Oral History: Sidney Iwanter

Narrator: Sidney Iwanter
Interviewer: John Tortorice, Skye Doney
Videographer: William Tishler
Date: 17 August 2017
Transcribed: Skye Doney
Total Time: 1 hour, 21 minutes
Editing: Kyle Jenkins, Greg Konop

Sidney Iwanter biography:
Sidney Iwanter, the son of Madison’s last kosher butcher, grew up in Madison’s Greenbush neighborhood, where he was captivated by his parents’ and neighbors’ stories as witnesses of and agents in significant historical moments. While still in high school, Iwanter would sneak into lectures on UW-Madison’s campus to listen to Professor Harvey Goldberg speak. Later as an undergraduate he surreptitiously recorded both Goldberg’s and Professor George L. Mosse’s classes. Thanks to Iwanter, these recordings are now available and part of UW-Madison’s archival collection. Upon graduating from UW-Madison in 1971, Iwanter moved to Los Angeles, briefly attending UCLA for film before leaving to work more directly within the industry. He has since worked on such shows as Goosebumps, Beetlejuice, Batman: The Animated Series, and X-Men, to name a few. In 2000, Iwanter established the Iwanter Prize, awarded to a senior University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate whose studies and thesis engage in interdisciplinary topics and original research. Iwanter lives in Los Angeles where he runs his production company, Greenbush Boy Productions.

**To access the OHMS oral history page for Sidney Iwanter, which allows listeners to search text or keywords and to listen to specific sections of this interview, click here.**

John Tortorice: So Sidney, it’s great to welcome you back to Madison. This is John Tortorice and we’re interviewing Sydney Iwanter, who attended UW in what year?

Sidney Iwanter: From 1967-1971.

Tortorice: Okay. And you graduated in history?

Iwanter: History and film.

Tortorice: History and film, okay. So where were you born? Here in Madison,?

Iwanter: In Milwaukee.

Tortorice: Oh, Milwaukee, okay.

Iwanter: And my my parents came here in 1950 and I found them about 1951. They just left me. They left me in the Vliet area, on Vliet Street in Milwaukee. My, both my parents were from Europe and my mother was from England, Cockney. And my father was from Vilna, Lithuania. Yeah. And he was a, he was actually, he was a professional soldier. So yes. So he fought from 1939 to 1945.

Tortorice: In?

Iwanter: In Europe

Tortorice: In the US Army?

Iwanter: No. Oh no, no, no. My father was it was, you know, he came from a long line of Vilna rabbis. He said, nah, I don’t want to do that. So he became a soldier. And at that time, Lithuania was part of Poland. So he became part of the Polish cavalry. And I still have someplace in my, either in my apartment or my sister’s, my father on his stallion in all his regalia as a Polish cavalry, a captain. Polish cavalry officer.

Yeah. And everybody knew he was Jewish, but I guess, you know. And so my father, you know, like all Europeans at that time, he was fluent in like a half a dozen languages. See new Russian, Polish, Lithuanian. You know that during the war he learned enough French and German, well he had awesome, knew Yiddish and Hebrew. And so, you know, I mean, that’s, that’s what he, that’s what he did. He was a soldier and I think I actually told Professor Mosse this, that my father was part of the last cavalry charge in European history.


The, at the siege of Warsaw. It was, you know, horse flesh against, you know, the Wehrmacht. And so guess who won, you know, but what was left of the Polish army fled through Yugoslavia, into Italy because Italy had not declared war at the time. And my father ended up, you know, in the French army where he conveniently was left behind, you know, when all the British left. So it was captured at Dunkirk. And he spent four years in a German prisoner of war camp. And they knew he was Jewish, but it was not run by the SS, it was run by the Prussian officers, so, you know, they took out his appendix, that saved his life. He escaped a few times, they shot him, they brought him back, he used to point out the bullets, in various parts of his body.

His favorite movie was was The Great Escape. It was just, it was an amazing thing. And then, then when the Americans liberated that camp, they, they gave him like, I guess an M1 rifle and said, You know what? We need soldiers, y’know, to defend us against the Germans. And he says what? Then he ended up as part of the Battle of the Bulge. He just, you know. This is like yeah, you know. He was, he was, he was like, you know, the Tom Hanks character. You know. So.

Tortorice: Well, this may explain some of your interest in history. It sounds as if you were immersed in it as a child.

Iwanter: Well, that along with the fact that, you know, where we settled in the Greenbush area in Madison had all these old people. I was like one of the few young kids, I mean you know, but everybody, they were all old, the Italians, the Jews, old Blacks from the South. You know. And basically everybody sat around telling, all these old people sat around and told stories. And I was just amazed by this stuff. I mean, I heard everything up, you know, from and I always thought the, you know, all the Italian guys they always used to tell me stories about the fact that they were made men or that they had worked for [Alphonse] Capone (1899-1947). And you know, the, the old Jewish women would tell me about the pogroms in Russia and Poland. And the, you know, the, the elderly Blacks would tell me about the Jim Crow South. But yeah, it was the Jim Crow South. And, and they were talking about old people. And I’m like five or six years old. I’m, I’m surrounded by like 70 and 80-year-old people. So we’re talking about people who were born in the 1880s, you know.


And then there were those who would like to tell me stories about how they had fought in the Revolutionary War and I don’t know, I’m six years old, okay. And, and the Civil War. And you know, the, the, the, that these guys had met Sitting Bull and Cochise. And I’m

just sitting there like ‘wow,’ ‘damn,’ you know, and and the the old ladies would just would feed me pastries. So I always, I was a great audience. I was just a great audience for that.

Tortorice: So that culture of storytelling in that neighborhood.

Iwanter: It’s lost. But it was, it was just wonderful.

Tortorice: It lives virtually in the sense that it’s still in the minds of those few people that remember the neighborhood. It’s still so powerful but I was thinking of, did you ever know [Joseph] “Buffo” Cerniglia (1935-2015)?

Iwanter: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. “Buffo.”

Tortorice: He was the quintessential Greenbush storyteller. Yeah, that’s what he did his whole life. I don’t think he ever had another job. He was a bailiff, I guess.

Iwanter: I knew, I went to high school with, you know, with his relatives and, and with the Siqueiros and a number of the, the Italians. And what was, what was wonderful about the Greenbush area was that because everybody as diverse as it was, everybody had one thing in common: a painful past. So I never I did there was, I never heard antisemitic slurs. Nobody had black slurs, you know, no, but, they just didn’t I, because there was always, there was always this anguish about so many of these people because they had escaped. And they all escape from some, some horrific environment. You know? And, and it was working class. It was, it was the only integrated area of Madison and then…

Tortorice: In some ways it was the “other” in Madison, wasn’t it?

Iwanter: You know what it was? It was an embarrassment to a lot of people because it was so close to the state capital. West Washington Avenue in the 1940s and 1950s was really a den of taverns. I mean, it really was, what happened was that it just became too, too much of a, I wouldn’t call it a ghetto because it really wasn’t. But it was, it was too much of a, of an eyesore. And that sort of eyesore really began to weigh heavily on people in the City Council. Obviously in the state assembly. I mean, they’d drive up there. This was before John Nolan. You’d drive up there. And you’d see you’d see, you know, like the Gerke Junkyard.

Gerke's Junkyard advertisement
1938 Gerke’s Junkyard advertisement, Wisconsin State Journal


I think it was also the Paley Junkyard, that was there, you know, which were great places to play in, you, you know, if you wanted to be surrounded by things that could kill you repeatedly, you know.

Tortorice: Then the Sinaikos. The Sinaikos. We used to play at the Sinaikos’.

Iwanter: Yeah. And so again, you know, it was, it was a, it was a historical environment. It wasn’t like, Oh, I’m living in Shorewood Hills. So you know, it’s like I’m surrounded by rich people who cares. There was, there was really, that’s, that’s sort of Alan Lomax kind of storytelling, you know. And it was, and they would, It was always in a lot of broken English. I mean, it was just the, these people were like making up words, you know, and I would just, I would just sit there, you know, mesmerized by this stuff, you know. And I just thought, Wow, this is so much.

Tortorice: So was there a teacher, an individual that encouraged you to attend UW, to major in history. How did you get?

Iwanter: Let me tell you something. Back then. Back then, I was one of those high school students that could barely, could barely spell “high” or “school.” And, you know, I, I, they also discovered that I was dyslexic, you know. So by the time I was in eighth grade and I was ready to drop out already. I was reading on a third grade level and it was a teacher who finally discovered this, a guy named Mark Parish, in eighth grade, who believe it or not, while, I was looking for high school classmates, I went out looking for him because he saved my life. You know, when they talk about teachers saving a student’s life, that was the prime example, at least for me. And because, you know, every day after class, you know, I had to spend an hour before I went home in his class where he basically tutored me, you know. And he brought up my reading level from like a second or third grade, to by the end of the year, like ninth grade level. And prior to that, I, I hated reading because I couldn’t read. I just hated it. And as an, as an aside, I could read Hebrew easier than I could read English, you know like for my bar mitzvah, that kind of stuff. And then as soon as I had that, I quit that too. But I mean, you know, but that’s a different story.

But the fact is that that teacher, and he was, he was a former Teamster and he was built like a beer barrel.


I mean, he was like maybe 5′ 6″, 5′ 7″. He looked like a professional wrestler though, you know. And so he would tell me stories about the Teamsters and everything was storytelling around. I never wanted to just hear lessons. I wanted to hear stories. Even in Longfellow. Longfellow grade school. We had teachers who would who would read us. And some of those teachers were older than dirt. I mean, I remember going up to my sixth grade teacher and asking her if she, if she had actually fought in the French and Indian War. Because, you know, it’s because she was just old and wizened. She must have been born about 18, if this was 1959, so she was born probably around 1890, you know. And it’s like, you know, when they would just sit and remanent every we’d love to sit and reminisce once you ask somebody, tell us about yourself, that sort of thing. You know, they told about, you know, growing up in Kansas. Outhouses, you know, there were no cars, there were no airplanes and it was like, all that kind of stuff. And again, that sort of stuff mesmerized me.

And so but getting back, getting back to Mark Parish, he was the, he was the teacher and I looked him up and he’s now retired in Florida. He had no idea who I was. But, you know, because he had tens of thousands of students, I kind of stuff but I, I basically told him this, I had to. I thanked him. And he says, you know, you’re about to make me cry. He’s like 80 years old now. And I says, well you saved my dimpled-white ass, man. I mean, I was, I was just I was I was heading for some no good areas, you know. And there were a lot of, there were a lot of students at Central at that time who didn’t have that sort of care and they dropped out, you know. And, I was just very, very lucky, because.

Tortorice: So you came to campus in 1967.

Iwanter: All of us could, see, that was the other thing. I couldn’t probably get into the UW now. But back then, if you were a townie, you were automatically accepted. So I mean, you know, even though I had maybe a high school, maybe a B level, you know. You were, you were, you were accepted. I mean, my, my first class at the UW was get rid of English first, you know, English Comp. You know, it’s like. But after that it was I took as many history classes as I could.

Tortorice: So in those years, UW was essentially free, I mean, it was like $200, I think when I started.

Iwanter: It was $160.00.

Tortorice: It was $250.00 when I started.


Iwanter: I mean, it was just.

Tortorice: There was that one period in the university’s history where they had this idea that higher education should be essentially free and public institutions.

Iwanter: It was like at Berkeley.

Tortorice: It didn’t last long, but it was there and we were lucky.

Iwanter: No, and I mean, I was but I also lived at home because I was still working with my dad, you know because my father was the last kosher butcher of Madison, Wisconsin. And so I, you know, after school, grade school, and then high school and even college until the store closed in [19]69, there I was, you know, working in the store afterwards, you know, cutting flanken, cutting flanken right here almost cut the entire, anyway. But so yeah, that’s what I.

Tortorice: And that store with on Mills Street?

Iwanter: Mills and Chandler.

Tortorice: I remember that place.

Iwanter: Yeah. Howard Temin (1934-1994), You remember Howard Temin? He used to come there. Yes. And even after he won the Nobel Prize (1975), he used to show up there and I’d say, wow, you know, I didn’t understand a thing he said, but it didn’t make any difference. I still wrapped the meat as well as for anybody, so.

Tortorice: So so you were, you came to campus in 1967? So what were your experiences? Did you get the feeling that the turmoil here in that year was appreciated in the rest of the city. What was the milieu like?

Iwanter: Alright, because I because I, you know, I lived on, on Chandler Street and I went to Central. Most of the time. I didn’t take the bus home. I’d walk home from Central and I’d walk down State Street. I don’t, walk down, you know. And like for especially from like 10th grade on I walked on State Street because I like looking at the girls and, you know, trying to get into bars I couldn’t get into even though it was like 18 at that time.

And so what I would do is and I, I’ve been wondering whether I can still do this, walk up Bascom, but I used to, I used to just from the time I was about 15, I used to walk around the campus on the way home, you know, and then I’d go past, you know, I think, you know, maybe it’s Van Vleck, you, you, and then down and then, you know, down Mills Street and stuff like that. So I, I was there when the, the, the tumult began.

You know, I would see, I would see demonstrations already by 80, by, by [19]65. And you know, I’d read all the posters on the walls and the, and the telephone poles.


And I, I was just, wow, this is great. I mean, in fact, it got to the point where I was I was skipping too much class in high school. I wasn’t, I would I actually sat in on lectures. I didn’t know who these people were. I don’t even know what the lecture was, but I just sat in, I just wanted to see, I wanted to feel with the college experience was and that’s in one time, I don’t know. It might have been at Agriculture, Aggie Hall there that’s where I stumbled onto Harvey Goldberg. And when I heard him, I was gob smacked. I’d never seen anything like this in my life. You know, and I actually told the kids in high school about this guy. And they basically said, yeah, but, what about the girls? So I says, wait, forget about this. You can’t, you can’t imagine this guy and it was like, oh yeah, yeah, but what about the girls? I was here when I was actually at the, at the lecture where Wayne Morse (1900-1974) and Ernest Gruening (1887-1974), the senators, the only two senators that voted against the, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. They were here and I, ironically Wayne Morse, and I went up to him, lived at my father’s meat market in the 1920s. He had a, he had an apartment in there it was at the corner of Mills and Mills and Chandler. Wayne Morse was there, you know, it’s like and…

Tortorice: That’s a name from the past, was he a UW grad?

Iwanter: Yes. Yes. That Senator from Oregon.

Tortorice: He’s not remembered. But you’re so right. He was he was one.

Iwanter: He should be remembered. I mean, you know, and same with the guy from Alaska, Ernest Gruening, and so, but I was there and somewhere in the black hole I call my apartment. I still have their autographs and their little on these three by five note cards. But from the very beginning, I was, I was really politically aware. And so, and what would happen is that. But, but so many of the boys that I hung around with couldn’t wait to go into the army. They couldn’t wait to kill something because they were tired of just hunting deer. They wanted to kill something. And back then, you know, you really, you know, their, their fathers were either, you know, had fought in Korea or World War II. And there was that, there was a different form of patriotism. If the government said, these guys are our, our enemies, are villains, then they have to be killed.

And of course, you know, there was that form of racism.


I mean, that was the other thing. I mean, they were, they were yellow, so yeah, they, they deserve what they got that kind of stuff. And they were commies.

Tortorice: So when did you decide then to make, to focus on history, and?

Iwanter: When I heard Harvey Goldberg.

Tortorice: Okay. So it was Harvey that…

Iwanter: And I had, and that was, and I was like 16. And again, I just stumbled into that, into that room. And I had in fact, I even made a comment about that today on Facebook. To this day. I am just, you know, I am mesmerized by this man and which is the reason why I surreptitiously taped him even after he said: “absolutely not, I don’t allow taping,” you know.

Tortorice: So how did you do that? You’d have to sneak the recorder in?

Iwanter: Oh, this was great. This was great, this was like, you know, Black Ops type of thing back then. I had my, I had my bar mitzvah Bell and Howell, this boxy thing, you know that I’d gotten in 1962, you know, with a little, you know, with the, with the chord and the mic. And it wasn’t like this at all. Okay? So I said to myself, how would I, how would I do this? And so I had watched enough James Bond movies and spy flicks in like [Errol] Flynn and things like that. That every time I went in and I wasn’t this surreptitious with Mosse, because he didn’t, I never asked him, he didn’t seem to care. He didn’t care. Harvey cared, you know, and, you know, And I like I said, the, the, the, the Taliban around him, his fanatics would have beaten me to death, figuring I was some sort of government agent. But what I did was that I, I had I taped you have you’ve got to see this Bell and Howell thing. You know, I taped it to my stomach. I weaved the, the mic cord all the way down here and I always wore and nobody does seemed to pay any attention to the fact that even in the fall when it was really hot and humid or the spring when it was, you know, you didn’t need to wear all this bulky winter clothes. There’s this guy here, he’s sitting in the front row. And this is the, I’ve got it right here. And I would always, you know, when necessary, when I I figured there was something there might be some sort of mic interference, I’d move the hand here, here, or here. Nobody paid any attention. I think they were scared of me because it was like here’s this guy. And he was he was wearing all this bulky stuff. And they were 60-minute tapes.

Sidney Iwanter's Bell & Howell tape recorder
Sidney Iwanter’s Bell & Howell tape recorder


And luckily, Harvey spoke literally for 60 minutes. He’d start and you know, and it was really weird because I wouldn’t want to start the tape until he began. So I’d been doing all these sorts of gymnastic movements just so that I could, you know push the plug in at the right moments, you know. And and I did this dozens and dozens of times. And and the tapes are in the Goldberg Center. And what I discovered when I was telling this to Professor [Al] McCoy, you know, when I finally gave him the tapes. This was, I think in 2004, maybe a little earlier. And I had kept these tapes in as pristine condition as possible. In Dutch Master cigar boxes. Literally under my bed, and wrapped up in cellophane. You know, it’s like, you know, it says, oh my god, the guy, yeah, it’s like it’s like the fanatics who who handle comic books. It’s like, well, I did this and, and there were dozens of them. So and given the conditions, they’re not bad. I’ve heard the, the digitized copies and they’re yeah, there’s a, there’s a, there’s a lot of ambient noise, of course. And I always tried to stay away from anybody who talked in class, who laughed and I mean, clapped loudly. There was one there was one time where I was sitting in front of two girls who were talking about the dates the night before. And I basically turned around and said, shut the fuck up, you know, and I’m glad the boyfriends weren’t there because they were like big, huge guys I discovered and they shut up, you know, because the master was speaking.

Tortorice: So what was it like in a Harvard class? I took his classes too. But.

Iwanter: When did you take them?

Tortorice: In the early seventies, 1971-1972.

Iwanter: All right.

Tortorice: He was very much the same. But he was a performer.

Iwanter: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Tortorice: He really engaged your attention.

Iwanter: He would walk up. Yes. What he would do is he would walk out from one of the wings. You know, he’d just walk out. No notes, you know, and it is this kind of this this hawk face, the nose, and I mean very lean. I mean, he was like emaciated. And he also had like nasal problem, sometimes, you know, a sinus condition.

Tortorice: Because he smoked so much, five packs a day or something.

Iwanter: Yeah, I mean, but we never saw that, you know. And but he’d walk and then he’d do a, do a profile like Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923). He would just, you know, and he he’d do this.


And then he’d start, yeah. He would he would just do some sort of mannerism, take his glasses off, you know, he’d do this and this. And then boom. He was he was off to the races. And in all the years and the, and the dozens and scores of lectures I heard. He never stumbled once. He never said “uh,” it was, it was as if he was on some sort of accelerated, uh, you know, alternative plane. And he was speeding through the universe. And it was, it was so erudite. And his references in French or in German. The, the, the dates were or they were always they were always at the tip of his tongue. I’d never, I’ve, and I’ve heard great speakers. I actually, I actually heard Martin Luther King here. You know, I, I’ve heard great speakers. I can imagine what William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) was. Or the guys I would do the Chautauqua Circuit. You know, I’ve never heard a speaker like that ever.

Tortorice: It’s I could see where this would resonate in particular with what you said about storytelling as a child.

Iwanter: Oh, yeah.

Tortorice: And Harvey was a storyteller and he told stories in an incredibly effective way and in an accessible way for undergraduates.

Iwanter: You were swallowed into history. You were there in, at the barricades in, you know in 1870s Paris. You were there like, just, just imagine the visceral sensation of watching Eisen’s, Eisenstein’s, you know, Odessa Steps sequence, you were, you were literally on those steps. You were, you were in the, the, the syndicalist movement. The, the, you were there when Jean Jaurès (1859-1914) was assassinated. I mean, it was like a, you know, you’re, you were in the carriage when the Archduke, Franz Ferdinand was, was shot. You were sitting between him and his wife. I mean, you know, it was like it was like that. It was one of those. And you know, you were at the guillotine. You were you you are closer than Madame Defarge. I mean, you know, and his, he just he was just so much of a, a genius that you, you know, it, you didn’t really need to learn anything else.


It was like, I’ve learned enough about the French Revolution because I have, I’ve sat through a semester of Harvey’s, of Harvey Goldberg. And I’m, and I’m not slighting Professor Mosse, but his style was difference here.

Tortorice: Okay, So let’s move on to Mosse. So you took courses in tandem, Goldberg, Mosse, like many people did.

Iwanter: A Petrovich class every so often.

Tortorice: Did you feel that there was, in a sense a competition for students and that…

Iwanter:  Oh, yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And but, you know, that the difference was, you know, and I said this to somebody who wasn’t it wasn’t meant disparagingly back then, but I said, you know, Harvey is one of the Valkyries. Professor Mosse Siegfried. He’s just, yeah he’s just, or you know, he’s Barbarossa. I mean, he’s, he’s there, he’s a pillar. You know, it’s like you’re not going to get past him. And but he was yeah, but, but, but Professor Mosse’s class was in a way totally different because it was, it was far less emotional. But much more. There was much more of a sinister aspect because of, you know. And, and I always thought it was much more melancholy and dour. Because when you’re talking about Nazism and you’re talking about antisemitism when you’re talking about Europe, the European form of racism, the way Harvey described it, you couldn’t wait to battle it, with Professor Mosse it was like, you know, it was like the Johnstown Flood (1889) coming towards you. There was nothing you could do about it. You just had to sit there and wait for the deluge.

Tortorice: But the point was, in the end, the same, it was to make you think collectively and act.

Iwanter: Absolutely, oh yeah. And but the thing is though, that George never said jump on the barricades. Harvey said, jump on the barricades. Use your body, that sort of thing. Metaphorically, metaphorically.

Tortorice: But he didn’t.

Iwanter: No. No. Oh, he had a great place in Paris. That’s, that’s what I hear and you know. And but I, I was always surprised that the tapes that I had of of Professor Goldberg were like the earliest extant ones.


And I didn’t understand that because he had he had spoken, he had been a professor at Ohio State in the early [19]60s. And he actually gave like radio lectures. But obviously they were never recorded. I, that I didn’t understand. So, you know the way and by that, I guess the late seventies, Harvey had no problem with having like professionals standing there with the recording stuff. But so that’s, I was really surprised by that. And even the, the lectures that I recorded of Professor Mosse’s, there might be a couple of earlier ones but not too many. And I, I that I didn’t understand either.

Tortorice: Well there, the difference was that George was recorded for a University of the Air and Harvey wasn’t. And we, I don’t know why that’s the case. Harvey never won a teaching award. He never was recognized by the university for his teaching. I don’t know if his, WHA would have not allowed him to be part of that series because of his political leanings.

Iwanter: He was not much of a writer, other than his biography of Jean Jaurès, he was not a writer, he was not a, you know, he, wasn’t a published by Professor so.

Tortorice: So, so let’s get to the 1971 class. This was the class, the first class that George taught specifically on Jewish history. Yes. Yeah. And you taped that class. Yes. It was a, it’s a, it’s a very historic class because it’s one of the first courses in a public university taught specifically…

Iwanter: You see, I didn’t know that. I figured they were doing this at NYU. And you know, it’s like…

Tortorice: But for a public school, especially in the Midwest, I think it was really a pioneer course. Yeah, I think before that George would integrate Jewish history in his other courses. But this was the first one that specifically was dedicated to to Jewish history. So to some extent, he was writing the lectures as he went along. But they, they seem to hold together coherently. And he focused on the German Jewish. And then he had others who actually went on to great careers like Alex Orbach do the Eastern European history. But could you tell us a bit about how this class was received by the students? We noticed that in the questions and answers, the students seem to have very little knowledge of Jewish history andin particular of the Holocaust and they were quite stunned.


This again goes, perhaps goes back to what you said about that. You were in George’s case, pulled in to the cruelty of history. You were pulled into the darkness of, of human behavior.

Iwanter: It must be a Jewish thing. I will tell you that. I will tell you that the, the history that that George was talking about was not a history I was unfamiliar with. I mean, I, you know, I, my dad came out of Eastern Europe. I mean, he lost his, he’d lost his family. Not in any of the concentration camps, but by partisans, just shooting them in the head. So, I mean, you know, I knew about Eastern European stuff. I also had read a number of books, you know, on the Enlightenment on uh, you know, Moses Mendelssohn on, on, you know, the, the rise of the Rothschilds. I mean, it wasn’t unfamiliar territory, at least for me, for the others. Yeah. I could, I could, I could tell that it was as unfamiliar as Catholicism might be to a Hindu. You know, because it’s like, and also remember back then, there was a tremendous amount of, you know, let’s, let’s throw away any form of religiosity unless it’s like whatever the new age thing was. You know, I remember talking to a lot of Jewish students from everywhere from New York to Skokie, you know. And they couldn’t wait to disentangle themselves from, you know, the, the Yiddishkeit. You know, they, they it’s like. And I’m the son of the kosher butcher. I’m going to have, you know, it’s like I’m I’m arguing with these people about, you know. It’s like, all of this stuff in a lot of them had come from, like, you know, Reform Reform backgrounds. And so it was, it was something that I had a great deal of difficulty with with some of these students because as I said, no matter how far you run, they will always find you, you know, which, which is just so Jewish.


It’s like, you know, but, but, but in that regard, it was true. And a lot of these, you know, a lot of the Jewish kids might have heard about this from their, you know, their Bubbie and their Zeta and that kind of stuff. And they ignored it. The non-Jewish kids, though, even by that time, had very little idea about the Holocaust, had no idea about Jewish history other than the fact that as one of them said, I wanted to come in to, to see how they were running Wall Street, you know. So you had that sort of that, that, that kind of antisemitism, you know, which you, which you hear today. I mean, you know, it’s the dark forces that run the media and Wall Street and Goldman Sachs and things like that. So yeah, I mean, it was it it was a was a class though, if I remember correctly, was not packed. And it was, and the reading, the reading list was difficult, but it wasn’t unfamiliar to me.

Tortorice: It was a capped class in that there was only a certain number of students that were allowed, it was a small class probably because it was the first time he’d taught it. But we had the feeling of just listening to some of the tapes, the kind of emotional intensity that, that perhaps as you said, this was the first time many of these students were engaged in this history and it did come at a particular time because, you know, because in those years the Holocaust still was not as prominent a part of Jewish identity.

Iwanter: Yeah, but I also think that, I also think that, that Professor Mosse was digging really deeply into his own soul. And, you know, it’s one thing to talk about, you know, intellectual or intellectual history of like the eighteenth and nineteenth century. It’s another thing to talk about the reason why you had to scram out of Berlin, you know, and that your relatives were involved, that sort of thing. I mean, you know, so it was the sort of the emotional impact that you can hear in his voice. So, you know, so that was, you know.

Tortorice: I do think that George always used history to understand himself, that he, he used it.


Well, this is very simplistic, but almost as a form of of therapy, a form of understanding the personal.

Iwanter: Self-analysis?

Tortorice: Yes. Through an intellectual engagement. I mean, I think, you know, when, when, we thought about entitling his memoir, “Finding Myself in History,” we didn’t use that title, but I think he did use history in that. And he used throughout his career, he invested, investigated areas of history that resonated with his own preoccupations. So perhaps this was the first time that he engaged in that…

Iwanter: That I wouldn’t know. But it was a I found it a I found it a very edifying class. And…

Tortorice: Well thank you for taping it, for us, it’s just really…

Iwanter: See, but I, I did that only because I wanted my dad to hear it, you know. And the first time he heard Mosse’s voice, he says, “where’s he from?” No, he’s cool dad, he’s cool, you know, it’s like it’s like really. Okay.

Tortorice: His his voice had about three different accents going at one time.

Iwanter: Yeah. It’s you know, and so, well, I didn’t realize I didn’t realize that that no one else had was taping it. It just, I, I just I did it because I wanted my dad to hear the tapes and and my mom but primarily my dad. And it was, yeah. Hey, use that. You would always say. Yeah, you know, I don’t know much about the German Jews. When is he going to start on Polish ones? So I says…

Tortorice: He never got to them…

Iwanter: I’ll talk to him, let’s see what he does, you know. And so yeah. But so anything to help. Yeah.

Tortorice: So in many ways..

Iwanter: Excuse me, excuse me, the quality of the tapes are good though because I’ve I’ve heard though. I don’t I don’t I never got a a digital copy of the, of the Mosse stuff, but I have a copy of all the Goldberg.

Skye Doney: So we just went through a process of restoring the audio. We had one done one pass of cleaning it up, but a specialist at Continuing Studies, went through and pulled out a lot of the ambient noise and the background noise, specifically for the course that we’re offering.


But that’s something we’ll do eventually with the whole series. But one of the questions we had was, do you know where the tapes? Do you have those tapes still?

Iwanter: I gave those, no I gave I gave everything to, uh oh, what? To Professor McCoy.

Tortorice: Well the original cassettes Well we could ask Al.

Iwanter: Oh. Yeah. Oh yeah. I gave him all, you know, I gave them all my my Dutch Master.

Doney: Nice.

Tortorice: Thank you.

Iwanter: Unless of course, he has sold them on the black market, that I can’t tell you. Yeah.

Doney: Yeah. Yeah. Go ahead, sorry.

Iwanter: What, what did they they have to have them otherwise.

Doney: So what we what I have always had was an MP3. So they had been initially digitized.

Tortorice: Yes, we did. We had them digitized.

Doney: But we thought, with the, with the process that we’re going through trying to clean them up, it might be easier if we re-, because technology has come so far in the last ten years since they were first digitized.

Iwanter: Geez, I hope he didn’t throw them out.

Doney: I’ll talk to him.

Tortorice: We’ll find them.

Iwanter: Threaten him with tenure.

Tortorice: Yeah, so many of the, much of the anti-war activity on campus in those years really originated in the History Department and other departments in the humanities and social sciences.

Iwanter: Not in engineering.

Tortorice: Yeah. I mean, they were of course it was the draft and so they could be pulled in as, as part of a specific protest in a way that probably now would be much more difficult. But were you involved at all in the protests and did you could you tell us about what it was like in the History Department in do you have do you have David Miraniss’s “They Marched into Sunlight”? Do have a copy of it here?

Doney: Not in the the office.

Tortorice: “They Marched into Sunlight.” Probably.

Iwanter: I’ll show you me.

Tortorice: You’re in one of the?

Iwanter: I am in one of the, I am in one of the definitive pictures of, of the Dow Chemical riots.

Tortorice: Huh.

Iwanter: I’ll show you exactly where I am. I am in that picture where the cops have charged out of the building and one guy is about to get hit my head with a baton. I am two people behind that. And, you know, kind of bug-eyed. It’s like, wow, what’s happening? What’s happening and then it was yeah.

Tortorice: So what motivated you to take part?

Iwanter: I was really pissed off. I mean, you know, I was even, even though the night of that draft where, you know, I still remember it because I was there at the Union, you know, and I, I talk about the Wailing Wall when some of the early numbers came up.


Girls were crying, guys were crying, you know. And there was all this screaming and shouting going on at the, at the Student Union. And I’m there with a couple of my friends, and I haven’t heard my number and I just, you literally couldn’t hear anything. So finally, I figured, oh my God, I I, you know, I don’t know. I’m going to have to figure out a way. My dad had already said you’re going to Canada. And he was a professional soldier. He said, You’re not going. First of all, you’ll shoot your own foot off. It’s like, “thanks dad.” And but I wasn’t I wasn’t going to go to

Vietnam but the so, but at the end of the evening, I discovered that my number is 362. It’s like, wow man, you know, all my other friends were like 300. 3–. So, we were we were lucky in that regard. And and I will tell you from that time on, I really saw a decrease in certain areas of radicalism. Because if you were safe from the draft, you, you know, you, you didn’t have the same sort of intensity. Obviously not throughout, not throughout the campus. And you had the had the Army Math bombing and things like that. But I did see a little more relaxation.

But for those who, it was interesting is there was a relaxation on one part, but there was more intensity and anger for those that were involved.

Tortorice: They became more radical than before.

Iwanter: Yeah. Oh yeah, or yeah. I remember seeing Tom Hayden (1939-2016) because he, you know, came out of Michigan. So the, you know, the the the [19]62 Port Huron Statement for the SDS. Yeah, he’d be there. He’d be walking around. But there was, what I did discover. Is that the, the sort of phoniness that, that you see in political movements, especially here in America, where if it was too cold,  “I ain’t going to the protest.” You know, I remember going into the Student Union and, you know, and I noticed that during certain times of the afternoon when there were soaps that were going on as god is my witness. You’d see these radicals watching the soaps and then they’d go out afterwards and they’d demonstrate.


Tortorice: That was what George always teased for students about.

Iwanter: Yeah. Oh yeah.

Tortorice: You know, he, I think of any professor probably on campus. He probably was the one that was most-

Iwanter: He baited them.

Tortorice: knowledgeable and prepared for the student rebellion or revolts of the 1960s, because he had been in Paris in the [19]30s and had witnessed a lot of mass demonstrations and been involved in, in that against the Spanish Civil War. And so he came with a lot of knowledge and background and the students, I think he goaded the students and tried to get them to think more strategically.

Iwanter: Well that, and it’d be one thing when Harvey would talk about, you know, the, the May [19]68 riots in Paris. And it was like, oh my god, it’s second only to Joan of Arc. You know, so it was that kind of intensity. And George would kick back and say, it’s all bullshit. They’re not going to be able to do that sort of stuff. It’s like, I don’t know whether you used the word bullshit. He might have in German. I don’t know what it was. But, yeah, but you do have a sense of rationality among Professor Mosse’s lectures. I mean, you know, it’s, whereas the Professor Goldberg was, okay, it’s time to go to the barricades, again and again and again, no matter how many times we’re still going to go.

Doney: Yeah. I was thinking about a point that you made earlier about how Mosse’s or John and you were talking about Mosse’s biography and in the [19]71 class, one of the questions students keep asking him is, why didn’t Jews fight back? Like why didn’t they take up arms? And I think maybe that did strike a personal note for Mosse, who left and was thinking about his, his response would always be there was no coherent, there’s no “Jewish thing.” That was something in Hitler’s imagination that the Jews of Europe were spread across geography. They’re spread across social boundaries. They’re not, there’s not a Jewish monolith.

Iwanter: Well that along with the fact that, you know, a lot of nobody had, the number of guns. My dad didn’t see a gun until he joined the army. You had guns for hunting but you, you didn’t have the sort of lunatic proliferation you have in this country. And also as I, as I, George tried to explain that it’s really, if you’re a minority of 20 in a village in the Shtetl, how are you going to fight back? With pitchforks? Especially when everybody for the last 200 years had been revved up to believe you, you were the devil himself.


So I mean, you know, it’s, you fought back. When they finally got guns in the Warsaw Ghetto, they fought back and things like that. But it’s you, you can say the same thing about, you know, the, the slaughter of the Belgian Africans, you know, at the time of King Leopold [II (1835-1909)].

Doney: Right.

Iwanter: Millions were killed. Okay. Why, why didn’t they fight? What was it? The, the Hutus fight back in Rwanda. There are times when you just can’t, yeah, you just the the thing you fight by feet don’t fail me now, yeah, that sort of thing.

Tortorice: Well George used to say that survival is a form of resistance.

Iwanter: Yeah.

Tortorice: Just being in such extreme circumstances.

Doney: I think that’s partly why he spent so much time on the stereotype to try and explain to the students that there’s this thing in people’s imaginations. They don’t see, Jews as a person. They see you. They have this idea that’s been revved up and he traces it. And I think it’s in part in response.

Iwanter: You know what, you also, you see it today in alt-right terminology. It’s not the ugly kind of antisemitism. It’s like when that piece of shit, Stephen, Stephen Miller, who’s Jewish, from Santa Monica. Who, whose parents are millionaires, used the word “cosmopolitan.” You know, and you know, right away what he’s talking about. The, so you know, Mosse would have a field day with guys. Because they really are, they really are the, what’s the German term? The Jews that helped the Nazis, the Judenrat?

Tortorice: Judenrat.

Iwanter: Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s so yeah. I mean, the terminology, the terminology has changed. But the, but the emotions behind them remain the same, still red hot.

Tortorice: Well perhaps we should move on now, is there anything else you want to say about your time at UW? Were there other professors that you…?

Iwanter: Well, I will say that if, if I hadn’t had a girlfriend who typed all my papers, I’d probably still be a student. Playing hearts in the Union. Right outside the Paul Bunyan room, which hasn’t opened yet. I will tell you that. I don’t think you really appreciate an education until years later.


You don’t appreciate teachers the influence they have. Unless you stay within academia. If you don’t, you know, if you, it only comes back to you. Either when, either when you decide you want to become reflective about life or you have kids of your own. But I’m always talking up Wisconsin. I, even though I live in Los Angeles every day, I read the I read The Times, Channel 3000, you know, Wisconsin Alliance, all this other stuff. And I’m always posting it on Facebook. People still think I’m, I live in Madison. I say, “no, I don’t live in Madison.” And I get really, really angry at these cuts Scott Walker and these, and these mumsers are trying to do here. Uh, yesterday. I was at the Special Collections at the Memorial Library because there are a couple of things, that you know, I’ve reached that certain age. You know, there’s there’s nothing like having a six-hour angioplasty, you where they stay heart stents in, and you hear doctors, hot-shot cardiologists talking about a lot of stuff when you’re watching,  you know, you’re, you’re watching the transformation of a clogged up Mississippi River Valley, you know, get back into a normal shape again, for you to start thinking about geez, what am I gonna do with all the crap that I’ve, I’ve collected over the years. And so this is one of those times where, you know, I was at the Chazen yesterday, there’s stuff that, you know, I want to give them and there’s some Special Collections, books and things like that. It becomes, you know, it’s, it’s, that’s sort of melancholy trip that you really don’t want to take.

Tortorice: There’s also UW Archives. If you have UW-related materials,

Iwanter: Well, I, that’s why I gave the tapes. I figured, you know, what was the point of keeping those? You know, what, and here we go with my mother again. I was talking to the, I was talking to the Special Collections people yesterday. And I said I had because from like 1965 to 1971, I spent a good deal of my time taking posters off of telephone poles and walls. And once they once they were done and collecting them and putting them away in nice little liquor boxes. And from Sinaiko’s and you know, the black light posters and all of this stuff, you know.


And I tell my mother, don’t throw them out. I’m only going to UCLA. It’s I’m, I am not going to the moon. I come back, this is [19]71. I come back summer of [19]72. All gone. I says, and I said to them I said, ma what did you do? She says, well you know son, we didn’t think you were ever going to come home again. And I said, ma, I called you every other day. What are you talking about? She says, well, you know, you’re not here. And so you don’t love us. I mean, it’s, it’s like something straight out of an Isaac Singer (1903-1991) short story. And I says..

Tortorice: So, this brings up then your post-UW career. What did you do? How did you how did you end up in the entertainment business?

Iwanter: I slept with all the wrong people. What happened was I went out to UCLA Film School. I got accepted to, I got accepted there. But I didn’t like it. In fact, I basically dropped out after maybe a year, year and a half. Why? Because academically, it was the pits.

Doney: Do you want a water?

Iwanter: Oh, no. Thank you. I had…

Tortorice: Especially when compared to UW, right?

Iwanter: Yeah. No, I’m I’m being serious about that. I had my major professor and film was Russell Merritt.

Tortorice: Fantastic teacher.

Iwanter: PhD from Harvard in Comp Lit. And he used to say to me, He’s now Berkeley, he’s Berkeley emeritus now. He used to say to me, You don’t study film. As. Unless, you don’t study film, as film, it’s part of an interdisciplinary study. So in other words, if you’re going to study film, you study it through English Lit, French Lit, History, Comp Lit, you know, economics. It doesn’t make any difference. But it’s not. Film is an art form, but it also is as an art form. You, if, if you’re studying Renaissance artists, you have to study Italian, you have to study the history. You have to know what’s going on at, in Florence and Venice and Rome at the time. Okay. The teachers at UCLA at that time and maybe still there. All they did was study film. But they studied film as if it were in a vacuum. They might as well have just been reading Daily Variety. I hated it, hated it with a passion. There was no intellectualism. There was, it was, it was like a wasteland. And I was really pissed because I had also gotten accepted to NYU. And, you know, and but I couldn’t afford NYU. And I could afford UCLA only because if you stayed there for a year, you’d become a California resident.


And so I basically dropped out after about a year, year and a half. And I thought to myself, should I go back to Madison? No, because I don’t want my mother telling me. “Well, I told you so,” honest to God. So I stayed out in Los Angeles and I, weaseled my way into a job. My girlfriend, who I met here in Madison, we went out together to Los Angeles. And so she had gotten a job at J. Walter Thompson. And one day she says to me, Sidney, there’s a job. I hear from a friend who’s working at a TV station, Channel 9 (KHJ-TV), which was General Tire at the time, which is now owned by Disney. The station the there’s a job available there as a teletypist, you can type. And maybe you can go get the job and get off your ass. I says okay.

And I, I went there, I got the job. And the reason I got the job was that the person who had promised she wanted it had gone elsewhere and they just needed somebody. And so I actually had to take a typing test.

And so and I had prior to that, I worked at the phone company for 18 months as a teletypist. So I was really quick at this. So I got the job at Channel 9 and I got it through a woman named Shelby Conti, whose husband was a struggling composer named Bill [William] Conti, who was the guy from Rocky eventually, you know, an Oscar winner, you know, and so on, and then but he’s Bill Conti anyway. So that job led to a, because I like to talk to people. That job led to another job at Paramount Pictures Television, which was right across the street, which in research again, as a typist, which led to a job at Hanna-Barbera in 1979. I’m encapsulating all of this because there are all kinds of weird stories that go along with this stuff. A lot of one of them, I got the job working at Hanna-Barbera through drugs, but not I wasn’t taking them, but the person who hired me was and this God as my witness that you know, and she got fired from Hanna-Barbera because she came out of the ladies room with a milk sign, but got milk. Well, it wasn’t milk. So they fired her. They says, you can’t  be taking coke. You work for Hanna-Barbera! You know, we do Scooby Doo.


What are you talking? And you know. Okay. Anyway, so and the but I had been doing some freelance work for Hanna-Barbera while I was at Paramount. And then I got fired because she had hired me, six weeks later. I say, man, I, I gotta I gotta get this this job, you know, because I’m losing too much money playing the horses at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. That’s what, I used to do that to make I used to make extra money, you know, trying to play the ponies as well as, you know, poker because they were poker parlors back then. I was a real reprobate. I had just, you know, I would have probably ended up as something straight out of Guys and Dolls if I hadn’t gotten this job.

So I, I called, I called up to get my Hanna-Barbera job back, which was just a freelance job. And the person who answered the phone was the person who had just, had replaced the woman who had a coke problem, because she answered the phone because her secretary was in the bathroom. And one thing led to another. And this woman hired me. And this woman became my like my Rabbi in a way, she hired me and fired me three separate times, all for insubordination over the years, different jobs. And so she hired me at Hanna-Barbera. She hired me ten years later at Marvel Entertainment. And then a year after that at Fox Kids, where I became, everybody got to know me because of the shows I worked on, like in animation like X-Men and Batman and Beetlejuice and Spider-Man and Silver Surfer and Goosebumps. And so I mean, you know, and that’s basically, you know,

Tortorice: So you kind of fell into it, it sounds like.

Iwanter: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I fell into it because, and a lot of people fall into it.

Tortorice: Right.

Iwanter: Because those of us who didn’t, you know, when I went to UCLA, I didn’t want to become a production person. I think I wanted to, I wanted to be Harvey Goldberg or George Mosse and I knew I couldn’t because I don’t I don’t speak like that, you know, and so and I just ramble on and I just, you know, my, my stories, most of them are, you know, except the ones I tell you, you know, that there’s a lot of tall tale-isms about it, you know, that sort of stuff. But, but yeah, you do. I fell into it like a lot of people. And I’ve spent 40 years in kids programming.

Tortorice: What are you most proud of in terms of your work in kids programming?

Iwanter: The X-Men, the X-Men show. Because they still talk about it today.


Because this, what this show did, this is animation from, it basically revived the Marvel Universe. It proved you could do this. [Bryan] Singer, the, the, the Director of the first X-Men movie, never read a comic book. He said, I only watched the series to get my, you know, to, to understand that world. And I was the network executive on that show, which meant that everything passed by my desk. All concepts, all scripts, all storyboards, all the, all the, you know, the, the pre-, the post-production. I was there with the editors and all this other stuff. And to this day it’s probably the most sophisticated storytelling. For a children’s. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched it?

Doney: Yeah, I have.

Iwanter: And, you know, it is, the animation might have sucked, but those stories, man, they were, they were multi-leveled. There was, there was, there, were, there was a character Beast who would always quote Voltaire and Shakespeare. I mean, you know, I got away with murder on this, because it was my show and nobody could touch it. And I did stuff that had never been done before in, you know, for kids programming.

And yeah, I made, I made those kinds of references. And it’s, that sort of stuff has been lost today because the people who make these decisions are stupid and they don’t believe that kids are smart enough. And even though you know, you’ve got, you’ve got the six-month-olds with their computers in front of them and you know. But so yeah, that I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m also proud of surviving, you know, because it’s not it was not an easy business. And because you’re always fighting for tenure and that’s your only as good as your, as you’re not good at all. No matter forget about what you just did. What are you gonna do for me now type of thing. So yeah.

Tortorice: Well, is there anything else you wanted to say about your education or your career or UW?

Iwanter: Oh, you know about the award I set up?

Doney: Yeah.

Iwanter: And in fact, you can, I can thank the History Department for that because when I set up my award and I had no idea how to do this, but this was like in the early 1990s. And I thought, you know I gotta give back. I don’t know how to give back, but it’s a mitzvah. You gotta give back. Okay. I, through the UW Foundation.


I created this award for undergraduates, graduating seniors, honors thesis, the ones who wrote the best honors thesis, but it also had to be interdisciplinary. So, you know, if you were a history major, you have to have to have a minor in art or Italian or, you know, geography didn’t make any difference. And, and that’s I was able to fund this through. And it was hard. But then I never got married, never had a house or anything, so I didn’t have kids. So basically, you know, what, I wasn’t spending on on children’s book illustrations, which I started collecting only to hide the earthquake cracks in my various apartments in Los Angeles. No, I’m being serious about that. Those spider cracks that eventually turned into like abysses. It’s just that they were awful. I, I put I would put artwork there. But anyway, so they I’m, I’m really proud of that because that award. In fact, that was the reason why I was at the humanities place, which is the University Club Building. I always, I always look forward, you know, to like May when I get to read these. These, you know, the theses and it’s and I will tell you, I set this thing up so that in a dozen lifetimes, it would’ve been impossible for me to win this thing. I mean, some of these kids are so incredibly smart that I can’t even understand the titles. And I’m, I’m not joking about this. I mean, in fact, I was going to have lunch, but she’s busy on campus with one of the winners a couple of years ago. Her father is like a professor of mechanical engineering here. And she wrote something on theology and the video game World of War. I’ve never played World of War, and all the levels and all this other stuff. And she was the winner. She created, I, you know, she sought God in all of this stuff in the numbers. And because she was also into mathematics and, you know, and, and she was a game she was like a game player. So she wins this thing. And I, I, I never met any of the winners except this one person when I came back in May of 2014 for a memorial service for one of my close friends. And I was at Tandem Press and she was there that night. And I introduced myself, she [Kyrie Eleison H. Caldwell] says. Yeah. You won my award. Yeah. Okay. Can you explain to me what that thesis of yours was?


And she tried to and I said, forget it, forget it. I don’t know. You won, sei gesund, that kind of stuff. And I said, So where are you going? She says, oh, I’m going to MIT, I says really, Yeah, I’m going to MIT. I got accepted to game theory. I says, great, that’s great. I can’t even spell theory and you know. But that’s what I’m really, that’s the proudest thing. I, you know, so.

Tortorice: Well, thank you so much, we really appreciate you taking the time to come and visit with us.

Iwanter: Now let’s if you’ve got a few minutes, let’s get back to the Greenbush thing. Yeah. Because I am telling you the, the shenanigans that went on to get rid of hundreds of people, you know that had created a community there since the turn of the last century. You know, they, they ripped them out of their homes. They paid at best $0.20 to the dollar. They promised a lot of these old people that they would be coming back, which of course they never did. And they ripped out the neighborhood, I think of it as like Cabrini-Greens. They ripped out. Although it was like urban blight. We’re going to make Madison beautiful again type of thing. And I always thought it had something to do with the John Nolan causeway because you’re coming in from areas you don’t want to see. You don’t want to see Fort Apache here. And it wasn’t Fort Apache, but I mean, it was it was a blighted area. And so, you know,

Tortorice: It was it there was all this money that all of a sudden became available in Washington. And of course, this was a national phenomenon and it was [Ivan A.] Nestigan (1921-1978).

Iwanter: Oh, yeah.

Tortorice: Progressives that plugged into that money. And this area of Madison was the only area that in this sense housed any kind of difference in the sense that pretty much everyone else in the town was German, or Norwegian, or you know, white Northern Europe. It was the one area that they could identify. And it also was next to the university and next to the hospital. So it had, there were vested interests that wanted that area cleared so they could they could grow. So there were, I think a lot of economic reasons for it. I mean, the neighborhood, if it had evolved, I mean, I think people were beginning to move out of the neighborhood younger generation, younger generation, it would have been restored is probably what would have happened over the years it would have been, you know, gentrified I guess.


Iwanter: It would have like, like Willy Street. But the thing is that they used a sledgehammer and they use a lot of lies. And I remember, I remember the Longfellow School used to have these meetings and it got really, really heated because there were, there were urban groups at that time, who knew exactly what was happening. And you had a lot of white radicals who were, who were part of that as well. And, but it’s, it’s fascinating if you go back and read the Cap Times and The State Journal about all the, you know, the promises that turned into anguish. And it’s and it just drove, you know, we were driven out. My parents were driven out of that place. And if you notice that they, they tore down the triangle area, but they didn’t move past. They didn’t move past Mills. They got you know where Madison General, Meriter, is now they only got rid of like one building which was, I believe St. Joseph’s Church because I was there, I was watching it when that went, that went down like [19]62, [19]63. But it was really interesting that suddenly that area which was also considered Greenbush, wasn’t touched. It was just the area, you know, with this, with the Paley and the, the, the, the Gerke junkyards.

Tortorice: But they gave, they got rid of this Schwartz Pharmacy that went right up to Madison General those two brothers and then they tried, they moved into the first four of a new development there.

Iwanter: Yeah. Yeah.

Tortorice: But I do recall they they tore down that whole area right next to the hospital.

Iwanter: It’s a fascinating history because they tear it down. They build up a Soviet style, which they’re trying to tear down now, apartment building. And for years, decades actually, there were, there were vacant lots. That was just vacant lots, and it’s wait a minute, you were promising all these old people, and you know, it’s basically all the old people died. They all just died. And so you’ve got a couple of, you can see I’m still pissed off about this because I remember going to these meetings and these old folks, you know, they were in their 60s, 70s, 80s, they were crying because they were being thrown out of their homes. And they really didn’t know where they were going to end up. So they ended up on the South Side, you know, and you’ve never had as integrated an area of Madison since then. You really haven’t and you know.

Tortorice: That’s true all over the country that that’s what happened. You took integrated neighborhoods and separated them out basically.

Iwanter: And it was a working, it was a working class neighborhood. It wasn’t, you know, where everybody was on welfare. I mean, uh, you know, they worked at Gisholt, Rayovac, Oscar Meyer.


And so again, you know, there’s there’s and you could, you can compare, you’re right, to the federal response after World War II, of getting rid of certain areas and building them up and trying to create suburban, suburban plots. Well, you know, I’m just telling you, right? So.

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