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Harold Carpenter, Oral History
Recorded: February 25, 2020
Interviewed by Kathleen Siebert Medicus and Brooke Forrest
Transcribed by Kathleen Siebert Medicus
[Note: Mikey Indriolo, a photographer from The Burr Magazine, took photographs during the interview; the camera shutter is audible at times]
[Interviewer #1]: Good morning, this is Kathleen Siebert Medicus speaking on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, and we are at the Kent Free Library in Kent, Ohio, as part of the May 4 Kent State Shootings Oral History Project and I have with me today another member of the Oral History Team, Brooke Forrest, who is joining me in the interview. And, could you please state your name for the recording?
[Harold Carpenter]: I’m Harold Carpenter.
[Interviewer #1]: Thank you, do you mind if I call you Harold in the interview? Harold, thank you so much for meeting us here today and being willing to participate and share your stories and memories with us, I really appreciate it.
[Harold Carpenter]: I’m glad to do it.
[Interviewer #1]: If we could begin with just some brief information about you, about your background, so we can get to know you a little better? Could you tell us where you were born and where you grew up?
[Harold Carpenter]: Certainly. I’m local. I was born in Akron, but I lived in Stow and I was there until marriage when I was twenty-three. I had a lot of association with Kent State University and a lot of identification with the university. I have two brothers, I am the youngest of three. My older brother has a bachelor and master’s from Kent State. My second brother had way more hours than necessary for graduation, but he kept changing his majors, so he never got the degree. And then I attended Kent State University where I received a bachelor’s plus a master’s degree. Bachelor’s in 1960, master’s in 1963. I then was hired by the university and eventually became an assistant professor of education and my assignment was at the University School where I taught social studies from 1960 to 1972. I lived on Edgewood Drive which, at that time, was a typical middle-class-type neighborhood. It comes from Lake Street up and then crosses a short street called Gatun, the other side of which Mr. Dix lived and that was on the left side of the street, it was a fairly large house, and the probably three or four acres behind his house that was not developed. This becomes important in terms of the aerial surveillance that was occurring later on in the program. If you would go straight through, because that—it dead ends, the street dead-ended at Dix’s—and if you go right straight through, you would pass Crane, then down to Main and I would be right at the Prentice Gate, so it was easy for me to walk around and to get to school and to see all the things that were happening.
[Interviewer #1]: So, you would frequently cut through that back property?
[Harold Carpenter]: I really wouldn’t cut through, I would go down around. But, it was easy to do.
[Interviewer #1]: So, when you were—maybe paint us a little more of a picture of your role at Kent State? You were teaching education classes and teaching at the University School?
[Harold Carpenter]: My full-time occupation was at the school. I didn’t teach education classes, as such. Students would come down and do practice teaching as well as observation. I would have a lot—every class, practically, there would be students observing the class and the teaching and all of that sort of thing.
[Interviewer #1]: So, you had a lot of interaction with Kent State education students?
[Harold Carpenter]: A great deal of interaction and I didn’t really teach any classes, sometimes I would address classes, perhaps, but I never was assigned to teach a class. But, anyway, that was the setting for what happened later.
[Interviewer #1]: And the University School—my understanding, it was very innovative, very progressive in terms of the curriculum and teaching methods.
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes, that’s all true. And I identified with it so much that, when they closed it, I couldn’t believe it. I was devastated when it closed. But that did put me in proximity, although I didn’t associate with the students, I was thirty-five years old at the time. But, I did have the contact with a lot of students who would come down to my classes for observation, and so on. And, of course, I would talk with them and then I would have—if they taught my class, which occurred frequently—then I could interact that way. So, I did keep up with young people on campus.
[Interviewer #1]: Do you have any recollections you’d like to share, to paint a picture of sort of the mood on campus leading up to 1970 as the anti-war protests were ramping up in the late Sixties?
[Harold Carpenter]: I certainly do. I would like, since I was a history teacher, I don’t think that you can understand the present unless you understand the past. So, I think it’s important to understand the setting for May 4th. And I’ll just be brief, I won’t go into detail, but I will simply mention what was going on in the society as a whole. It was a very—in many ways it was a troubling time, the Sixties. Beginning with JFK’s assassination, the president assassinated in ’63 and that was devastating. And there were other major assassinations, such as Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, that was big. Malcolm X was assassinated—those kinds of things were happening.
So, there were tremendous disagreements about the Vietnam situation. There were marches. There were marches in Kent, down Main Street, protest marches. All of that sort of thing. You can continue to name the civil rights situation with the marches and all of that that was going on, the feminist movement, there were many things that were happening in the Sixties that were upsetting the social order. And those who were of older age, probably, maybe younger too, I’m sure, didn’t like what was happening. The university, as well as universities across the country, were thought to be a hotbed of Communism, of Socialism, of radicalism. The idea that the professors were radicalizing all the students. So, there was a feeling of—that the university was negative in the impact in the community—so there was a divide between the community and the faculty and the university and I personally didn’t feel too much of it, because on my street, there were a couple of professors just right next door. But, I know that that was the situation and the idea that we were all fomenting revolution by what we were teaching on campus was a common thread. But, the words “revolution” were used, and used quite a lot.
[Interviewer #1]: How aware or how politically involved did the students at University School seem to you? They were aware of protests happening on campus, the Black United Students’ walkout, things like that?
[Harold Carpenter]: It was a very exciting time to teach and I had some extremely bright students in my classes, extremely bright students. Many went on to be doctors and lawyers and professors, all sorts of professional people. And they were very tuned in and, teaching social studies, which I loved, gave me an opportunity to have conversations with them constantly. The first ten or fifteen minutes of every class, I would set aside for what we called, civil discussions—or civics discussions. And they would really get into it. They would really get into it. And they didn’t want to stop talking about that to go back to talking about Jefferson or Adams or Lincoln or somebody like that, you know, Come on! But, they were very tuned in and we had, matter of fact, I had an entire unit, that lasted several weeks, on Vietnam. And we studied all sides, we had a map and all that and, actually, I had speakers come down from the university that were presenting the administration viewpoint, they had been on campus for something, so I had them down for my classes.
[Interviewer #1]: They were lucky to be in your class, I would say. A lot of the University School students, I’m guessing, were children of faculty and staff on campus. Did very many students talk about they were at odds with their parents or their family in terms of their opinion about the war, was that a topic that came up?
[Harold Carpenter]: No, I don’t think I remember anything like that. Everybody was—I do know that there was a lot of free discussion. But, I don’t know that there was opposition with their parents or anything of that sort.
[Interviewer #1]: And anybody who was getting close to graduating—the men anyway, the boys—were looking at, they were going to have to register for the draft, and if they went to college, they would be able to defer, but—
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes, I had a student come back who had been in Vietnam and we sat in my office and he had a bracelet from a tribal leader in Vietnam and he talked all about his experiences there. It was a very enlightening thing. But yes, it was very real and there were a lot of ways of avoiding if you were in certain college classes, and so on. So, I suppose of a lot of them were able to go to school and avoid immediately being drafted in. But, nevertheless, friends, and so on, could very well be there, in very short time. But, yeah, we had a full Vietnam unit that lasted several weeks and we explored all aspects, so they were very much into it. Very much into it.
[Interviewer #1]: I’m curious about you in terms of the draft, were you of draft age in the early years of the Vietnam War?
[Harold Carpenter]: Thank you very much, I meant to mention that. I had been a member of the United States Army Reserves from 1957 to 1963 and, of course, that would be only seven years from ’70. During that time, I had been in basic training, Fort Knox, Kentucky, and I trained on the M1 rifle, so I was very familiar with it. I fired it many times, I could take it apart and put it back together blind-folded in two minutes, that was the challenge. But, then I went to Fort Lee, Virginia, where I went to a special school for—in the Army—for small arms. At that time, the Army had many types of small arms, that is, what a military person could carry. I learned how to take them apart, the nomenclature, I learned how they fired and I fired several of them myself. So, I was very familiar with all of the weapons. I was also very familiar with the gun called—we called it a grease gun, which was sort of an automatic pistol. It was a very crude kind of thing. It fired 45-caliber automatic weapons—I mean 45-caliber bullets—in an automatic fashion. And it was deadly in close-up range.
[Interviewer #1]: Yes, but just back to you and the draft, with your service in the Army Reserve, then you never were stationed in Vietnam or called up to active duty?
[Harold Carpenter]: No, I was born at a good time, because I was discharged in 1963. The build-up was just beginning under Kennedy. In ’63, they were just talking about it. We didn’t really have major numbers of troops there. The troop build-ups came two or three years later, ’65, ’66 and then L.B.J. Along with that, you know, I was talking about the political unrest in the country, you know, “L.B.J., how many kids have you killed today?” That was a common thing that you heard, that was, on campus, that’s what you heard. That was part of the protests and, of course, led to him resigning in ’68 with Nixon coming in.
[Interviewer #1]: So, that this point, take us where you’d like to start with your recollections in the days preceding May 4, 1970?
[Harold Carpenter]: Okay, that would be good. I’ll begin on Friday. I was not part of the downtown scene. I was at home, which was two, three blocks, four blocks, something like that, from the bars and all of that sort of thing downtown. But, on Friday, there were a number of students—it was great weather and everybody was out—and in the evening, they were in downtown Kent. There were a lot of bars on Water Street and a lot of students, and not only students, but people from—friends, from Akron, Cleveland, Youngstown, I mean that’s a normal thing for people to do, have social friends outside of the community. So, all of that was going on on Friday evening and everybody was having a good time.
[Interviewer #1]: From your house, could you hear, you could sort of hear downtown, maybe, in your neighborhood?
[Harold Carpenter]: On Friday night, I could not. Later on, I did. But, on Friday night, it got out of hand and there was a motorcycle group in town and they decided to do wheelies on Main Street and do some other kinds of things with their bikes. And that kind of gives an idea of the atmosphere that was going on. Somebody threw a beer can at a police car and things started to get out of hand. Mayor Satrom closed the bars at twelve-thirty. If anybody was in the bars, and I assume there were—now what? They’re forced out into the streets. Well, you go from a bar, and kids probably had too much to drink, they get out in the street and everything’s going on, and all this commotion and the motorcycle gangs. And, by now, there are police and they’ve got the street blocked off and somebody makes a bonfire on Main Street and it goes from bad to worse. And it got nasty and then, windows were broken until the students were forced—and others—I’ll call them students because I know there were some that were not students. But, people were forced back then onto the campus.
Then comes Saturday. Now, you asked about my proximity and hearing things. On Saturday, I know that there was a curfew at eight o’clock. So, I’m not sure how I dealt with the curfew, but, from my front door, I looked out and I saw a glow in the sky that could have only come from a fire. I think it was probably before eight o’clock, but I really don’t know the time. And I don’t know why I wasn’t—I probably thought the curfew didn’t affect me, I don’t know. But, I saw that and I really got upset because I identified with the university—they’re burning down my university, What’s going on?! So, I told my wife, I’ve got to go see what’s going on.
I don’t know, I assume that I walked, but I know that I came up behind what was then an art building and the power plant. Now, the Student Union, at that time, would have been on my left. So, I came up probably past Kent Hall and probably came up from what was then the Library, up past Kent Hall to the heating plant, as you call it, the power plant. So, I would have been right here [points to location on a campus map]. And the ROTC Buildings were straight ahead of me. Now, they were fully engulfed in flames. I had had classes in the ROTC Buildings in my undergraduate—there were so many students, the university didn’t have proper classrooms. So, I had regular classrooms in political science, I’m sure, in that ROTC Building, as I looked, it’s totally engulfed. I believe that I stepped over a hose from the fire department, but there was no one fighting the fire, there was no water hitting the blaze. There were some students running around, kind of crazy-like, but there was no particular confrontation. But, the buildings were just on fire, I mean, being totally consumed.
[Interviewer #1]: So, you saw Guardsmen arriving right near the ROTC Building?
[Harold Carpenter]: No, back here. [refers to campus map again]
[Interviewer #1]: Oh, by the heating plant.
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah, I was standing right there, so I think they came down this way, maybe they came up this way.
[Interviewer #1]: But, they were on Terrace Drive near Van Deusen, yeah, okay.
[Harold Carpenter]: And they had three-quarter-ton trucks and they were getting out and they got in formation. And they loaded their weapons! I couldn’t believe it. I knew what weapons were and I knew what ammunition was and I knew how deadly those guns were. And I looked and I was just flabbergasted, What’s going on here? They’re loading their weapons. Well, I decided that wasn’t a good place for me to be. I don’t want to be around loaded weapons. So, I left. And there was still this kind of taunting, almost festivity atmosphere, festive atmosphere, as I could see people running all around and yelling and firecrackers going off. Taunting of the Guard and all that sort of thing. I thought, This is not good.
[Interviewer #1]: Were the firefighters still there?
[Harold Carpenter]: I don’t recall, they must have withdrawn. I think they had withdrawn by that time, I didn’t see them. So, I saw there around the Student Union, between Student Union and Engleman Hall and there were tennis courts there. They were just kind of, as I say, running around, taunting and kind of, “Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah,” kind of stuff. So, I just went, I can’t believe this. So, I went on home. And that pretty much was Saturday, Saturday night.
Well, then comes Sunday. Quiet. Governor Rhodes came into town. There was an election on Tuesday, primary election against Taft on Tuesday. Governor Rhodes, a law-and-order man, he would not shut the university down. He said, “This university is going to stay open, and it’s not going to be run a bunch of bums,” and he had all kinds of negative terms that he was applying to the students and people. “They’re burning our buildings and I’m not going to let a bunch of bums run our country and take over our universities.” And so, he was, I think that he was encouraged to say that because he was running against Taft. Which, by the way, he lost to Taft in the primary.
And, of course, the Guard, now in charge, had been activated for patrol in the city of Akron on the—there was a truckers’ strike, and these poor, eighteen-, nineteen-, twenty-year-old kids hadn’t had proper rest from going from one place to another, without proper training, now here they are.
[Interviewer #1]: And the truckers’ strike had been violent, as well.
[Harold Carpenter]: The truckers’ strike was a problem, the truckers’ strike was a problem. But the truckers did not interfere with the National Guard, they respected the Guard. But, it was not a good scene. Now, with that, the Army being in charge now, I recall very distinctly, armored personnel carriers around the city in strategic locations. I remember distinctly: Main Street at Water [Street] was parked a vehicle that some called a tank. It wasn’t a tank; I know the difference between a tank and a personnel carrier. Personnel carrier may have a track, like a tank, and it’s armored and it’s designed to carry military infantry into battle zones in a protective way. It was parked at the intersection. I didn’t see it, but I understand they were on 261 intersection and other [inter]sections coming in, probably from the other direction from, Ravenna. Vehicles parked and you couldn’t get in and out. I didn’t try to get in and out, but I don’t know if you—you had to have permission to get in and out and I don’t know who they were letting get in and out.
The community thought the revolution had come. And, because the word “revolution” was used. And so, they had some basis, you know, but it got totally nuts. People were hysterical. Why wouldn’t they be, with the National Guard now, now what’s going on? And they burned the buildings and they crashed the windows in downtown Kent, What’s going on?
[Interviewer #1]: People in your neighborhood were talking, I assume?
[Harold Carpenter]: Well, not that day, but the next. And I can tell you what happened the next day. But, on Sunday night—Sunday evening—the helicopters started. And there were three that, I believe, that would fly in rotation. Now, there was a school also, Walls School, was taken over by the National Guard. And my son was there, he was seven years old at the time. And he came home, they dismissed school on Friday. He came home, I wasn’t there at the time, he came home all worried and excited and talking about it.
[Interviewer #1]: So, they dismissed school on Friday when the Guard were setting up camp in his playground, basically.
[Harold Carpenter]: I believe so, I believe it was Friday.
[Interviewer #1]: And he was just able to walk home?
[Harold Carpenter]: He wasn’t supposed to. I said, “What, were you allowed to do—?” And he said, “No, but I just did it anyway.” And, if you know my son Steven, that would be him, he did a lot of things "just anyway," whether he was allowed to or not.
[Interviewer #1]: But he got himself home safely, okay.
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah, he cut through the neighborhoods and he, you know, he had walked to school every day, so he was an independent kid.
Okay, Sunday night, the helicopters started, yeah, in the evening. Those military helicopters were very loud and the blades would whip with a certain sound: whip, whip, whip, whip, whip. They would circle and they would come down to Lake Street and turn and come right up my street, Edgewood Drive. At a very low, very low level. With spotlights and they were particularly interested in Mr. Dix’s house because he was a member of the trustees, Board of Trustees, he was the publisher, and editor, and owner of the Record-Courier, Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier, so they would watch his house. And they would fly right straight, and, as I explained previously, if you go—it would dead end there. But, if you go right straight down, it would be at Prentice [Hall Gate]. After you passed Crane [Street], you go to Main [Street], Prentice Hall gate. Well, they would go right and circle, make that circle and there was constantly either one coming or going. Whop, whop, whop, whop with the blades. Very unnerving, very unnerving.
So, I come out in my front yard and I can see them at a low level and they came over the Prentice area—the gate, and students had—they were there. A group of students were at Prentice Gate. They weren’t allowed to go any further, the Army, military, wouldn’t let them go off campus. So, they had a big sit-down, right there at the street. And, now you ask if I could hear, I could hear them. This is could hear. And the helicopters would dive at them in a very menacing way and, when they would dive, I could hear the crowd go, “Aaaaa!” And I think there was tear gas and all of that occurring. And this is in the evening of Sunday. And then they would make their pass, three of them, you know, it was just constantly—I don’t know, but into the middle of the night, I don’t know when they stopped. I mean, how could a neighborhood survive that sort of thing going on? I don’t know how I ever got to sleep. Very unnerving. So, that was Sunday night.
[Interviewer #1]: How did you explain that to your son?
[Harold Carpenter]: They were just all—I had three children, seven, five, and four. And, so the neighborhood was really, really on edge. Really on edge. And I’ll talk about the neighborhood a little bit more, after the 4th.
Well, now we get to the 4th. I would not permit my son to go to school and the other, let’s see, the four-year-old, I think, had nursery school, I think at the University School, I think, I’m not sure. But, I wouldn’t let any of my kids out of the house.
[Interviewer #1]: You had instructions from your principal or someone at the university to draw the blinds at the University School? And then, you’re attempting to keep order in your class—
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes, yeah, isn’t that crazy. Yeah, but we were supposed to teach, but draw your blinds in case they want to shoot you. I mean, if it’s that bad, why are we here? That’s crazy, absolutely crazy. Mindless, mindless behavior all around, mindless behavior.
Well, I had lunch break at twelve and probably, I think had a—probably had a free period either from eleven to twelve or twelve to one, I don’t remember. So, curious me, I decide to go on campus to see what was going on. As I mentioned before, I have such an identification, half my life, practically, was involved with Kent State University and that’s my home turf. What’s going on?
So, I went up, across campus and saw the troops lined up down at the area where the ROTC Building was burned and there was a group of onlookers that stretched all the way from that area all the way up to Johnson [Hall]. So, on the map, I’m coming across, where’s the U. School? Okay, I come right through here, I come right up to about here, right across, pretty much, there’s the Victory Bell, right about there.
[Interviewer #1]: You were near Johnson [Hall].
[Harold Carpenter]: And, I, you know after fifty years, I wonder but, somewhere along the way, this nineteen-year-old, twenty-year-old kid pointed this grease gun that I described earlier, right at me, right at my stomach. And as close and you and I, I mean three feet, four feet. He pointed this thing at me. I’m thinking, That thing is loaded and you’re pointing at my body? And he said something like, “Move on,” or something, I don’t know. And I—What’s going on?
[Interviewer #1]: And this individual was in a National Guard uniform?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes, yes. So, I think that’s where it happened. As I say, I think that was the place. Anyway, I probably moved from there up closer to this area across from the Victory Bell. Which put me pretty close to Johnson Hall. Now, I saw a couple of kids run over to the Victory Bell and begin to ring it. Well, that infuriated the military. They sent a jeep, with four people in it, up. They fired tear gas at him, and various kinds of things, ran him off.
Now, I get a little bit confused about a certain incident that occurred. In my mind, it was at this point, but I made some notes that evening when I came home and my notes indicated it happened later. But, there were some—oh, there was a student walking over by Taylor [Hall] and they fired tear gas at him. And I experienced tear gas in the military, I had to learn how to put on a gas mask and deal with tear gas. It’s devastating. It hit at his feet, and he kind of breathed up and he probably couldn’t see and he couldn’t breathe and he, he’s just kind of standing there. And some of the Guards went over and started to beat on him, I mean, with clubs, they’re beating on him! And I was—I couldn’t believe it and I joined with three or four other guys, I don’t remember, who yelled, “Stop it! Stop it!” And we ran toward him, now, what a stupid thing for me to do. I ran toward him, said, “Stop! Stop! He didn’t do anything, he can’t see! Stop! He didn’t do anything!” I’m glad they didn’t turn around and come at me. But, they let him go then and the poor kid went on. I don’t know anything about him, I’m calling him poor kid, he might have been part of the protestors, I have no idea. That’s just what I saw. Now, in my notes, I have that happening after the Guard marched over the hill and down to the area where—down into the other area. But, I’m not sure of the time sequence there.
All right, now back to what was going on. So, I went over about twelve o’clock. So, this was twenty-five minutes later and I know what time it was after reading stuff. So, I was there at twenty, twenty-five minutes [after twelve o’clock]. All right, so they were reading the Riot Act and running around in the jeep and so on. Now, it was getting ugly, it was getting really ugly. I mean, the group on the hill were really yelling profanities of the worst type. I mean, you can’t—and there was a fellow with a black flag and he was waving it and you know, “Revolution in the air,” and all that sort of thing. They were taunting the military, it’s like, Yeah, come and get me you, blankety blank blanks.
Okay, so they start up and they start throwing or firing these tear gas grenades and those on the hill would grab the grenades and throw them back. So, we’re—kind of like a game going on here. And then, I did see some young men throw what I assume were rocks. Now, it wasn’t like a thousand students throwing a thousand rocks. I saw like, four—three, four, maybe. And, by this time, I don’t think you could throw a rock from where they were to where the military was. I don’t think you could do that. So, they’re coming up the hill and I suppose by the time the military gets closer, I suppose, they could be hit by rocks. But, this is a grass area, I don’t see a mound of rock ammunition at the guy’s feet ready to be thrown. So, if they’re throwing anything, maybe they’ve got two or three in their pockets or something, I don’t know. But, there’s not a lot, there’s not a lot going on.
[Interviewer #1]: And those people that you saw were on Blanket Hill or very close to the bottom of Blanket Hill? The people that you saw throwing—
[Harold Carpenter]: No, they’re up by Johnson [Hall] or Taylor [Hall].
[Interviewer #1]: They’re up closer to Taylor Hall at the top of the hill?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah. [referring to campus map] This is Johnson [Hall], this is Taylor [Hall]. They’re between this, they’re right here, between them. So, I suppose by the time the Guard got up there, they were close enough to be hit by stones, I assume they were. By the time the military got up past the Victory Bell, then the students start to disperse. Now, this is a hill, so on the other side, it goes down here to the practice football field. I’m over here [editor’s clarification: on the other side of the hill], so I can’t see what’s going on. So, I know what happened, they went down, they circled around and they knelt, you know, pretended to menace the others with their rifles, and then they came back up.
Well, so I’m standing there and I’m thinking, Okay, they’re going to come back up, I’m going to stay here even though I should probably get back to school, I’m going to stay here and see if they come back up, you know. So, this really, what I considered a ragtag bunch, comes back and I hear: pop-pop, pop pop pop pop pop. Ah, those kids are throwing firecrackers at them again: pop pop pop pop. Next thing I know, they’re formed up and the military is coming down the hill. This time, some are almost running. I mean, they have lost discipline, they were not a disciplined fighting unit at all. They were—it was pathetic, guns in all kinds of directions, they were obviously scared out of their wits, panicked, not good military formations, nobody seemingly in control, just going down the hill. So, they get down to where they started at the—right down here, by the burned-out buildings.
[Interviewer #1]: So, where was he running?
[Harold Carpenter]: He was running from the pagoda area down to where the ROTC Buildings were, where the military had formed up in their scrimmage line. Well, I followed him all the way down. And I was astounded to see that he went through the military line and they knew him. It was like, Oh yeah! I saw—I made sure that they had his gun and I saw him give his gun to, I believe the person who was there was not in military uniform and I think one of the commanders was not in uniform. He gave him the gun and it was obvious they were friends! What’s going on here? And I did see him sort of take the gun and open it up and the controversy is, did they take out bullets that were already fired or did they take out bullets that had not been fired and, of course, from my vantage, I would not know. I just saw them handle the weapon. Well, I have never been more confused in my life then what was happening on that day. When I go back up to my position, which was pretty close to Johnson [Hall], about that time, Professor Frank comes running down over the hill. He’s running and he’s shouting and he’s yelling, “Get an ambulance! Get an ambulance, they’ve been shot! Get an ambulance, they’ve been shot!” What in the world? And I believe, although you could get there from up right here, come up this street, I think an ambulance came right up The Commons, right through there. [referring to the campus map]
[Interviewer #1]: I’ve heard other people say that happened, yeah.
[Harold Carpenter]: Okay, then my memory is correct. Ambulance went right straight up, yeah, come right straight up The Commons. Well, you know, is this a dream? I don’t know what’s going on.
Then, shortly after that, I’m just standing there watching. A group of students form in this area, north of the Victory Bell and I suppose there are fifty or more, maybe, fifty, seventy-five maybe. And then Frank, Professor Frank, gets to them and he’s got a bullhorn. And he says, “Sit down!” I mean, they’re all standing up. I don’t know what they thought, they thought they were going to—I don’t know what they were doing. Professor Frank says, “Sit down, sit down.” And he says, and I can hear him, because I’m close, I’m very close. And he’s got a bullhorn, so I can hear what he’s saying. He says, “If you’ve never listened to anybody before, listen to me now.” They sat down and he started talking to them. And, among other things, he said that—he’s crying.
[Interviewer #1]: Let’s take a short break.
[audio recording is paused]
[Interviewer #1]: This is Kathleen Siebert Medicus, we’re back after a short break, picking up with Mr. Carpenter where he left off. You were still near Johnson Hall, near the Victory Bell and listening to Dr. Frank.
[Harold Carpenter]: And I can hear Dr. Frank with his bullhorn telling the students to disperse, to go back, not do anything further or they’d get shot. So, they listened to him and they dispersed.
Well, I did pick up a couple cartridges and a tear gas grenade, then I went back to school. I don’t know how long, that must have been an hour, must have been one-thirty. I told the administration what happened; they laughed at me. He said, “Oh, no, you’re just—” They didn’t believe me. I said, “No. they’ve killed people, students have been shot. He said, “Oh, come on. Come on, Harold, yeah, come on.” Well, I went up to my classroom and students were there. They all huddled up around my desk, nobody was in seats. They were all huddled up around my desk. And I told them what had happened. It was not too uncommon for students to come in to my classroom from cutting other classes to see what was going on. So, I don’t know who they were, if they were my—if it was my class or just kids that knew I was there and coming in.
[Interviewer #1]: And they knew they could talk to you.
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah. I told them what had happened. Disbelief, I just couldn’t believe it. Well, at some point then, I went home and my wife had been listening to the radio. The radio said, “Two Guardsmen have been shot, one student was shot.” Not true! The newspaper came out with a quick edition, they had an afternoon edition. I still have the newspaper, by the way. I collected a lot of the newspapers. I have that newspaper. And the headlines: Two Guardsmen killed, one student killed, Kent State University campus. The radios, the newspapers: two Guardsmen killed. Talk about being confused, I said, “How could that be, I don’t believe it. How could that be? Did somebody get killed that I didn’t know about? I don’t think so. It was students.”
Well now, you asked about the community. On my street, it was a typical kind of normal middle-class community. I had a professor on my right, the person that owned a men’s clothing store on my left, professor in the house after that, a banker, next house after that. A young doctor who—a female, who had taken time from practice to have children, she was over here. They were panicked. My college friends weren’t panicked, but the community.
This person on my left, who was a clothing store owner, he taught his daughter, young teenage daughter, how to fire his shotgun. And he said, “If they—” whoever they— “come down the street, shoot them!” Now, if you’re going to have a revolution, if this is a really a revolution taking over, you don’t come down a street, what, shooting people? I mean, that’s not, you know, the way you do things. And the lady across the street that I mentioned, she, likewise, said the same thing. She said, she told my wife, she was afraid that the revolutionaries would come down the street shooting everybody. Shooting everybody! What kind of thought is that, that they’re going to come down the street shooting everybody? Crazy, crazy. Our little street, when you’ve got all the other streets, are they even going to come on our little street? And, what shooting people? That doesn’t make sense.
Shortly thereafter, I don’t know what time, I can’t remember time sequences. One of my neighbors—actually, two of them, who lived the next street down, came running up and one was carrying a baseball bat. And he said, “Have you seen him? Have you seen him?” I said, “What? What, what are you talking about?” “Have you seen him?” And I don’t know, he probably said, “That longhaired hippie,” I’m not sure. “He came right up here! He came right down this street!” I said, “Are you sure? I didn’t see anything.” “Yeah!” And he’s got this baseball bat. He’s going to wail on him. I’m thinking, No, wait a minute, what is one unarmed young boy—twenty, I call him a boy, young man—going to do? Rape and pillage and, what? Down our street?! Give me a break! But, here was this baseball bat and he’s searching for this kid!
[Interviewer #1]: Did you hear—what other rumors were people talking about? Did you hear about poisoning the water supply, or any of those rumors?
[Harold Carpenter]: Oh, yeah. They’re going to kill us all, they’re going to poison the water and they’re going to, I don’t know. The most crazy rumors you can imagine were floating around. And the radio. Well, I could also say the radio, the newspaper, all of that, fueled the fire of total unthinking, illogical behavior.
[Interviewer #1]: And fear?
[Harold Carpenter]: And fear. Now I do know, I didn’t know at the time, but I knew the next day or whenever. Ron Kane, the Portage County Prosecutor, went through the dorms, or, at least part of the dorms, of those who he suspected to be involved, searching for weapons and other things. And then, he had a big display and he put all the weapons out on the table and they had pictures—there’s a picture—I’ve got the paper that’s got the picture. Terrible weapons, like, he found two slingshots. And he found a pellet gun. And he said he found a 20-gauge shotgun. If you go through my house, you’d find the same thing, except for the slingshots. And he found a can of gasoline, or some kind of an igniter, along with a majorette’s fire baton and the apparatus that she used for her fire baton routine. Why wouldn’t she have a little gasoline, or whatever? It shouldn’t have been there, but, she did. And some other—he held up this picture of this knife, it was an old ceremonial, it wasn’t even shiny, it wasn’t sharp. And he holds it up, “Look what I found.”
[Interviewer #1]: In the dorms?
[Harold Carpenter]: In the dorm! What business did he have going in there, anyway? He didn’t have any business—he didn’t have any search warrant. But anyway, he did. From that official position, the campus was just filled with these terrible, terrible people that were going to have a revolution. And that’s all they could come up with? That’s all they could come up with. There were no rifles, there was no weapons that you would use to take over a city, a government, you know, the revolution’s starting here.
I was contacted by the FBI. They—I can’t tell you the day, I think it was the same week. I think we went back to school, at the U. School, sometime and I suspect the administration told the FBI that I had been over there. So, they came up in this big, black car and yeah, I had to go out and talk to them.
[Interviewer #1]: This was at school, they came to talk to you?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah, it was in the driveway at the U. School. And they asked me some questions and I told them. They asked me how long the firing was and I said, “I think it was about ten seconds.” And so on, and so on. Then they had me report, and I don’t know if it was the same day or when it was, and I don’t remember the room where I was ushered in and we saw pictures. He said, “Now, look at all of these pictures and identify anybody that you can identify.” And there were particularly interested in the fellow with the black flag and I didn’t know him. And, they’d point out other people, “Do you know who he is? Do you know who he is?” I don’t know if it—I don’t know what day that was. It had to be very soon, though, because they were still—
[Interviewer #1]: But, it felt like within a week?
[Harold Carpenter]: Oh, definitely, maybe the next day. Because they had to have time to process the film, but they were still trying to identify people, so it was very soon.
[Interviewer #1]: Did the University School close down?
[Harold Carpenter]: You know, I don’t remember. It had—I think it opened, but I can’t remember when it did. But, anyway, so I’m on record with the FBI. But, they weren’t accusing me and I didn’t get arrested or anything. I told them I was just there as an onlooker and trying to see what was going on.
[Interviewer #1]: Did you talk about the man that you chased that people said had a gun? Was that part of your FBI interview?
[Harold Carpenter]: I don’t think they asked about that. I didn’t tell them I chased—I didn’t tell them anything that they didn’t ask. I didn’t tell them I chased a guy down the hill, you know, I didn’t want to get into that. But, I can’t even remember, can’t remember any particular questions other than—they didn’t grill me.
[Interviewer #1]: Mostly identifying people?
[Harold Carpenter]: They didn’t put me through any kind of third-degree or anything.
[Interviewer #1]: How long did it take for your neighborhood to feel normal again?
[Harold Carpenter]: Oh, I’ll tell you what, I got out of town. As soon as my teaching duties were no longer required, I got out of town. I had a camper.
[Interviewer #1]: 1970 summer, you—?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah. As soon as I could. I loaded up my family, I had a camper, and I headed for the East Coast. And I don’t know how long—I was away a couple of weeks. I thought, I’m not going to be around there. And I recall distinctly going into some area in Connecticut, I believe, and a young fellow said, “Oh, Ohio, oh yeah. Kent State University, yeah. They killed kids up there, didn’t they? Oh, yeah.” Nowhere you would go—throughout my travels in the East Coast, people would have an opinion about what was going on. And, generally speaking, “They should have shot more of them,” you know, generally speaking.
[Interviewer #1]: The “Kent 25,” the people that were indicted?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes. And then there was a national Scranton Report and the FBI and the State Patrol had things, there was a some kind of a something in Cleveland—jury, or some kind of a thing, I don’t remember. And generally, they said, well, eventually they said—they confirmed that there was no reason for the shooting.
[Interviewer #1]: You were right there, you could see them?
[Harold Carpenter]: They were not being under attack. They had before had some stuff thrown at them. At the time they fired, they were not under attack.
[Interviewer #1]: Were you able to see them as they turned, as they knelt—from your vantage point, did you see that happen?
[Harold Carpenter]: You know, that’s a little fuzzy in my mind. I think I did, but I didn’t realize what was going on. I might not have been—maybe my attention was not turned on them at that particular point. I can’t say that I saw the shooting, it might have been just over the hill, I’m not sure. But you know, I did mention to you that, when I went home—I have a statement—I dictated a two-page statement to my wife who typed it out and, on that statement, I say that I saw them kneel and shoot. But in my mind, fifty years later, I can’t say for sure if I did. But that’s what I wrote the very evening that I came home, that’s what I said.
[Interviewer #1]: Your wife must have been relieved to see you get home in one piece that day, I’m thinking.
[Harold Carpenter]: My wife is an extraordinary person. She wrote a letter, a scathing letter, to the Record-Courier or to the—I think it was WKSU, WKNT, I think it was WKNT. Local radio station—saying, how could they broadcast that misinformation about Guardsmen being shot? And what it did to the community to have that kind of misinformation. And she wrote a very strong letter. She is very articulate, she should have been a lawyer, she was great. She was involved in the League of Women Voters and she was on a commission to revise the constitution of the Kent government, and all that sort—so, she was active.
[Interviewer #1]: Active in the movement to go to a city-manager form of government for the City of Kent?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes, that’s true. So, I don’t know if I’ve covered all the bases, but I probably left out some things I wanted to say, but, you may have some other questions or, anything of clarification?
[Interviewer #1]: I do have some follow-up questions, just things I’m curious about. I’m curious about when you went back to school on Monday after the shootings had taken place, you said you got there kind of early afternoon. The school administrators didn’t believe what you said. But then, later they must have been informed and did school close early that day? Were students sent home? Do you remember how that happened?
[Harold Carpenter]: It was so chaotic. And, by that time, it was the end of the day and we were dismissing anyway.
[Interviewer #1]: Students must have been frightened.
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah! Right, and I, I don’t know how they got home, I don’t know, I was—
[Interviewer #1]: You talked about a group of students that were in your classroom when you got back and not all of them were necessarily students from your class. Did you show them the gas canister?
[Harold Carpenter]: I don’t think I did, I don’t know. That’s a good question. I must have had it in my hands, because I’ve—I don’t know.
[Interviewer #1]: I’m thinking you must have been, partially at least, in shock at that point, and your students would have picked up on that. So, they must have been afraid.
[Harold Carpenter]: Oh, I was in shock. I was in shock. I was in total shock, oh yeah. I was probably not rational.
[Interviewer #2]: How in-depth did you discuss this with your students?
[Harold Carpenter]: Total. I was always very open and honest with my students and, I don’t want to sound like Trump, but I was very well accepted. And students would confide in me and we had a very good relationship. I think part of the reason was that I didn’t talk down to my students. I wasn’t like the big know-it-all and they were the stupid little kids that shut up and sit in their seat. That wasn’t the way I taught. And I respected them, treated them like adults, and they respected me. So, we could have total and open conversations in our regular classrooms as well as anything else.
[Interviewer #2]: How did you navigate dealing with, I guess, all the misinformation and people like Spiro Agnew saying things that, maybe, you didn’t witness it that way?
[Harold Carpenter]: That’s difficult. I suppose you mean like, in the classroom, I would just say, “What do you think of this? Did you hear what Agnew said? What did you think?” I also had everybody subscribe to Newsweek magazine. At that time, Newsweek was a big, big magazine. And so, we’d have articles and I’d say, “All right now, tomorrow you’re going to read this article and we’re going to discuss it.” And so, we would have that kind of open discussion.
[Interviewer #1]: It was all about critical thinking for your students.
[Harold Carpenter]: You know, that was the heart of what I believed in. That was the heart of the way I taught. I did not teach facts for facts, I taught critical thinking. Facts are used to support your position, but you don’t memorize all these things in history class just to be able to say that you memorized things in history class. They had to have a reason, so the way I taught, I would develop units that had a reason why are we in where we are? Why are we in this position with Black unrest? Why do we have all this going with Martin Luther King’s speech, why is he doing this? And then, we would develop it—go back and develop—we’d go back all the way to slavery and lynchings. I had a whole thing on lynchings. I have to say a lot of the students were not just professors’ students but people who come from—you had asked before about conservative backgrounds—and I’m not sure what they thought. But, I would not restrict my thoughts due to perhaps their parents being—matter of fact, in my unit on slavery and the Black problems, I had a student bring in his parent’s Ku Klux Klan outfit. And I said, “Really! What are you doing?!” And he had his father’s Ku Klux Klan stuff!
[Interviewer #1]: His father’s?!
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah! It might have been handed down, it might have been from the Fifties, who knows? Oh, Jiminy Christmas! Ah! Take his home! Oh, take it home! Oh, dear.
[Interviewer #2]: What was the age bracket of your students?
[Harold Carpenter]: They were seventeen. Sixteen, seventeen and eighteen, some cases. In between sixteen and eighteen.
[Interviewer #1]: So, many of them were looking at being eligible for the draft very soon.
[Harold Carpenter]: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
[Interviewer #1]: I’m curious, what was the University School like after the shootings? Were things different? What it was like coming back the next fall?
[Harold Carpenter]: It was a mess. It was a total mess. And the university suffered enrollment problems and financial problems because of the shooting. Rumors started to fly about the university’s decision that, perhaps, they would close the U. School, so we were very much on edge. And, in fact, the next year, they announced that we would be closed and that was chaos. And I’m sure I didn’t teach very well because it was just—and I couldn’t believe that they would close my school. And what was that—I had three young children—what was I going to do without a job? Where am I going to go? I’ve got bills to pay and they just cut me off. So, it was very traumatic, very emotional, very bad.
[Interviewer #1]: That was the first twelve years of your career as a teacher, as a young adult.
[Harold Carpenter]: I will say I had maybe nineteen hours post-master’s, I couldn’t get a job teaching. They could hire a bachelor’s person for half what I would have coming in, on the teaching scale. I wanted to teach.
[Interviewer #1]: And you had experience, too.
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah. And so, I couldn’t get a job teaching without moving. I had elderly parents and my wife’s parents needed attention. I couldn’t leave. So, during my master’s and post-master’s, I had a acquired an administration degree. Or, not degree, but the license. So, I went into administration. And I went to Nordonia High School for twelve years immediately following. But, my love was always teaching.
[Interviewer #1]: Were you ever in the classroom again, after University School closed?
[Harold Carpenter]: Not as a regular teacher. I did—I was asked by the Education Department to do some class—address some classes. And I also did, for four or five years, whatever, they would have students come in as freshmen for freshman orientation. And the Education Department would have a program, I would address—I was the main speaker of addressing all the students that would come in. And I’d do that for about six weeks, or whatever, in the summer. So, I did that.
[Interviewer #1]: This is at Kent State?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes, at the university with the Education Department.
[Interviewer #1]: Have you done speaking for young people about your experiences at May 4 and as an eyewitness?
[Harold Carpenter]: No, I’ve never done that. Oh, I take that back. I was supervising a student at Kent Roosevelt [High School], and the history teacher asked me if I would come back and I did, yeah. Yeah, I had the class. Yeah, Kent Roosevelt.
[Interviewer #1]: A couple other follow-up questions, if you don’t mind going back in time to Monday, May 4 when you were talking about chasing this person that people were shouting, “This guy has a gun,” could you describe what he looked like for us? And then I’m wondering if you remember or if you knew the other two people that were chasing with you?
[Harold Carpenter]: I didn’t recognize—they had a sport coat on. I think one of them was a Black professor. And I didn’t know him by name, but I figured that’s who they were.
[Interviewer #1]: They were older, so they seemed like Kent State faculty?
[Harold Carpenter]: I might have been wrong, they might not have been professors, but I think they were. Because they—Dr. Frank had a cadre of professors who would, I forget what they called them.
[Interviewer #1]: Oh, the Faculty Marshals.
[Harold Carpenter]: Marshals. And I figured they were a couple of marshals. Yes, he had on a brown suit, a brown sport jacket, it was open—white shirt and he had a camera hanging around his neck and dark hair that was very—coming down in his face. And he was running.
[Interviewer #1]: So, not a crew cut-type hair? But, not super long either.
[Harold Carpenter]: No. no crew cut. Not super long, no.
[Interviewer #1]: Caucasian person?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes, he was.
[Interviewer #1]: Okay, thank you. And then, I’m curious about your neighborhood again. You mentioned that the helicopters—I mean, they were—I’ve heard so many people talk about the helicopters. It was really traumatic for a lot of people. Would you say they were so low, they were kind of almost above the tree line?
[Harold Carpenter]: I suppose they would be at various levels. They would have to be, yes, over the tree line. And, as I say [unintelligible], I could see them on that Sunday evening when they were diving at the students there at the Prentice Gate, so they had to be high enough for me to see them and see them dive and the spotlights and—it was pretty traumatic. They’d come right up my street with the spotlights and fairly low and just very loud.
[Interviewer #1]: Were your children afraid, your young children?
[Harold Carpenter]: They can still remember it, they can still remember it, although one was, as I say—seven, five, and four, I think, were their ages, something like that. Because I told my daughter, five years old then, told her what I was going to do and she said she could remember the helicopters. Yeah, definitely, very traumatic.
[Interviewer #1]: Was there a police presence in your neighborhood? For example, at the Dix home, did they have protection, do you remember?
[Harold Carpenter]: I don’t recall a police car, they were too tied up in other areas. He had a security system in his house and I know that because sometimes it would go off accidentally when a stray animal would walk into his property or something. And it would be a very loud siren, like whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop type of thing. So, I knew he had a—he had a very good security system. And they probably had some—I would guess that they had some special kind of communication with the police department from his home, but I do not know.
[Interviewer #2]: So, after May 4th, how long did your neighborhood and campus feel different?
[Harold Carpenter]: Oh, my. I don’t know if it ever recovered. It was so tense that—let’s see if I can think of anything in particular. It was just very tense. The feelings that I described about the idea that the hotbed of revolution was on campus and all of that, was just very tense and I recall a meeting at the Universal Church in town. [editor’s clarification: The Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent] I can’t tell you when it was. Oh, there were other meetings with the university, they would call campus meetings and so on that I would attend. I don’t know when we kind of settled down. It was probably a gradual kind of thing, probably by the time—well, U. School closed two years later and there was still a lot of tension in the community at that point.
[Interviewer #2]: So, the two years that you had at the U. School following May 4th, how did you then discuss it with your students because it was still fresh [unintelligible]?
[Harold Carpenter]: It was never the same, it was never the same. The disruption—I don’t recall our student body diminishing as did the university student body. I would guess that we probably had a waiting list of people to come on—to get into our school. I can’t recall [unintelligible], but I’m sure it was never the same. I don’t think after that I was calling the Russian Embassy in D.C. and having, you know, dialogue and that sort of thing. I can’t recall particulars. I know that after the announcement was made that the school would close, the students had no regard for the school and they proceeded to dismantle it, they would use magic markers on the lockers and just kind of trash it. As they felt betrayed, and felt upset, disgusted about everything and it was a downer, it was downhill all the way. It was downhill all the way, yeah.
[Interviewer #1]: And the school culture hadn’t been anything like that, prior?
[Harold Carpenter]: Oh, we were up, up. Yeah.
[Interviewer #1]: Is there anything else you’d like to share about how these experiences affected your life over the years? I mean, it sounds like it strongly impacted your teaching career.
[Harold Carpenter]: It did, oh, made all the difference in the world. Totally, my whole life changed, my whole life changed because of May 4th. My—I spoke about my affiliation with the university, my identity and we talk about where you get your identification—my identity, for the most part, was with the university. Now what’s my identity? I lost my identity. And it totally changed my life.
[Interviewer #1]: Did you remain living in Kent? You were commuting to—?
[Harold Carpenter]: I had to live in Kent because my in-laws—I had moved my in-laws next door. The fellow who had the tailor shop, or the clothing shop, he moved out. So, I bought his house and moved my in-laws in there. And I don’t know why he left, but he did, he’d had enough, he moved out. His store closed, I think, fairly shortly after that, so he moved out. So, I bought the house, my in-laws lived there. And then my parents, who lived in Stow, they were getting old and needed help. So, I felt like I couldn’t leave the community and so I stayed there until I say, what, 2002? Something like that.
[Interviewer #1]: So, your children grew up in Kent? And went to Walls School and Roosevelt High School?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yep. You know, the way they phased out the U. School, they closed the high school first. Two years later, the middle school. And then, I think, two years later, the elementary school. And they carried on with the nursery school of some type, I think, for a little while. Or, maybe still do, I don’t know.
[Interviewer #1]: Yeah, that’s still there. Different location, but—
[Harold Carpenter]: But it was a phase out. I went back to the school after it was no longer a school. I walked up to my classroom, I couldn’t believe—they were offices! And, you know, I was like, “That’s my classroom, get out of my classroom!” Get out of my classroom. It was all, it was an office and they had the—
[Interviewer #1]: Is there anything else that you’d like to share that we haven’t covered?
[Harold Carpenter]: I probably will get home and say, “Why didn’t I tell them about—why didn’t I tell them about the long-haired hippies?” I had a class, this was earlier on in the Sixties somewhere. Sometimes, some of the students—this is not a knock, understand, I’m trying to be kind. Sometimes kids who would get in trouble in the public schools, if their parents were well-to-do, whatever, they could move them. They would enroll them in the U. School. Well, okay, so what a nice group of students I’d have, you know, and intermixed would be somebody that got kicked out of public school for drugs or who knows what. So, I had this one kid with long hair and he would tie it up in the back, hair in the back—he did a few wheelies with his motorcycle in front of the school. And I thought it was a riot, the administration didn’t think much of that. But, I had college students came—would come down—almost every class I taught, I would have people watching me, which took a while to get used to it. But, I got used to it.
[Interviewer #1]: Oh, because it was a laboratory school?
[Harold Carpenter]: Yeah, I had observers all the time. They would back there making notes and all that sort of thing. And, this one student said, “You’ve got a person there with this long hair, and it’s tied in the back and hanging down his back. What do you think of that?” I thought it was pretty cool, I don’t know, what do you think? “Well, you know, oh—” And I heard by the grapevine, somebody thought I was a Communist.
[Interviewer #1]: So, these are things you were hearing from the student teachers observing your class?
[Harold Carpenter]: I could tell you funny stories about teaching, but it has nothing to do with this.
Interviewer #1]: But, that story does give us a picture of how polarized things were in the late Sixties in the United States and in Kent, Ohio, as well.
[Harold Carpenter]: Yes, yes. And how could I teach a unit on Black history? And what are you doing having all these Vietnam speakers come in? What are you doing? Don’t you know how to teach history?
[Interviewer #1]: Did you have actual complaints? Do you remember? Like from parents or your boss?
[Harold Carpenter]: I didn’t pay any attention. No, I didn’t really. I didn’t have any problems.
[Interviewer #2]: Did they ever make requests to discuss things in a certain way or to not discuss things at all?
[Harold Carpenter]: From parents, no. Well, yes, but it had nothing to do with this. I had a co-teacher in English who decided we should all go down and see—what’s the name of the movie, with Dustin Hoffman? What’s the name of the movie?
[Interviewer #1]: Little Big Man?
[Harold Carpenter]: No, Dustin Hoffman—
[Interviewer #2]: Midnight Cowboy?
[Harold Carpenter]: No.
[Interviewer #1]: We can pause.
[recording is paused]
[Interviewer #1]: Okay, we’re back on the recording, we’ve identified the title of the film in question: The Graduate.
[Harold Carpenter]: So, I’m a naïve kind of a guy. I’m just, you know. And he says, “All right, we’re going to take this—” my English teacher, we kind of team-taught— “Let’s go down and see The Graduate.” Okay.
[Interviewer #1]: With students? Take the students to the movie?
[Harold Carpenter]: The students. Okay, why not? Tomorrow, we’ll go down. Well, we saw The Graduate. And we come back, and the next thing, there’s an irate parent, “What are you doing!? Taking them down to see The Graduate!?” Yeah. “Well, don’t you know what that girl is doing? Don’t you know what was going on when she’s on the bed with her stocking!?” Yes. “Well, I don’t want my kids to see that!” Okay, sorry about that. But, it’s his fault; I’m with him, okay? Some things like that did occur.
[Interviewer #1]: Well, I think we’ll conclude the interview at this point unless you have any final thoughts. Thank you, Harold, so much, for meeting with us today.
[Harold Carpenter]: It’s been a pleasure. It’s been a pleasure.
[Interviewer #1]: Thank you so much, very generous.
[Mikey Indriolo, The Burr Magazine photographer]: Thank you so much for letting me listen and take pictures. And sharing your story, too, it was wonderful listening.
[Harold Carpenter]: Thanks for being here. Thank you, thank you.
Teacher at Kent State's University School, on the Kent campus, in 1970
|Date of Interview||
In 1970, Harold Carpenter was a high school teacher at Kent State's laboratory school, called the University School, on the Kent campus. He taught history and social studies. In this vivid and detailed oral history, he discusses his life as a teacher, working with Kent State students observing his classes, the mood on campus in the late Sixties, the "town vs. gown" division in the city of Kent, the mood and attitudes of his neighbors, and events that took place in his neighborhood in Kent. He also relates his eyewitness account of the May 4, 1970, shootings and discusses several aspects of the aftermath.
|Length of Interview||
|Time Period discussed||
Armored personnel carriers
Common fallacies--Political aspects
Community and college--Ohio--Kent
Drumm, Don, 1935-. Solar Totem #1
Frank, Glenn W.
High school teachers--Ohio--Kent--Interviews
Hysteria (Social psychology)
Kent (Ohio)--Race relations
Kent State Shootings, Kent, Ohio, 1970
Kent State University. Johnson Hall
Kent State University. ROTC Building--Fires
Kent State University. University School
Kent State University. Victory Bell
Ohio State Highway Patrol
Ohio. Army National Guard
Polarization (Social sciences)
Rhodes, James A. (James Allen), 1909-2001
Searches and seizures--Ohio--Kent
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation
Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Walls Elementary School (Kent, Ohio)
Special Collections and Archives
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Kent State University
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The content of oral history interviews, written narratives and commentaries is personal and interpretive in nature, relying on memories, experiences, perceptions, and opinions of individuals. They do not represent the policy, views or official history of Kent State University and the University makes no assertions about the veracity of statements made by individuals participating in the project. Users are urged to independently corroborate and further research the factual elements of these narratives especially in works of scholarship and journalism based in whole or in part upon the narratives shared in the May 4 Collection and the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project.
May 4 Collection