Class of '44
February 1999

Dear Classmates of ' 44 and ' 47,

This may be a first―a joint class letter written to 1944 Gustie alums by class agent Joanne (Mortensen) Peterson, and by guest writer, C. Harold Peterson, to the Gustie alums of 1947. Sorry, we're a little late getting this out, but as the expectant mother said in the tenth month of her pregnancy, "Better late than never."

We're writing from the sunny climes of the gulf side of southwest Florida where we've spent the last six weeks in a retirement community on Pine Island, near Ft. Myers. It's like old home week. My brother and sister-in-law, Carl and Mim (Peterson’39) Manfred are in the same complex, as are also my lifelong buddy and '47 classmate, Paul Gruber and his lovely wife, Audrae. Five miles down the road in St. James City, Louis '46, and Ardis (Swanson ’49) Almen, have a condo. And five minutes from here, as the crow flies, but 50 minutes by highway, Paul's brother, Arnie '38 and his wife, Vivian (Henjum ’40) Gruber are spending the winter on Sanibel Island.

Manfreds had an auto accident in early January, so they rode down to Florida (1750 miles) with us. We didn't get into any fights en route, but Carl said later he "seethed a lot." Fittingly, perhaps, we watched the NFC Viking-Falcons fiasco in an Atlanta suburb. Sob!

Almost a year has passed since the March '98 tornado that devastated so much of the Gustavus campus and the city of St. Peter. Now, eleven months later, after many subsequent trips to St. Peter, we retain two principal impressions. First, the extent of damages inflicted on trees and structures throughout the area is almost indescribable. The home where I grew up, just below Rundstrom Hall, was one of hundreds destroyed by winds of 200 m.p.h. My dad and grandfather built that house in 1915. Second, the incredible job Gustavus and the community has done in restoring so much of the grandeur of Gustavus and one of Minnesota's stately, lovely small cities is truly amazing and heartwarming. Our most recent visit to the campus was in December to attend the Christmas in Christ Chapel concert. It gets better every year.

Joanne and I recently arranged to have monthly gifts made to the Gustavus Fund, charged to our VISA card. This is a relatively painless way to support Gustavus and we even earn Frequent Flyer miles. We recommend it highly. Now it is Joanne's turn―but first, since the median age of the recipients of this letter is the mid-seventies, and in your honor, we will share here a few "You Know You Are Getting Old When" quips, to wit:

1. The little old lady/man you help across the street is your wife/husband.2. Your mirror is full of wrinkles.3. You can't get your rocking chair going.4. Your knees buckle, but your belt won't.5. Your back goes out more than you do.

6. You decide to procrastinate, but never get around to it.

7. You sink your teeth into a juicy steak and they stay there.

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Hello fellow Gusties of ’44 and ’47:

Since Pete and I started Gustavus together in 1941 we feel it appropriate to write a joint class letter. Our Gustie ties go wide and deep. Sometimes I'm a bit jealous of those classes before us because they had a camaraderie that continues to this day. Carl and Mim have a group of Gustie friends from ’38 and ’39 who have met regularly ever since they graduated. Our fragmented classes lost some of that.

Today, a reunion questionnaire arrived. I hope you have all responded. This year, 1999, is our 55th anniversary of graduation!! As you know, all members of the 50-Year-Club are guests of the college. We'd like a good representation. We may even have a picture in the next Quarterly.

I'm happy to report that the class of 1944 has increased participation both in numbers and dollars over last year―but I hope we can do even better. The needs are still great, for scholarships, endowments, building funds, etc. You will see wondrous changes on campus if you come back for commencement weekend. "Y'all come back now, ya hear." (See what six weeks in the South does to you.)

Sadly, we report the passing of several classmates of our era: Ross Bloomquist ’45, Rev. Bertil Hult ’47, Marcella Moline Rauker ’44 (Tony), Ruth Clauson Knautz ’47 (Phil). Others of us have health problems. We hope that many―from both classes will return in May. You'll see more gray hair, more girth, and slower steps, but wonderful spirit.

And DO consider the monthly VISA contribution idea. It really is painless. Deadline for the Gustavus Fund is May 31st.

I'll close this letter from sunny Florida by sharing this "Child's View of Retirement in a Mobile Home Park." It tickled us.

Joanne (Mortensen) & C. Harold Peterson

1944 & 1947 Class Agents

A Child’s View of Retirement in a Mobile Home Park

After a holiday break, the teacher asked her small pupils how they spent their holidays. One little boy’s reply went like this: "We always spend our holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida. Now they live in tin huts. They ride big three-wheeled tricycles. They go to a big building they call a wrecked hall, but if it was wrecked, it’s fixed now.

They play games there and do exercises, but they don’t do them very well. There is a swimming pool and if they go into it, they just stand there in the water with their hats on. I guess they don’t remember how to swim.

My Grandma used to bake cookies and stuff, but I guess she forgot how. Nobody cooks there. They all go somewhere to eat something they call an "early bird."

When you come into their park, there is a dollhouse with a man sitting in it. He watches all day so they can’t get out without him seeing them. They wear badges with their names on them. I guess they don’t know who they are.

My Grandma said that Grandpa worked all his life and earned his retardment. I wish they would move back home, but I guess the man in the dollhouse won’t let them out.