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Lawrence and Marsha Bond, Oral History
Recorded: September 21, 2017
Interviewed by Lae’l Hughes-Watkins
Transcribed by the Kent State University Research and Evaluation Bureau
Note: This transcript includes geo-references to locations that are discussed in the oral history. Geographical names linked in the transcript will open in a new window or tab that takes you to that location information and map in the Mapping May 4 project. To request a transcript without geo-reference links included, please contact Kent State University Special Collections & Archives.
[Interviewer]: This is Lae’l Hughes-Watkins in the Department of Special Collection Archives for the Kent State Shootings May 4 Oral History Project, I am here with Lawrence Bond on September 21, 2017. I will begin with a few biographical questions, first, where were you born?
[Lawrence Bond]: I was born in Akron, Ohio.
[Interviewer]: And where did you grow up?
[Lawrence Bond]: I grew up in Akron.
[Interviewer]: What brought you to Kent State University?
[Lawrence Bond]: I graduated with my B.S. in chemistry from Ohio State in 1968 and I enrolled one week later in Kent’s graduate school, and primarily recruited by, I think it was Glenn White [Glenn H. Brown], it was with the Liquid Crystal Institute.
[Interviewer]: You said you came here in 1968, so do you recall any protest activity that was going on at that time?
[Lawrence Bond]: None at that particular time, it was pretty calm.
[Interviewer]: What were you prevailing attitudes about students in the spring of 1970?
[Lawrence Bond]: Well I was very—I was in ROTC. Essentially, according to the draft board I would be a senior because that was my fourth year. Two years at Ohio State and two years at Kent. And then—so I was active in ROTC and I did participate in several protests, marches, and so on, against the war in principle. But that was about the extent of my involvement, I was so busy with graduate school.
[Interviewer]: So you said you participated in some protests, so you were a part of any specific organizations?
[Lawrence Bond]: Not part of an organization, no.
[Interviewer]: How did you view the protests of the Vietnam War when you first arrived to campus?
[Lawrence Bond]: Well, it was a novelty, it was something new, basically, in the college scene. But the war had been grinding on and just getting worse and worse, and there was no end in sight, and we just didn’t understand what the overall objectives were, and you know, it was a real problem for many people, we were concerned.
[Interviewer]: Were you concerned about the draft at all?
[Lawrence Bond]: Yeah the draft—again, I graduated in 1968 from Ohio State in June, 1 week later President Nixon gave up the draft deferment for graduate students, and I was enrolling in Kent State that very week, so I pursued the US Army ROTC on campus, and the Air Force, I had two years of Air Force training at Ohio State mandatory, and I didn’t go advanced as we call it in those days. So I went to the Air Force and they said, “Oh sure, you can come in just like a junior in college again when you’re in graduate school, but you have to sign up for six years of flying and qualify as a pilot,” and I thought, “Oh my gosh," that’s not what I had on my future radar screen. So I said I’ll think about. Then I went to the Army and they said, “Oh no, two years of active duty, two years active reserve, and two years inactive reserves, and your Air Force training is just as good as two years in the Army basic training.” I says, “fantastic,” so I agree to sign up and commit to the two years then receive a commission as a 2nd lieutenant in June of 1970.
[Interviewer]: Wow. So, at that time, do you recall if your family was aware of any of the protests and protest activity that was taking place on campus, did they express concerns where they had spoken about the antiwar movement themselves?
[Lawrence Bond]: Although we were close to home, I don’t remember any concerns until after my first year here and by September of 1969, I married Marsha in September, September 6th of 1969, then we moved into married student housing, so we were both on campus for the next three years, three and a half years.
[Interviewer]: Can you recall the environment of your classes during that time?
[Lawrence Bond]: Classes, of course, in the graduate school, were very small. And people were aware of what was going on but basically not involved, for the most part, in the sciences. There was one individual in the Chemistry Department, his name escapes me, but he’s in Michener's Kent State book, and that brought it back to me crystal clear, who was a real activist. But he was sort of a—we called him the permanent graduate student. He’d been here already for numerous years and this was right up his alley, so he was an outsider. But we were drawn in through him in seeing what was going on, because you know, what he was actively—of course he would try to get us involved, we were too busy.
[Interviewer]: There’s always—or a lot of times there’s talk about the City of Kent and then Kent State University. Can you recall the sentiments or feelings, or any issues with respect to the City of Kent residents and being a student at Kent State in the antiwar movement?
[Lawrence Bond]: I can’t say that we encountered any negativity or anything prior to the actual event itself, and then it was rather dramatic, what we read about in the papers and heard versus what we saw as reality, just wasn’t true. I mean, students were raping and capturing children, just, I mean it was true, you know, “What?! Where’d this come from?” It was just unbelievable, what we heard and read about in the papers.
[Interviewer]: After May 4th?
[Lawrence Bond]: After the shooting incident, right.
[Interviewer]: I want to get back to that because I’m gonna go right into, so if you could tell me what you remember about the immediate days leading up, May 1 through 3, leading up to the Kent State Shootings?
[Lawrence Bond]: Well, we remember that very clearly, both Marsha and myself, we—on May—on Saturday, the day the ROTC building was burned, we were over in Married Student Housing and we didn’t know about the event till it happened—heard about it, actually—we didn’t come over to the campus or anything at night, but the weather was very mild and warm for that time of year. We went to church, we were members of a Methodist church in Kent on Sunday morning. It was a beautiful day, just gorgeous, crystal clear and the Guard, of course, was already present, and we decided to drive around the campus and see what was going on. I mean, we had no clue even though we lived within a quarter of a mile of it. And we came over, and there was the tent city, and we saw the ROTC building where I was—you know the quonset huts where I was engaged in training, and burnt to the ground and, you know, that was—I didn’t lose anything personal, but I know some of the career officers who were assigned to the unit lost everything that they had memento wise, and so on. Then we just went back home and spent the rest of the afternoon at home and so on, and we just, you know—unbelievable. And we didn’t know what to expect, never dreaming what would happen the next day, you know, just had no idea.
[Interviewer]: Did I hear you correctly, did you say you went by tent city?
[Lawrence Bond]: Yeah it was right where the parking lot, sort of, where the front of the Student Union, it used to be the stadium, was, that’s where the ROTC tents—or not ROTC but the National Guard tents were set up along Summit Street right across there. Sort of, facing a row towards Williams Hall, going that way. That’s where they were located.
[Interviewer]: So that was—because normally, when we—in the past tent city’s been referenced to the 1977 tent city, so there’s another reference, but that’s what you, that that was called tent city-?
[Lawrence Bond]: Yeah, or just where the National Guard was camped out.
[Interviewer]: And where was that area?
[Lawrence Bond]: That was right along Summit St. there, I think it was the practice field was there, there was a practice field—you know they moved the stadium out, and I think that was left over or so on, where it was formally, or a parking lot or so on, right there.
[Interviewer]: New information. So can you tell me what you recall on May 4, where you were?
[Lawrence Bond]: Yeah definitely, that’s etched in my mind forever. That day—on that Monday I was at a graduate student meeting that we had a council, in the chemistry building in Williams Hall. We were busy meeting and talking over issues and so on and nothing that I can recall pertaining to the crisis at hand, you know, we were just carrying about our normal business. And then the incident happened.
[Interviewer]: Could you expand, do you remember hearing the shots, what was—?
[Lawrence Bond]: We couldn’t hear any shots because we were too entrenched within the building physically, but the word quickly spread and we were told that there had been a shooting not that far from the building, Williams Hall, which is right here, okay, and it’s up this way, we weren’t that far from line of sight but we didn’t hear anything but they told us that a shooting had occurred and we should go back to our laboratories and wait to hear for further instructions and then it soon came that they were shutting down the campus and we should return to home, which for me it was just walking through the woods back over to Allerton over here and so on.
[Interviewer]: Do you, for students, do you recall students being worried about how they were getting home, did you remember—did you let anyone stay in your home at that time?
[Lawrence Bond]: No, my main concern was for my wife, actually, who was doing her student teaching in Akron, and you know, how would she get home because you heard on the radio they were shutting down the roads, putting in road blocks and things like that.
[Interviewer]: Were you able to get in contact with her?
[Lawrence Bond]: Not by—there was no cellphones in those days, it was impossible, but I was just very concerned, but you know, she was sort of on her own, that’s what happens when you’re isolated like that. She’ll tell you what the rest was when it’s her turn.
[Interviewer]: By the time you were leaving and getting home, did you hear any rumors that students had been killed—?
[Lawrence Bond]: Well we knew that there were wounded and some possibly dead when we were in the chemistry building right away. It was pretty matter of factual. Students—somebody’s—you know, students were shot and some are dead. But the exact number wasn’t known or anything like that. It was a typical incident, word of mouth, of a tragedy like that, you don’t really know. Nobody really know the factual amount until it’s ascertained later on.
[Interviewer]: So in the days after May 4, what do you recall and at what point were you able to get in contact with your wife?
[Lawrence Bond]: Well, she made it back that night and she’ll tell you more about that on her time, but they said school shut down indefinitely. So, you know, what do you do, I got research going on and so on, and it was the last week or two of my classes for my last coursework for my Ph.D., so I was very close to finishing up my coursework. Then later that week—I just had to sit home, I mean there was nothing I could do. I stayed home and then I heard—the word got to us that they were going to terminate classes where they stood. So they said there will be no finals, that you would take the grade that you had earned up to that point. So, you know, that was the grade you were given, and they were fairly lenient I think, you know, it was just—everybody was in such shock and so on. But that’s the way it ended up, so we got our grades and got our credit, because we were so close to finishing up the semester, or quarter. Then we remained home and then they said that after consideration that they were going to allow graduate students to come back to campus to continue on with their research work but there would be no undergraduates, and you know, we didn’t know when they would come back because I can’t remember them saying “Well, well, you’ll just come back in the fall.” I don’t even think they knew then when they would open up the university again for undergraduate work and so on. But thank the lord, I mean I could’ve lost everything, all my work. I was in a straight Ph.D. program with no master’s degree, so I could’ve gone till the last day and had nothing and at that point, I wasn’t there yet, I was two years out of four. And, as a consequence, I was able to come back after one week of being off campus and getting back to my research work in the laboratory.
[Interviewer]: How was it when you came back?
[Lawrence Bond]: It was quiet, it was like—you sorta looked around and were just sorta spooked and of course there was Guard patrolling and so on. That was different, but then you get into what you’re doing and I had a unique requirement that I had to obtain fresh bovine liver—beef liver, every day, so I had to drive to Alliance to go to the slaughter house and pick up fresh bovine liver, bring it back and process it. So I had to continue doing that. So I had to get off campus, and get back on campus and I found a way to do that and you know, it worked, but you know, that was a miracle.
[Interviewer]: So were you sneaky? Like how were you—?
[Lawrence Bond]: Oh, a little bit sneaky, but the National Guard doesn’t know all the roads into Kent and out of Kent.
[Interviewer]: Sounds like—I would assume they still had checkpoints and everything.
[Lawrence Bond]: Yeah they did, but we never went through any of them. So that aspect was really something. But living on campus, which both of us can talk about, was really interesting. That’s when it got interesting, after May 4th.
[Interviewer]: If you could go further.
[Lawrence Bond]: Okay, well good. We—of course you had to live in Allerton Married Student Housing, they were furnished, adequate, we didn’t mind it. That’s the way that things were those days, with painted aqua blue walls, I think or something like that, brick, and block walls painted. We were laying in bed a couple nights later after May the 4th, maybe—I can’t remember whether it was Wednesday, Thursday, somewhere about then, and it was very warm still, and we had no air-conditioning, so we had the windows open. We were laying in bed and looking on the wall, the light was coming through. Now at this time there were helicopters flying over campus with spotlights because there was a 10pm curfew. So if you were out past 10pm, you would probably be shot on sight, okay. So we stayed home, but we were laying in bed and the lights were sort of coming in from the campus parking lot and Allerton and the searchlights, so you could hear the rovers going around, you know, the helicopters and the spotlight, you know, would come across and so on. I looked at it and the light was shimmering and I thought, “That’s like heat… that’s like a fire,” and I jumped up and looked out the window, and Marsha got up and we looked out and there was a huge fire in the distance. And the barn right here at the corner of Allerton and Summit, it was a maintenance barn where they stored hay for whatever, had been torched and when a barn with hay goes up, let me tell you, it lights the sky up. So Marsha—and I’m saying, “Oh my God,” I thought it was the chemistry building because if you look out it isn’t that far of an angle off from Williams to that particular building. And I thought, “All my work is going up in smoke.”
[Interviewer]: At this point in the interview we will be joined by Marsha Bond, who is the husband—wife—of Lawrence Bond. I would like to start a few biographical questions first. Where you born?
[Marsha Bond]: Brownsville, Texas.
[Interviewer]: And where did you grow up?
[Marsha Bond]: Most of my life in Ohio, then, from age five on in Green, and then moving to Akron in fifth grade.
[Interviewer]: And you were—so you were a city of Kent resident living in Allerton with your husband during—?
[Marsha Bond]: That is correct, yes.
[Interviewer]: So if you can join your husband at this point and share your experience for what you remember during the days leading up to May 4, and then the aftermath.
[Marsha Bond]: My recollection is very similar to Larry, my husband. The Sunday that we were driving around campus, it was almost a festival atmosphere in that the weather was beautiful, gorgeous. Students were out, Guardsmen were there, and they were interacting in a very positive way. Flowers being exchanged, it was just a very calming, positive atmosphere. Never dreaming of what was in store for the following day.
When the incident occurred, I was student teaching at Betty Jane Elementary School in Akron’s school system. I received word shortly after the shootings of what had happened, but, of course, remained there until the end of the school day, wondering how I would get back to the apartment knowing that there was a blockade.
As I neared closer to Kent, I remembered an old maintenance road coming in—I believe it would be from south—no the north part of the campus area from Allerton and it would come in from the north to Allerton, and as luck would have it, there were no Guardsmen blocking and so I literally came in and eventually in and out for the remainder of the week that way so that I could continue my student teaching and was never stopped. So that was a blessing, then, as Larry has eluded, my feeling, and we’ve talked a lot about this then and through the years. It had to be the closest overall feeling the following week to living in a police state, if you will, in that there were curfews and there were Guardsmen everywhere. And then after this fire had occurred mid-week—oh and even before that, every night the hovering of these helicopters. You know, you could hardly sleep because they were so low and the lights, so bright, searching over the campus, but Allerton was included, married student housing. So it was very disconcerting, I mean—
[Lawrence Bond]: And then that night, the night of the fire when the barn burned, the National Guard was out in the athletic fields, behind the barn, which were over there south of Allerton development, and they were shooting in the night. They were shooting—we heard the shooting and they were shooting at whatever. Supposedly maybe the people that they thought torched the building, I don’t know, but nobody was ever hit, I never heard anything after that. But they were out there shooting and it wasn’t target practice.
[Interviewer]: That’s what I was gonna say, if it was target—but it was after the fire?
[Lawrence Bond]: Oh yeah, it was after the fire. So they were out there just firing away and it was, “Whoa,” you know.
[Marsha Bond]: And that same week—
[Lawrence Bond]: Friday night.
[Marsha Bond]: We had very good friends in Allerton Apartments as well, who were both chemistry graduate students, and we had gone down to their apartment to have dinner. After dinner, of course Allerton Apartments had a porch like, and they were on the second level, so we heard shooting. We went out and in time to see, and there’s a hill—Allerton, when you come down from, well, it would be—
[Lawrence Bond]: They came this way.
[Marsha Bond]: Yes, they came from—
[Lawrence Bond]: The neighborhood.
[Marsha Bond]: Down this hill, and there was a car just going extremely fast through this 25 mile an hour—I mean it was a residential area, and in hot pursuit after this car was a police car, and they were shooting out the window at this car ahead of them, that the officer on the passenger side, through the married student housing, and at that time it referred to as the "fertile crescent," the married student housing, of all the apartments, because there were so many children, you know, families that were renting these apartments and it concerned us greatly, we never heard after that.
[Lawrence Bond]: It was sort of like the Wild West.
[Interviewer]: And you didn’t hear any police reports, nothing?
[Lawrence Bond]: No.
[Marsha Bond]: No, no. I mean we didn’t receive newspapers or anything.
[Lawrence Bond]: I think rumor-wise, we tried to find—somebody had ran the blockade. The car, I presume, that they were chasing.
[Marsha Bond]: We don’t know if that was rumor.
[Lawrence Bond]: We don’t know if it was factual, a rumor, or—it made sense but why did they do that? Well, you know, how did students react and their—But so we were involved with shooting twice.
[Marsha Bond]: Hearing and of course witnessing.
[Lawrence Bond]: Witnessing within married student housing after May the 4th.
[Interviewer]: Never heard this.
[Marsha Bond]: The one thing that I personally regret, I wish that I would’ve realized and taken advantage of at the time. Not many weeks after, James Michener came to the area and set up an office, and I believe it was in one of the motels downtown, and we heard about it. But there again, you know, we were so busy with school, we never—I think he was here about six weeks. We never took advantage of it, and I really regret that now. What he wanted, he would talk to anyone, he was doing research for a future book on Kent State, and would talk to anyone that would just take the time to come and make an appointment or walk in or whatever. Students, faculty, townspeople, Guardsmen, anyone. And as a result of his research and work, he wrote Kent State, A Personal Tragedy. Larry and I both read the book and we just felt it was such an honest and fair, unbiased account of what we experienced and what we think really happened. He really—he points to multiple factors all coming together to contribute to what happened, the terrible tragedy, and I think that we recommended the book to—I don’t even know if it’s still in print, but we recommended the book to many people afterwards. So that is one regret that I have personally.
[Lawrence Bond]: Yeah, we both should’ve done it, but until doing this, we never talked about Kent in all these years, not really, you know, to document it. And then one personal tragedy I had was, since I was in ROTC, the way the army does training, and Air Force, too, is they assign leadership roles in your training structure, your cadet structure. And I was a acting lieutenant of a platoon, and my first sergeant then was William Schroeder. And of course William Schroeder was one of the four that was gunned down on the May 4th. So, it just really personally devastated me because although I didn’t know Bill real well, I knew what a fine, outstanding individual he was, good student, great, nice looking guy, just, you know, world ahead. He was in undergraduate and he was in the ROTC program, too. I just looked at it like a personal loss. Like I was in Vietnam and I lost one of my men, not really quite the case but—I can never forget that from my mind, that, you know, my first sergeant, acting first sergeant was killed walking across campus.
[Interviewer]: At what point were you informed and how were you informed that he was one of the ones that were—
[Lawrence Bond]: It wasn’t till I saw his name in the newspaper, heard it on the news a couple days later, you know. I just couldn’t believe it—Bill Schroeder. He’s my first sergeant, you know, oh my gosh. Because the other three I had to connection with whatsoever.
[Interviewer]: Do you remember, did your group do anything in memorial to him, or—?
[Lawrence Bond]: At that time no. Things were so rocky that they called me in as well as the other 4th year ROTC, was not only graduate students, a few of us, but mostly undergraduates. And we took our oath of office and we came in uniform, took our oath of office and received our 2nd lieutenant bars and became commissioned at that time in the US Army. That was in June. So it was about two to three weeks later.
[Interviewer]: I know, and you can both jump in at separate times, but you said that there was a lot of coverage that you were kind of surprised to read that was being reported that happened and you were like, “No, what are you talking about,” could you share any of your recollections for what you felt was misinformation?
[Lawrence Bond]: There was a lot of talk about students from other universities and rabble- rousing and so on, and I don’t think we feel we could say that there wasn’t some, but we can’t say that it’s to degree that—it was not on that large of scale, and we never personally knew anybody or saw anybody. Because I didn’t attend the rallies. I did march in a protest one time, but it was totally peaceful, controlled, you know, and so on, and no problems that way. It was—
[Marsha Bond]: Maybe it was the degree of hysteria that might’ve been portrayed that we—at least we weren’t exposed to, if there were.
[Lawrence Bond]: Right.
[Marsha Bond]: Particularly looking at it from the outside in, maybe Kent State residents looking in, not directly involved with the university. But I think that might’ve been indigenous, really, across the entire country at that time because it’s my recollection that it was a very active time on most university campuses. And so, you know, that would’ve been typical.
[Interviewer]: Do you think, when you look back, how you felt about May 4 at that time, while you were experiencing it, and you look at how you feel about it now, forty plus years later, do you feel like your viewpoints or feelings have changed since that time, or do you think that they stayed the same?
[Lawrence Bond]: Well, I think, first to qualify anything, I think when you’re going through in an historical period, you do not usually recognize you’re going through an historical period. We just didn’t know all this is gonna be a national event in the United States history, especially in terms of universities and so on, etcetera. And affecting the war, we just didn’t know it. But we were upset with the rhetoric of the governor and demanding that they were gonna stomp down and show these students who was the boss and not let this go on anymore, et cetera and et cetera. Later as we left Kent and I pursued my post-doctoral degree at Hartford Hospital, we heard that Governor Rhodes was elected governor again, and, "Oh how can this be?! You know? When will they learn, you know?" We just didn’t appreciate how conservative the state of Ohio really was at the time when we were there.
[Marsha Bond]: Oh I had a thought and I just lost it. I’m sorry.
[Interviewer]: That’s okay, while you’re thinking, just I’ll add in.
[Marsha Bond]: Go ahead.
[Interviewer]: Just if there was anything else that was coming to your mind that I hadn’t asked that you feel needed to be included in the record?
[Lawrence Bond]: No, I think what we've given, I can honestly say, is totally accurate. Again, we were not involved actively with the undergraduates or anything or participating in the riots or anything like that, but we were intimately involved with things right from the weekend of May 4th, and especially thereafter. That really impressed us, and you know, it’s like Marsha said, it gave us the first real feeling of what it’s like to live in a police state, and how fragile—and I tell people, it can turn on a dime, you just don’t realize how close we are to a police state in any time when the government really decides it’s necessary. It’s really a tragedy, and you see the edges and things like in St. Louis area these days and you can feel for the people, how misappropriation of power can really lead to frustration and upset feelings. It’s really tragic. If the populous wants to go against it, and they just tacitly let it go, then the powers that be will put their thumb down on the people and the press—so it’s tragedy. Anything else?
[Marsha Bond]: There was something and I just—I lost it.
[Lawrence Bond]: So again, we appreciate this opportunity because, like I said it’s been forty- seven years and we never talked about this like this with anybody, you know, before. And we came to campus a couple years ago, then when we learned about this we bought a couple of books at the Kent signing, when the authors were there, and that was a nice opportunity.
[Marsha Bond]: We were amazed at the number of books that were offered, people who had done research in this regard and written various accounts and so forth.
[Interviewer]: There’s been—you probably already knew this—but quite a few—there’ll probably be more as we move to the 50th for sure. So who knows, this account could be a part of the—you didn’t in Michener’s but maybe another one. I would just like to take this time to say thank you to you both for taking time out of your schedule to come and participate in the May 4 Oral History Project. And at this time I would like to conclude the interview, thank you very much.
[Marsha Bond]: Thank you.
[Lawrence Bond]: Thank you.
Student at Kent State University in 1970
|Date of Interview||
Lawrence Bond was a graduate student studying chemistry at Kent State University in 1970 and he and his wife, Marsha, were living in the Allerton Married Student Housing apartments on campus. They discuss their experiences, including driving around campus on Sunday, May 3, seeing the National Guard on the scene, and what they describe as almost a festival atmosphere. They also talk about their memories from the immediate aftermath of the shootings: seeing a barn on Summit Street burning, navigating around the police checkpoints so that they could drive in and out of Kent for their work, and witnessing an armed police chase through the Allerton complex in which an officer was firing at the car being pursued. Both describe generally what life on campus was like during the summer of 1970 the impact these events had on their lives.
|Length of Interview||
|Time Period discussed||
Common fallacies--Political aspects
Kent State Shootings, Kent, Ohio, 1970
Kent State University. Army ROTC
Kent State University. Department of Chemistry
Kent State University. ROTC Building--Fires
Kent State University. Williams Hall
Michener, James A. (James Albert), 1907-1997
Ohio. Army National Guard
Roadblocks (Police methods)
Schroeder, William, d. 1970
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