Class of '41
October 2000

Dear Living Legends,

There you are, far away (or not so far) and I’m lonesome for you all 59 surviving members of the extraordinary Class of 1941. We can all add to the memories Dennis (see below) engendered:

Ever since Saturday, September 16, when the Class Agents were briefed, I’ve been thinking about you, delighted with the prospect of meeting once again at our 60th class

reunion on campus, May 25-26, 2001. I’ve been enjoying your photos collected over thirty years in my shoe box, and dipping into my archives of class letters I’ve written since 1956. The years have slipped by with astonishing speed. How long has this job lasted? Class of ’41 class agents since the beginning of the program: 1954-55 Roy Bomgren;1956-62 Wendell Holmquist; 1963-69 Marian Swanson Johnson; 1970-71 Ruth (Bostrom) and Bob Esbjornson; 1972-present Marian Swanson Johnson.

So I’ve moved from Rosh Hashanah September 30 to "when the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame" of September Song, which I can plunk out on our ancient Kurtzmann piano. I’ve moved on to October’s Bright Blue Weather, poem by Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885):

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,

By twos and twos together,

And count like misers, hour by hour,

October’s bright blue weather.

Echoes of eight of these stanzas stir an old memory of sitting in my third grade class (Miss Overlie) in Dunnell’s old wooden school building and hearing with amazement this entire poem recited flawlessly from memory by a big oaf of a kid in bib overalls and work shoes.

At the writing of this letter I'm planning to go to the Nobel Conference on October 3 and 4 on Globalization. I’ll expect to visit with Batch and Dee (Borgstrom ’42) Johnson, White Bear Lake, MN and look for Art Stone, the late Lorraine (Chalin) Stone's husband, New Ulm, MN, and others who may come again to this XXXVI Nobel Conference.

Another place we could haunt by twos and twos together is Linnaeus Arboretum, which has colorful maple groves. Near the road on the east is the Acer rubrum where we planted our young red maple at our 45th class reunion, May 1986, the first class to make that generous gesture. Others of our class who have been honored by trees are Oscar Eide, sugar maple 5/2/89, by his wife Jeannette Anderson Eide ’42. Louise Lindbeck Vikner and husband, David, a weeping willow, 5/13/92, on their golden wedding anniversary; Ruth Bostrom Esbjornson, ironwood grove, in memory of, and honoring seven Esbjornson Gustavus graduates. Chester and Marian Swanson Johnson, bur oak, golden wedding anniversary, 11/4/44. Robert H. Olson, red maple, by his family: wife, Marjorie Knudson Olson ’42, son, Gregory, ’72 and his wife, Joanne (Weaver ’72), and Bob and Marjorie’s daughter, Shelley Olson Ziebarth ’78; Angie Pergol, northern pin oak, by his wife Blanche Isenberg Pergol 10/00. Alice Baver, in honor of her years of service to the College, a Douglas fir, summer ’99.

At the end of this letter there are copies of the obituaries of Ruth Carlstedt Jensen, Stillwater, MN, June 16, 2000 and Marvin Henrickson, Arlington Heights, IL, June 2, 2000. They were among those of ’41 listed on the Homecoming Memorial Honor Roll. Others included Ruth Erickson Johnson, Geraldine Brown Miller, and H. Skidmore Olsen, reported in previous letters.

Thus my September Song fades into October poetry and finally to a favorite Swedish hymn (Blott en dag) Day by Day (WOV #746). Within these lines we can find surcease for many concerns offered with prayers. For Joyce Westrom Hilary receiving care after a major illness this spring, at Augustana Home, Minneapolis 1007 East 14th Street, Room 175, Minneapolis, MN 55404. For Clem's wife, Betty Lou Pearson Gruber, 1800 West Lane, Anoka, MN 55303; Stanley Swanson, 530 Main Street South, Lindsborg, KS 67456, whose wife, Madelyn (Haasarud, ’43), died September 20 and was interred in the family plot at Mahtowa, MN. Harriet Stakke Noble, South Bend, IN whose husband, Robert, passed away in January 1999 after a lengthy struggle with bone cancer. (She writes: "You think you won’t, but you do survive and find you are so grateful for friends, church and all the other the good things still out there. I am blessed with two sons and their families.")

September 30th 2000. This is being written on Homecoming evening, after a much-needed nap following many delights reconnecting with students of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. It was so gratifying to hear their questions, and their laughter at their common recollections, and to feel the emotions that surfaced with reference to the Remember song For you belong to GA College, and Gustavus belongs to you. We’ll have to sing it when you come next May for our 60th reunion.

You would have been proud, as I was, at the dedication, with flair, of flags for each of the countries represented in the new International House/Swedish House replacements for Johnson Hall and the old Swedish House on Seventh Street, razed after the tornado. There was a fine, colorful cloth in the formal hand program. At the dedicatory words each person could attach this to the streamers of flags. The International students in native dress spoke "Peace" each in their native tongue, from their far-flung homes in the world.

The elegant Hillstrom Museum of Art in the new Jackson Campus Center was also dedicated. It features an exhibition of early 20th century American art. The Gusties defeated Concordia 39 to 22 on a bright green Hollingsworth Field under a smiling sun. Afterwards the new track and soccer field north of Lund Center was dedicated. Al Molde ’66, Athletic Director, presided, and Hall of Famers participated in the ceremony. There was a post-game "French Quarter" party in the new Johns Courtyard between Lund and the Campus Center.

How is that for a fine way to end September with a flourish?

No wonder we living legends needed a nap.

I have a sweatshirt used on morning walks which says

"The Gustavus Fund provides the margin of excellence that brings light and life to our college."

We’ll be illustrating that when we talk together on Phonorama on October 16, 17, 19 at Deli Express, and October 23, 24, 26 at Alliant Foodservice in Minneapolis. I’ve been trying to reach a number of you to help with the calling. You’ll be receiving directions. In addition to the usual page for news notes from you, there are two new ways to increase your gift.

Lutheran Brotherhood’s "Simply Giving" plan, which has been already offered to churches, allows you to make regular gifts each month directly from your checking and savings accounts without the hassle of writing and mailing checks. Lutheran Brotherhood matches gifts up to $100. To request an enrollment form please call the Gustavus Fund Office at (800) 726-6192.

AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans) has a matching gift program up to $100. You can buy an Associate Membership for $10 a year and for that small price they will match your gift to Gustavus. Also call the Gustavus Fund Office at (800) 726-6192 to get AAL enrollment application forms.

I love it when you call or send a note, or a surprise like Paul Dacklin’s (Warner Robins, GA) mammoth fresh pecans from Georgia. Or like Sammy’s (Lucille Samuelson Agard, Ames, IA) family travelogue Canada, New Mexico to California. Or Harriet Stakke Nobel’s delightful enclosures of Bea Olson Lindsten’s (McLean, VA) poetry for our South Hall mice.

REQUIEM TO EGBERT

Since the night we met
In my roomy closet
I owe you a might debt
For the love I treasure yet!

Ebgert, Ebgert, light of my life
In spite of any little strife
Still I'd gladly meet your wife
(If I had a butcher knife!)

Now we place you in the grave
With sobs and sighs we ail and rave:-
Thank you for the joys you gave
Now our last farewell we wave!

REQUIEM TO ALGERNON

Another friend has bit the dust
The brother of our Egbert
It seems he felt he simply must
Join Eggie in the black dirt.
Yes, Algernon has left our midst
To rest beneath this dorm
And certainly he will be missed
--this manly little form!
Life is sad for us these days,
And all our hearts are broke
'Coz our mouse in his coffin lays
With bitter tears we chokeā€¦
But, memories, they never die
And so they'll live forever
In our heart of hearts you'll lie
Algernon and Egbert

--by Bea Olson

Charlie Lusk (Borrego Springs, CA) feels that his year spent at Gustavus was the most influential year of his life. "The friends I made at GA are still some of my best friendsā€¦there was just something about coming up the hill each day and seeing Old Main standing PROUD still stays with me."

Earl Carlson’s 80th birthday was celebrated by his congregation and by his family. A second "retirement party" in May, then health problems for both him and wife, Gladys (Lundberg ’42). A new apartment: Woodland Acres Good Samaritan Center, Apartment #78, 300 East Buffalo Hill Lane, Brainerd, MN 56401. Phone: (218) 853-1276.

Dr. George Hall (Swedish Retirement Home, Evanston, IL) sent a nostalgic sketch of himself as a lad "Just Watching" his mother’s Monday morning task.

Lucille "Westy" Westerdahl Hope's e-mail (puttputt26@aol.com) comes from Bellevue, WA, where she lives next door to her daughter. She goes back to Green Valley, AZ, in the fall where she has many friends after spending twenty-five winters there.

Ray Erickson (Salem, OR) remembers Gustavus maintenance men. "During the 1920s there were two janitors or handymen Hans Amundsen and Gus Gustafson. As a collateral duty they guarded gates and other access points to restrain would-be invaders outside the fence during football games. However, Gus’s vigilance usually began to lessen after the first half-hour, and we could hear him muttering, 'Not more than a couple at a time,' as we would slip by his turned back. He obviously loved kids, and we were much saddened when he was crushed under the descending box of his dump truck when the hydraulics failed."

Ray wrote of plans for a 15-day tour of Beijing, Shanghai, the Great Wall, and other places of interest in China.

Lorraine Falk Whittier (Chula Vista, CA) spent July and August at Deer Lake in northern Minnesota.

Bessie Hobart Chenault (Abilene, TX) celebrated with her second husband, W.S. Chenault, their 15th wedding anniversary.

At the Gustavus Heritage Partners luncheon September 23 there were several persons in our class of ’41 listed as partners who have included the College as a beneficiary, a will, trust, insurance policy or annuity, or for establishing a designated endowment fund at Gustavus. Among them are Alice Baver, LeCenter, MN; Earl and Gladys (Lundberg ’42) Carlson, Brainerd, MN; Robert and Ruth Bostrom Esbjornson, St, Peter; Marian (Swanson) and Chester Johnson and family; Blanche (Isenberg) and Angelo Pergol, St. Cloud, MN; Ruth Erickson and Ed Johnson ’39 both deceased; Lucille Westerdahl Hope, Bellevue, WA.

Phonorama is just around the corner. I hope we can reach each one of you. If we can’t reach you, please call me with news notes and your plans for our reunion our 60th Reunion, May 25-26, 2001.

Question of the Week: Do you have a cafeteria meal book of coupons which the College archives can beg, buy or borrow for its collection? A reference call came in recently asking about this elusive article. Remember? Two bread heels for one cent.

For your calendar:

  • Christmas in Christ Chapel December 1, 2 & 3 Friday through Sunday
  • St. Lucia Day Thursday December 7
  • American Scandinavian Breakfast Thursday, December 14.

We had four Gustie girls under the G.I.V.E. (Gusties In Volunteer Endeavors) program of community service here last Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. They all live in a section in Norelius Hall. Thanks to these swift workers we had our outside windows washed, the raised beds in the garden cleaned up, the Rosemary potted, beds around the house weeded, and the orange snow fence installed just in time! It snowed on their blonde heads, scarves and earmuffs. We enjoyed using our new Gustie mugs with the Three Crowns for hot spiced cider before they left. Terrific workers, personable co-eds: Julia Gleeman, Bloomington; Kristina Skuster, Bloomington; Jennifer Naughton, Plymouth; and April Schaust, Delano.

J. J. Roever ’01, Gustavian Weekly columnist (senior from Frisco, TX), mused last week, "Gustavus is a remarkable community, and being a part of it for a time means being a part of it forever. Sure the place will change over time, but you will forever be a Gustie."

Shalom!

Marian Swanson Johnson

1941 Class Agent