says, "Why'd you do that?" And I told him about Alzheimer's. It's an old fear. He said that he was telling me what they're doing now with the research on it. I says, "That's license plate's VPC1347." He says, "Wait a minute." He didn't know it himself. He went around it and said- he said, "Hey, what are you with the police?"
Saul Bachner: Anyway, and then I go up to the Hampton [ph?], which is an apartment complex up further is, on the walk. I got four of them up there memorized, too. One guy switched cars on me.
Saul Bachner: He uh.. he w- uh.. GRB105 used to be on a yellow uh.. Corvette. Nice car. I liked it. Then, next time I look, I don't see the Corvette anymore, and I see GRB105. It's on a red Cadillac. He traded it in on a Cadillac.
Riggins: And he kept his license plate.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Kept the plate. Well, yeah. That's what I would do. That's what I did with my car.
Riggins: Save some money that way.
Saul Bachner: Yeah.
Riggins: Well, this was great. It was great to finally meet you and talk to you because I've, of course, heard of your name through the interviews.
Saul Bachner: Let me, if you still-- let me call out some students that I remember.
Saul Bachner: I call out Shawn Drummy [ph?]. Fulla Royal [ph?], he writes the education column for the Columbus News Reporter News. They got a Pulitzer Prize here one year for a series they did on uh.. on the Klan. He's a good guy. He did a column on me. He immortalized me. It's a great column. And he- he thanked me because he got more comments on that column. One of your librarians downstairs brought it to me. She's retired now, too.
Riggins: Louise probably.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. No, no-- Is Louise who?
Riggins: Louise Jackson. Do you remember Louise Jackson?
Saul Bachner: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.
Riggins: She's retired.
Saul Bachner: How is she?
Riggins: She's good.
Saul Bachner: She's sweet. Yeah, I sa-
Riggins: She's wonderful.
Saul Bachner: You know who was here when I first got here? Sue Cody. She's Sue something else now.
Riggins: She's Sue Cody again now.
Saul Bachner: Oh, really?
Saul Bachner: Didn't work out?
Riggins: Oh, she's married. She's been married for 14, 15 years. But she kept Dr. Cody.
Saul Bachner: Oh, she did.
Riggins: Yeah. She was Sue Cody. Then she was Sue Hayett [ph?]. Now she's back to Sue Cody.
Saul Bachner: That's right. It was Sue Hayett, right. That's right.
Riggins: Yeah, she's great.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. Okay. Yeah, and Arlene Hanerfeld was here, too. And Phil Smith was a good friend. Yeah. We're good friends. (laughs) He- he- he gave me the best line I've ever gotten. Uh.. my son had come into the library to do something for Hoggard [ph?], and I told him uh.. "That's my son." I said uh.. "He's better looking than I am." And Phil says, "Yeah, way better." (laughs)
Riggins: He knew he could get away with it. He can say that. Yeah.
Saul Bachner: He was cute. Phil was a good guy. We used to argue all the time on Army Navy.
Riggins: And Gene Huguelet. Did you know him when he was the director?
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah, Huguelet. Yeah.
Riggins: Nice guy.
Saul Bachner: Good guy. Yeah. I was on that search committee for the librarian.
Riggins: Oh, okay.
Saul Bachner: In fact, we were supposed to do head hunting, and I called Syracuse University 'cause my brother-in-law taught there at one time. And the guy got-- he was- he was flat. He said, "Are you head hunting?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "I'm really flattered. Nobody's ever head hunted me before." Something like that. I says, "Well, think about it." I called back, and things had changed in the meantime, but that's when we got Sherman Hayes, is that the name?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. I got. I think he was a tax expert or something, wasn't he?
Saul Bachner: Yeah. That was it.
Riggins: Which can always come in handy, I guess, no matter what kind of work you do.
Saul Bachner: Yeah. I think that was part of it. Knowing the- the money end of it. That guy.
Saul Bachner: I'm sure I'm holding you up here. What you got another person today?
Riggins: No. You're it. But it is about ten of four. I guess you're going to be ready to go on your walk soon.
Saul Bachner: Oh, yeah. Uh..
Riggins: But any other ___________.
Saul Bachner: Does LuAnn Mims come in regularly, or?
Riggins: You know, she's on vacation this week. She's going to be in on Monday.
Saul Bachner: Oh, sh- okay. I just-- uh.. she always asks about my son, Steve.