Class of '57
I have four memoirs from our classmates to share with you this time, John Singh, Patsy Truhn Schumacher, Gary Gustafson and Marilyn Rhyne Herr. This is so much fun! I love reading all the different memories that you have. When you put them all together, it makes four years of friendship, learning, and some fun to boot.
Before I add the letters, I have a few items of interest to tell you about. The Gustavus Wind Orchestra (fancy word for band) gave a concert at our church on Saturday night. It was their only Twin Cities Concert on this year’s tour so we had a good crowd from around the cities. Bob ’56 and Bette (Kocourek) Villesvik were there as was Jo Hector Broom. It was fun to see them and the concert was wonderful!. I think I can say that Clem liked most of it too.
Sunday night, we went to a kick-off party for the “Razzle-Dazzle Royal Affair—2007”. The date is October 27, 2007 at the Sheraton South (formerly Radisson). As I have said before, it is a really fun party and makes a lot of money for the endowment of Folke Bernadotte Library. Put it on your calendar and get a table together. Now on to our guest writers.
MY ODYSSEY AT GUSTAVUS
John Singh, Ph. D.
Arriving on campus at 2:00 a.m. on homecoming weekend in 1954, without a winter coat, 20 below (Marlys says—it must have seemed like that because it doesn’t go below 0 in October, even in Minnesota). I spent my first night sharing the bed of foreign student advisor, Mr. Beggs.
I was enrolled in five courses that had started several weeks earlier and feared failing. Philosophy was Greek to me. The German professor, whose enunciation was difficult, failed me. I talked with the academic dean. My grade was changed to C. French terrified me. Recognizing my lateness and progress, the teacher gave me an A-. English was another strike. Mr. Creel took me to the registrar and recommended I skip the elementary level for the advanced. Another A to my surprise.
When Thanksgiving came, friends asked where I was going for the weekend. They laughed when I said Stillwater. I didn’t get it. For Christmas Reuben Carlson ’56 invited me home to Wyoming. There were two flat tires on the way at three in the morning. A few days later he took me hunting on the Big Horn Mountain. Unable to struggle through knee-high snow, he gave me the keys to wait in the car. I was bored. Never driven before, I took my first lesson going back and forth not realizing that I was cementing the snow below. After several trips, the car came to the precipice slowly edging away. Brakes did not help. Then suddenly it stopped. The tire had wedged against a beer can buried in the snow. No more lesson for a year.
Money was my biggest problem even though I had a partial scholarship. I was limited to one meal a day, costing only 30 cents. A friend knew my plight and wrote to his pastor who sent me $100. Later, I was invited to speak at the evening service. The entire offering of $155.20 was given to me. The extra money didn’t last long. Only after working in a café cleaning toilets did things brightened. I was living high on the hog. I was now able to have Mrs. Young’s baked chicken once a week. My bologna meal continued to lace my plate daily.
Realizing my financial hardship, I got permission to take extra credits to finish school earlier. This and correspondence courses in the summer enabled me to gradate in 1-1/2 years. (I was admitted a sophomore.)
Toward the end of school, my wife of 24 years of age, who had been a special student at St. Peter High School was hospitalized. No money and no insurance. One night Dr. and Mrs. Edgar Carlson ’30 ’31 came to my door with tapioca pudding and informed me that a women’s organization had paid the bill. I almost dropped.
College was tough, but it propelled me to fight it through. I could not afford to fail even when professor Rod (God) Davis told me that I couldn’t do a history major. A few years later, I sent him a copy of my French Diplomacy book with indication that I had obtained a Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma. I often wondered what he had thought. I am grateful to Gustavus. It’s a great school even for foreign students. Thank you GA. If I had to do over, I would do it again.
MEMORIES OF GUSTAVUS
Patsy Truhn Schumacher
These are some of my Gustavus memories…Jo Austvold was my roommate…she was from Herman and I was from Warren…not very large cities. The first night we sat on the bottom bunk talking, getting acquainted and wondering what college life was going to be like…AND a little frightened. My very special memories were of being in the choir all four years…loved it, absolutely loved it. I soloed (also shared this privilege with a couple of others) and the director didn’t tell us before our performance who was going to do it. He would just point to you when the time came!!!! The song was in Swedish and people would ask what the words meant. At first I had just memorized the words and hadn’t given much thought to the English translation. It was Children of the Heavenly Father…now when we sing it in church I have to smile to myself. Spring break, our senior year Dorothy Anderson, our elementary education professor, asked Marlie Dahlquist and me if we would like to ride with her to Manitowoc, WI and have an interview to teach kindergarten there…we went and it was a great experience…of course the most special thing of all were all the good friends I made while I was there…lots of wonderful memories…see you all in May―Pat.
J. Gary Gustafson
Since graduation in ’57, I’ve had many occasions to re-visit the campus. The changes in the buildings alone are awesome. Those new additions have given the old college a new look. I visited right after the tornado and now today it is amazing. Everything looks so great. A good reason for returning in May.
I was born in an old house below the hill and remember visiting my grandparents years later. The V-12 Navy program (1944-45) had a fitness training obstacle course built on campus and it was fun to play on.
My mother graduated from Gustavus, taught school, played volleyball, and was coach/player for a girl’s football team (Heavies vs. Leans) which attracted national attention for the college in 1923. Following in her footsteps, my years at Gustavus were very similar. Teaching and coaching have also consumed my entire life.
Some GA high-lites would include:
- Worked on campus maintenance and field crew. Lots of activities on campus kept us busy.
- Freshman year Einer Satter ’55 and I slept in Myrum Fieldhouse until the rats chased us out.
- Received several pledges to join a fraternity.
- Travel trips to remember—Youngstown , Ohio—FB—bus ride—pre-game meal with a blue-haired lady. Emporia, Kansas—overloaded bus—four freshmen had to hitch-hike to the game. Rock Island, Ill.—Viking Olympic track meet. Kansas City—basketball fan fever.
- Escorting a beautiful young lady-classmate during homecoming ceremony and later repeating the action down the wedding aisle. (Donna Reinhardt)
- Attending several Gustie coaching clinics. Gustavus had at one time the most high school football coaches in Minnesota.
- Being elected to the Gustavus Adolphus Athletic Hall of Fame (1999).
- Jim “Moose” Malmquist ’53 perhaps summarized best the great pride, lessons, teamwork we received while attending Gustavus in his memories at the decommissioning of Hollingsworth Field on October 28, 2006.
Many more memories best not repeated!
1957 Guest Letter Writer
Marcy Rhyne Herr
Herman, (“the town that all the women left”) Minnesota, was a long way from anywhere from the vantage point of a child growing up and attending the Herman schools. The Herman school board hired Melville Skoog ’32, a Gustavus graduate, to be the superintendent when I was about 12 years old. He enticed another Gustavus graduate to teach all Herman’s English and public speaking classes, to direct declamation competitions, and direct junior and senior class plays. Four years of high school English with Alice Johnson Rydeen ’31 made me a disciple of the English department at Gustavus. Gerhard Alexis and J.W.R. Lindemann (my advisor) inspired me to take as many of their courses as I could fit into my schedule. I remember a Lindemann class discussion on Anna Christie about whether life as a prostitute would be easier than life as a scrub/charwoman. Having been a scrub woman, I, to Lindemann’s amusement, advocated for the prostitute.
Memorable also were the hours working for Ma Young in the cafeteria. When I was a sophomore or junior, she asked Elizabeth “Biz” Nelson ’58 and me to serve a special dinner in the Wheel Room. We also did the cleanup after everyone had left. We then rewarded ourselves with leftover cookies. Since Ma Young ran a very tight ship, she knew how many people had attended the dinner, how many cookies were served, and how many should have been left over. Consequently, Biz and I got a very stern lecture and probably would have gotten greater sanctions if Biz hadn’t been the niece of former Governor Luther Youngdahl.
We women students certainly faced discrimination in being required to be in the dorm at 10 p.m. on weeknights, 11 p.m. on weekends, and midnight for fraternity and sorority banquets. The men had no hours and could smoke as they wished. Of course that didn’t stop us, and I was duly “campused” the spring of our freshman year for smoking in the dorm, so I missed the spring banquets. Drinking was also prohibited even if we were “of age” (21). I faced the Ethics Committee, having been reported for standing on the coffee table in Johnson Hall while giving a speech after I had blown out the candles on my 21st birthday cake. I shall not divulge the name of those who enjoyed my first legally purchased bottle of booze that night—but you know who you are! If we figured out who ratted on us, I’ve forgotten her name—but you know who you are! I do, however, have a vivid picture of Dr. Carlson ’30 at the head of the Ethics Committee table leading the cross examination. He was very good, but obviously very fair, because I don’t remember what, if any, punishment we got.
I am looking forward to May 25-27, and hearing your stories about those bucolic four years at GAC.
See you then,
Marcy (Marilyn Rhyne Herr)
I have a ton of class news, but I think this letter will be long enough so I will try to send it next time. Maybe I will keep it and put it into a memory book. I don’t know.
Part of our reunion celebration is the Golden Anniversary Booklet published by the Alumni Office and it will be sent to all of us in April. A thumbnail sketch on each classmate will be included, but we need accurate information to produce the best book possible. For those who have not returned their reunion survey and golden anniversary survey, another one of each is enclosed along with a return envelope. Please complete the surveys as completely and quickly as possible so you can be included. We want to hear from you! If you have already returned your survey forms, thank you!
I finally called to make our reservation for a room today. The time is getting closer. See you soon.
Marlys Matson Nelson
1957 Co-class Agent