SEARCH UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark, Oral History
Recorded: January 28, 2020
Interviewed by Kathleen Siebert Medicus
Transcribed by the Kent State University Research & Evaluation Bureau
[Interviewer]: This is Kathleen Siebert Medicus on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, in Special Collections and Archives in the Kent State University Library building on the Kent Campus. And we are doing a recording as part of the May Four Kent State Shootings Oral History Project. Could you please state your name for the recording?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes, my current name is Sheila Freimark, but back when I attended Kent, my name was Sheila Horowitz.
[Interviewer]: Great, thank you. Thank you, Sheila. Do you mind if I call you Sheila during this interview?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Please do.
[Interviewer]: And I just want to thank you so much for driving down and meeting with me today and sharing your story. I really appreciate it.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Thank you. My honor.
[Interviewer]: [00:00:48] Let’s begin with just some brief background about yourself, so we can get to know you a little better. Could you tell us where you were born, where you grew up?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, I was born in Cleveland, east side, a suburb called South Euclid. And, I had three brothers: two older, one younger. So, I was the only girl. And the oldest was not interested in college. The second oldest was, and since I had a lot of sibling rivalry between him and I, I wanted to go to college too. And in high school, I was a pretty average teenage girl, but probably a little on the nerdy side. The high school I went to, this was going to be their last year—my senior year was the last year that they were going to have a dress code. And the dress code was that you wore your skirts long enough so if you kneeled, they would touch the floor. And so, the idea of going to college I thought would be kind of like Seventeen magazine.
[Interviewer]: Fashion freedom.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Right, exactly. And which, of course, turned out to be very different back then. And, in high school I had started singing and playing guitar. So, I was into the folk music scene. And I did some Dylan, but I wouldn’t ever say that, in high school, I had a revolutionary bone in my body. It was pretty much family, friends, and school. Yeah.
[Interviewer]: [00:03:14] What brought you to Kent State?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Well, the brother that was going to college, he had a friend who I had a crush on since I was a little girl, and his name was Sid Henkin. And he had gone to Kent and he, in my senior year, came and said, “When you think about colleges, think about going to Kent.” He was going to be graduating that year, that I was a senior in high school. So, he said that he had really enjoyed his time in Kent. And since he didn’t have any siblings, he kind of felt very brotherly towards me, and suggested that I go to his alma mater. And so, when I was looking at colleges, I came down to look at Kent. And I wanted to go far away, I wanted to be so far away from home. But you know what, that almost hour that it took to get here, that convinced me that I could be far and yet close. And Kent just seemed to have a lot of the things that I was looking for in a college. A liberal arts education with a lot of variety so that, if I changed my mind, I could just stay at Kent.
[Interviewer]: [00:04:41] You mentioned it was fall of 1969, that you started as a freshman?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Right. That I started, yes. My birthday is September nineteenth, so I started when I was seventeen, and became eighteen while I was here. And I thought I would rebel. So, my skirts that had all been long, to touch the floor when I kneeled, I made them all miniskirts. And I thought, I’m going to rebel, and because I was so used to wearing skirts to classes, to class, I wore skirts to class. I wasn’t in, I didn’t, you know, jeans were for changing into when I got home, back to, you know, and they were straight-legged jeans. So, I would wear my short skirts, sometimes with tights and sometimes without tights, and I felt very rebellious. But I remember a teacher saying to me, “It’s nice to see someone wearing skirts.” And I thought, Wow, you know, he’s right, I’m the only one. But I felt so rebellious doing that.
[Interviewer]: Just having a shorter skirt.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Just having a shorter skirt. So, my mindset my freshmen—especially my freshmen first semester, fall semester, was still thinking I’m rebellious in a little way, not in a big way. And so, and it took the boyfriend in my sophomore year to get me my first pair of bell-bottoms.
[Interviewer]: Were they bell-bottom jeans, or—?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Bell-bottom jeans, oh yeah. Bell-bottom jeans that I properly let fray, and that I then embroidered with peace signs and animals and any little rickrack decorations that I could do. So, you know.
[Interviewer]: Do you still have those?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No. Don’t I wish? Oh, my goodness, oh do I wish I had those jeans. Yeah, they were pretty awesome.
[Interviewer]: [00:06:51] And what was your major when you arrived? What were you starting out studying?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Well, because I had done some theater in high school, I thought I would be a speech major. And wasn’t sure what I was going to do with that, but I enjoyed public speaking. I had done a lot of not so much debate as it was public speaking. I had won—back in those days, I guess that would have been my high school—I graduated high school June 9, 1969. Six nine sixty-nine. And I had won the storytelling award for—first I had won it for Cleveland. And then I had won it for Ohio and went to Colorado and came in second nationally. If I had won first, I would have gone to Scotland for the international storytelling. So, I really enjoyed speaking.
[Interviewer]: What a great experience.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, it was an awesome experience. So, and I don’t think that exists anymore, that contest. And so I thought I’d be a major in speech. But then, just to finish my major information, my second year of college, the recreation major had started. And I thought it sounded like fun, like maybe I’ll work in the circus! Childhood dreams! But because of all the social-action issues of the day, everything that was going on with civil rights and all, I changed in my junior year to a major in sociology with a minor in anthropology. Then my dream became becoming the next Margaret Mead, the wonderful woman who traveled around the world and looked at cultures, similarities and differences. And that interested me very much. But also, since I’m a people person and like people, this sociology aspect interested me as well. And it could be that all the things that were going on in Kent, and the times, also interested me about people and how they react and why they do the things they do at different times. So, and later, a few years after I graduated college, I decided if I was going to travel around the world like Margaret Mead, I would, it’d be best for me to have another skill and so I went into nursing. So, my adult life was more as a nurse.
[Interviewer]: In a nursing career.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: But I never did go traveling around the world like I thought I would go from island to island and village to village and see how people live. But I’ve done a fair share of traveling that I could still see.
[Interviewer]: Good. And did you do the nursing degree at Kent State also, or that was elsewhere?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No, I did that elsewhere.
[Interviewer]: [00:10:29] I’m going to take a short break, just for a quick sec.
[recording pauses and resumes]
[Interviewer]: [00:10:36] All right, this is Kathleen Siebert Medicus, we’re back after a short break. And I’d like to ask you, Sheila, when you first arrived on campus, were you seeing a lot of protests, anti-war or civil rights? If you could maybe give us a picture of that and what your impressions were of that.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes, there was some of that, protests going on but, as a freshman, I felt like I had to be more aware of what I was doing than getting involved in things. When I, my freshmen year, and it might, I don’t know if it was, but I imagine it was so, the fall of 1969, my freshmen class, as in past classes, the students were handed these little beanies, which were known as “dinks,” the freshmen dink. The purpose of the dink was so that upperclassmen can be aware of who we were and offer to help us if we looked lost. And this was the time when there were, I could picture now, there were many of us that put on our dink because we were lost on this big campus. But I spoke to many other of the freshmen in my dorm, and they said no way were they going to wear their dink. So, I didn’t wear it for very long, but I was aware that this was probably a thing of the past. And it was going the way of dress codes and all those things. So, I didn’t wear it long, but I find it interesting that I was part of that class.
My dad was— he was in the army for World War II, and he felt very strongly that the war was a good thing, the Vietnam War. And my oldest brother got out of it for medical reasons, the second oldest went to college, and then there was the youngest, who’s a year and a half younger than I, who my dad kept on saying, “You know, it’ll make a man out of you. You gotta go.” And my younger brother, like me, we were playing guitar, and he was—all my brothers were long-hairs. That upset my dad. And my younger brother said if it comes to it, he’s going to find a gun and shoot his foot, so he wouldn’t have to fight, or he would just run off to Canada. So, my dad was very agitated with that attitude. And he also was agitated with the long-hairs. So, but my brothers and I all were against the Vietnam War. And we were aware that we were clashing with dad. So, coming to campus and hearing more about why the war was wrong was backing up my own feelings about the Vietnam War.
[Interviewer]: [00:14:30] And there must have been boys that you knew from high school, and that you were meeting in school that, you know, had been drafted or could be drafted.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. Yes. And I knew some kids in high school, some boys in high school that, because their dads were in the military at some point, you know, they felt they should go too.
[Interviewer]: It was expected.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: It was just expected. I went to a high school with eight hundred students in my senior year and so there were a good number who then went into the military.
[Interviewer]: Yeah, that’s a large class.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, yeah. So, the prevailing attitude in the spring of 1970, after I had already been there for two semesters, and I was a wiser, older freshman, I was starting to understand more of why people were getting involved in protests and demonstrations.
[Interviewer]: [00:15:37] So, during that freshmen year, was your father aware that you were becoming more tuned into that, or just learning more about the protests? Was he aware of how many protests were happening on campus and concerned?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No, he wasn’t. I think it felt far away from him. And I’m trying to remember watching the news with him since this was always on the news, the latest battles in Vietnam. And we had other family relatives that were very much against the protests—protesting young people. So, I think he tried to tone it down since we were the most radical in the family, my brothers and I. He felt like he had to, my dad, had to keep it toned down because the other relatives—other relatives were, my brothers would remember better, what names some of my uncles would call them. You know, besides just being a dirty long-hair or something like that. “Why don’t you want to go fight?” It was kind of like politics are now, you don’t want to talk about it with a lot of family members, you know, uncles and aunts, because everyone’s got their own opinion, and it can get very nasty.
[Interviewer]: Right, and if the family’s together, people want to keep the peace for Thanksgiving, et cetera.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Want to keep the peace, yes. Yeah. I did not participate, at that time, in any of the protests. I was making friends. Since I was singing and playing guitar and trying to meet the other people, I remember going to—there was a coffee house in which then I would hear some of the songs people were singing, either from the ones that were on the radio or the ones that people were writing about anti-war and anti-fighting. I mean, everyone was singing. Everyone was into the protest music. I was a big Phil Ochs fan, and he had songs about protest. And all the other great bands of the time that were protesting.
[Interviewer]: [00:18:20] Was it an exciting place to be in Kent with all the music going on downtown?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Oh, very exciting. Oh yeah. Yes, it was great.
[Interviewer]: And once you turned eighteen, you could get in.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Once I turned eighteen. But I took my first sip of beer, I think, and I hated the taste. So, I wasn’t one to go to the bars to get drunk. I really did not like that.
[Interviewer]: And as an eighteen-year-old, the only thing you would be allowed to drink was the 3.2 beer.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: 3.2, which was pretty bad. And probably that’s why the taste—that’s why the taste was so terrible.
[Interviewer]: But you were able to go and hear the bands that were coming and Joe Walsh and all the famous—?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. Exactly.
[Interviewer]: Very exciting. And were you performing yourself, as a freshman yet?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No. No, I was—
[Interviewer]: Maybe with friends. In the dorm.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: With friends. That’s what I was doing. And so, so that freshmen year, I would go to coffee houses, and I can’t remember, I think I’d play like more like my, you know, my Peter Paul and Mary songs or whatever rather than anything too radical.
[Interviewer]: [00:19:33] And tell us about your dorm, your freshmen year.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: So, I lived in Terrace Hall. And Terrace Hall was in a great location, I felt. Near to Main Street. Close to the Music and Speech Center where I was taking a lot of classes. But, as a freshman, I was doing all my, I don’t know if they’re still required classes, but I had a lot of required classes that had me going to many places on the campus. So, I can’t remember, I remember I had something in Bowman, so I remember I was often going across The Commons to Bowman Hall. And I just enjoyed, I’m a real nature-lover, so just coming to The Commons area. I remember in winter, I heard it was tradition to take a cafeteria tray and sled ride down the hill at The Commons, because there was the hill. And everyone was sled riding down the hill on that. This was also, you had some trees on the hill, and so I learned that that was a make-out place.
[Interviewer]: So as a freshman, you already knew about Blanket Hill.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: So, I had a, had a, so I had a boyfriend my freshman year, and so I got to know Blanket Hill a little bit.
[Interviewer]: [00:21:15] Did you, a lot of people talk about the, now I’m blanking out, there were these bushes, flowering bushes.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: The lilacs. So, Lilac Lane.
[Interviewer]: Lilac Lane, thank you.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Lilac Lane was definitely one of my favorite places, but of course the lilacs wouldn’t be blooming until spring. But I was very much aware of that, and this was just a fun place to come out, throw frisbees, fly kites. And the campus was beautiful. There were areas that were very windy when you crossed certain places in, going I guess more towards Bowman. There was a—
[Interviewer]: There’s a big wind here at the library.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: —there was a botany place, there was a, like a greenhouse, because I took some classes there that freshmen year.
[Interviewer]: Yeah, maybe over here? [referring to a physical map]
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah.
[Interviewer]: So, Williams Hall.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: And it was very windy going to some of those classes. And I had something in the gym. So, I remember going to all these places, the whole campus, and learning how to get around. And I had friends that came from high school who stayed in, who were living in Prentice Hall. And so I’d go to some of the dorms to visit people. I think Engleman [Hall] was a girl’s dorm, because this is back before there were coed dorms. Although, I think there were starting to be some coed at Tri-Towers. But maybe it was just floors, I can’t remember. But at the girl dorms, you had a curfew of when the guys had to leave and same as at the guy dorms.
[Interviewer]: So, at the time, 1969, Terrace Hall was all women.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: All women.
[Interviewer]: And you had a curfew?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: We had a curfew. Yeah. And my dorm room was, I don’t know how to describe, but it was, since Terrace was like a great big cross, my room could—I could see from there, I could see The Commons. Or at least in the direction of the Commons. And I would be able to see in the direction of—with an unblocked view of the ROTC building.
[Interviewer]: Okay. So you were on that end of the building near Verder Hall?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: On that end of the building, yeah.
[Interviewer]: And your window faced Engleman, okay. Okay, great. [00:23:56] Well, maybe this is a good time to move into asking you about your memories of the days leading up to the shootings. Maybe that April thirtieth?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Well, it says, “Do you remember the environment in your classes in the spring in 1970?” And, I decided, oh, you know, I had done well on my first two semesters, I’ll just take more classes. Instead of four classes, which is a load, I thought I would take five classes.
[Interviewer]: Oh, in each quarter? Wow, okay.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Well, no, just for the spring semester, because I had gotten, I took three or four real easy ones in the spring, took four in the winter, I thought I would take five in the spring. And, so, I don’t remember too much about the environment of the classrooms themselves. And because I was a freshman, I was not too much aware of how the Kent town felt about the Kent students. So, I heard rumors about that there were tensions. But I really kept myself excluded from knowing much more about that.
So yeah, so as you could see, I probably was not a rebel-type my freshmen year, but I was very much interested in the news of the day, like everyone was back then. And so, I remember very clearly, and I don’t remember where the TV was in the dorm, but I remember I would try to catch at some time during the news, whether it would be the early news or the eleven o’clock news, and I did hear on Thursday, April thirtieth, talk that President Nixon had been on TV and announced that troops were going to be sent into Cambodia. And that really surprised me because I really felt that there had been talk that the war wasn’t going to be expanding and now he was saying he’s sending troops in. So, that’s what I remember about that Thursday evening, was just people saying, “Did you hear? Can you believe?” You know, “What’s going to happen next?” So, on May first, on Friday, it was—it was just a beautiful spring. I mean, the spring at that time was just glorious.
[Interviewer]: And it had been a rough winter too, it had been a long winter.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: It had been a rough winter. Oh yeah, very deep, lots and lots of wind. I remember feeling that I was going to be blown away by one of those strong winds. And I think I decided, on some of those, I’m not going to wear my short skirts, I’m wearing my jeans to class! But, in the evening, some of us decided to stay in and socialize in the dorm, Friday evening. And I think I was getting together with some friends and we were just going to be singing, playing guitar, just having, just some quiet time. And, I remember hearing, later in the evening, must have been around ten, commotions outside. And we heard people shooting, “No more war! No more war!” And we went outside because it was nice out and we were looking towards Main Street. And that there were these people shooting, “No more war!” But there were a lot of people shouting, “No more war.” And they were walking down Main Street.
[Interviewer]: Walking on Main Street.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Walking on Main Street. Yeah. Like they were coming back from town.
[Interviewer]: Coming back from downtown, okay.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Coming back from downtown. So, I was not aware that what had happened down at the bars until I saw that there were a lot of people drunk and angry and shouting, “No more war!” And it wasn’t until on Saturday, that I heard about all the damage that had been done to the downtown stores, a lot of broken glass and that it had gotten pretty ugly between townspeople and students. So, but I stayed inside and studied because I really wanted to save Sunday, some of us had planned to just have a day off and do some fun things outside on Sunday. So, I probably, I must have been in my dorm in the evening and hanging out with friends and the boyfriend and doing all sorts of just stuff there, when we heard loud voices coming onto campus. And, went outside to get a better look, but from—but saw that it was like a mob coming onto the campus. And we saw the ROTC Building flames, coming from that area. And being amazed, they’ve set the ROTC building on fire! Unbelievable. And I remember sirens and bullhorns of people shouting. It was a warm night and the campus felt very restless. It had usually been peaceful. I had been walking all hours of the day and night outside and never felt anything but just this quiet, peaceful feeling about how lovely a campus it was. And now, there were flames, and there was a lot of restlessness.
[Interviewer]:[00:30:32] That, when you heard the voices, this is on Saturday, and you saw, you said, a big group of people, a mob, coming onto campus, again, were they coming up Main Street from, which direction? Or where did you see them, if you remember?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Okay, so, wait, where is, here’s Terrace [referring to a physical map].
[Interviewer]: Here’s Terrace [Hall] on the map.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I think by the time, I don’t, I think that by that time, I was more aware of them already, because I think I was in my room. I was more aware of them here.
[Interviewer]: In The Commons area?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: In The Commons area. And, definitely, definitely somewhere where they were—you know, the building was on fire.
[Interviewer]: Near the Student Union.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I could see the flames from the ROTC Building. And, probably, you know, got, we probably walked near Engleman Hall. I did not want to join the mob. I felt I wanted to watch the mob, but I didn’t want to be part of the mob.
[Interviewer]: It must have been scary. Especially with the fire.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Scary. It was very scary to see a fire being started. And the ROTC Building, having walked past it many times, was like a shack. It really wasn’t much of a, it was not a, to call it a building is kind of like—
[Interviewer]: It was one story. A temporary building, really.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: —it was, yeah. I think it was wood, that’s why it caught on fire so easily. But it was more like a shack where they kept things that they would use for drills, maybe. But it was not a substantial building that I remember. Because I remember walking past it many times. Because the Student Union was right by. So, if I was at the Student Union and then going on to a class, you know—
I would walk around. I would walk around it. Because The Commons area had, there were shortcuts everywhere to walk places. And it was fun to walk to. Yeah. Because there were classes I had all the way, I remember I once made a map of my classes and it was like a zigzag to go different places. So, it was something.
[Interviewer]: So, by then, you knew the campus pretty well, the end of your freshmen year.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. And, but Sunday morning, it was truly memorable. I woke to the sound of helicopters flying overhead. And I looked out of my dorm window, because there was a parking lot, [referring to physical map] here’s Terrace, there was a parking lot near my dorm, and near where I was. This was parking lot, and there was an armored tank parked, just sitting outside of my dorm window. And with an armored tank it felt, then, like I was on a battleground. With helicopters flying overhead and an armored tank outside. And it was very upsetting. But the sun was shining. And the friends and I, who had planned a walk that day, and just to be outside, having fun, maybe taking a walk to town or whatever we were planning to do, that had changed. And there were going to be four or five of us, but we heard that Martial Law had been set that you could not walk in more than a group of three. So, we kept, we walked in groups of two or three and, but we walked around campus. We wanted to see the whole campus and were there—
[Interviewer]: What was happening.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: —what was happening. So, and there they were, National Guard soldiers with bayonets on their rifles. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe I’m at Kent State and there’s soldiers here? It was such a lovely day. And we wanted to be near the lilacs, the lilac bushes and Lilac Lane were just perfect. It couldn’t have been a prettier day. And we heard that people were protesting. Students were protesting that the National Guard had no right being there. And, although I agreed with that they should not—agreed that the National Guard should not be there, I still wasn’t ready to join a mob, to protest. So, I walked around, and just could not believe what I was seeing.
[00:35:40] So then, we come to May 4th, and I had early morning classes, because I thought, if I take early morning classes, I’ll have more time during the day to either study or have fun. And, being a speech major that year, one of my morning classes was speech. And my teacher gave us an assignment, go to the rally at twelve noon, and then write a paper on the rhetoric used.
So, I thought, All right, I’m going to go to the rally. Because by this point, I thought we had something very legitimate to complain about. And that was not asking too much, have the National Guard leave the campus, go away. Stop making us feel we were a battleground. And so being short, you cannot see that since you’re listening to me.
[Interviewer]: The word is petite.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: The word is petite. I went right up to the front. I got as close to the [Victory] Bell as I could. And was in the midst of all these people. And I watched the speakers getting themselves organized. And I also then watched the National Guard arrange themselves on the crest of the hill behind us. And I got there early enough to just kind of take it all in, just watch more people coming, the National Guard forming, and just saw how The Commons just filled with people. And I felt very cozy among all these people that it was just wonderful to be part of this, and to feel that we were right and just, and that it was going to be listening to speeches. And I had my notebook, to take my notes on the rhetoric used.
[Interviewer]: [00:37:47] Did you have a camera also?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I did not have a camera.
[Interviewer]: You had your notebook.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I had my notebook. I had no idea that I would need to have a, wish for my camera. So, the National Guard were shouting to disperse as people were getting more and more together. I remember hearing them, “Disperse. Disperse. You are not allowed to,” what’s the word, con-
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: —congregate. “You’re not allowed to congregate.” This is more Martial Law, no groups allowed. “Break up, go home, go back to your dorms.” So but, by that time, I felt I was there to protest them and I wasn’t leaving. This was our campus. And I felt that so strongly. This is our campus. This is my campus. I love this. I don’t want this National Guard here. And so, I stayed.
[Interviewer]: And your professor had sanctioned going.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Had sanctioned going. Yeah.
[Interviewer]: [00:39:02] So, which authority figure do you listen to? That must have been in the back of your mind, maybe.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Well, I was already feeling like they should leave. I was already ready to yell and scream for them to leave. So, I guess I became part of that mob, finally, feeling, you know, You go home. Because I did not like the feeling of an armored tank and helicopters overhead and destroying the peacefulness of what I considered my home, my campus. And they began throwing tear gas into the crowd. And, at first, I guess, it was hitting the outskirts, let’s see [referring to physical map], if the National Guard were here, right? Then, and here’s the Victory Bell, here, this is probably more like it, there. So, because there’s here, and I was like right around here, but there were so many people all around. I think the first canisters were hitting here, because I remember people running from behind, there. But then, the National Guard were kind of coming forward.
[Interviewer]: Okay. So, for the recording, the National Guard were moving from the area of the Student Union, toward Taylor [Hall], and tear gas was kind of landing in the middle between the Student Union and the Victory Bell.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah. But it was effective in getting students to disperse. So, a tear gas canister landed near me and popped and I did get tear-gassed and the fumes were burning my eyes. And became very disorientated then, at where I was running. But I felt that my dorm was too far to run back to to just get water on my eyes. So, I began working my way towards Taylor [Hall], and then realized that, I heard someone say that there’s a bathroom near Prentice [Hall] that would be easy to get into. So, I ran into this area of Prentice [referring to physical map??], which I don’t know what direction this is, it’s the—
[Interviewer]: Right near Taylor Hall.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: —near Taylor Hall. And I was splashing water on my eyes in the restroom there, when someone ran in and said that they were shooting at the students. “They’re shooting at us! They’re shooting at us!” She was screaming and crying. And I, me, who had never heard a gun before, remembered the sound of the canister of tear gas popping when it landed by my feet. And I tried to be reassuring and said, “Oh, that’s the sound of a tear gas canister, not bullets.” And she said to me, screaming, “Oh yeah? Then why are people bleeding!?” And I remember just standing there feeling stunned and scared that—what has happened? What is going on? And I was debating, Do I want to run and join the mob to yell at them to go out, because here I was already close enough to Taylor [Hall] that I could easily go out. But a friend of mine said, “Your eyes are a mess,” you know. “I’ll lead you through Prentice Hall to be closer to then Verder Hall to get over to Terrace,” because she said, “If they’re truly shooting bullets at us, we should not be out there.”
And, so, snaked through Prentice [Hall] to be closer, away from Taylor Hall and the parking lot there, where people were saying everything was going on. Because I had already, I guess, missed the students going then past the, you know, past the pagoda and past—towards the football field, and then coming back. I was—everything happened so fast. Everything happened so fast.
[Interviewer]: And you, you probably couldn’t see very well, but luckily—
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I couldn’t see.
[Interviewer]: —you ran up Blanket Hill and then went left instead of right.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. Yes. Every May 4th, I say, but for the grace of God, it could have been me. Because, if I had not been tear-gassed I was ready to stay with the students. And I felt numb. All ready there, by the time I got to Prentice, in that short time, the word was going around that the campus was closing. And I think I just sat down on my bed and cried. My eyes were hurting. I couldn’t tell if I was numb-crying, or tear-gas-crying. Water doesn’t help it right away. Or both. I called—I called home.
[Interviewer]: [00:44:37] So, by then you were back in your dorm room in Terrace.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Back in my dorm, and I heard that my younger brother had heard about what was going at Kent. And, as my mom used to tell the story, my younger brother literally said, “Mom, where are the keys to your car? I’m going to go get Sheila.” Yeah, and of course, you take what you can. You leave a lot behind. There was traffic. It was hard, you know, there were no cellphones. There was only one phone in a dorm. And somehow, we found each other, and you know, I guess I stayed in my room, thinking this is where he would look.
[Interviewer]: [00:45:28] So can we back up just a little bit? You got to your room, you were crying, how did know your brother was coming, or—?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I think I called home. There was a long line at the phone, but I called home because I wanted my mom to know that campus was, not its usual and that something had happened.
[Interviewer]: And that you were okay.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: And, that I was okay, and that the campus was closing, I’d have to get picked up.
[Interviewer]: So, you waited in this long line and you were able to get through to your mom?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Able to get through to my mom.
[Interviewer]: Thank goodness.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah. And, and then word got around, or I don’t know, I guess I got something in the mail that said you’ll finish your classes via correspondence with your teacher.
And that was a very interesting day, of how it just is in my brain, all those visuals and all those feelings. And, two months later, so I worked, because that was May, and I got some job at a restaurant for that summer, and, but by August, my younger brother and I decided we wanted to take a little road trip, and see—he wanted to see mountains, I wanted to see the ocean, so we took a couple sleeping bags and decided we would go to New England and see the coast. And one day, in Vermont and New Hampshire, I can’t remember which, I wore my Kent State t-shirt. And we went in some place to have breakfast, and a man came up to me and spat on me and said, “I wish they had killed more of you.” And I looked at him, and I said, “Look at me.” I said, “Do you really wish I was dead?” And he said, “You and this creep are long-haired troublemakers, you should leave.” Yeah, so the feeling of that, wearing your Kent State t-shirt can cause such negativity and hatred, it absolutely—
[Interviewer]: That’s a sad story.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: —it’s very sad.
[Interviewer]: It must have been shocking.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: It was very shocking. It was very shocking to feel that. And I continued to wear my t-shirt and wore it more often just to see what reactions I would get. And I would get mixed reactions like that, but it’s the first time you remember. It’s the first time you’re spat on and you are told that they wished more of you were killed.
[Interviewer]: That would definitely be—make an impression. [00:49:10] Did you, when you first got home, that day in May, did you have any experiences like that with neighbors or your father, even?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No. Oh no, my dad was just so grateful, you know. I think it scared my parents. You know, “Do you really want to go back there?” And I did want to go back. And in fact, it did kind of radicalize me. The first May 4th, so in May of 1971, there was a sleep-in [referring to a physical map], where was the Library? Here’s Terrace.
[Interviewer]: The library at that time was in Rockwell Hall.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: The library was here—right, Rockwell Hall. So, there was a moratorium, not going to class, and a sleep-in. And my boyfriend at the time says, “You know, we should do this.” And there was already word that the police were going to arrest everybody who was sleeping there.
[Interviewer]: Okay. And the plan was to sleep outside, or?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: It was sleep outside. Oh yeah. So many students, I remember this huge crowd and we were just going to sleep outside to, all night. and make the memorial.
[Interviewer]: On the front campus, in that wooded area.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Maybe, well, I don’t know how wooded it was, because I remember there—
[Interviewer]: It was grassy.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: —it was grassy. It was grassy.
[Interviewer]: A few trees, I guess.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, it was very grassy, because I remember there were a lot of people in the area. And, so it must have been, I don’t know if it was May third going into May fourth, as a memorial, or May fourth going into May fifth. But I don’t think they arrested anybody, at least we did it, we stayed out all night. And stayed, I think there were candles, people were burning candles in memory.
[Interviewer]: [00:51:33] This is right near Rockwell Hall. Was the mood—what was the mood? Was it solemn, or was it more festive? Or both?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: It was, We cannot forget. We cannot forget that our fellow students were shot and wounded, and four died, four—now of course the ones that died—so innocent, innocent lives. That the National Guard had taken over our campus because of Governor Rhodes, because of this get tough with long-hairs, get tough with protestors, because Nixon had expanded the war. There was a lot of speeches of Why did Kent State happen? What kind of atmosphere is in the country at this time? When is the war going to end? All the issues of the day. Of all the unfairness.
[Interviewer]: So, there were a lot of speeches, I mean, into the night.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: A lot of speeches. I think the lottery system was—the lottery system was also 1971. Or something like that.
[Interviewer]: Yeah, it may have started in ’69, maybe.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: It may have started, but I know in ’71 it affected my younger brother, who was, as I already said, contemplating what he would do, and he got a number that got him out. So, but there were a lot of things to protest, of unfairness.
[Interviewer]: [00:53:37] What about your, you said you had a boyfriend at the time, did he have a low number, or did he have a safe number?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, he had a safe number. And, but I think that also, wasn’t it because, if you were in college, you were exempt?
[Interviewer]: Deferred, yeah.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, so, and that’s why a lot of people were in college, because they could be exempt. Even if they weren’t really interested in school. And this was a time of a lot of marijuana use, so there were people who were there having a good time on campus and just thankful that they weren’t in the war. If they were males, that they were not in the military. So I don’t know, have you—pause.
[Interviewer]: Okay. Let’s pause for one second again.
[recording pauses and resumes]
[Interviewer]: [00:54:42] This is Kathleen Siebert Medicus, we’re back after a short break, and we’re going to pick up with Sheila, with her memories of that sleep-in, in the grassy area next to Rockwell Hall, in 1971.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, so the next time I went to class, and I, let’s see, if May fourth was on a Monday in 1970, chances are, in ’71, it was May 4th was a Tuesday. And, I remember going to my class, and, my first class, and it was business as usual. And that first, I’m trying to remember what the class was, something in which we were all in a room, but seated around like a conference table. And whatever the class was, I remember, I can be outspoken, and fifteen minutes before the class ended, I said to the teacher, I said, “I’d like to say something.” And I said that I attended the memorial for May 4th, and it’s so weird to come back the next day to business as usual. And I said, I object to there being business as usual when something terrible has happened and I wish more people could just stop and think about, you know, business as usual means everything’s okay and everything’s not okay. And I’d like to talk about it. And to find out why some people choose to ignore what had happened and others choose to be involved. And so, the class kind of then moved into that direction, and I was very appreciative. Because I felt a lot of things bottled up inside of me that I couldn’t sort. And there were, I also recall, the morning of May fourth, I can picture it. Where— [referring to physical map]?
[Interviewer]: The morning of May 4, 1971?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: 1971. How many news people. There were people all around campus wanting to interview us and saying, “Were you here last year? What do you think of this year? How does it feel? Were you afraid to come back to campus for your—after that happened?” And there might have even have been some of that in September when we returned, but I remember it very clearly on May fourth, there were people who wanted to say, say something about May 4th.
[Interviewer]: [00:58:08] Were you interviewed? Were you recorded?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, I was recorded. I had said something to the effect, I had no qualms about returning. I wanted to return to Kent State. And I don’t want May 4th to be forgotten about. What happened here was terrible, so it has to be honored as a dark day, a black day.
[Interviewer]: Did you parents see you on the evening news, then, do you know?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No, you know what, there was, I don’t even know where that person was from. There were so many people from so many different news outlets.
[Interviewer]: So, that must have been strange in a different way, you know.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Strange in a different way.
[Interviewer]: Another invasion of campus.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, yeah. And, at that time, Kent State, I think there were 12,000 students.
[Interviewer]: Yeah, thereabouts. Maybe fifteen.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Thereabouts, maybe twelve to fifteen. Right, it was somewhere in that area, yeah. And so, I felt we were a large enough group, they could have interviewed, they couldn’t interview everybody, but they could get a large cross-section and decide what they want to cut and snip for their evening news.
[Interviewer]: [00:59:37] When you were at the sleep-in, were there a lot of people you knew, or was it kind of mixed, people you recognized maybe just because you’d seen them on campus, but—?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: It was mixed. At that point, there were already some faces of protestors who you recognize as the leaders on campus of the protests.
[Interviewer]: Okay. They were students), but they were very involved in the organizations.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: They were students and they were very involved. Yeah. And so, you looked at them as our leaders and as our spokespeople. And I honestly felt that they were doing a very good job.
[Interviewer]: [01:00:21] And that day, on May 4 , when you spoke up in class, and asked to talk about what happened a year ago rather than class as usual, you felt—it sounds like your professor heard you, you were heard, and he or she was willing to let the class time be used to talk about how you all felt?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. And that’s now the end of my sophomore year and, for a lot of different reasons, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with college, period. I was already starting to feel like, I don’t want to run off and join the circus as a recreation major.
[Interviewer]: Okay, right, that was your sophomore major.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: The recreation major also does other things besides that.
[Interviewer]: Right, as you learned over the course of your sophomore year.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: As I learned over the course of the year. But I began getting more interested in people and I had taken a sociology class in my sophomore year, in that spring of my sophomore year. And I was starting to think now I would go into something like sociology. To understand people and to study groups of people. It was starting to get interesting to me, that this could be a science and something interesting to learn about. And oh, I should have brought my transcript to see who this teacher was that inspired me. I know, I think Dr. Lovejoy was anthropology and Dr. Lewis was sociology, so I had both of them, I just don’t remember the order I had them in. But it was—can I go on then with, into my junior year?
[Interviewer]: [01:02:18] Sure, let’s do that, yeah.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: So, the summer after my sophomore year, I told my mom I was going to drop out. And she asked me if there was anything that I was interested in, I said—that Kent offered—and I said, “Yes there was. There was a program known as the Black Experience Program that I would have had to have signed up earlier for.” And that was a program that had been going on for a couple years already, in which thirty students were selected, and I don’t know out of how many, to be part of something known as the Black experience. Now, in the late Sixties, early Seventies, the two words, “Black experience,” expressed many things, but it was trying to get the white population to understand that what Blacks experience is different and harder than what whites experience. And I told my mom, I said, “They’ve already chosen their thirty and I’m too late.” I had missed the deadline. And, my mom, never one to give up, says, “Well, you can at least talk to someone and see what they say.” So, I made an appointment to meet with whoever it was that was in charge of this program. And I said, “I know I’m late,” I said, “But, if anyone drops out is there any chance that I could get in?” And he said, “Well, you know what, let’s just make an exception and we’ll have you be the thirty-first.”
[Interviewer]: Good for your mom.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah. So, that meant that my junior year, I was going to be in—and this was a program, it took up your whole semester. So, there were thirty-one of us, so usually if there were thirty, there were five, four or five instructors, and they were all African American. And they would divide us into groups of five and six and each day we would go to do something different. We would either go to a hospital, or a jail, or we’d read books, or we would interview with people who are city planners. Many many different things. And then Fridays were reserved for getting back together as a group and talking about what you had experienced during the week. What had you learned, how did you feel about things? And many different things.
[Interviewer]: So, you take no other classes during this?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No others. It was a one solid semester of nothing but that.
[Interviewer]: That’s very experimental.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Very. Well, Kent State had its rep because of May 4th, and this Black Experience Program was very unique in the country. And word came out, somewhere, who knows how these things spread and who tells who and how it happens, but Life magazine heard about this Black Experience Program at Kent State. And it could be that maybe someone in administration at Kent said, “Hey, we need some positive P.R. Let’s let,” you know, who knows how it happened, I do not know how Life magazine found out about the program. All I know is that one day our instructors say, Life magazine is going to come and make an article on our class.
Part of your Black Experience was an optional, towards the end, a few days living with a Black family. And so, it was not mandatory, it was an optional. I already had signed up that I wanted to do that. When the photographer and the reporter came to meet the class, they met us as a group. And they said that they were going to go around to all the different homes where people were going to be living and see how everyone’s doing and make an article based on all the students, or several students, where they are. And because there was one gal who was going to be with a family with like ten kids, and it was going to be, you know, everyone had different houses. And I was assigned two elderly women who also babysit for a little baby, a grandchild of theirs. But after the photographer and reporter came to meet the class as a whole, they said they’d like to talk to whoever wants to go to the Robin Hood. They were going to get a beer, and anyone could join them to talk.
And so there were like maybe six or seven of us who joined the reporter and photographer for a beer. And to talk about what they’d been experiencing and talk about Kent, and talk about May 4th, who knows. I don’t know what we talked about that day. All I know is that I was among the group of maybe ten of us that went to the Robin Hood. So, I kind of was expecting, you know, who knows what. Just what they were talking, and what they had said they were going to do the article on, the whole group. So, I was a little bit shocked and surprised when my instructor, who came to pick me up to take me to the family I was going to be living with, had with him the reporter and the photographer asking if they could base the whole article on me and my experience.
[Interviewer]: Oh, my goodness.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: And I just was amazed. They said, “This means that, you know, we’ll be there the whole time. You’ve got to act as natural as you can. You do whatever you do, we’ll be there from morning till night and we’ll leave when you go to sleep.”
[Interviewer]: [01:09:22] When you’re having this experience staying with this family?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: When I’m having this experience, yeah. Yeah. So, so that was pretty amazing. I’m this petite little Jewish gal who grew up in a white suburb. I was very interested in understanding what this Black experience was all about. I had already felt the unfairness during civil rights, even when I was in, just to back track, I remember my mom had a cleaning lady sometimes, and she was African American, and she didn’t have a car. My mom would drive her to the bus. And I sometimes would sit and talk with her about, you know, where do you live, and what do, where do your kids do, and all sorts of different questions. And I remember crying, thinking her life is so different and so hard.
And so, these two women, when in the evenings, one of our favorite talks was about the landing on the moon that had taken place July 20, 1969. And they said to me, “Honey, that was all a cartoon. Man cannot get off the Earth. We can be in airplanes, but we can’t go to the moon.” Yeah. And we talked about, she said, you know, “Oh, Jews are the Chosen People. And so, I respect your people. And our people and your people have both known hatred and persecution and there’s a lot we have in common. People should concentrate on all that we share. And we wish people were kinder to each other.” They were just lovely ladies. But their house had—it was an old house, there were drafts coming in. It was already like November, December, it was cold. Windows weren’t able to either go up or go down all the way. And it was different than my home back in Cleveland. When we got together on Friday, as a group, I felt—I got very emotional. Not because Life was there, the class was used to my, “Life’s not fair,” you know? I was vocal and wasn’t shy and I would get emotional.
[Interviewer]: You were vocal. You weren’t shy about sharing your feelings.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I would say this touched me. So, in Life magazine there’s a picture, my mother always called it the Sarah Bernhardt picture of my holding my heart and crying out, “Life is not fair,” type feelings. And the article did not come out in Life magazine until May of ’72. So, it was a while, because this was my—this was my fall semester of my junior year. My winter semester, which, I had already had planned, with one of my friends, to go to Mexico for—Kent had a program at the University of the Americas in Mexico, and we had taken—they had a language requirement back then. So, we had decided in our freshmen year, take two years of Spanish and go to Mexico for our junior year, junior semester. So, Life magazine was waiting for me to come back to ask some questions and to finish the article. So, that’s why the article didn’t come out until May.
[Interviewer]: [01:13:50] So how long did you stay with this family, the two women?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Stayed with them three days and three nights. Yeah, maybe four days and three nights. Four days.
[Interviewer]: And did they live in Kent or in the area?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: They lived in Akron.
[Interviewer]: Were you ever there during the babysitting times?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Oh yes, I was there the whole time. I never left. I slept.
[Interviewer]: You didn’t go to class? You didn’t come to Kent State?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No. This is: you live and you stay.
[Interviewer]: Oh, I see. Okay.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: So, so when I got picked up in the morning of one day, I probably got picked up like Monday morning, and was brought home Thursday night.
[Interviewer]: Oh, now I understand. Got it, okay.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: So that was going to be my class.
[Interviewer]: Yeah, immersion, that week.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Immersion, okay? And then, Friday morning, I would go to the group class.
So, in the Life magazine article, I am kissing one of the elderly women goodbye, and I kissed her on the cheek. Well, I received—I probably received hundreds of letters from being in Life magazine. But probably half of them were death wishes, because I had kissed a Black person. And some people sent checks to, you know, for me to give to the women, who I kept in touch with for a long, long time. But it was just amazing to see how that picture reminded me of being spat on when I was wearing my Kent State t-shirt. How, you know, how dare you?
[Interviewer]: What an experience.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah. And I wish more of you were dead. “Your parents,” one wrote, “Your parents must be so ashamed of you, for kissing an African American.” It was so unbelievable.
[Interviewer]: [01:15:58] I’m a little concerned for your safety at this point. I mean, I’m assuming these letters were sent to Life magazine and then forwarded to you?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: They were. All of them were sent to Life magazine and then sent to me. They did not know. I had a lot of prisoners who wanted to be pen pals. And I answered everybody. And one person, I remained a pen pal with for about twenty years. He was on death row in the Philippines. He had been a graduate student when Marcos came to dictatorship, and he had been a protestor on his college campus, protesting Marcos’ rise to power. And he was thrown into jail and was on death row for protesting. So, I mention this because it kind of comes back around full circle to Kent State.
[Interviewer]: Well, and just everything happening at the time.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: And everything happening at the time. So, this was the, not just the atmosphere at Kent, or in the United States, there was an atmosphere throughout the whole world of tensions between young people and authority. And not wanting our freedom taken away to speak out against what we feel is wrong.
[Interviewer]: [01:17:33] Your experience in that experimental class, the Black Experience course, that was very impactful for you, I’m taking away?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: It was, yes. It truly was. I feel very blessed, I was not—I was not killed, injured. And just to continue this story, so I had really enjoyed learning the culture, learning about another culture, such as Mexico, and seeing poverty, little children selling Chiclet gum on the corners throughout Mexico. And the University of the Americas is 150 miles south of Mexico City. And, coming back to Kent State, so there were—I do not know how many students from Kent State, there was a large group of us, since this was a program offered through Kent. But one of the students that attended with me was Dean Kahler, who was the student wounded at Kent State who is paralyzed from the waist down.
[Interviewer]: [01:19:00] He was on this program in Mexico with you?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: He was on this program in Mexico with us, yes. And since I did not know everybody who went, we all got to be friends, of course. And we all did traveling together like in groups of ten—ten people, one hotel room. We slept on hammocks in Acapulco on, you know—
[Interviewer]: That’s the college experience.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: The college experience. But Dean was there. I decided I wanted to go into the Peace Corps since I wanted to be a sociologist/anthropologist. And I saw on the Kent bulletin board a flier that Israel had a program for college graduates that was one year instead of the three-year for, two- or three-year for Peace Corps. And so, I looked into that and after Kent State, after I graduated, I then went to Israel for a year. This was, I went in July of ’73, and I stayed there a year. And I’ll just tell this story, that I was there before, during, and after the October War. And that the—like Peace Corps, you’re given a three-month intensive language program. Mine was in a town on the border of the Golan Heights. And, I remember the peaceful day, which is supposed to—and the program had sixty students from all over the world. The one I was on. Half of them were Americans, but the other thirty were from South America, Scotland, Australia, many different countries. Only, I’d say, three-fourths of us are, a little more than half were Jewish. There were many who were not. The holiest day for the Jews is something called Yom Kippur, and it’s a day of rest, contemplation, and prayer. But we were young, and we more or less just wanted to sit outside and look at the mountains, the hills that are there. And so, it was very shocking to see a fighter plane coming out of the mountains of Syria and going over our heads and then seeing another fighter come and shoot something at the fighter plane and the fighter plane going down. And we realized something was going on. And we hear sirens. And there were bomb shelters, and we went into the bomb shelters. And we were told that a war was starting.
[Interviewer]: [01:22:07] Your poor parents.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: And, I thought, oh my goodness, this is like, just like a peaceful day at Kent, here’s—
[Interviewer]: Not again.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Not again. We were in the bomb shelter for three nights and three days. And, when it was safe, we would sometimes, being young and dumb, we would run out and we would pick up the shrapnel we could find near the bomb shelter to have tokens. And, on them, we could see Russian writing. And we were escorted out of the bomb shelters in the dead of night with buses—had blue paint on the windshield—on the headlights—so they wouldn’t see. While we were in the bomb shelters, we were in the bomb shelters with other people from other countries as well. And I had my guitar. And we would sing songs, but we would also write parodies. And I remember one of the parodies was [singing to the tune of “Chapel Of Love” by The Dixie Cups], “Going to the shelter ‘cause there’s bombing in the Golan. Going to the shelter ‘cause there’s bombing in the Golan. Gee you’re really scared shit ‘cause there’s bombing in the Golan.” You know, “Bombs will fly, maybe we’ll die,” you know. I can’t remember the whole song—the parodies we wrote.
[Interviewer]: Parody and black humor.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: And black humor. That was just the way to survive when you are in someplace that’s dangerous. And we were told that they were going to notify all of our parents back in the states that we were safe and that the plan was to get us out and get us to the middle of the country where it was safer. And I’ll just tell this quick story because it is funny, in a sad way, that one gal said there’s no way her mother would be—would accept being told her daughter’s safe until she talked to her daughter. So, she waited until it was a safe time, we hadn’t heard any bombs dropping for a while, and she ran over to the one public telephone that was in this public space. Outside.
[Interviewer]: Leaving the bomb shelter.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Right. Outside, in like the middle of like, like imagine a telephone booth, I don’t know, outside of the gas station. Okay? It’s outside in a phone booth. Well, she gets ahold of her mom, says, “Mom, I’m safe. Don’t worry about me.” And then she says, “Mom, I hear the whistling of a bomb, I’ve got to run back to the shelter,” and hangs up. And she comes back to the shelter and her face is paper white, and she said, “I think I just gave my mother a heart attack. I’ve got to go back out and call her back and tell her I’m okay.” And, you know, it was unbelievable. And yes, she did. And her mom didn’t have a heart attack.
But it was so strange. And then, we were, everyone was sent to development towns, that means villages in Israel, I’m not talking about big cities, where you could use your college degree to either teach English as a foreign language, we had a couple nurses so they would do maybe some clinic stuff. And we already had learned, in a very intensive way, enough language to communicate. And as a sociology/anthropology major, I went to this little village and I worked with families of deaf children who were, the families were from Morocco, who had immigrated to Israel. But they had these old-world concepts that deafness was a sign from the devil. And so, there was a lot of working with those families. But my little village, sometime during the year I was there, was the scene of one of the first terrorist attacks, in which terrorists came and murdered families and took over a school where they held the children hostage. And I was starting to think, Boy, wherever I go something’s going on.
[Interviewer]: I hate to say Forrest Gump, but—
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. Isn’t it amazing? Just amazing.
[Interviewer]: [01:27:03] So, this was after the October War, after the bomb shelter? Then you went to your assignment.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I went to this little village that was near the Lebanese border, where I thought it was safe. But, it had—it opened my eyes to so many different things and experiences.
[Interviewer]: And again, no internet, no cell phone when that terrorist attack happened, you weren’t able to contact your family right away and all of that.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Well, interestingly, my parents were coming that day to visit me. And so, I had to, took the bus to the airport, about two hours away, to bring them back to the village that I was going to be in. And I brought them back on the day in which there was a school, elementary school, having been taken over by terrorists. And, by the time we arrived—the it was reminding me of Kent because there were, after the shootings at the school, and there were bullet marks throughout the whole outside of the school and the glass shattered, there were people from news, reporters coming to say, “What happened here?”
[Interviewer]: So that’s all déjà vu for you?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: But this time I, this time I stayed out of that. But it was a little déjà vu and it made me think a lot about the day that I could have been shot at, the day I could have been killed. The day I had to run for safety.
[Interviewer]: [01:28:56] Did you ever, after your experience at Kent State in 1970, and then these subsequent experiences, do you have any sense of—have you experienced any kind of trauma aftereffects, or? I mean—
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: There’s a numbness. There’s a numbness that is probably the—a stillness that you need to, to figure things out. I had—
[Interviewer]: But you knew at a young age that you needed to talk about it. For example, in that one class in 1971.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes.
[Interviewer]: That was very smart. You just had this instinct, “I need to talk about this. Why aren’t we talking about this?”
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Had this instinct to talk. I had to—right. And I think that’s the strength you get from other people. You talk about it. I had learned at Kent—I had learned meditation at Kent. There was—I don’t know if it was my freshmen, no, must have been my sophomore year. This wonderful figure, and it was the Kent Union that he had—there was an auditorium there, and there were signs up, “Learn about something that’s better than drugs. Gets you higher than any drug you could take,” I can’t remember. But this figure, with this blond curls, long shoulder-length hair, bare chest, and a suede jacket like the guy from the Who, Roger Daltrey, had this. He stood up and he said, “Transcendental meditation will get you higher than you can ever go and all you have to do is pay thirty dollars to learn your mantra, and you will then be able to meditate and go places in your mind.” I don’t know. And to me, thirty dollars—
[Interviewer]: That’s a lot of money.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Thirty dollars! I was living in, was about to live in a house where my rent was twenty-five dollars a month for each of the four girls that were going to live there. Thirty dollars to learn! Well, I decided I would spend it because, if it cost thirty dollars, it has to be really valuable what he’s going to give me. And I went to this—so you paid your money and you were given a slip about a date that you show up at this little, I don’t know, little hut or something, a house, it was off campus. It was off campus that you were taken—that you were sent to go to.
[Interviewer]: So, he was advertising on campus?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Advertising on campus, you went off campus into this incense-infused room, and you sit there, and he said, “Now don’t tell anybody, ever, your mantra, because this is your mantra and your mantra only.” And I’ll let everybody know who’s listening, I spent thirty dollars to learn the word “om.” But you know what—
[Interviewer]: And no one else got that mantra, theoretically. That’s funny.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: You know what? I think that was one of the best thirty dollar purchases I ever got in my life.
[Interviewer]: Because you did start a meditation practice?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Because I did start meditating. I did start learning. I did start understanding this whole power of the mind to help you through times. And since then, I’ve done all sorts of mindfulness and meditation trainings and all and find that maybe they have helped me through some of the hardest times. Through the hard times.
[Interviewer]: Well, thank you for sharing that.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, you’re welcome. But what I got from Kent, and all the experiences I had here, were invaluable. And I appreciate the ability to share this with you, Kate.
[Interviewer]: Well, I appreciate your generosity in sharing your story, really, so much.
[01:33:56] I do have a couple, just little things I’m curious about, if you don’t mind. Would you like to take a break first, before we go there?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No, go ahead.
[Interviewer]: One thing I’m curious about with the Black Experience course, was there any content in that course about the Black experience in the anti-war movement or the Black experience regarding the shootings of May 4? Was that discussed?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes, yes. We had, believe it or not, in the group of thirty-one students who took part in that, I remember at least one Black student, who took it to experience the Black experience.
[Interviewer]: Okay. Or and how the Black experience is being shared.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. And how it was being shared. And, he said he felt very strongly that there were so many Blacks who, they couldn’t afford college, to be deferred. And he had a lot of animosity towards whites for that any many other reasons. And he was taking the Black experience because he had grown up in an affluent Black home. And he wanted to get to understand better his brothers and sisters who weren’t.
[Interviewer]: Who didn’t have that background.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah. There were—we met some city planners who said, they were white, in their suits, and they would say, “Oh, we do try our best to be fair.” We had one of the—one day you didn’t show up for class during the day, you showed up for class late at night because you were taken to the red-light districts to see what’s going on at night in Black neighborhoods and Black streets and areas. Yeah. Yeah. We went to jails. I remember it was fascinating. It was fascinating. And we had, I can picture, I could picture my instructors for that. There was this one Black woman who, you know, had this beautiful ‘fro, back in the days with just these beautiful ‘fros. And she was a very eloquent speaker, who could talk and we—we didn’t just have one instructor we were with. We got to know all the instructors.
[Interviewer]: It was kind of team-taught.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Very team-taught. Yeah, I don’t know if there’s anything like that that Kent has, but congratulations to Kent for having this program.
[Interviewer]: [01:36:55] Do you remember her name by any chance?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I probably do have it down. I could dig it up. Yeah. She’d be a good one to get in touch with.
[Interviewer]: Were there, you said they would put you into small groups of students to go to these, were you with the same group all the time? Or were the groups kind of mixed up each week? You got to know some of the students, maybe, pretty well, I guess?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I think that they, yeah, I don’t remember if we were always, if the pods traveled and you were with this instructor this day. I think you had—let’s say there were four instructors, so you had a different one each day and then on the fifth day all those instructors and all the students were together.
[Interviewer]: That’s incredible.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Meeting in one place discussing everything.
[Interviewer]: I mean just the logistics of your instructors, what they were working with logistically to make that happen for you guys.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. It was incredible.
[Interviewer]: And then finding families willing to host you. Amazing.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. Yeah. And finding all these community places that they could take us to and take us safely. Yeah. That I wish there was a reunion for everyone who partook in that program.
[Interviewer]: That’s something to think about, I think.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Isn’t it, though? I don’t know who you can talk to, but if you can find out.
[Interviewer]: [01:38:26] Do you remember, yeah. The one student, you said there was one student who himself was African American, what was the demographic of the rest of the class? Was it about half and half men and women, or—?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Oh yeah, very much. Very much a combination. And maybe when they chose the thirty, they kept in demographics, that different people coming from different places. Some from the suburbs, some from maybe more rural areas.
[Interviewer]: And maybe different religious upbringings?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Very different, very different religious. So, there were, there was enough that it was fascinating. It, I really thought, well, at that time, I thought I was going to save the world. So, taking this class was something I had to learn if I was going to save the world, because I just believed that the world was going to be a better place someday. Young—the love—the love of youth and the love generation. We were not going to be like our elders. We were going to do more good than bad.
[Interviewer]: [01:39:48] You were committed.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: We were committed.
[Interviewer]: You felt very motivated.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah. And we were not apathetic to the hardship that people had and the unfairness. We were not going to let it get worse, and unfortunately, I feel our generation has made things worse. You know, it’s so sad.
[Interviewer]: [01:40:22] Another thing I wanted to ask you, if you mind going back to Sunday, May third, when the National Guard were on campus, the day you were planning to take the day off and have fun outside with your friends, and you were walking around campus, so you had to be careful to stay in small enough groups. Were there a lot of other students doing the same thing? Were there a lot—
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Oh, the whole—everyone was.
[Interviewer]: Everyone was out? Okay.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: This was like a day, everyone was outside, everyone was walking around. Everyone wanted to see these soldiers.
[Interviewer]: Probably even people from the community were driving by?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Could be. It was like, it was—and the campus is so large that you could walk around and, but there were times that I felt I was, I couldn’t get too close because we could only allow two or three in a group, but that there were enough people, two to three, walking around that I felt it was like, like being in a mall, okay? You know when there’s—
[Interviewer]: Okay, must have been so strange.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah. You know, being at a mall when it’s—
[Interviewer]: To see a group of your friends and wave.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, you wave, and there was enough people like, like Christmastime in a mall where there’s a lot of people out doing their last-minute shopping, and it’s not like it’s shoulder-to-shoulder, but you’re aware there’s a lot of people here today. So, it was a busy place all around campus. And we just walked all over. We wanted to see is, from the farthest—how far can we go before we can get away from them? But they were everywhere.
[Interviewer]: [01:42:05] Did you have any conversations with any of the Guardsmen?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, I remember talking to one, “Do you want to be here?”
[Interviewer]: And was he friendly, did he—
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: He was friendly.
[Interviewer]: You had a conversation?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: You know, that, “We’re told to be here.”
[Interviewer]: He was probably your age?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, he looked very, you know, very young. That’s what’s so heartbreaking. They were us. They didn’t—they were there because they didn’t want to go to Vietnam. They’re in the National Guard.
[Interviewer]: I’ve heard stories of girls, women, handing out hot chocolate and sandwiches to the Guard, were you, did you do that, or—?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Oh, wow. I—it wasn’t, hot chocolate, it wasn’t cold. So, it definitely wasn’t. It was not cold for hot chocolate.
[Interviewer]: Maybe in the evening.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Maybe in the evening, but it was warm.
[Interviewer]: Yeah, it was a beautiful spring day.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Oh, it was so warm. It was beautiful out. Even—and May 4th was nice. It was t-shirt weather. T-shirt and shorts.
[Interviewer]: [01:43:23] Is it crystal clear in your mind, almost as if it were yesterday?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I could picture, I can picture, right now I’m picturing that young man standing in front of me in a uniform, holding a gun. And it’s the closest I had ever gotten to a gun, in my life.
[Interviewer]: And he had the gun on his shoulder, away from you?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: He had the gun. Yeah, he held it, he, it was like on a sling. So, it was, you know, the nozzle of the rifle was up, and the sling was in front of him like a beauty queen banner.
[Interviewer]: And the gun was on his back?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: The gun was on his back. And he was there to break up if people were more than three in a group. And this was somewhere [referring to physical map], I mean the first one, let’s see, it was right, right around here, we were talking.
[Interviewer]: So, not too far from your dorm, Terrace Hall.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Not too far. Not too far from my dorm. Somewhere going towards The Commons.
[Interviewer]: Kind of close to the Student Union, on the way to the Student Union.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah. It was here. And I think we just, my friends and I, just wanted to just walk all around. No place in particular, just a nice day to walk, see who’s out. It was a beautiful campus, there was so much open space. And so, it was just a beautiful day, just to be out. Yeah, so that’s crystal clear. May 4th, the standing here [referring to physical map], is crystal clear. Looking up looking up and seeing a line of National Guardsmen.
[Interviewer]: When you were near the [Victory] Bell. Between you and your dorm at that point, basically.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Between me and my dorm. There was no way, I would not have been able to go this way [referring to physical map]. I think they, I don’t know how they wanted us to disperse, since they were here, but I guess they wanted us to go this way. But then they began marching this way.
[Interviewer]: Toward Johnson Hall, toward the football practice field.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Right, yes, but they also, like they were throwing the tear gas as they walked. So, they were like, I don’t know, I guess that’d be one way to push us and have us disperse. The tear gas would make us run in these directions.
[Interviewer]: Deeper into campus and then you’d have different directions to go.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: To go, right. So, if that had just been what had happened, it might have been successful. Yeah.
[Interviewer]: [01:46:14] And then on May 4th, your brother came and found you, you were able to grab a few things and drive home with him. Is that a clear memory? Was it, did it take a long time to get out of town?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Took a very long time. All the roads were, you know, wall-to-wall traffic, it was barely moving. It was crawling.
[Interviewer]: And you must have been upset, I’m sure your brother was upset?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Oh, it was shocking. It—there’s no other way to describe it except in shock.
[Interviewer]: Did you take anyone else with you? Like, nobody hitched a ride?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No. There were people who, like people who were from out of state that I knew, they had friends that were going to, they were going to stay off campus. Yeah. Most of my friends had some family member come get them. Yeah, and I heard that there—if anyone didn’t have a place to go, that people were offering, students off campus were offering places for people to stay at off campus.
[Interviewer]: Okay. Did you and your brother talk the whole way, or was it more kind of shocked quiet?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Oh, yeah. It was, yeah.
[Interviewer]: Or you talked the whole way?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I talked the whole way.
[Interviewer]: He wanted to know what happened.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: He wanted to know what happened.
[Interviewer]: And how much younger is he?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Year and a half, so.
[Interviewer]: So, he was late high school, thinking about college, okay.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yeah, no, no. No college for him.
[Interviewer]: Or not thinking about college.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: He was not thinking of college. He had—he wanted to get done with high school, and he wanted to be a musician. As my father would say, “A bum. You’re going to be a bum.” But he’s done very well. My father was very proud of him, eventually. But he was a long-hair and, so, it was—
[Interviewer]: [01:48:36] Do you remember if, whether you and your brother got stopped at checkpoints trying to get out of town that day? Like maybe getting off campus initially, or—?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Were there checkpoints?
[Interviewer]: I’ve heard people talk about, maybe more not being able to get back in. You know, people who worked outside of Kent and were trying to get home, so maybe—
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I don’t remember checkpoints.
[Interviewer]: —during the evacuation you were on your way out, so.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: We were leaving town, so I think in that sense, we were not troubled.
[Interviewer]: Did you see anyone hitchhiking on your way?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: This is powerful hitchhiking time, yeah.
[Interviewer]: Because there were a lot of students that, that’s how they got home, by hitchhiking. But, maybe more in the opposite direction then you were going?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Okay, could be. I don’t remember anyone hitchhiking. That part I don’t remember. I think I was just grateful to see him—be in the car.
[Interviewer]: You were in shock, so happy to see your brother—
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: I just, literally, grabbed just, you know, toiletries and my guitar, you know. And left everything else.
[Interviewer]: And you were able to go back much later and get in again.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes. We were told that they would let us know when we can return—we were going to return—we would be assigned a day to return. They did not want everybody back at the campus at the same time. So, I think they did it by dorm, they opened up the dorm and allowed people to come in. And you had to show proof of why you were coming back onto campus because the campus was closed.
[Interviewer]: Yeah, at that point you did have a checkpoint, yeah.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Yes, yeah. That part I remember there being someone saying—
[Interviewer]: [01:50:27] That must have been kind of a reunion, in a way, with your roommates and your hallmates? Strange?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: A little, but we didn’t stay, and you were only there to get your stuff. There was no, yeah.
[Interviewer]: That’s very strange, that must have been a strange day too.
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Very strange, and it just didn’t seem like the same campus. Something had happened and so it could never be the same again. And I’ve been to many of the May 4th anniversaries and I think they’ve done a beautiful job of memorializing the day. The speeches that they give have been very moving. And I’ll usually wear—I still have one of these Indian muslin shirts.
[Interviewer]: From your student days. And you wear it to the commemoration?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: From my student days and I’ll wear that to the commemoration. Yeah. So, and I’ll see, there’s someone, I forget his name, I think it’s Cary or something, he has a denim jacket from back then that he still wears.
[Interviewer]: So, you’re not the only one wearing something from 1970?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: No, I think that there’s many. On May 4th, we’d look around to see, you know, who’s old enough to have been here? Because it’s—it’s a special group.
[Interviewer]: Well, l thank you again. Thank you so much. I think we’ll close here unless there’s something else that we haven’t touched on that you’d like to mention?
[Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark]: Thank you so much, Kate.
[Interviewer]: Thank you, Sheila.
[End of interview]×
Freimark, Sheila (Horowitz)
Student at Kent State University in 1970
|Date of Interview||
Sheila (Horowitz) Freimark was a freshman at Kent State University in the spring of 1970. In this oral history, she shares detailed descriptions of life on campus that year, including meeting new friends, playing her guitar at coffeehouses, and being aware that anti-war protests were taking place. She attended the rally on The Commons on May 4; she had not taken part in any protests before, but attended the rally that day partly to complete an assignment for a speech course to take notes on the types of rhetoric being used. A tear gas canister exploded near her and she had run from The Commons into Prentice Hall to wash her face when the shooting started. She also discusses her experiences during the aftermath of the shootings, including attending the May 4, 1971, memorial sleep-in event and starting a discussion in her class that day about how people needed to talk openly about these events.
|Length of Interview||
|Time Period discussed||
Armored vehicles, Military
Conflict of generations
Evacuation of civilians--Ohio--Kent
Jewish college students--Ohio--Kent--Interviews
Kent State Shootings, Kent, Ohio, 1970
Kent State Shootings, Kent, Ohio, 1970--Anniversaries, etc.
Kent State University. Black Experience Program
Kent State University. ROTC Building--Fires
Ohio. Army National Guard
Tear gas munitions
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
Women college students--Ohio--Kent--Interviews
Special Collections and Archives
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Kent State University
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audio digital file
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May 4 Collection