Barbara C. Marquardt

As Interviewed by Eleanor J., March 8, 2017

Barbara C. Marquardt: In Her Own Words.

I’m Barbara Curtin Marquardt. I grew up in Connecticut until I was a teenager where my father was a department store manager. My parents bought a little store in Stoughton, Wisconsin which is a small, rural, town outside of Madison Wisconsin. I wanted to be a special ed teacher, so I attended UW Madison. I was working my way through school, supporting myself, going to school full time, and I was living in this place called a scholarship dorm. You had to maintain a certain grade average, or you would lose your scholarship, and then I wouldn't have been able to go. So, I was very busy, but from afar I was watching. This was the sixties and Wisconsin was a real hotbed of protest and activity.

The Dow Demonstration is the one that I most fully remember. Dow Chemical comes to the University of Wisconsin to interview kids for jobs. I was in education at the time, so I didn't know Dow was interviewing, and I wasn't a protestor per say. I'm walking to class one morning and all of the sudden the National Guard, and I think the local police, boil out of this tower. There’s students running everywhere, and all I can remember is going to class, walking up the steps, and there were young, young members of the National Guard. They were probably just my age, but they were holding weapons. You would just periodically be pepper gassed or tear gassed out of class. There would be a demonstration down the road or something, and tear gas would be going off. It’s so powerful you couldn't stay in the classroom.

The only protest I remember marching in was spring of ‘68 when Martin Luther King died. I remember being horrified and frightened, and the University of Wisconsin was huge, but it didn't have a very large black population. The state doesn't have a very black population, so while I'm sure there was an active Civil Rights movement, it was relatively small. We didn't have official segregation or anything. It seems like I was on Bascom Hill and I started to see people marching, so I just turned around and joined them. I remembered about not caring about going to class, not caring about going to work. It felt like the whole campus was walking all the way up to the capitol and back, which is a mile and a half or so.

My husband's brother, Mike, was studying to be a Marional priest. This was the summer of ‘68, Mike’s second to last summer that he was doing social work type projects and the weekend of the Democratic Convention. The day, I think Saturday, was the big convention day, and we ended up going to Lincoln Park. I didn't see people being beaten up, but I do remember the police presence in the distance. Because Mike was working as a missionary, he had to wear a suit jacket. So then, my husband was told, “Wear a suit jacket.” I thought okay, I’ll wear a dress. We go to Lincoln Park, and there are cops all over. There are bands of kids running here and there. I don't know what all they were doing. What was funny was they would come up to us, because we were young, but we looked well dressed compared to them. They thought we were leaders, so they kept coming up to us, asking us for directions, asking us for advice, and stuff. We’re just standing there with our mouths hanging open.

People were getting angrier. More and more demonstrations were occurring. It was some time that summer, I think, because I was still in college, where Johnson decided not to run for President again because people were so angry about the war. I think it was a combination of mistrust, kids versus the older generation, older generation against us. It was August of ‘70 where I think the height of the protest hit. Right before we left, a protester, or a couple of protesting brothers, blew up a building on campus, and a young grad student was killed. It was around that same time that at Kent State a couple of protesting students were killed. I think that was kinda the beginning of the end. The whole country paused, then we started pulling out of Vietnam.