Archive for the ‘“My Father’s House”’ Tag

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BIG SISTER   8 comments

You’ve seen my big brother and his wife as they were in their college yearbooks. Now, more richness for “My Father’s House,” I have my sister’s 1943 Connecticut College yearbook info. And this is a good day to have received it, because this is her birthday. (You do the math). Still a good looking woman.

Thanks to Andrew Lopez of the Charles E. Shain Library at Connecticut College for this selection from the 1943 Koine.

REMEMBERING HELEN DOYLE WHO WOULD BECOME MY BROTHER’S WIFE — 1940   8 comments

I am thrilled every time I get concrete data to enrich the writing of “My Father’s House.” Here’s more, starting with the graduation photo of Helen Doyle.

Helen graduated from Upsala college in 1940, as did my brother. If Harvey was a busy man on campus, Helen’s record certainly equaled his. Among other things, she was Campus Queen in her junior year, and she was also active in a number of organizations. So many that I’m taking the lazy way out and posting a copy taken from the yearbook. It’s not as legible as I would like, but then, the point is just to show how long the list was.

Notice that her plan was to go on the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School. As best I can find from reading about it, the goal was to provide a dignified and profitable occupation for women who were discouraged at the time from going on to higher education. Some doctors even warned that too much education would shrink the uterus. It also led to the kind of jobs where women wore white gloves at work.

In later years it went through a number of changes, finally closing, I believe, in 2011. (Upsala closed its doors in 1995)

Thanks go to Lisa Huntsha, Archivist/Librarian, Swenson Swedish immigration Research Center, Augustana College, Rock Island, Il

Remembering my big brother – 1940   8 comments

Working on “My Father’s House” feels like writing another Ph.D. dissertation with all the research that goes into it daily. When I started, I thought it would be easy. After all, I’m a member of the family, so I should have the facts at hand.

The truth is, I came along eleven years after my brother Harvey and eight years after my sister Thelma, so I guess I can excuse myself for being unaware of lots to things.

By 1940, the year my brother graduated from Upsala, you’d think I’d have established some firm memories. The truth is, I’m living proof that memory is a fragile process of constant creation and revision. So, like a good Ph.D. candidate, I search out the facts wherever I can find them. What I’m posting here is an exciting discovery that came in yesterday from Lisa Huntsha (see citation below)

I guess there’s no good reason why any of my blog readers should find this interesting, but it does give a taste of the 1940s, just before life for people like my brother was shaken by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

And I would love to imagine that somewhere my big brother is watching and pleased with what I’m doing.

So here’s what they said about him in the yearbook, followed by an article in the school paper.

UPSALA COLLEGE, EAST ORANGE, NEW JERSEY

YEARBOOK 1940

***

C. HARVEY GUSTAFSON

187 Stafford Avenue, Forestville, Conn.

BACHELOR OF ARTS

Major: English                                                     Minor: German

Theta Epsilon

 

ACTIVITIES

Student Council 2, 3, 4, Treasurer 3, Vice-President 4; Class President 1, 3; Gazelle l; Upsalite l, 2, Christian Brotherhood 1.2; Footlight Club 1, 2, 3, 4, President 4; Symposium 3, 4, President 4; English Literary Society 3, 4, Secretary 4; Alpha Psi Omega3. 4; Blue Key 2, 3, 4; Glee Club I. 2; Gold U 3; President of Theta Epsilon 3, Zeus 4; Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.

Many of us will remember Harvey as the collegian who always twirled his keys on a chain – somehow we were fascinated by his never once slipping or letting the keys fall. When we consider all the offices he held. although we can’t help admiring his capability and energy, we wonder how much dignity that hair cut lent to his offices. His record leads us to believe that he’ll make good in the world, and what we know of his personality confirms such an opinion. Goodluck. Harvey, in everything!

AND FROM THE UPSALA GAZETTE, MAY 16, 1940

Harvey “Gus” Gustafson is one of the most active men on the campus. He needs no introductory description; everyone knows him and he knows everyone else. For three years he was president of his class and the seat he now holds on the council has been his since his freshman year. He is Zeus of the Theta Epsilon fraternity, president of the Footlight Club, a member of Alpha Psi Omega, English Lit., Symposium, and many other student organizations. His activities speak for themselves; he is really a Big Gun.

With thanks to Lisa Huntsha, Archivist/Librarian

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center 

639 38th Street | Augustana College | Rock Island, IL

BUYING HAPPINESS   8 comments

I’ve been absent for a long time from my blog — and you should see what a mess my study is — all because I’m totally focused on “My Father’s House.” But I love this article on six ways to buy happiness with your money and just wanted to share it. It’s long, so maybe you’ll want just to read the headings. It would still be worth it.

 

 

 

Posted October 5, 2016 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

1914 AND MY FATHER JUST FINISHED COLLEGE   6 comments

I can hardly wait to get back to “My Father’s House.” I have ‘til 1986 to go.

Since my accident, the process is a little different. Sitting at my computer eventually becomes too painful for my back, so I have to choose one of two ways to relieve it. I can lie down on my love seat with my feet elevated. That works very well, but it’s hard to stay awake. Or I can walk – these days outside in the lovely weather we’ve been having, or indoors on the treadmill. I suspect that’s the healthier method. Either way, it takes time away from writing.

So, why tell you this? It’s my excuse for being so remiss at caring for my blog.

Today, though, there’s something quick I want to tell you. Sometimes when I’m on my back I stay awake enough to read something. Right now it’s “The Compassionate Instinct: The Scientific Roots of Human Goodness” by Dacher Keltner, Jason Marsh, and Jeremy Adam Smith. It’s a collection of articles from the “Greater Good” magazine – the kind of thing I need to read to stay alive in this age of anger, cruelty, and violence.

I’m reading it on my Kindle which creates a bit of a problem, because I still haven’t learned how to cite a quote. But I think it’s OK here to include one short one. In pointing out the other way to understand human beings, not as competitive fighters or fearful victims, but as cooperators as well, they describe the other option as “…not to fight or flee, but to approach and soothe.” Then they go on to provide supportive scientific evidence.

I wish my colleague and friend, Barbara McEwen, were still with us to see this development. I learned from her many years ago that survival depends just as much on cooperation as on winning the battle. A physiological psychologist, her major interest was in oxytocin, a major player in the more positive side of our personalities. Don’t worry, that’s as far as I’m going with this little lecture. Just a chance to remember her.

This plays into the observation of “mirror neurons” which lead us to experience other’s emotions. Last night I took note of my doing just that while watching the end of “Wheel of Fortune.” The winner had solved a tough final puzzle with minimal cues and ended up with a big win, a huge smile, and a happy family hugging him on stage. And I noticed myself. I was feeling and looking as happy as a clam.

That’s the kind of thing we’re capable of. Let’s not forget it in the midst of all the negativity, and the assumption that the best thing to do to protect ourselves is to kill the other guy. I hope there are occasions for each of us when someone else’s joy gives us a happy jolt.

By the way, and totally off the subject. I was reminded again recently in conversation with a friend, of two important rules of therapy: (1) avoid triangles; (2) Use no more words than necessary.

I don’t think I have a triangle in this posting, but maybe I’ve used more words than necessary. I don’t want to spend a lot of time editing, though. While I am still sitting in comfort, I want to get my father through the entry of the United States into WWI.

WISHING GOOD THINGS AT THIS HOLIDAY TIME   12 comments

In past years I’ve managed to do something relatively elaborate to wish my friends a happy holiday. This year not so much, but my joy in your friendship is none-the-less nurturing, exciting and powerful.

As I think you know, my big event of the year was turning my lovely little Acura RSX into a flattened pile of metal and stuff that looked in the end like an aluminum can crushed under foot in preparation for the recycling bin. That was on April 15, when I was on my way home looking forward to two unscheduled days to dig into some of my ongoing projects.

Most of those projects are still active in my head, but I’m way behind in carrying them out. I did get to follow through on plans to take part in a forum on forgiveness at the Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church on April 28. With the help of my son who got my computer to me at Auburn Manor where I was rehabbing, I was able to create handouts illustrating my new approach to presenting forgiveness issues, emphasizing that justice and mercy are two sides of the same coin. Auburn manor made it easy for me to work within the recovery schedule, and some very generous folks from the church managed to get me there and back to present from a wheelchair. Quite dramatic, really.

One of my projects now is to write about my crash, what I’ve learned from it, and the impact it’s had on my life. I have started working on it, discovering that I have to go back to check records to remind me where I was when. Memory, never a simple file folder in the brain, is more vague than I thought it would be. But you will probably be exposed to it eventually.

Work also proceeds on “My Father’s House.” Right now it’s mostly doing research about Bristol, Connecticut and life and times around 1910. Totally stalled, however, is the creation of questions for groups to use in discussing “Figs and Pomegranates and Special Cheeses.” I’m hopeful they will eventually encourage more adoption of “Figs … . “ Then there’s my blog, and my facebook page, so badly ignored as they fall to the bottom of the priorities list.

I’ve been out of the three-month sentence to the torso brace since July 17. Whew! What a relief. But regaining my energy is still an ongoing process, along with getting accustomed to my shorter stature after losing two inches to my L1 compression fracture. And what a shock when I realized how it had changed my body structure! Yes, I worked hard at keeping good posture, but my clothes needed a lot of adjusting. The local tailor was wonderful at working around the brace to alter clothes to fit for our July 28 departure on a planned three-week cruise to the Shetland Islands, Iceland, and Norway.

The flight on the way over did hurt. I walked the aisles a lot, but three weeks of rest, walking, and fun worked wonders. The trip home was very comfortable. I still need to lie on my back occasionally when pain starts to build up – especially after working at my computer, and walking is amazingly helpful. But my chiropractor/nutritionist tells me things will keep on getting better. Certainly I have no basis for complaining when I think of what might have happened if my Acura, its seat belts, and air bags hadn’t taken such good, protective care of me.

I loved all the places we visited on the cruise. I intended to share a few photos on my blog, but I haven’t made it past the point of beginning to learn how to post movies. Just beginning to learn how – still haven’t done it.

As for photos, I haven’t yet downloaded the few I took on our restful and fun four-night Thanksgiving stay at Cove Point in Beavers Falls, outside Duluth. Because then, of course, came the preparation for Christmas. I am no longer responsible for “creating” the celebration, but, given my propensity to purchase gifts through the year while traveling, it does fall to me to wrap them all and get them to their destinations.

All these words just to explain why I haven’t been writing on my blog and facebook! And I thought I was going to write just a brief paragraph.

Finally,to the point. Two points, actually. (1) Rejoice! The winter solstice arrives in a few hours and we will begin to have more daylight. (2) Rejoice! Things may be pretty awful, but we always have this annual time to at least imagine what love and peace will look like when we decide to practice them. Oh, and (3) Thank you for enriching my life with the creative things you do in the blogosphere.

BILL BRYSON, 1927, AND “MY FATHER’S HOUSE.”   18 comments

Working on “My Father’s House” has been a life changing eye-opener for me. As his youngest child, I had no real sense of the time when my father arrived in America in 1910 to the quiet little village of Forestville, Connecticut. My big sister and brother experienced much more of the earlier years. And of the amazing changes that occurred during his lifetime.

My sister, for example, remembers people traveling by horse and wagon, and isn’t sure just when trolley’s from Forestville to Bristol were replaced by buses. She also remembers as a little girl shouting to planes overhead, “Hey, Lucky. Give me a ride.”

My brother remembered the days when church services at Bethesda Lutheran Church were conducted in Swedish. In fact, he spoke Swedish with no apparent effort. I, on the other hand, begged my father to teach me Swedish. He didn’t, citing the prejudice he had experienced when he first arrived. I suspect it was really so he and my mother could talk behind my back while I was present.

I have come to realize how painful it must have been for my parents when all three of their offspring married outside the church. Some things make real empathetic sense when one works at getting inside the life of another.

And oh yes, I really miss my brother, partly because I miss him, and partly he isn’t here to answer the questions my sister is too young to answer.

So now to Bill Bryson’s “One Summer: 1927.” I’m not really going to write a review. 2164 people have already done that on amazon.com. I will say it’s a great read and I strongly recommend it. But I want to talk about the reason why I read it – to understand the times my parents lived through. And even some of the times I lived through with them, which has me reading David Halberstam’s “The Fifties” at the same time.

I loved Bryson’s book. His writing style is delightful. What got to me is realizing the amazing changes that took place in America and, indeed, the world, almost without people knowing it. Oh yes, people were excited about specific events. I must say, poor Lindbergh had my sympathetic understanding of the misery his Scandinavian shyness created for him as he became such a lauded hero. Some of the stories of how he – and his mother – handled it are really funny. I don’t think you have to be a Scandinavian to appreciate it.

But the thing that got me is how many of our current problems are rooted in the events of those days. Adding to that Halberstam’s events of the 50s – when I thought I was a grownup – just highlights how much things are changing right now right before our eyes, or maybe secretly behind our backs.

Aside from learning more about my parents’ lives, I find myself hoping to live another 30 years (yeah! Not likely!) to understand what’s going on now.

Now I’ll transport myself back to 1910 to write a few more paragraphs of “My Father’s House.”

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