Class of '42
March 1999

March 1999

Dear Classmates,

While peeling a grapefruit during my midafternoon break today, I got to thinking about what the outcome of this missive might be when I describe something of what Peg and I did not long ago.

First of all, I don’t want you to confuse us with Ole and Lena, two of Minnesota’s favorite people, and you might be tempted to do that.

This worrisome situation has to do with a trip we took and from which we just returned.

And so the unfolding: we spotted an ad placed by Icelandair offering round trip, hotel, local tour and some meals to Reykjavik and we went for it. And we’re glad we did. So, even though many of our friends went South, we headed North. By the way, the price was a good dealĀ¾ $400 for each of us.

Iceland is Europe. That’s the way they think of it. It is the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world. We learned that on a visit to their Alting, a handsome government building constructed back in the early 18th century. It fairly glistens today despite its age.

But what about the weather? Cloudy and just above freezing so nothing we couldn’t handle, nothing to stay inside for.

It was fun and we highly recommend it. I’d like to return to Reykjavik in the summer to explore it further. Just imagine, all the homes and buildings are heated from a single power plant supplied by a Geothermal System, from hot springs underground.

Some news from campus:

Spring Semester started February 8 after another busy January Term. Once again, many students took advantage of J-Term opportunities with 127 on internships, 308 on study abroad programs, and 86 students studying at other domestic institutions. Progress is being made on construction of the new Campus Center due to be open in the fall of 1999. After a week and a half of classroom preparation covering the history and culture of South Africa, the Gustavus Choir participated in a concert tour of the country January 14-February 2. The Gustavus Band traveled to South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Iowa for their concert tour during touring week, January 30-February 6. Athletic teams are in full swing with all teams being competitive in MIAC play. Over Christmas break many teams traveled for non-conference games including men’s basketball winning a tournament in California, men’s hockey playing in Italy, and the swim teams competing in Bermuda. Presently, the men’s basketball team is in the second round of NCAA Division III playoffs. On Friday, March 12 they will take on Franklin College in Franklin, IN.

Gustavus is once again in the news, making some national rankings. Gustavus ranked 12th among the top 22 leading small colleges in the nation providing active Peace Corps volunteers. Gustavus is ranked 15th in the listing of top 20 bachelor’s institutions that sent the most students overseas for international study during the 1996-97 academic year. Gustavus is ranked 18th of national liberal arts colleges in the number of National Merits with 17 students. Mark Anderson ’66, Dean of Admission, reports that applications for admission for the fall of 1999 are running 20 percent ahead of last year. The Admission Office instituted several new campus visit days in the summer and fall to account for the fact that few students could visit last spring. Alumni are reminded of the Alumni Scholarship Program ($10,000 over four years for children and grandchildren of alumni) available to qualified applicants. Call the Admission Office at 1-800-GUSTAVU(S) for applications.

I’m taking the liberty of enclosing the letter we received from Gen Erickson Borene just before Christmas. She has had some very tough luck and she needs your prayers and some notes of encouragement. Her address is included in her letter. Here’s her letter.

I’m sure you have all heard about my traumatic year. On December 31, 1997, I got up and looked at my foot. It was beet red, with dried blood on the right big toe. I went to my foot doctor immediately. He said, "I’m putting you in the hospital." I said, "Oh no, not on New Year’s Eve! I’m going to a party tonight and I’m supposed to bring the champagne." "Not tonight," he said. "But I have a hair appointment in 45 minutes." Not anymore," he said. He asked for the number of the beauty shop and had his receptionist phone and cancel my appointment.

My life changed drastically overnight! The next morning I woke up to find my right big toe had turned black. Gangrene had set in and after many tests, my right leg was amputated above the knee. After the operation, I came to Guardian Ygnacio Nursing Home. When Pete ’49 and Enid (Erickson) were here in March, we talked about an assisted living facility in the area. It was a brand new, beautiful place and (my son and wife) Forrest, and Diane moved me in. I was there for seven days. The visiting nurse came to see me on Easter Sunday and said I needed to go back to the nursing home to get regular treatment for a sore on my left foot. They moved me back to Guardian Ygnacio. For weeks I could put no weight on the left leg. They moved me in and out of bed in a canvas lift. Imagine playing Peter Pan at my age! After months of treatment, the decision was made to amputate my left leg below the knee. All of this is a result of my diabetes. Now I’m taken care of from head to toe and am completely dependent. If I drop a hair clip I have to call for someone to pick it up. For someone who was completely independent, it’s not an easy adjustment.

The road is never smooth. The doctor put me in the hospital for three days in November because I had a slight stroke. I was very lucky, because the only effect is a weakness in my left side.

There haven’t been many good things to report this year.

I hope this year has been a good one for all of you. I’m still at Guardian Ygnacio, 1449 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94598. Love, Gen

Now let me bring you up-to-date on our class participation in the Gustavus Fund. So far 43 of our class have made a contribution to the 1999 fund and that’s about half of our present total of 82.

And, of course, Gustavus needs our gifts now more than ever. Our college came out of the tragic tornado pretty well, but some millions of dollars were not covered by insurance. In dollars, our class is at $12,806, but I’m sure this will go up as the weeks go by. Your gift is important. And thanks for all that have given and will be giving.

It’s not too early to include plans for the Alumni Weekend coming in May. The college is a marvelous host and it will be delightful to see all of you.

C. Eddie Johnson

1942 Class Agent