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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-06-21 - 11:02 a.m.

The Reed Experience & How It Ended

by Joan Callaway

It became more and more difficult to say good night at the door of Kerr Hall. We dreamed of marriage and finally approached my mother with the question of whether she would continue to pay my tuition were I to marry. We had heard of an opening for a couple to manage the Reed Infirmary and were sure if we applied, we would have a good chance of being accepted. The Infirmary job came compete with a small apartment above the infirmary plus meals in the Commons and a small stipend. Everything seemed to be falling into place. My mother agreed to continue to pay my tuition and helped to play a January 25, 1951 wedding the home of a minister and a reception at a Vancouver, Washington, hotel. We made the usual trips to the doctors for blood tests and for me to be fitted for the only birth control other than abstinence that we knew about at the time – a diaphragm.

We drove across the bridge from Portland to Vancouver the morning of the wedding and had breakfast with Lila Field, my only attendant and Bill Sandman, the best man. I wore a navy blue suit and Glen wore his tweed suit – no new wedding garb for any of us. We had just finished finals the day before; wedding plans had been the least of our worries. All of our best friends from Reed, Glen’s mother, my grandmother, my Mom and my stepfather Jack were in attendance. After a brief reception complete with champagne, a nice lunch, and wedding cake, we left for a four-day honeymoon at a Seaside, Oregon, cottage complete with fireplace where the gloomy January weather did not keep us from having a great time. We returned to classes and moving into the upstairs of the Infirmary - and a flu epidemic.

Our introduction to the Infirmary job was endless scrubbing down of beds with Lysol, changing sheets, delivering meals to patients, dispensing medications, and other sundry nurse-like duties. It was not surprising when I came down with a case of the flu. It seemed everyone had had it. The Lysol smell was becoming harder and harder to take. The doctor gave me the same advice he was giving everyone else, but my symptoms just didn’t seem to go away. As it turned out, that new diaphragm had failed us! Thank heavens we had not indulged in premarital sex, because I must have gotten pregnant about two weeks after we were married. So the truth is out – that first pregnancy was not planned, but it didn’t take us long to be thrilled that we were going to have a baby, even though we had no idea how we were going to be able to manage financially. I finished out the school year, often having trouble keeping the somewhat greasy steam-table Commons food down, but nonetheless sharing the excitement of the impending birth with all of our friends.

Glen submitted a bid to the U. S. Forestry Service to eradicate the ribes (or currant shrub) from some acreage of white pine in Idaho. We were delighted it was accepted, as it meant a substantial income that would provide not only for our summer, but give us a bit of a cushion for the coming year…and baby. At the end of the term, we packed up the car and headed for Idaho with Dean St. Dennis and Glen’s 13 year old brother Dale, for a summer in beautiful Idaho, near Priest Lake, which meant camping out in the woods. It was beautiful, hot, and sweaty. And we didn’t see a single deer fly; as the joke goes, they were all married with children! The huge deer flies attacked visciously. I’d stay behind in camp and clean up the breakfast dishes, make lunches and take them up to the acreage where the men were working. As the summer went on, I became more and more uncomfortable with the heat and the deer flies, and besides needed to have a check-up, so headed back to Seattle, where I stayed with Mom and Jack for the remainder of the summer.

We went back to Portland in the fall, rented a house with an extra room for our friend Kai Erickson, who would help us with the rent by paying us for board and room. We began to furnish our first little home. College friends threw a baby shower, one of several that were given for this first child. We had everything we needed for the baby; the house was ready, and it was decided that I should go back to Seattle for my monthly pre-natal check-up and to await the delivery about a month away. Glen and I arrived in Seattle the evening of October 12th. In the middle of the night, I felt like I was coming down with “stomach flu;” I had severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. As the stomach cramps continued and seemed to be getting worse and worse, Jack finally had the presence of mind to time my cramps and, sure enough, they were quite rhythmic and getting closer and closer together. We called Dr. Gerard Ahnquist, my OB-GYN for this (and four subsequent deliveries), and made it to the hospital just in time to have a spinal and deliver a 5 pound 5 oz. baby girl, Valerie Joan.

Valerie was three weeks premature, but healthy and a very happy baby. She could not have been more loved or more pampered by all of her college “aunts and uncles.” I enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom; Glen continued college until the end of the semester when finances were just too tight for comfort. He was much too proud to accept any financial assistance from my folks for “his family.” He dropped out of school and we moved to Tacoma, where we lived with his mother, brother Dale and sister Betty, while Glen enrolled at the University of Washington and worked part-time.

Note: I've just started reading Kai Erickson's Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance. Not sure this is where he is going, but it makes sense to me that deviance such as we are seeing in terrorism (and even that of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal) supplies an important service by providing a contrast which gives those who take the moral high ground something to unite against. Something to consider, I guess.

(to be continued)

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