A very brief debriefing

Or: how I survived a mediation for three unposted Oral History Project recordings, one of which I believe was with Carl Knox’s former secretary

As you can see by the subhead on this blog post, I survived the mediation. I’m still here, and thanks to six hours of sleep and the coffee cup by my side, I’m feeling somewhat renewed—somewhat—after yesterday’s hourlong Zoom call in which I was the only participant without a law degree.

I’m not permitted to tell you what was said on the call. That’s confidential. I can say that things were said—sometimes by someone else, other times by me. If an award for “most zealous conferee” had been bestowed, I suppose that honor would have been granted to me. But that’s probably a given. Spending 12-plus years of your life researching a 1953 mystery in which there are strong signs that people knew something back then—and possibly know something now—will do that. It makes a girl zealous.

So, let’s see, let’s see, what can I tell you?

  1. I can remind readers that the reason for the mediation was a 2008 progress report for the Miami Stories Oral History Project, an endeavor of Miami University Libraries to interview on camera a number of present and former Miamians and post them to a dedicated bicentennial website. The progress report had stated that, out of the 91 recordings they’d completed up to that point, three recordings hadn’t been posted on the bicentennial website “for miscellaneous reasons.” After seeing that document, I spent months asking Oral History Project representatives if Carl Knox’s former secretary was one of the three unposted interviews, and I never received an answer to that question. They either told me that they personally hadn’t interviewed Carl Knox’s former secretary, or they didn’t respond at all. If someone had simply said “no,” I would have walked away. No one did.

    In my public records request, I sought all three recordings or, if one or more of them no longer existed, the required documentation permitting their destruction. In their response, the university told me that “none of the individuals remember anything about those recordings.” They also sent me an Excel sheet listing more than 2000 recordings, many untitled, that were stored in boxes in University Archives. They let me know that I was welcome to go through them. That’s when I filed my complaint with the Ohio Court of Claims.
  1. I can also tell you that I now possess two out of the three recordings that hadn’t been posted online. In my May 4, 2022, blog post, I’d shared a document highlighting two unposted interviews, and the university has sent me their recordings. I’ve listened to both of them. Although they’re both interesting in their own way, they’re really not important to our cause. It’s the third interview that interests me most.
  1. Lastly, I can tell you that the mediation isn’t over. The next step is for me to drive to Oxford and go rummaging through those aforementioned tapes, again, many untitled, for evidence of the third unposted interview. Another mediation meeting has been scheduled for early next month.

It’s daunting, and I’m at a clear disadvantage, but rest assured that I’m still fighting and now that fight involves sitting in a hard-backed chair on the third floor of King Library listening to as many tapes as humanly possible. But if one of those tapes should reveal the kind voice of Carl Knox’s former secretary reciting a list of words that she was never to utter in the presence of reporters, it’ll all be worth it.

11 thoughts on “A very brief debriefing

  1. I’ve been thinking about Kathy Spicer’s comment, and I’m wondering: if one or two readers happen to live near Oxford and have some free time to listen to tapes with me, please let me know, OK? I’d probably need to get approval, but it could help quite a bit, if permitted. I’m looking at sometime in the next week or two, tentatively 6/16 and 6/17, depending on how things pan out. If this is of interest to anyone, feel free to reach out to me through the Contact form on this blog or at rontammenproject@gmail.com or message me through Facebook. Thanks!

    1. Well maybe you don’t have a law degree but I can guarantee that you won the best-dressed award. And if I had been suckered into an upcoming trip to Columbus (which I was not) I would totally have come and helped you. It’s very exciting that they decided to give you access, though, and I know you won’t miss one scrap
      of a clue if there’s one to be found!

      1. Awww, thank you, Anne! As for the tapes, I’ll do my level best. I’ll definitely be looking in the Oral History Project boxes, but I’m also really interested in the untitled tapes. You never know what those have on them…

  2. Oh how I would so gladly help you sort through all those recordings! If it weren’t for the fact that in the next three weeks I have to 1. Finish up my job at Ohio University 2. Get my house packed up and ready to go on the market 3. Find a house in Canton or temporary accommodations to start my new job at Kent State at Stark on July 1 and 4. Sleep maybe 2 hours per night . . . I’d be super pumped to drive to Oxford and be your gopher in this process. Wishing you all the best and of course I’ll look forward to any and every update!

    1. Oh, thank you! Thats so nice of you, but no worries at all. Also, congratulations on your new job! I know Kent Stark very well! My dad was the former associate dean there until 1995. It’s a great institution.

      1. I have a long history with Kent State University, but at the Kent campus, so I’m looking forward to returning home to Kent State and home to Stark County, after four years here as an Assistant Dean for Ohio University.

  3. I just woke up at 10:47 A.M. As I made my way I could almost hear Marcia and her way of getting from bedroom to chair.
    Oh how I miss her so.
    Makes me think of her voice mostly, and how Robert speaks would possibly sound like Ron, Jr.
    You truly are the last voice left for Ron, Jr. Jennifer. That’s both sad and exciting.
    My prayer is that you find that piece of evidence sooner than later.
    Jule

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