"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story." -Orson Welles

No, I do not want only happy endings. What I want is for the stories to be shared, to never have to stop because the story teller is no longer telling. I want stories to be somewhere for us to look back on, to smile or cry about, to remember - both our own memories and those of others around us.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Grandpa Varden, College and Medical School and beyond

This is from a conversation my cousin Genet had with our Grandpa Varden, summer of 2014.

There is quite a lot to it, so it will be in installments. This is the third part. You can start at the beginning here, and the story continues with part two here.

{You got back and did you always know you wanted to go to Bethel?}
It was just kind of routine.

{Did you know what you wanted to do yet?}
I kind of figured I would probably teach like my dad and my mother had. But after my freshman year at Bethel, Dr. Kreider (sp?) who was my chemistry teacher, asked me if I had ever thought of going into medicine. I aced his chemistry test and he dropped the hint that I should probably go to medical school. Up to that point I hadn't thought much about it. He's the one who encouraged me and that's probably when I changed my major. I stayed in natural sciences mainly and took the requirements to go to medical school.

{What did you do for fun when you were in college? What did you enjoy most about it?}
Oh, dating Lu.

{How did you meet her?}
Freshman year. Required Life of Christ course. There was a girl in the class that had on white makeup. She was trying to hide her deep tan, her farmer's tan. So she was quite obvious. Plus she had a dress that was kind of open here (use your imagination).
I think the first date we had we went to... a college Christian organization of some kind had a picnic. I had some other dates after that with some other girls, but after about the first semester why,

{This was your freshman year? So what made you choose her over the other girls? What did you like about her?}
That's a hard question. I don't know. It's easy comparing you to Mary Katherine, but I can't say why.

She was neat and trim and friendly. What else were you?

{How long did you date her before you figured out you wanted to marry her?}
I imagine it was probably our junior year.
After our freshman year it wasn't "will you go with me to this?" it was "What time shall I pick you up?"

{And you said you never proposed to her? Or did you?}
We had a banquet one night and I made a ring out of wax that had melted off the candle.
It was a college banquet, probably our junior year.
Well, I just kind of took for granted that we were getting married. Then when I got accepted to medical school we managed to decide pretty quickly that we would go there together, so we were getting married.

{When did you get married? Right after you graduated?}
We graduated one day and got married a couple days later and medical school started the week after that.

{Did you have a big wedding? Who was there?}
Denard was my best man, in spite of all the fights we had. And Fernan kind of screwed it up. He thought he had to take charge, and Lu finally put him in his place. Mom was... I think she lost her three boys the same summer. We all got married the same summer, and that was kind of tough on her.

I think of all the girls we married, she felt like Lu was... well, she was. I don't know how you say it. I got the cream of the crop. I think she realized that.

{So was it important for you that your family and your mom liked her?}
Denard and Lanoy thought she was great because she came over and cooked for us every once in a while. We were together often enough that she was like a sister to them by the time we got married.

{Did you guys have a honeymoon?}
Medical school started right away. Our honeymoon was we spent the night in Peabody on the way to Lawrence.

{Where did you live in Lawrence, and how many years were you there?}
At that time, the first year was in Lawrence. We had a house near the campus, an apartment. It was kind of an unpleasant situation. It was a second floor apartment. The lady that owned the house, her son lived on the first floor with his wife and she would stick her nose into our apartment and complain about how we were taking care of it.
After three or four months we moved out and got a different place in Lawrence.

When we moved to Kansas City, there was a house just a block from the medical center. A spinster woman lived there, and she lived int he back part. the kitchen was int he middle. The front part had a bedroom and kind of a living room. We fixed her meals; she ate with us. We bought all the food an d fixed the meals. That paid for our rent. Lu was working at the medical center and I was in school so it worked out very well

{How long was medical school? Where did you get hired after that?}
Well in medical school you have to take an internship as part of the residency program. I went to Wesley Hospital in Wichita. After one year, I stayed on with a couple of surgeons and worked for them for one year in anticipation of maybe taking a surgery residency. But after that year I decided to go into family practice, moved to McPherson.

{During school, where did the income come from?}
Lu's job paid for our living expenses. Tuition wasn't that much of a problem. It was $500 a quarter. I borrowed some money from my Uncle Albert who was very pleased to help me through medical school. We left medical school with less than a $5,000 debt.

{So you moved to McPherson and how long was it before you guys decided to have kids?}
Actually, when we knew that I would start earning a little money at the internship we decided we would start our family.

{How old were you when my dad was born?}
28. Older than a lot of people

{Did you have a specific number of kids you wanted? Or preference for boys or girls?}
I think three was kind of what we had in mind. Didn't care boys or girls.

{What were your thoughts on being a dad right when your first was born? How did you feel?}
It changed our life dramatically. We weren't footloose and fancy free anymore. Lu had most of the duties. In my internship I spent some nights at the hospital completely and she'd have to take care of Marcus entirely. But it felt pretty good being a dad.

{What are your favorite memories of your kids when they were young? And the worst memories?}
Worst part was getting up at night when they needed to be fed or changed.
The best part was taking them for a ride in their carriage. I have a picture of your dad (Marcus) turning around looking at me like "Why'd you stop? Let's go!"

{How would you describe your parenting style? What values did you want to instill?}
Mostly we wanted them to be Christian. Wanted them to be self-sufficient. We wanted them to be friends with everybody.

{Do you feel like your kids ended up the way you wanted to? Did you have problems with teenage rebellion?}
I can say that our kids never embarrassed us. Of course, you have problems. I mean, disagreements at times, but I think overall we're very proud of all our children. They've done very well. They make a good contribution with their lives. That's one thing we're very pleased with. They, well, you know for instance your dad is a friend to everybody, involved in church and so forth.Valerie involved in so many things, church work, Camp Mennoscah, and serving the needy sick people. I think we could probably say the same thing about our grandkids, too. Except for your tattoo!

{What was your favorite age of your kids? The most fun you had as a dad?}
Probably preschool age. I'd come home and they'd come running down the front sidewalk hollering "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" We'd go in and have supper, and I'd read to them for an hour or two
. Just a pretty happy time.

{How did you feel when Blair left for college? Empty nest?}
It was different. OF course, we had a foreign exchange student come that year. That made us appreciate our kids much more.

{Who was that?}
A kid from Sweden... He made us appreciate our own kids very much. He thought a good time was going to a bar with his buddies. We didn't have one in Moundridge, so he thought life was pretty dull. We paid for his meal at school. If Lu wasn't going to be home at noon he'd sneak home to eat and take the money to buy records.

{How did you feel when your kids started dating and getting married? Did you have guidelines? Did you feel differently about  Valerie than you did with the boys?}
Yeah. We didn't think anybody was good enough for Valerie. Not everybody, but there were quite a few picks that would be good enough for the boys. Valerie didn't have any dates in high school. She was a tall girl. She had another friend that was also a tall girl and they were pretty much all business. They were ahead of the boys in their class as far as their ideals and what they wanted to do in school. So we didn't have any trouble with her. She had friends in school. I know that after commencement every year at Moundridge High School we had the class over for as long as they wanted to stay. Most all of her class was there except for a couple of boys that went out on a beer binge, and you probably don't know him, but fellow that teaches forensics at Bethel (John McCabe-Juhnke) was in the same class as Valerie. In fact, they went kindergarten to college together. And one of those boys was half-drunk came and brought the food he was supposed to have brought and John ran him off.

Our kids never gave us any trouble.

Kind of wondered about John because he didn't finish college, but that's a good match. He's a terrific son-in-law.

As far as the boys were concerned, they didn't have a lot of date sin high school. Neither one fo them had anything serious.

{So was it hard to give your  kids away when they all got married?}
No. We were happy with their choices. Kind of afraid for Marcus, that Cynthia would beat him up.
I don't know how many times Marcus and Cynthia chased each other around that hallway at the house.

{Was it hard when my parents (Marcus and Cynthia) moved to Columbia?}
Yeah. It was. We thought their choice was a great choice, as far as that goes, good service, but going that far away... and Columbia wasn't the most safe haven in the world, so we were concerned about that.

{Are you thankful that all your kids live fairly close?}
That's nice.

{How old were you when you retired?}
72, I think.

{Did you thoroughly enjoy your career? Best and worst?}
Most of the time. There are times I would like to forget about. It was a very nice career. I think I am respected in the community. You go to the doctor's office, somebody is almost always there. I can't think of anybody that has ill will against me or that I have ill will against.

{What are you favorite parts about your career?}
Just seeing people get better. Being responsible for their improved health. Just the whole service, even to help somebody pass away comfortably, both physically and mentally.

{So were you ready to retire? Was it hard?}
No, I think I was ready.

{Do you miss working?}

{What have you been doing?}
Taking care of the other place took time. Involved in some church work. Nothing very stressful at all.

{Looking back on your whole life, what do you think were your favorite year?}
I think when the kids were home, from grade school through high school, and everybody was well. No physical problems of any kind, and making a contribution in both the community and the church.

{Do you have any regrets?}
My biggest regret is that I had a lady in labor, and we gave her a little pitocin to help her move along, and we ruptured her uterus. Worst day of my life. The baby was okay, and the mother ended up with I don't know how many blood transfusions. She's alright also, but it was the longest day of my life.

{If you could go back and change anything about your life, would you?}
I don't think so.

{What was the most difficult time of your life?}
I think when my father died. That period of time and then through the war.

{Can you remember when you were 21? That's how old I am. When you were 21, what was your perspective on life at that point and how has it changed?}
When I was 21, I was a freshman at Bethel. I think I've pretty well lived the life that I wanted. At 21 I hadn't chosen a profession. I thought possibly being a teacher, but I don't think I varied much from... I probably didn't think about it much at that time. I knew I woudl finish college, get married, and have a family. And teach.

{When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?}
I just probably thought I'd be a teacher, since my dad and mom both were. I don't think I had any earth-shaking aspirations of any kind.

{Are you glad you grew up in the era you grew up in? Would you want to be a 21-year-old now?}
No. I don't think ... I lived my life. There are some thing I wouldn't want to do again. Most things were pleasurable but I don't have any regrets. I don't need to do it over.

{Is there anything else you still want to do?}
A lot of the things you'd like to see happen but can't control. I get discouraged every time I read the darn newspaper. Like what's going on in Iraq, what's going on in the state of Kansas as far as our governor and education and taxes. Like how much money we're spending on our military and people are hungry and all the problems int he world. I kind of think maybe it's tie to get off, let somebody else solve the problems.

{What do you imagine heaven to be like? What do you think happens after death?}
There's a book out just recently that a doctor that was almost declared dead. Before he went through this experience he said he was a Christmas and Easter Christian. While he was in limbo he thought he experienced heaven. He doesn't describe it very well but...

I've often thought that our spirit is something like steam that connects with other spirits. You kind of wish you knew what it was like, but I don't believe in any bodily resurrection at all. Somehow our spirit persists, but not in any kind of a physical form. Also we'll be able to mingle with our spirits. In what way I'm not sure. Just an unknown thing that I'm not too concerned about.

{What is your proudest accomplishment in life?}
I guess my three kids.

{When you were grown up or even now, who was your biggest hero? Biggest influence?}
I think my father, just the example of... he spent his life in service, in education. He spent his life serving students as well as taking care of his family as well as he could. I often wondered what he felt like when he knew he was going to pass away, leaving a family with teenage kids, insufficient finances. He spend his life in a profession that didn't pay well. His example of service was probably the biggest influence in my life.

{Was he pretty positive when he got sick?}
Oh, yes. I never saw him shed a tear.

{Did he ever talk about his death?}
No. That's something I feel bad about. I don't think I spent enough time with him during that time.

{You and grandma have been married for 64 years. What is the most important thing in your marriage? Keys to that?}
I think first of all our ideals are similar. Both being Christians, living a life of service. Physically compatible, that's a big part of it.

{Have you ever had any rough patches? Was there ever a time when marriage was hard?}
We've had a few disagreements. Never had any spats that lasted. No, I don't think there was, I can't think of anything major that happened.

{What kind of advice would you give young people now in regards to choosing the right person and sustaining a good marriage?}
Identify that you're going to disagree sometimes, but it shouldn't be anything major. Settle all issues before you go to bed. Do things together. Have some similar hobbies you can share time with. And agree to disagree. Give each other some space. I think financially, you need to agree on what's important and necessary and what isn't.

{I want to know more about the banquet. You said you proposed with a wax candle ring.}
The candle was melting and I just took the wax and made her engagement ring.

{You didn't say anything? You just put it on her finger and that was it?}

{Well, what did she do?}
She wore it home!

{When you put it on her finger? Did she laugh?}
I don't remember. She didn't take it off.

Grandpa Varden, Military Service

This is from a conversation my cousin Genet had with our Grandpa Varden, summer of 2014.

There is quite a lot to it, so it will be in installments. This is the second part. You can start at the beginning here.

{But you didn't got to college for two years after you graduated? Because you were drafted?}
Well, I had two years in the service, and got back in time to start my freshman year.

{So you knew that you were going to be drafted as soon as you were done with high school?}
It was mandatory. You just knew that as soon as you graduated you were going to be in, unless you were 4-F.

I had a friend, one of my best friends in high school Robert Burkholder. His brother was killed in France in the war. And they had some kind of a policy that if a sibling was killed they were deferred for a year. So he was able to go right to college. But the rest of us int he class all the boys were drafted within that summer.

{So where did you go right away?}
Camp Barclay, TX
That was basic training. We called that the asshole of the United States. You walked in mud up to your ankles and then dust blew in your face. It was basic training and there were quite a few of us that were COs. We were in noncombatant service. We all were put in the medical corps. There were quite a few Seventh Day Adventists. There was one other Mennonite in the group that I got to be friends with. And there were a few other denominations in the group.

In the European tier, if you were Red Cross, both sides respected that you didn't shoot the medics.

But the Japanese didn't abide by that. The Red Cross was just a sign to shoot at. They decided all medics should take rifle training. Well, we noncombatants refused to take rifle training. So we spent six weeks doing KP and were kind of ostracized. When we were marching around camp they had their rifles, we didn't. So we were the blankety-blank COs and so forth.

So there were six weeks of that which were just a waste of time. Since I had taken typing in high school they sent me to clerk's school. So that was another four months I didn't have to go overseas. But when that was over then they... right at that time was when they invaded Okinawa. The casualties were so severe they had to ship replacements in.

{So how did you feel when you found out you had to go over there?}
Scared spitless.

{What were your responsibilities?}
Since we were noncombatants we were assigned to a first aid station. I was assigned to the 96th Division. On Okinawa there was the 7th Calvary Division and the 96th Division and another. There were 3 army divisions and 2 Marine divisions.

When we first got there our job was just to go pick up wounded and bring them back. You needed no training for that.

I kinda got immune to it. We would frequently wait until dusk. If the army advance had a retreat, they had wounded that they would leave behind. At dusk we would go out and pick up these wounded and bring them back. You were kind of concerned, if you didn't get back before it was dark you would be worried that your own soldiers would think that you were an enemy coming.

After a while I finally go to work in the aide station mostly. And that was safer.

{When you were over there, were you afraid for your life most of the time? Did you ever feel comfortable?}
Almost continually. The Okinawas had - it's kind of hard to describe - they had burial sites built into a hill. They had kind of a cement top on them and they had, the coffins (what amounted to kind of a coffin) were inside of these. And we'd often empty these out and use them for aide stations. They were fairly safe. If we didn't have any of those, then we dug a hole to sleep in. Actually, you were not only afraid for your -

At one time there were two Marine divisions to our right. Our two divisions were ahead of the Marines. The Navy shot flares at night to light up the area in front of the Marines and these shells landed in our area, and they killed a couple of soldiers int he company right beside us. They'd call in and try to convince them to stop sending those flares up, but friendly fire
You'd duck down in your foxhole pretty deep when you heard those shells coming in. So you'd worry about friendly fire and you'd worry about the enemy. But, I was fortunate int he fact that I wasn't there when they invaded Okinawa. We were replacements. The 96th Division had 100% casualties.

Most of those were before I joined them. The divisions that were there all had severe number of casualties.

{Were you there your entire two years or did you move around?}
We were replacements. The island was about half won when I ended up there. Of course, after that battle was over they just turned Okinawa into a staging area to invade Japan. After the battle was over they built airfields and got ready to invade.

I was in Okinawa when they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, which ended the war. The 96th Division would have been involved in invading Japan. I would imagine that not many people that invaded Japan, at least for the first wave or two or three, would have made it.

{After the war ended, was that when you got to go home?}
We spent a little time in Okinawa. That was one of the things I was very concerned about after we dropped the bomb and we knew the war was over. Would I get back in time to start college in the fall? Luckily I did get back in time for that.

Actually, the one thing that still kind of bothers me to this day was that I had a very good friend on Okinawa. He was a Quaker boy, about the same deal I was I k ind of felt maybe we should have gone to CPS camp, but because of public pressure he ended up in the service like I did, as a noncombatant. I got sick. a very bad case of tonsillitis, and they shipped me off to a hospital. It was just a matter of "You're sick, go pack your stuff and go to the hospital." I was never able to keep in touch, I never came back to that division. I ended up coming back and lost track of not only him but some of the other fellows. I wish I could have kept track of him.

{Did you have any communication with your family?}
We wrote letters. Got mail. I never did tell mom where I was. But one of my letters had the return address of 343 Regimental Division, and she happened to read in the paper that that was on Okinawa. I never did tell her what was going on.

Grandpa Varden, Early Years

This is from a conversation my cousin Genet had with our Grandpa Varden, summer of 2014.

There is quite a lot to it, so it will be in installments. This is part one.

{What is your very first memory that you have? From your childhood or however far back you can remember?}

Well, I lived in spring Hill, KS. My dad taught there for a while. I was probably 3 or 4 years old. I can remember the neighbors had a boat.

{What was your everyday life like as a kid?}

Well, actually... well, we probably just spent most of the day playing. As a young kid we had some chores. We didn't live in the country at all. We lived in North Newton, KS for a while. My dad was a teacher at Bethel College. We had chores of going in to the garden and picking potato bugs off the plants. Occasional chores required were we would churn milk for butter, we would
We didn't have much in the way of yard duties because we didn't have a very big yard.

And we played with the rest of the Campus Kids. We used to have to walk two miles to the grade school from North Newton to Cooper Grade School. I went to Cooper Grade School from kindergarten to fourth grade. Then we moved to Lawrence. What I remember as a child was just playing with the neighbor kids.

{What were your relationships like with your brothers? Who were you closest to?}

Well, Denard was a year and a half older than I and we spent most of our time together. Lanoy was quite a bit younger, and Fernan was older so Denard and I spent most time together. And we were also bitter rivals. He was a year and a half older and stronger than I was and he won most of our fights. I can remember he put a headlock on me and that was the end of the battle.

We slept together in the same bed.

{So you didn't spend a lot of time with Fernan and Lanoy?}

Fernan had his own friends and was, well, he was there at meal time but ... mainly it was Denard and I that battled together and played together. Like I said, Lanoy was younger.

{How would you describe your relationship with your parents and their parenting style? Were you close with your parents? Did you get along well? How did they raise you?}

Well, we were close to our parents. Dad was crippled. I know that he would play catch with us by the hour and encouraged us in all our sports activities. And he'd read to us by the hour. I remember sitting in his lap most evenings when he was home.

Mother was, well, her primary job was housewife and mother, and she was very concerned about our health. I know that she spent a lot of her time reading, was up on health activities. She knew when the vitamins came out, shemade certain we took our vitamins. She was very concerned about our health. For instance, she used milk in the oatmeal instead of water because it was healthier. She thought ice cream cones were a waste of - the ice cream was fine but the cone was a waste of effort. It wasn't worth eating.

{What was the best advice you ever got from your parents? Did they ever give you good advice?}
They were very concerned that we didn't spend money foolishly, for sure. Because we never had much money. We never went hungry as far as that's concerned, but dad's income from Bethel College was, well, it limited our activities quite severely. Like I said, we never went hungry we never lacked for food or clothing but we were very restricted on what we spent our money on.

{What were your parents expectations for you boys?}
They were very concerned about our going to school. They expected us all to graduate from college. I think we all did except for Denard, he never was very interested in studying. We all had to take piano lessons growing up, and Denard always skipped out on his. He would come home and take his spanking and the next week he'd skip again. They expected us to do well in school.

{Do you feel like you inherited any specific traits from your parents?}
I guess frugality to some extent. And they were also very concerned about our spiritual upbringing, you never miss going to Sunday School and Junior Endeavor. I mean, that was never a thought in our mind that you wouldn't participate. And the kids we grew up with, our friends, were pretty like-minded. A lot of them were faculty members kids at Bethel College and our ideals were the same.

{What was your first job?}
It was picking potatoes. I think I was probably fourth grade, third or fourth grade. Denard was a year and a half older and I got sick in the middle of the field. He had to take me home and he was very t'd off that we were making big money and I got sick and had to be taken home. I actually drank too much water and didn't replace the salt and got faint. But we were in grade school.

They didn't insist we had a job, but the opportunity came about somehow, and we wanted to make some money.

We got five cents for a bushel of potatoes.

{Did you get to keep the money?}
Yeah, we got to keep it.

{What other jobs did you have before your high school graduation? Favorite?}
I worked at a cannery when I was a sophomore in high school, during the summer. They brought in, people from all over the place brought in produce from their gardens, corn, beans, whatever. And well, they had women that worked, prepared it, put it in cans, and another fellow and I were in charge of taking these cans and putting them in a steamer, sterilizing them. That was one summer's job.

Another summer I worked at a rock quarry. That job consisted of, they would take rock out of a big hole, put it in a pick up truck and dump it in a rail car. The rail car was  to the crushing tower. I worked in the crushing tower and what that amounted to was the rocks were just dumped on the floor. I had a large pike and I just shoved the into the crusher. Looking back, that was a pretty dangerous job and they didn't have any safety rails or anything

We also shoveled coal at that same place. They stored coal.

Oh, one summer we, a couple summers we spent on Uncle Albert's farm in Oklahoma, his dairy farm. Milking cows and doing regular farm chores, taking int he harvest and planting wheat for the next fall. That was a couple of summers.

Another job I had was at a cement plant. We made cement blocks. They had a form that you set up, then you filled it with sand and cement and you compressed it. After you compressed it you took the form off around the block and put the block where it could dry. That was a summer's job. That was probably almost more than I could handle. I was, I think, a freshman in high school that summer. The cement sacks were 94 pounds, they were kind of heavy.

I worked at an ice plant when I was in college, during the summer, the Newton ice plant made 300 lb blocks of ice and we took those blocks of ice and stored them in a warehouse. Part of that job was also icing railroad cars that carried fruit. They would bring those cars up to the ice plant and they would shove these big blocks of ice out on the ends of the railroad cards and we'd chip the ice into smaller pieces and fill the bunker on both ends of the railroad cars to keep them cool shipping fruit.

That was part of the summer and part of the summer was working where people kept their frozen food. They had lockers that were about 2 feet by 2 feet by 1 1/2 feet where they would store meat. People would bring in their meat and we'd put it in the freezers.

And one summer I worked for... right after we moved back to Kansas, before I got drafted I worked for a couple farmers in the Moundridge area for wheat harvest. They had a house trailer beside the house, a couple of bachelors lived in that. They had a couple of high school girls cooking for them. So we got our meals. Just did general harvest work, I drove truck mostly.

{How did harvest work back then?}
Well, they had combines that you pulled with tractors. Very few had self-propelled combines at that time. I don't remember self-propelled. So you had a person on the tractor and a person on the combine. Then you had to have somebody hauling wheat of course. Most of the combines, probably the biggest was a 12-foot cut. But it wasn't baling it anymore. You weren't making shocks of wheat like they had probably 10 years before.

{Where did you take it in the truck?}
They didn't have the coop. They just had private elevators. That one was in Elyria that we were hauling to.

Did you work with Denard a lot? Did he do a lot of the same stuff?
We worked at the stone quarry together. He drove a truck and I was working up int he crushing mill. He had other jobs, we didn't work together very often.

{Did you enjoy school?}
It was a lot of fun. Yes, it was enjoyable.

{Best and worst memories of high school?}
Well, the best memories were our basketball team when I was a junior and senior. Senior year we went undefeated until we got into the tournament they drafted our center. He was, at that time, the war was on, and Fred was our center, probably our best player. But he had failed one year. He should have been a senior but was a junior. At that time they had a rule that if you were a senior and turned 18 they'd let you graduate. If you weren't a senior and turned 18 they'd draft you. A week before we went to the state tournament they drafted him. Otherwise I think we were a shoo-in to win the state tournament. We won the first two games of the state tournament.

I played football also. I never enjoyed football as much as basketball. Int he spring they had baseball instead of track. Which, we never had a very good baseball team at all.

As far as the worst time in school... I thin probably kindergarten. The kindergarten teacher we had... I didn't like her. I can still remember her. Mrs. Bean.

During the war, there was, if you were a Mennonite and a CO, uh, you were pretty severely ostracized, depending on the situation. For instance, you probably didn't go uptown Saturday nights. You'd be afraid you might get beat up or something. At school, it wasn't much of a problem, but I think the teachers saw to it that it wasn't much of a problem. It was kind of underground. If you were a Mennonite and they knew you had pacifist tendencies, that could be kind of uncomfortable.

{Did you ever have problems with other kids because of that?}
Well, you'd get called a blankety-blank CO, or yellow-belly or whatever. And, most of your friends weren't involved in that. Mostly when you were in the younger grades, the older kids
Some of my best friends, the Klassen (spelling?) brothers, well their dad was an art instructor at Bluffton College and they all went in CPS camps. And, of course, we spent a lot of time with them.

You kind of picked your friends according to the ones that were sympathetic to your ideals.

{How old were you when your dad died? How did that affect you and your family?}
16. That was pretty devastating. He'd been ill for about two years and just gradually got worse. His last six months he was pretty much bedridden. Just before he died he had sixty lumps on his body that were quite tender from the cancer he had. It was devastating in the fact that we live din the boys' dorm and we had to find housing right away. Mom, she went through her junior year in college and then got married. So the next year she spent a year finishing her degree. And she taught from then on, until she was in her seventies. But, Fernan was deferred from the draft for a short period of time because he was contributing to the family income. When mom started teaching he got drafted. Denard had polio and was 4-F so he never got drafted.

After I graduated from high school, I knew I was going to be drafted right away. We moved from Bluffton back to Newton and they deferred me until I transferred my records. Then I got drafted about a month after we moved to Newton.

It was, well, dad died with a $5,000 insurance. That was what mom had to live on. At that time, of course it was worth more than it is not, but it's still not very much. So she had to go to work.

{Did you feel like you had to grow up faster because of that? Or have ot start contributing more aft erhe died?}
Well, I was a junior in high school and we finished out the year at Bluffton and Mom finished that year and got her degree. She taught in a little town in Hammer(?), Ohio. And Denard and I stayed in Bluffton. I made arrangements for us to stay in the boys dorm at Bluffton College. Denard was a freshman at Bluffton and we roomed together. I had the job of {residence hall} was a three-story dorm. At that time, during the war, there was only boys on the first floor. I got the job of janitor. In lieu of that, they paid for my room and board. I got to eat at the dining hall.

Lanoy, of course he was younger and he went with mom. When we moved back to Newton we were back together again.

{Did you move to Newton because your mom had a job there?}
She didn't have a job. But she just knew she could probably pick up a teaching job because they were pretty scarce during the war. Of course, she was older and during peace time she would have had a difficult time finding a job because of her age. She taught in small towns around. She taught at Lehigh and I don't remember what some of the other towns were. She'd come home weekends. She bought a little house in Newton and that's where Denard and I lived. And Lanoy. We went to college there.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

65 Years

Varden and Lu Loganbill, June 5, 2015
(I'm not yet sure how exactly to format these stories. I suppose it will depend some on how the conversation goes. So this one will be basically a transcript of what I recorded, with other information added as I remember. This blog, and its format, will take shape over time. Right now I'm more concerned with starting to get the stories down than with the aesthetics.)

My grandparents, Varden and Lu Loganbill celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on May 31, 2015. We recently had dinner to celebrate, and a few stories of their wedding and early days of their marriage started.

Grandpa started with this, "One of the things I remember about our wedding was Fernan decided he was going to take over and started giving instructions. That made Lu so mad."

"Sounds like Fernan," quipped Blair.

"He was telling everybody when they could walk in and oh, it made me so mad!" -Grandma

Grandpa remembered that "Uncle Albert was there and that was good."

"I had to go to school. Summer school. We got married and summer school started the next week. Once the summer school session was over, then I went to California with mom to Denard's wedding."

{At Bethel, you were in summer school?}

"No, at KU Medical School. They decided to separate us into four groups. Three groups were in school every quarter and one fourth of the students had off. And ours started right away."

"We lived in Lawrence." -Grandma

"In Lawrence we had an apartment, an upstairs apartment. It was halfway up the hill." -Grandpa

"Did you drive to work?" Grandpa asked Grandma.

"No, I walked."

{Where did you work, Grandma?}

"Singer sewing machine company."

{What did you do there?}

"Some book work and also sales."

Grandpa added that "They took advantage of students' wives. The pay was not very good. There were a lot of people who wanted jobs."

I continued the conversation after supper with a few questions of my own...

{Did you have any attendants?}

"My sister Kathleen, and his brother Denard. Well, see, we had to hurry. We couldn't really plan a large wedding."

{How long was it between when you got engaged and when you got married?}

"We never got engaged," Grandpa said.

{So how long between when you decided to get married and?}

"Actually, I think about our sophomore year in college... It wasn't 'Will you go with me to this or that?' it was 'What time shall I pick you up?'" -Grandpa

"I mean, we just... somewhere along we decided I'd apply to medical school, and it turned out I started right away, didn't have the summer off, so... she made her own wedding dress. We graduated one day and got married the next day and six days later medical school started. At that time they had the first year in Lawrence. Now they have all four years in Kansas City." -Grandpa

"So after a year we had to move again." -Grandma

{Did you work when you lived in Kansas City, Grandma?}

"Yes. I worked at the medical center, in the x-ray department, typing results. Then I also did the iodine uptakes. It was just a lab. I could just be trained to do that one lab."

"We got out of medical school with about $500 debt," said Grandpa.

"And we lived just a block west of the front door of the medical school so we didn't need to drive, " Grandma added.

"We lived with a spinster lady. She had her apartment in the back and we had ours. We shared a kitchen. Lu did all the cooking and we paid for all the groceries. She did have her television in our living room which was right next to my study, which was kind of bothersome. But it was a good arrangement."

"The only thing we had to drive to was church. And we went to a Brethern Church in Kansas City, Kansas. The first time my folks came to see us, we said 'We're going to church.' Right at the end of the block was a Methodist Church. We buzzed right by there and buzzed around and went all the way to Kansas City, Kansas. My dad said he counted seven churches that we passed up just to go to that little church!" -Grandma

"That was one of the high points for us. We had a small choir and a small church. I think seven of us were Mennonite - "

"Yes" - Grandma

We had a Mennonite fellowship in Kansas City. Four of us were General Conference, a couple were old Mennonite and one was MB. We kept that relationship until we started dying off. At the time they didn't have a Mennonite Church in Kansas City." - Grandpa

"We still corresponded with a couple. Well, at Christmastime anyway, " Grandma smiled.

"One couple that was from Church of the Brethern. After he graduated, he was a missionary to Africa for a couple of years, then came back and settled in Idaho. I used to talk to him all the time." -Grandpa

{and that is where the story ends... for now.}