Filmed by Michael O’Hagan
For the County College of Morris,
Learning Resource Center
Randolph, New Jersey
County College of Morris 40th
Transcribed by Jardee Transcription,
My name is Ann Kelsey, and I’m
interviewing Elizabeth Bassano Snyder for the CCM 40th
Anniversary Oral History Project. The interview is taking
place in the Media Center, County College of Morris, on
Thursday, June 12, 2008, and it is being videotaped by
Michael O’Hagan, Producer, Learning Resource Center,
County College of Morris. [Ms.
Snyder is an alumna of County College of Morris and a member
of the first class at the College.]
Kelsey: Elizabeth, where were you
born and raised?
Bassano Snyder: I was born in
Brooklyn, New York, but we
New Jersey when I was about
seven, so I consider
New Jersey to be home.
Kelsey: And where in
New Jersey did you move?
Netcong, and I’ve been
there the rest of my life, I’m still there.
Kelsey: Where did you go to high
Bassano Snyder: Went to Netcong High
School, which no longer exists. It was absorbed into
Lenape Valley [High School].
Kelsey: And when did you graduate?
Bassano Snyder: In 1968.
Kelsey: From high school.
Bassano Snyder: From high school.
Kelsey: How did you find out about
County College of Morris?
Bassano Snyder: Well, as a high school
senior I was looking around for colleges, and my guidance
counselor at the time explained that
County College was a
possibility, and gave me some information. At the time, the
superintendent of my high school was my next door neighbor.
He kind of recommended that I give it a look. And that’s
what I did. I applied there and
Moravian College and
MontclairState, and a
variety of other schools, and then finally made my decision
that it would be
Kelsey: And why did you decide to go to
County College as opposed
Bassano Snyder: There were a bunch of
factors. Primarily it was financial. I knew that my
mom and dad basically could not afford
to send me to a
Moravian or a
Montclair at that moment.
This is the latter part of the sixties, having a fairly
old-fashioned father who didn’t like the idea of maybe my
going away to school at that point. It just seemed to be a
fit for us. It was close to home, financially I could
afford it, and so we made the decision. And at the time it
sounded a little bit exciting to be the first class at the
Kelsey: How old were you when you
Bassano Snyder: I was eighteen, I’d just
Kelsey: And what did you major in?
Bassano Snyder: It was a
humanities-social sciences major,
because I knew from the moment that I thought about college
that I wanted to be a teacher. So there was no doubt in my
mind that I would be transferring and following an education
kind of path.
Kelsey: What was the physical
campus like at that time when you
Bassano Snyder: Well, it was a lot of
mud.There was one building that I remember, which is today
Henderson Hall. We had our
physical education classes in the
Dalrymple House. And for the first year, that was
pretty much it. There was a little
library set up in Henderson
Hall. The cafeteria was kind of
an automated kind of cafeteria, where you put your money
into machines. Then by the second year, it expanded. The
gym was open by that time, the
building, and another building with classrooms was
opened. So it had grown a little bit by
the second year, but the first year was very
intimate, very tiny, and a lot of mud everywhere, and
Kelsey: Where did people park?
Bassano Snyder: The
parking lot that’s by Henderson Hall was there already,
and the parking lots that are closer to down the hill, which
are underneath the set of buildings on the right side of
Henderson Hall, there was a huge parking lot down
there, which is still there. And we hiked up that hill to
come up to Henderson Hall. So parking, there was plenty of
parking, it just was a hike. In the winter it was pretty
Kelsey: What were the rules regarding
campus and in the classrooms?
Bassano Snyder: (sigh)
If I remember correctly, there was no
smoking in the classrooms,
but I know there was
smoking on the campus. And
there was definitely
smoking in the cafeteria.
Smoking was not allowed in
the little library, but definitely there was
smoking all around on the
campus. There were no restrictions as far as
smoking was concerned.
Kelsey: What was the library like?
Bassano Snyder: It was tiny! It
was not more than a couple classrooms, maybe two good-sized
classrooms—very tiny. But by the second year, the
library had opened up, so my second year here, this
facility was already here, and it was fully stocked. In
fact, I’ve used it many, many times since.
Kelsey: What was the
social atmosphere like
during that first year on campus?
Bassano Snyder: Well, it wasn’t like
Kent State, I can tell you that. There were
those students on campus that would have liked to have
started a chapter of
SDS [Students for a
Democratic Society]. There was definitely an awareness of
what was going on in the world, but again, because it was a
community college and you
came to class and you went home, it didn’t foster that kind
of a, I don’t know, maybe a radical student environment. It
was a little bit different, much more of an extension of
maybe high school at that point, a little bit more than a
true college campus.
Kelsey: At that time, did you know
anybody who had been in the military, who was going to
school with you?
Bassano Snyder: Not when I was here,
no. Not when I was at
When I transferred, yes, but not here,
Kelsey: So there was really no
veteran presence at all?
Bassano Snyder: No, not that I can
recollect. I don’t remember any veteran presence at all.
Kelsey: What was the world like for
you in 1968?
Bassano Snyder: The whole
Vietnam thing was at its
full extreme, and we were very aware of what was going on on
other college campuses around the country. It was an
intense…. I think those young men here, who knew that they
draft eligible, were
very concerned about keeping their grades up, and making
sure that they stayed in school for as long as they could,
because the alternative was that they would get
drafted if they dropped out
of college. So I think everybody was very aware of
the political climate at the time.
Kelsey: And not too long before that
first semester started,
Robert Kennedy was
Bassano Snyder: Yes.
Martin Luther King was
Bassano Snyder: Yes, that was the end of
my senior year in high school both of them were
Kelsey: Were there any obvious
reverberations from those two events? Did people talk about
Bassano Snyder: People were definitely
aware of that, definitely talking about it, especially when
I got into my sociology class and a little bit into
philosophy. And certainly when in my second year I took an
American history class. That was definitely topics of
conversation. But again, I think this area of
New Jersey still was a
little bit secluded. I don’t know, maybe we were a little
more naïve in this area, and it wasn’t quite so prevalent.
There wasn’t that very vocal campus
kind of outrage to those kinds of things.
Kelsey: Was the
student body and faculty/staff
diverse? Were there as many women
as men going to school, for example? What about different
races and ethnic groups?
Bassano Snyder: I would have to say that
I thought that the faculty was diverse. I thought there
were as many women going to college here as I thought there
were young men. I don’t think it was as ethnically diverse
as it is today. Definitely it was more white, but male and
Kelsey: How did you
dress, what did people wear?
Bassano Snyder: Not quite as casual as
the student body today. It was definitely more young men had trousers on,
jeans. Girls wore skirts and pants and jeans. I mean, the
jeans seems to be a constant
through our culture, but I think that overall generally you
would have to say that the student body dressed a whole lot
better than it dresses today. There was not that very,
very relaxed, casual kind of clothing that I see on
Kelsey: Did the men wear ties?
Bassano Snyder: Occasionally, but not….
No, I would have to say no—unless there was some kind of
function going on. But I definitely would say no.
Kelsey: So casual in that respect.
Bassano Snyder: Very casual in that
respect, yes. Very casual for that
time. I mean, we came out of high schools where
there was a very, very strict dress code. And so it
had not relaxed yet. So I think that just carried over into
the way that we dressed. And as we began to realize that
we’re in college now, and it’s not high school, it started
to relax a little bit more. But I would say not quite as
casual as today.
Kelsey: How many of the women students
Bassano Snyder: I would say a lot. I
think it was an opportunity, because when we were in high
school, we weren’t allowed to wear pants to school. So
definitely I think we all took advantage of the fact that
you could wear trousers. And this campus,
being on top of this mountain, in the wintertime it’s
always windy, always cold,
you’ve got to hike to your car, so I think we all definitely
took advantage of that aspect of attire.
did you get to school?
Bassano Snyder: I drove. My mom and dad
bought me a car.
Kelsey: What kind of car?
Bassano Snyder: It was a
Buick Special. And
actually, it had been the family car, and they just turned
it over to me so that I could commute back and forth.
Kelsey: Do you remember how much the
Bassano Snyder: When they bought it
brand new, I think it was $6,000 when it was brand
new. Yeah. And that car not only was my vehicle,
then they passed it on to my sister, who’s five years
younger than I am, so she drove it for a while as well. It
lasted for quite a long time.
Kelsey: What year was it?
Bassano Snyder: I think they bought it
in like 1964, sometime around then.
Kelsey: Did you
work while you were going to
Bassano Snyder: No, I didn’t. I had a
scholarship from high school that allowed me to pay for my
first two semesters here, and I worked in the summertime. I
was able to save enough money in the summer so that I had
spending money all year long. And of course the tuition was so inexpensive that I was able to make ends meet
without having to work during
Kelsey: Do you remember how much the
Bassano Snyder: Yeah. For the entire
year, I think it was like $368, and I had won two $300
scholarships from high school, so it pretty much paid for
almost the two years. So when I transferred to
Montclair State, I had no
financial debt at all. What I incurred was after I
Kelsey: When you worked during the
summer, what did you do?
Bassano Snyder: There was a
Boy Scout office right here
on Route 10, where I think there’s a
Lexus dealership there
[now]. And it was a very large center for the Morris-Sussex
Boy Scouts. And that’s where all the executives were, and
there was a store inside there that sold all of the
paraphernalia—badges and awards. And I did secretarial work
for them, for their campaign for funding. I also worked in
the store. I did that for all four years of college, and
even after I started teaching they asked me back one
summer. So I did that one summer after that. That helped
me to earn enough money to be able not to have to work
[during the school year].
Kelsey: Describe what Route 10 looked
like, and the intersection of 10 and
Center Grove Road.
Bassano Snyder: Well, it was very
tricky getting on and off campus,
because there were no traffic lights.
There was no traffic light down by Center Grove when we
first started. There was no traffic light at Center Grove,
and there was no traffic light at the Dover-Chester
intersection, and it was tough getting on and off campus.
In the morning, for eight o’clock classes, the traffic used
to be quite backed up. And then eventually the two traffic
lights were put in, and that definitely made it a
whole lot easier getting on and off campus.
Kelsey: Were there stop signs?
Bassano Snyder: Yes, there were stop
signs, but not a traffic light.
Kelsey: And were the stop signs for the
Route 10traffic, or just for the
traffic coming in from Center Grove and Dover-Chester?
Bassano Snyder: They were both ways, but
there was no turnoff. You know how they created that
turnoff lane? That didn’t exist, so that kind of backed up
traffic in the left-turn lane.
Kelsey: And there was no Left Turn Only
Bassano Snyder: Right, exactly.
Kelsey: What was a
typical day for you at
Bassano Snyder: I took like no more than
two classes a day, and it was pretty similar to the schedule
that exists today. It was an hour and fifteen minutes twice
a week. That hasn’t really changed. I think physical
education was once a week. So I would take like two classes
a day, spend time in the library in
between. I very rarely went home. I usually stayed on
campus, or tried to work my schedule out so that I would be
able to go to my two classes and stay on campus if I had
some down time in between.
Kelsey: What was
like on campus?
Bassano Snyder: It was beginning. There
were dances occasionally in the
There was one room off of the cafeteria that they put in
some pool tables and ping pong and things like that. So a
lot of the young men hung out
in there. Basically, the cafeteria
was the whole center of the student life on
campus. But they did try to schedule
some dances. I remember there was one big concert on
campus, and it was…. Oh my gosh,
I forgot the name. It was
Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge.
They came to campus, and they were set up around where the
library is, and everybody came and
just sat out on the grass. It was an open-air kind of
concert. I remember that very vividly.
There was also a place off campus that
was called The College Manor,
and that was a dance place where we would go on
Friday/Saturday night and they would have bands, and we
would get together, and it was pretty much the college
crowd. It eventually expanded to other people when they
realized, but it was very close here in
Randolph, and so that was
something that was done.
Kelsey: Where was that?
Bassano Snyder: I can’t even remember
where it was. I have no idea where it was. It was forty
years ago. I have no idea where we went. But it was a
place basically to go on Friday and Saturday.
Kelsey: So that was the local hot spot?
Bassano Snyder: Yes, it definitely was
the local hot spot.
Kelsey: What do you remember the most
about that first year?
Bassano Snyder: Working very hard. You
know, it wasn’t that I was unfamiliar with working
diligently. School was something that I thought was quite a
privilege for me, and I worked very hard at things. But the
attitude [of] many of the professors and the instructors
here was that this was the beginning of something.
And if they wanted
accreditation, and if they
wanted this college to last, then they had to establish a
reputation for this
college as being
academically challenging, not just an extension of high
school. And I think because of that, the rigors of
our education here I thought were—I know, I
think—were harder even than they are today. I went to
school in an age where there was not the opportunities to
get help if you were a little academically challenged—you
know, if you had some learning disabilities. That didn’t
exist when I went to college. You either cut it, or you
didn’t. I know I found it very academically challenging,
and spent a lot of time studying, and a lot of time in this
library, writing—you know, research,
and writing papers. So I remember it being a little
stressful, because everybody was trying to make a name for
Kelsey: And the ways that you did
research, of course, were a lot different then.
Bassano Snyder: Oh! Note cards,
microfiche, going through
piles and piles of books to find what you needed, lugging
those books home, lugging them back here in bags.
The way we wrote papers and researched a
topic, spending hours going through
Totally different. It
took so much more time to gather the information to
write a paper, than it does today.
Kelsey: But they did have
microfilm and microfiche?
Bassano Snyder: Yes. A very nice collection, yes.
Very much so.
Kelsey: What is your best memory of
Bassano Snyder: I would have to say
being part of that first experience here. My class named
the newspaper, chose the Titans as the
mascot, picked the colors
burgundy and gray. Everything about the way this college
started was put to a vote by the student body in those
aspects. And that was really exciting. And then
when we finally realized that the college was here to stay
and we were part of it, I think that’s my greatest
memory of this
college. And I knew that
somehow this place would be part of my life for the rest of
my life. If I stayed in
New Jersey, I knew that I
would be part of the
County College. So that
part of it, being the first class, I think is my fondest
memory. I didn’t regret not going to a four-year school
from the very beginning at all. I had great friends here.
It was just a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun being on
Kelsey: How did they go about setting
up the way that they picked things like the mascot and the
Bassano Snyder: The president of the
student body, Luis Maura…. There
very often would be like meetings in the
cafeteria. It would be scheduled
for a certain time and everybody would be asked to come and
they would ask for suggestions and then they would basically
put out a ballot and we would vote on things. There would
be times to make a decision as to what you would like. So
it wasn’t all prearranged and predecided before we got
here. They gave us an opportunity to have some input.
Kelsey: How did the
structure actually get instituted?
Bassano Snyder: There was an election.
There were people who were nominated. They expressed a
desire to serve in the student body, and then we had an
election and chose them. There was campaigning, there were
posters. And it was a regular election.
Kelsey: What is your worst memory of
Bassano Snyder: My worst memory? (sigh)
Eight o’clock in the morning, Bio 1,
Dr. Patschke. He decided to bring a sow’s uterus into
an 8:00 a.m. lecture class. This wasn’t a lab
day, this was just a lecture
day. And [he] proceeded to put newspaper on the desk and
brought out the sow’s uterus and dissected it. I would have
to say that was the most … disgusting experience, at eight
o’clock in the morning, the mix of the smell of formaldehyde
and coffee cups and…. Yeah, that’s a very fond
strong memory that I have. (laughs)
Yeah, Dr. Patschke’s Bio 1 class was definitely a challenge.
Kelsey: What did you do after you
Bassano Snyder: I transferred to
Montclair State and I
majored in history, and graduated from
Montclair in 1972, and then
immediately started my master’s work, and got a master’s
Montclair in history as
well, and was lucky enough to land a
job in 1972 at
Roxbury Township at
Eisenhower Middle School,
where I taught eighth-grade social studies for thirty-four
years. I just recently retired. And then about eight years
ago, there was an advertisement in the newspaper that
County College was looking
for adjunct professors in American history, so I put in an
application, and I was hired. So I have been an
adjunct here for the last seven years, teaching a U.S. 1
Kelsey: And you’re still teaching here?
Bassano Snyder: And I’m still teaching.
I’m supposed to teach 2 in the fall semester. So I began my
education here at
County, and I’m still
here. And some days when I walk on
campus, especially in September, with that chaos of new
[students] coming into class and dropping class, I feel a
sense of real déjà vu, like I don’t know where forty years
have gone—it feels like yesterday. The
campus, the parking, that is all
still at issue—you know, the
parking. But I’m very happy here. I’ve always been very
Kelsey: How have the years that you
CCM affected your life?
Bassano Snyder: Well, it made…. I would
have to say that I don’t think I would have been able to
go to college, had it not been for
County College, because I
really don’t feel my parents could have at all helped me.
And so I don’t know if I would have been able to start when
I did. I might have had to go to work first, and try to
earn some money. I don’t know. I don’t think financially I
would have started when I did. I know that this
college gave me the
opportunity to get a college education. And I know that it
was a perfect fit for me. At that point, being just
eighteen, I was still close to home. And I was ready when I
County College, to go on to
Montclair State. And
therefore, I really only had the financial responsibility of
two years of college, and managed to borrow enough
money from student loans and be able to afford those last
two years on my own.
Kelsey: Describe your
Bassano Snyder: It was special. There
were 200 and some odd of us. I don’t remember exactly the
number. I think we started out with well over 300. Some
dropped out, some didn’t make it, and so that graduation was
in the gym, because the physical
education building was open already. And it just felt like
it was perfect. For me it was just a perfect conclusion to
these first two years here. And there was nothing lacking
as far as the pomp and circumstance. It was a true
graduation in every sense of the word. And of course being
the first one to receive a diploma from the
college was quite special
to me. It’s always been quite special to me. It was a
great day. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day. It was
just a very nice experience.
Kelsey: Do you have anything else you’d
like to add?
Bassano Snyder: Nothing in particular
about my own personal experience, but that if anybody
watches these videos, I tell my college students all the
time that I applaud them for starting at
County College, and don’t
feel that it’s somehow a step back, that they didn’t go away
to school for four years. It’s a great place to begin. It
still is a great place. It’s growing. And I would
recommend it to any parent and any student looking to begin
their college education.
Kelsey: Good. Thank you very much.
Bassano Snyder: Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]