Tom Coffin oral history interview, 2016-03-21

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search This Index
X
00:00:00 - Disclaimers

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: The formalities. Today is Monday, March 21, 2016. My name is Andy Reisinger and I'm conducting a follow-up interview with Tom Coffin here in the Department of Special Collections and Archives at Georgia State University as part of the Great Speckled Bird oral history project.

Segment Synopsis: Andy Reisinger requests verbal consent to record Tom Coffin before the interview begins.

00:01:00 - Movements

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDREW REISINGER: So when you came to Atlanta, what do you recall of the various different happenings and scenes going on with civil rights, hip scene, antiwar, emerging women ---

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin reflects on his move to Atlanta during the 60's and describes the different movements happening around him at that time.

Subjects: Anti-war demonstrations; Atlanta (Ga.); Civil rights movements

00:10:40 - Making the Bird a social movement

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDREW REISINGER: No absolutely, what about the hip scene?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin describes how The Great Speckled Bird, or the Bird, became a hit with the hip community despite their differences and how they got the newspaper out into the community. He later discusses popular styles of the hip community and how the paper had a rapport with people.

Subjects: Social movements; Underground newspapers

00:14:18 - Hip scene

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: TOM COFFIN: We reported on conflicts between the hip community and the police.

Segment Synopsis: Tom coffin talks about how they released papers to the community and the culture of the Bird. He also compares the people at the birdhouse to the hip community and events they reported on.

Subjects: Advertising; Bands (Music)

00:20:52 - Atlanta

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: TOM COFFIN: My son was in Birmingham, 10 to 15 years ago and I had never really spent much time in Birmingham.

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about Atlanta and how it has transformed into an urban center.

Subjects: Airports; Atlanta (Ga.); Construction

00:26:26 - Vision for the Bird

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: And so we've talked about the founding of the paper and sort of the evolution really rapidly through that fall of '67 from just a broadsheet to a smaller publication, to the actual Bird.

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about the development of the paper at the birdhouse and the equipment they used to help them become more technologically advanced.

Subjects: Newsprint; Typewriting

00:30:40 - Relationships among staff

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: You mentioned a couple types of relationships among staffers and folks with the Bird, relationships to the hip community, relationships between the cultural and the political folks, and then also the long lasting friendships.

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about the cultural and political split between the staff and how it affected work at the Birdhouse.

Subjects: Employees; Staff meetings

00:38:30 - Co-ops

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: How many years did the co-ops go on?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about co-ops and how long they lasted.

Subjects: Cooking; Cooperation

00:44:05 - Balancing work and fun

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: You've also mentioned just how much labor it took to put out the paper and the necessity of having eating co-ops and things like this --

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about what he enjoys doing most with his free time away from "The Bird." He also describes his team's work ethic and ability to stay focused on the paper.

Subjects: Entertainment events

00:47:41 - Race and newswriting

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: Can you speak some about how race and gender and sexuality affected the Bird, the coverage, the staffing?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about race and how it played a role with employment at the Bird and coverage for the paper.

Subjects: African Americans--Employment; Black Panther Party; Race relations

00:56:03 - Advertising

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: Can you talk some about the advertisers in the Bird and specifically around this issue of I guess what we would now call inclusion or diversity ---

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about what advertisement the paper accepted and some of the advantages and disadvantages that occurred.

Subjects: Advertising; Pornography

01:04:29 - Intense coverage

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: So is there any issue or theme, topical coverage that sort of sticks out in your mind the most, that was your favorite, whatever?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about some of the intense stories covered for the Bird.

Subjects: Anti-war demonstrations; Police; Tear gas

01:11:02 - Police

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: So were you ever arrested for any of your -- in a demonstration? Or I know the Bird had a bit of police encounters.

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about the times he went to jail and the police happenings around the Bird.

Subjects: Jails; Police

01:20:39 - Moving and lawsuits

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: Did y'all have insurance or just were able to scrape it back together? Did you lose a lot of equipment?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about where they moved the Bird and how they designed it. He also talks about who dealt with lawsuits for the Bird.

Subjects: Law; Office buildings--Design and construction; Office equipment and supplies

01:25:50 - Study groups

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: So when we last talked we stopped around 1980 with you being forced out of law engineering. Can you pick up the narrative of just what you were doing in your professional and work life?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about his professional and work life around 1980. He describes the on the job study groups he formed in law engineering and his time as an operating engineer.

Subjects: Cranes, derricks, etc.; Engineers; Focus groups; Law

01:40:50 - Tree climbing and labor union

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: TOM COFFIN: Something that occurred in the midst of this that had a big impact later on was in about 1984-1985 I started climbing trees with a friend of mine --

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about the time he started tree climbing and how it made an impact on his life. He also discusses the labor union.

Keywords: Atlanta Rock Climbing Club

Subjects: Cranes, derricks, etc.; Labor unions; Tree climbing

01:49:49 - University of Georgia Forestry School

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: TOM COFFIN: And I felt the next great movement was going to be the environmental movement and I wanted to enter into that but I wanted to do it on a different basis --

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about his interest in the environmental movement. He also talks his time at the University of Georgia Forestry School and the jobs he received after school.

Subjects: Sociology--Study and teaching; Universities and colleges; University of Georgia

01:56:50 - Atlanta labor group

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: TOM COFFIN: But along with destroying the part-time system, I eliminated my own job. I got a one year full time contract as well as did most of the other organizers --

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about the Atlanta labor group he joined.

Subjects: Labor unions--Organizing

02:02:30 - Professional life

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: TOM COFFIN: For a while I was at Georgia State.

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about his job at Georgia State, becoming unemployed, and retiring from active politics.

Subjects: Arborists; Demonstrations; Unemployment

02:15:07 - Recent organizations

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: Yeah one or two, on this latest topic of what's going on in the world and you participating in various different actions, causes, what do you read to keep up with things these days?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about how he stays up to date with the news and describes the current organizations and movements he is a part of.

Subjects: Arborists; Tree climbing

02:22:16 - Re-forming the Bird

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: Did you take part or participate in the reincarnated Bird of 1984, 1985?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about re-forming the Bird in the 1980s.

Subjects: Great Speckled Bird; Underground newspapers

02:26:31 - Family and social life

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: And so we've covered a lot about your activism and your professional life, what about your family and social life.

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about his current relationship with his family and his social life.

Subjects: Families

02:34:04 - Reflection on the Bird

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: The last two things I'd like to hear you talk about is now from the standpoint from 30 to 40 years later, how do you reflect on and feel about that era of the Bird from '68 to '73, '75, whenever?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin reflects on the Bird years and discusses why those years were very important to him.

Subjects: Race relations; Underground newspapers

02:41:51 - Conclusion

Play segment Segment link

Partial Transcript: ANDY REISINGER: We have covered everything that I can think of, um, is there anything else that you would like to reflect on?

Segment Synopsis: Tom Coffin talks about the development and functioning of human society. He also expresses an interest in hearing from the other speakers of The Great Speckled Bird interview collection.

Subjects: Newspapers; Sociology--Study and teaching