The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News March 10, 2006

Off the Cuff: Jim Sunshine, ’OC 49

Jim Sunshine, OC ’49, was Associate Editor of The Oberlin Review over half a century ago. Now he lives at Kendal. For this week’s Off The Cuff, the Review spoke with Mr. Sunshine about his time at Oberlin, working for the Review and life beyond Oberlin.

Is Mr. Sunshine your real name?
Of course it is! [laughter] It’s an English translation from German. Someone on Ellis Island must have translated it.

What did you do for the Review when you were a student here?
I was the Associate Editor, I think. I worked on the Review all the years I was here — in ’42 and when I got back from the war from ’46 to ’49. The Review would joust...with the Oberlin News-Tribune, which was supposed to be more conservative.

You served in World War II? What did you do?
I was in the European Theater. I was a medic. I ran a field hospital operating room. I was a non-com [a non-commissioned officer].

What has changed about the College since you were enrolled here?
It was a good place then; it’s a good place now. We had housemothers. We had manners. There were tablecloths and napkins. The house mothers ruled with kind of an iron hand; when we were freshmen they told us what we could pick up off the table and what we could not, and we couldn’t start eating until the house mother had picked up her fork. We sang songs after dinner you would laugh at today. It was much smaller then. It was only about 1800 when I left in ’42 and close to 2000 when I got back.

What is your fondest memory of your alma mater?
My fondest memories I guess were washing pots and pans at Pyle Inn. My buddy doing pots and pans was a lifelong friend and he just died two years ago.

What about the town? What has changed?
Hasn’t changed. The buildings have not changed but the stores have. This [Java Zone] used to be Olie’s, a drugstore where they invented the hot fudge sundae. You used to be able to shop for things here [in downtown Oberlin]; you could go to Powers & Dawley, buy yourself a good suit of clothes.

Why did you choose to return to Oberlin to retire?
My wife died in ’99 — we’d been married in ’48. I got tired of rattling around in a big house, so I sold out and came back here.

Where did your life lead you between school and retirement?
Let’s see...I worked on a weekly in [a town in] Wisconsin called Kaukauna up near Green Bay. I went to Columbia, got a masters in journalism. I went from there to the Providence Journal and I was there for 44 years.

So should I and all the other Review staff look forward to becoming you?
I don’t know! [laughter] If there are any newspapers when you get out, which is an open question. As for becoming me, I worked for a pretty good newspaper, [but] it’s a serious question whether there will be any print journalism in the next ten years.


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