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
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
C. HARVEY GUSTAFSON
187 Stafford Avenue, Forestville, Conn.
BACHELOR OF ARTS
Major: English Minor: German
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
Sorry. This trip is dragging out, but the report will soon be over. Not that I was happy for the trip to end. I am really enjoying this opportunity to relive it.
In the meantime, I have excuses for being slow to get back to you. Last weekend I spent taking a course on the use of hypnosis in therapy. I learned a lot by making a lot of mistakes. The best way to learn. I came away inspired to advertise my practice, because I do want to see clients. I think I have something good to offer. But I still won’t affiliate with a managed care group, nor will I do electronic billing. So, people who come to me have to be willing to submit their own statements for insurance reimbursement. Or sometimes we can work out a fee arrangement more attractive to clients.
BUT THEN I got back to working on the fictionalized biography of my father. What fun it is to make discoveries about things that affected his life, like the drafting of his best man who was subsequently killed in action in WW1. First of all, I managed to track him down based on clues from my father’s graduation information from Upsala college. Then I found details of where he lived in Connecticut. It turns out he would probably have registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, a day before my parent’s wedding. Good — and very sad –stuff for fleshing out the story.
This morning I’ve been googling information about the platform and actions of the Democratic and Republican parties to tie my father’s preference for the Republicans to the experiences he had in Sweden and in America. By the way, he wouldn’t have been drafted, because he wasn’t naturalized until 1918.
There’s more. And I look forward to its going into the outline for now and then being written into the story.
So, why the big “BUT THEN” above? To tell the truth, I’m feeling the pressure of time. I’m no longer in my forties, so I can’t just hang out talking about what I want to do. I need to do it. And I want — and plan — to continue traveling. So, must there be a fork in my road? Must I choose the one less traveled? or the busier one? Or can there be lots of stops along the road I’m on? Stay tuned if you wonder along with me.
And now to Beijing and the Great Wall of China.
There are many sites where one can see, enjoy, and climb the Great Wall. Our stop was at Juyongguan. (No, I can’t spell that from memory.). And guess what! We were there in a snowstorm. Do you remember back to when I was practically on the equator in Singapore? Temperature-wise we traveled a long way. Still, the snow was a surprise. Couple the snow with my acrophobia and you won’t be surprised to know that I didn’t climb very far. I did go up this flight of stairs, and even a smidge higher.
From there I managed to get this photo of the view from the wall.
Anything else was beyond me.
So I hung around below, satisfying myself with a photo of where I didn’t climb.
In fact, I wasn’t alone taking refuge in one of the shops for warmth. Those who did climb higher had a bit of a struggle getting down. The steps are, of course, old, narrow, and uneven, and as the snow accumulated it turned them into a downward slope instead of steps. But all in our group survived to move on to the next stop, which was a jade showroom beneath the restaurant where we’d be having lunch.
We were given a really interesting lecture on the nature and variants of jade, and after lunch we got to roam the showroom. They did have a section of relatively affordable stuff for tourists. I bought a necklace. (Sorry, no photo). Most everything else was extremely costly — and beautiful — as you can see in this photo.
Then it was on to lunch above the showroom. The header is a section of the photo of drapes in the window there, just to give a sense of the decor. Our special treat was Peking Duck, preceded by lots of appetizers. I’ve included a photo of the table and the carousel in the middle to demonstrate the Chinese style of service.
As I understand it, all food is served fresh from its preparation, so items are brought out as they are ready. I may have said this before. If so, please excuse me. Anyway, we were told not to take the food off the carousel and pass it. Rather, we were to use the serving utensils — chopsticks and spoons — not one for every dish, but to be shared.
As for the food, I really enjoyed it.
The big attraction was Peking Duck. I have to confess, I found it to be no big deal, perhaps because we had already had so much good food. It’s something every tourist should see, I guess, and I did get a photo of the chef carving the duck into very thin slices to be rolled into a very thin round of bread.
The day had been very full already, but there was still one more stop to go. In the area there are 13 tombs from the Ming Dynasty. This is one of them.
This day we didn’t head back to the ship, staying overnight instead at the Sheraton Hotel. I didn’t get photos of it, though I wish I had. It was magnificent. The bathroom was extremely luxurious, though lacking somewhat in privacy. On entering the room, and placing our key card in the slot to turn the lights on, the first thing we noticed was a huge section with glass walls. Not exactly very private. We did, however, discover that there was a button to push that lowered the blinds on the outside walls. Built into a corner, it had two entrance doors. Inside there was a glass-walled section for the toilet, another for the shower, and a tub in between the two sections, along with the vanity table. Why all this fuss about the bathroom? Oh my, it was the talk of the elevator on the way down to breakfast in the morning.
There was also a magnificent swimming pool, monitored by a couple of very attractive women at a very stylish desk. We didn’t get to use it, though, because a bathing cap was required. Yes, they did have them on sale, but we decided to forego it.
And so ended our first day in Beijing. I’ll try to get back soon with the next installment.
Remember, you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.