WILSON: Peace Corps Oral History Project interview with Tom BoydFebruary 10, 2005; interviewer Jack Wilson. Tom, if you would please give me your full name, where, and when you were born.
BOYD: My full name is Thomas Andrew Boyd; I was born November 24, 1942.My residence, my home was Kenton County, Kentucky outside of Covington. I happened to be born in Ohio because that's where the hospital was.
WILSON: Okay, and did you then grow up in Kenton County? Can you tell mea little something about your early childhood and so forth?
BOYD: Well I was born during World War II and my father was away, andwhen he returned as he put it he had to fight his way across Asia to get back home. We were kind of estranged and he was kind of how should 1:00be put that, kind of disordered after the war. And so we left Kentucky and went to Wisconsin, where he worked for a couple of years, then we came back to Kentucky for a while, where he had a--Using the G.I. bill had a store and it went bankrupt, and we went to Ohio, and we came back and we went to a variety of places. So I grew up in a number of different mid-western states. I went to high school in Kentucky and Ohio and graduated in Illinois, and then went to college in Indiana in Wabash College.
WILSON: Wabash College?
BOYD: Wabash College, yeah.
WILSON: Okay, so you would have gone there when?
BOYD: I entered Wabash College in 1960 and graduated in 1964, and I hadleft home at that time. My parents continued to move and I didn't use them as my address anymore. And Kennedy got in of course in 1960, my father was very proud of being in Wisconsin for a short time in the 2:00American Legion post of McCarthy. So it's McCarthy, right? Yeah, so anyway I grew in a very conservative family, which meant politically conservative which meant that I had to be very open to liberal kinds of things. And certainly when Kennedy got elected I was paying a lot of attention to the new frontier and those kinds of things, so I was in college from '60 to '64.
WILSON: And what did you major in or do at Wabash?
BOYD: Yeah I, Wabash is a very expensive school, luckily I was theircontribution to social mobility, but I did have to work and I worked at Culver Military Academy in the summer in the woodcraft camp. And in fact my father worked there for a while, that's one of the ways we got to Indiana, then he left and I kept on working there, and I majored in psychology and then I minored also in economics and a second minor in English. I really wanted to go, like many working class kids, to 3:00college to be a doctor, however, I was no good at any of those kinds of science things and I could hold my own with psychology. So that's what I studied when I was in college was psychology with a minor in economics and English.
WILSON: So when you graduated, then what?
BOYD: Well very different from my students here at Berea College,although somewhat similar; if I was at Centre there would be no similarity. I had to find something to do when I got out of college; there was no going home since they had moved a number of times, plus it wasn't really in the cards. And so during that last year in college my student labor, where I worked was the library, and a woman who was in charge of my work there Stella Cummins was one of the few Democrats, registered Democrats on the faculty at this college, and she was paying a lot of attention to the Peace Corps. So she suggested that I send in an application to the Peace Corps; this would have been, let's see '63-'64 in the fall. But I sent in an application to the Marine Corps 4:00since most of my friends throughout high school in the various states had all gone in the military. I sent one into the Navy, Naval Officers Candidate School because my father had been in the Navy and that was something he would be very proud of if I did that. I applied and got a job with Goodyear Tire and Rubber industrial sales products, which was selling like conveyor belts. And I applied to Ohio State University business school just in case because I had to go somewhere and do something. Fortunately I could then choose of all those things, and I chose to join the Peace Corps. I think in those days we had an exam too; I vaguely remember taking an exam. So anyway I was accepted to the Peace Corps, Naval O.C.S., Marine Corps O.C.S., Goodyear Tire and Rubber, waiting list for Ohio State. There was no question I was going to join the Peace Corps simply because it was the biggest adventure; that was why I did it.
WILSON: And what did your family think about that?5:00
BOYD: Well my family, they were a little puzzled by the whole thing.Okay, they thought if you went to the trouble to go to college you then had a get-in-free card for the middle class, and therefore they thought that that's what I would aspire to, and I did to some extent. But this Peace Corps thing came up and it seemed like, and I guess I should tell you I was influenced by this woman, I was also influenced by the advertisements that came out, but in I think it's the fall, and my memory's not real good, the fall of 1963 a young man came to visit Wabash to talk about the Peace Corps. I think they had the first group of people who served in the Peace Corps, who had been '61 to '63; they hired them to go out as recruiters. This is my story, I've told it for years, I remember it this way. We had a thing where every, it was called chapel but it was secular speeches faculty as well as I guess we had pastors that spoke too, but it was like an address to the entire 6:00campus, and he spoke at the chapel. This guy shows up and he's wearing a necktie at half mast and he's wearing a tweed jacket, and we're all wearing tweed jackets, we're talking a men's college that's pretty expensive in the early '60s, so we wear tweed jackets, but he has on blue jeans and work boots, okay? And he gets up, he's introduced by the dean and everything, and he gets up and he talks about what it's like in the world. You know about the college world, you need to go out and learn about the real world, what's really going on. Well I was, you can see by what saying how superficial I am, I was impressed just by the fact that he was nontraditional in his dress. Okay, remember this is the early '60s, there are no student loans; no one will loan me a penny, so I'm not going to graduate in debt except debts I owe to my professors and others of gratitude. I can go do anything I want essentially; he points out there's no money in this. So I'm really 7:00impressed by this is something nontraditional, nonstandard to do; I was impressed by that. And so he answered a few questions, and there was a lot of sort of, I guess he would say hostile questions from the professors. They were all pretty strong Goldwater-ites in the election that was coming up and those kinds of things, and they were pretty hostile. One of them I repeated I think with something that might have been said by somebody in the Republican Party that this is sort of a children's crusade or whatever, and this young man really held his own. He might have been a graduate of an Ivy League school so he could handle any intellectuals, but anyway he really held his own. He went over to our coffee shop afterwards to meet with anyone who wants to meet with him and I followed him over there, and by the end of that I was--I had a role model; I was impressed. I thought by golly, this is something I would really like to do independent if you will of anything that has to do with career, but to communicate that to my family was really not on. I am the only child of elderly parents, okay, so I always have been pretty grown up. But to communicate that as something 8:00one would do after college didn't really come across, but my father kind of liked the idea that at least I was going to go out and fight communism somehow, that the Peace Corps was related to that. And I must say that my parents got on board very quickly after I was in the Peace Corps, and then they started--I went in in '64 and they started parents groups, and by then they lived in Ohio and in Columbus, Ohio there was a parents group. And they were kind of honored to be invited to this; there they met people who had children in the Peace Corps, but those people's employment were doctors, lawyers, politicians, those kinds of things, and so my parents really became like Peace Corps parents. If in those days they had bumper stickers I'm sure they would have gotten one and put it on the car. So my parents were of two minds about this thing, puzzled by it, but I was kind of a puzzle to them anyway since I'm the only one in my family to go to college and what it was about.
WILSON: So you accepted the invitation from Peace Corps? Did you, at9:00that time period did you indicate a preference for where you might go? Did Peace Corps give you any choice and what do you remember about the application process itself?
BOYD: I'm trying to remember, because I read somewhere that there wasan exam, and I think they put it on Peace Corps Readers and Writers website once, and I kind of remembered some of the questions it seems like that was on the exam. So I think I must have taken an exam, written some essays and whatever, and was given a choice. And fortunately this was all during my senior year in college and early on in my senior year, something like February or so, so by March I could say to the Peace Corps where I wanted to go. I had taken French in college and flunked, had taken Spanish in college and done enough; I struggled in college. This is the Cambridge graduate right now telling you, and I tell my students that I got better every year in 10:00college. I was not a great guy. Okay, I struggled with Spanish but I said South America because of the Spanish. They in turn I believe said Colombia, and I knew that by certainly March because I could use that as a research paper in a course I took on economic development for my minor. So I managed to write a whole paper on Colombia while I was in college, which really whet my appetite and got me excited. So somewhere in the selection process I think, I know I must have asked for South America because I had that little bit of Spanish, and then they said Colombia, and then I worked on that and I really enjoyed that paper because I was anticipating that I was going. I did not enjoy my Spanish, and so at the end of the graduation, I was in a fraternity-- most people at Wabash are--and they had a senior banquet, and then they had a bonfire of all the books the seniors hated the most, and I burned the Spanish book. Three weeks later the same Spanish book I purchased 11:00out in New Mexico for my classes in Spanish.
WILSON: So you then went to Peace Corps training in New Mexico?
BOYD: Oh, I had like two weeks at home where I didn't, it wasn't home,I didn't know anybody, but it's where my parents parked the car so that's where I took my college stuff. And it was a wonderful just a short period of time and then you're off in the Peace Corps, and the great thing Jack was I got to ride in an airplane. I had never been on an airplane. Went to the Columbus airport and the ticket was provided and I guess it came through the mail and I got on an airplane and flew out all the way out to New Mexico. Now I've been around the Midwest following my father for work, and it was the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and it was a wonderful thing. I mean you know it's just the architecture's different you know, and there's all these people coming off the airplane. You wonder who they are and then they all line up at the airport there to go to the Peace Corps; it was really great. And so here I am babbling about you know, 12:00"Wow, that was neat to ride on an airplane!" And I discovered quickly on that everybody but me had been on an airplane, and most of these people--I had a few buddies in my group whose parents had not been to college and had fought in the war, but for the most part this was a different socio-economic class than what I was, but I was a very naive, but therefore greatly happy trainee, nervous because I was worried I wouldn't get in, but very happy that it was such a wonderful, exciting thing. And if they did throw me out, which they threatened, 50 people- -18 of us got to go. The deselection was brutal, and I can tell you how it operated but you probably read about it, and maybe your group was like that. It was pretty nasty.
WILSON: Oh, no I'd like to--Tell us about--
BOYD: But anyway, whenever that was happening and I would get nervousabout that. I'd say, "What the hell? I'll get to ride in an airplane again. Fly me back to Columbus." And then I'll join the Marines or 13:00the Navy or sell Goodyear tires, maybe Goodyear won't let me back in, but I'll be okay. There was that great feeling that when I got accepted and then when I got on the plane to go out there that the world was my oyster, that I was doing something that none of these guys at Wabash were doing, even though they had fiances and they had jobs or law school or whatever, I really felt that I was in a wonderful adventure. Now the training, it was the University of New Mexico, it was a college university campus. Of course I had been to a small college, this was a big place, architecture's different, worked us from the morning to the night. Spanish, now I was in a physical education group and he's looking me and I weigh 200 pounds on a 5'4" frame, so I don't look like a coach. But my part of the physical education was to work with the street kids, gamines, in sports programs and orphanages in Colombia South America, a lot of street kids were there. But my colleagues in the group were going to go to schools and teach; they 14:00were going to be in sports schools and they were going to be coaches and the rest of that. And they just said they knew they had all these street kids and often times these orphanages asked for recreation and so I got to go along into a P.E. training group whatever, which started every day with like a mile or I guess it was a two mile run. We were focused in the sports/P.E. department University of New Mexico. Another group of trainees in the same dorm with us were nurses that were going to Brazil; they were focused in another place. In another group with us were Colombian community development workers and they were focused in another place. We were all P.E. so we would start in the morning with a run, and of all 50 people and in the end of all 18 people I always came in last, and I came in behind the women, which was not a good thing to do in 1964. Now matter how hard I tried I was a terrible athlete. In the unit on baseball I got hit in the eye with the ball trying to catch it in the left field; 15:00I've got a scar today still to show that. So my friends, the other people in the--We weren't very cutthroat, like if I get in you won't get in or whatever, but my friends in the group definitely, and I've known them since and we've talked about it, definitely had a place for me in the group as the sort of a guy that everything happens to that laughs through it. And certainly the shrinks, the shrinks were a big part of the selection, I think the shrinks also thought that I would manage in the Peace Corps because I was just sort of, maybe the word then was flexible or whatever, that I would just laugh through whatever happened. But I was no good as a coach, no good as an athlete, and really didn't mind if I lost the races as long as I got in, you know got through and went on to the next thing. So I was excreble at Spanish, terrible at the races; I liked the outward bound, and that was a big part of the training. I liked the political science and the economics, where they talked about the history of Columbia, that kind of stuff. I liked it a lot, so for me it was like going back to 16:00college, but it was going to college from about 7 in the morning until about 10 at night. We had farming, I liked that stuff, of course I had done some of that, worked on maintenance on campuses and my father was in maintenance in college work, and so I had done that. But the training for me was a great pleasure, but the real fear Jack was the deselection. As soon we get off the plane and we're in the dorm they tell us about all what's going on, and they said, "Now I hope nobody has burned a lot of bridges back home because you are not in the Peace Corps until August. This is just June. And some of you will quit and some of you will be deselected, and so don't have any parties and don't get all excited because you know that's going to happen." And then they started all this stuff. They had the shrinks look at us, individual things, and there are some funny stories but maybe you don't want to do all on training. There were was also stuff where they would rate us on our Spanish and rate us on our sports, and of course I figured on those two things I was going to be kicked out the first time round. And then they all had us, we knew when it was happening, I would 17:00say within three weeks we went into a room and they gave us all an envelope. You opened your envelope and it said to go to a room, and so I go to my room, everybody goes to their room, I look at these people, they look at me. We don't know whether we're in or out; we were in. By the time we got back that night to the dorm the ones that were not with us in that room had already been like taken out of the dorm, they had been--I don't know, maybe they put them in a motel somewhere else in Albuquerque, maybe they're having a party you know, so we did drink a lot at night, I was okay at that part. So anyway they disappeared, then about four weeks later the same wretched thing occurs, in the meantime some people had quit. We had people who quit; I don't think they quit because it was too difficult. I think a lot of them quit because the shrinks were working on us. If you really thought that you would be helping Colombia, they spent a lot of time with you on that, in my case I thought I was going to have an adventure so they spent a lot of time with me, "Oh, what do you mean by an adventure? Why do you 18:00think?" And when I said an adventure was running at that time in the morning I think I was okay with that. Second time around, again the group that I got put into we all finished the day and the rest weren't there. And then the last time and I was home free. By then I had known these people really for three, almost three months and we really bonded pretty well in that training. I think that was great training in-country with lots of activities, not much downtime, but at night we could slip off to the bar and we did a lot of that, and that's where I kind of excelled at that side of the thing.
WILSON: Well share with me, you said you had some stories about you knowworking with the shrinks, the psychiatrists or psychologists.
BOYD: Yeah, yeah, psychologists were what they were. This going tothe library, I was a psych major and thought that maybe, although I didn't apply to grad school and whatever, I did interview for a job and was turned down and thought it was pretty bad at the Indiana State 19:00Hospital. I thought I would get a job maybe with my B.A. in psych, and so I went up there to interview and part of the thing was you spent an afternoon on the floor of a ward sort of playing Bingo with people and I didn't work out well; it was pretty rough. So anyway but I did spend a lot of attention, I graduated with a decent grade point average in my psych major, so anyway when the shrinks got us or the psychologists got us one on one, they gave us I think it was the MMPI, they gave us a personality test, which is a whole--You well know, you probably had it too, so a whole array of questions and a lot of them you know. So I walk in and the guy said to me something to the effect of, "So you really think you speak to God?" I said, "Now what do you mean I speak to God?" And he said, "Well, that's what you said on this question." Gosh, I don't remember that. When I went back to the dorm everybody was asked some sort of strange thing like that, but they spent a lot of time with us on that, then they went over other questions, which 20:00were essentially just my big focus on having life as sort of having an adventure and being sort of a ----------(??) and the rest of that, wanting to know why I responded that way, and I admitted to probably responding that way because I thought that was philosophy of life, that I was young and I had the privilege by being an American and I felt that I needed to see the Peace Corps as that direction rather than helping some poor people. Well the next time I was with the shrink, he then really burrowed in on the thing and said, "What about sex?" And when I went back to the dorm everybody was asked about sex, so he said, "It says here you went to a men's college." I said, "Yeah, I went to a men's college." He said, "Well how do you feel about sex?" And I said, "Well, I think I know what you're getting it. I had a girlfriend there." And he said, "Well you didn't see her very often." So I decided that again, having been a psych major, I decided these guys are trying 21:00to knock you off base and you should be honest. There's nothing you can do that's really out of the range of the margins unless you're at that Indiana State Hospital game room trying to play Bingo that day, so I said, "Well I think I did like everybody. I masturbated." Well the guy laughed, and so we didn't spend a lot of time talking about masturbation, but I did think when I went back to the dorm and told everybody that I was going to get kicked out. I didn't get kicked out, but I think the shrinks did kick a lot of people out, I think they did try to look for people who were rigid and those kinds of things. And so we wound up with 18 people and they did a good job in that sense because of the 18 people we only had one that went home early, and that's pretty good given the fact we weren't trained in country.
WILSON: So you ended your training in New Mexico.
WILSON: Got on a plane and went to Colombia?
BOYD: Got on a plane and went back to Columbus, Westerville, Ohio foranother two weeks, borrowed my father's car, drove down to Kentucky 22:00because this is where I had most of my, well all of my relatives and most of my friends. And went around to see people trying to develop, because I know my friends were all looking forward to, my Peace Corps friends going home to farewell parties, all this kind of stuff you know. So I'm trying to drum one of these up and my family, so they don't know what this thing is, they've heard that liberals had the Peace Corps I guess or Democrats. But what is this? You're not going to work? What are you going to eat? How much are you going to make? My friends from high school, of course I had left there as a sophomore, one's driving a Coke truck, one's a butcher, you know I can't develop any kind of relation with these people. But I do this, I go around and see everybody, look I'm leaving, goodbye, and I was really relieved when I got back to be with the Peace Corps people. There was no homesickness on my part during that time in Colombia because I just didn't have a home. So two weeks later we all rendezvous at I guess it 23:00was J.F.K., wasn't called that then, but anyway it was New York at the airport where we all meet. We come in from various parts of America, put us on a plane, and we go to Colombia. And again seeing those people was the most connected I had felt for a long, long time--the ones I had trained with. And so in that sense it was kind of nice to have just two weeks at home rather than any more. And then we get on the plane, we go to Colombia, it would have been early September, maybe middle September, we're in Colombia. We're about three days in Bogota, and then we disperse to our various sites. And then after I guess about three months we come back for that conference.
WILSON: Did you know where you were going to be assigned before?
BOYD: No, and even the trainers didn't know because I was so bad atsports they were figuring out where they were going to put Gordo. By the way my nickname was Gordo, and I think that counted some good points with the shrinks and the Spanish professors because I didn't resist being called Gordo; I liked it. One thing I was good at, I did learn the Columbian national anthem quick. We all had to learn that; I had that one down really fast. And so Gordo will now lead the 24:00Colombian national anthem. But no everybody was wondering in training where I would go, and the returned volunteers or the ones who were down there that like what would you call them, the volunteer leaders--one came up and talked to everybody about the school in Cali, the school in Medellin, the national sports colleges they would go to and whatever, and they didn't know what was going to happen to Gordo. So I got there and they put me in contact with, the program did, in contact with the Alberque Proteccion Infantil de Bogata, which is an orphanage run by- -it was a Dutchman who was a volunteer run by some Catholics. And then there was a Alberque Proteccion de Buen Pastor, which was a bunch of French nuns that ran a woman's prison and a young girl's I guess like orphanage or thing like that--they were both residential programs. And so I was to find a place to live in Bogota, and then go and do sports 25:00classes with those two places. And then there was another orphanage eventual that I found through other people, and that was my first three months was doing that out of Bogota. And I was essentially on my own; there was a director Ellis Corasco, a really great guy was really into sports, and he really wanted somebody to do this, to try this, recreation rather than people who are going to use the Colombian flag in the Pan American Games and the rest of that. But he essentially said you know, "It's really great that you do this. Go out and find your own stuff here you know, and these are the people." And I guess I'm sort of the kind of guy that likes to do that because I manage to do that. Lots of times there were days when I had to go make contacts and people weren't there or they had forgotten or my Spanish was so bad I got it at the wrong time, which was common I think for a lot of people. So I spent a lot of down time, but I remember it as though it was, you know, it was okay. It wasn't as organized as my colleague's, 26:00so in that first three month thing they all had a room in a dorm or they had a house with other Peace Corps volunteers, and they had to schedule the classes that they taught and whatever. And I was kind of the drop in recreation guy for the--
WILSON: Where did you live during that time?
BOYD: Well I lived in two rooms in a house, a very eccentric old ladythat had rooms for rent that the Peace Corps knew about for Bogota volunteers, but instead of being assigned to a school or a barrio, it was just too rooms in a house. And it was a pretty nice kind of a place. Oh, I didn't feel I was having the Peace Corps experience; that's what bothered me. I didn't want to be in the capital riding the buses and all that kind of stuff.
WILSON: So what happened?
BOYD: Well okay, so what happened? Yeah, okay well the story. Soalright, well here's the thing. So I worked at the Culver Military Academy the woodcraft camp, what these people need is a camp! So Rene 27:00the Belgian head of the, who didn't speak English--we were always using Spanish and broken Spanish, but anyway Rene said that's a great idea, and so we started working from September because the summer vacation is December through I guess what December through February in Colombia. So during school time we would set up a camp. We would go down to the hot country, the llanos orientales, the cowboy country of Colombia. That was our scheme and their board members would help set it up okay. So we had, I should say we but actually he set it all up, so I'm going to the orphanage every day doing my little sports with the kids and all. And it's really just a warehouse for street kids, but it's an orphanage next to a brewery. It was a wonderful smell, but anyway not in a nice neighborhood but it was okay. But I went there everyday and he set up a thing where there was an agricultural school down the llanos that would be empty, and so the scheme was and the government 28:00went along with it that we would move this school down to that place, the idea being that ----------(??) was about what, oh a little less than two months, so let's say six weeks we would all be down there. The kids would get fresh air and they would be able to run around. I think the government also thought that if any of the older kids wanted to stay behind and be landless laborers on farms it would be a nice thing; that's getting them out of Bogota, right, okay. But it would be a camp, it would be a camp--that was the deal. There's only like four people that work at this big warehouse kind of a thing, okay. And I would replace them for their vacations. Now three of these are guys that are sort of like keeping order among all these little boys, okay, and one of them is a kitchen lady. And so I just worked in the kitchen, and so then they all got their vacations. Rather than having it at that particular time they had it early, and then we all moved--everybody, the kids, they put the kids in some busses that 29:00the government provided. There was this big truck where we put all the mattresses and everything together and pots and pans and all. I remember the big excitement for me was to ride in the back. You know every Colombian doesn't want to ride in the back. All their lives they have; oh, I want to ride in the back! One time I got off the truck I was covered in dust; it was a wonderful experience. We went down there and we set up the school; we had a camp. After that's over and we come back, the United Nations had an orphanage out in the country side and they knew about this crazy gringo that's doing all these kinds of things and so I got connected with them to live at this rural orphanage and do my sports kinds of things, and so I managed to get out of Bogota after that. So I was down in the Janos and it was great and we did all these sports with the kids and all, even went around to the embassy. This was a dumb idea, went around to the embassy and got the economic attache. I said, "Look, we need de-worming medicine and things like that because we can make these kids a lot more healthy." "No problem. 30:00I'll get donations for that, you just write a report." So I wrote this report about this camp was going to increase their strength, increase their agility, and increase their health, and I had a pre-test and a post-test--did this all with the embassy. Ellis Corasco thinks, "What is this kid? He's running around on the bus and getting these things." So they all did worse on the post-test because they had been staying up late running around. Everybody is, including me, infected with worms. I mean you know I've got pictures of this by the way, I brought my pictures. It's pretty rough where we living, washing in the stream and everything but happy as hell; they finally got out of there. Then we all go back and it was really great, but this United Nations program again through the ministry of education, they needed or they wanted to do more recreation out there. And it was a beautiful school; it was built with U.N. money okay, UNICEF, and they had houses for the 31:00children, sort of like dorm mothers and all that kind of stuff. And so they asked and Ellis gave me to them, and instead of going around to these, the idea being I would go back to the orphanages for the next, and I did, for the next round of vacations. That's really my--I'm the vacation man, and then during the year I will be at this UNICEF school in the mountains, and I liked that because then I had the Peace Corps experience and I mean I'm way off in a--I have to walk up a mountain to get there and whatever. So I'm out there and I work with kids out there. Everybody has tuberculosis. A lot of them, the people who were supposed to be hired to be adults and whatever, what we call them the dorm counselors and whatever, they were never there. They were phantom workers; the salaries were being collected by somebody but they were never there. So it was a scandal of a project and within three months they closed it because of the tuberculosis. So there was then a big problem; Peace Corps doctors all looked at me and everything, and I 32:00didn't get tuberculosis. I'm lucky, you know I grew up in America, I mean I'm in pretty good health and the Peace Corps hygiene worked and whatever, but I couldn't be there anymore. So then I got sent to a really hot place called Herato, Columbia, which is down, it's still in tuned in the market down in the river valley, and I worked with an orphanage down there, came back to Bogota for the next round of vacations. In fact I went to two then, I had Club Machin. I set up the one and then came back and took Club Machin down to a different school in llanos and did that, and then went back to Herato. So my story, I've got pictures to back it up, is that I worked with recreation with kids and Colombia and I just moved around a lot of different places-- never had an American partner and had a couple different places.
WILSON: You have a Colombian partner?
BOYD: Yeah, each one of those schools supposedly I had partners, yeah.And I went back. I was lucky, there's a lot of stuff I've done since then. But I went after the Peace Corps, thanks to them I went to the 33:00Netherlands for a master's degree; the U.N. guy fixed me up with that. And then I got a consultancy with the Organization of American States and went back to Colombia. I looked up all those different schools and four years is a long time in the life of orphans and the staff there. One of my partners, Roberto, he was still at that but it's probably not a good place to be; all the others had moved on to other things.
WILSON: So where did you live during all this? Did you just sort ofcamp out?
BOYD: Yeah, yeah I would move around--peripatetic. I lived, when Iwas up in the mountains, when I was at the United Nations thing I had a room in an administration building. When I was in Bogota the first time I was in that lady's two rooms in her house; I paid rent for there. And then when that all went down, of course the camps I just lived with the kids. We were all in, actually we were all just out in a big room. I had one of those hammocks, which I stretched; I would 34:00sleep in a hammock but they were on the floor with mats and all; I just didn't want to do the floor thing with snakes. But anyway, then when I got back after the school went under with the tuberculosis I stayed in a pension for a month till I got my assignment at Herato. Then when I went down Herato I had to find my own place; there wasn't any place to stay in the school. And I found in a barrio through a woman friend I found a place, and I wasn't supervised very closely.
WILSON: So what about your food?
BOYD: Well the first couple months in Bogota I cooked for myself, thenwith those schools I ate with the orphans. I ate whatever was going on, which was you know pretty good financially too. And I had never done much cooking for myself so there's a lot of culinary mistakes I had that are part of the deal I guess of the first couple months. Rice, you know, you don't fill the pan with the rice and then put the 35:00water--that kind of stuff. But they had a James Beard cookbook in the footlocker in the book locker, and I still have that cookbook. So I learned to cook in the Peace Corps. So I would buy stuff and go there; sometimes I would eat out. I lived in really rough areas; I could eat really cheap at the local tiendo, local bar or whatever. The lady there up in the mountains, she would take me and you know I would just give her a few pesos and I would have a bottle of beer and whatever was going for them. So I can't remember eating as being a big problem, but--
WILSON: Adjusting to the food wasn't an issue?
BOYD: Well, no. Colombia wasn't at all like--See I've lived in Chinaand Africa since then, and Colombia's like western food. I mean it's all rice and potatoes and meat on the side, but no that wasn't a problem. I'm trying to think, a lot of Peace Corps volunteers missed something, you know what they really missed. I think hamburgers. There was a place in Bogota called de Cremelato, ice cream store or whatever, and Peace Corps volunteers would all go there for hamburgers, 36:00and I certainly enjoyed that. But for the most part no I was okay, Colombia has good food.
WILSON: What would you say was the most difficult adjustment?
BOYD: Certainly the Spanish.
WILSON: The language.
BOYD: The language because I like to talk a lot, so I was talkingeverywhere I went and nobody's figuring out what I'm saying.
WILSON: Did you talk in Spanish?
BOYD: And I'm still talking, oh yeah I did too, the English. Sothere was always that frustration; that was the hardest thing. I got homesick; I kept this journal. In fact I gave up the journal after a while because it made me homesick to think about. When I would get sick I would get really homesick. You know get dysentery.
WILSON: Yeah, tell me something about health and healthcare and so forth.
BOYD: Well first of all if you work with these little orphan boys orstreet kids, whatever you--gamines is what they were called, and the little ones. The older ones were usually shipped out to work and so 37:00I wouldn't see much of them and they weren't that interested, but the little ones loved to make fun of my Spanish, and it just seemed like their whole goal every day was to touch one adult because the adults were badly outnumbered, right. So I went to the Peace Corps doctor with what I thought was one heck of a rash, I mean my pits were in bad shape, two in the hair and everything, and of course I had lice like you wouldn't believe, while I'm doing the back end of--So anyway I'm like shivering I guess as the doctor's laughing at me, with me, and then I used to get a lot of dysentery because I'm eating off these plates that are washed in cold water from the kids and whatever, but I think I got adjusted to that. But that's when I got really homesick, once I came home, riding home on the public bus because I would stay late to cover for other people, so it's like 9 at night and it's cold and Bogota is up really high, you know the air's thin, but anyway the clouds would come down and it's damp, and so you're feeling a little 38:00lousy, and I shit myself on the bus. And you could see the Col0mbians going, "Lordy! Is that coming from the American?" I just felt so degraded; that's one of my lowest spots. And then when I'm out in the Janos, we went out on New Year's Eve with the kids to a service at a Catholic church, I'm not a--I'm a Protestant in those days and so the Catholic's a big thing to my mother too, "Well where are you going to go to church?" So anyway we go to this Catholic church and at midnight the bells go off and everything's going on, so anyway we have to walk back with the kids, and I'm carrying a couple of them who fell asleep or whatever, and I shit myself again. I was like, "This is New Years Eve! This is the beginning of," what would that be 1966 by then, it was the second year. Or maybe '65, you know here I'm a college graduate and my friends are writing me letters about all this stuff and I just shit myself, and there's no bathroom. I have to go down to the river 39:00there and clean--God I got unhappy, so I had the normal dysentery, and I had skin problems. What else did I have? Well venereal disease, we all did as we compared notes to men anyway, and I had no major problems--worms, coughed up a worm once.
WILSON: Peace Corps physicians helpful?
BOYD: Yeah, on the venereal disease they were vindictive because theysent us condoms. You weren't allowed to get them; you know it was a Catholic country. So they would send us condoms to use and they told us if we didn't that would be a problem, and then when we didn't use them they sent us to a guy with the largest fingers we said in the southern hemisphere who went up and massaged the prostate, so they weren't as helpful as they could have been on that. But they were helpful with everything else, and we used to mail stool. I don't know if yours was like that, we would mail these little round things and we would put 40:00some stool in there and we would mail it back to them, and then they would mail us a set of instructions to take down to the pharmacy to get stuff for that, because we were always fighting off parasites. I hate parasites; I had amoebic dysentery, a couple different worms.
WILSON: Probably didn't boil your water?
BOYD: At home, when I got down to Herato and was with this woman friendof mine, I had these rooms and I had one of those little stoves--a kerosene stove--I would boil up a lot of water, and I drank a lot of beer because I learned the hygiene things. But yeah, the first little bit I just drank the water in the Alberque, and that's where I got all those things, and then out in the llanos too because I didn't have access to boiled water. But I got better; I really got better as the years--as the time rolled on. And I had some bouts of homesickness but not like my friends. My friends, my Peace Corps friends we'd meet every three months at these conferences and they would talk about wanting to go home. It wasn't that I was homesick; I just was miserable. I didn't see any solution going home, I just needed to 41:00make Colombia better, and luckily I found ways to cheer myself up. I learned to play the tiple [Editor's note: Tiple is a 12-stringed guitar-like national instrument.] badly. I would go with my friends a lot to the bar, so got a group of friends there who would play chess.
WILSON: Colombian friends?
BOYD: Yeah, yeah, there were no Americans. There was a Peace Corpsvolunteer, a married couple that came down to Herato about three months before I left to work in urban community development in a barrio, not my barrio, another barrio. And I went to see them a couple of times, and then my--But my, the people in my group were all spread all over. They weren't around, yeah. So yeah I had Colombian friends, neighbors.
WILSON: And so recreation was to go to a bar or--?
BOYD: Well no, I didn't travel much. It was to a bar, a lot ofvolunteers would use this as a stepping stone to go to Machu Picchu or you know go off and see things and all. I didn't grow up with a 42:00family vacation history. Whenever my father was off work, you know he would get some days off work and we would garden or just do that kind of stuff. We tried a family vacation once as my mother tells it and I vaguely remember it. We were in Kentucky in those days and decided to go down to Gatlinburg; we never made it all the way. We had a big family fight somewhere around Corbin, Kudjo's Cave or maybe that's Mount Vernon, but anyway turned around and came back. And so most people were thinking about making a big trip and if somebody would have invited me I would have gone, but I wasn't with any other Americans so they wasn't any of that stuff. So I saved up that money, you got some money for vacation days, and I would read a lot. We had that great book locker, and you know when we had conferences I would trade books with everybody. I was bad at reading in Spanish; I never got good at that. But I would read a lot of books when I would get my hands on English books, played chess, I went to the bar a lot, and just hung out.
WILSON: But your Spanish, oral Spanish fluency must have--43:00
BOYD: Oh, it got a lot better. Yeah they, Foreign Service gave usa test at separation conference where they, you know, they met with us to end the whole thing and all, and they gave us a test and I was pretty good. In fact I had that guy laughing too with some of the idiomatic phrases I knew and kind of street Spanish stuff, yeah. So it was good enough, yeah. I could, well I've gone to other places. I did some work in Puerto Rico and whatever, so yeah. And I use Spanish here a lot, so Peace Corps was a great thing for me because I learned that Spanish language thing and I got, as you know, to experience a foreign culture. Now there was an American guy, he was a Fulbright, he was a social work professor at the University of Puerto Rico, and his name was Monte Koppel, and he was one of my mentors. We'll call him mentor number one that came out of this Peace Corps thing. I had never met a Jew. He was impressed that I had never met a Jew, right. 44:00He's Jewish--Monte. And so Monte is the one who worked at this U.N. thing and didn't want to live out there and he was the one who contacted Peace Corps if they had somebody who could come out there at this United Nations orphanage, and then Monte met me and Monte took me under his wing. And I would stay with Monte occasionally, put on the hat you know and sing on Friday nights and everything, and introduced me to his kids, took me down to Lebanese restaurants in Bogota. He was really a great guy and he's the one who said, "What are you going to do when you get out of the Peace Corps?" Then I said, "Well I just really don't know. I haven't thought about it. I'd kind of like to stay in the Peace Corps, but I don't think that's on." And he said, "You should go to the Institute of Social Studies in the Hague," and he helped me apply to the Institute of Social Studies, and the Colombian supervisors in the Ministry of Education that were nominally in charge of all this stuff, they wrote letters of recommendation. And so when we separated from the Peace Corps everybody went back to America, I 45:00had found a job in America but not of course in Ohio in a thing called in The Encampment for Citizenship, which was in those days they had these little meetings. It was run by the ethical culture society in New York, a very left wing group okay. Norman Thomas was part of the governing board and all, was to bring working class and wealthy Americans of the same age together for an Encampment for Citizenship, and they hired me as a recreation director. So when we separated from the Peace Corps and that would have been in May or early June of '66, I cashed a--They gave you money or a ticket; I took the money and got a really cheap flight to Miami and was kind of like through a military thing, but anyway I don't remember how I got it but it was really cheap, and I spent a week in Miami to readjust to America and then went to Washington D.C. to work in the Encampments for Citizenship.
WILSON: So how was this readjustment?
BOYD: Oh it was a failure, it was a failure. First of all everybodyin Miami either spoke Spanish or was Jewish. I'm in this cheap hotel 46:00and I'm using my bad Spanish and I'm enjoying it, and I'm still in the bar and I'm still you know I'm still thinking I'm a poor man's Earnest Hemingway and the people in Ohio don't know shit about the world, so I should have adjusted to America but I couldn't. When I got to D.C., University of Maryland, to be the recreation director it was bliss because somehow the idea of the Peace Corps by 1966 had really been blown up, so all the false ideas I had of this young man with the work boots and blue jeans--
WILSON: Side two tape one of interview with Tom Boyd February 10, 2005Peace Corps Oral History Project. Tom, you were starting to talk about returning to Maryland.
BOYD: Right. I'm in June of 1966 my first month back in America.Anyway so I'm in the University of Maryland outside of Washington D.C. for the Washington Encampment, and I'm the recreation. I'm just 47:00supposed to organize you know ballgames and that kind of stuff. And these young people from all over America, some working class, some out of prison, and some from Harvard were all together at this Encampment to work out these things. And we had guest speakers and did various things, but the point was I was the Peace Corps volunteer and I liked that attention; I will admit that. But again I didn't really have a home. I was staying in a dorm room okay, where everybody stayed in a dorm. I was eating dorm food okay, so what's to miss? I mean you know once this is over, but I did feel and my parents had said they wanted to see me. I did feel that I should at least go and recognize that I have parents and all, but I don't know anybody in Westerville, Ohio but them. So I--Oh, Peace Corps did hire me to go out to New Mexico to talk to the next group of coming out, okay. So I got to go out to New Mexico and talk to the next group of P.E. people or maybe it was the next after, a group anyway. I got to go to do that 48:00training stuff for a couple of days, which was nice. Then I went to Westerville, Ohio and saw my parents for I guess it was about three days. Peace Corps stopped paying of course for this, so no more flights--Greyhound and then Icelandic Airways to Luxemburg, and then a train back to The Hague. Here I am feckless kid and I'm in Europe! I'm going to go to school in Europe. Now Monte Koppell with the U.N. told me about this school and set me up with this school. It's the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. It's young people, not young people--middle level civil servants or scholars from all third world nations who studied development studies--the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. And they accepted me for a program called national development and it was a one year diploma. And there were all kinds of people there from different parts of the world and there were only a handful of Americans, and there were three Americans in fact. Yeah, so again I'm in an international environment and it's in 49:00English not in Dutch okay, and I don't know why I should say I excel or whatever but I was okay at it. In fact I caught a lot of lip because of the Vietnam War; I'm an American and all. But I was kind of like the good American that kind of stuff and I'm learning about development studies--sociology, economics, political science, history, that kind of stuff; it's fascinating. So I'm thinking like Monte wanted me to think I guess that this might be what I'll do if I go back, when I go back to America, or maybe I'm an international person. Maybe I will work as an international civil servant because now all these things are opening up to me. I'm not a psychologist; I'm a program person or whatever. Well I do okay in that program, I get offered to stay for a second year called a master's degree in social sciences.
WILSON: And this is in 1960--?
BOYD: By then we're up to '66 so it's '67-'68, yeah, master's degreein social sciences. So I go back to America in the summer to work for 50:00the Encampments for Citizenship; I'm in New York City now. I'm in the ethical culture school, again, I'm not cooking or anything because I'm staying in a dorm and the rest of that kind of stuff and I'm doing the encampment again. And this is a painful part of my life but I will tell it because it's related to Peace Corps. I get married to somebody I knew in the Peace Corps group. She reconnects with me, she's from Maine, she's really wealthy okay, and I had known her. And when it was the holidays and all in the Peace Corps we would go up, you know, I would go there and there's pictures of us in these conferences and things like that. So anyway the '60s are a crazy time in America too, right. Now when I'm in Europe I become a Maoist. There's all these demonstrations and all you know about Maoism and Daniel Cohn-Bendit and those people and all, and this encampment is a left wing kind of a group, so I fit in right there with those ideas. Well Polly is not into that, but Polly is kind of into getting married, and I guess to 51:00upset her family because you know that's a pretty big deal to marry somebody who doesn't have a job or anything. So anyway at the end of '77, it would have been in August I get married and I put--
BOYD: Oh sorry '67.
WILSON: '67, okay.
BOYD: '67, and Polly and I get on Icelandic Airways. Now Polly hadbeen to Europe because her family took vacations in Europe and all. She had never been on a propeller plane that takes like eight hours to get to Reykjavik, and then you take a shit, shower, and shave and another eight hours to Europe. So within four months Polly has gone home to America and the marriage is over; she was not a, let's say a revolutionary. We lived above a mattress factory, there were the hast workers, hast arbeiters, guest workers who were also in this thing about the mattress factory. I was living the revolutionary dream, but this poor--This was not a good thing, so that's a sad side of it but it's part of the whole story because my Peace Corps friends had come up for the wedding. You know Polly set this whole thing up with her 52:00family; they had money, they got people to come in. So a lot of it was like our group's first reunion was when Gordo married Polly, and when I go back to reunion would have been in D.C. when they had the big tent I see these people and they all talk about that. They never thought it would work; somebody had to marry Polly to have this wonderful party, so I don't feel as guilty but yeah I got married in '67 and she left me within three months. But I was really into Maoism in those days, so I did my master's degree thanks to Peace Corps. I would never have had this field to work in, and I think thanks to the flexibility I had too, I wouldn't have had the credibility with foreign people the way that I am that I am a different kind of American. In other words I'm not into consumerism and whatever. And believe it or not I go back again to America to work for the Encampment, this time in Puerto Rico, and I leave to go back to Holland because the Dutch have hired me. The Dutch liked me. I mean I'm a guy from Ohio or Kentucky and Indiana, and the 53:00Dutch like me and they hire me and they send me to Africa--to Ghana and I live in Ghana for three years. Now the story's going to get long or the tape's going to run out but I've been a lot of places.
WILSON: Oh but that's an important part of the story.
BOYD: Yeah, all part of the Peace Corps. Peace Corps opened me up toso many things. What if I had taken married my little girlfriend from college Melissa Lynn Fisher and worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber industrial sales? What would I be? So I finish up my master's degree, I work in America that summer, Peace Corps not paying. I take the Greyhound to Ohio to tell my parents I'm leaving for Africa and yeah unfortunately my wife has left me, and they're pretty disappointed because they thought I had done something right for once. That was a pretty big wedding that happened. Go back Icelandic Airways for the last--No! Sorry I work on a ship, so I get an even cheaper way to get to Europe. That summer I work on a ship to get over to Europe 54:00okay, and then the Dutch pay for me to go to Ghana. And I work in the Development Studies Institute of the University of Cape Coast. Now Angene was just down the coast from there and I was there from '68 to '71, now I was on soft money. This was a foreign aid project from the Dutch government. I was a contract person, actually it was OECD money. It was soft money, yearly renewable, but what a wonderful thing. I lived on the local economy, actually I banked all my salary and lived off the expenses okay, and it was a great thing. I mean I did research in villages and I taught sociology of education and I was with these three Dutchmen; that was the team and I was like a research assistant to the main Professor Emil Vercruijasse, another mentor. Emil Vercruijasse likes me, so I get to stay for a second year, he likes me I get to stay for a third year. They're kind of puzzled though that 55:00I'm not going back to America every summer or going to Holland every summer like they are, or even going to travel.
WILSON: What did you do?
BOYD: Drank beer and hung out, had friends. I mean--
WILSON: Ghanaian friends.
BOYD: Ghanaian friends, a Ghanaian woman friend kind of like I did inColombia or whatever. And I guess I developed a philosophy that the Peace Corps taught me that if people lived there and I'm a person I can live there. I don't need to you know try to think about what I'm missing or whatever; whatever the people got is what I'll take I guess. Not that it's easy. I don't get homesick though in Ghana; it was wonderful in Ghana because you didn't get cold like in the Andes or whatever. And I liked being a professor, I liked reading and writing; I wrote--got some publications done or whatever. Sort of like Oxford when the colonies came into Africa, the British--Oxford got east Africa and Cambridge got west Africa for some reason. And so 56:00Jack Goody, one of the anthropology profs at Cambridge had come down to the University of Cape Coast and given some lectures, and he was hosted by the Institute of Social Studies that I was involved in. So I got to know Jack Goody at Cambridge, and I was doing this research along with Professor Vercruijasse, the Dutchman, and reading papers and doing other kinds of things, and so when those three years were up the Dutch was gone and they were going to go back, I thought was like in Peace Corps I felt maybe I should stay in Ghana. And these guys said, "No, you know you're getting a little strange. You need to go back. You could have a job in the Netherlands." So I stay as long as I can, they all leave like in June and I leave the last day in August right. So I go down to the market, and Angene will know this; it's still got to be there--the section of the market with the used clothes from the Europeans called obroni welwea--white man's died clothes. So I got, I get in a plane, I say goodbye to my African friends and it's really hard; I weep in that one. I wept when I left Columbia; I didn't weep 57:00when I left America. I wept when I left Colombia, I wept when I left Ghana, and I've got a raincoat that I bought down there and of course I'm short and small and I've got to roll the sleeves up. I don't have underwear or socks after three years in Africa; they've worn out and you don't need them. So I get off the plane in Amsterdam and there's this big glass wall where they're riding people coming, the Dutch are out there holding up signs, "Welcome home mother," and whatever, and I get off in no socks and this raincoat all buttoned around me with a--And my Dutch friends are laughing like hell. I looked like a--They said I looked like a displaced person from World War II! I'm wearing a safari suit because I don't own this other kind of stuff. It was hard to leave Africa, really, really hard to leave Africa, but I'm glad I did because things had changed so much there. You know changed kind of like Colombia, so anyway I go back to the Netherlands and Emil Vercruijasse fixed me up with a job for a year at the Institute of 58:00Social Studies, and then everybody who are my friends are all said, "You really need to think about getting some kind of degree and then you can work as an international civil servant. The master's degree is nice but everything is done on quotas and you Americans are not going to get on those things, so you are going to have to get a skill and whatever." And they had set me up with the possibility at the University of--At Leiden University in Holland, and I didn't really want to do that but I applied through Jack Goody. I wrote to Jack Goody, "Would you take me at Cambridge?" and he set me up with an interview. And I went over to Cambridge on the ferry, took my bike, was on the ferry, and then got off on the train and rode up in there, and damn I got accepted to Cambridge University. A guy who burned his Spanish books and nobody had been to college, at Cambridge they like eccentrics you know, and they let me in Cambridge. If for not the Peace Corps this wouldn't 59:00have happened man, at least that's how I tell the story. There was never a professor at Wabash whoever said, "You are Cambridge material. You need to go to an elite school." So spent three years in Cambridge, '72-'75 Cambridge. I had a Dutch woman friend and she came over there with me and we had a nice time; we lived rough but we had a nice time and her family would come visit. But I was never really part of Cambridge, I was studying there but I didn't have enough money to go do a lot of these things. I liked it because the intellectual stuff was so great and all, but I really never felt like I was going to--I didn't cry when I left Cambridge; I didn't feel like I really belonged there, but I went to Cambridge and got my PhD, and my father started having heart attacks okay, and my mother can't drive a car. And I hadn't been to America really as a resident since 1964 and with my family since 60:001960, and my Dutch woman friend Marina she's thick with her family, they're thick with me, they like me and everything, and they're all saying, "Look, you've got to take care of your family. Families mean a lot." So I decide that I will, I'm finishing up in the Netherlands, I've got my degree and all, I decide I'll come back to America and look out for my family, try to put them in a retirement home. I've been salting away money because I was living off expenses when I got those three years in Africa or whatever, and try to fix them up and then see what it's like in America. So I came back to America; that would have been '76. It would have been in January, some--January February of '76, live with my parents, didn't have a door key, didn't drive a car, my--The neighbors felt sorry for me. It was a policeman that was good friends with my family, took me out one night to a topless bar. "What 61:00do you think Tom? You know you never get out!" This is just like being in the market in Cape Coast Ghana I mean you know except the beer's a lot more expensive. I was really weird you know with that, but I found a job in West Virginia, I put my parents in Otterbein's Retirement Home, which is in Lebanon, Ohio okay. Sold off everything they had and some money I had and all, got them settled okay, and decided that I would try to do what I did in the third world in Appalachia. In other words I would work in development studies kinds of things in Appalachia. I had applied to Berea earlier when I was in Cambridge and I didn't get the job. In fact they even sent the rejection letter to Cambridge, Massachusetts instead of Cambridge, England. So I go to West Virginia Wesleyan, and I go for the interview. I wasn't aware of the faux pas. Now that I've been back in America so long I realize it's a faux pas. I go for an interview at West Virginia Wesleyan on a Greyhound bus, and later when I got the job they said, "You know we 62:00really didn't think you were appropriate for a job if you don't show up in a car, but because of the English education we thought we'd make up for it. There's nobody with that kind of education here." So I took a job at West Virginia Wesleyan for a year and it wasn't a very good fit. I graded too hard; there were a lot of problems with that. I liked living in West Virginia though running around. I never had a car until the spring of that year, so I lived there summer, fall, winter without a car, and that made it very eccentric but I just wasn't used to counting on a car, which is really an American kind of a thing. And the reason it's important to talk about the car was that I had to have some lady friends who drove and whatever, and I did and that worked out pretty well, but I wasn't going to stay. So I applied to my, again my mentor is back in Europe and by then one of them was working for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, and he thought he could set me up with a consulting job on a project in Zambia. So 63:00anyway I told West Virginia Wesleyan that this wasn't working out, but Berea had an opening and I applied and got the job in Berea. So I had a car so at least I could come for the interview looking decent, and I got the job in Berea and I moved down here as I said to you in 1977. Got here to Berea to work I guess it would have been in late August--Well it was when Elvis died something like August 14, 1977 was when I rolled in here. So here we are, I'm 100 miles from where I was born and my parents now approve. They're in the retirement home in Ohio but my mother said, "Tommy, God has been working here." So Jack, that's the story. Now since I've come here of course I was in an untenured assistant and I worked my way up now. I'm the chairman for a long time and I'm tenured and all, but Berea is wonderful place because it is a working class college, I can tell people that I've 64:00kept with my Maoist values. Secondly when I went back to Cambridge my first sabbatical people in Cambridge know about Berea as a poor man's Harvard. So I can keep my correspondence and my friendship with people over there. I did bring my Dutch friend Marina over here to see if she would want to live with me in America and she, no, she hated it. Mistake, took her to Gatlinburg, maybe I should have taken her--So in the mean time I've worked in Zambia, that was that consultant job with the UNFAO because I sort of took, agreed to take it and then I got this job and didn't want to take it, so I had to do that one in the summer. I've worked with Habitat in Peru, I've had a sabbatical in China where I lived for a year, I had a sabbatical in England, I did a Fulbright in India, so Berea has been a wonderful thing. But really I'm a citizen of the world I think thanks to that Peace Corps thing. I never ever felt reverse culture shock like they trained us to 65:00think we would feel. I just felt like I was not part of the deal over here, and Berea has allowed me to sort of maintain that notion. This is not a normal place. Phil Curd, Lowell Wagner, all of those returned volunteers we've talked about, that's my reference group here. When we get together we don't talk about our investments, we don't play golf, we talk about world peace, we talk about international affairs and we laugh and we do those things. We don't do that status kinds of games, and I guess I've gotten off the topic a bit, but that's why I think Peace Corps shaped my life as to what I am.
WILSON: So going back a little bit--
WILSON: What do you think the impact of your Peace Corps service wason Colombia?
BOYD: Good, yeah, I guess it's really--I mean I've had to think about66:00that and people have asked me and I've often and I'm comfortable saying quite minimal, now a sociologist speaking on the society of Colombia. I didn't change the educational institutions, I didn't change Herato, I didn't fix those orphanages. I don't even--Well when I went back as a consultant for the organization of American States, I did look for those places okay, but nobody there knew me because I had been gone so long. So I think it was minimal on Colombia, but I think I touched some lives in Colombia, and well maybe I didn't, but those lives touched me so much I would hope it was a reciprocal relationship and they remember me now because I remember them. So I think Columbians met a different kind of American and that might have changed Colombia a bit.
WILSON: And I guess what you've been talking about for the last halfhour is a description of the impact of Peace Corps on you. 67:00
BOYD: Exactly, yeah, and it's the impact of that experience on me,okay it wouldn't have the same impact on everybody. I mean we're all different. But thank
God for John Kennedy and Shriver to set this thing up that allowedsomebody who was working class to go out and connect with working class people in Colombia and other places, the Netherlands and all the rest of that. I mean it was really a, and it opened my eyes up to things I could do other than being such a loser because I didn't have stuff. I mean you know how hard it is to get a date when you don't have a car; I never had a car until I was like thirty something. So it was really a change my life, and not intentionally but I think it was a place where I needed to be and I got put in that place.
WILSON: Are you still in contact with any of the people who were either68:00fellow volunteers or Colombians?
BOYD: Fellow volunteers I have been able to be in contact with.Colombians we have lost contact, and that was a long, long, long, long time ago. You may know we went to Washington, Phil Curd, Lowell Wagner, the east Kentucky returned bunch; we went to Washington for an anniversary. It might have been the fifteenth, it might have been the twentieth; they had a big tent down on the mall and I don't remember the date. It would have been in the early '80s or middle '80s.
WILSON: It would have been the 25th.
BOYD: Okay, would that be the 25th in the '80s? I mean we were up therein Washington of course in the '90s.
WILSON: '61 and 25 would put you at--
BOYD: Yeah, so it must have been the 25th, okay. So the east Kentuckygroup, which we had all started together. I take some credit for starting that because it was the first time it was on our campus, because I was the friend of the ----------(??). If I connect with you 69:00three this well, I probably connect with other returned volunteers; help me find them. So they say let's go to this anniversary thing. I say, "I don't think I can go there because you don't know this but actually I had a wife once and she was in the Peace Corps." "Oh, let's go see her." I said, "No, she'll probably be the one with me in a headlock pounding--" So we had a good time laughing about this excursion and I go with them, and Polly wasn't there but I meet some people from my group. Ellis Corosco, the head of the whole thing, he's there you know, and then Jack Brown is there. He was one of my closest friends; he's from up in New York. And then over the years a couple of other things happened. Friends of Colombia, I belong to them and I'm a charter member and I paid a lot of money to help, you know, what do you call that, I mean I guess a charter member.
WILSON: Got to returned Peace Corps volunteer group?
BOYD: Yeah, and they keep a news letter and a base of addresses, andso I connect with some people in my group. I even start a news letter okay, and so I've connected with those people, although a lot of them 70:00I've lost it again. The last time I talked to Jack was about two years ago, but yeah I connect with some returned volunteers from my group. Now of course that's all in the midst of me trying to avoid connecting with Polly, Polly Blake. She found me, she found me when was that, oh I don't know. It was before I was leaving for China, so I could tell the truth and got my mother to be part of this too because my mother and she were close. I don't know how you can have sibling rivalry with an ex-wife, but that's what happened in my life. And so my mother could tell her truthfully that I wasn't in America, I was in China. And that was that year I went to China, and then she found me on email two years ago and said, I mean I'm just being nasty hiding out from her. So anyway I'm not really connected with her but I connect with people in my group, and she's part of that Friends of Colombia thing. So yeah, I've kept up with some of the people in my group but I have moved on, because of all the things I did when I saw them at the 25th anniversary they couldn't believe that I was Gordo. You know I had 71:00this pony tail, I mean there's not a whole lot of Maoists in our group, that's part of the--Colombians, no Jack, I couldn't keep up with them. There's too much was going on in my life and they weren't the kinds of people you could write letters to.
WILSON: What would you say the Peace Corps experience had in terms ofthe impact on the way you look at the rest of the world?
BOYD: Good question.
WILSON: And how you interact today.
BOYD: Well certainly when I started out, because I kept that journal, Ihad to give it up as I say but I kept it for the first--When I started out in spite of myself or just being a normal American, I thought the rest of the world needed to learn how to live like Americans okay, and so that is not a feeling I have right now. I connect with the rest of the world in a very different way. That initial experience in the 72:00Peace Corps, depending on the kindness of strangers, depending on the kindness of Colombian strangers, depending upon the understanding of people and I don't speak the language that well opened my eyes to the fact that--Well it's John Fee's thing for starting this college, God have made of one blood all people of the earth, okay. Not the idea that Americans will bring this down to the other people and they will welcome us and change it around, but rather I look upon the world I guess you would say in a cross-cultural way of cultural relativism. And I study that of course later on in life, not in my B.A., but I learned that on the ground in Colombia, and so it definitely changed the way I look at other parts of the world. It's not like America is on top and the rest are down; we can learn a lot, as I did, a lot from other cultures and other people. So I guess it made me, Peace Corps made me an internationalist. I've never been asked this question, but that certainly helps with that. It made me more understanding. It made me an internationalist, probably gave me a little humility also 73:00about America because when I learned about how America acted, at least in the eyes of the Latin Americans about we, the big brother to the north, what we did with the Panama Canal, as you know. Maybe you don't know but Columbia was Panama and Columbia were connected and there was all that stuff, so there's a whole alternate American history that I learned beginning with the Peace Corps, so I think it changed the way I look at the world and the way I look at the relationships between nations in the world, probably not putting and nowhere near as much on nations as rather people to people kinds of things.
WILSON: What do you think the impact of the Peace Corps has had ingeneral?
BOYD: Definitely I'm one of those that believe that Peace Corps has hadan impact on every volunteer, and the returned volunteers as they come back to America should mean that it's having an impact on America, 74:00okay. Because I think that Peace Corps volunteers returned volunteers with the schools programs we have and the rest of those kinds of things is giving an alternate view of poverty in the world to what they might get from the usual kinds of outlets, from charities and that kind of stuff. So I think the impact has been on America, but it's miniscule. I'll admit that, especially look what we're involved with in the present administration and this war in Iraq and the rest of that, but the impact is there nonetheless. I've never failed, of course you can tell I have a lot of Spanish orgulio, I have a lot of personal pride in what I've done and in the Peace Corps kind of stuff. But I've never had an American say anything disparaging when I disclose that I was a Peace Corps volunteer, which I do probably ad nauseum, Americans look up to us. Now a lot of my students disappointed to me anyway don't even know it exists, but once I explain that it exists 75:00they also look up to that. So I think that's something we've done for America. The Peace Corps gives another side of America to Americans and the Peace Corps also lets people have hope that our government has another arm besides the military and the foreign service, another arm of these kinds of international relations. So I think the biggest impact has not been necessarily on the countries, although isn't it moving when you hear about Alejandro is it Portez [Editor's note: Alejandro Portez.] or whatever in Peru who keeps up with the Peace Corps people. He's now the prime minister in Peru keeps up with the Peace Corps volunteers that worked with him on his education; certainly that's an impact on Peru, but no I think the impact has been on America and continues to be the possibility of an impact on America, this idealism that is now incorporated in a particular organization. But I'm disappointed in Peace Corps headquarters. I think the early Peace Corps was come as you are, that's a book about the Peace Corps. Shriver said that to somebody coming, sort of that swashbuckling 76:00not well organized kind of stuff we had. I think now Peace Corps is, wasn't it now they changed the name to the United States Peace Corps or the Peace Corps of the United States of America? One of those kinds of official imprinteurs were put on it by the government a few years ago, but I think that's the impact--the impact on America and Americans that we do that in the world.
WILSON: So what do you think the future role of the Peace Corps shouldbe? Or should there be one?
BOYD: Yeah, yeah. Another anecdote, I love to tell stories. This wouldhave been I guess maybe '81 when we had our first meeting of the east Kentucky retured Peace Corps volunteers. We wrote to Peace Corps and said we want to know everybody in Kentucky who is a returned volunteer. And they said, "You can't know that, it's private plus. We think Nixon threw away a lot of the records, but here's what we'll do. You write your letter and you give us zip codes and we'll mail it out to the zip codes and then they can come or not come as they wish to your meeting." So we set up a meeting on the Berea College campus, and we 77:00also got a UK recruiter. Now it wasn't Kay or any of those people, this was really early on, but somebody who was a recruiter for the Peace Corps, and I think we got it through UK so we could have a program. You know we had snacks but we needed a program so we would learn about the Peace Corps from this guy. And this guy, this would have been '81 or '82. Jules keeps the notes so we know when it happened. So people started coming through the door, it's wonderful. Granny some, she called herself Granny we'll say Smith from Morehead. She comes; this old lady comes in. The man who brings her in is her son, she says, "Now you can leave Charles." So Charles wasn't allowed to stay in the room because he hadn't been in the Peace Corps. Hell Charles is in his forties. She's one of these people like Lillian Carter who went as an older person, right. She passed away a couple years after that, and of course we me the Paynes then and Skees and the rest of those people. And the Peace Corps recruiter comes in and he has the information and he starts talking about this and Phil Curd is a very mild mannered physician, you may know him, he's really the kindest man in the world. 78:00A lot of people in town call him a healer; he's not even a doctor, he's a healer right. He starts getting really upset. He should have a right to say whether this happened or not but I remember it this way. He starts really getting upset because the guy's saying we have people who finished in the Peace Corps, now this is 1981 not '64 Phil with my ----------(??). They work in Chase Manhattan Bank, they work in international finance, they work in lots of our large corporations, Peace Corps tell your people when you're recruited Peace Corps is a stepping stone to economic success and whatever, and Phil says, "That's your Peace Corps! That's not our Peace Corps!" And then at that 25th anniversary or one of those other ones we went to, we went to one in Bowling Green, when they started talking about going to Eastern Europe, a lot of us old timers, I was part of that group that got up and said we shouldn't go to Eastern Europe, we should stay in the third world. So I'm trying to tell you that a lot of us feel that recruiting for the Peace Corps now is not, of course I want the adventure, I think 79:00Phil wanted the service, and this idea of putting it on occupational mobility or occupational success is a disappointment. Now that I've been in college teaching for darn near 30 years in America, that's what young people listen to. If I would show us dressed, of course I dress like that in my classroom although I've got a turtleneck instead of a necktie on, but if I would show up and give a chapel service here to all the students and say, "You should join the Peace Corps because you will learn what the world is really like. You will have a chance to go out and see if you are tough enough," the audience wouldn't be with me for a minute. What's in it for me is the kind of message I guess the Peace Corps has to give in the 21st century, but in 1980s when they started that Phil Curd said, "That's your Peace Corps! That's not our Peace Corps!" That's the disappointment. I think it's a disappointment of maybe of a lot of old people. I don't have children; I never got married after that one and I don't have children, but we want the 80:00world--I want the world to be like I knew it. I want kids to feel like I felt. They don't look for that I guess now, so Peace Corps has to say that it's part of a career move. And that kid that showed up in our chapel service in Wabash in '64, '63 in the fall did not say this was a career move. He said this was a personal move; this was a--This was something that you did to check your character and to learn, not that you would get a job at Chase Manhattan Bank.
WILSON: But yet a lot of your colleagues at Wabash in that year did buyinto going out and getting a good job and making--?
BOYD: Yeah! And they didn't join the Peace Corps. I was the only one,oh Carl Kern joined. There were two of us, there were two of us, and by the way I was in an animal house kind a fraternity. About 90% joined a fraternity at Wabash; they don't have many dorms, so it's not like I had the money for it. But Carl Kern, they give these awards to 81:00seniors and Carl Kern won the big shovel and I won the little shovel for being bull shitters, and Carl went to Chile in the Peace Corps and I went to Colombia. Only two people in my whole class that went in the Peace Corps, so we were deviant. Yeah, most--You're absolutely right, most Wabash people were thinking about occupation in those days, and remember how my occupation of mobility was so advanced by having been in the Peace Corps. There's educational opportunities that I had and employment opportunities, so in spite of myself Jack, Peace Corps is good for that, yeah, so why shouldn't Washington say that stuff? Well I'm just a romantic idealist. Let them be surprised! That's a bonus folks; you join the Peace Corps for my reason and then have a bonus.
WILSON: Okay, we've kind of covered the waterfront of the moreformalized questions I have, but have you got another--Have I missed 82:00anything first of all that you would like to talk about or if you've got a couple of good stories that you would like to add.
BOYD: I think I've told more stories than I need to. I just want toagain say that my coming back to America after being away for so long, one could call that delayed entry or whatever, although I did make those visits and did work at the encampment, my coming back to America I never ever believed that I would just connect so well with people I never knew before, and that's the east Kentucky and now it's called Kentucky Returned Volunteers. And so that's something I like to say, there is sort of a bond and even the younger ones, we used to go out to Camp A.J., I know you were there last summer. We used to go out, now when Ted was still, he now lives in Wisconsin but he would, he's Catholic so he would get the camp and I would go out early and set up my tent and whatever, and we would stay like Thursday until Sunday night, and I would see these young people roll up who I never met 83:00okay, and it would be like I knew them just from the start. We would start talking, now maybe again it's this romantic idea I have that if you've been in the Peace Corps then you're an okay person, and I have to remind my myself that I have an ex-wife that I'm hiding from who has been in the Peace Corps, so this is more rubbish from Boyd again, but there's that connection I never would have thought that I would just so instantly connect with a group. Those Washington meetings we have, just the ambiance of those Washington meetings, and we're old now. I mean I'm seeing a lot of old people and when I look in the mirror I'm one of them, and it's amazing how we interact and it's very different than when I go to the American Sociological Association meeting; it's very different when I go to D.C. for a conference on poverty programs and whatever. It's just the ambiance and me being around Peace Corps as a wonderful blessing when I'm around the returned volunteers. And of course I don't know you and Angene very well but I count you as one, just a life long friend and it's just probably not but that's how I feel about them, and I guess that's the best blessing of the Peace 84:00Corps now because I don't really have many friends here in America or anywhere, but those are the closest friends I have is Phil Curd, Ted Kay, Lowell Wagner, and then others I've met, Kay Roberts and all those other people over there. One time a kid rolls up, well there's two stories and then I'll quit. A guy roles up, he's my age at one of our Camp A.J. things, and Lowell Wagner's wife is a social worker and she's sitting out there, and in those days we would drink beer openly in front of everybody. So we're sitting out there in lawn chairs and this guy rolls up and he introduces himself and we start talking, and he was in South America and he was about our time. Lowell was in Bolivia, I was in Ghana, and Phil was in let's see Guinea, but anyway we're all talking and we're having a good time and the guy starts to cry, and he hasn't had that many beers. I mean I'm a candidate for this but it's daytime you know, and he says, "I've got to tell you guys, my wife just left me." Okay and so what the hell you know, I 85:00had a wife you know and all this kind of stuff, we all started doing this, and after a couple of hours he gets up and says, "Well I have to get back to Richmond but," and we never saw him again. He said, "I feel a lot better," and he takes off and Pat Wagner the social worker said, "Wow, it's really interesting. I think he never felt comfortable enough to act like the was vulnerable until he was around people," I guess at one time we were also vulnerable in the Peace Corps, until he was around people who had had that experience, and so he just unloaded all of his troubles. And he went back to be a middle level executive I guess in one of the plants in Richmond; we never saw him again. But Pat called that one of those moments where you just get returned volunteers together and sometimes people just feel that they can be themselves for once rather than an American.
WILSON: And what do you think that bond is?
BOYD: Self deprecating humor is part of it. If you shit yourself ona Columbian bus and you have to go down to the river on New Years Eve 86:00or New Years Day by then and wash your shorts--And I do see there's a lot of, there's not a lot of pretense among us in our Kentucky group, I think the bond is that, that we've been tested if you will and can laugh at it. But that's all I can say is that I'm with other Americans, especially males you know, like when you put up a front and we're the best or if we have any vulnerabilities we hide it, and I'm sure we do that still when we're the Peace Corps men. But at the same time we sort of laugh at our frailties and it feels really open, so I could tell those guys and they've told me things and I think I don't do that when I'm on the campus, but that guy was an example. And here's a social worker counselor who said, "I just witnessed it, it's strange. I don't know why he felt that way, but I can see why he might feel this was the only time." Of course we're strangers but that was it. And then the second thing, so I get up early; usually I'm the last to go to bed and the first to get up in the morning. Now I 87:00stopped going to A.J. overnight because in '97 I had a stroke because of the way I live, right. So anyway this was before '97 and I get up real early and I do Tai-Chi, okay? And then I put on the coffee and I do Tai-Chi, and when I just get finished I look over and somebody has sat up in the back of a pickup truck and is watching me, and it's one of the young volunteers who came in during the night and decided he just would sleep under a tarp in the back of his pickup truck. So we share a cup of coffee you know and he's asking me about Tai-Chi, and I'm asking him about sleeping in the back of the pickup truck. He said well, I just don't know that any people I meet would not go knock on the door, make a lot of noise, you know find their bed or whatever, or go in town and get a motel. I see that as a, where I just admire that young man that he pulls up late at night and he sleeps in the back of his truck with a tarp over him. I don't know, I tell that story lots; I admire him. So I guess what I'm trying to say is it affects 88:00America by the fact we have an idealistic arm of the government. It affects America in that we have return volunteers who talk about, not all of us do this, but most of us talk about the world in a different way. But it affects me by just meeting these people who have been vulnerable and done these kinds of things and I just feel really good about the human race when I hang out with people who have done that kind of stuff rather than successful people on a golf course, people in a bar. I don't go to bars anymore, of course Berea's dry. European bars are really different than American bars, but it's those Peace Corps meetings. I think we're, you know we're just a different bunch of people. Now I went to that 25th and who was it, Bill Moyers when he was out at Arlington Cemetery, he gave that speech. I don't know if you were there for that or not, he gave it and Bill Moyers was there and that head of Notre Dame Reverend Hesburgh or whatever, he had had 89:00a supposedly a fake heart attack the night before. He still insisted on coming to our meeting and all, but Bill Moyer has departed from his speech and said, "All I can say is when we started the Peace Corps we weren't sure what was going to happen, but we realized early on that Peace Corps is a different way of being in the world." And that phrase stuck with me and I think that's what we are, just a different way of being in the world. And that's the contribution that Kennedy and Shriver and--Now the younger ones I don't know, you ought to talk to some of them. I've got this young returnee; she's a wonderful young woman. She's a wild one; she'll tell you stories better than mine and she was only out there for a year. She talks about when she gets--We had a Peace Corps recruiting night here in the fall, that's when I met her, so Denise tell us your stories. She said, "Well, I was doing this, I was doing that, I was out in this village and Peace Corps said we had to leave. Well I didn't want to leave! Nobody was going to hurt me out here. It was a coup or something, so I didn't write back, and so they came one day with this van and said you have to leave now. And 90:00so it was terrible. I had to get all my stuff and they wouldn't let me take my dog, so I'm leaving and I'm looking out the window right and all the children are running next looking back in at me and there's my dog and then I left." And her voice cracks a little bit right, and everybody in the room--I'm in tears, you know she connected. It's a wonderful thing. Maybe you'll meet her. I'll give you her name if you want to do that with her. Different way of being in the world; Moyers is right about that. I'm proud of that.
BOYD: Is that enough?
WILSON: Well we can do more if you would like to.
BOYD: Well I think we've exhausted my--If you've got some questionsthere that might get me started again, but I've got a lot of it off my chest. If Shriver and Kennedy can hear this, thank you.
WILSON: Okay Tom, thank you so much. I think that will--
BOYD: How long we been doing?
WILSON: Oh gosh.
[End of interview.]91:00