Picture Description: Melissa Bondy works a printer
Melissa Bondy (00:01:21):
You know, it’s so funny because you know, I was a little younger than a lot of them. I was, you know, cause I was born later and I’m younger and I haven’t talked to Alice in so long either and my husband died a couple of years ago as well. And he was part of The Rag scene and, and you know, I worked at a different, another press in Madison. So know my life was, I don’t know. I mean, I’m just gonna talk, but I’m probably not talking about your questions right now, but I worked at another press, which was called RPM, which was press in Madison and it also, but it was a much, much bigger press and it was also an IWW press and I don’t, I can’t remember if I worked there before I worked at Fly By Night or after, but it was a much bigger sort of alternative press and it was on Williamson St. So, you know, there was a lot of parallels between my life in Madison and, and Wisconsin and Austin, but I never felt like I was part of Austin and my husband too. You know, Morris at the time was a writer kind of, we, we always felt like Austin was not our place. You know, it was a little bit more provincial than Madison. We were, we fit in much better in the things that we did and our friends. And it was just a different scene for us compared to Austin. But then I ended up living in Texas for so many years. After that we moved to Houston, which was really very different. So now here I am in California, which I’m so glad I am here in California compared to being in Texas. And when I see what you know, is it Crenshaw or whatever, or the Lieutenant governor’s trying to do to take away…
Sarah Pike (00:03:12):
Melissa Bondy (00:03:15):
Dan Patrick, yes. I mean, it’s like taking away academic freedom from professors because you’re trying to teach about structural racism. I mean, I was talking about that to somebody today and it’s like, the more reason I’m glad I’m not in Texas anymore. It’s like when the, when abortion rights were taken away and you know, just everything I ever fought for and just all these things that just, I’m so glad I live in a state that’s so different than Texas and I never can come back.
Sarah Pike (00:03:45):
Yeah. I don’t, I don’t blame you. I would like to leave at some point in my life, but it’s hard with like family.
Melissa Bondy (00:03:56):
I actually have more family in California as it turns and I, well, I don’t have anybody in Texas, so it’s like, I have no reason to, you know, think about ever living in Texas again. And you know, everything that we fought for during the sixties, you know, the late, you know, sixties, seventies, it’s like, everything has just been disintegrated and it’s, you know, Roe V Wade. And you know, it just makes me cry just to think. And when Sarah Weddington died, it was just even more so that made me feel even sad or just to you know, everything’s going backwards.
Sarah Pike (00:04:31):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it is interesting though, that you brought up never quite feeling in place in Austin. Did being married contribute to that feeling? Like, apparently there was this culture of staying unmarried in Austin.
Melissa Bondy (00:04:51):
I wasn’t married. We weren’t married.
Sarah Pike (00:04:52):
You weren’t married?
Melissa Bondy (00:04:53):
I didn’t get married until I was in graduate school, we were not married. We lived together, but we weren’t married. Yeah. I didn’t get married until 1982 or 1983. No. Was it 1984? Something like that? No, we didn’t get married until much, much later.
Sarah Pike (00:05:24):
Were you at UT all throughout your academic career?
Melissa Bondy (00:05:28):
Well, so that’s a weird thing. So I finished I started in Madison and I finished like the first two plus years in Madison. That’s where I started. That’s where I met my husband. So Morris was there and at the time we weren’t married at, at the time. So then we ended up in Texas only because he finished his PhD in Madison and then we were, he had a job in, believe it or not. And it’s a strange, crazy story in he had his PhD in English and so he was gonna take a job in Hong Kong and he was afraid to fly at the time because it’s just crazy story. So we ended up in Texas because he was from Texas. And so we ended up there and, and it was like he was from Beaumont and it’s like, I’m not living anywhere near there. So we ended up in Austin and so I finished in like a year and a half. So I finished my undergrad in 1975, I think in December of ‘75, we stayed there until like ‘76 and then we moved back to Wisconsin and then I just, I worked for in, in public health, we, I worked for a health a couple of health clinics. I was like a Vista volunteer kind of like at two different health clinics in Madison. And so then I decided I wanted to get my degree. And so then I ended up in Texas because I got a scholarship. I mean, it was, I guess that’s why we ended up, I ended up back at the UT school of public health in in Houston. So I, I went there, got my master’s degree and then went into the PhD program after that. And then I worked in, did work in environmental and in cancer epidemiology.
Sarah Pike (00:07:18):
So you went to UT Houston?
Melissa Bondy (00:07:21):
Yeah. Public health. And so that’s where I graduated from. So I continued there and got my master’s and PhD at UT. So after I left Austin, I never moved back after that. So I was only there from ‘74 to ‘76. Yeah.
Sarah Pike (00:07:35):
Great. I was just trying to put the timelines together.
Melissa Bondy (00:07:37):
Yeah. The timeline’s kind of confusing. So I started in Madison. I was there from ‘72 to ‘74 and then we moved to Austin from ‘74 to ‘76. So I was only there for like two years and then from ‘74 to ‘76, yeah, six. And then we moved back to Madison and I was there until about ’78. ’77 or ’78. And then I moved to Houston. Okay. And then I finished my master’s in PhD and stayed there, had kids and stayed there until 2019.
Sarah Pike (00:08:21):
Oh wow. So very long time.
Melissa Bondy (00:08:23):
Yeah. Yeah. So I stayed there a really long time and then I moved to California. So I’ve only been here since basically October of 2019.
Sarah Pike (00:08:34):
So you got like three months, four months, five months before the pandemic hit.
Melissa Bondy (00:08:39):
And then I became the chair of a new department of epidemiology.
Sarah Pike (00:08:43):
That’s really cool. Worked in your favor.
Melissa Bondy (00:08:46):
So yeah, it worked in my advantage and I’ve been you know, you know, working mostly from home you know, since then, but we have to go, we, we have to, we’re really gonna go, I’m teaching this quarter. So we’re teaching now in person and I’m gonna, we moved offices, so I need to go back to the office. I’ve hired eight, almost eight new people, new faculty since I started. So that makes it hard.
Sarah Pike (00:10:36):
Interesting. Now, I thought you were in Austin much longer because like in my background research that I could find it says on your faculty page UT. And I was like, oh, okay. So she went to UT and I assumed Austin.
Melissa Bondy (00:10:52):
No. So no, I was at the UT in Houston.
Sarah Pike (00:10:56):
Yeah. I have never actually been to Houston.
Melissa Bondy (00:12:05):
So interesting. So how did you get interested in this project? Through Richard?
Sarah Pike (00:12:16):
No, actually I was in a class taught by a professor Suzie, Suzie Seriff. Yes. and it was called Austin Jews and the Civil Rights Era. But what we were doing was really like civil rights, not specific, like my project wasn’t about Jewish people specifically. And we each got a location based on like things that were around, back in the sixties and seventies and mine was Fly By Night and I could not find literally hardly any information about it. It was like it almost never happened. Like there was a little bit in The Rag about it. And then Alice has a site that she posts information on, but that was pretty much it, like, there wasn’t like that much on it compared to like, I mean, one of the kids in my class got like the Armadillo World Headquarters, which is like a really big thing.
Melissa Bondy (00:13:12):
There’s a lot of stuff on that.
Sarah Pike (00:13:14):
Yeah. Like in comparison. So I started tracking people down because I was like, I can’t do this project unless I have more information. And I ended up getting like a lot of information, like way more than like my project actually required for that class. So when it came time for like this semester, I now have an internship class with professor Seriff and she recommended that I intern at People’s History in Texas because like what they do is collect stories that were around Austin that aren’t told as much and try to like bring awareness, I guess, or like keep the history alive.
Melissa Bondy (00:14:22):
So the Jewish, the Jewish history project never really came to and you didn’t have a Jewish history project?
Sarah Pike (00:14:29):
No. What I, how I interacted with Jewishness in that class was each week we would do readings about Jewish activists at the time. And so what I had to do with, with my final project was kind of like connect, Fly By Night to different Jewish principles.
Melissa Bondy (00:14:48):
I’m Jewish, but I don’t know if you knew that.
Sarah Pike (00:14:51):
Jewish? Yeah. That would’ve been great to know cause that would’ve made my connection easier.
Melissa Bondy (00:15:12):
I don’t know if there’s another person, cause when I was looking at what you’ve written, I’m trying to think there was someone who’s in California…
Sarah Pike (00:15:18):
Robin, Robin Birdfeather. She wasn’t like a member of Fly By Night, but she did the Cycler, the women’s calendar. And so she was Jewish. So I really, she, she was very helpful in that situation. And then also like I just connected it to like various work being done by other Jewish activists as kinda like a parallel activism thing. But yeah, so that’s kind of how I interacted with that. But with my internship project, now I’m doing this one obviously for People’s History. And then I’m also doing the preliminary research for a project that People’s History is gonna continue on after I’m gone about Jeff Friedman, the first ever Jewish mayor of Austin. So yeah.
Sarah Pike (00:18:19):
So do you feel you were connected to the Austin Jewish scene?
Melissa Bondy (00:18:26):
You, I really wasn’t connected, I can’t go there with it, the Jewish, you know, any of the Jewish stuff at that point. I mean, I was more connected to the Jewish scene in Madison than I was in Austin.
Sarah Pike (00:18:42):
There’s probably more Jewish people there.
Melissa Bondy (00:18:44):
I was pretty, you know, really connected in Houston and you know, raised my kids Jewish and, and you know, I grew up very Jewish. But when I was in Houston and Austin, there wasn’t as much of a Jewish scene in Austin. I don’t think at least when I was in college, it really wasn’t so prominent, maybe it is more so now is it?
Sarah Pike (00:19:09):
I don’t know. I don’t think, I don’t know if it’s like more prominent now, but I know that there’s a lot of Jewish activities and people up around where I live in Austin, which is off of Far West. So like a north or north neighborhood.
Melissa Bondy (00:19:26):
There’s a JCC now.
Sarah Pike (00:19:27):
Yeah. I live near the JCC. I know that there’s a lot of synagogues in the area. There’s a lot of bagel shops that are kosher and stuff. So it, there is definitely like, I can see it, but I don’t know if other people who aren’t Jewish, who aren’t like paying attention, would. You know what I’m saying? It’s like kind of like it’s there, but it’s not like obvious.
Melissa Bondy (00:19:50):
I don’t think they knew much about Jews. And when I was there, you know, it was really weird. It was just very different. I mean, Mopac wasn’t even there when I was there.
Sarah Pike (00:19:59):
I can’t imagine that.
Melissa Bondy (00:20:00):
Austin was a small town back in the seventies and you know, it wasn’t, I was just talking to one of my friends. The one I just was with, it was really interesting and this is what, what I brought up to them. So Stanford, and I’m not sure why they decided to do this, but the, you know, our president really, he doesn’t understand the difference between academic freedom and freedom of speech. They just don’t get it because during the whole pandemic, we were fighting against Scott Atlas who, you know, is one of these, his right wing, Trump bite you know, spokespersons about you know, he was his right hand person to speak about COVID and all, you know, completely misinformation and every, and you know, we wrote a letter speaking out against it and you know, our provost and president basically didn’t understand that this is miscommunication and they don’t understand the difference between freedom of speech and, and academic freedom. So be it as it may. So then he started a commission right now to go back, to see if there was discrimination about whether or not they had a quota on the number of Jewish students that they allowed into the university. And I’m not sure what years that was. So he, there’s now a commission to review all of the back records of Jewish students that were allowed into the university. And when I went to the University of Wisconsin, there was a quota at different universities about how, and even in Madison about how many Jews they would allow because in the sixties, the Jews were the dissidents and they didn’t wanna allow very many Eastern Jews into any of the universities because we were the troublemakers. And actually that was the reason I went to Madison because it was the anti-war movement. And, you know, it was that time. And that was why I went because I felt like it was an important time because it was not only the war, but it was, you know, civil rights and you know, things like that. And it was really an important time and you know, it’s, it’s like here we are seeing it all over again that now we’re seeing antisemitism, we’re seeing racism, we’re seeing, you know, all of this is cropping up again that, anti-semitism in my mind is at its height again. And you know, it’s just tied together with so many other things.
Sarah Pike (00:22:37):
Melissa Bondy (00:22:43):
It’s like crazy, you know, and it’s like, look, what’s going on with the Ukraine and Russia. The Russians were as bad as the Germans, if not worse.
Melissa Bondy (00:22:58):
My family’s from Latvia and you know, I took my kids there a few years ago cause my mother left the day her country was in invaded by the Russians and you know, my mother’s name is in the Holocaust museum on the wall and you know, it was a real eye opener to experience all of those things for them to really see what it was like to see their own history and see why it is they’re still alive. Right?
Sarah Pike (00:23:59):
I mean, and I don’t know if, obviously I wasn’t around in the seventies, but I don’t know if Austin is like better per se. I don’t know if the Jewish population is that much bigger in all honesty. I think that if there were other Jews around Texas, they probably migrated towards Austin because it’s like blue in the sea of red.
Melissa Bondy (00:24:57):
I mean, I got friends who moved from Houston to Austin that are Jewish, but you know, I don’t know if they’re that active, you know?
Sarah Pike (00:25:02):
Yeah. But you can definitely like, there’s obviously still gonna be like a Catholic or Protestant lean. You walk all the surrounding buildings of campus and they’re like Catholic church, Methodist, Baptist, you know, they got all them doting around and it’s like, there’s no synagogues, there’s no mosques. There’s no temples for Buddhists. Like there’s, it’s just one flavor.
Melissa Bondy (00:25:24):
Yeah. No. And I think that why you know, I just, I don’t, I don’t know. We didn’t feel comfortable in Austin, you know, and Jews gravitate to Jews. Yeah. Do you have Jewish friends?
Sarah Pike (00:25:38):
I do. Yeah, not like a ton there. Because I transferred and most of my career there has been online. We’re in-person now, but I mean that’s only this semester, which is my last, so it’s kind of like, okay, but I mean, it’s funny because like I took a class called Austin Jews and civil rights era because it had the word Jews in the title and then there was like, it was a very small class, but there was like at least half of it was Jewish and now I’m in my internship with the same professor, which is like a Jewish studies internship and there’s a lot of Jews in that class too. So it’s, it’s funny, like you see put the word Jews in it and that’s where Jewish people are gonna go.
Melissa Bondy (00:26:19):
Go into it. I know. Yeah. Yeah. My kids went to Tulane, which they called J lane. Right. Like, but yeah, so, and it’s, you know, it’s interesting. You just feel, it’s who you gravitate in your friends and still, most of my friends are Jewish and you know, they are very liberal and you know, it’s just who you feel most comfortable with.
Sarah Pike (00:26:48):
Yeah. Would you say that why you’re kind of like drawn to social justice work or activism, like as you seem to be is because of your Jewishness? The understanding of feeling othered? Or is it like you just felt drawn to it in general?
Melissa Bondy (00:27:11):
As I think about, I wanna think part of it is my Jewishness because you know what words come in my mind all the time is “if not now when?”, and I feel like we have to take some action in our lives to do something and maybe I’m not doing enough, but I feel like as part of my work even here at Stanford, I feel like I have an opportunity because there are a lot of resources, is to think about how do we do things in the community. And it’s, you know, one of my friends who I was with is you know, in my cancer work too, is that we start looking where there’s injustices where there’s environmental injustices, where there’s food insecurity. I feel like I have the opportunity now and I’m doing, trying to do a lot of that, where I was given resources when I came here where part of my work in the cancer center, part of my work with center for population health sciences, you know, my work really allows me to be able to look at health disparities and be able to do something with it. And I feel like now at the end of my career, you know, not at the beginning, I’m older is that I have this opportunity to use resources and, you know, being in California, there are more resources than there were to do this kind of work in Texas that I feel like as I think about how I want to end my career and do things that could be more, impactful that that’s kind of where I feel like I’d like to take it. And yeah, part of it is my being Jewish, but part of it is, you know, giving back to the community, tikkun olam, you know. That is important to me. Yeah. You know, it is being Jewish, you know, it’s my, it’s my character, it’s my the moral fabric that I grew up with. I think so.
Sarah Pike (00:29:21):
Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s, it’s interesting. Like, because usually people don’t think about it, but like the way that you’re raised does dictate how you become as an adult and if you’re raised around principles, like the, like the tzedakah, like tikkun olam you’re gonna like, and like holidays where you literally remember pain and suffering and injustices, I think that it does make you more aware of those things around you and it makes you more, I guess, empathetic almost cause it’s like, “remember you were slaves in Egypt”, and then also like everything else that’s happened after that., I think Jewish people are now at a point where a lot of us do blend in, if we’re not Hasidic, into the American culture and it’s like, we have this generational trauma and consciousness about our pasts and remember being othered. And now that we, we can see in other people who can’t hide, right. Not that I hide, but like people who literally can’t hide because of the color of their skin. Or something like that, it’s like a call to help our friends in suffering.
Melissa Bondy (00:30:35):
It’s why I feel like as being Jews in so many ways, we need to be able to work together with other race and ethnic groups because we are suffering in many of the same ways. And in many of the same ways to do this together.
Sarah Pike (00:30:57):
Melissa Bondy (00:30:58):
Yeah. You know, I really feel like we need to, we need to come together in some ways. I mean, you know, it’s the same struggles. Some leaflets, I mean, you’re not gonna believe this, but you know, even here in Palo Alto and in San Francisco, there’s this Gentile network, no voya network. Have you heard about that?
Sarah Pike (00:31:19):
No, but it doesn’t sound good.
Melissa Bondy (00:31:21):
It’s horrible. And they’ve been putting these leaflets of, you know, different people’s names in science like Rochelle Wilensky – Jewish. I mean, I, let me pull up this email. I mean it came and it’s like, unbelievable. And it’s like all these leaders who are, you know, part of COVID, you know, all, and they’re just Jewish, Jewish, Jewish, you know, all of these different people Peter Hoidal – Jewish, you know, anybody who’s been involved, putting their names as being Jewish and it’s like, you know, unbelievable. And it’s like the Jews caused COVID.
Sarah Pike (00:32:04):
Melissa Bondy (00:32:04):
You know, before was the Asians because it started in China, but it’s the same racist stuff and it’s really crazy. And they were putting leaflets that, you know, had all of these names and then Jewish. Yeah. And they put it in San Francisco, they put it in Palo Alto. I mean, it’s unbelievable. And you know, there’s just so much racism and yeah. I mean it’s, it’s really bad. Yeah. Yeah. So do I feel like my Jewishness kind of leads the way for me? I think it, I think it does. Yeah. Do you feel like that for you too?
Sarah Pike (00:32:42):
Yeah. I, I think it’s interesting. It does always circle back to antisemitism somehow. In terms of like something bad happens, it’s gonna come back.
Melissa Bondy (00:32:52):
I read a lot of, I don’t know if you read much, about Holocaust history or you know, anything, but I read too much and it just, you know, and I, and then my daughter, it’s like, she’ll read some of the books in my library and, and it’s like, “mom, I can’t read these. I had to stop reading it.” I told her that she needed to read this book and she said to me, I started reading it mom. And, you know, there was, they’re like vignettes and I thought it was an incredible book. And oh, what’s the name of it? Everybody loves dead Jews. I don’t know if you read that.
Sarah Pike (00:37:42):
Yeah. I, I gotta ask some of these questions circling back to Austin.
Melissa Bondy (00:37:52):
Oh yeah. Let’s go back to Austin so we can finish this. You’ll have to keep in touch with me and send me some stuff.
Sarah Pike (00:37:57):
I definitely will. So something that I’m interested to know, seeing as you do epidemiology, I believe, right? Is why you worked at a print shop twice apparently, you know like yeah. Twice.
Melissa Bondy (00:38:19):
You know, I wasn’t doing epidemiology when I was in college. So my major was psychology and ethnic studies. Okay. And then when I finished and I did, you know, those two cuz I, they were interesting and I was just, you know, I was interested in ethnic studies and I was interested in psychology and I just wanted to get done with college and see what came next. And so that was why I did those majors. And then I went back and took science classes and then I went to public health school and that’s when I did epidemiology. I really liked it. Yeah. So why did I work at a print shop? You know, I actually met my husband working at one. We were involved in a political organization in Madison called the West Constant Alliance and we met over a mimeograph machine. So he taught me how to run a mimeograph machine. You probably don’t even know what one of those is.
Sarah Pike (00:39:23):
No, I’m Googling it right now. Mimeograph?
Melissa Bondy (00:39:28):
Yes. And all I can remember so vividly when you reminded me of Fly By Night is moving the printing machine out of the place that we kept it upstairs of. I can’t remember the name of the shop.
Sarah Pike (00:39:48):
Bread and Roses?
Melissa Bondy (00:39:51):
It wasn’t Bread & Roses. No, cause we had the machine over on was it San Antonio? What was the name? It was the, the place where they did the lecture notes and we had it upstairs and then we moved it from there over to Bread & Roses on San Gabriel. And I actually lived across the street from there, from the house.
Sarah Pike (00:40:15):
Was it West 24th?
Melissa Bondy (00:40:17):
Yeah. West 24th. And then we moved it to San Gabriel to Bread & Roses and we moved it. And on a dolly, we pushed it in the night. And maybe that’s why we called it Fly By Night. I can’t remember why we called it Fly By Night, but we moved it by hand and I think Rita Starpattern and Alice, we pushed it down the street.
Sarah Pike (00:40:42):
Melissa Bondy (00:40:44):
I think so.
Sarah Pike (00:41:06):
So you joined a print shops because you…?
Melissa Bondy (00:44:36):
I just, I must have known how to print before I came to Austin and we were like working at The Rag as a volunteer. I don’t think I got, I didn’t get paid. Probably not. You know, and I’m sure I didn’t.
Sarah Pike (00:44:58):
Did Alice recruit you? Cause I know she was connected to The Rag. I don’t know if that was before or after you left.
Melissa Bondy (00:45:07):
Well, Alice was connected to The Rag, you know, Richard Croxdale was at The Rag. Yeah. I don’t know how I got recruited into it, maybe because I knew how to print. So I must have learned how to print at RPM. It wouldn’t be on Wiki. This was a big print shop. RPM print shop in Madison. It might be RPM screen print now in Madison? Maybe it was. I don’t know if it’s still there. I’m sure it’s not cause it’s on Pilgrim St, so it’s not the same. I don’t know how I learned. It was on the east side on Wisconsin history, RPM printing benefit. Co-Op, everything’s historic now, you know, all of this stuff was historic. Offset printers. We did posters, you know, I mean it was like, that was where you needed to print stuff because you know, here’s all the posters we did. Like lots of things like that. We would print posters and print, you know, different materials that we would hang out like film society, things. And you know, it was like that kind of stuff. You know, things for benefits, you know, there was just so many things that were going on at the time. And so they, everything needed to be printed. You know, it was just different. It wasn’t the same there weren’t, you know, you had to use offset presses there weren’t Xerox machines there weren’t, you know, everything was different. I mean, I always joke with people that when I did my master’s thesis and even my dissertation, it was before we had computers really. I did it on cards. You had to type all the code into cards. And if one got out of place, you screwed. Oh my God. You know, I mean, it was not like you’re typing code into a computer. I mean, that was later where you would do your code and you know, if you had a mistake, you could go back and figure out where your code was wrong and you know, everything was so, you know, I’m 67, I’m much younger than all the others, you know, they’re much older, but you know, everything we did you had to print. And so for some reason, you know, even a mimeograph machine, you looked what that was? So that was like a smaller version of an offset press. So somehow, I learned how to use a mimeograph machine. And then I learned how to use an offset press. And I guess that was it. And so maybe that’s why I did it. I can’t remember what was the influence to do it, but you know, I just learned how, and I think I got paid somewhere, not a lot of money, but I did get paid and I did have a summer job. I remember it was the worst job, but I worked for somewhere in Madison and I had to run a Xerox machine. I hated it. I hate Xerox machines. I’m still bad at using a Xerox machine, even though now it’s all done through your computer, but I hate, you know, any of those kinds of things.
Sarah Pike (00:49:10):
I just think it’s interesting that like, you know, like you weren’t an English major or like an arts major and you ended up going into science eventually, but you worked at two print shops and did, I don’t know what they called it, but like guest articles or whatever at The Rag.
Melissa Bondy (00:49:33):
You know, I’m a pretty eclectic person. Well, also my husband Morris had a little magazine. And so that was the other thing why we printed. And so and he had a literary magazine called Quixote press. Q-U-I-X-O-T-E. And, and if you Google that, I think some stuff will come up his under his name, maybe it would come up. It’s not in existence anymore. His name, his name was Morris Edelson. E-D-E-L-S-O-N. Somebody’s writing a book about him and I think he has a Wiki page now.
Sarah Pike (00:50:35):
I don’t see a Wiki, but I see who I believe was him. Hang on. Did he get his, a bachelor’s degree at Lamar University?
Melissa Bondy (00:50:59):
Yeah. Okay. And then he got his PhD in Madison.
Sarah Pike (00:51:08):
Yeah, this is, this is him then.
Melissa Bondy (00:51:14):
Yeah, I see that too.
Sarah Pike (00:51:20):
But, and then at The Rag, Richard said that you wrote articles about women’s issues, like reproductive rights and health. I think he said something like that. Would you say that was like a big cause for you back in the day?
Melissa Bondy (00:51:43):
I think I was interested in health issues.
Sarah Pike (00:51:47):
Melissa Bondy (00:51:48):
And women’s reproductive rights and things like that.
Sarah Pike (00:51:52):
And did you know you were joining like an all woman’s press in Austin? Fly By Night?
Melissa Bondy (00:51:59):
Melissa Bondy (00:52:00):
No, I mean, I was interested in women’s rights. I mean, that was, you know, absolutely my interest, you know? I mean, I was, yeah. Yeah. And even in Madison, when I was there, I was really in political issues and women’s rights and things like that. I have been my whole life.
Sarah Pike (00:52:23):
So your role at Fly By Night was more kind of like a printer. Did you do any, like, design work or specialized projects or was it just printing?
Melissa Bondy (00:52:37):
You know, I was only there for, I was there the least probably of anybody, you know, I worked there for some projects, when the New American Movement was over at Bread & Roses. So the Bread & Roses house was used by the New American Movement group. They had, they shared the house. I don’t know who owned the house. Do you, was it rented?
Sarah Pike (00:53:08):
I don’t know.
Melissa Bondy (00:53:11):
So the New American Movement had their offices there, so they were in that house. And they a chapter, I can’t remember when we moved the press there, but the New American Movement had a chapter or whatever, an office and they were there. So if you look at that I just Googled them, “the New American Movement was an American new left multi-tendency socialist and feminist political organizers”. And that was why we moved the press there. So they were there. So that was part of one of the reasons. And you can ask Alice a little bit more about the New American Movement. I can’t remember who was leading the group in Austin.
Sarah Pike (00:54:05):
I know that Richard’s partner, Glenn did some stuff there.
Melissa Bondy (00:54:08):
Glenn was involved. Right?
Sarah Pike (00:54:09):
She was, I think. She did work there. Yeah. I think classes yeah. On socialism or something.
Melissa Bondy (00:54:14):
Glenn Scott, right? Yeah.
Sarah Pike (00:54:17):
Yeah. But my timeline of Fly By Night. So going based off when I think you were there, you were probably there when the Cyclar was being printed, and then y’all moved the printer in November of 1975 over to Gabriel street from West 24th,
Melissa Bondy (00:54:43):
San Gabriel, right? Yes. And that white house, it was a beautiful full house. I remember.
Sarah Pike (00:54:47):
But then you probably left.
Melissa Bondy (00:54:49):
I left in ‘76.
Sarah Pike (00:54:51):
Yeah. You probably left because its successors. Its name was Red River Women’s Press.
Melissa Bondy (00:54:58):
Yeah. They moved after that again, right? And they became a bookstore too, right?
Sarah Pike (00:55:03):
Oh no, they didn’t become a bookstore. But Cynthia Roberts, who was also involved, she founded or co-founded Common Woman Bookstore, which is still around today, run by Susan Post and called BookWoman. It’s in a different spot. It’s on Lamar street, I believe. But it’s still there. It’s pretty cool. But yeah, Red River officially started in January of 1977, so you weren’t there.
Melissa Bondy (00:55:29):
I left right before that.
Sarah Pike (00:55:30):
Yeah. You were there in kind of like the end of Fly By Night and setting up of Red River. But yeah, they moved over to a storefront on West 12th St in the Enfield Shopping Center.
Melissa Bondy (00:55:47):
That near the, there was some water there, right? I remembered like a shore.
Sarah Pike (00:55:51):
Melissa Bondy (00:55:52):
Sarah Pike (00:55:52):
And that flooded, which shut down the press in the end. But yeah. So that’s, that’s where they ended up was the shopping center.
Melissa Bondy (00:56:03):
Yeah. I sort of, I remember all of that because you know, we lived in Houston and we would come down. I mean, well we went back to Wisconsin and then I moved to Houston. We would come down, we would see Alice every once in a while. You know, we kept in touch with Alice. But I didn’t keep in touch with a lot of people. Besides her in, in Austin, yeah. I mean, we didn’t have a huge number of friends.
Sarah Pike (00:56:29):
I mean, I don’t know what the phone situation was back in the late seventies, but I’m assuming it was much harder to keep in touch than it is now.
Melissa Bondy (00:56:38):
Well, we didn’t have internet, we didn’t have cell phones. You know, and I was remembering people like, you know, like Danny, and you know, I was trying to remember different people that were there and photographers and you know, just some of the people that were involved in, you know in The Rag.
Sarah Pike (00:57:12):
Yeah. I mean, what’s interesting to me is that The Rag, I don’t know if it was like The Rag had these people that all spawned their own little side things and they were all connected through The Rag or people had their own little things and then came to The Rag or a mix. But it’s interesting because like a lot of people who were involved in Fly By Night did come from The Rag or they were involved in like another activist form, like Rita Starpattern with Women and their Work, and Cynthia Robert with BookWoman. So it’s interesting how interconnected the, the activist scene seemed to have been back then, but it also seemed, I don’t know how to explain it. It also seemed kind of like a little bit of a mold almost of like what an activist was, because little things seem to have marked people as like slightly different, like if people had a different political ideology, like just a little bit away from like the main group of people, people remember them as like, oh yeah, they had a weird ideology.
Melissa Bondy (00:58:23):
Oh yeah. And the scene was completely different. You know, we were really, I mean it was just a whole different scene and different, you know, ideologies as well, but it was so different and you know, it was just, and I’m still really well connected to the Madison scene and people and we’re really still pretty close and you know, also another newspaper scene and you know, Morris was involved in that and you know, I was back for, there was a reunion, a sixties reunion. It went pretty well, you know, just a couple of years ago. It was just a very different scene in Madison. And you know, I guess we felt closer to that group of people and it still are. I’m still pretty close to many of the people and keep in touch some that are in California and I haven’t seen them since COVID, but we still keep in touch and I have some friends in Minneapolis and you know, there’s people in Chicago and, you know, it’s just really different, but I’m not in touch even though I went back and I was in Texas, I just didn’t keep in touch with that group. I mean, we weren’t there that long, but I just felt like Austin was so provincial and it just was a very, I never felt well. I felt Alice was my only, you know, real connection to people there that I felt close to. I mean, I loved Alice. I mean, and then there was a few other people that I knew from there that were sort of involved in the political, but also philanthropic things. And I knew them from Austin. They moved to Houston and I knew some of them, some of them may have stayed there. And they were involved in some more philanthropic kinds of things and but you know, I knew them in more artsy kinds of things in Houston.
Sarah Pike (01:00:50):
Would you say that the environment like at Fly By Night was the same as the general Austin environment? Or was it different, like, was it kind of like The Rag or was it a whole different experience?
Melissa Bondy (01:01:05):
Oh, I think it was nicer than The Rag. I think The Rag was, you know, they were sort of, the people at The Rag were kind of more contentious, you know, more political. I’m more political now, but you know, it was that kind of a scene.
Sarah Pike (01:01:19):
Okay. I was wondering because that’s the one thing that no one that told me was how it was at Fly By Night. Not that they were like avoiding the question I just hadn’t asked yet.
Melissa Bondy (01:01:37):
Kinder. I think Fly by Night was much kinder, but women are kinder than men. There were a lot of men there. What I’m saying that I thought people were provincial, it’s like, you just didn’t fit in and they weren’t nice.
Sarah Pike (01:02:33):
That’s interesting. Yeah.
Melissa Bondy (01:02:34):
And you know, obviously they stayed together for a longer time and then moved to a different place. And you know, Alice, I think was, you know, she’s been involved in so many different things for so long and she’s a much more inviting and she’s a very kind person.
Sarah Pike (01:02:51):
She has been involved in a lot. She just co-wrote a book about the Houston underground newspaper. Space City.
Melissa Bondy (01:08:40):
I don’t know if I helped you at all.
Sarah Pike (01:09:18):
You’ve told me some interesting things about Austin and the, the past that I didn’t know about. And I think that you do have an interesting perspective on Austin since you came from Michigan.
Melissa Bondy (01:10:14):
No Wisconsin, remember Wisconsin.
Sarah Pike (01:10:15):
Melissa Bondy (01:10:18):
People always think of Madison and Ann Arbor as being these college meccas, you know, but Madison was more of a political scene than Austin in so many ways. It just had more of a political history. It was close to Chicago. It was just, you know, it was just different. And we came from the, that whole scene and it’s just like, we just weren’t welcome.
Sarah Pike (01:10:41):
Melissa Bondy (01:10:42):
And you have to be from Texas to be welcome in Austin. That’s why I say it was so provincial. I never felt welcome. Then I lived in Houston, but you know, it’s just different because people aren’t from Houston.
Sarah Pike (01:10:56):
Houston’s a big immigrant city.
Melissa Bondy (01:10:56):
Honestly, I never felt completely welcome in Houston. Some, you know, because I never had family that were from there. It’s like, if you’re from Galveston, you know, you have to be BOI, born on the island, and it’s the same kind of thing is that it’s almost like you have to be, you know, born in Austin. I don’t know. It’s just like, if you’re not from Texas, you’re an outsider. Are you from, were you born in Texas?
Sarah Pike (01:11:23):
I was born in San Marcos, Texas. Yeah.
Melissa Bondy (01:11:25):
Yeah. So you’re sort of like a Texan. My kids are Texans since they were born there, but you know, it’s like, I was not from there. I don’t have a Texas accent. I’m not a Texan. But Morris was from Texas. He was from Beaumont, but you know, it just wasn’t the same, you know, I just was not a Texan. I, even though it was different and know, I just, that’s why I call it provincial.
Sarah Pike (01:12:03):
I think there is still that to an extent. I mean back when you lived in Austin, it was smaller, but now it’s, it’s humongous and it wasn’t built to grow that way. And so a lot of people get mad at Californian people moving in, because but they’re driving up rent prices here and then there’s gentrification issues everywhere. And so a lot of people get mad at non Austinites living in Austin, but I’m like, that’s kind of how the world works. But I mean, I’ve never been to Houston, but I always assume that it would be more welcoming just because I know it’s got big immigrant communities.
Melissa Bondy (01:12:45):
Oh, that’s what I like about it. That’s what I hate about here is that I just feel like there’s no diversity. I mean, I feel like I live in a suburb. My son hates it. There’s no diversity in Silicon valley. I mean it’s, it’s expensive.
“Jews were the dissidents and they didn’t wanna allow very many Eastern Jews into any of the universities because we were the troublemakers.”Melissa Bondy