Thank you for having accepted our invitation to take off your shoes and spend a bit of time with the remarkable Mr. Gaudino.

This oral history was initiated in 2002 by the board of the Robert L. Gaudino Memorial Fund at Williams College, which envisioned something far less ambitious—more of an institutional record memorializing the activities of the fund and various faculty members designated “Gaudino Scholars” over the years. Under that scenario, there would have been a brief discussion of Bob Gaudino’s life and work, but nothing extensive. Well, that’s not how it turned out, as you have seen.

Projects like this can take on a life of their own and this one did in large part because our earliest interviews were marked by the rarest of qualities, emotional truth, and by a minimum of the curse of public discourse, BLAH-BLAH. For starters, some old Political Science colleagues did not hide their suspicion of Bob Gaudino’s head-spinning teaching methods and his legion of “acolytes.” Old tensions still lingered, decades later. A similar honesty was evident in an interview with Gaudino’s sole surviving sibling, the old war pilot Jake, who resisted any temptation to create a fictionalized family history. Love was there, sure, but Jake Gaudino did not hide the distance he felt from the brilliant younger brother who wandered far from home, both physically and ideologically. Once such interviews were in the can it was hard to argue for an institutional oral history.

The nitty-gritty: Some of the early interviews were conducted by the late Judge Charles Alberti ’50, who lived in Williamstown and already was doing tape-recorded interviews for Williams College’s own broad oral history. Though Judge Alberti’s student days predated Gaudino’s arrival on campus, he was well familiar with the man – his son Chris, ’75, was chairman of the Gaudino Board when this project was conceived. That said, the judge, an old-school type, was suspicious of the devotion exhibited by his son and others towards this long-dead professor who’d mostly asked questions. Perhaps that’s why Judge Alberti provided a receptive ear not only to the devotees but to the former colleagues who thought Gaudino a conjurer of sorts. Later I revisited many of his early interviewees, this time with a video camera, after we decided to create the documentary “Mr. Gaudino.”

Nearly 70 people were interviewed in all, some several times. Accordingly, the entries here may combine material from two or three sessions—and that’s also why a story told one way in the written oral history may be told slightly differently in the video version you see.