Episode 1: The origins of Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop

In the 1970s, the University of Iowa School of Social Work opened a coffee shop on campus, giving students a place to congregate between classes, and meet with the school’s newest employee, Bill Sackter. As we discuss in the episode, Bill’s story is fascinating, leading to two made-for-TV movies, and a documentary.

In our first-ever podcast episode, Jen Knights and Stephen Cummings talk about the history of Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop, the story of Bill Sackter, and the future of the coffee shop.

We would like to thank Lane Wyrick, who kindly supplied the audio of Bill Sackter playing his harmonica. Lane Wyrick directed the 2011 documentary A Friend Indeed, about the life of Bill Sackter.

Published by Stephen Cummings

I've been involved with the social work field for over 20 years, although I needed a good mentor early on to state explicitly: "You know what you are doing is social work, right?" I worked with a community-based agency for people with intellectual disabilities before seeking my MSW. After graduating, I worked as a hospital social worker for 10 years, focusing on interventions for trauma patients and families. I've had an interest in technology in the field of social work practice, which led me to my current role as the Distance Education Director and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa School of Social Work.

2 thoughts on “Episode 1: The origins of Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop

  1. In the podcast I said that the movie “Bill” aired on HBO, which was incorrect–it was actually broadcast on CBS! (Which means that even more Americans saw it and were touched by it.) Apologies if some small facts are a little off, as we were telling the story from memory. That one was my bad. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was a junior faculty member at the School in 1975, having recently received my MSW from the U of I in 1974. Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop was not operative as a Coffee Shop in North Hall in 1975. Bill’s original location, with a primary purpose of furniture refinishing (his presence, however, was always educational), was the far SW “office space” adjacent to the West stairs in North Hall. After some accidents in that location, the actual Coffee Shop began to take form over the next few years. That developmental process was very interesting and certainly, educational.
    Let’s hope hope, for the good of all, particularly for those of us that are disabled, please ensure that what ensues is not only factually accurate, but also includes some of the many challenges to the development and ongoing existence of the phenomena. It was not an easy process … often the most important parts of any legacy are in the struggles.
    Dr. Mike Jacobsen (retired)

    Liked by 1 person

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