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COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 2008, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.
1 USF Florida Studies Center Oral History Program USF 50 th History Anniversary Project Narrator: Tony Zappone Interviewer: Andrew Huse Current Position: USF Alumnus Location of Interview: Hyde Park Date of Interview: February 23, 2004 Abstractor: Ja red G. Toney Editor: Danielle. E. Riley Date of Abstract: May 21, 2004 Date of Edit: June 1, 2004 Final Editor: Jared G. Toney TOPICS OF DISCUSSION Mr. Zappone came to USF as a student in 1965. Mr. Zappone chooses USF As many as t wo or three years before his high school graduation, Mr. Zappone anticipated that he would go to college at USF, primary because of its geographical convenience. Because he did not own an automobile, he rode to school with his next door neighbor who happen ed to work at the university library. As a result, he would typically spend the entire day on campus. Early academic record Even before he enrolled at the university, Mr. Zappone was actively involved in taking photographs and writing stories for the loca l newspapers in Tampa. "The main thing was, I didn't think I was smart enough to get through college and I really wasn't at the time." He recalls that after his first trimester, he received an academic warning for his grades, which consisted of a C, a D, and two Fs. "I did not study a lot in high school, I was mainly interested in taking pictures and doing news stories but my father really wanted me to go to college [and] get that degree so that was an important thing for me to do I decided that I n eeded to stay in college [and] apply myself." Improving his academics
2 His third semester he focused more on his studies, recalling, "I expanded my brain to its full capacity." After "a lot of politicking, a lot of writing, [and] a lot of schmoozing," Mr. Zappone came out of academic warning and had a 4.0 average his second two years. His major was political science. "I guess I was street smart, because when you didn't have the innate intelligence like many of the people had, you had to find another way to do it and I did it." Initial impressions of USF Though the campus was "very sterile" and sparse when he first enrolled at USF, Mr. Zappone instantly "loved it." "I liked walking I really liked that [open] space I did a lot of walking, a lot of thin king." Socializing on campus Mr. Zappone recalls spending time between classes with friends outside of the University Center, or taking walks around the expansive campus. "I have to admit that on occasion I would be very smitten by a beautiful co ed I would go over to the Registrar's Office data was easily accessible at the time and at the beginning of each quarter I would go and see what their schedule was, and I would copy it down so I could be conveniently [in] their path and I could walk with them they never knew that I was there by design." He jokes that he should have written a book about creative ways to "pick up" women on campus, "But, actually, I didn't want to share the secrets at the time!" Campus aesthetics Aesthetically, he said US F had a much different look and atmosphere to it than did the other state universities in Florida. In addition to some of the more spartan building structures on campus, there was not a significant school spirit among students at South Florida, partly due to the great number of commuter students on campus. Parking, as he remembers, was not a problem. Registration Although Mr. Zappone's academic status prevented him from being among the first to register for classes each quarter, he went early as an Oracle photographer and gained easy access to the registration tables, where he signed up for his desired classes. "The statute of limitations is up, so I can tell what my secret is now!" Memorable faculty Academically, he remembers fondly many of the experience s he had with professors at South Florida. "There were some truly great people at USF." One particularly influential instructor was Joseph Bondi, who taught his Introduction to Education class in the summer of 1966. "He was just a wonderful man he inspir ed me got me interested in learning the rudimentary aspects of teaching. We became very good friends eventually." Another memorable personality on campus was John "Knocky" Parker, an "eccentric" professor who taught a silent movie class. "He would show t he movies, and he would play his piano as they did in the silent movies But if somebody left class before it was over, he would get up from the piano and run chase them out the door and bring them
3 back and then he'd start playing his piano again! H e was a riot! I loved his class I think everybody did." Mr. Zappone also developed close relationships with Steve Yates, the faculty sponsor of the Oracle and Dr. Arthur Sanderson. "They were very dear to me very, very supportive of me, and just let me do whatever I wanted to do." Involvement with the Oracle Mr. Zappone first got involved with the Oracle by "sort of wandering up" and asking if they needed a photographer, which it just so happened they did. "They were familiar with my work. I had tak en photos of President Kennedy two or three years prior and other presidents and leaders I sort of had the credentials so they took me on." While he didn't write for the Oracle initially, he would be given regular photographic assignments. In Septe mber of 1966, the first color photo was printed in the paper, an exciting moment for Zappone and the staff. "Most of the time I got no guidance and they always liked what I brought them." Writing for the Oracle After some time, he began writing for the Oracle, something that he also particularly enjoyed doing. "They didn't give a lot of assignments they let me write what I wanted to write but there was always a lot to write about." Involvement with Theatre Arts Mr. Zappone got interested in theatre arts after "taking fancy to a lady" who was involved in the department. He participated in several summer arts programs as a student, and ended up doing the public relations for them, using his connections in the media to gain publicity for the department Photographs "I think too that I was very motivated by impressing my professors with my photographic abilities, so I would get on the roof of the University Center and I did a lot of night photography Of course during the warmer months, the ladies from the dorms came out and they laid out on the grass so I was able to get a lot of excellent pictures for the Oracle Those were back in the days when pictures of lovely ladies in bikinis were acceptable in publications That's probably the thing that I became really know for and of course it was a way of meeting girls too." Naming of the Oracle He really attributes the paper's conception to Steve Yates, who served as the faculty adviser for the Oracle "He was just a wonderful man, a great inst ructor very patient, very understanding." The name came from a discussion between Yates and Mr. Zappone about the spreading of news in the classic era by the Greek oracles. "I was just thinking maybe we could tie that into the paper, like the Oracle I guess about a week and a half later they named the paper the Oracle ." Oracle stories
4 "We always had stories of student government those were really boring but we had to cover student government We had a scandal or two here and there you had to w ork hard to get the stories I never failed to get some great feature pictures. I think it really prepared me for later years working at the papers and the TV stations I never got over how in the university environment they could take simple things and ma ke them difficult." The sixties at USF The sixties at USF, he recalls, were defined largely by the war waging on half a world away in Vietnam. "We had a lot of protests on campus it just got to a place where everything was protested If there was anyth ing to protest, there were blank signs and sticks ready to go! I never became impressed with those protests until much later in my life, when I look back those people actually recognized what it was for and what it was all about The first time I ever realized just how awful that war was, was when I saw the movie Forrest Gump." Streaking Aside from frequent protests, Mr. Zappone also remembers that in the early seventies streaking (running naked around the campus) became enormously popular. He recalls covering a number of the incidents for the television station for which he was working at the time. University development The university's development, Mr. Zappone notes, has been a point of some concern for him. "I think the buildings are starting to b ecome a bit more imaginative, but they way they're laid out and where they are it may be the best they can do but I just think that there would have been a better way of laying the place out." Chinsegut Hill Every once in a while, as Mr. Zappone recalls the Oracle staff would have a retreat at Chinsegut Hill. "That was such a wonderful, nice place. I loved it there." 1966 Pacemaker Award; Trip to Chicago In 1966, the Oracle was awarded the Pacemaker Award in its very first quarter of publication, "Whic h was the top award that you could get for a university publication." To accept it, the staff traveled to Chicago, where they stayed in a "great hotel" and took advantage of a variety of seminars being offered. The most memorable part of the trip, for him, was the day that he took off on his own to find the Playboy Magazine Headquarters in downtown Chicago. "To my great amazement I got on the elevator and I stopped on every floor. Every floor I stopped on there was a receptionist who had been a Playmate t hat I recognized. I can't begin to tell you that was the highlight of my life to that point." The trip to Chicago was also the first occasion in which Mr. Zappone had flown on an airplane. "I think we really deserved that award we wanted to put out a g reat paper. And a lot of credit, of course, goes to the St. Pete Times." Swimming credits at USF
5 Mr. Zappone recalls that at the time, in order to graduate, students had to complete four credit hours in physical education, one of which had to be swimming. "I could not swim, and I was terrified of water. So, the whole time I was at USF, I figured I would get up to my last hour and just not graduate I took swimming and I went to the coach he was so kind, he assigned a student assistant to me just to get me to learn how to swim After he worked with me about a month, I could actually float on my back!" Yet, to pass the class, students were required to dive into the pool from the high dive. Terrified of doing so, the coach told him, "Tony, you've made suc h a vast improvement we'll wave the dive and pass you with a C' so I got to graduate!" Mr. Zappone advises students today to, "Read everything you can. Develop a love for knowledge a curiosity Go to college with the idea of learning to enrich yours elf, to make yourself a better person Keep an open mind, and develop an intellectual curiosity that will take you not only though college, but through life Make it fun!" End of Interview
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interviewed by Andrew Huse.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (0 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 expanded summary (digital, PDF file)
USF 50th (2006) anniversary oral history project
Interview conducted February 24, 2004.
Tony Zappone speaks about his experiences during the 1960s as a photographer and writer for the University of South Florida's student newspaper, The Oracle.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
University of South Florida.
University of South Florida
Huse, Andrew T.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
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