HTML Version

~ Chris Alan Foreman ~

Read or download this narrative in its published format as a PDF file.
View the Front cover of the published book.
View the Copyright page of the published book.

This HTML version of The Dash between the Dates is a dynamic rendition of the published book and is continually updated and edited as new pictures, documents, and memories are discovered. As of January 1, 2023 this document contains: 30 chapters; 318,142 words; 2474 images (JPG & GIF); 583 videos (MP4); 87 songs/sounds (MP3); 23 documents (PDF); 56 internal text links (HTML); and 124 internal navigation links. The text is self-contained. There are no external links to the World Wide Web (HTTP://) - - except for the link to my journals below.

This HTML version of The Dash between the Dates ends on December 31, 2019. However, my saga continues in HTML Journal form beginning on January 1, 2020:

read by author

This book is dedicated to my quartet of grandchildren, my target audience of four: Lorenzo, Gia, Zélie, and Zofia, all of whom may live into the twenty-second century and inhabit a world unimaginable to me. My blessing abides upon each of you.

Your Gwampa Chris
December 24, 2019
Suddenly Seventy!

~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Teach us, Lord, to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
(from Psalm 90:12)




# words

# hyperlinks

Meditation -





Introduction -





Chapter 1 - Rooted

before 1949




Chapter 2 - Grounded

to 1954

Whiting IN



Chapter 3 - Nurtured

to 1960

Whiting IN



Chapter 4 - Anchored

to 1963

Whiting IN



Chapter 5 - Fledged

to 1967

Whiting IN



Chapter 6 - Enamored

to 1970




Chapter 7 - Dissipated

to 1971

Muncie IN



Chapter 8 - Revived

to 1972




Chapter 9 - Launched

to 1973




Chapter 10 - Enraptured

to 1974




Chapter 11 - Newly-wed





Chapter 12 - Relocated

to 1976

Longview WA



Chapter 13 - Commissioned

to 1977

Army Posts



Chapter 14 - Deployed

to 1980

Ft. Leonard Wood MO



Chapter 15 - Higher-educated

to 1983

Eugene OR



Chapter 16 - Exiled





Chapter 17 - Redeployed

to 1988

Ft. McCoy WI



Chapter 18 - Derailed

to 1989

Ft. Baker CA



Chapter 19 - Restored

to 1992

Ft. Baker CA



Chapter 20 - Nestled

to 1999

Mill Valley CA



Chapter 21 - Redirected

to 2003

Mill Valley CA



Chapter 22 - Ordained

to 2006

Mill Valley CA



Chapter 23 - Actualized

to 2010

San Lorenzo CA



Chapter 24 - Devastated





Chapter 25 - Bereaved

to 2011

Hayward CA



Chapter 26 - Reconstructed

to 2012

Hayward CA



Chapter 27 - Re-wed


San Mateo CA



Chapter 28 - Retired

to 2015

San Mateo CA



Chapter 29 - Sustained

to 2017

San Mateo CA



Chapter 30 - Resolved

unto 2020

San Mateo CA



Conclusion - -







TOTAL words =   318,142

    links = 3,020







































































~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?
(I Corinthians 15:54-55)

On the last day of July, 2014, I drove across the San Mateo Bridge into Hayward. As I passed through the front gate of Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, a sculpture of Archangel Michael greeted me. With sword-hand outstretched, his concrete foot was crushing the snakehead of Satan. I drove down narrow roadways, turned past acres of headstones, parked in a far-corner lot, then walked to gravesite SLR3-45.

On the fourth anniversary of her fatal car crash, I once again considered two names chiseled into a marble slab. The name on the left belongs to my late wife: Kim Hyun Deok Foreman, 1951--2010. Her likeness, imbedded on a ceramic oval, smiles heavenward. The name on the right side is mine, Chris Alan Foreman, 1949--, the dash reminding me that this double-decker plot awaits its second occupant. At some yet-to-be-determined date, when my mortal remains are laid to rest under this patch of turf, a second oval will be cemented into place and a second death date will be duly etched.

Some may think me morose to contemplate my own demise. Not so. From antiquity, the church has instructed her children, "to keep death daily before your eyes." To the extent I practice this, I become free to live realistically and love authentically. Contemplation of death serves as a corrective to my vanity: "this body will become food for worms." It also provides a curative to my covetousness: "I can take nothing with me."

As a follower of Christ, I recognize death not as a terminus but a transitus--a portal between this life and life-to-come, a journey from this world of shadows into the luminous presence of God. By fixing my gaze on death and looking beyond the grave, I anticipate the true goal of life-union with God.

By studying my gravestone, I also recognize life as a brief interlude between a birth date and a death date, with all of life's passion and sorrow, delight and drama, compacted into a single horizontal stroke-the dash between the dates.

Beloved reader, what are you doing with your dash?

~The Dash between the Dates ~

The days of our years are threescore and ten;
it is soon cut off and we fly away.
(from Psalm 90:10)

The Dash Between the Dates is a chronological narrative of my life--set forth month-by-month, year-after-year, as events transpired. Across a span of seventy years, I present hundreds of episodes, incidents, and snapshots; musing upon life and wondering what it means in light of present knowledge.

My story is written in my own voice as viewed through my own eyes. I accept the role as biographer of my life but reject being its author. God alone is the author and finisher of all things. As the pages of my life unfolded before my eyes, I had little control over what occurred in the next minute, let alone the next day. At one moment in 2010, joy plummeted into grief at one spin of a steering wheel. Certainly, I am not the author of my own biography. If so, I would have written the script differently.

Likewise, I accept my role as central protagonist, but I reject being the hero of my saga. I see myself as the person in the poem, "Footprints in the Sand". At times I complain that Christ has abandoned me along my arduous journey, later to discover that He had carried me in His arms when my own strength had failed. Only in retrospect, can I rightly interpret the single set of tracks. In that sense, this narrative also functions as an apologia, justifying God's ways with men.

My chronicle is also polished remembrance and truth re-imagined. As a memoirist, I recount objective events through the distorted lens of subjective memory. Some parts of my story are magnified, others minimized, and still others slanted or omitted altogether. In one place, a single day fills an entire page while in another, a few paragraphs sketch an entire year. Such is the nature of memoir.

I offer a pre-emptive apology to any who read about themselves on these pages and feel slighted or misrepresented. Throughout the writing process, I strove to balance honesty and transparency with tact and kindness. I write as my own harshest critic.

Join me as I unpack thirty chapters of my life and bear witness to the record of Chris Alan Foreman-a son, brother, husband, friend, father, and grandfather--all by the grace of Almighty God.

~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 1

Before December 1949
Europe and America

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit
the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them
and the exact places where they should live.
(Acts 17:26)

Cosmic Origins

Every human soul enters a world in flux. Ancestors drift behind and descendants stream ahead. Based on information provided by the Population Reference Bureau, I have calculated my birth event to place about ninety-six billionth out of the one-hundred-eight billion souls who have ever inhabited planet earth. That reckoning places eighty-nine percent of humanity prior to me and eleven percent subsequent to me. With the number of newborns arriving at a rate of four per second, I may move down to the eighty-eighth percentile before my own soul is un-moored and I myself drift into history.

Can it be true that God has determined the times set for Chris Alan Foreman and the exact places where he should live? Did God Himself set 1949 as his birth year and place him in the state of Ohio as the fifth child of John and Jenny Foreman? I believe the answer is yes. Along with the psalmist, I affirm: "My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

I believe an all-knowing and all-powerful God could certainly decree my placement in space-time. I further believe that an all-loving Father would situate my soul in a time and place where my free will would be most likely to seek Him and to find Him. The means by which our sovereign Lord might accomplish this mind-boggling task far exceed my ability to comprehend.

How much time has elapsed from the act of creation to the present moment? How far back do my human roots reach? Archbishop James Ussher served as the primate of Ireland between 1625 and 1656. He developed a chronology of world history formulated from a literal reading of Hebrew scripture. His calculation produced a creation date of October 22, 4004 B.C. Of course, this date has near-zero acceptance today, even among the religious community. However, some Christian creationists continue to propose Genesis dates of eight thousand to one hundred thousand years ago.

In contrast, most enlightenment scientists proposed a universe both infinite and eternal, reflecting the view of Greek philosophers. Only in the last century have cosmologists overturned this ancient steady-state model in favor of an expanding cosmos with an absolute start point. The current consensus among scientists is that the universe burst into existence 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang. Before that instant, there was nothing-no matter, no energy, no space, no time. In fact, there was no before.

As human being number ninety-six billion, I am rooted in multiple ways. The atomic particles that compose my body trace back to the moment of creation. Indeed, I am stardust. The origin of my biology may go back to Adam if one is religiously minded or to primordial ooze if one is not. The Population Reference Bureau sets the arrival of modern Homo Sapiens at 50,000 B.C. or two thousand six hundred generations ago. All but the most recent of my ancestors are inscrutable to me; no faces, no names, no stories.

I do have a narrow window into my distant past. Based on a sample of spittle, assessed my genome to be 99.1% European and 71.3% eastern European. I should have saved my spit. I could have guessed that outcome. The same source tells me my DNA displays 266 Neanderthal variants. I could have guessed my troglodyte component as well.


I have observational knowledge of only four generations: that is, five siblings, two parents (with aunts and uncles), two grandfathers, one grandmother, and one great grandmother. Peering back into the mid-nineteenth century, my roots vanish in the chaotic mist of Eastern Europe. Shifting boundaries, mass displacements, two world wars, and an Atlantic crossing have conspired to obscure my DNA trail. All four of my grandparents were born in what is today called Poland, a nation that for one-hundred years had been divided between Germany, Austria, and Russia. My father's side was ethnically German while my mother's side was ethnically Polish.

Once my four grandparents arrived in the New World, they shed the ways of the Old, embracing a new language and culture. Over the decades, their ethnic names and Slavic spellings Americanized in the crucible of a great melting pot.

As a second-generation patriotic American, I never held stock in my human pedigree. I assumed my father's attitude of rugged individualism, "The president puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like everybody else." In my youth, I took little interest in my eastern-European roots. Being a Polack was a source of humor, not of esteem. (Question: How can you identify the bride at a Polish wedding? Answer: She's the one with the braided armpits). My sense of identity and value derived not from ancestry or ethnicity but from family and faith.

Paternal Grandparents

My father's parents were Joseph Formanski and Frances Novak. He was born in Zelen, Austria, in 1881 and she in Kosten, Germany, in 1887. My German-speaking grandparents married in Recklinghausen, Germany, and emigrated via Bremen to Ellis Island on January 10, 1910. The ship manifest shows two adults and two children. Steve and Victoria were German born, while Frank and my father John were born in America. I have vivid memories of Grandpa Foreman who died in 1972, but none of Grandma Foreman who passed away twenty years earlier.

The story of their marriage has a tragic element and has passed down as follows: Frances had no intention to marry, wishing to become a Catholic nun. Her older sister had married Joseph but died in giving birth to their first child. As her dying wish, she made Frances promise to wed Joseph. Frances kept her vow and the couple married. The union between Francis and Joseph was fruitful but joyless. We don't know what became of Joseph's first child (my father's half-brother) but he did not emigrate to America.

Joseph never attended church remarking that as a child he had spent some years in a Catholic orphanage. He said he was angered by the clergy's hypocrisy and lack of love. He claimed many of the orphans were bastard children of the priests and nuns. Throughout his life, my grandfather shunned the Christian God, saying his god was nature.

Joseph served a few years in the Austrian army. We have a portrait of him in cloak, plume, and spiked helmet. He disliked his time in uniform and part of his motive for emigrating to America was to avoid being a casualty in a future German war he was sure would come. After leaving military service, Joe Formanski became a coal miner in Silesia and took up that trade once he settled in Ohio. He once said that the big difference between European and American mines was that in Germany, a miner had to dig coal on his belly, but in America, a man could stand upright. Even as a child, I saw the metaphorical significance of that statement.

Maternal Grandparents

My mother's parentage is more complicated. Maryana Koba was born in Koba, Poland, in 1899. She emigrated to America in 1907 along with her parents, Vincent (born in 1862) and Rose (born in 1868). Mary spent a short time in an orphanage while her father spent jail time for bootlegging. At age sixteen, she married Frank Cienczyk, and soon after bore my mother, Genevieve. But even before my mother was born, her father died. On February 29, 1916, my grandmother re-married to Joseph Dydek who was born in Poland nineteen years earlier. Four more children were born to Mary, but the two girls died early. I have fond memories of my two uncles, Stutz and Joe. My mother says she never looked upon herself as a step daughter or step sister. She was just one of the Dydek clan.

Memories of my Grandma Dydek are fleeting. She died of cancer in 1954, which devastated my mother since they were close friends and only seventeen years apart. My Grandpa Dydek lived into his eighties. I have a 1975 photo of this crusty old man holding my new-born son. Although I retain memories of three grandparents, I was never close to any of them.


My father was born on September 19, 1914, in Bellaire, Ohio. His birth took place one month into the Great European War. He was the youngest of four children. After John was born, his mother had surgery on the veins in her legs and lived as a semi-invalid for the rest of her years. From that point on, separate beds served as her method of birth control. John was raised in a cold and tense atmosphere. His father loved children and stayed on the porch after returning from the mines to play with his offspring. Frances kept a spotless house and her kids learned to stay outside. John was devoted to both of his parents, but felt somewhat guilty about destroying his mother's health through his birth. Although not church going, John did acquire the rudiments of Christian faith in public school. He spoke of learning the twenty-third Psalm and related how he had whispered it to himself once as he walked through spooky Indian mounds.

The earliest documents show his surname to be Formanski. The manner by which his name morphed into Foreman is uncertain. The best guess is as follows: The marriage between my grandparents was difficult. Frances sought to leave Joseph and return to Germany with her four children. We have a photograph of Steve, Victoria, Frank, and John posing in new clothes. We also have a passport photo of John. In 1919, Frances returned to Recklinghausen, but her home was not as she had left it ten years earlier. The Great War had devastated her city. Reluctantly, she returned to her husband in Ohio. We speculate the name Formanski was transformed into Foreman when Frances applied for American passports.

We have an early newspaper clipping of Johnny Formanski sitting at the feet of Jenny Dydek while posing for a fourth-grade portrait. They attended school side by side and knew each other through most of their school years. John did not do well in academics, but excelled in sports. He played footballl and might have garnered a track scholarship to Ohio State University, but by 1933 times were tough and money was tight.

This is a letter John wrote on July 4, 1933. In it my dad addresses his parents, his three siblings, and his girlfriend. The words paint a better picture of this eighteen-year-old man than I could compose.

Hello, everybody. How is everything out there? I hope you're feeling fine. That is just how I feel. We left Chicago Saturday night because everything looks bad. Louis worked for the World's Fair and has $160.00 worth of checks but can't cash any of them. Tony is working and she don't get paid regular either so we decided to keep on going. We stopped at Wilma's place but she wasn't home then we took a look through Lincoln Park and went down to the station. We caught a train there about 1:00 a.m. and here we are in Cheyenne, Wyoming. How is that for time?

Well, we expect to stay here till tomorrow, then keep on going. We expect to be in Los Angeles in about three or four days, that is if we don't get a job on a ranch before we get there. We met a couple of fellows that said you get $40.00 a month and board so if we can hit, we'll stay for a while.

Well, mother, here I am away in the West and eating regular, feeling good. Well, just now I am sitting with a couple, talking with dirty hands and face, but we'll soon find a place to clean up and rustle up some food. I don't think I'll be home as soon as I thought, but you don't have to worry about that. If you sent that letter to me in Chicago, Louis will send it to Los Angeles and it will be waiting there for me.

Well, Dad, here I am way out in the wooly west. Never had any trouble at all and when we hit Los Angeles we're going to stay for a while and try to find a job. They say it ain't so hard out there if you really want to work.

Well, Frank, are you still working in the glass house? I hope you found a better job so when I come back, I might get a lend of the car you're going to buy. How is Vic and Andy getting along? Still working every day? Well, tell them I said hello. Is Steve a Daddy yet? Tell him I'll try to bring home a nickel if I can. Tell Steve and Mary I said hello and hope them lots of luck. You better tell Jenny I said hello or she might get mad at me. Well, so long till I get a chance to write. Your loving son, John.

John never found his dream job in California. He once told me he "peed in the Pacific" then slowly worked his way back to Ohio to work as a day laborer. He eventually found a position in the Ohio coal mines and married Jenny in 1935.


My mother Genevieve Maria was born on December 30, 1915 in McMechen, West Virginia, and was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church on January 8, 1916. She was the daughter of Mary Koba and Jack Cienczyk, a father who never saw her face. The story goes that Jack emerged from a hot coal mine, drank a few cold beers, passed out, and never woke up. This one-quarter of my grand-parentage is untraceable to me.

As a seventeen-year-old widow with a newborn daughter, Mary quickly wed Joseph Dydek on February 29, 1916. Although never formally adopted, Genevieve assumed her step father's surname. Jenny-as she was known¬-grew up in this immigrant Polish family. She once recounted how she was squatting in an outhouse as a child while reading a Polish language newspaper. That astounded her in distant retrospect, because in her adult years she could read no Polish at all.

By all accounts, this was a loving close-knit family. My mother's Grandma Koby along with aunts and uncles were a joyful part of her early life. Jenny was a big sister to Stanley who was born in 1917 and Joseph, born in 1923. Helen (1919 - 1944) and Josephine (1921-1922) survive in a few photographs. A boy named Johnny began to hang around the Dydek house. He enjoyed Jenny's warm Polish home more than the Teutonic coldness of his own.

My sisters tell the story of one romantic date when Johnny left Jenny's house after dark. His walk across the pasture was in pitch blackness and my dad tripped over a cow. It was a good thing my father was a star sprinter, because the cow chased him until he managed to leap over a fence. My mom laughed and stored that scene in memory, recalling it when her soul needed cheering.

While John excelled in sports at Bellaire High School, Jenny succeeded in academics. She was proficient in secretarial shorthand. We have an exchange of personal letters between my mom and dad partially coded in shorthand. Fortunately, my sister Eileen was able to translate the mushy comments.

After graduating from high school in 1933, Jenny joined family members to work at the giant Imperial Glass Company located along the banks of the Ohio River. She held that job while John was on the hobo out west. We speculate it was that tearful separation and passionate reunion which convinced the lovers to marry.

Roots in Ohio

Mom and dad married on January 15, 1935. We have a portrait of the wedding party. Besides John and Jenny, we recognize my Uncle Stutz at sixteen years old and Uncle Frank at twenty-four. The remainder are unknown.

My parents struggled during these years of the great depression. They lived in upstairs apartments and cracker-box homes. Jeanne Louise was born on June 27, 1935. They posed with their first daughter by the park. Charlotte Anne came along on November 16, 1937. Both girls were baptized into the Catholic Church and Aunt Anne became their godmother.

My father was finally able to establish his own home in 1940. The address was Box 87, Route 4, Bellaire, Ohio. Jeanne relates how this house came together. There was labor strife at the time and coal miners were striking for months at a stretch. About a dozen idle workers and friends pitched in to pour concrete, frame walls, and tack on roof. My dad became a lifelong handyman after picking up skills by erecting his own home. Both Jeanne and Charlotte have fond memories of this two-bedroom square home and delight in naming streets and neighbors.

In the early 1940s, Jeanne recalls waiting on the front step as dad walked home from work covered in coal dust. She would run across a baseball field to greet him dashing along a road paved with a coal waste called red dog. Dad would always kneel to her level, open his lunch pail, and present her with a prize-a wildflower or shiny stone that he would pick up along the way. These were her happiest days she says.

Jeanne remembers two songs Grandma Dydek taught her when she was a child. These my grandmother herself learned while a young girl living in a Methodist orphanage. Jeanne could sing the songs and do the motions.

In a cottage in the woods, little man by the window stood, saw a rabbit hopping by, knocking at his door. Help me, help me, help me, he cried, or the hunter will shoot me dead. Come inside and stay with me. Happy we will be.

Three little mice sat down to spin. Pussy came by and she looked in. What are you doing my little friends? We're making fine coats for gentlemen. May I come in and bite off your threads? Oh, no, dear pussy you'll bite off our heads! Oh, no, I won't. I'll help you spin. That may be so, but you can't come in.

Charlotte recalls contracting a childhood illness then called Saint Vitas Dance. This debilitating condition caused her limbs to spasm. At times she could not walk and Jeanne had to pull her to school in a wagon. Dad took her to a chiropractor in Wheeling, West Virginia, and after a time all symptoms disappeared.

My father, two uncles, and two grandfathers labored in local coal mines. During the late 1930s and early 1940s they carpooled to various mines in eastern Ohio, the panhandle of West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania. Sometimes they would stay for weeks in tiny company towns. The subterranean jobs were dirty, dangerous, ill-paid, and subject to labor shutdowns. In 1944, my dad was hired at the Lorain Coal and Dock Company. He eventually led his own crew of ten. As Foreman Foreman he was authorized to hire his own sixty-four-year-old father for three months. That was just long enough to qualify the old man for social security. My father spoke of that deed with pride.

My dad was a hard-working man who enjoyed card playing with his brothers. His carousing days crashed to an end one evening when my mother tagged along to one of his sessions. As a cohort of twenty-somethings, the young people were whooping it up. My Aunt Anne was the instigator having gained experience while a tavern waitress. She kept the liquor flowing, stuck cigarettes into the mouths of non-smoking women, and encouraged hapless men to make fools of themselves. At one point she maneuvered a single woman to sit on my dad's lap. The whole group burst out laughing.

During the car ride home, my mother couldn't stop crying and my dad didn't stop apologizing. Little Jeanne sat in the back seat cowering. After a few days of male contrition and female silence, my dad pledged never again to carouse with that crowd. And he never did. After that event, my dad spent most of his evenings with his family. My family in the Ohio hills was close knit.

Economic hard times came to an end when the United States declared war on the empire of Japan on December 8, 1941. My uncles Stanley and Joseph joined the army air corps and piloted aircraft over Germany. My Uncle Andy served on the home front as an army trainer. My dad was reticent to speak of his wartime experience. He explained that at twenty-eight years old and with two children in grade school, he was never conscripted. Plus, his job in the coal mine was considered strategic. When pressed why he never volunteered for military service, his response was, "My priorities were always at home."

The home front was not without action for my parents. John Joseph (Jack) was born on March 15, 1943, and Eileen Marie followed on May 5, 1945. We have a demobilization photograph of my mother's extended family standing on a hillside in West Bellaire. My great grandparents, Vincent and Rose, sit as centerpiece. Charlotte and Jeanne stand beside their uniformed uncles. Dad is seated with Jack on his lap and mom sits next to him with infant Eileen tucked under one arm. After ten years of depression and five years of war, it was time to celebrate. My sister Jeanne was able to identify all twenty-three people in the picture.

My mother was an avid reader. Her favorite genre was cowboy romance. She joined a book-of-the-month club and for years the colorful novels of Zane Gray arrived through the mail. She passed on her shelf collection of thirty-odd books to her oldest daughter.

My parent's journey of faith is reconstructed through Jeanne and Charlotte. The Foreman family was Roman Catholic by heritage. Dad and mom were married in a Catholic church and the first four children were baptized into the Church. Their faith was nominal and they seldom attended mass.

One evening, my dad answered a knock at the door to greet a Catholic priest from the local perish. He informed my dad that the Foreman family was listed on the church roll and he dropped by to collect money for the new perish school. My dad informed the cleric that Jeanne and Charlotte attended a public school. The priest nodded, but insisted as a registered Catholic he was still obliged to support the parish school. My dad muttered something and closed the door to the priest-and also to the Catholic Church.

It appears the two girls provided impetus toward a Protestant reformation. In 1944, Jeanne came home from school with a note. One of her teachers was offering a release-time Bible class. Attendance was voluntary and sessions were held during the lunch hour. My dad gave permission and for a year Jeanne and Charlotte learned stories from the Bible and the plan of salvation. Jeanne says it was at that time she accepted Jesus as her savior.

In 1945, the girls were taking piano lessons. During the summer, their instructor asked if they could accompany her to a Methodist vacation Bible school. Again, my dad agreed. However, after a week, their participation abruptly stopped. Jeanne had brought home a note, a pledge for each girl to sign stating that they would not drink alcoholic beverages. It wasn't that my dad favored liquor consumption by his kids, but he bristled at the thought of some church official asking his little girls to sign an abstinence pledge.

After that event, my mom and dad began visiting neighborhood churches. They stopped at several locations before settling on the First Christian Church of Bellaire. My dad was welcomed by several of his high school buddies and felt at home. Mom was embraced by a friendly group of women. My older sisters joined the choir. Jeanne remembers walking in a purple robe from the back of the church to the front singing "Holy, Holy, Holy." A few months later, my father, mother, three sisters and brother, walked down the aisle to join. The church was small and Jeanne remarked with the addition of six members it was like a mini-revival.

It was a huge decision for my dad and mom to separate from the Catholic Church. Some of the warmth of Polish kin began to cool. Not imbibing in alcohol added awkwardness to family gatherings.

According to my sisters, the last few years of the 1940s were idyllic. The family was situated in a comfortable home and my dad held a prestigious job. In fact, foreman Foreman won a gold watch. On the reverse side of the Gruen Curvex wrist watch was engraved, "The Presidents Safety Production Award. Stanley Mine. John F. Foreman. The Lorain Coal and Dock Company. 1948."

In that same year, my mother nurtured four children: Jeanne starting in Bellaire High School, Charlotte in sixth grade, and Jack in kindergarten. The whole family worshipped together at the First Christian Church. However, when I came onto the scene at the tail-end of the decade, the idyllic situation began to change.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 2

December 1949 to March 1954
Bellaire, Ohio & Whiting, Indiana

And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.
(Luke 2:12)

Bellaire, Ohio

I entered the flux of humanity at 5:05 p.m. on December 24, 1949, the fifth child born to John and Jenny Foreman. My birth certificate notes my weight at nine pounds and one ounce. After spending one night at Bellaire Hospital, my mother was anxious to return home for the holidays. On Christmas morning, she wrapped me in swaddling clothes and placed me under the living room tree. Decretive angels and stars danced above my head. Mom explained to four children that Chris was a special Christmas gift to the family. My sister Eileen is purported to have remarked, "What? Another brother? I already have one of those. I wanted a dog".

My parents considered a few names for their second son, but my Christmas Eve advent cinched the deal in favor of Chris. My father deliberately chose not to name me Christopher after the tainted Catholic saint. One of his buddies joked, "Since everyone else is calling the baby Chris, I'll even things out and call him Topher". This moniker persisted for a while especially spoken by Jack and Eileen. Of course, any knowledge of my earliest days comes second hand to me.

I was alive for eight days during the decade of the forties. I have always looked upon myself as somewhat older and wiser than contemporaries who were born in the decade of the 1950s. That odd notion persists until this day. I tell youngsters I was born in the first half of the last century in the previous millennium.

I always felt a special affection for my home ground. I remember Eileen telling me this riddle years later, "What's round on each end and high in the middle?" OHIO! Mom and dad used to croon the old song Beautiful Ohio". I knew I was a buckeye.

In the year of my birth, the conflagration of World War Two continued to spark global hot spots. A scan of contemporary events sets my historical context. During my birth year, the Berlin blockade brought the USA and the USSR to the brink of war; Mao Tsi-tung proclaimed the People's Republic of China; and India gained independence from Britain. Then, six months after my birth, an uneasy truce on the Korean peninsula exploded into war. The entire world was undergoing seismic change.

America had emerged from war as an economic powerhouse. Millions of men had returned home after demobilization and optimistic couples were migrating from city and farm into suburbia. It was a time to make babies. American children born in this era (1946 to 1964) were termed the baby boom generation.

I boomed in Bellaire for only thirteen months. During this time, my parents faithfully brought me to church. I have a certificate of nursery enrollment from the Christian Church in Bellaire, Ohio, dated January 6, 1950. My mother also cut and saved the accompanying notice from the church program announcing my arrival. I was grounded in the Faith even at fifteen days old.


I count Ohio as my first state of visitation since it marked the location of my nativity. According to my record keeping West Virginia was my second state. The city of Wheeling was situated just across the Ohio River and served as the commercial hub of the region. I have a picture of me in diapers with the notation: Kiddieland Studios, 2710 Forbes Street, Pittsburgh, PA. Therefore, Pennsylvania must have been my third state.

About the time I was born, coal mines were shutting down across eastern Ohio. Employment prospects looked bleak for my father. Word came that his company was about to shutter and dad began looking for a job outside the mining industry. This is his severance letter dated May 10, 1950.

To whom it may concern: John F. Foreman has been employed by the Lorain Coal and Dock Company for a period of six years. Six months as a laborer and timberman, two and a half years as a Unit Foreman, and three years as a Shift Foreman. All this work in a mechanical mine. He has proved himself to be dependable, ambitious, honest, and a good workman and supervisor. His job has been discontinued through no fault of his own. I do not hesitate to recommend him.

My dad's situation wasn't as bleak as it might seem. In 1946 my mother's parents had migrated to Whiting, Indiana, to work at the bustling Standard Oil refinery. Grandma Dydek encouraged my father to seek out a job in the oil industry. My Uncle Frank and Aunt Anne had migrated to an apartment in nearby Chicago.

My folks made a few long drives to investigate the job market and dad was promised a millwright position at Standard Oil of Indiana. It still took six months more to relocate.

The move away from Bellaire was difficult. Our roots were deep. Both parents had family in the Ohio hills and friends going back to childhood. Charlotte was ensconced in school and involved with classmates. Jeanne especially was upset about moving away from Bellaire. With tears she pleaded with dad, "But I want to finish High School". She explained she was trying out for the junior cheer team and it would just kill her if she made the team and then had to move away.

Jeanne tells me how amazed she was at dad's response. He said, "Jeannie, if you do make the cheer squad, we won't move to Indiana. I can get a job anywhere". Jeanne didn't become a cheer leader at Bellaire High School which caused sadness, but she did learn how much her father treasured her.

My mother held a different view about relocating. Yes, it would be difficult to leave the only town she ever knew, but she would be moving close to her mother whom she dearly loved. That would provide a fountain of joy. As for Jack and Eileen, they were young and were up for any adventure.

During the summer of 1950, Jeanne, Charlotte, and Eileen, spent a few months with Grandma Dydek anticipating their migration. There is a wonderful story about a hamster getting loose during a train ride. After a final semester in Bellaire, all seven of us packed up a trailer, pointed the 1946 Hudson westward, and drove four-hundred seventy miles to our new hometown in Indiana.

Whiting, Indiana

My parents moved in with my mom's parents for a season. From February 1, 1951, until the end of June, seven people co-occupied space with Grandpa and Grandma Dydek. I am told it was crowded, joyful, and miserable all at the same time.

Four of the children enrolled at George Rogers Clark School at the midterm-Jeanne in tenth grade, Charlotte in eighth, Jack in second, and Eileen in kindergarten. Jeanne reports feeling out of place in her new school. Her classes were academically easier than in Bellaire but some of the kids made fun of her hillbilly accent. Eventually she made friends, and on October 9, 1951, she made a lifelong special friend by the name of Donald John Zeleznik. Both Jeanne and Charlotte enjoyed formal dances.

Within the broadcast beam of Chicago-land, television became our great distractor. Bellaire had been too remote for decent reception, but with four channels of daylong broadcasting, my cramped family became mesmerized by the flickering tube. The 1950s would become the golden age of TV. With such tremendous cultural and informational influence emanating from Chicago, we felt more like citizens of Illinois than of Indiana. Mayor Richard Daley became my personal mayor.

My folks began looking for real estate the moment we arrived in Whiting. The tight quarters with in-laws made this an imperative for dad. He ran into problems getting a loan from Walter Schrage at the First Bank of Whiting so had to borrow outside money to close the deal. Jeanne kept a diary for 1951 and located the day we entered our new premises. It was June 30, 1951. On that same day, she records, mom announced to the family she was expecting a baby. Jeanne's response was, "What? I'm sixteen years old! How can mom be having a baby?"

My parents were thrilled with their new property. 1750 Lake Avenue included a two-bedroom brick home with a basement, attic, front and back porch. The corner lot encompassed a detached rental unit with garage and sat at an intersection of maple-lined streets. Clark School was just one block away. I think the sale price was about $9,000 with the rental unit covering most of the monthly mortgage. My dad was earning about thirteen dollars a day at the time.

Our mailing address was Whiting, Indiana, but our actual location was the Robertsdale neighborhood of Hammond. As a cultural extension of Whiting, we resided in the extreme northwest corner of the state, about one mile east of the Illinois border and one mile south of the Lake Michigan shore. Our cross-road to Lake Avenue was 118th Street, meaning we lived one-hundred eighteen blocks south of downtown Chicago.

Hoosiers in other parts of Indiana referred to this northwest corner of the state as da region because of its proximity to mobster-famed Chicago. In fact, our clocks were set to the central time zone of Illinois and not the eastern time zone of majority Indiana.

Whiting-Robertsdale was hemmed in by heavy industry-oil refineries, steel mills, and processing plants. Not without reason was our region referred to as the armpit of the state. My earliest playgrounds were industrial dumps. The saying went that a north wind brought a stench of alewife from Lake Michigan, a west wind the musky odor of corn product, and a southeast wind stinky sulfur from Standard Oil. Occasionally the Lever Brothers detergent plant would blow a strong soapy smell our way. I remember my dad sniffing the air, "So what? That's the smell of money."

Distant flares of escaping gas shone across the night horizon and shrill whistles marked the shift change at midnight. Once an Ohio visitor arrived at our house in late winter. She asked my mom why piles of coal were lining the streets. Mom sheepishly responded that sometimes the snow turns black. And the wintertime always brought an abundance of snow. For some obscure purpose, my dad compiled a list of all the streets in Whiting and Robertsdale. It shows that Robersdale had more families, but Whiting more businesses.

A top priority after finding a house was finding a local church. Since my folks attended a Christian Church in Bellaire, it was an easy decision to join the First Church of Christ of Whiting on Central Avenue. I sat in these wooden pews for my first eighteen years of life. Within the walls of this brick building, Jeanne, Charlotte, and Eileen were married; and Frank and I were baptized. This would become my third home after my residence on Lake Avenue and Clark School on Davis.

Most of Robertsdale consisted of reclaimed marshland, surrounded by shallow lakes. One section of housing, near Wolf Lake, was called the Water Gardens. Every few years, the area would flood and our family would drive down to see residents paddle to their front doors in canoes. In the empty fields surrounding our house, children would dig holes in the sandy soil. Inevitably they would strike water at three feet and the hole would collapse. Until my adult years, I figured that if a person really wanted water, all he would have to do is dig a few feet into the ground and voila!

Our region was also noted for train traffic. All the rail lines from the east coast to Chicago-going and coming-passed by our southern tip of Lake Michigan. Mill trains pulled in coal and iron while the refineries shipped out petroleum product. The rails rumbled day and night without pause. It was not uncommon for an automobile to wait thirty minutes while an engine towing a hundred boxcars pulled forward and then backed up. Sometimes we counted each car to counter frustration.

In the fifties, Whiting was a white ethnic enclave. Some people were long standing residents, but most industrial workers were of first- or second-generation Slavic ancestry-mostly Poles, Slovaks, and Croats. Six Catholic churches flourished in this compact area of fifteen-thousand souls. Growing up, I never met a person with black or brown skin. Whiting was in fact a sundown town, meaning no negroes were permitted within city limits after dark. I remember the remark "the first word in Whiting is white."

Uncle Frank lived just across the state line in Chicago. My father and mother visited him and Aunt Anne on occasion. They lived in an apartment with an elevator! Counting Indiana as my fourth state, Illinois must come in at number five.


The first piece of new furniture for the new house was a Philco 16-inch round television. During the long summer of her pregnancy, mom relieved stress by stretching out on the sofa and watching Jack Brickhouse announce Cubs baseball on WGN-TV. The season ended about the same time as mom's pregnancy. The Cubs fell to last place, while the Yankees once again won the World Series.

Frank James Foreman was born on September 13, 1951, at Saint Margaret's Hospital in Hammond, Indiana. He was named after my uncle who was childless. We spoke of Frank as being the one Hoosier in the midst of five Buckeyes. At twenty-one months my junior, he became my playmate and best friend. We employed the buddy system throughout life, looking after each other. Frank and I always got along, playing together quietly without fuss or rivalry. It often fell upon Eileen to look after the two of us.

A 1952 photograph of six kids shows us in our front yard lined up in perfect digression. Jeanne on the right, a head taller than Charlotte, then down to Jack, Eileen, Chris, and finally baby Frank sitting in a stroller. Cookie-the-dog stands in front and an empty lot called Pearl Field stretches in the background.

I wrote about this family of six in a poem called I Wonder:

I wonder at the wonder of two parents with six kids all jammed into one 1946 Hudson. How did we all fit?

I wonder at the wonder of two parents with six kids managing one meager bathroom. How did we all keep clean?

I wonder at the wonder of six kids all going to school, from first grade to twelfth. How were we all clothed?

I wonder at the wonder of two parents with six kids eating together every dinner meal. How was everyone fed?

I wonder at the wonder of two parents with six kids filling one pew at Sunday church. How did we all arrive on time?

I wonder at the wonder of two parents --

First Impressions
from 1952, 1953, and 1954

Memories of my first four years are imprecise and uncertain. Do I remember the true event, a re-telling of the event, or just an antique photo? It's challenging to distinguish substance from shadow.

I remember sleeping in a large bed with mom, dad, and baby Frank. My little brother would sometimes repose in a floor-level dresser drawer like Sweet Pea. With sleeping space at a premium, I think I shared a room with my parents until my fourth birthday.

In the summer of 1953, The Dydeks were expanding their across-town home. I remember piles of sand and waving to Don Zeleznik working on the roof. Jeanne expanded my snippet of memory. She tells me that Grampa Dydek refused to pay Don for the work he had completed. He claimed that back in 1940, when dad's Bellaire house was under construction, he had worked for free. Don needed the cash, because he was enrolling at Western Michigan University for the Fall semester. Grandma Dydek got so angry at grandpa that she moved out of the house and worked for a time as a hotel maid. She cleaned rooms until she could pay back the full amount of her stingy husband's debt.

There is a story-possibly apocryphal-concerning my Grandma Dydek during the time when she worked as a hotel maid. The manager once paid her with a gold ring and expensive watch. He told her the items had belonged to Jim Thorpe, the famous Olympian, who was too poor to pay his bill in cash.

I remember sitting in a booster chair around our dinner table when plaster and dusty cotton began falling on my head. Jeanne yelped as her leg poked through a gash in the ceiling. I was wonderstruck. My dad rushed upstairs to pull my sister from her predicament. Our unfinished attic would undergo periodic upgrades over the next ten years, until it finally functioned a semi-habitable living space. Records show I attended a Vacation Bible school in the summer of 1953.

I remember a few moments of Halloween, 1953. Mom took Frank and me to knock on grandma's door. We were both dressed as cowboys. Grandma gushed over Frankie's two-year-old cuteness, but ignored me. When she noticed my tears, she walked out the door and bent over to give me a hug. I can't remember much about my grandmother, her face, her voice, or her home. I could never forget her love.

I see photos of Christmas, 1953, and remember playing with those exact toys. I pedaled that army jeep and I cranked that string to lift the elevator shaft. I retain the muscle memory. Holidays were always special in our house. New Year's Day was banging pots; Easter was dress up for church; July fourth was parades and fireworks; Halloween was costumes; Thanksgiving was excess food; and Christmas was gift-giving.

I can remember popular songs of the era. St. George and the Dragonet by Stan Freberg was unleashed on the public in September of 1953. We must have played that disk dozens of times because sixty years later, upon first re-hearing, I was able to recite every punch line. My family loved parody. The low-brow humor of Homer and Jethro reverberated through my life: "It bruised her somewhat and hurt her otherwise, but I'm glad it did not bruise her elsewhere."

I remember bouncing off walls and hopping on beds to 78-rpm records like Der Fuehrer's Face by Spike Jones and Too Fat Polka by Arthur Godfrey. This endless treasure of wacky recordings was a legacy of my brother Jack. Communal laughter filled our lives.

The earliest prayers I remember are these three: "I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me." At bedtime I prayed, "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take" and before a meal, "God is great. God is good. Thank You for this food. Amen." I cannot remember a time when I was not in church.

My personality traits began to show at an early age. While Frank and I slept in the same bed with mom and dad, I remember mom explaining, "Frank is a cuddle-bug, but Chris is a lone wolf".

My big sisters enjoyed dressing me up and watching me perform. There's a picture of me decked out in Eileen's ballerina outfit complete with coned sparkly hat. Eileen tells of me entertaining Charlotte's friends. My sister would stand me on a tabletop, I would bat my eyelashes, wag my finger, and belt out this Polka hit.

Just because you think you're so pretty; just because you think you're so hot; just because you think you got something that nobody else has got. You cause me to spend all my money. You laugh and call me old Santa Claus. Well, I'm telling you baby, I'm through with you. Because-Just because.

I remember the night-time sounds of my working-class neighborhood as I drifted into sleep. Years later I wrote about Distant Trains Whistling through the Dark.

Lonely sounds, dimly piercing the night's summer air
-only through stillness at all are they there.
Before childhood dreams, the distant trains sang far away songs.

Far away songs through the quiet of night
Comfort the darkness of childhood's fright,
Lullabied to sleep by distant songs of far-away trains
whistling through the dark.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 3

March 1954 to June 1960
Whiting, Indiana

Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
(Proverbs 22:6)

Childhood served as an apprenticeship to life. I experienced unconditional love, felt genuine security, and learned to trust those adults whom God had placed in my path. I received the rudiments of the Christian faith of my parents both naturally and supernaturally.


My first substantial memory occurred when I was four years and two months old. My sister Jeanne was going to marry Don! It was a very big deal. I remember the excitement and preparation, the out-of-town guests and fancy clothes, the dancing and celebration. My father had purchased a thirty-five-millimeter movie camera just for the occasion.

At a rehearsal a few days prior to the wedding, Jeanne told me I was going to be the ring bearer. That was so cool. There would be a circus ring and I could be the bear. I mentally practiced my bear growl. I also learned the word "cummerbund". That was the silly black cloth they wrapped around my tummy and fastened behind my back. The grown-ups gushed at me decked in my mini-tux. I remember a man popping flash bulbs, taking a lot of pictures on the morning of the ceremony

The church ceremony was an adult affair that I didn't understand. I obeyed my elders as they directed me to walk, stand, and hold out a cushion. Afterward, dad said I didn't "fidget too much", which I took to be a complement. Then it was time to dash downstairs for refreshments. There is a picture of me, face smeared with wedding cake, the beautiful bride looking on

As the celebrating continued, I did begin to fidget. I was a big boy and knew how to use the toilet. However, I couldn't figure how to unfasten the obstinate cummerbund. I was too embarrassed to ask an adult. They were all too busy anyway. And so, for the last time in my life, I wet my pants. With tears streaming, I ran to mom, who took me by the arm and made things right again-just as she always did.

The evening reception was strange, even to the eyes of a four-year old. The celebration was held in the dingy basement of our home where the giant furnace, clothes washer, and bogeyman resided. Clutter was packed in the coal room while thirty people jammed into the subterranean space. Couples danced to polka tunes while at the same time ducking asbestos-wrapped furnace pipes. A foot-pumped player piano provided some of the dance music. It was a day to remember. And I did.

After they married, Don changed his last name from Zeleznik to Zelen. He said he was tired of college professors unable to pronounce his Russian surname. Jeanne was a Zeleznik for only a few months.

The remainder of 1954 remains shrouded. My first niece, Debra Jean Zelen, arrived in September. Jeanne relates the sweet sorrow. On the day after Debbie's birth, she carried her newborn to a different ward in the same hospital. My Grandma Dydek was bedbound dying of cancer. Grandma held her great granddaughter only on this single occasion. Jeanne tucked Debbie under her arm and coached her to tell the visiting nurse it was her own baby. I can't recall my niece's birth or my grandmother's death.

I vaguely remember Jeanne, Don, and little Debbie moving into our house. They occupied mom and dad's room for a year, while my parents relocated to the second bedroom. In later decades it became a sport to figure out where Charlotte, Jack, Eileen, Chris, and Frank slept in 1954.

I do remember children's TV shows that were popular in my fourth year of life, but it's impossible to tell if the memory is from that year or later. There was Howdy Doody; Kukla, Fran, and Olli; and Romper Room. In truth, there were so many shows broadcast and I watched so many hours, that recounting every local show, cartoon favorite, and movie short would be daunting.


After my fifth birthday, I was ready for school. My unbroken train of memory begins chugging in 1955 when mom walked me to Clark School in order to register me for kindergarten. Because I was December born, I began school in January not September like most other kids. My mid-term status aligned my school year with the calendar year.

Miss Bond was my first teacher. As I look back at the twenty-one faces in my kindergarten photo, I can name one-third, guess one-third, while one-third remains unrecognized. Eric, Laurie, Karen, and Don would be my classmates for the next thirteen and a half years. In kindergarten I remember playing with blocks, counting to one hundred, and reciting the alphabet. I got into trouble once for pushing Eric off the sliding board.

Kindergarten also included a nap time. I remember struggling to lie still and bringing my blanket home for mom to wash. Miss Florence Bond commented on my pink report card: "Chris shows dramatic ability and does well in expressing ideas in drawing, but he fails to listen and continues to dramatize when the play is over." The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Eileen was an inspiration to me. I once saw her writing in a little book. I asked, "What are you doing?".

She explained it was diary and she was writing down everything that was happening in her life. Even though I couldn't read or write, I thought that was pretty cool. Several years later, I began writing diaries, then journals, then memoirs. Decades later, I finally read what she wrote in 1955.

Dad was continually involved in building projects. In 1955 he bricked in the wooden back porch and converted a kitchen pantry into bunk-beds for Jack and Eileen. I was scolded for playing in the construction zone. In August of that year, the Standard Oil refinery caught fire. The blaze raged for days. I remember my family sitting as spectators at the Clark School bleachers gazing across George Lake at the distant inferno.

About that time there was a train derailment along the Lake Michigan shoreline. I remember a man bursting into our home saying various products were strewn along the railroad tracks. Dad rushed the family to the site and I helped recover about fifty bottles of women's hair permanent. The ammonia smell was overwhelming. Dad said, "Watch out for the broken glass." For the next several years, my mother invited ladies into the house as she set their hair while listening to their troubles.

Charlotte traveled to Alaska after high school, visiting our uncles Joe and Stutz who served in the Air Force. I remember the celebration when my second sister returned. She brought back all kinds of exotic treasures. I remember the plastic key chains with real Alaskan gold dust embedded inside. The Eskimo yo-yos consisted of two fur-covered balls at opposite ends of a rope. We held the rope in the middle and tried to make the balls circle in opposite directions. She also brought back a polar bear skin. What ever happened to that rug? But the best thing Charlotte brought back was herself. I missed my big sister.

Cookie was the little black dog that moved with us from Ohio. As I remember, the rotund canine seemed eternally old and dyspeptic. I think my parents bought the pet for Jack, but dad ended up the reluctant care giver. I don't remember ever playing with Cookie or walking her. I'm sad to say she was more of a nuisance than companion. As a result, I never acquired an affection for dogs-that is, until much later in life.

Frank and I were raised on television. That flickering screen was our world and we indulged unsupervised. All the way through grade school we sat more hours in front of the tube than on reading or doing school work. On October 3, 1955, the Micky Mouse Club debuted. I was hooked. I wore the mouse ears to bed and played the vinyl recordings continually: "Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E."

Our toy of choice became two-inch Disney figurines we dubbed Little Friends. Frank and I loved these globs of colored plastic and would play make-believe for hours imagining Donald Duck, Goofy, and the seven dwarfs, in endless adventures. We used blocks and tinker toys to build our play-scape. Frank's favorite dwarf was Sleepy and mine was Bashful. Perhaps our preferences provide insight into our dispositions.

A big event was the twenty dollars-worth of toys day. Some of mom's Ohio friends worked at the Marx Toy Factory. When they visited, they brought boxes and boxes of plastic toys. I remember mom saying, "With little friends Chris and Frank could baby-sit themselves for hours." Frank and I were content as long as we held a toy between our fingers and a bite of salami between our teeth. We didn't box up our toys until Boy Scout days. Make-believe lasted a long time.


My first-grade teacher was Miss Zeller. I learned how to read using Fun with Dick and Jane. The covers of these readers still provoke my soul to nostalgia: "Oh, look! See Sally. See Sally jump up and down." The storyline of Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, Puff, and Tim filled my literary world. I also remember addition, subtraction, singing, crafts, and story time. I was a bit dyslexic but I was able to keep up with school work. Dad and mom seemed content that I was average in scholarship, effort and conduct. Average equaled good enough. I was always perfect in attendance.

I remember a traveling photographer roaming through our neighborhood. He pulled a pony behind him and stowed cowboy attire for kids. Both Frank and I posed sitting atop the animal. I suppose dad gave the wanderer a few dollars. I also remeber being of a scientific bent. In the summer, I wrapped myself in a garden hose as tightly as I could and then turned on the wanter. It was an experiment. I wanted to feel how tightly the hose would squeeze.

Don and Jeanne Zelen moved into a house on Calumet Avenue not too far from our place. They were a continuing presence in my life over my first fifteen years. Little Debbie was so cute. Jeanne taught her to recite her address in case she got lost: "1624 Calumet Avenue."

My family took bi-yearly trips to Bellaire to visit relatives. Mom would prepare salami sandwiches and dad would pack the pee bottle for me and Frank. There would be few stops along this eight-hour trek. Dad always drove the Hudson and mom sat next to him. Jack, Eileen, and I sat in the backseat. Frank made a nest of blankets under the large back window. Dad would point out sites along the route. I remember McCullough's Leap and the house we pass three times as ritual landmarks. Dad would simmer when our speed slowed to a crawl behind a line of trucks. He loved to return to his home state and boasted about the wonderful Ohio rest stops.

Once we arrived in Bellaire, adults talked, laughed, and played cards. Frank and I existed in our own bubble. We would greet our elders when called upon then retreat to our play things. Grandpa Foreman was seventy-five in 1956, and my aunts, uncles, and cousins were too grown up to connect with kids. But Frank and I were satisfied to be in our own world and participate in adult activities only when requested. The proverb still held currency: "Children should be seen and not heard." I do remember my Aunt Mary once asking about my coonskin cap and me explaining about Davy Crockett, whom I knew to be the "king of the wild frontier."

On one trip to Bellaire, dad extended the drive eastward. We stopped off as tourists at Niagara Falls, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C. Then we made our way back to Indiana. An old photo shows mom and dad in front of the Capitol Building with Jack, Eileen, Chris, and Frank in the foreground. Each of us four has a melting ice cream cone in hand. On this road trip, I added three states to my total visited: New York, Maryland, and Virginia; plus, the District of Columbia. Now I was up to nine states.

Frank and I were alike in many ways. However, we certainly contrasted in height. My little brother was vertically challenged throughout most of his childhood and youth. There is a boy scout photo in which I stand about five-foot-ten and Frank is a good one foot shorter. Mom used to add droplets of iodine into his breakfast milk to encourage a growth spurt.

Nonetheless, on one return trip from Ohio, little Frankie proved to be the hero of the family. Upon facing the front door, dad could not find his house key. He looked throughout the messy Hudson, but to no avail. My dad jiggled every outside access and finally discovered the bathroom window could be pried open to a gap of ten inches. First, he tried to push me through the opening. No way! Then he spied his youngest son. "Frank, I think this is a job especially for you." My nimble little brother wiggled his way through, then unlocked the front door. Dad lifted him to his shoulders and we all cheered his accomplishment.

Flowers and Charlotte will always go together. In first grade I learned the song "I know a pussy willow". Charlotte helped me pluck these tokens of Spring, carry them home, and put them in vases. She pointed out the lilies of the valley that grew up and down the alleyway during the month of May. Our favorite tradition was the annual trip to Eggers Grove to seek out the first violets of Spring. Charlotte would load us in the car and drive us across the state line. She would shout with glee whenever she spotted a clump of violets.

In the springtime, front lawns became super-saturated with rainwater. Hundreds of earthworms would squirm above the soil and wiggle onto the sidewalks. Along the route to Clark school, most little girls would step around the worms and many little boys would stomp on them. I chose to scoot them back to the grass with the toe of my little shoe.

Our church sponsored a summer picnic at Forsyth Park. I remember being overheated and overstuffed. Dads played softball while moms gabbed and looked after children. I remember vividly a foot race for six-year-olds. My dad shouted, "Ready, set, go!". He then side-galloped down third base to call the winner. He was so disappointed I had tied for first place. He asked why I was deliberately lagging.

I introduced him to my new best buddy and explained that I wanted the two of us to cross the finish line together. Dad was at a loss for words.

I remember Jack used to chase me and Frank around the house. Once when we were goofing around in the basement. I raced up the stairs, glancing over my shoulder. Jack wasn't there. I was almost upstairs. I laughed to myself thinking that I had given my big brother the slip!

Suddenly I fell on my face. I couldn't guess that Jack could stand under the open staircase, reach up and grab my ankles from below. It was traumatic. I cried and cried. For years as I ran up the stairs, I would look downward to make sure that Jack wasn't lurking with hands sticking through the second to the top step.

I was beginning to know some of our neighbors on Lake Avenue. Mary Ann Kokot was Eileen's schoolmate and lived to our right. Her two older brothers kept a hunting dog named Duke that would scare me sometimes. Joey Pishkur, a hyperactive kid, lived on the far side of them. Across 118th Street lived old lady Smeric. She spoke Slovak and would yell at us in unknown tongues when we retrieved a ball from her back yard. Across the back alley stood First Baptist Church. The artificial hill that rose to its foundation was our only rise in elevation. We would sled down the hillside in snowy weather. Finally, mean Mr. Kruel lived kitty-corner from us. He would send a policeman to our door whenever he caught Cookie making a deposit on his front lawn. The cast of characters and encounters could fill pages. Neighborhood kids often hung out together, sometimes posing for photos.

I remember mom and dad ushering the family off to the First Church of Christ every Sunday of the year. Dad would put on his suit and tie; mom would underlie her fancy dress with a girdle; and each of us kids would put on our Sunday best. Jack was always the problem. Dad would shout to motivate him into the car. I would go to a children's service and sit with my buddies. My longtime friend, Jacky Wetnight, was my favorite. My father became an elder and the church became a second home. We continued to be regular church attenders and I was promoted in Sunday school in September of 1956.

I cannot remember a time when I was not a Christian. As the twig was bent, so grew the tree. I acquired the gift of faith by singing and gesturing to Sunday school songs. The nursery was my theological seedbed. First, I learned about the love of Jesus.

"Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so."

"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."

I learned the primacy of scripture, Sola Scriptura.

"The B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E."

I learned the need for salvation.

"Behold, behold, I stand at the door and knock, knock, knock. If anyone hears my voice, I will open-open-open the door. I will come in."

I learned about Christian joy through standing, sitting, pointing, and clapping.

"I'm in right, outright, upright, downright happy all the time! Since Jesus Christ came in and cleansed my heart from sin, I'm in right, outright, upright, downright happy all the time!"

I also learned about eternal security.

"Safe am I, safe am I, in the hollow of his hand. Sheltered o'er, sheltered o'er, with His love forevermore. No ill can harm me, no foe alarm me, for He lives both day and night. Safe am I, safe am I, in the hollow of His hand."

Finally, I learned the wisdom of self-control by pointing to body parts.

"Be careful little feet where you go. For the Father up above is looking down in love, So be careful little feet where you go."

I continue to be careful about where my little feet go, what my eyes see, what my tongue says, and what my hands do. I was glad I lived in the hollow of His hand.


In the first half of second grade, Miss Fisher was my teacher. Like many primary school teachers of her era, she was born around 1850 and educated around 1920. She was a black-dressed, old-fashioned spinster, dedicated to her calling, but perhaps burned out. I remember continuing with Dick and Jane, but expanding to other children's books. She read to us every day. I could identify with the adventuresome Boxcar Children. We began to learn other subjects. Geography and history became my favorites.

Miss Parker was a first-year teacher for the second half of second grade. Her big thing was American Indians. We put on war paint (finger paint), made necklaces (dyed macaroni), donned a native vest (fringed paper bag) and sang pow-wow songs. I can still do the gestures; the muscle memory persists. She introduced us to a publication called My Weekly Reader.

I also learned to recite the poem: "I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow; I'd rather see than be one". I never knew what the words meant, but it was fun to say.

Dad and mom often took us on weekend outings. I remember going to Deer Forest in Illinois to feed animals. I put a penny in a dispenser, cranked the lever, and a small amount of feed flowed into my little hands. I also remember a longer visit to Wisconsin Dells for water rides and a picnic. Wisconsin was my tenth state visited.

Frank and I had some vague rules about how far we could stray from home. One day Frank, Jacky, and I stretched those rules by wandering three far blocks away, next to the busy Indianapolis Boulevard. While playing in a vacant lot, Frank tumbled and got a nasty gash on his knee. He howled at the sight of so much blood. Jacky and I got him home as best we could. Mom had to break herself away from a cluster of ladies to deal with her wounded and wailing boy.

My best friends were Jacky Wetnight and Jimmy Francis. Both boys lived on my block. The Wetnights were part of my church life and Jacky was the fifth of six kids like me. From my earliest days to eighth grade, we were best buddies. Then he moved away to Munster. Jimmy Francis enrolled at Clark school in second grade and our friendship continues to this day.

Jim and his family were Baptists and for a few summers, I attended Vacation Bible School with my classmate. I don't remember much about what the old guy taught. What sticks with me is his genuine affection toward his charges and how he embodied God's love.

God's love was also at work in our house. I did not recognize it at the time and it often embarrassed me. Dad gave amateur haircuts to strangers and mom rolled women's hair in curlers. All kinds of odd people filtered into our living room. First came visitors from Ohio, mostly young people who needed temporary housing and counsel. Then came a bevy of troubled women often in tears and in need of comfort. My mom would pat their hands and listen to their woes. My parents were living out their faith and passing it on to me: "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; being rooted and grounded in love."

Our dog, Cookie, began to have seizers and one day mom took her on a one-way ride to the vet. It was a sad day for Eileen. Still my parents thought pets would be good for Frank and me. We had two hamsters for a while. I was delighted to see them devour dandelion stems then appalled to see them do the same with their offspring. Dad constructed a really neat wooden cage, but the rodents gnawed through the bottom and escaped into the wild.

We kept dime-store turtles for a year or so. Mine was called Hotrod and Frank's Pokey. We would race them down a three-foot wooden track. We were inattentive in our play and often the little turtles escaped in the house. I remember one day looking around for Hotrod. Eileen joined in. As she conducted her search, one of the bedroom doors wouldn't open wide. She gave the door a shove-crunch. She discovered the reason for the door jam and graciously provided a jewel case in which we buried my crushed turtle. Jimmy Francis helped me prepare the sarcophagus with glass jewels and fancy paper. With great pomp, we buried Hotrod behind the house near the garbage cans.

Eileen also kept a pet. Tweetie Pie was her yellow and green parakeet. She would feed the bird by putting a treat between her lips and then kissing the colorful face. I remember Eileen playing her accordion and Tweetie flitting about shoulder to shoulder. My sister was musically talented. She played a piano tune called The Cricket and the Bumblebee in which I dressed up as a cricket and chased Debbie the bumblebee in a circle.

The seventh year of life is an enchanted age. Alice of Wonderland was seven when she walked through the Looking Glass. Childlike imagination combines with an emerging practical sense to create a magical world. I wrote a story about my wonderland of 1957.

As I walked down the alley behind my house, something caught my eye. It was an umbrella poking up from a garbage can. I plucked it from the trash and studied it. I saw the broken spokes and torn fabric and knew it wouldn't be a prize I could show to mom.

But I thought, "this could be a cool sword." So, I waved it over my head and smacked the metal can. I succeeded in making clangs, but the umbrella was too unwieldy for a sword.

"Maybe it's a walking stick." I put the point into the gravel and strutted past a few backyards, but that didn't work either. The umbrella fell open. I stepped on the black fabric and nearly tripped.

I was about to stuff my prize into another trashcan when I noticed the umbrella knob in my hand. Wow! It sparkled like a diamond-and a big diamond too, about the size of my seven-year-old fist. I was too grownup to believe it was really a diamond. My big sister Charlotte had just got a diamond ring from her boyfriend. He said it cost hundreds and it was only the size of a BB pellet.

I twisted the diamond top, but couldn't separate it from the umbrella stalk. I walked into the basement and found Jack reading a Mad Magazine. My big brother looked up. "What you got there?" "I found this in a garbage can."

"Hey, can't you see it's broken," he laughed.

"I know, but look at the diamond on the end."

Jack snatched the umbrella from my hand. "That's not a diamond, just cut glass."

"I know, but it's still pretty neat. I want to keep it but I can't pull it off."

These words were taken as a challenge by Jack, a freshman in high school. He strained and twisted, but the knob wouldn't budge. Then he went to dad's work bench, grabbed a pair of vise grips and unscrewed the top diamond. "Right tool for the right job," he mumbled. I recognized my father's voice. "This looks nice. I think I'll keep it". Jack stuffed the diamond in his pocket and raised the booklet hiding his eyes.

With one burst of lung power, I screamed, whined, and snorted.

Jack lowered the Mad Magazine revealing a grin. "Just teasing," and he tossed the treasure to me.

I carried my prize upstairs, washed it in the bathroom basin, shined it with toilet paper, and walked out the front door. I waved the diamond over my head as I strutted around the block. That's when I discovered its magical powers. Whenever I held it in the sun, the diamond made rainbows! I couldn't believe how it worked. I covered it with my hands and the rainbows went away. Then I held it in the sunshine and the rainbows reappeared.

I showed the diamond to Jacky who was sitting on his front stairs. He tried it a few times and was amazed. I showed it to snooty Linda who was walking back from the corner store.

"I know," she said with a sneer. "My mom's got one of those hanging in front of her kitchen window."

Once I took the diamond to school for show and tell, but since there was no sunshine in the classroom there was no rainbow. Miss Fisher called my prize a prism. I sometimes wrapped it in paper to hide around the house as pirate treasure. I remember when mom helped to attach a string to it so it would dangle in my bedroom window

As a teenager, I had a science project on prisms. I looked for my glass ball in all my closets and around the basement, but couldn't find it. Did I hide my treasure too well to never find it again? I couldn't remember. I sighed as I recalled the enchantment of childhood, a time when common objects could reveal hidden magic. It proved impossible to reclaim that lost wonder again.


My third-grade teacher was the fabulous Mrs. Chambers. How much did I like her? Well, from that point forward, my ambition was to become a school teacher just like her. She knew how to speak to us kids as grown up, yet relate to us as children, never condescending always kind. She was my Disney's Snow White and I was one of her seven dwarfs-Bashful by name. She would read to us, encourage us, and send notes home to mom about my accomplishments. More than anyone, she saw potential in me that no one else saw.

This third-grade class partook in a daily ritual. With twenty-five students, there were five desks across the front set in five rows. The person in the front desk was the designated leader. After the morning pledge of allegiance and announcements, the lead student would walk down each column to assign every youngster a hygiene score. This was never my strong point. The four questions asked every morning were: 1. Did you brush your teeth? 2. Did you comb your hair? 3. Did you go to bed at eight o'clock? and 4. Are You carrying a handkerchief? I always answered "yes" to all of them. Sometimes I ran my finger across my teeth and my hand across my hair so as not to make a bold-faced lie.

One morning I was in a panic. I had forgotten to carry my hanky. I knew Susan sat in the front chair and would actually ask kids to produce their hanky. What to do? I remember sitting in my small wooden desk when Susan approached. She gave me an inquisitive eye after asking, "Did you bring a hanky?" But I had been practicing. I reached deep into my front pocket, tugged the white pocket liner to the surface, and displayed the tip. I grinned as she marked me four of four.

About that same time, my mother began to work at Clark school. She was termed a janitress, and worked a split shift-two hours before school and two hours after school. She said she needed to do this because my dad's salary was not enough to keep the family fed and clothed. I remember the times I stayed after school to help her bang chalk erasers and empty waste paper baskets. I believe she worked at the school for about five years.

One of the perks of mom's job was her claim to discarded school items. At the end of every school year, she would bring home a huge bag of unclaimed pencils, notebooks and small toys. This booty recovered from lost and found provided a June Christmas.

The oddest thing mom ever brought home was a human skull. She recovered it from a waste basket in the biology lab. She presented it to me and Frank as an educational item. However, we used the head bone as a prop and made skull island for our little friends. Someone must have told mom a human skull was an inappropriate plaything and soon it vanished from our sandbox.

Several years later, I thumbed through the Clark School year book. The caption under one photo read, "Here is the biology teacher posing next to Mr. Bones". I was not surprised to see the skeletal display without its head.

In 1958 a new family moved into our back apartment. They were the Buchmans from Orange, Texas. The father, Chester, migrated north to construct the Interstate highways. Jessica looked after three daughters-Linda, Lorene, and Janette. The family constituted a long-term project for mom and dad. Some neighbors referred to the Buchmans as white trash. The three girls seemed to be in constant trouble with the law or with boys. Jessica became one of the troubled women who consumed my mother's time.

In the summer of 1958, my parents invited the Buchman family on a car expedition around the perimeter of Lake Michigan. Dad had read about the grand opening of the longest bridge in the world and figured driving across the Straits of Mackinaw would make for a fine vacation. Michigan was the eleventh state I visited. I do remember the three Great Lakes, but more I remember my parent's effort to patiently work with the Buchman family. They never succeeded. Chester and Jessica got divorced, the girls got pregnant, and in 1963 they all returned south.

At twenty-one years old, my sister Charlotte appeared as a movie star to me, always flitting, flirting, and wearing a fancy dress and red lipstick. In my early years, Char would bend me backward in her arms and plant a giant red kiss mark on my cheek. A parade of male suiters walked through our front door to escort Charlotte on dates. I was surprised when she accepted an engagement ring from Jim Walker. He was not my favorite of the bunch.

Charlotte tells this story: She had decided to break up with Jim while he was stationed in the Marine Corps at Pearl Harbor. She wrote him a dear john letter and dropped it into the nearby mailbox. When she stepped back into the house, she told our parents what she had done. They were aghast, saying that was no way to treat a man in uniform. They insisted she return to the box, wait for the mailman to arrive, and retrieve her letter. And for better or worse, she did.

A major event was Frank getting his tonsils removed. At first, I was thankful it wasn't me. But on the day my brother returned from the hospital, mom served him bowl after bowl of chocolate ice cream. He got it and I didn't! I supposed her action served two purposes. First to make him feel special after his ordeal, and second, to help relieve the pain of the operation. Still, I remember my jealousy.

Newton Minnow famously described American television as a vast waste land and for most kids growing up in the 1950s his description is apt. I calculate my TV habit to be three hours per day with a steady diet of Bugs Bunny, Superman, Beanie & Cecil, and Garfield Goose. I knew all the shows in TV Guide and could lip-sync every commercial. My TV-scape is too vast to enumerate every show. If you were to ask a typical baby boomer to narrate their childhood, most would include a recitation of favorite kiddie shows.

It's hard to explain, but 1950s television was like video gaming and social media rolled into one package. All the kids watched the same set of programs. Often, I would discuss favorite shows, like Zorro, with my school mates. We guys would act out the slapstick of Moe, Larry, and Curley. Adults were clueless, while we giggled and horse-played. There were a few oases in the wasteland. Once, I amazed Mrs. Chambers by spelling E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A. I didn't tell her it was Jiminy Cricket who taught me the word.

My family was faithful in church attendance and in 1958 the First Church of Christ voted on its mother of the year. During an evening celebration the aluminum-foil crown was placed on the head of my mother. Church ladies cheered and handed her a bouquet. It came as no surprise when a month later my dad was voted father of the year. The newspaper clipping shows the two of them, arm in arm, surrounded by church members, and grinning at the camera.

My second niece, Susan Jane, was born in August 1958. I remember visiting the hospital to see Jeanne and her new baby. However, it was after hours. So, when we returned to the parking lot, Jeanne flung open her third-floor window, shouted to us, and held up Susie so we could all take our first gander.

I associate Susie's birth with hula hoops. It was about that time we were singing, Hula hoop, hula hoop, everyone's playing with the hula hoop". Eileen and Mary Ann were expert. I could do only three spins before the hoop dropped to my ankles.

Charlotte married James Matthew Walker in November. Mister Thickens presided over the ceremony, Jeanne was bridesmaid, Debbie flower girl, and Frank ringbearer. I don't remember much about the wedding, except after Charlotte left our home, some of the joy departed with her.

Frank and I were not only into Disney toys, but also plastic dinosaurs. Dad knew what was at the top of my wish list for Christmas 1958. He had to know. I had scissored out the picture of a dinosaur set from the Sears catalogue and taped it strategically to the refrigerator.

A week before Christmas, I began snooping around the house. I looked in closets and under beds. Finally, I found the Sears box of dinosaurs in the basement under some blankets. At first, I was overjoyed. But what could I do? If I told Frank, he'd squeal to mom and I'd get scolded. But it was so hard to keep such a big secret without exploding. On Christmas morning I pretended to be excited. After this experience, I concluded it was better not to know about surprises in advance.


If Mrs. Chambers was Snow White to me, my fourth-grade teacher, Miss Benny, was the Wicked Witch-the teacher with a poison apple. I nearly failed fourth grade, and my accomplice in misbehavior, Jim Francis did fail. He was put back one semester and we were no longer classmates. To be fair, I can't blame Miss Benny. I was disruptive, unfocused, and shoddy in my schoolwork.

I remember a grade-school punishment for misbehavior was the relocation of your desk to a corner where you sat staring at the wall. That happened to me once. After my penalty week, Miss Benny said I could scoot my desk and join the class again. I was honest. I replied that I preferred the solitude of the corner. My introverted personality-later identified as INTJ-was already established. In fourth grade, I remember the March of Dimes and an on-stage skit to raise funds.

My parents were permissive toward Frank and me. We were never rebellious, did okay in school, so they left us to our own devices. Our table manners were atrocious. We seldom combed our hair or brushed our teeth.

I can still remember a dreaded date. I held a note from our local dentist, Dr. Vukovich, dated February 24, 1959. That was the day when I would have to walk into his office, sit in his waiting room, and submit to the extraction of a decayed molar. I remember the sight, sound, feel, taste, and smell. I remember walking home, turning my gaze away from pedestrians I met. With Novocain pumped into my gums, I thought my jaw was hideously swollen. When I looked in the mirror at home, I was shocked to see my familiar nine-year-old face.

In 1959 Jack and Eileen were both teenagers, deep into popular music. They bought dozens of 45s such as: Poison Ivy; Go Jimmy Go; Sixteen Candles; Mack the Knife; and La Bomba. Our transistor radios were always tuned to WLS-AM from Chicago. Eileen collected the Silver Dollar Survey listing the top forty songs. Rock and Roll seeped into my brain and never drained out. Jack was also buying comedy 33 rpm albums by the likes of Jonathan Winters and Andy Griffith. When I wasn't watching television, I heard the tunes and laughed to the humor. How could we possibly find time for homework?

My summers were wide open-about eighty days of unsupervised, unstructured, feral time. Both Jacky and Jimmy preferred our home to their own, so they hung out at the Foremans watching TV and playing around the house. A hundred steps away and across the alley lay a vacant lot we dubbed Brown Field. This quarter acre of dirt and weeds was our stomping ground. We dug holes, threw rocks at cans, and catapulted objects high into the sky. It was also a haven for bugs and toads.

One summer day we discovered that Brown Field was losing its toad population. We attempted to replenish the stock by visiting a distant field we dubbed Toad Field. Four of us filled up a red wagon with the little creatures. We had to be careful, because we heard if a toad peed on you, you could get warts. We pulled our livestock down several blocks to Brown Field. One kid would pull while three hand-lifted escaping toads back into the wagon. We offloaded most of our cargo, but it was to no avail. The next day all the toads in Brown Field had vanished.

On July 4, 1959, the stars of Alaska and Hawaii were added to the American flag. Eileen came up with a brilliant idea for the Whiting Independence Day parade competition. She dressed me as Uncle Sam to march in the center. Frankie rode a tricycle to my left dressed as an Eskimo and Debbie rode to my right arrayed as little Miss Hawaii. We were awarded second place and won ten dollars. My dad was also marching in this parade as scoutmaster of Troop 103. Jack was one of his reluctant scouts and dad was doing what he could to keep my sixteen-year-old brother in step.

During this same month, I received word that my first nephew-James Alan Walker-had been born in far-off Anaheim, California. Soon after, Big Jim Walker completed his four years in the Marine Corps and returned with my sister to Whiting. Jim, Charlotte, and their curly-headed son settled into an upstairs apartment on Brown Avenue, about ten blocks from our house.

During that summer there was a plague of mosquitoes and city workers ran trucks down our streets spewing thick billows of DDT. Frankie, Jacky, Jimmy, and I trailed behind these trucks on our bikes inhaling fumes and pretending we were pilots in a cloud bank. The frustrated driver would hop out on occasion, shake his fist, and yell at us stupid kids. We fell back a while, then followed again. It's a wonder we ever survived childhood.

I also played with liquid mercury. Once dad brought home a baby jar half-filled with quicksilver. It became a toy, like my slinky. I'd pour out a puddle on the kitchen table, separate it into beads, then push the beads back into a glob. I would squeeze silver dimes and quarters with the substance, bringing them to a high luster. After a few days, the coins turned dull. I even took the stuff to school for show and tell. The toxic element was no big deal at the time.

One of our favorite getaways was Wolf Lake. On hot days Eileen would walk with Frank and me to t he lake. It was about twenty minutes one way. The sand scorched and the fudgesicles cost seven cents each. We played and splashed for hours. On one walk my fourteen-year-old sister asked me if I knew the longest word in the dictionary. She said it was "antidisestablishmentarianism". I said, "Oh, yeah? How about 'Eeny-meeny-tipsy-teeny, apple-jack john sweeny, hokey pokey dominoky, out goes Y-O-U in the middle of the deep dark blue sea with a dishrag wrapped around your knee'"?

Eileen was incredulous and said "that's not a word"! She patiently explained to me the difference between syllables and words. I played dumb. I knew it wasn't a word, but it certainly flustered my sister.

On another walk home, Eileen picked a handful of stickers next to Wolf Lake. She carried them nearly home and threw them onto the lawn of Mr. Kruel across the street from us. She said it was revenge because Mr. Kruel had always been so cruel to our dog Cookie.

Jack got a motor scooter when he turned sixteen. It was kind of a misbegotten military motorcycle. The color was called maroon. (That was the first time I heard the word.) It had a big square open box in the front and a push horn that went "UU GAH". I was so proud when Jack rode me around the block. I would duck down inside the box and then pop up fast to wave at my amazed friends. Sometimes Frank would be in the box with me and sometimes Jim Francis. "UU GAH" became a special signal between Jim and me.

In the Autumn kids at school began to talk about baseball. I didn't know about the sport but since it was a topic of childhood conversation, I was pulled along as a fan. The talk was thick because the Chicago White Sox had won the American League pennant. Like all my boy peers, I followed and discussed every game. Alas, the LA Dodgers won the World Series, but in the process, I became a baseball aficionado.

Whiting had a rhythm of seasons: baby birds and blossoms in the Spring; mowing lawns and lake swimming in the Summer; and raking leaves and back to school in the Autumn. Nothing marked the change of season as definitively as the first snow of winter.

Burdened by homework drudgery, I stare out my window between arithmetic problems. Almost done, almost dark, almost time for bed, I see artful frost etching corners of the glass. Lost in subtraction, pencil on lined paper, I glance up from my dreary task.

Swirling in the street lamp, dancing through the air, winter's first burst of snow invites me out to play. Slamming the textbook and bumping the table, I erupt from my wooden chair. Grabbing my coat and flush with excitement, I shout "Oh boy! Oh boy!" and dash for the door.

Mom is smiling. "Don't stay out too long." She turns on the porch light and pulls up my mittens. Chasing flakes like a kitten after yarn, I drag my galoshes, kicking odd patterns on the sidewalk. Lost in the snow, feet on white carpet, I play in my kingdom until my fingers grow numb.

1960 to June

In fifth grade I was blessed with my first male school teacher. Mr. Thomas was stocky, commanding, and good hearted. As a boy, I could finally identify with a role model of my own gender. Mr. Thomas was a former Marine and would relish leading his class in singing the Marine Corps Hymn. Occasionally a few of us ornery boys would substitute the word corpse for corps. He would glare at the offenders, but I knew a smile lurked behind the scowl.

On January 15, 1960, my parents celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. About a dozen friends were over the house to mark their twenty-five years together. I remember helping Eileen glue twenty-five silver dollars onto construction paper to form the digits two and five. The official photograph shows a family of thirteen: John, Jenny, Jeanne, Don, Debbie, Susie, Charlotte, Big Jim, Little Jim, Jack, Eileen, Chris, and Frank.

It seemed dad was always tinkering with the house. In the basement he installed a second toilet and a shower stall. Those additions were mostly for Jack, but they proved useful to Frank and me as well. Dad also improved the attic, constructing one long corridor with mats for sleeping at either end by the gabled windows. He paneled the peaked ceiling and installed book shelfs along the entire length of the corridor. The bonus space was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, but year-round it was a great place to hang out with friends.

When dad re-furbished the attic stairway, he uncovered a lost treasure. Beneath the bottom tread lay a pound of sugar, a box of baseball cards, and a ration coupon book. Mom recognized it right away. "During the war we all hid things away like that."

In school I was an average achiever. The one subject in which I truly excelled was geography. I could recite all the states and capitols. I collected maps pulled from National Geographic Magazine. In May I received an award from the Daughters of the American Revolution at a school assembly. My name was called and I walked to the stage for my plaque. Both mom and dad were proud of their son and took a dozen pictures. I posed on the back steps with my award in hand.

Mom decided I should take up a musical instrument so she sent me with Eileen to Bialon's Accordion Studio on Indianapolis Boulevard. I only lasted a few lessons. I received letter grades for each session, but I didn't know what they signified. Eileen chuckled as she read, "C-C-D". I put up enough of a stink, that my musical education ceased. All I can recall from Bialon's is "My dog has fleas" and "Every good boy does fine." I guess I wasn't a good boy.

In the Spring of 1960 Frank and I began to follow Major League baseball in earnest. He was an LA Dodgers fan with Sandy Colfax as his favorite and I was a Milwaukee Braves fan, favoring Warren Spahn. From the Hammond Times we snipped out Major League Standings and every day pasted them into notebooks. Frank kept detailed statistics of the sixteen teams.

By 1960, I saw less of Jack. He was hanging out at the bowling alley and rolling cigarette packs in his shirt sleeve. Frank and I grew closer to Eileen. After meals we developed a routine. Eileen would wash dishes, Frank would dry with a towel, and I would put away on shelves.

During the several years we did this-until she left the home-Eileen taught Frank and me crazy songs. This one, taken from Jack's Mad Magazine, we sang to the tune of the Air Force anthem, Up We Go:

Up we go into that wide mouth yonder looking for molars to fill.
There's a tooth waiting to hear our thunder. At 'em boys.
Give 'em the drill, RATA-TAT-TAT.
We dislike cavities left untreated. Teeth look bad full of decay.
When we're in doubt, we pull 'em out. Oh, nothing can stop a dentist today.

Little did Frank know when he sang that ditty, he would grow up to become both an Air Force officer and a practicing dentist.

Some songs were passed along by house guests. We learned this parody to Back Home Again in Indiana:

Back home again in dear old Whiting and it seems that I can see
the electric lights still shining bright o'er Lake Michigan for me.
And Amazo sends out its fragrance o'er the streets I used to roam.
And when I dream about the whistle blown at midnight, then I long for my dear old Whiting home.

Eileen taught us tongue-twisters like "Big Black Bug Bled Bad Blood"; "Rubber Baby Buggy Bumper"; "Unique New York, Unique New York, Unique New York"; and "She sells seashells by the seashore", as well as profound questions like, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?" and "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, a peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?"

Along with fun, my sister also taught us to recite the sixty-six books of the Bible, from Genesis all the way to Revelation. Frank and I got so proficient that we would challenge each other. He'd say, "Can you name all the books in one breath?"

I would fill my lungs and after sixty-five books, croak out Revelation. Then I would challenge Frank. "Can you name all the books of the Bible in one breath while hopping on one foot?" And Frank could do it. What fun to have a little brother like Frank. What joy to have a big sister like Eileen.

Looking back at my first decade of life, I can say that my entire family-dad, mom, Jeanne, Charlotte, Jack, Eileen, and Frank-all did their parts to create a joyful and godly environment to "Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)"

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 4

June 1960 to November 1963
Whiting, Indiana

Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.
(Psalm 119:11)

For Chris Alan Foreman childhood lingered while maturity lagged. Eileen once told me that after rearing their first four kids, my parents were fatigued. As children number five and six, Frank and I were innocents, chaperoned by three older sisters and amused by our own company. I see maturity dawning with two transformational events. First, I was anchored in faith through my baptism into the Christian Church and, second, I was molded in character by my participation in the Boy Scouts of America.

The First Church of Christ loomed large in my upbringing. In this particular Protestant denomination, the two ordinances of scripture played a dominant role. My church served communion every Sunday morning, and my dad being an elder, distributed the wafers and juice. My church also held a legalistic view of baptism. We preached immersion as requisite to salvation. That is, if a believer were not baptized, he could not gain eternal life.

I remember once asking a Sunday school teacher, "So if some guy is walking into the baptismal, slips on a banana peel, bumps his head, and dies, then is he going to hell, because he didn't make it those last few steps?" The adult suggested a future interview with the minister might be in order.

It was not such legalism that attracted me to the gospel. Rather, it was the loving example of my parents, the robust hymns of the congregation, and the practical preaching of Mister Thickens, which led me to Christ.

I continually observed my parents as living out their faith. They were not saints, but neither were they hypocrites. They did not use profane language; there was never liquor in the house; they did not abuse their children; and dad and mom seldom quarreled in front of us. They welcomed the downtrodden into our modest home and lived an unpretentious lifestyle. Their integrity won me over.

Hymn singing reached into my soul at a level I did not fathom at the time. I remember my mother singing from the hymnal, There is joy in serving Jesus" and my dad booming out "On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand." These Biblical notions transmitted by song stuck in my ears and migrated to my heart.

The chorus of Blessed Assurance goes, "This is my story. This is my song. Singing His praises all the day long." These lyrics lodged with me to spring out years later during a season of rebellion. At a later time of intense grief, I instinctively held up my arms and whispered the hymn, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Early in the morning my song shall rise to thee". Even decades later I continue to enjoy congregational hymns that I first heard in pre-adolescence.

Mister Thickens preached every Sunday. His official title was mister not reverend or pastor. His messages were as unpretentious as his designation. The Gospel was boldly proclaimed and Scripture was simply expounded. The message was always evangelical: "Come to Jesus and be saved". He offered an altar call after every service. I really liked Mister Thickens and I was sad to see him return to his native Australia. George Davis was his successor. He was okay, but it wasn't the same.

June 1960

My fifteen-year-old sister, Eileen, had been to church camp a few summers already. I had made the drive with family down to Cedar Lake to pick her up, walk the grounds, and wade into the alga-filled water. Now at ten years old, it was my turn to experience Christian camp life. Our theme song went:

Way down at Cedar Lake in Indiana, there is a camp that is the champ of all we know. That's what we're here for, we're here to cheer for. The land is great to learn and play and pray and grow. Good food we eat here. Good friends we meet here as we sit around the campfire glow. There's story, song, and fun until the day is done, down at the camp that is the champ of Indiana!
clap-clap clap-clap-clap.

We sang that ditty in the dining hall three times a day before we rushed to the chow line.

I resided in a cabin with three small rooms. Each room contained two bunk beds housing four boys. The twelve of us composed the Red Team. My cabin-mates were age ten, eleven, and twelve, so I was among the youngest. There were three other cabins like ours; Blue, Green, and Gold.

Teams were awarded points for sports. I wanted to compete in baseball but my skills were minimal. Led by older kids, the Red Team won second place. I sat on the bench and felt useless. Teams also got points for citizenship (keeping clean and staying out of trouble). I think three of the four teams got perfect scores on that measure. Finally, a team could earn points through Bible knowledge. The camp director entered each cabin and quizzed each camper. I astounded my teammates by casually chanting all sixty-six books of the Bible, then adding for good measure the twelve apostles:

Jesus called them one-by-one, Peter, Andrew, James and John.
Then came Phillip, Thomas too, Mathew, and Bartholomew.
James the one they called the Less, Simon, also Thaddeus.
Twelfth apostle Judas made. Jesus was by him betrayed.

I was the Red Team hero and we won first prize during the award ceremony held on Saturday.

However, first prize was not the highlight of my five days at Cedar Lake. Rather, it was my going forward and my profession of faith in Christ. The story goes like this: On Friday afternoon, all forty-eight boys were gathered by the lakeshore to listen to a "famous international evangelist". I sat on the grassy sand in the back as this preacher strode to the front of the assembly. I couldn't believe my eyes. I saw Mister Thickens!

I had been feeling guilty, because my desire was to be baptized by him, but he left the church before I could act on my desire. Now, my second chance appeared. When he announced the altar call, I stepped to the front and confessed to the world, "I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and I accept him as my personal Savior". I wanted Mister Thickens to baptize me right then and there in the waters of Cedar Lake, but it wasn't so to be. He was happy to see me and to rejoice with me. On the next afternoon he gave an envelope to my dad when he came to retrieve me.

I didn't realize I had to attend classes before baptism, but that was the requirement. George Davis led the catechism for six weeks before the big event. I remember sitting with two adults and one other youth, listening to Mister Davis expound the faith. He taught my first Greek lesson. He said something like this: "The Greek Bible was originally written in capital letters with no spaces. Sometimes that made it hard to translate. Take this sentence for example." He wrote on the chalk board: NOWHEREISTRUTH. "Does that say 'Now here is truth' or "Nowhere is truth?'"

At a morning church service on August 7, 1960, Mister Davis immersed me in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. I pledged my life to the one who spoke, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except by me." Christ became my anchor and evermore would be.

Charlotte attended church regularly and sat with our family. Little Jim played in the nursery while Big Jim stayed home. I remember one Sunday when Jacky and I were goofing off. A touch led to a shove and suddenly my communion cup was spilled all over my lap. Mom turned to me with exasperation while Elder dad winced from the communion table up front. My saintly sister Charlotte rescued this blatant sinner. Without a word, she removed the tiny cup from my hand, poured half of her juice into it, then returned it to me with a smile. Could there be a better picture of grace?

School started up again in the Fall. This was my second semester with Mr. Thomas. The odd thing about being a mid-term was that in the Spring half-year older kids were my classmates while in the Fall half-year younger kids shared the classroom. I remember Mr. Thomas telling us fifth-graders that the USA was a democracy; that Americans held an election every four years. This was news to me, since in all my ten years, I could not recall a single election. My perspective soon changed as Nixon versus Kennedy was on the TV news every evening.

I still liked history and geography, but I must admit recess was my favorite period and Clark School provided a vast playground. The space was about one-third of the big school block and it was paved with uneven crumbling asphalt. Sprouts of grass shot through large cracks. There were two baseball backstops in opposite corners, and two basketball hoops tucked in another. In early school years, I just ran around and chased other kids. In middle years we would play half-organized games like Mother May I, Red Light Green Light, and Red Rover. In fifth and sixth grade, we boys played a lot of softball, running the bases and occasionally breaking a school window. Frank was always more rambunctious than I was. He slid into first base whether he needed to or not. Mom constantly patched the knees of his school trousers.

I would sometimes hang out with Jimmy Francis at the other end of the block. We would throw darts or play ping pong in his basement. In September of 1960, the Hitchcock movie, Psycho, was showing at the Hoosier Theater in downtown Whiting. Jim's dad really wanted to see it and thought it might educate his son. Jim asked me to tag along and we three sat in the theater together. At the time, Psycho was one of the few movies that required kids under twelve to be accompanied by an adult. I thought the movie was really creepy, but couldn't understand the tedious psychological ending. Why was Norman Bates dressed like his mother? Why did he preserve her stinky body? Mr. Francis tried to explain Freud to us, but the mumbo-jumbo was beyond my ken.

After following baseball for the entire summer, snipping out and saving the Major League Standings, the World Series was finally at hand. The New York Yankees were again favorites, but Frank and I were rooting for the National League pennant winners, the underdog Pittsburgh Pirates. I listened to every moment of every game. The Yankees would score a lop-sided win, then the Pirates would squeak by the next game by one run. 1960 remains the World Series year in which the losing team outscored the winning team by the widest margin-Yankees 53 to Pirates 27-and the only series in which the last batter in the last game, in the last inning, smacked a come-from-behind home run. That was Bill Mazoroski. It could not have been more thrilling for a ten-year old boy.

Nancy Jo Zelen, my third niece, arrived just as the World Series was beginning. Chubby Checker sang to her the number one song, The Twist.

Just like October, November became a month that stirred my partisan passions. Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy were vying for president of the United States. In my Catholic environs, most of my school mates were campaigning for Kennedy. My dad had picked up Republican pins at the Masonic lodge and provided me with Nixon-Lodge buttons for school. I also wore a badge that read, "Pat for First Lady". I remember Protestant concerns that Catholic Kennedy would "construct a special pipeline of holy water running from Rome all the way to Washington, D. C."

While neighbors were celebrating on November eighth, my family was lamenting. Nixon had lost the election and dad suggested the Pope would now rule over America.

My father had been scoutmaster of Whiting troop number 103 for four years. He took on this role to influence Jack in a positive direction. Don Zelen acted as dad's assistant and Jack's personal mentor. I did participate in Cub Scouts for a short while, but dad did not care for the den mother nor did he like her craft-centered program.

My eleventh birthday fell on a Saturday. On Sunday I received a birthday/Christmas present of a complete Boy Scout uniform and on Monday, December 26, I attended my first Boy Scout meeting. Dad had prepped me ahead of time and on this first day I passed all the requirements for my Tenderfoot badge.


When I returned to school in January, I was in sixth grade. Miss Alison was my new teacher. Two things stand out in my memory. One morning, it was my turn to present something for show and tell. I was not prepared. Television was probably the culprit.

I had read in Mad Magazine an graphic that had caught my eye. It was about the year 1961 being an upside-down year, that is, you turned the digits upside down and it still read 1961. That anomaly impressed me. So, just a few moments before it was my turn to present, I grabbed a marker and paper and wrote out "1-9-6-1". When my turn came, I held up the paper, explained the concept, and turned the paper upside down. I mentioned the last such year occurred in 1881 and the next would not happen until 6009. Miss Alison was impressed and gave me a blue star.

1961 also marked the centennial of the American Civil War. The commemoration was on the news and in our curriculum. Over the next few years, I made several reports about the War between the States, all the way up to April 1965 and the centennial remembrance of Lincoln's assassination.

At the urging of Eileen, I began writing in a diary on January first, 1961. Each day of writing was allotted three lines. Most entries included a ball score, a TV show, a friend who visited, and the high and low temperature of the day. My two juvenile diaries record exact days when life events occurred, but I was not mature enough to share my inner life. However, by writing daily for two and a half years, I did exhibit perseverance.

Boy Scouts became a gigantic part of life for two full calendar years-1961 and 1962. I was attending meetings every Monday, advancing up the ranks, hiking, camping, and earning merit badges. I was proud to wear my scout uniform and give the three-fingered salute. I took to heart the scout oath I recited as a tenderfoot:

On my honor, I promise to do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the scout law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

The scout law ran: "a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent." Our motto was "do a good turn daily" and our slogan "be prepared." Certainly, virtue was being communicated. I was mature enough to grasp the concepts, but not enough so to uphold the standards.

Just as I was entering the Scout ranks, Jack was exiting. His eighteenth birthday loomed and he would soon age out. Dad was frantic because Jack was one merit badge short of his Eagle Scout award. Mom offered her entire month's paycheck if Jack would just buckle down. Finally, dad found a solution. There was an obscure merit badge called automobiling. All Jack had to do was possess a valid driver's license, take the tester for a drive, and answer a few automotive questions. So, Jack gave Don Zelen a drive in the family car, earned his final merit badge, and had his papers signed two days before his birthday. Jack was past eighteen when dad presented him with the award at a Court of Honor.

My older brother was an enigma to me. While five siblings were compliant, he was a contrarian. He once bragged to Eileen that he was drunk most of his senior year. Jack graduated in June of 1961-just barely. His grades were horrible and his attitude worse. He had to take summer make-up classes to actually pick up his diploma and he never considered applying to college.

His saving grace was a love of books. He would read novels late into the night. Frank claims it was a youthful reading of J. D. Salinger that planted a rebellious seed in his heart. Maybe so. I did hear him once remark that Catcher in the Rye was his favorite book ever. Maybe Jack did identify with the disillusionment of Holden Caulfield and perhaps he did acquire a contempt for the phoniness of the world.

My 1961 diary notes a few memorable events. On March 20, Jimmy Francis and I bought a magnifying glass at Star Sales. After our purchase, I remember the elderly clerk asking if we planned to play detectives. Jimmy shot back, "No, we plan to focus the sun on the butts of ants and watch them explode."

On April 11, I noted, "Today the U.S.S.R. got the first man in space." And on April 21, I wrote "Today we got a new 1961 push-button Chevrolet station wagon for $3,500."

I also noted a fight I lost to Bobby Wetnight. He was Jacky's older brother. I remember Bobby pinning me down on the grass with his knees on my shoulders, just laughing in my face while I flailed. I got so furious; I began cussing at him. This was out of character for me, but I knew a few bad words from the school yard. Bobby said, "If you keep cussing like that, I'm going to tell your dad". I kept up my string of expletives and he did tell my father.

The next day I recall the only full dressing down I ever received. Dad and mom summoned me into their bedroom where I stood at attention in front of a poster board that spelled out ten reasons why a young man should not use profanity. Dad made me read each line out loud, made me promise to apologize to Bobby, and never use that kind of language again. And with a few lapses, I have held to that promise.

In 1961 I remember hunting for Jimmy Walker on my bicycle. Poor Charlotte would lock and bolt her front door, push a few chairs to block escape and then try to take a well-deserved nap. Still two-year-old Jimmy managed to find his way out and toddle the streets. Mom received more than a few frantic phone calls.

In those days, Charlotte spent a lot of time at our house, bringing along little Jimmy. That baby was so precocious and such an early walker. As mom and Char gabbed indoors, I watched Jimmy playing in the back garden. Suddenly the baby screamed at the top of his lungs. I couldn't figure out what had happened. Charlotte heard the scream and met me at the back door. He kept rubbing his eyes and the more he rubbed the more he screamed. Finally, we investigated his play site and discovered a mushed-up handful of ornamental red peppers. The poor kid had rubbed it in his mouth and eyes. Mom told me to dig up the pepper plants and drop them into the garbage can.

If I were to describe my father in one word, that word would be "scoutmaster"-in an expanded sense of the term. He wanted to be involved in my life, as coach, as mentor, and as role model. I understood this and respected him for it.

Dad's approval was enough to keep me striving. His disapproval was sufficient to keep me walking the straight and narrow. Dad wanted my life to be more successful than his own. There was an unspoken understanding that I would certainly be going on to college and I would never spend my life as a laboring man.

Dad had troubles at work. I never figured how much was his performance; how much was the changing economy; and how much was his bad luck. Dad lost his job at Standard Oil in 1959 and floundered at a few other jobs. Finally, my mom helped him find employment. She knew somebody who worked at a new high school that was hiring janitors. Dad humbled himself and for a few years worked at Gavit High School. What can I make of this? Was John Foreman a terrible father because he held such a lowly station in life? Or, was he an amazing dad because he accepted help from his wife and did his best to make ends meet?

To earn my swimming and lifesaving merit badges, I took swim classes at the Whiting community center every week of the year. Although I was big and strong, I was not coordinated. The various strokes did not come easily. For my lifesaving badge I had to dive into the deep end of the pool and retrieve a shotput from the depths.

On June 25, I attended my first Boy Scout summer camp. Located along the St. Joseph River, Camp Betz was sixty miles northeast in Berrien Springs, Michigan. During my seven days of tent living, I earned merit badges in Rowing, Woodworking, Canoeing, and Conservation. I remember nightly bonfires, hordes of mosquitos, scorching temperatures, and bug juice/Kool-Aide with every meal. I noticed something about myself that continues to this day. I did enjoy being away from home, but I preferred the solitude of the woods or the quiet of a solo canoe, to the antics of rambunctious pre-teens.

Jack worked as a camp counselor that summer but resented every moment because dad "made him do it". My big brother moved into our basement earning pocket change by setting pins at the bowling alley.

Sandy Patrick was Jack's girlfriend. She worked at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in the Windy City and on a few occasions drove Frank and me to Chicago museums. I remember buying an odd assortment of educational gifts like rock samples glued to cardboard and a conch seashell.

In August, the Zelens drove south on a summer vacation. They were kind enough to take along Frank and me. I remember driving to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and to the Great Smokey Mountains. We wore shorts, camped under stars, ate hot dogs, swam in lakes, bought cheap souvenirs, and mailed home penny post cards. Jeanne treated us just like she did her own children, Debbie and Susie. Don felt half way between my big brother and my dad. The states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina brought my state total to fourteen.

When school started up in the Fall, I was a boy three times over. First of all, I was a Boy Scout. Second, I got my first job working for Boy Carriers. I rolled about two-hundred flat advertising papers into the shape of a thick baton, wrapped each in a rubber band, then tossed them onto my neighbors' porches. My area of responsibility covered six blocks. I worked once a week for a few hours, earning three dollars for each delivery, not bad for a kid of eleven. Third, I was a patrol boy at Clark School. I got to wear a white patrol belt across my chest and help younger kids across the street. I felt empowered.

Miss Welsh was my final teacher in elementary school. She was stern and I remember learning a lot of grammar-verbs/nouns, subject/object. I also learned about yo-yos. All the guys seemed to pull them from their pockets. Of course, I joined the Duncan yo-yo crowd. There was the basic wooden model for twenty-five cents, the butterfly for fifty cents, and the imperial for a dollar. I wasn't very adept. I could make the yo-yo go up and down, sleep for a few seconds, and sometimes complete around the world. For a year or so, yo-yos were the craze at Clark.

Frank and I were still big fans of Major League Baseball and the captivating news of 1961 was the homerun battle between Micky Mantle and Roger Maris. Both were trying to beat the sixty homers hit by Babe Ruth in 1927. By August, the sports page was running the daily statistics for the M&M Boys. Maris won this race and on the final day of the season belted his sixty-first home run. Frank and I were not pleased that the Yankees won yet another World Series.

Over Thanksgiving our family drove the new station wagon to Columbus, Ohio, where Uncle Stutz taught ROTC at Ohio State University. He treated the family to a college football game. Dad was in his element, but I couldn't figure out what was going on. I knew baseball well, but all I saw on the football field was a bunch of big-shouldered guys bumping their heads together and falling to the ground.

I was introduced to basketball at the end of 1961. I was recruited mid-season to play for the sixth grade Pioneers. I wore the official shirt and shorts as I shuffled around the gym. I didn't know much, but I was taller than most. I remember playing the parochial schools. We lost to Saint John, beat Immaculate Conception, then in December lost to Saint Adalbert, 35 to 21. I was high scorer for that game with eight points.

My diary tells me that for my twelfth birthday, my parents gave me a tape recorder. For the life of me I can't remember a thing about it.


With the new year came a new experience. Junior High School shocked my sheltered life. I was given a school locker with a combination; I earned letter grades: A to F; and my teachers stayed in one classroom while I rotated from teacher to teacher. It seemed so different and so grown up. In my woodshop class, fifteen-year-old boys who had flunked a few grades talked about what they did with girls. It was all news to me.

Miss Forsyth taught math (not arithmetic). We chanted the multiplication tables and mastered long division, no mercy from her. Miss Day-her face like a prune-seemed older than dirt. She had us reciting helping verbs: "Be, am, is, are, was, were, been; have, has, had; do, does, did; shall, should, can, could, will, would, may, might, must." Mr. Sandala taught geography, and Miss Frasier reading.

My circle of friends expanded. A group of kids from Franklin School began attending Clark, as well as a busload of newbies from North Hammond. Reinhart became a friend and Linda a girl of interest. I exhibited my affection for her by whopping her over the head with my school books. Several of the boys became team mates in basketball and football.

Boy Scouts continued to be a focus of my life. Troop 103 (now renumbered as Troop 230) met on Monday evening from six to seven in the Congregational Church basement. Our troop was the one "non-Catholic" gathering in town. We boys were a collection of Protestants, Jews, and a few Greeks. My dad was born organizer. He posted weekly scout events and passed along reports to the scout district. It was amazing how much our Boy Scout Troop was engaged in the local community.

A big part of the weekly meeting was the activity. I remember competing in four of them. For Concentration boys were numbered and sat in a circle. One would clap "clap-clap-one-two". Two would return-clap, "clap-clap-two-five" and so on, until someone messed up and was eliminated. The last boy sitting was the winner.

Steal the Bacon was a more active game. Half of the boys would line up against one wall and half against the other. A towel (bacon) was placed in the middle. When the leader yelled "one", opposing boys assigned as one would dash to snatch the bacon and return to the wall before the other touched him. Boyhood energy was thus dissipated.

Memory consisted of a tablecloth draped over twenty household objects, then revealed for ten seconds. The scout who could remember the most objects was the winner. Musical Chairs was the fourth game but it required a record player.

A January event was called the Klondike Derby. As patrol leader of the Apaches, I led in building a snow sled from wood and painted it-of course dad assisted. Fathers would convey sleds to a nearby farm and scouts would spend one long Saturday racing our creations. Each boy would be required to stand in a sled while the rest pulled him along a winding course. It was great fun and we won gold nuggets, which turned out to be melted lumps of brass.

In February the city of Whiting sponsored a Boy Scout Day. I was chosen to be the Judge and got to sit in the actual chair of Judge Obermiller. I was supposed to preside over a mock trial, but I was too bashful to say much.

Diary entries tell me that Frank was baptized on February 11 and on April 11 Shelley Ann Walker was born. Johnny Angel topped the pop charts sung by Shelley Fabares. I also made note of a new color television dad brought into the living room.

I was thrilled by that purchase. Now I could watch cartoons in the manner they were meant to be watched. Decades later I wrote a story concerning my mother and that TV, calling it Brown Paper Bag.

One day after school I rushed home and plopped down in front of the TV. Mom was in the kitchen preparing the evening meal. Engrossed in cartoons, I heard her call out, "Chris, come in here. I need you for something." I dutifully walked to the kitchen.

"Your dad's coming home soon and I want to fix a salad, but we're out of lettuce. I want you to go to the store and buy some lettuce for me." She put a quarter in my hand and sent me to the corner grocery store.

I ran as fast as I could, not wanting to miss a bit of Rocky and Bullwinkle. I rushed past the counter and spotted the leafy round vegetable. I handed over the quarter waiting impatiently for change. Then I raced home in record time and quickly handed over the brown bag resuming my favorite repose.

My bliss was short lived. Again, my mom called out, "Chris, come over here". Her eyes flashed, "This is not a lettuce. Can't you even tell the difference between a cabbage and a lettuce?"

My lip trembled. Then I saw her anger melt into exasperation, and her exasperation into resignation. Finally came a sigh, then a smile. "Oh, well", she said, "I guess your dad will have coleslaw for dinner."

When I think about my mother, I think about her mercy. I think about her cheerful optimism; her ability to make the best of whatever emerged from her brown paper bag.

As a Boy Scout I was in continual motion. I completed a twenty-mile hike on the Yellowwood Trail in central Indiana. I remember prancing to the finish line as adults panted behind me. My feet hurt, but I was a ball of energy. I earned my hiking merit badge a few weeks later.

In the summer I went to Camp Betz for the second time. I earned four more merit badges and completed the mile swim. The fifty laps were not supposed to be a competition for the ten boys in the pool, but without too much effort, I managed to finish second. I sewed a patch to my swim trunks emblazoned with a sea horse.

Frank wasn't yet eleven but dad pulled some strings and he was able to visit the pool. Word got out Frank was singing and dramatizing all the words to Little Egypt who "came out strutting wearing nothing but a button and a bow". The teenage lifeguard bullied Frank into singing before he could hop in the pool. My brother was not a happy camper.

After Camp Betz, I was promoted to Life Scout, then Senior Patrol Leader. I was zipping through scouts in the fast lane. Troop 230 continued to meet at the Congregational Church. Ceremony and reverence were important to dad. We closed every scout meeting in a circle singing and reciting:

By the blazing council fire's light,
We are met in comradeship tonight.
Round about the whispering trees,
Guard our golden memories.
And so, before we close our eyes to sleep,
Let us pledge each other that we'll keep,
Scouting friendship strong and deep.
Till We meet again.

"Troop Attention".
Day is done, Gone the sun. From the lakes,
from the hills, from the skies.
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Scoutmaster's Benediction
And now may the great Master of all true scouts be with us
till we meet again. And may we follow the trails that lead to him.

In August, Frank, Eileen, and I went on vacation with the Zelen Family. Berny Staley-their unofficial foster child-tagged along. It was a great four days at Warren Dunes in Michigan, running down sandy hills. I could accelerate to my maximum speed, then let myself tumble in the soft sand. Eileen and Berny were continually singing the top song of the summer, Sherry, by the Four Seasons.

Just before school started, Jimmy Francis acquired a new passion. Her name was Ellen Wood. I'd ask him, "What do you want to do today?"

He'd respond with a grin; "Let's walk over to Ellen's house."

Then we'd walk to 2121 Superior Avenue. Sometimes she was home; sometimes not. When Ellen was away, we didn't want to waste the eight-block trek, so we would wander a few streets further and hang out around George Lake. The area was marshy and ringed by industry. A mountain of slag dumped by Union Carbide served as our playground. The artificial rocks were sharp and shiny.

One of our past times was to pick cat tails, dry them out, and then smoke them-that is, pretend to puff them like cigars. They produced an incense-like aroma. Our favorite drying bin was the attic of the Francis garage. Once we stuck dozens of cat tails above the ceiling rafters. This crawl space super-heated in the summer. Unfortunately, we forgot our stash and when we returned months later all we found were handfuls of messy brown fluff.

After a year of struggling at home, Jack decided that college was preferable to pin setting. He took special tests to gain admittance to Indiana University. With knowledge gained through book-reading, he passed the aptitude tests.

My parents drove him to Bloomington in September of 1962. I remember visiting his dingy basement boarding room and admiring his IU cigarette lighter. After a semester of classes, he drifted home and for several months lurked in the basement, aimless and depressed.

To say the least, Jack found it difficult to get up in the morning. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed did not happen for him until the sun went down. Nothing could get him out of bed in the morning. There was one exception. Jack gave me permission to wake him to watch the Soupy Sales Show. The comedy acts started at noon on Saturdays. Sometimes Jack crawled upstairs, sometimes he mumbled. But when he did drag himself to the TV, it was fun to watch Jack laugh as Soupy carried on his antics with Pooky and Hippy. "Be true to your teeth and they won't be false to you," I remember Soupy intoning.

By 1962 athletics competed with Boy Scouts for my time. I tried out for Junior High football. As I walked off to my first practice, dad gave me one piece of advice, "Tell them you want to play in the backfield, not the line." I didn't even know what those words meant, but I repeated them. Because I was taller and faster than most, the coaches stuck me at halfback.

I was a fast learner and football was fun. You got to wear a helmet and pads; run fast, bump, and tackle people. I played in several games and made a few touchdowns. I discovered I was a good punter. Dad was proud of me.

In mid-November, seventh-grade basketball started. My diary tells me I threw a football in the morning and shot baskets in the afternoon. Again, my size and speed helped me star in adolescent hoops. In two of the five games I scored one-half of the team points; winning 38 to 20 over Irving and losing 35 to 25 to Saint John. Dad encouraged me by installing a basketball hoop above the backyard pavement between our house and the apartment.

Something tragic happened on November 30. Ron Francis-the seventeen-year-old brother of Jim Francis-died while lifting weights. They said later it was from a rheumatic heart. I knew Ron only casually. I did not know then how devastating a loss like that can be to a family. I didn't see Jimmy for a few weeks and we didn't talk about the death.

Eileen participated in something like Scouts. Her organization was called Job's Daughters and was the young ladies auxiliary of the Masonic Lodge. As one of the leaders, Eileen would have girls coming over the house, and would sponsor parties and luncheons. One of the Job's girls had a crush on me. Linda Beeson kept pestering me with notes with such statements as "I like you". The attention was flattering and I returned notes to her. But girls were just a curiosity. We held hands once after a Christmas party then drifted apart.

1963 to November

Now I was thirteen and in eighth grade. I continued with Miss Forsyth and Miss Day as core instructors. I learned a lot from these old women, even though I applied myself a little. Miss Kolasek was my music teacher and Miss Morrison taught Art. These two classes were not book-based and provided a change of pace-no homework. As I recall my Junior High years, my interests lay outside the school doors. Nearly all of my brief diary entries begin with the same line, "Today after school, I - -".

I remember Miss Kolasek asking her eighth-graders to bring in musical selections from home. My family owned a hundred tunes running the gamut from rock & roll to classical to comic. I borrowed an album from Jack and the class was treated to five minutes of cool jazz: Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

At thirteen, I began to attend a church youth group on Sunday evenings. We gathered in the social hall, played a few games, and George Davis led us in a Bible Study. The stuffy minister did not resonate with teens. I thought the whole affair was tedious and only attended to please my parents.

My scoutmaster-dad pushed me hard to earn the Eagle badge. I was precocious, athletic, and motivated enough to accomplish it in record time- two years, one month, and three days. I passed the board of review on January 27 and received my badge at a court of honor on March 4.

It was a whirlwind experience. In retrospect, it might have been better for me to delay the zenith award for a few more years, because after I earned the Eagle, I lost interest in scout events. But by that time, dad had a new project. Little brother Frank had been a Boy scout for six months and was zooming through the requirements just as I had.

I played basketball almost every day throughout January and February. My team won the Hammond Eight Grade Basketball Tourney with a thrilling 34-32 win over Harding. We celebrated as world-conquerors. Our reward was to see the Harlem Globetrotters play in Chicago on March 3.

In April, I began track practice. This would prove to be my premier sport. I excelled at high jump, broad jump, and the sprints. I was never a good team player and with track I could succeed in solitude. The overall team score didn't matter too much. If I won my individual event, I was a winner regardless. I required three stitches once when I jumped over five feet high, landed in a sand pit, and the metal bar smashed against my shin.

On April 11, Charlotte was involved in a serious car accident. She was driving Big Jim's Thunderbird when she crashed into the rear of a truck. The sportscar was totaled and Frank, Charlotte, and Shelly went to the hospital. Dad, mom, and I rushed to see them. Shelly was in a restraining seat and unhurt. Frank got a few stitches, and Charlotte suffered from whiplash. They all returned home that evening, but the experience resulted in a series of visits to the chiropractor. That's when we began our regular appointments with the Matthias brothers who practiced a bone-cracking technique called Grostic.

Also, about that time, the back apartment changed hands. After Chester was kicked out for galivanting and Linda and Laureen moved out, only Jessica and Jannette were left. They returned to the South and the Walker family of four moved in. It was good to have them so close.

Jack grew concerned about the military draft. One day after dinner he announced he had signed up for the Air Force. A few days later he went off to Lackland for basic training, then to Biloxi for his radio-intelligence specialty.

We have a movie clip of Jack-his fiance Sandy at his side-walking out our back door and heading to his first assignment in Trabzon, Turkey. Rather than dwelling in the basement, Jack would be keeping his eye on the Commies.

Jack was into comedy albums and just before departing he bought the number one-selling album in the USA. First Family featured stand-up comedian and impersonator Vaughn Meader. Even my dad enjoyed the spoof. Was it because the album mocked the Kennedys or did dad develop a genuine affection for the first family?

During her senior year, Eileen became the Honored Queen of Job's Daughters. That was a cause of celebration for the family. She graduated from Clark in June and had a steady boyfriend named Al Lewandowsky. I never saw what she liked about him. He was mean to me and disrespectful to Eileen. His nickname for her was Stubby, which was ironic because at five foot six inches, she was about as tall as he was. I considered Al a blowhard jock and I was happy when she dumped him before the end of the year.

Eileen would remain a part of the household for three more years. She worked at Saint Ann's Home for a while, then settled in a steno-pool at Standard Oil. She bought a Chevy Corvair to zip around town. Eileen occupied the second bedroom, while Frank and I slept mostly in the attic.

Eileen was a subscriber to Readers' Digest, her favorite section being "Laughter is the Best Medicine". The magazines always seemed to collect above the commode.

She once mailed in a humorous anecdote based on a note that I had left her. Somebody had phoned Eileen earlier with an urgent message and directed I put it in a place she was sure to see it when she returned from work. I composed the note, opened the refrigerator door, and placed it in front of the salami. My sister laughed and laughed, but alas, her submission didn't win a prize.

I attended Camp Betz one more summer, working in the kitchen and earning some money. I had free time to canoe and swim. By 1963, I wore the forest green uniform of an Explorer Scout. At a secret campfire ceremony, I was solemnly inducted into the Order of the Arrow.

Dad urged me to sign up for marksmanship at the camp's rifle range. I assumed the prone position, held the twenty-two rifle, and fired about twenty rounds. Only half hit the paper target. I did learn this fact about myself. Although I am right-handed, I am left-eyed. That circumstance went some way in explaining my lack of hand-eye coordination.

I did enjoy my scout camping. I wrote letters home to attest to that. In June of 1963, the U.S. post office introduced the new Zip Code system! I had to get use to putting "46394" after "Indiana". After this summer camp my interest in Boy Scouts waned and I was happy dad's attention had shifted to Frank.

The summer of sixty-three was a time of bike exploring. Jimmy Francis and I would ride our bicycles to every odd place one could imagine. One of our favorite destinations was Egger's junkyard, the ugly twin of Egger's Grove. Straddling the state line and unmonitored by law, these few acres were an illegal dumping ground for all kinds of treasures. Most of the items Jim and I found we destroyed. We would line up bottles and throw rocks at them; locate discarded TVs and pound them to pieces. Sometimes we pretended to be Godzilla on a rampage.

Why do adolescent boys crave destruction? It was always fun to create a sand castle or snowman, but even more fun to destroy our creation.

The oddest thing we found at the dump was an old tombstone. I forget the name but the death date was 1876. I was a student of history and declared this a genuine antique. Jim and I managed to drag this fifty-pound stone into his basement. It lodged in his coal cellar to make an occasional appearance on Halloween.

We also bicycled down to the railroad tracks by Whiting Park. We got into trouble there. During a previous train ride to Chicago, we had paid ten cents to squash a penny in a machine. Someone told us that a rail car could do the same thing but for free. So, Jim and I grabbed a handful of pennies and discovered a place where we could see trains passing back and forth. We placed the copper on the iron rails and marked the position with a pile of gravel. It was so cool. We crushed about a dozen pennies over the course of an hour. We talked about smashing a hundred to sell at school.

That's when a figure approached us. He shouted and gave chase. No chance. Thirteen-year-old boys can run like lightning when spooked.

Finally, the old guy shouted, "Please stop, boys, I just want to talk with you."

We obliged him. The man introduced himself as a railroad detective saying we had been reported by the train conductor. He asked if we were trying to derail the trains.

"No", we gasped.

He asked why were we then piling stones and we said it was just to mark out where we placed the pennies. We showed him the squashed coins. He lectured us for several minutes, said we should tell our parents, and made us promise not to do such a thing again. Next time we might go to jail. At one point he said, "You boys should be doing something useful. Have you considered the boy scouts?"

Jim smiled. I winced. I didn't want to tell him I was an Eagle Scout.

Soon we were back in school and I developed a penchant for my science class. As a final project, I presented a lesson on laser beams. They were cutting edge technology at the time. I brought in charts and my scout flashlight (the green one with the angled end). I looked for my childhood prism, but couldn't find it.

I explained laser was an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". The big words impressed the class. Then I shined the flashlight against the wall and showed how the beam spread as it traveled. I explained white light was composed of the spectrum of colors while a laser beam consisted of a single color of light wave. That's what made it powerful. Mr. Peterson gave me an A. Too bad a pocket laser did not exist back in 1963.

My voice was dropping and hair was growing in funny places. I grew to about five-foot ten. My football season was outstanding. I seemed bigger and stronger than most of the boys. I scored a touchdown in every game and could kick the ball nearly fifty yards. Jacky Wetnight was our little quarterback and I remember in one game picking him up and carrying him five yards forward. The referee penalized me for illegal assisting of the runner.

Hormones were also affecting my complexion. Pimples were popping out on my face. Eileen gave me some of her Noxzema, but it didn't help much. I became self-conscious of my looks and even more shy around girls.

I remember at the end of football season there was a special recognition dinner and I received an award. The setting was really fancy, unfamiliar to this working-class boy. We walked down a line of tables and a waiter offered various beverages. He suggested I try hot tea. That was something new to me. He filled my cup then asked, "lemon or cream?"

I didn't know anything about tea. I figured if either were good, both would be better. I said, "How about both lemon and cream?" His eyes widened; he smiled; then obliged. I took one sip of the curdled liquid and gagged. I made sure the smug waiter was out of sight before I dumped the contents into the waste bin. I did learn a lesson. Two good things in separation can become one nasty thing in combination.

Jimmy Francis was my singular friend. We would spend hours together in the attic laughing, drawing, and collaborating on homework. Frank would pop in and out. We were getting into popular music and listening to some of Eileen's forty-fives: Blue Velvet, Deep Purple, and Sugar Shack. Jim liked Wipe Out and would pound out the drum solo on boxes. I helped Eileen buy the album, I Am the Greatest by Cassius Clay.

One of the songs I played was by Bob Dylan: The Times They are a Changin'. That seemed to ring true in my life. Occasionally we would re-play The First Family album, but on November 22, 1963, the times did change. Cadence Records pulled that comedy album from record stores and destroyed all existing copies. It was a very sad Friday.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 5

November 1963 to October 1967
Whiting, Indiana

Rejoice, young man, and let your heart cheer you. Banish all sorrow from
your heart for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 11:9 & 10)

When plumage first appears on a bird, it remains bound to its nest and the feathered creature is termed a fledgling. By my early-teens, I was acquiring adult plumage and began to stray from my comfortable nest.

The vanity of teenage culture engulfed me. Sports moved to center stage and television consumed my time. Rock music cast a potent spell over my soul. I wanted to stand out as an individual by imitating my high-school peers.

On wing by myself, I experienced my first romantic heartbreak and soloed my first adventure abroad. Over fifteen months I journaled my daily pleasures and pains. Yet, throughout four years of adolescent tumult, God continued to be a Chris-whisperer.

November 1963

November 22, 1963, began as a typical eighth-grade day. I had just returned to school after lunch and was sitting in math class. The voice of our school principal sounded over the loudspeaker, announcing an immediate assembly in the auditorium. As the hallways filled with students, I heard whispers that President Kennedy had been shot; maybe he was dead.

Teachers were in tears as students took their seats. The principal announced from the podium, "President Kennedy has died. Teachers and students, please take off the rest of the day, watch television for the news, and we will see you Monday morning." That completed the assembly. We walked home in a daze.

News flashed across the airwaves. I saw Lyndon Johnson sworn in as president, Lee Harvey Oswald marched past reporters, and Jack Ruby pump bullets into Oswald. The planet seemed to careen out of orbit.

Then followed a state funeral with little John Changing saluting a flag-draped coffin. My family bought the Kennedy Memorial album and ditched the frivolous First Family.

Looking back, the Kennedy assassination marked a boundary. The Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations encompassed my boyhood while Johnson and Nixon demarcated my youth.

After watching endless TV coverage of the Kennedy assassination, I began to follow national events. The Vietnam war was heating up and Walter Cronkite began to intone his nightly scoreboard: number of Americans killed, wounded, and MIA; number of South Vietnamese and Viet Cong killed.

Christmas of 1963 saw nine of us posing on the living room couch: Dad, Mom, Jeanne, Eileen, me, Frank, Debbie, Susie, and Nancy. (Don was taking the picture).

I was getting involved in top forty music. Jim really liked Surfin' Bird and could mimic all the goofy sound effects. Frank and I began acquiring our own forty-five records, splitting the one-dollar cost. As the calendar flipped into 1964, I flipped for four lads from Liverpool.


The first time I heard I Want to Hold your Hand, I sensed my paradigm shift. The beat exuded youthful energy and the shaggy hair hinted at rebellion. Beatlemania spread like a pandemic among American youth and I caught a high-grade fever.

It is difficult to explain the spell the Beatles cast over me. After watching my idols perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, I purchased every album the Beatles ever released. And they were gigantic, monopolizing the top five slots on American pop charts. I was obsessed, wanting to play their music, dress like them, and be them.

As a matter of fact, I did become John Lennon. Our music teacher staged an operetta and wasn't recruiting boys. Jim suggested she allow a Beatles tribute band to perform on stage. And so, I became John, Jim played Paul, Cary was George, and Botch was Ringo. The College Beatles strummed the instruments and lip-synced She Loves You- yeah, yeah, yeah. As a fourteen-year-old devotee, nothing could have been groovier.

When classes started in January, I found myself in the third semester of eighth grade. School authorities wanted us mid-terms to either advance to the class ahead or regress to the one behind. Since I was an athlete, I opted to redshirt a semester and graduate from High School in 1968 rather than 1967. I was ineligible to play sports from January to June.

Without basketball or track, my class load was light. I listened to hours of Beatles music and hits from groups in the British Invasion: The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, and Kinks.

Our fountain of coolness was WLS radio. Frank and I began to collect the weekly Silver Dollar Survey and tick-mark the forty-fives we had purchased. Every evening at ten, WLS would unveil "the top three most requested songs in Chicagoland". Frank kept a binder of top-three statistics.

Cassius Clay was also a source of entertainment. His February knockout of Sonny Liston combined prowess with humor. I chuckled as Howard Cosell played the boxer's straight man. I monitored the ups and downs of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali over the next fourteen years.

When the Walkers moved into the back apartment after the Buchmans moved out, I relished my role as Uncle Chris. My career goal was never to become a doctor or lawyer, but a family man. I aspired to find a good woman and rear children. Because the Zelen family lived just a few blocks away, Debbie, Susie, Nancy, Jimmy and Shelly filled my life with joy.

In the summer of sixty-four, I was also into pogo sticks. I managed to bounce all around the block. Our private rules allowed us to pause at each corner and lean against a lamp post. Agile Frank won this contest with three complete laps.

My parents bowled in a summer church league and I learned the sport by substituting for an absent adult. My average was around 90, but I once bowled a 150 game. On an equal footing with adults, I felt grown up.

I continued to be a big Beatles fan. Jim, Frank, and I walked to the Hoosier Theater to see A Hard Day's Night. The British humor zoomed over my head. A few days before school started, I peddled my bike around the block shouting to any within earshot, "I'm going to see the Beatles".

On September 5, Eileen drove Frank, Jim, and me to the International Amphitheater in Chicago. It was crazy. From our cheap seats we could barely see the Fab Four prancing on stage and we couldn't hear a word of song. Female shrieking shattered my ears. Jim stacked chairs to get a better view but tumbled to the ground. Dozens of girls swooned and were carted out on stretchers. Sensible Eileen was disappointed with the noise, but I was thrilled to be a part of this cultural phenomenon.

As school kicked off in the fall of 1964, I was a high school freshman. My class of 1968 swelled by one hundred after an influx of parochial-school students. I made lots of new friends and gawked at new girls.

My classes were new too. I took English lit, German, typing, biology, and geometry. I remember my theological reflections in geometry. I learned a straight horizontal line with end dots indicated a line segment; a line with an arrow at each end stood for an infinite line; and a line with a left dot and a right arrow indicated a start point but no end point.

My argument was with my scientific classmate, Reinhard Fritz. I contended that the double-ended arrow represented God and the right-ended arrow man. He argued in the actual universe everything is a line segment, passing into and out of existence.

I noted as freshman football began that my size and speed were being challenged. Other guys were getting bigger and hairier than me. A few from the influx outplayed me. George Yearsich from Saint John's starred at quarterback and Duane Duracz from North Hammond displaced me at halfback. I settled for defensive safety and did all the kicking.

My dad loved gadgets. He was early to buy a movie camera, Polaroid camera (with the goop), and color TV. He now acquired a large real-to-reel tape player, wanting to record church events. However, Frank and I appropriated the bulky machine, recording rock songs from the radio.

On the day after Christmas, Jim Francis joined Frank and me at the back apartment. Photographs show us three sitting with Charlotte, Jimmy, and Shelley. My buddy and I are posing with new walkie-talkies. Jim Francis tells me that within the next few days he made first radio contact with a girl named Peggy.

The year ended with a new nephew. When Don John Zelen was born on December 31, the Beatles topped the charts with a two-sided hit: She's a Woman/I Feel Fine.


My parents remained perplexed by my obsession with popular music. Yet they were indulgent. In 1965 my dad was employed at Youngstown Steel and, through job contacts, he was able to buy tickets to pop concerts. Frank, Eileen, and I went to see several rock shows in Chicago. Slip covers from 45 records plastered one wall in the living room. When adult visitors noted the unusual pastiche, my dad would comment, "Oh, it's just a phase they're going through."

My basketball season began in January and I played forward for the freshman Clark Pioneers. I failed to display the talent or motivation to make the starting five and played about half the minutes. I was too sanguine to excel in aggressive sports.

About that time, Don Zelen accepted a position with Reynolds Aluminum and the Zelen family of six relocated to Lisle, llinois. I missed that big chunk of my extended family. We made occasional visits-it was only an hour's drive-but I perceived my close-knit world was unraveling.

On February first, Frank picked up the telephone to hear an unfamiliar voice. He shouted out, "Hey Eileen, some guy named Harry Zipperman wants to talk to you." Terry later told me he was so embarrassed by that mangling of his name that he almost hung up the phone. And so, Airman Terry Zimmerman entered our life as Eileen's new boyfriend.

To accommodate her need for private conversations, dad bought Eileen an extra-long coiled cord that stretched neck-high from the wall near the kitchen into her bedroom. It proved to be a strangulation device as I dashed through the house.

Dad and mom did not go to the movies much, but I remember them once going on a double date to see Doctor Zhivago. When they returned home, I asked mom about the show. She said she liked most of the story line and music, as well as the gorgeous scenery. She generally enjoyed romances, but not this one. The Russian doctor carried out an illicit affair with Laura, even while he was married to someone else. That ran contrary my mom's sensibilities.

I was a star in track even as a freshman. I broad-jumped over twenty feet and high-jumped five-feet nine inches. I also ran fourth leg in the eight-eighty relay. I earned medals and ribbons galore. I clipped track reports from the Hammond Times and saved them in a binder. I earned a Clark varsity letter in track which mom sewed onto my C-club jersey.

Sports finally ended my regular participation in Boy Scouts. I remember saying to Coach Powell, "About this Saturday track meet? I have a hike with the Scouts. Is it okay if I skip this one?"

He was understanding. "Chris", he said, "Scouts is a good thing. I'm all for it, but you have to understand if you're on my track team, I need you for every meet. Why don't you talk to your dad about it?" I had the talk and skipped the scout hike.

I became an uncle once more. Herman's Hermits were singing Mrs. Brown You've got a Lovely Daughter when Chris John Walker was born in May. Now two nephews and one niece were living in the back apartment.

In June I attended two summer-school classes. I was eager to drive a car and took driver's training. I earned my learner's permit and Eileen let me drive around town. I also took advanced biology. I teamed up with straight-A Eric Tangelos and we scoured the neighborhood to build a large insect collection.

I enjoyed learning for learning's sake whether it be academic or Biblical. In my church youth group, I created charts of Adam, Eve, and their descendants, while in biology class I wrote about Cro-Magnon man. In my bifurcated world Adam and Troglodyte existed hand in hand.

Once when I was talking to Frank at the dinner table, dad interrupted, "Chris, how can you believe that nonsense about monkeys evolving into humans?"

I responded with academic arrogance, "I don't. But it seems likely that men and monkeys derive from a common ancestor."

On July 4, I was invited to a picnic with Marvin and Beulah, the parents of Jim Francis. His mom brought along a bag of sandwiches, while his dad sneaked a bag of fireworks. After consuming the lunch near Whiting Park, Mr. Francis proceeded to blast his cherry bombs and M-80s on a strand of beach near the shore line.

Soon Mrs. Francis ran up to him shouting, "Marvin, you fool, a cop is coming this way." Jim and I grabbed the remaining explosives and dashed down the beach. When we turned back, a policeman was issuing Jim's dad a citation. We sheepishly handed over our paper bag. Jim later told me our escapade had cost his father eighty bucks.

In August our family drove to Texas to visit my two uncles. Both Stutz and Joe had retired from the Air Force and both had resettled in San Antonio. We brought along my Grandpa Dydek to re-connect with his two sons. This was my first trip west of the Mississippi River. I remember paddle boats on canals, the Alamo, and a dash across the border into Mexico. I also remember the Beach Boys singing Help Me, Rhonda. The states of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas brought my total of visited states to seventeen.

Beginning at 10:00 P.M. on August 15, I recorded the top three requested songs from WLS radio. Number three was I Got You, Babe by Sonny and Cher; Number two was Catch Us If You Can by the Dave Clark Five; and Number one was Help! by the Beatles.

Frank and I attended our second Beatles concert on August 20. Eileen drove us to Comiskey Park in Chicago. With 37,000 in attendance, we cheered through hits like Ticket to Ride and Twist and Shout. This time there was an ad campaign on WLS radio called "don't scream" and we were able to hear most of the songs.

As summer was ending, Frank was still advancing in Boy Scouts and was striving for his God and Country award. Dad suggested we get the award together, so for a few months we met with George Davis and learned the rudiments of our denomination. The official photograph shows me standing about eight inches taller than Frank as we pose together with the preacher. After twenty-eight merit badges and an Eagle with bronze palm, I stopped striving.

A short time later, Frank earned his Eagle scout award. From the front of the gathering, my dad remarked how this was his third son to earn that rank. He was surprised when the head of the regional Boy Scouts strode to the front to drape around his neck the BSA's highest award for adults. Scoutmaster John Foreman always wore his Silver Beaver with pride.

When school started up in September, I began my sophomore year. I considered myself more of a jock than an academic. I played football for the B-squad and participated in several games. The cyclic rhythm of football-basketball-track seemed as natural to me as autumn-winter-spring. The thought never entered my mind to drop a sport.

Although I was capable, I never strove for academic distinction. To me and my parents, average was normal and normal was desirable. In any case, I was too involved in sports, watched too much television, and listened to too much rock music to make any honor roll. Academics was not my priority at the time.

However, I did enjoy memorizing poetry in my American Literature classes. I amazed adults by reciting Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost as well as the prologue to Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: "This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and hemlocks. Bearded in moss and in garments green indistinct in the twilight". On occasion dad would request a long recitation in front of his friends.

At fifty years old, dad was still laboring at Youngstown Steel. I remember his routine. He would open the back door about five-thirty. Mom was usually in the kitchen cooking dinner. She would greet him with a kiss as he wearily set his empty lunch pail on the counter. Any children around would greet him as he walked toward the bathroom to clean up.

After a few minutes, he would emerge in fresh clothes and ask us about our day. He kept a mat behind the couch and would lie on the floor. He said he needed to stretch his back. When mom called us to dinner, he would rise and stow the mat. Eileen had set the table for five and we all ate together, engaging in conversation.

Meal portions were generous and food hardy. Mom was a good cook. She typically served a central meat dish-one piece per person, beef, pork chops, or chicken. There were always potatoes, vegetables from a can, bread, sometimes rice or pasta. The only ethnic food we consumed on a regular basis was sauerkraut or polish sausage. Oftentimes there were sweets for dessert. Fruit, salad, and cold cuts were reserved for the lunch menu.

After the meal, we continued the tradition of Eileen washing the dishes, Frank drying, and me putting away. My sister always led us in songs or recitations. An hour after supper, dad would pull the chains on the coo-coo clock, winding it for another twenty-four hours.

For Christmas, Eileen bought Frank and me a nifty 45 rpm record player. It was battery operated and the records clicked into and out of a playing port. It was so cool to listen to my music sitting on the school steps. It also attracted girls. Eileen hit a home run with that gift.

About this time, Reynolds Aluminum once again promoted Don Zelen. The family was leaving Illinois and moving to Florence, Alabama. They called it "the heart of Dixie". As they lingered at our house on Don John's first birthday, I turned on the reel-to-reel tape to record Christmas singing and sad farewells.

Nancy Jo sang incessantly "Give us some Figgie pudding"; Shelley bumped her head on a table; and Jimmy shouted, "You're gonna be so happy, you're gonna kiss a rock."

Staying up late on New Year's Eve, I recorded Art Roberts on WLS Radio. As a sixteen-year-old, I loved the way he counted down from 1965 to 1966.


In the first week of January, dad drove me to the DMV. At sixteen, I was finally eligible for my driver's license. I passed the written test with a near perfect score. When I finished the driving portion, the man said, "You're a good little driver, but I could fail you on this test".

Although, I had clicked the signal at every turn, I failed to use my hand gestures out of the open window, as the book proscribed. He said he could have deducted points for every turn, but he only docked me for the first mistake and I passed with a 92 of 100.

Jim Francis got his license about the same time, but he was into motorcycles and acquired his first Honda.

On January 9, Frank and I accompanied our parents on a lightning trip to Alabama, my eighteenth state. Zelens had moved into 209 Colonial Court in Florence. I thought their brand-new place was a mansion complete with chandelier.

We made a recording of the Zelen kids greeting family in Whiting. Don made a point to say, "Y'all come back now, y'hear"; Jeanne reported taking mom to the hair dresser; Susie told the joke, "Did you hear about the crazy old man who said 'no"" - "no" Ha, ha, ha. Nancy talked about the vanity she had received for Christmas; DJ breathed into the mic, "Aha"; and Debbie plunked the piano and giggled as she reported a visit to Wilson Dam (I mean "Darn").

Back at GRC, basketball season picked up again. I played junior-varsity and at six foot I had leaping skills. I could stand under the hoop, jump straight up and touch the rim with both hands. Coach Dougherty was always screaming at me to be more aggressive. I guess I lacked the killer instinct. I figured I was like Ferdinand the bull; big and powerful, but content to lie in the grass and watch the world at whim.

In mid-February, track began. Although Clark High School fielded a freshman-sophomore team, I ran varsity. I was the premier high jumper and competed with Bob Bobbin for first spot in broad jump. Again, I ran fourth leg in the half-mile relay. After a mediocre football season and poor basketball season, track re-built my athletic esteem.

Rinehart taught me how to play chess. I was a quick learner and we would spend our study hall moving pieces around the board. He usually won the match. I never book-studied the game, except for one move, the Fool's Mate. Rinehart was so shocked when I shouted "checkmate" after my black made two moves: e5-Qh4.

In my church youth group, Mister Davis railed against rock music. He claimed it had no redeeming value. I brought in my copy of the Bird's Turn, Turn, Turn and played it on my portable turntable. The lyrics were directly taken from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. He listened but said he couldn't understand a word of the gibberish. Talk about a generation gap!

On Sunday, February 27, I began writing a one-year journal. I managed to fill a complete page of lined paper every day for the following 364 days. This is how the first day read:

Last night I stayed up 'til 3:00 playing chess with Mary Ann. I beat her three games to one. I was tired this morning for church. During church, I let Jimmer (Jimmy Walker) play with my ring and watch. Frank got sick at church so 'Neen (Eileen) took him home. Had a good lunch. Lone Ranger today was in color-weird.

It is now 13 minutes to 3:00 p.m. Jimmer is sitting across for me. He just drank part of my coke. Mom and dad are getting dressed to visit some people at the hospital. Frank is talking to Pig (Jim Francis) about Ivanhoe. They're sitting on the couch. Jim has to turn in his book report for his English teacher. A basketball game is on TV. Jimmer is now playing with my diaries. I'll let him sign his name. JIMMY W.

Mom just read the above and she said, "Put down there you should be going to the singspiration."

7:00 p.m. - Helped Jimmer paint his jeep gold and silver because we were painting this diary. When I came home from church with Jim in the evening, I asked Jimmer if his jeep was still wet. He said, "No, but my fingers are." Dad let me drive the car to church and back. I'm watching Ed Sullivan. Jimmer is driving his jeep around the rug; Frank is reading my diary and Jim is writing in his new one. 10:32 - I just decided to take a bubble bath. The high today was 37 and low at 28.

As I peruse the thirty-one pages of March, 1966, several things strike me. First, I find it incredible how much television I consumed. On March 8, I listed ten consecutive shows: 5:00-Garfield Goose, 5:45-News, 6:00-Bullwinkle, 6:30-My Mother the Car, 7:00-Don't Eat the Daisies, 7:30-Dobie Gillis, 8:00-F Troop, 8:30-Twilight Zone, 9:00-The Fugitive. It wasn't that I sat staring at the screen for five hours, but the boob tube constantly flickered and chattered in the background.

Second, I had forgotten how the three Walker kids co-inhabited my space. Jimmy at age six, Shelly at three, and Chrissy at nine months, were continually under foot. Charlotte popped in and out while Big Jim dropped by occasionally. I grew to love children and wished for my own.

Third, I participated in a track meet once a week. I recall the ribbons and medals, but had forgotten the anxiety and anticipation. I did not recall the day-to-day butterflies in competitive track.

Fourth, I forgot about our single bath tub. On Saturday evening, five of us would take consecutive baths-not showers. The order was Eileen, Chris, Frank; then later Mom and Dad. I marvel that in 1966 it seemed so natural

In science class, Eric and I teamed up for a project. Together we built an incubator of wood, wire, and shredded newspaper; then we split a dozen fertilized chicken eggs. With a light bulb to provide heat, we watched the drama of life unfold. Unfortunately, our cooperation turned into competition. Each of us wanted to hatch the first chick.

When my first hatchling pecked through the shell, I grew impatient and helped it by pulling some shell fragments away from featherless flesh. I claimed I won the contest, but my poor baby bird bore wounds from where I pulled skin away. I felt bad and learned a lesson in patience. There are some things in nature you just can't hurry along.

As I study the months of April and May in my 1966 journal, I discern four different groups of acquaintances that seldom overlapped. First was my academic clique. This was Reinhard, Eric, George, Lance, and a few others. I talked science and philosophy with them. When graduation time came, Eric was number one in the class, Reinhard was number two, and George number five. I fit with this group, but I never focused enough to make the high marks they did. My semester grades were: History-A, English-B, German-B, Geometry-C.

A second group was the jocks. In the spring, these would consist of my track buddies: Rocky, Botch, Jim Ruf, Mike, Bob, and others. We spent hours together in practice, meets, and travel. Athlete buddies were different during the football and basketball season.

A third group was Boy Scouts. I was still involved in outings with Steve, Tex, Bob, Spike, and others. Finally, a fourth group was from church, both boys and girls, whom I saw only on Sundays. Other teenagers floated in and out of my life, but most could be placed in their proper sphere. Of course, Jim Francis was in a sphere without peer.

Jim even participated in a scouting event. This outing involved a loose group of three fathers and six scouts who convoyed cars and canoes to Xenia, Ohio. Three boats were put in the water on Saturday morning and raced down the Little Miami River. Jim and I got stuck with the worst of three, an old wooden hulk. We struggled to paddle for a while, but realized we could not keep up with the lighter metal craft. So, Jim and I just enjoyed the eight miles of downstream flow, passing under bridges, and wading to shore on occasion.

We spent one night in the big Canadian tent and got home on Sunday evening. Jim skipped some of his fast-food meals, saying he had to save his money to buy a fancy ring for his girlfriend, Peggy.

On June first, the transition from school time to summer vacation was dramatic. Classmates, homework, and sports, all melted away. I didn't try to fill the chasm. I loafed more, slept more, and got bored on occasion. But events soon picked up. Eileen was to be married in a few weeks. Mom had me cleaning the house day after day. I greeted Terry when he arrived on June 8 from an Air Force leave. We all bought new clothes and visited the First Church of Christ for planning sessions.

Six Zelens arrived on June 16 from Florence. Below is a transcript of Eileen's wedding day, Saturday, June 18, 1966

Mom got me up at 10:30. I wanted to sleep later but mom needed me to help her get ready. Watched a few cartoons and Dad got a little mad because he said it was such an important day. We started getting dressed at about 12:00. I didn't know how to put on my tux. A guy who was there taking pictures of 'Neen showed me. My cousins, the Seigenthalers, came over at 1:00. We took a lot of pictures on the front porch.

I left for the church at 1:15 in the station wagon. When I got there, I got a carnation to wear. Then I found the best man and Terry up in the preacher's office. We stayed there for about ten minutes joking about Terry's misfortune.

At 1:30 we started to march out. First Mr. Davis, then following, Terry, the best man, and me. Once we were situated, Jimmer in his cute little tux came walking up and stood on a small piece of paper we stuck up there. Mary Ann came up slowly, then Janet, then the flower girls: Nancy and Shelley. Did they go slow! Dad and Eileen had to start before the flower girls were set. George Butler sang before and during the ceremony (Because). Immediately after the wedding we went downstairs and stood in line. I can't begin to name all the people there I knew. I had a little punch, wedding cake, and peanuts and then went outside. I threw some rice on Terry and 'Neen.

When I got home there were mobs of people in our little house. We had to fit some on the front porch. A rough estimate of people there is fifty-five. After I ate some ham and polish sausage and drank up a gallon of punch, I snuck up in the attic and slept ‘til everyone was gone at 5:30. We saw Terry and 'Neen off to their honeymoon. They came back right away. 'Neen forgot her radio.

Watched Saturday Night at the Movies. It was Jerry Lewis in Rockabye Baby. Me and Deb left with mom and dad in the middle of it to go to the St. John panel room to see Dick Wetnight's wedding reception. Me and Deb left it because it was too loud. We watched Broken Arrow on the late show. Got to bed at 12:30.

The Zelen family stuck around in Whiting for ten more days, then they headed back to Alabama-but not without Frank and me. We enjoyed a great vacation from June 26 to July 30.

Frank and I visited the Civil War Battlefield at Shiloh, Tennessee; climbed into the depths of a dank cave; exploded M-80s unattainable in Indiana; and splashed in swimming pools almost every day.

Soon after we arrived, Don joined an exclusive country club at Bailey Springs. On a typical day, we would do morning chores around the house. Then, after lunch, Jeanne would drive us to Bailey Springs for swimming, tennis, horseback riding, and just hanging out. Frank and I spent four nights in a country-club cabin where we collected weird-looking insects and listened to far-off WLS-AM radio.

On the fourth of July, we crossed the state line into nearby Mississippi to explode cheery bombs and bottle rockets. That became my nineteenth state.

As a sixteen-year-old, I was slow to get out of bed in the morning. Jeanne discovered an ingenious solution. She would unleash little DJ on me. After ignoring a few calls to breakfast, Don John would enter the room, growl at me, and bounce on the bed. A better alarm clock could not be imagined.

I grew close to Debbie, Susie, Nancy, and little DJ. For three weeks they were like my younger siblings. I was allowed to drive Don's car chauffeuring the kids from place to place. One day I wanted to show off my newly acquired driving skills to passengers Frank, Deb, and Nancy.

I drove the Chevy to Colonial Court, going uphill in drive and coming downhill in reverse. I lost control, bounced over a curb, then plunged down an embankment. I tried to extract the car by gunning the engine, then I put bricks under the back tires.

After I couldn't get the car out of the ditch, Frank walked home to speak to Jeanne. She arrived with a welcome mat, but after seeing the car, she phoned Don. When he arrived, I was surprised he wasn't too angry. He borrowed a friend's truck, but a towing rope snapped twice. Finally, he called a professional tow truck which extracted the Chevy back to the roadway. The muffler was ruined and the bumper suffered a small dent, but otherwise it was okay. The tow truck driver said if the car had progressed a few more inches down the hillside, it might have flipped over.

Dad and mom arrived in Florence on July 22. After a one-day pause we headed south to Panama City, Florida, my twentieth state. Don pulled his Apache camping trailer and dad drove the station wagon. The gulf was azure and the sandy beach bright white. Mom and dad slept in their station wagon; Don, Jeanne, Nancy, Sue, and DJ in the Apache; Frank and Debbie in Zelen's station wagon; while I was stuck with a pup tent.

We spent four nights on the beach, running in the sand, collecting crab parts, and complaining about heat and mosquitoes. We all took a ferry to a place called Shell Island where I collected some near-perfect sand dollars. I also read Mitchener's book Caravan a few hours every day and Frank enjoyed surfing.

Just before driving north. Dad made Frank and me toss out our extensive crab part collection. Admittedly, it was getting stinky. We stopped off at Dothan, Birmingham, and Montgomery. Florence felt like home to me.

We devised one last project for the final five days in Alabama. Dad led in the construction of a back-yard tree house. Don did the buying and hauling; dad did the sawing and nailing; Frank and I did the painting. A photograph shows ten of us smiling over the treehouse rail. This backyard feature was well-build and massive. In 1968, when the Zelens sold the house, Jeanne told me it was the treehouse that clenched the deal.

When we arrived in Whiting, much had changed. Frank and I moved into Eileen's refurbished bedroom and Walkers were established on Sheridan avenue. Jim (the pig) told me two pieces of news. He had a new girlfriend named Jeannie Grinstead and Jim Buckner from school had blown off two fingers with a cherry bomb. Listening to Jim's babbling conversation, I felt the comfort of home again.

When August arrived, I went to work. I was striving to save money for a 1967 trip to Germany. The job I found was at Mrs. Zimmerman's house in Hammond. For two weeks I labored painting her porches, pillars, window trim, and outside floors. I also removed and cleaned windows and screens. Mom drove me on a few occasions, but mostly I took the bus. Jim Francis helped a few times. I earned $176 for all the work.

My activities changed after August 15 when football practice began. The summer schedule went like this: I got up at 7:30, drank a glass of milk, and rested until 8:20. I walked the twelve minutes to Clark Field and got on my sweats. We ran laps and did calisthenics under the direction of a senior student, then I lunched at home. In the afternoon, coaches showed up. We scrimmaged, learned plays, and did various reaction drills. This summer practice schedule lasted until Labor Day.

August 29 was a good day for both Frank and me. My brother had been buying Marvel comic books for a few months already. Mom drove to a trailer court where a man was unloading his extensive collection. Frank bought ninety Marvel comic books for three dollars. He was ecstatic. His prize was Daredevil #2. Over the next few months, Frank studied these books, sorting and cataloging.

On the same day, I played in an exhibition football game called the Football-o-rama at the Whiting High field. Four high-school teams competed. I performed well, making six tackles, and running the ball a few times. Coach Peterson said I had improved and had earned a starting position.

I was glad of that accomplishment, because it required a sacrifice on my part. On the same evening, the final nail-biting episode of The Fugitive was broadcast on ABC TV. After following the storyline for four years, Frank had to tell me if Richard Kimble had finally caught up to the one-armed man.

My football excellence was short lived. Ten days later I started at defensive halfback but made no tackles in the first half. I was yanked out and scolded by the coaches. For the rest of the season, I was relegated to kick-offs and punts. I was discouraged and nearly quit a few times.

My five classes in eleventh grade were: German with Mrs. Calvert, Latin with Mrs. Wilcox, History with Mr. Roman, Physics with Mr. Watkins, and Advanced Algebra with Mr. Aldridge. In spite of too much football and television, I managed to earn an A in history and Bs in the other three.

Mr. Huber was my home room teacher once again. He practiced a unique method of silencing a noisy class. Rather than shout over the din, he would stand in front and begin to whisper his announcements. Those of us who cared about learning would do his dirty work. I was one of a handful of guys who would shout at the rowdy ones to quiet down so we could get the scoop to the school day.

Mr. Roman taught me a valuable lesson. He required a daily one-page report on the reading material. We turned in our new assignments before every class and received our previous day's work. When I saw my paper come back with a big F, I belly ached to the teacher. He said, "Read the instructions! It says ‘one page only' so I didn't read your sentences on page two". I was upset, but I learned the value of following instructions. I didn't make that mistake again.

On September 15, my journal contains this note: "Let's see. At 7:30, I watched Star Trek. I think it's gonna be one of the better shows of the season." On September 26, a note reads, "Mom got a letter from Eileen. 'Neen is suspecting".

In October, my busy life continued. I enjoyed foreign languages, reading about Julius Caesar in Latin and Wilhelm Tell in German. A big part of algebra and physics involved memorizing mathematical formulae. In history I recited big chunks of the U.S. constitution for extra credit.

Football continued to be an aggravation. I dressed for varsity games on Friday evening without getting my uniform scuffed. Then I played every minute of B-squad on Saturday morning, muddied from head to toe.

Dad decided to enroll both Frank and me in a Judo class which met at the Hammond civic center. We attended about eight evening sessions. I was big enough to win many matches, but was never motivated. The one move I remembered was called Osotagari. I think I liked the sound of the foreign word on my tongue as much as the action with the feet. I stuck around long enough to earn an orange belt.

Dad bought a second car for $280, a 1961 Ford Falcon. From that point, Mom only drove the station wagon, while dad and I shared the Ford. I was constantly driving Walker kids, football friends, and Frank to various activities. The Falcon was odd in that it had a warm-up button. You couldn't just crank the ignition. The spark plugs needed ten seconds to heat.

At the end of October, the family planned a quick trip to Alabama. For the occasion, Frank and I bought belated birthday presents for Deb, Susie, and Nancy. We went to the department store and couldn't decide what to get for Deb. All of the Halloween merchandise was on display so I decided to buy her a Ouija board. I figured it was like our Scrabble game, only spookier. Mom and I worked the board that evening and it predicted Eileen's baby would arrive on April 23.

Over the next few days, Frank and I plied the Ouija board with question after question. My brother said it was scary. I knew for certain that my fingers were not directing that heart-shaped pointer and I studied Frank's closed eyes and could swear he was not choosing the letters. How then did this amazing board operate? It wasn't at all like Scrabble.

We left Whiting on Thursday about 11:00 P.M. and arrived in Florence about noon the next day. Eight of us packed into one station wagon: Dad, mom, me, Frank, Char, Jimmer, Shelley, and CJ. In the afternoon, we gave the Zelen kids their presents.

I gave Deb the Ouija board after dinner. That's all we did until 11:00. Here are some of the question and answers as recorded in my journal.

Frank: "Where is Dare Devil #2?" ~ "In the attic under the bed, Frank F."
Char: "Where is Jim?" ~ "Don't worry. He is where you want him to be."
Deb: "How long will the Zelens live here?" ~ "Six months longer than six years."
Chris: "Will I go to Germany next summer?" ~ "Yes."

The last question Deb and I asked was: "Do you want us to sleep?"
The response was "Yes, very much so. Go to bed please." The pointer really paused on each of those twenty-six letters!

As I processed my short encounter with that uncanny board, I asked myself. "If neither Deb nor I manipulated the pointer, then what source provided the articulate answers?" I intuited three things. First, the source had to be supernatural. Second, it was not all-knowing because answers were often wrong. Third, the power behind the Ouija board was not heavenly. The God of the Bible would not move a child's fingers along a painted surface to receive inaccurate answers.

The Ouija board provided me with first-hand evidence that a transcendent realm does exist. Materialism became forever an alien philosophy to my reason. Odd to say, but in my life, God used an occult means to bring about a heavenly end.

Soon it was time for basketball. All the fun had left the sport. I played second string on the B-squad. One Saturday I missed the bus for a game in far-off South Bend. To my surprise, dad offered to drive me. Coach Dougherty was so impressed, he made me captain for that game. But after only two points in the first half, I was pulled out.

A few weeks after that, I mustered the courage to talk with the coach. There was no joy and little prospect in basketball. He respected the face-to-face interview saying most players would just stop showing up. I skipped home; a burden lifted from my shoulders. I began running winter track and joy quickened my pace.

In November of 1966, a girl entered my life. Joy leapt into exuberance. This was a diary note from November 16: "I knew something was funny when I saw Jim's face with a big smile on it and sure enough, he and Jeannie had Debbie Argus there. So, I talked with her a while, only I was a little embarrassed."

For a few weeks, I conversed with Debbie as an acquaintance of Jim and Jeannie, then the three of us went to her house. I discovered that Debbie was one year behind me and the younger sister of Bob, a fellow Boy Scout. Her family attended the local Congregational church-where the boy scouts met. She seemed perfect.

I wanted to call her, but I had a severe case of phone-phobia. After three days of Jim's urging, I dialed *659-6711*. Debbie answered and we talked for an hour. I learned she played the clarinet, ice skated, and her favorite Beatles song was Here, There, and Everywhere. I accepted her invitation to attend a winter formal called the sub-deb. When I told my parents, they were surprised saying they'd have to teach me manners.

We continued our phone conversations, sometimes talking over two hours. I felt alive to the marrow, walking Debbie home after school, carrying her books, and sharing her umbrella. My world sparkled with hope.

On December 9, just as I was getting to know her, my world shattered. With eyes downcast she whispered, "We're moving to Virginia at the end of the semester." I was devastated. I stumbled home in a light snow, didn't eat dinner, and tried to sleep off the awful news.

This is a transcript of Jim Francis's seventeenth birthday, December 16, 1966:

Got up early this morning to do physics, but the problems were too hard, so just slept until 7:45. In homeroom did a few algebra problems that were due today. Latin was stupid, graded the homework, got 68:80:100 on it. It was the best in class. Frau Calvert wasn't at school today. Mrs. Peterson was our sub. Just did nothing, half-way composed a letter to Christkind. In history got that quiz back and passed. Talked a little about the stupid movie that we watched yesterday-a waste of time. During lunch watched TV at home. Physics was a blast! Today was Wad's birthday. (As you know, it's also Pig's.) The whole class gave the Wad pennies. He had a whole desk full. Was it funny! Jap and Mr. Muller came in and the whole class chimed in to sing "Happy Birthday" to him.

Oh well, the period finally ended and since no track today went home and relaxed. At 3:30 went back to school to walk Deb home. I did, but then came back home. Had a few hamburgers and great shake. Called up Deb and talked to her a while, then called up Jim to get something or other at his house. I walked over there. And what happened? Well, they had a surprise party for Jim. He blew out seventeen candles. Jeanne and her mom were there with the rest of Jim's family.

Came home with a box of cakes that Mrs. Francis gave me to give to Mom. Called up Deb and when I hung up, Jim and Jeanne knocked at the door. The whole group was here (Char and all the Walkers). Jeanne stepped in and met Mom & Dad, etc. Then I took the Falcon over Deb's. After a while of sitting at Arguses, Deb got allowed to go with me to Merri Isle. We each got a strawberry soda (71 cents) and on the way back while driving I had one hand around Deb and she worked the turn signals for me. Stayed over until 10:00 when Deb said I must go home because her papa told her. When I got home, Dad said I didn't ask permission for the car, so I got a lecture.

My life became a roller coaster for the next few months. Debbie truly liked me and I became obsessed with her. Teenage passion drew us together, while common sense pushed us apart. One moment we were all cuddles and hugs while the next we argued about me getting too close. Debbie's father tried to cool our jets by setting strict rules for my girlfriend's behavior. I would ask, "Why can't I put my arm around you?"

She would reply, "My father said we shouldn't do that." And thus, the next six weeks unfolded. Desire battled self-discipline which together equaled frustration.

I saw Debbie every day at school. We hung out in German club and I snuck in to see her play clarinet. When we didn't meet, we spoke on the phone. Finally, after Charlotte couldn't contact the house, my dad dictated a phone limit of thirty minutes.

My journal is replete with confessions of love for Debbie. I wrote it in German: "Ich liebe dich", and I confessed in Latin: "semper amabo Debram". I had built my world around this girl even as I foresaw my world crashing to the ground.

The sub-deb finally arrived on December 22. My shoes were polished, my suit was pressed, my heart was full, and her corsage was in my hand. Dad let me borrow the station wagon for the night. I first drove to the Argus home and exchanged carnations. We chatted and posed for pictures. Then I drove to the Grinsted's to pick up Jim and Jeannie. I returned to my house for more picture taking.

We arrived at Vogel's Restaurant at 9:20. The refreshments, slow dancing, and romancing, lasted until 11:30. We drove around for a while and ended up at Jeannie's house for pizza. I didn't want the evening to end, but I dropped Debbie off at 2:30 a.m. Her brother and mother were waiting up for her. The delight of the night ended in sobs as I fell into bed knowing this joy was terminal.

Mother invited Debbie to our house for my seventeenth birthday. After cake and song, she presented me with a brass bracelet engraved with Chris. I couldn't take my eyes off her, hardly acknowledging the presence of family. Charlotte said I was twitterpated. I spent the moment of 1966/1967 on the telephone with Debbie.

1967 to October

After Christmas break, we returned to school to complete the Fall semester. I began a countdown. As a hopeless romantic, I believed that love conquered all, but love could not hold back the tide of time. The days were X-ed from my calendar one by one.

I did not behave well. I wanted to possess her and her to love me. I perceived a void that only Debbie could fill. I pouted, clinging to this fifteen-year-old girl as a drowning man might cling to a life boat. I discovered no magic to prevent her relocation to Virginia. And yet a minor miracle did occur.

The Argus family had planned their departure for January 27. However, on the evening of the 26th snow began to fall in Whiting and after thirty-three straight hours, over three feet had accumulated. Roads and airports were closed down. Did God answer my prayer?

School was cancelled and after shoveling my own sidewalks, I phoned Deb. Yes, they had to postpone their departure. Yippee! I asked if I could help clear her driveway. After an okay from her dad, I leapt through snowdrifts to reach her house. Deb met me outside decked in snow gear, her cheeks rosy. We laughed as I flung snow in every direction. I was invited inside to warm up and reality struck. I saw her living room filled with boxes and draped furniture.

Misery filled the next few days. I was angry at God. I wrote Debbie a long letter filled with the pain of our separation. I determined to become a martyr for love's sake.

January 30 was her last day in town. I walked to her house with a stool and sat across the street just to catch a final glimpse of her beauty. After two hours of shivering cold, she never showed her face, so I stuck my ugly missive into her mail box and trudged home. I never saw or heard from Deb again.

I felt heartsick at her loss. A diary couplet encapsulated my teen-age angst: "I love a girl named Deb. The worst happened, the thing I most dread. She moved far away, leaving me here to stay, and now I wish I were dead."

In retrospect, I see that Christian love cannot describe my relationship to Debbie. My hungry heart did not wish the best outcome for her. Rather, I wanted to consume this girl like candy. This would not be the last time.

My obsession had limited the horizons of my vision. Events outside my personal tragedy occurred in January. Frank was upset because the Merry Marvel Marching Society left the TV airwaves (January 9); Mom got mad at dad because he worked a double shift on their wedding anniversary (January 12), The Packers beat the Chiefs in Super bowl I (January 14), and Jack married Barbara in Berlin (January 20).

February was a month of decompressing from my seventy-five-day ordeal with Debbie. I returned my focus to school and track. I even flirted with girls on Valentine's Day. On Sunday, February 26, Frank and I led a youth church service. I closed in prayer and served communion. Dad congratulated me. I confessed to my journal, "I seriously considered being a minister."

I concluded my diary at the one-year anniversary asking a series of questions.

What will be the future relationship between Debbie and me?
Who shall be the girl whose hand I next hold?
What about Jim and Jeannie? How long will they stay together?
What about Europe, will I go? And what effect will it have on me?
What about track? Will I jump six feet this year?
How about Eileen's baby due in May, boy or girl?
I'm now six-foot one inch tall and one-hundred seventy pounds.
Will that ever change?
What profession will I be? At the present I have no idea.
What about the Walkers, Zelens, and Zimmermans?
What does the future hold for them?
What about the war that went unmentioned during my year of writing?
What will become of this war in Viet Nam?
What about 1984? Will the prophecy in Orwell's book happen that way?
How long will this book keep intact?
The beginning pages are already turning yellow.

The months of March, April, and May passed quickly. Some journal questions were answered. Debbie did not respond to ten letters. There was no future relationship. Jim broke up with Jeannie in March. I did clear six feet in my last jump of the year; and Eileen gave birth to a baby girl named Jennifer on May 28. Just after her California arrival, Donovan was singing Jennifer, Juniper.

My final grades for the semester were: Advanced Algebra, B; Latin, A; German, B+; History, A; Physics, C+. Considering all my distraction and laziness, I was not displeased with the results. I couldn't believe that Pig actually made the honor roll: AAABB. I asked him about his grades and he said, "Jeannie made me study or else." I received my Powder Horn for my year and looked through all the pictures. I figured the faces peering from these pages would be a part of my world forever.

My plan was to spend the summer in Germany as part of a student exchange program. I had already made a fifty-dollar deposit. But after consulting with my Air Force brother, we decided I could just as easily live with Jack and Barbara in Berlin. Dad bought me round-trip tickets for a summer in Germany for which I contributed about half of the cost.

Just as school let out, a new Beatles album debuted. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was their twelfth album. Jim and I played it constantly. It was the first pop album with all lyrics printed and a no-cut flow on each side of the vinyl. We grooved to it every day until I departed to Germany on June 17.


In my fifty-day journal, I detailed my jet ride from Chicago to London, then on to Berlin. It was my first time in the air and so novel that I kept my vomit bag as a souvenir.

I was puzzled upon my arrival at Tempelhof Airport. I sat for an hour but no one appeared to greet me. Fortunately, mom insisted I carry the address and phone number of Jack's apartment. I called but without answer. I located a taxi and managed to find his place in the French Sector. It cost seven Deutsch marks.

Barbara was shocked when she opened the door. She pointed speechless then shouted, "Jack, it's your brother."

I was happy to see them, but hurt. "Why didn't you meet me at the airport? Didn't you get the letter with my itinerary?"

"No, we didn't get a letter", Jack said. "And you're lucky. We were just about to leave."

After the shock of my arrival, conversation and beer flowed. I drank the brew, but never developed a taste for it. I grew fatigued after my long journey and fell asleep on a fold-out couch.

My days with Jack were variations on a theme. The pattern was Jack working at Tempelhof from about eight in the morning until three in the afternoon. I slept in, listened to American radio, wrote in my diary, and strolled the local streets. When Jack came home, we visited city sites. After a week, I learned to ride the U-bahn to Tempelhof where our tourist activities began. Barbara worked in a small shop until five and we often picked her up in Jack's 1962 Mustang.

I visited several small shops and bought German coins from the Third Reich emblazoned with the swastika. I also bought a few beer steins at the request of friends. My prize purchase was a miniature travel chess board. The thirty-two pegged pieces stuck into holes on the checkered surface. I loved it, but unfortunately, I lost a few tiny pieces in the following week.

This is a journal transcript concerning one day in Berlin, Friday, June 23, 1967.

I slept in as late as I could, 11:00, washed and ate some left-over apple pie. I found Jack's wallet and traded him five dollars for two hundred Deutsch marks, because I needed forty pfennigs for the U-Bahn. I was on the U-Bahn at See Strassen by 11:30. I stood up the twenty minutes across town to the airport. I saw the Soviet soldiers at the station in the East. I was with Jack for about three hours at Tempelhof. We first had something to eat at the snack bar-pork sandwiches-after which I was thirsty all day.

We had some fun then. We went to the top of one of the abandoned towers at Tempelhof and I took a few pictures. It was interesting that those same rooms were in the same state as when the Nazis left them in 1945; bullet holes all over the place. We then waxed the car with some spray wax Jack had. The whole time we talked with a Texas friend of Jack's. I then walked around at various places while Jack finished up some work, changed his clothes and got a release.

We then went to pick up Barbara but it was only 3:45 so we stopped off at the Dahlem Ethnological Museum. It was very good. First, we went to the Jap-China section, then the Egypt section, but spent most of our time with the paintings. I saw one famous one by Hans Holbein about the Banker. I really hated to leave that place and pick up Barbara. We did and Jack and Barbara argued the whole-time home because Barbara doesn't have her license and she's telling Jack how to drive. Barbara made a good supper and I was almost asleep on the floor when Heidi-Barbara's younger sister-came in.

So, Jack and I got dressed up and we went to Lothar's bachelor's party. He was 24 years old. There were two guys when Jack and I arrived. Lothar brought out the beer and Jack put on the tape-recorder music that we brought over. It lasted from 7:00 to 2:30 a.m. and I don't know what I could have done that whole time. I admit I did over-indulge a bit but it was lots of fun and a great experience. I had to speak German the whole time. The tape player was full of German bar songs and all seven guys sang at the top of their lungs. There was this one guy who only wanted to sing "Yellow Submarine". Some guys drank beer, others scotch. We joined hands and danced around the parlor room.

Lothar's mother tried to quiet us down and stop us from stomping on the floor. It was hot in there because we couldn't open any windows, too noisy. Jack and I said goodbye to Lothar at two and for all I know, the others still might be partying. I was in bed in two minutes and asleep in another two.

During my days in Berlin, I toured museums, monuments, towers, and festivals. At each location, I took a few pictures with a camera borrowed from Big Jim Walker. Checkpoint Charlie was the tense focal point of the cold war. Jack advised me to keep my picture-taking to a minimum. I preferred slides to prints and during my adventure. I developed five boxes of transparencies.

West Berlin seemed to have one foot rooted in the past and one stepping into the future. I saw the ruins of Kaiser Wilhelm Church and bullet-pocked walls, testaments to World War Two. I toured the Berlin Wall, the Gates of Brandenburg, and walked past Soviet soldiers, posing near monuments. I was also surrounded by tall glass buildings, constant construction, and bright colors. Berlin was striding into an uncertain future.

Heidi and Lothar Wothe were married at a local church and I took a dozen pictures of the event. There was abundant gift giving, and over-drinking. There was even a second party for Lothar and his friends to which I was invited. This one was an all-nighter. I remember one of the songs as "Wir wollen unsern alten Kaiser Wilhelm wiederhaben", or We want our old Kaiser William back again. About midnight, I asked Jack for his car keys in order to snooze in the cramped back seat of his Mustang. The summer sun awoke me at 4:00 a.m.

One time while driving around Berlin, Jack decided to stop at the Funkturm (radio tower). I wrote this:

As I was getting out of the car, I noticed this guy dressed in a Berliner Bear outfit. Were Jack and I suckers! The bear and a few other guys practically forced us to pose with the bear. Then after two pictures, they told us that we had to pay 20 DM. Luckily, we had only 7 DM with us, but unluckily they took that for one dumb picture. I think we talked about that craziness all the way to the top of the tower. And I had to open my big mouth and tell Barbara. She scolded Jack to no end. Oh, well!

I was scheduled to fly to London via Schoenefeld Airport in East Berlin. Jack thought it unwise to enter East Germany, so he helped me cash in the return-flight portion of my TWA ticket. My revised plan called for me to ramble by train, bus, and ferry to Scotland, catch a cheap flight to New York City, then bus to Hammond. I was seeking to prolong my traveling pleasure.

On July 11, I assisted Jack as he mailed giant boxes to Whiting, packed his duffle bags, and caught a military hop to Frankfort, where he met up with Barbara for their flight across the Atlantic. I relocated my bags to spend a few weeks with Barbara's parents at 65 Togostrasse 32e.

Kurt Gierke was a retired shop owner and looked after me most days. He escorted me on the U-bahn to various locations. We went to the city's huge stadium, site of the 1936 Olympics. He liked to bet on horses so we went to the race track a few times. He seemed to know everyone we met. Claire Gierke treated me like a son, always tucking in my shirt and fussing over my meals. Because of their limited English, my German speaking improved.

A highlight of my time with Gierkes, was a two-night camping expedition to the Grun Walt (Green Forest). We slept in tents and paddled canoes. I spent a lot of time with a guy a few years younger than myself called Bernt. Lothar tried to show me a good time, but his idea of a good time differed from mine. He was a loud extrovert and I was a quiet introvert. Nonetheless, I was sad to leave Claire, Kurt, Lothar, and Heidi as well as my adopted city of Berlin.


I said "Auf Wiedersehen" to Berlin on the last day of July. I flew Pan Am over East Germany landing in Hanover. I taxied to the train station then traveled by rail to Frankfort then Mainz. I wandered miles to find a hotel for thirteen DM. All of this was accompanied by delay, misdirection, and confusion. But I was on my own and loved the role of international vagabond.

On the next day, I ferried for six hours up the Rhine River to Cologne taking pictures of castles, countryside, and cathedrals. I was constantly hungry with little money. I remember glancing at a boisterous German foursome who were consuming platefuls of sausage and pastry. The waiter removed half-filled plates. How I longed for those morsels.

My flophouse in Cologne cost me seven DM. I then traveled to Aachen and on to Oostende, Belgium. I counted and recounted my money. I figured I had just enough to reach Whiting, but I would have to be thrifty. I met an English chap named Chris Martin and for twenty-four hours he was my best chum. Our conversations refreshed my spirit and I gave him one of my Kennedy half dollars as a gift of appreciation.


Together we crossed the English Channel, looked upon the white cliffs, and passed through UK customs. We traveled to London and toured the city. My friend caught a train to Bristol in the late evening. I decided not to book a hotel but remain in the station all night. He advised me they cleared the depot at one, but said I could reside in Hyde Park until morning. My motive was as much about adventure as poverty.

About midnight the Bobbies swept through the depot asking for tickets. I decided it was time to skedaddle. I walked to Hyde Park, then strolled until 1:30. My feet and back were killing me so I sat on a park bench, soon stretched out and sleeping, my bag as a pillow.

I felt a baton tap on my boots. A Bobbie asked me what I was doing. I told him and he asked for an ID. I produced my passport and he left me alone, remarking that I did not appear to be six feet one inch. I was a little stressed so I walked a few blocks to a Wimpy Hamburger joint. With a purchase of one burger and coke, I slouched there until the 4:30 closing time. I went out into the cold night and sat on a bench. The summer sun began to dawn and I felt safer. About 7:00 I found a hotel with a vacancy and booked a room for three pounds. The space would not be available until afternoon so I rested in the lobby, then explored the city again. I slept in a comfortable hotel room until dark, got up to snack, then slept again until morning.

I did not have enough money for a daily hotel, so I planned to stay every second night on the street. Prices in London were twice as high as they were in West Germany. This day I accomplished a walking tour of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby, and the Houses of Parliament. I sat on a bench long enough to hear Big Ben chime out three hours. I sat in the train depot playing chess solitaire and thumbing through Readers Digest. I struck up a conversation with two locals and told them my problems. They said I could come with them and stay in the basement of their night club. The lights went out at four in the morning and I slept soundly on a sofa until noon.

I was in London for another two days, wandering streets with blistered feet. I tossed out my worn razor allowing my beard to sprout. My poverty freed me and constrained me at the same time. I visited the wax museum, Tower of London, and spent hours in various museums. On Carnaby Street, I purchased a souvenir recording of the latest Beatle release, All You Need Is Love.

I walked a few miles from my hotel to King's Crossing. The burden of my duffle bag strained my shoulders. My northbound train passed through Newcastle and into Edinburgh. I was in the Scottish capital from 6:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.


Daylight lingered so I was able to walk from Waverley Station to Edinburgh Castle. I rested in the manicured park until dark and then trudged back to the station to wait for my early morning train. About 11:00 p.m. I was approached by a friendly Scot who engaged me in conversation.

He invited me to visit his place for a meal and nap. I considered, then followed him through winding streets and into an upstairs apartment. After sardines and crackers (yuck) he invited me to rest on his cot. The lights went out and the next thing I knew the man was lying next to me with his hand on my crotch. I sprung up and shouted, "What are you doing?"

He responded, "Don't you trust me. Please just rest. It won't happen again. I promise."

Just as I was dozing off, I felt the probing hand again. I slapped it away, grabbed my stuff, and dashed from the room. As I huffed back to the train depot, I felt fortunate to have escaped with my body and gear intact.

My train ride to Glasgow was uneventful, although I did have trouble locating the international airport. People kept directing me to the domestic Glasgow facility. I was the last person to board the transatlantic flight from Aberdeen to New York City. Here is a transcript of that flight back which I wrote a few days after my return home:

Everything I have written before this seems of another world and I wish I was in that world again. It's August 23 and I finally decided to write the last few days of my trip for myself and my posterity. I just hope I can remember most of it. After Glasgow, which seems like years ago and remote as a distant star, I just sat a while. I bought some more candies to kill my appetite.

A little after that, I met those two girls again. They liked my American accent. They said they could tell I was American right off. They asked me questions like "What are the boys like in America?" and "Are you married?" I gave them my address and I might get a letter from them. I left them at 4:30 to get on the jet after the departure was announced. The girls said they would wave to me as my jet left, but as I was seated, I couldn't see out the window because of all the rain.

I have to tell you about the two people who sat next to me. One was a boy about my age and the other was his mother. They were Americans in North Ireland on an Air Force Base. The boy was telling me how he played rugby and about the country where he lived. I read his pop music book and told him when we eventually flew over land. I think our route brought us over Newfoundland and Maine.

A little boy who was sitting in front of me was all excited when he saw America for the first time. I asked my new friend if he had a razor and if I could borrow it. I hadn't shaved in three days and he thought I was growing a moustache. He had none, but he got his mom's leg razor, so I went in the back john and shaved with the dim light and bouncing plane. At least I looked halfway decent. I figure that shave took me 333 miles. The meal was very good and much appreciated. I stashed away the crackers and butter. The trip took about eight hours and since the time change was six hours, I reached NYC about 7:00 am.

Back Home

When I landed at JFK, I didn't understand the geography of the great American metropolis. I figured I could just switch to a Greyhound bus and be on my way. I was tired, haggard, and aggravated when a cop explained to me that I needed to catch an express carriage to the Manhattan bus yard. After a two-dollar ride I arrived at the gigantic depot trying to find my way to a Chicago-bound bus.

With stops in Pittsburg, Cleveland, Toledo, South Bend, and Gary, I finally arrived in Hammond at 1:00 the next day. This was far behind the time I had telephoned to dad.

I concluded by travel journal like this:

Once in Hammond, I asked where the regular bus stop was. She directed me to a location about two blocks away. I gave the bus driver my only money, my last JFK half dollar. I got off at 118th street and Calumet. But I didn't feel like going home. I just didn't want my adventure to end! I walked slowly down three streets. I felt like a stranger. I looked down our alley and noticed it was newly oiled. I didn't want it all to end then, so I walked around to the front instead of entering at the back door. I stood bravely and knocked. My magic adventure had come to an end!

Only mom and dad were home. They both were really happy. Dad said he had gone to Hammond but I wasn't there. Pig had made a big sign, "Welcome home, Chris", now draped across the couch.

Mom said, "Gee, you look thin". I got on the scales: 158 pounds. Wow! Down twenty pounds. I only had thirty-five cents left in my pocket, too. Man, I just made it. That's about it. I got my big bag the following day and my German-sent box came too. So, I close. Never again will I write in a diary.

When I arrived in Whiting, former Air Force sergeant Jack greeted me from the back apartment. He had just landed a management position. His blue Mustang was in the driveway. Barbara worked in a local medical clinic, adjusting to the American way of life.

On the first Sunday after my return, the Church of Christ held a reception for Jack and Barbara. The movie clip shows the newly-weds holding hands, a room full of church ladies, and a long table full of wrapped gifts. A second movie clip shows my Uncle Frank and Aunt Anne visiting the expanded family. Eileen dropped by the house to show off her new baby, Jenny.

Within a few days I was practicing football at Clark Field. Once I had reconciled myself to the kick-off and punt teams, my final football season wasn't half bad. I enjoyed the sideline banter with my second-string philosophers.

In September, I began my terminal year at Clark School feeling I had scaled the twelve-story mountain. I met with my career counselor who smiled, "If your goal is to teach school, Ball State University is a good choice." She frowned, "Too bad. You're just a few points short of making the national honor society." I too was disappointed in my lack of academic achievement. I had finally recognized myself as more intellectual than athletic. I dropped a fourth-level math class, opting instead for French. I was now studying three foreign languages. Plus, in English literature, I read some Old English (Beowulf) and Middle English (Canterbury Tales). I embraced my new identity as a Renaissance man.

Jim acquired a new girlfriend while I was in Europe. Sharon played matchmaker for me, pointing out a few friends who-rumor had it-liked me. I gave one young lady a second look. Her name was Arlene Kurek.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 6

October 1967 to March 1970
Whiting & Muncie, Indiana

Let her kiss me with the kisses of her mouth,
for her kisses are sweeter than wine.
(adapted from Song of Solomon 1:2)

My heart was hungry; my soul hopelessly romantic; my hormones rampaging. For as long as I could remember, I held sentimental and idealistic views on love-to the point of obsession. I was ever the knight in shining armor, seeking the damsel in distress. At nearly eighteen years old, I was primed to give my heart to a special girl who might adore me as much as I adored her.

October 1967

October fourth became one of our days. That was the Wednesday Arlene and I got together for the first time. I was studying alone at the local Rupp Branch library, when matchmaker Sharon and schemer Jim brought Arlene to form a study foursome. The two girls chuckled as Jim and I called them "mackerel snappers"- a reference to their Catholic upbringing.

I was in the midst of memorizing the prologue to Canterbury Tales in Middle English. I impressed Arlene by rattling off the first eighteen lines of Chaucer, beginning with:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licóur Of which vertú engendred is the flour;

I enjoyed the attention of Arlene, especially when she sat in the bleachers to watch me play football. I remember trying so hard to really hammer a kick off, but it dribbled off the side of my foot; such an embarrassment. Afterward, I held her hand as we hung out with a group of friends. Incense and Peppermints by the Strawberry Alarm Clock was the number one song we grooved to. Still, Arlene was not my passion. I was getting into the academic life. I was glad when football came to an end.

In November, I decided to expand my horizon by joining the debate team. Mr. Ericsson was our sponsor and the national debate topic for the term 1967-8 was: "Resolved, congress should establish uniform regulation for criminal investigation". Four of us debaters stayed overnight at Purdue University for the Indiana High School Debaters Conference. We advanced a few rounds, but our lack of experience betrayed us. I wished I had invested my high school years in lively debate rather than in bouncing balls.

I was re-elected president of the Clark German Club and as Christmas neared, I organized a neighborhood caroling party. We identified local German natives, knocked on their doors, and sang Stille Nacht and Oh, Tannenbaum. Barbara was a recipient of our merrymaking.

In December, when Sharon asked Jim to attend the winter dance, Jim encouraged me to call Arlene so we could double date. (I learned that's what girls liked to do.) And so, I overcame my phone-phobia and called Arlene. As expected, she invited me to the formal dance. I partied through the 1967 sub-deb with a tinge of sadness. I looked backward to the 1966 event when I gazed into the doe eyes of Debbie Argus.

Arlene lived on Lakeside Avenue across from Saint Adalbert, her perish church. I met with her family for the Christmas Eve mass on my eighteenth birthday. She instructed me when to stand, kneel, sit, and genuflect. I beheld an unexpected beauty in the Latin liturgy and continued to accompany Arlene to Saint Al's on special occasions.

A few days after Christmas, I drove to the Selective Service Center in Hammond, birth certificate in hand. I filled out required papers and received my draft card. The official told me to carry it at all times on my person.

As a newly-minted eighteen-year-old, my father finagled me a position at Youngstown Steel in East Chicago. Jimmy Francis labored alongside of me, both of us putting in sixteen hours over most weekends. I wore a hardhat, carried a lunch bucket, and earned a blue-collar wage of $2.40 an hour. Dad took me aside to warn me of the foul language used around the mill. I assured him I was familiar with most of the terms.

It later struck me how incredibly easy it was for a wet-behind-the-ears teenager to hire on to a part-time and well-paid position. Within a few short years, all the regional mills would be shuttered and most of the laboring men sent home.

I spent the stroke of midnight 1967/1968 at Youngstown Steel earning time and a half- an incredible $3.60 an hour.


On January 12, Charlotte gave birth to a baby boy named Dan Mitchell Walker, my fourth nephew. As he came into the world, the Beatles topped the charts with Hello-Goodbye. I bought that 45 record for Arlene, listening to it together as we snuggled on her parlor loveseat.

Our sparking romance, exploded into flame. Soon we were inseparable, a bonded pair of lovebirds. I passed daily notes to her written with the salutation, "2R". My hallmark was to slip her a piece of Wrigley's chewing gum with a secret poem inscribed on the inside wrapper. "Come live with me and be my love and I will show what I'm thinking of. You are the one whom I desire. Come live with me and light my fire". I sometimes impressed her with my vocabulary. I once remarked, "You know I'm adept at prestidigitation."

Her eyes got big, "What's that?". I told her to look it up.

The next day she greeted me, "About that big word, you sure are."

On February seventh-one of our days to remember- we went on a date to the Hammond Paramount Theater. We sat through Bonny and Clyde, hugging and kissing. Seated in my Falcon after the show, I proposed to Arlene that we officially go steady. Her face beamed as we exchanged high school rings. Hers fit snugly onto my pinky finger while mine would be threaded with angora yarn.

At school the next day, Arlene assumed the persona of Bonny and I posed as Clyde. "We rob banks!" I drawled to her, the gap between my front teeth providing a handy notch for Clyde's ever-present match stick. Both of us were silly with love.

As well as indoor theaters, we also went on dates to the 41 Outdoor Theater. We would pay our entrance fee, find and empty stall, hook up the speaker, and watch the movie. That was the concept anyway. In spite of an occasional romance inspector, Arlene and I spent more time fogging windows than following dialogue.

Rock & roll hits of early 1968 provided a soundscape to our lovefest: To Sir with Love, Green Tambourine, Dock of the Bay, and This Guy's in Love with You. Each was a special song to us. After I sang to her Judy in Disguise with Glasses, Arlene decided to dump her black framed glasses and invest in contact lenses. My girlfriend was a knockout!

Arlene turned eighteen on April first. The link to April fools provided endless fodder for punny jokes. I treated Arlene to a fancy dinner and we goo-goo-eyed into the evening. Suddenly her shining eyes filled with tears as she shared with me the tragic death of her baby niece. She said insanity was a contributing factor. She wept, wondering if I could still love her with such a troubled history. All this came as news to me, but I assured her my love was unstoppable.

Mom was still awake when I stepped through the door after midnight. She noticed my sullen expression and asked if anything were wrong.

"Yes", I said.

Her face darkened as she asked, "What's the matter, son?"

I spelled out the story and she responded, "Yes, I know about that. It was in all the local papers."

"Then why did you look so worried when you first asked me about the evening?"

"Oh", she blushed. "I thought maybe Arlene might be pregnant or something."

My eyes widened and I paused. "Mom, look out that window. The last time a pregnancy like that happened, a star was shining in the east."

Viewed through the rose prism of Eros, my entire world-scape sparkled. I relished my classwork, reciting Shakespearian sonnets, and discussing presidential politics. My government teacher was shocked when LBJ declined to run for re-election. Suddenly both Republican and Democratic primaries were wide open.

Mr. Roman asked me to read aloud my political limericks.
President Johnson has quit.
Eugene McCarthy lacks hit.
Bobby's a hippie.
Hubert's a drippy.
The whole stinkin' party's unfit.

Now Ethel is pregnant again.
We thought she might stop once at ten.
But that's not our Bobby.
It must be his hobby.
Endowing the world with childREN.

Senior track marked the summit of my athletic accomplishment. I was captain of the team and consistently high-jumped over six feet. Coach Powell initiated the first ever Clark Relays in 1968, inviting six schools to compete at Clark Field. Mom, dad, Frank, Jack, Barbara, plus Charlotte with her kids all showed up to cheer. Arlene was present, sitting in the front row in the admiration of her friends. I basked in the moment.

The school year seemed to pass at warp speed. Tempus fugit I noted in my Latin notebook. With track, work, and steady girlfriend, I remained deliriously exhausted. I bought a camera snapping dozens of pictures of my female fascination.

At the track sectional meet, I scored second in the high jump. At the regional meet, I finally broke the Clark School record with a leap of six-feet-two and one-half inches. I advanced to the state competition in Indianapolis on May 25-the first Pioneer in ten years to reach the state capitol. Arlene attended the championship meet with her parents. I bombed, barely clearing six feet. My track career had ended on a sour note, but my romance with R continued to sweeten.

The Pioneer News, our purple mimeographed newsletter, ran a senior edition. What did the editors see in the futures of selected twelfth graders? My entry simply read: "Chris Foreman – Arlene".

The two of us attended the senior prom in May. The theme of the dance was "Love is Blue" named after a popular song of the day. A local rock group, the New Colony Six, provided live music. She was gorgeous; I was infatuated. Afterwards, I parked the Falcon in the dark recesses of Whiting beach. We crossed personal boundaries, sliding into territory we had both vowed to keep off limits. The initiative was mine, but she yielded with eagerness to my embrace. We did not arrive at the terminal, but I did learn that sex is a locomotive that does not possess a reverse gear.

The political times were crazy, punctuated by anti-war demonstrations, fraught with cultural tumult, and populated by long-haired hippies and radical Yippies. Riots erupted across America when Martin Luther King was murdered on April 4 and Chicago shut down after police confronted protesters at the Democratic National Convention. Two days before graduation, Bobby Kennedy was gunned down in Los Angeles. My friend, Kevin Enright, was despondent.

The final day of school was designated senior day. The class of 1968 gathered in the gym for hugs, tears, and farewells. I had spent twelve of my eighteen years-66% of my life-in the halls of Clark school. Our high school yearbook was distributed to all who paid the fifteen dollars. Thirty classmates signed their names and scribbled messages into my Powder Horn. One inscribed equation succinctly summed up my emotions that day:

2 young
2 be  
4 gotton

High school graduation took place on June 6 with speeches in the auditorium and a class photo on the front steps. I talked with dozens of friends whom I figured I would never forget, but soon vanished into oblivion. Eric and Reinhard sat front and center as valedictorian and salutatorian. I managed a class standing of 56 of 241.

I had never before considered the distinction between the words "graduation" and "commencement". At this auspicious moment, the first lay behind and the second ahead. The picture-pose was a seam in the fabric of life.

School was out for Chris and Arlene. Innocence lay behind us and we looked with eagerness to our future together. I had been admitted to Ball State earlier in the year and in June, dad and mom drove me to orientation. The university seemed enormous. I gawked at the twelve-story Teachers College. Everywhere I looked I saw construction cranes. My cohort of matriculating freshmen would be the high-water mark of the baby boom flood.

Arlene's plans proved more modest than mine. She signed up for college classes at Saint Joseph extension and found a part-time job at NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Power Service Company). Of course, we hung out every moment possible.

Barbara's parents came from Berlin to visit their daughter. My folks boarded them in the bedroom of Frank and me. That was okay since I didn't hang around the house much anyway. Dad shot one of his last movies of a picnic at Forsyth Park. Included in the grainy footage are mom, Big Jim, Char, Jimmy, Shelley, Chrissy, Danny, Jack, Barbara, Clair, Kurt, and me with Arlene. It appeared that R and I quarreled much of the time.

Jim and I worked full-time at Youngstown. The United Steel Workers Union required every millwright be assigned an assistant. My job most of the time was to shadow my mechanic and shine a flashlight wherever he directed. Jim and I made fun of our labor bosses. We labeled the rotund one Egg man and the mustachioed one Walrus.

As a daily routine, I'd get up at seven, pick up Jim, and be at the mill before eight. I remember the hot summer afternoons. Barely washed, I would find R waiting for me on her front stoop about five. What joy would be on her face as I pulled to the curb and smiled at her! We would paint the town past midnight. I'd drop her off, sleep a few hours, then begin the cycle again. Fatigue held no consequence.

About this time, the Zelen family packed up and moved from Alabama. Don had climbed the corporate ladder up a wrung to a position in Longview, Washington. My brother-in-law now managed a new Reynolds cable plant. After a month in Washington State, Jeanne invited the family to visit the West Coast. Don hinted a job might be in the offing for dad.

It was a tearful parting for Arlene. "If you still love me when you come back, then I know we'll be all right." I stuck a letter into the mailbox for every day of our separation, each beginning with the greeting "2R".

This was a memorable vacation for both Frank and me-our first trip to the west coast. We crossed the Mississippi River, traversed endless cornfields, marveled at snowcap mountains, and puzzled at a sign that read: "Welcome to the Evergreen State." The hills were parched to parody.

We chugged through the Cascade Mountains, passing the iconic conic Mount Saint Helens. Dad was wonderstruck. He had to pull over the station wagon at the sight of water gushing from a mountain side. He dumped his coffee to fill his thermos. When we arrived in Longview, I had the sense my parents would soon be moving west.

Our two-thousand-mile trek passed not without incident. As I was driving through Nebraska on a narrow side road, I saw ahead of me a pickup truck, towing a large boat, supporting a significant power motor. This long assemblage was backing out of a driveway. I tried to slow, swerved to the right, but the propeller blade shattered the left rear window. My father exchanged insurance information with the apologetic sportsman. For the remainder of the road trip, taped cardboard kept out the highway breeze. I had added seven states to my growing total: Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington.

We rushed through this visit. Dad had two weeks' vacation and I had to maintain my work status at Youngstown. We hosteled at the Zelen home on 23rd Avenue, enjoying our extended family, cavorting with Debbie, Susie, Nancy, DJ, and Jingles the dog. Don held a well-paid position and generously co-signed for a brand-new vehicle. Mom gushed over our shiny candy-apple red station wagon.

Eileen and Terry drove up from Travis Air Force Base, California, with toddling Jenny and infant Laura. My sixth niece was born on June 24 when Simon and Garfunkel were crooning Mrs. Robinson, "Jesus loves you more than you can know." Terry didn't appreciate that I called his newborn Uncle Fester even though Baby Laura was chubby and bald.

Foremans and Zimmermans headed south on Interstate 5, Terry piloting his newly acquired/slightly damaged family vehicle through Oregon into California. We toured the Golden Gate Bridge, then stopped by Travis Air Force Base and the Nut Tree.

Next, we launched our long trip home, first passing south through Disneyland and the Grand Canyon. We stopped at the Four Corners where I stood in four states at one time: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. We traveled northeast along Route 66 through Kansas which was my thirty-fourth state. Finally, we arrived in Whiting. It was a rapturous homecoming. Arlene and I sang with the Beatles, "Hey, Jude, take a sad song and make it better." We brought gifts for Charlotte and the kids.

I opened my first checking account at the First Bank of Whiting and wrote check number one for $800. This amount, mailed to BSU, covered all expenses for my first quarter of college. Dad appreciated my economic independence.

As I prepared for upcoming college life, dad asked Frank and me to join him on the sofa. Mom sat by tearfully as dad explained that Don Zelen had offered him a job at the Reynolds cable plant. He and mom would be heading west and he wanted to know if we would join them. Dad left the decision to us.

My response was immediate. I intended to enroll at Ball State and stay close to R. Frank was hesitant, but decided to remain in Indiana. He wanted to finish out twelfth grade and compete in gymnastics. It was sad to see my family splitting apart.

The last day of August was my last day in my Lake Avenue Avenue. It would be Frank's alone. Dad and I drove to Muncie in the station wagon laden with my belongings. He helped me carry bags and small bits of furniture up to the seventh floor of Shales Hall. I remember a final cup of coffee and a firm handshake. I had mixed feelings; sad to see my old man depart, but exuberant to be on my own at last.

I tumbled into the tumult of college life: new dorm, new roommate, new schedule, new classes, new classmates-everything had changed in a single day; except for Arlene, my fixed star of heaven.

I was able to bum a ride home every second weekend. My motivation was primarily to visit R, but I also needed to maintain my employment status. To keep my job, I had to work at least eight hours every pay period (two weeks). I acquired my first credit card through AT&T and phoned Arlene's house nearly every day. The conversations ended up costing me around forty dollars per month. I did manage to write some letters to my parents.

In October, my folks rented a moving van packing it to the hilt. I came home for the weekend to see them off. The photograph shows mom somber, dad determined, and our new station wagon in tow. A U-Haul slogan read "Adventure in Moving". Dad bequeathed Jack custody of our corner lot, me use of the Ford Falcon, and Frank sole possession of the second bedroom where he surrounded himself with Marvel comics and gymnastic trophies.

I followed the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico City in late October. Four things stuck out in memory. First was the black power salute given by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the award ceremony. Second was the broad jump by Bob Beamon, an astonishing twenty-nine foot plus. Third was the gold medal winner in heavy-weight boxing, George Foreman. Fourth was the innovative method of high-jumping which earned Dick Fosbury a gold medal. And old Coach Powell told me the flop was only a passing fad.

College work soon filled my hours. My first batch of classes included English Composition, World Economic Geography, German Literature, and Swimming. I dropped by the Christian Student Foundation every Tuesday evening, more out of guilt than conviction. I remained late one November evening monitoring election results. How strange the words "President Nixon" sounded in my ears.

Ball State was on the quarter system-Fall, Winter, and Spring. The winter months found me taking more literature, history, and German. I wrote a paper on the European Common Market and failed to appreciate a class titled Music Appreciation. My college relationships were wide but shallow, having a multitude of acquaintances, but few friends.

Jim Francis and I remained close, even in the military draft. On December 1, 1968, we sat together in his living room watching a TV special. Officials from the Selective Service drew lottery numbers to determine who would be army-inducted in 1969. The plastic capsule containing my birthdate matched number 95; Jim was one number away at 96. Both of us were draft bait, but I possessed a college deferment. My best buddy would soon relocate to Canada.

Jack and Barbara occupied our old homestead with gusto. A new regime established new norms. Cigarette smoke filled the air, beer the fridge, and liquor the cabinets. Barbara hosted a formal New Year's party for a dozen couples. Arlene and I enjoyed the festivities, imbibing a bit. Big Jim Walker drank more than his limit, but Barbara could not coax Charlotte to partake in a single drop of expensive whiskey.


I was driving between Muncie and Whiting every second weekend. My one-way commute of two hundred miles took about three hours. I would leave campus at noon on Friday, work at the mill on Saturday and Sunday, then rush back to Muncie before my Monday morning class. I sometimes experienced road-side hallucinations as I raced through the darkness. Living in a residence hall, I parked the Falcon for free in the Stadium lot.

Back home, I spent evening hours at Arlene's house sitting and talking. Her mother and father seemed positively disposed toward me, keeping a loose rein though close eye on their only daughter. Two older brothers lived in the house as did her nephew, Martin. The little boy's favorite sport was to sneak up on us lovers and giggle as we kissed.

Whiting Park provided our favorite seclusion. After parking the Falcon, we would walk down the lonely shoreline gathering colorful bits of water-washed glass. We would pass blissful hours bouncing the Falcon and fogging the windows. This nocturnal activity was termed watching the submarine races.

Sometimes after a double shift, I would arrive at her home in the dead of night. I would climb over her back fence to toss pebbles at her upper bedroom window. R would whisper a greeting, dress, and meet me outside her back door. Love was sweet.

My father remained active in the Masonic Lodge. Somehow, a small Robertsdale house was left to the Masons in his name. Dad thought Terry and Eileen might want to move into it, so he asked Jack and me to visit the dilapidation. Jack appropriated a Masonic sword emblazoned with in hoc signo vinces and I acquired a Reader's Digest collection of classical recordings.

I played those scratchy LPs for years. While Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin rocked my play time, Mozart and Beethoven enhanced my hours of study. I recognized many of the classical pieces, discovering that Puccini authored the Lone Ranger theme and Liszt wrote a piano piece for Bugs Bunny.

My grades improved in the Spring. I got A's in Biology, Earth Science, and British Literature. With a low grade in German, I decided to drop that field as my minor. My two P.E. classes were track and gymnastics. Both were easy A's.

My freshman year in Muncie overflowed with dorm mates, classmates, dropouts, and professors. A hundred human faces flashed into and out of my life. I could once address each person by name. All have since vanished into the vapor.

In Whiting, Frank excelled in gymnastics, especially floor exercise and trampoline. I traveled to his state meet and snapped photos of my brother receiving a first place and tenth place trophy. About a week later I attended his Clark High graduation. Mom and dad had returned to Whiting for the occasion. They put the house on the market, enlisted Frank and me for another trek west, and packed up the remainder of their belongings.

Our time as same-state brothers had come to an end. Frank and I gathered about one hundred 45 RPM records which we had purchased over the previous five years. The 45s belonged to us in common, because we split the cost or had forgotten who had actually paid the dollar. We sorted through lots of Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Supremes vinyl. Frank picked the first record, I picked the next two, then we alternated picks. The moment was solemn, like a divorce. I knew we'd be walking down separate paths.

Arlene and I kissed goodbye for the second summer in a row. I planned to work at the Reynolds Aluminum plant for eighty days, long enough to cover my sophomore year expenses. Our parting was tearful, but not traumatic. Both of us were confident our romance was unbreakable. Nine of us would be heading West: Dad and mom, Frank and me, Grandma Rose, Bonnie Lou, Jimmy, and Shelley.

Dad bought a second-hand pick-up truck and overpacked it with furniture. As a final flourish, he lashed a rocking chair to the top of the heap. Jack called us the Beverly Hillbillies. After stuffing the red station wagon to the gills, our caravan headed West. Dad and mom managed the automobile, while Frank and I handled the pickup.

Somewhere in the endless plains, Frank was cruising down a monotonous highway. I chanced to glance left to see my brother with eyes half closed and grip rotating left. I seized the steering wheel, startling him awake. I have often wondered how life would have transformed if not for that chance glance.

We arrived in Longview at the start of July. Dad and mom occupied a customized four-bedroom home just a few blocks east of Lake Sacajawea. The previous owner of 1618 23rd Avenue had been a local physician and my folks were thrilled to own such a palace. It was a joyful time of family reunion.

With a big house, good job for dad at Reynolds, and Zelens just next door, life shined for John and Jenny Foreman. Their only regret lay in the thought that such fortune hadn't shined upon them years earlier, before their nest emptied. Frank and I slept in a paneled upstairs bedroom. I remember an endless playing of Iron Butterfly: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

A year earlier, when Terry had honorably separated from the Air Force, he and Eileen settled in Longview. Terry worked at the Reynolds cable plant alongside dad. I enjoyed visits with my little nieces Jenny and Laura.

My summer job was at the aluminum foundry. As an entry-level worker, I labored, swept, and hauled refuse. At the three-week mark, my boss instructed me to lift armfuls of scrap metal from one location and stack the debris by a nearby fence. After three days of this menial toil, I was summoned into his office. He dismissed me, saying I didn't "put my heart into my work". Was it a set up?

I was disappointed because I only earned $500 rather than the $1200 planned. However, I would be reunited with R sixty days earlier. Frank remained in Longview. He had earned a gymnastics scholarship to the University of Washington and would matriculate in the Fall. I flew into Chicago O'Hare, bussed to Hammond, and ran into Arlene's outstretched arms.

I had burned my employment bridge at Youngstown Steel, but was fortunate to find another union job at Inland Steel. I soon worked full time at the filthiest jobs one could imagine. For several weeks I climbed into the smoky mouth of an open-hearth blast furnace axe-picking at solidified slag waste. Even with asbestos protection, my feet swelled with heat.

Later I worked on the coke line. The furnace fires were fed through conveyer belts laden with powdered coal dust. The black powder would blow off the belts and my job was to shovel it back on. I remember one guy who partnered with me. At the half-hour break, he would rip off his breathing mask, run to the outside door, and inhale a cigarette. Before leaving for home, my partner and I took turns blasting our clothing with high power air hoses.

By this time, Jack had vacated the old homestead and I began to sleep in Walkers' basement. I was a bit upset with Barbara. Frank and I had left several boxes of memorabilia in the basement and my sister-in-law left our precious stuff by the garbage cans. She chuckled as she reported a line of garbage pickers going through the boxes. I think I mourned my lost Beatles posters most.

1725 Sheridan became my official college home of record. But in fact, I spent more hours at R's house. I remember watching her TV on July 20 as Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. We took steps of our own into the humid night hand-in-hand to gaze into the dark sky. "Could it be possible?", I asked her.

Then, on August 15, we watched reports about that hippy rock concert in New York State called Woodstock. It seemed we had entered a brave new world in regard to both science and culture.

My Ford Falcon finally collapsed at Whiting Park and the junk man towed it away. I was under twenty-one so Mr. Francis, acting as a surrogate father, helped me buy a 1961 blue Chevy Biscayne. His own son had already found refuge in Toronto. Mr. Francis told me Jim was about to marry Peggy who had traveled north to join him.

The end of August saw the beginning of my second college year. I had earned enough money in three months to pay cash for the following nine months of university.

Mark Orewiler had been a casual friend at Shales Hall and had procured an off-campus residence for the Fall term. We arranged to be roommates at 312 McKinley Street. Our tiny space was up a flight of stairs, one of three bedrooms with a communal bathroom. Mark and I became fast friends. Our old landlady lived downstairs looking after her still older brother.

About a week after I settled in, Mark burst into our room with breathless news. He had spotted the old man in the garage dangling from the end of a rope. I rushed out to see. I touched the leg of the body and he jiggled as if alive. Further observation persuaded me the octogenarian was deceased. I walked to a nearby college office and called the police who carted the corpse away.

Because of my excellent grades during my freshman year, I received an academic scholarship and admittance into the BSU honors program. The centerpiece of the Honors curriculum was a course called Humanities, meeting five days a week for the entire school year. I felt I had joined the intelligentsia. Without German as a drag-me-down, I earned straight A's during the fall and winter quarters. I figured I had my life under control: a good place to live, outstanding grades, and a faithful girlfriend. The Beatles released Abby Road and I was singing "Something in the way she moves attracts me like no other lover."

Things got even better with R. Her parents were kind enough to escort her to Ball State to attend the Football homecoming. I can't recall the main event, but I do remember the joy. I was so proud to strut around campus holding her hand. Mark joined us on the grassy quad to throw a frisbee. We three tossed and chased the plastic disc. Mark was better at the backhand toss; I was accurate with a sidearm finger flip. Arlene was having a ball. I hinted to Mark that the two of us might be married soon, perhaps by the following summer.

In October, I visited the college jewelry shop and purchased on credit one diamond engagement ring with matching wedding bands. I didn't consult with R and she was shocked when I showed the rings to her. I decided my Thanksgiving break would be the opportune time to ask Mr. Kurek for his daughter's hand in marriage. R was apprehensive.

Before the lavish meal, I spoke alone to Mr. and Mrs. Kurek. I boldly asked for the hand of Arlene in marriage. They were interested, bewildered, and subdued all at the same time. The dinner was great with her two brothers and nephew seated around the table. One brother congratulated me on my straight A report card.

I never heard a peep of response from her parents; only silence. And the silence grew to estrangement, then to hostility. I was never quite sure what the issue was. R would say, "Oh, my parents are mad at you". My hunch centered on the elephant in the room: our religious divide. It seemed the Kureks were accepting of Arlene having a non-Catholic boyfriend, but not of themselves having a Protestant son-in-law. I sensed a drift in Arlene as well.

It was a strange time. We became physically closer even as we grew more emotionally distant. Every weekend an intense quarrel seemed to trigger a more intimate embrace. The more I felt her slipping away, the tighter I hung on. I knew she was floundering.

Over Christmas break, Mark traveled with his girlfriend from Muncie to Whiting. The four of us drove into Chicago for a concert of the Moody Blues. It was a kind of twentieth birthday present for me. The night was intended to be carefree, but R and I battled continually. I felt embarrassed to have my best friend witness me shouting and avert his gaze when he saw Arlene foot stomping.

In contrast, we celebrated New Year's Eve, two hearts beating as one. In the backseat of my Chevy, we heated the mid-winter chill to a sizzle. I had liberated a flask of liquor from Jim Walker's cabinet. As the whistles and booms welcomed in the new decade, we sipped a toast to each other. Where there is life, there is hope.

1970 to April

I treasured my moments with the Walker family. I have pictures of Chrissy and Danny standing on a highchair and draped with a sash reading 1-9-7-0. The two curly-headed boys brought light into my increasingly dark world. Charlotte was so kind, putting up with my late hours, sullen attitude, and consumption of food. Big Jim mostly ignored me, and the four children clung to me at times. It was obvious Jim and Charlotte were mismatched and miserable.

I received a New Year's letter from Frank. He seemed to be suffering from ennui, struggling to discover meaning in life during this freshman year at the University of Washington. His gymnastics scholarship failed to materialize and he hated the permissive and liberal attitudes in his dormitory. His grades were fine, but he portrayed himself as a misfit.

I was still laboring at Inland Steel. The mill rats knew me as a college whiz-kid. I remember asking a wizened worker about pressurized tanks. Some were labeled "OX" for oxygen and some "PP" for propane. After contemplating a while, I asked him what "MT" signified. He laughed, called his buddies together, and asked me to pronounce the letters slowly.

A goofy co-worker was called "bubblegum" by the bosses. A few months before I was hired, this guy was pounding nails into a wall and dislodged a gooey substance. He sniffed it between his fingers and proclaimed it to be bubblegum. More was discovered. He insisted it was chewed bubblegum. Nearly the entire wall was uncovered. He never backed down admitting he was wrong. Bubblegum deserved his moniker.

The mill was an educating experience. A piece of graffiti scrawled on the side of a foundry crucible read: "America=The melting pot. Scum rises to the top and those on the bottom get burned."

Ball State had a one-week break between the Winter and Spring term. Arlene cut a day of work and sneaked down to campus. It was an afternoon of erotic delight. The pattern was familiar: anticipation (of what was about to happen)-recreation (giggling and foreplay)-consummation (moments of fleeting rapture)-realization (once again breaking our self-promise)-and, resolution (not to let it happen again). We were constantly filled with guilt. Anguish followed ecstasy.

I rationalized that since I was going to marry Arlene anyway, then what's wrong with a little premarital sex? That veneer peeled away as I increasingly suspected marriage may not be in the cards. Yet, my lust flamed more than ever. Arlene became an object of my passion, a means to satisfy an animal appetite.

I astounded my friend Mark by pledging a Greek fraternity. I had a hole in my heart and thought I might fill it with male camaraderie. During rush week, I pledged Theta Chi. It was so odd. There was a month of kindness, they courting me. Then came a week of abuse and physical testing.

A guy named Spoolie had just left the army and treated us to military-grade hazing. I did push-ups until my arms ached. I tried my best to cop a gun-ho attitude, but like in high-school sports, my personality was too stoic. Plus, I had no palate for the keggers. I was accepted into the fraternity-I learned later-not because of my winning personality but with a high GPA I bumped up the frat house average.

In the Spring quarter I sparred with God. I had no doubt He existed, but I no longer liked Him. After all, the Supreme Being was pulling Arlene away from me. In Philosophy 101, I excelled when the topic shifted to the question of God's existence. No student rivaled me with knowledge of Scripture, not even the professor. I was able to demonstrate, without doubt, that God was just a fairy tale, a projected father figure. I received an A+ on a paper contending that the Creator might just as well be a committee of gremlins as the God of Genesis.

In my Humanities class, we studied the Bible as literature, along with the City of God. Again, with practiced Bible skills, I proved that Saints Paul and Augustine were closet Platonists more than Christian monotheists. At the time, I mistook my hubris to be intellectualism.

I also earned a bit of scholarship money by leading an Earth Science Colloquia. My professor-mentor lectured three hundred freshmen in an auditorium, but my small break-out group consisted of about twenty. After preparing and teaching the material, I acquired a lifetime of knowledge about how the earth revolves and rotates.

Arlene and I were still writing each other a few times a week. She shared her opinion that I was too long-haired and too radical by speaking out against the war in Viet Nam. She scolded me for suggesting I might seek asylum in Canada if drafted. In one letter she said, "Be careful. I think my mom is opening my mail and reading what you say to me."

I was filled with righteous indignation. I addressed the next letter to R and wrote in bold print an opening line, "Dear Mrs. Kurek. These words are private, directed to Arlene, not you. Please mind your own business!"

During our next phone conversation, I asked R if her mom had opened the letter clearly marked personal. She said, "Oh yes, she screamed at you for ten minutes."

Our romance was collapsing. Her parents forbade me to stop by her home, so I picked R up at her workplace. One day she stepped into my car reluctantly and suggested it might be wise to give our relationship a few months' rest. Maybe we could date other people. I was aghast, clinging and pleading. As we left the parking lot, R glanced behind and said, "Uh oh, my dad's following us." I drove around for ten minutes. Finally, R directed me to pull into a lot.

I stepped from the car and held my ground. My passive face did not react as her mother sputtered insults. Her dad cursed so hard his dentures flung loose. Finally, he yanked Arlene from my car and pushed her into their backseat. My girlfriend was sobbing. My world was crumbling.

I plunged into despair, diagnosing my problem as "Boy meets girl/Boy loses girl/Boy loses himself". I sought a pharmaceutical solution. For a few months already I had been smoking an occasional joint with Mark and his friends. I inhaled marijuana as a means to escape reality. It seemed like a generational thing to do. I enjoyed the TCP high, but not the smoke filling my lungs. It also seemed like maximal effort to achieve minimal buzz. Hashish was better, but still inadequate. Plus, dope smoking proved to be a social activity and I was a loner.

One of my newly-acquired fraternity brothers was a known drug dealer. I scored a hit of LSD for just eight dollars. Over the next fourteen months, blotter acid was my trip of choice-without smoke, without companionship, yet pseudo-spiritual. I tripped across inner space without traveling a step. Cannabis Sativa may have been a recreational drug, but Lysergic Acid Diethylamide was a recreational vehicle.

I determined to take a dramatic stand to win back the heart of Arlene. In desperation I skipped classes on April first-her twentieth birthday-paid twenty dollars for twenty long-stem roses, then zoomed two hundred miles northwest to her work place. Over three highway hours, I begged God to work a miracle and return Arlene to me. I figured if God cared about me at all, He could certainly manage such a trivial request.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 7

April 1970 to July 1971
Muncie & Longview

He gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country,
and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
(The prodigal son from Luke 15:13)

My romantic heart had continually yearned for love and wept at love's demise. My soul had always resonated to sentimental songs of unrequited love: Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino (1956), Mr. Blue by the Fleetwoods (1959), Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton (1963), and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969). Each song lyric was a variation of my own heart-crushing Arlene blues.

In later years I diagnosed this heart ailment from which I suffered as "EGRD": Eros-God Reversal Disorder suggested by First John 4:8.

The transitive sentence reads: "God is love". Logic may infer an equivalence of nouns on either side of the verb, but that is a deception. The meaning distorts when reversed into "Love is God". I know this through experience. I made love my god, worshiping Eros as deity. I enthroned an idol where only God should reign. The result of EGRD was dissipation on earth and estrangement from heaven.

April 1970

April 1, 1970, marked Arlene's twentieth birthday. I had purchased twenty roses for the occasion. At about four o'clock I pulled into her workplace lot. I paced the sidewalk with nervous tension, rehearsing magic words I prayed might regain her affection. I imagined her familiar smile and conjured an embrace still fresh to memory. Rain began to patter my ballcap, so I sat in the Chevy. Red roses rested on a cushion so recently laden by Arlene's backside.

Drizzle muddied the dusty windshield so I didn't see her face. Rather, I heard that achingly familiar laugh, then words like, "Help me out. I can't open this umbrella." I next heard a chuckling male response.

I flung open the door and confronted R. Her escort froze in bewilderment. I inhaled a breath of courage, removed the bouquet from the car, and handed the bundle to the startled stranger. I sputtered, "Today is Miss Kurek's birthday. Do me a favor and pass these flowers on to her". I gave the astonished Arlene a warped smile, then returned to my car. I saw the two gesticulating as I sped away.

I parked on a side street, turned off the ignition, and howled in pain. An arrow had pierced my heart. I pounded the dashboard in anguish. The woman I had worshipped had betrayed me.

After regaining a measure of composure, I drove to Whiting. Charlotte recognized my pain and let me be. I stretched out for a few hours then drove in the darkness back to Muncie. Fantasy was dissolving. Reality was sinking in.

A few days later I received a polite note from R. She thanked me for the birthday flowers, adding I had misinterpreted events. Her kind co-worker had offered to escort her to the lot on a rainy afternoon. He supported her elbow because the stairs were slippery. Arlene said I had embarrassed her in front of a co-worker and was no longer welcome to visit her at NIPSCO. I crumpled the letter in agony as I scanned her multiple photos plastered around my study desk.

In my final letter to R, I related a story about my four-year-old nephew Chrissy. He had attended a pre-school party and had brought home two goldfish in a plastic bag. Charlotte placed the little critters into a glass bowl at his bedside.

Chrissy really loved those fishies, but on the second morning he stumbled down the stairway in tears. The goldfish were dead. Chris had loved his friends so much he plucked them from the water and set them near his heart. And thus, it had happened to his namesake uncle as well.

On my next visit to Whiting, Arlene asked to meet me outside her home. I noticed her mother peeking through a front curtain. Through a rolled-down car window, I handed over her 1968 class ring and she returned mine. It was officially over. By coincidence, on the same day R and I separated, John, Paul, George, and Ringo signed papers dissolving the Beatles partnership.

I returned the wedding bands to the jewelry store in late April. I had paid about half of what I owed for the $350 set. I hinted perhaps the jeweler might return some of my cash. He smiled, "Sir, we can guarantee the jewelry, but not the relationships."

I muttered to myself, "Would that you could".

I fell into a deep funk known only to those who dwell in a lonely place. I resonated with the tragic words of Humphrey Bogart: "I was born when she kissed me; I died when she left me; and I lived a few weeks while she loved me."

I found myself in free fall during the months of April and May. Life held no meaning. My language coarsened. My company worsened. Drug parties and radical politics entered my life. Boone's Farm wine and Winston cigarettes became staples. My comrades termed themselves freaks and the word seemed apropos. In our clothing, vocabulary, and attitude, we strove to distinguish ourselves from the straights of the world.

In the midst of depression and turmoil, my Spring grades held remarkably steady: An A, three B's and a C. Mark was impressed. I told him, "That's why they call it a BS degree."

Since I had abandoned German as a minor, I had to find an alternative. I dropped by the assessment center and took a battery of aptitude tests. My interests scored all over the map, from science, to philosophy, to history. With such an array of aptitudes, the counselor suggested Library Science where I could be a jack of all trades and a master of none. I mostly hung out on campus, but on occasion I traveled to Whiting staying with Charlotte. She and her four children brought some normalcy into my life.

On May 4, anti-war sentiment boiled over at nearby Kent State University. Four students lay dead at the hands of the Ohio National Guard. A group of us rallied on the Ball State mall and I signed a petition supporting The Peoples Peace Treaty. I looked on as several college men burned their draft cards in protest.

The guy who lived across the hall invited me to a local Unitarian Universalist Church. I obliged, thinking it would expand my horizons. I was shocked to see Buddhas, saints, Krishnas, and minarets intermingled throughout a gilded meeting hall. I realized I remained Christian at core. If someone were to ask me, "Who is God?", my response might be, "The Holy One against whom I am rebelling".

About this same time Jesus was making a cultural comeback on campus. I began to notice students sporting t-shirts that read Jesus People. The vinyl album Jesus Christ Superstar topped the pop charts. What was this buzz about Christ? I dismissed it as camp; something that provided amusement to the sophisticated. Jesus was so un-cool; He was becoming re-cool.

Before school let out, I accompanied Mark on a quick trip east. He wanted to see New York City and visit a former girlfriend in New Jersey. We slept out along the way at rest stops. We stayed a night at the girlfriend's house, but Mark complained that she paid more attention to me than him. The trip was fruitful though. We did get to look around the Big Apple and I added New Jersey at my thirty-fifth state.

Don Zelen's mother-Grandma Rose-invited me to live in her basement for the summer of 1970. I was able to work forty hours per week at Inland Steel, spending off hours with the Walkers. I would sometimes drive the four kids to Forsyth Park to give Charlotte a break.

One summer evening Arlene dropped by the house. I think she felt sorry for me. I invited her into the kitchen for a grape Nihi soda. My ex-girlfriend showed me the new car her parents had purchased for her. I quipped, "So that's how they bought you off, huh?" Arlene was not amused. She drove into the sunset not to reappear for many years.

My former high-school teacher, Mr. Erickson, lived alone in a Whiting apartment. He invited a gaggle of young men to his place for discussion and counseling. I knew of his foppish reputation, but he was cultured and kind. After watching the movie, Patton, I was thrilled to discuss events of World War Two. To my amazement, Mr. Erickson was a journalist in 1945 and had actually interviewed the famous general. It struck me for the first time that an old man's biography is a young man's history. Over the next year, I dropped by his place whenever in Whiting.

In July, I skipped work to help Jack relocate. We hitched a U-Haul trailer to the back of his convertible and drove two thousand miles west to Longview, Washington. Jack soon found a job selling real estate while Barbara looked after her kitty named Puppy.

Jack and I went to the Kelso Theater to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. Afterwards we talked for hours about the future of space travel and what life might be like in the twenty-first century. Would we have computers like HAL? Maybe I would live on the moon.

Dad and mom had some kind of religious experience that didn't interest me. However, I was fascinated by their collection of Bible recordings. An actor named Alexander Scourby had recorded the entire New Testament on long-play phonograph albums. As I overheard the King James Version, my spirit inside wept.

I remained with my parents for a week before flying to Chicago. My Chevy began to burn oil and black clouds trailed me to the junk yard. I replaced it with a classic 1961 Impala for $250. Unfortunately, three days later, this big-finned beauty was side-swiped while parked on Calumet Avenue. I had no insurance, so my two-tone car remained crumpled for a month of driving.

Big industry was shutting down in northwest Indiana. After my final steel-mill paycheck, I bought a 1965 Catalina for $450. With bankbook nearly depleted, I packed my belongings and motored to Muncie for my third year of college.

I hooked up with a nineteen-year-old friend named Lynn and together we moved into 828 East Adams, a hippie-house known as the mansion. Rent was low, times were high, and music reverberated. Lynn liked me; I used her. She was attached; I was detached. I was in full rebellion mode against God. I remember steadying a wobbly kitchen table by mashing Gideon pocket Bibles under two wooden legs. The communal house adopted a stray dog and I named the sickly animal "Jehovah".

The Library Science program accepted me and my curriculum altered course. I attended three library classes that Fall: Reference & Bibliography, Card Catalog, and Children's Books. The workload proved overwhelming and I barely squeaked out C's. My bohemian lifestyle contributed not a little.

An assortment of odd balls and flunk-outs moved into the mansion, only to reside a day or two. Dozens were attracted to parties, to dope, who knows? The more I struggled to be free, the more I fell into bondage. I barely survived that Fall term, managing to stay off the street, out of jail, and outside the psych ward. Things had to change. In December, I abandoned Lynn and vacated the mansion, packing my worldly belongings into the big Catalina. Lynn wept at my departure, but I didn't care.

I faced a three-week Christmas break, no place to live and little money. I was overcome with wanderlust and got the crazy notion to hitchhike cross country. I figured this would be a trial by ordeal; a test of pluck and resolve. I parked my car in the Theta Chi lot and Mark drove me to his home in Pendleton, Indiana. I stayed with him overnight and departed the next day.

On December 19, at 9:45 in the cold of morning, Mark dropped me along Interstate 80. I was wearing two sets of pants, two shirts, double wool socks with boots, a heavy coat, ear-flap cap, and ski gloves. Over top of all this, I poked my head through an Alaskan parka. I lugged a navy duffle bag filled with raingear, extra socks, snacks, soap, flashlight, transistor radio, canteen, pen and tablet. Into the toe of my sock, I tucked my life savings-eighty-six dollars. My hand-drawn sign read: "San Francisco".

I kept a log of my rides to Longview. These were my fourteen encounters during the two-and-a-half-day slog:

1. From Pendleton, Indiana, to Interstate 80 by Mark.
2. I-80 to Indianapolis by a couple who have a kid at Purdue.
3. Indianapolis to Kansas City by two freaks on a honeymoon from Connecticut.
4. Kansas City on I-80 only two exits by four high-school kids.
5. Two more exits on I-80 by a guy with a GTO. His back tires were falling apart.
6. Three more exits by a GI stationed at Fort Leavenworth.
7. One exit by guy in a VW. He gave me a swig of whiskey.
8. Along I-80 about two hundred miles in VW van. I slept a little.
9. From Oakley, Kansas, to Welles Nevada, about 1100 miles, twenty-three hours with Jack and Betty. Roads were bad. Passed through Denver at 10:00 a.m. Sunday. Nevada marked my thirty-sixth state.
10. From Welles to Sacramento. Guy who was driving the VW van was a hitchhiker himself. Couple was sleeping in back. I slept for several hours. Lots of ice and snow.
11. From I-80 in Sacramento off exit 100 yards. Someone felt sorry for me. Stood for two hours near Sacramento to 11:00 a.m. I drew a new cardboard sign that read, "North".
12. From 1-5 outside Sacramento to the Albany exit in Oregon. Eight hours by Berkeley student. Said he was wanted for murder in California. Far out!
13. Got approached by cop who said hitchhiking is illegal in Oregon. Got picked up by hip couple to Vancouver, Washington.
14. To Longview, one block from home at eight in the evening on Monday.

I didn't tell my folks I was heading West, so they were stunned to see their prodigal son standing at the front door, grubby and disheveled. Dad and mom were in the midst of a charismatic home meeting. About twenty enthusiasts sat in the living room on fold-out chairs. I greeted the happy-clappy Christians, then took a hot shower and slept until noon on the following day.

The change I saw in my father was startling. He was effervescent, dressed in a flashy polyester leisure suit. He could not speak without joy bubbling in his voice. Dad had never liked restaurants, now he was eating out every second day at Roy's Chuckwagon. He counted these as opportunities to witness the faith. Dad had become a thorough-going and effective evangelist. Mom was his full partner, ministering to the ladies.

Frank later wrote this story about dad:

A church friend invited dad to a Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship International (FGBMFI) meeting in Vancouver. For the first time in his life, my dad saw men excited about God. They talked about the reality of God in a restaurant! They talked about Him changing their lives, guiding them in their businesses, and healing their bodies. For many years he had prayed for the sick. Now he heard about people actually being healed. Then he saw them being healed! And he saw people speaking in tongues and dancing for joy in the Spirit. This was what he had thirsted for all of his life. John Foreman jumped into the roaring River of the Spirit with both feet. Jennie Foreman grabbed his hand and jumped in right next to him. At that first meeting he was speaking in tongues and dancing in the Spirit. Mom soon followed.

I was in the Longview house for eight days, enduring incessant chatter about something called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I didn't do drugs at the house, but acted stoned so my family wouldn't pester me. To any testimony they attempted, I'd nod my head and croak "far out". The strategy seemed to work.

The family celebrated my twenty-first birthday followed by a big Christmas dinner. Six Zelens, six Foremans, and four Zimmermans sat around the dining room table to hear dad preach about Jesus and lead in group prayer. Frank shared with me about speaking in tongues, describing his recent experience on December 14. He gave me a book by some English dude named C.S. Lewis. I promised to read it on my return hitchhike. Don took me aside and said he would pay for my flight home, if only I would cut my long hair. Fat chance! Plus, I looked forward to my return adventure.

Jack sold real estate out of an office in Kalama. We talked as he drove me sixty miles south into Portland, dropping me off at 8:00 a.m. on December 28. It took me three and a half days to get back to Whiting. These were my twenty-seven rides:

1. Jack drove me from Longview to Portland on Interstate 5.
2. Two exits by a kid in a pickup. He needed me as a side view mirror.
3. Three exits by farmer in a pickup.
4. Long wait, then picked up by guy in beat-up '61 Chevy. I went about 150 miles.
5. To Redding, California, by a weird guy going to the Rose Bowl, about six hours.
6. To the San Francisco exit. He was an expert in artificial insemination. We conversed the whole way. He dropped me at 11:00 p.m., now heading east on Interstate 80.
7. To Davis, California, by a Davis student, short ride.
8. Picked up by Davis cop whose wife is from Kokomo. He said I couldn't hitchhike on I-80, so he drove me one exit further dropping me off the big highway.
9. With a guy from Auburn who drove me a few exits into Auburn.
10. Was in Auburn four hours in cold and dark! Got picked up by a trucker. I spaced and dozed to Reno where I was let out. Walked miles through Reno and Sparks. Made a new sign because I lost my original in Redding. It's easy to find cardboard.
11. To Salt Lake City by a student from Brigham Young. Got eight hours of fitful sleep.
12. Through Salt Lake City about five miles to city limits by a commuter. It was 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.
13. About twenty miles by guy in VW going home.
14. To Wyoming by guy from Georgia on vacation in '71 Pinto. I had a five-hour wait somewhere in Wyoming. City cop said if state cop found me it would be $150 and ten days! I was shuddering cold and shook up.
15. Finally got picked up at 2:00 a.m. by trucker who slammed on brakes. He said I was crazy to be out in a blizzard. He drove me nineteen hours to Council Bluffs, Iowa. He bought me a meal along the way. I spent New Year's moment near Council Bluffs with my thumb extended. I know because I heard fireworks pop in the distance.
16. Drunk guy drove me through town a few miles.
17. To Des Moines by guy driving about 120 MPH. Slept most of way.
18. By trucker on exit. He drove me a few miles because he thought I was needy.
19. Man drove me another few miles east off of Interstate.
20. Back to I-80 by Des Moines about thirty miles.
21. Black dude to Iowa City. I drove his GTO the last thirty miles. He said he was an entertainer and dead tired.
22. Trucker to Moline, Illinois. He made an abrupt stop at exit to let me out and cop was right behind him. The cop gave him a ticket and me a warning not to hitchhike.
23. I walked off the roadbed to the on-ramp. I got a ride about ten miles to some small city and waited near I-80 for a few hours.
24. Guy going to Detroit took me to Route 41 and I-80. He got a speeding ticket.
25. Got a ride north to downtown Munster. Guy congratulated me on trek.
26. Another three-mile ride. Got to Hammond at 4:00 p.m. on New Year's Day.
27. Jeannie Grinsted (by pure coincidence) drove me to White Castle hamburgers. I looked up to Mr. Erikson's apartment window and saw the light on. I put my feet up and we talked about my great adventure.

1971 to August

I hung around Whiting for a few days recovering from my arduous journey. I discovered Charlotte was now a raving Pentecostal. Dad had preached to her by telephone and my second sister was now speaking at me in tongues. I could not escape. Was the Hound of Heaven nipping at my heels? I did some overdue accounting and withdrew my first student loan: $1000 from the First Bank of Whiting. Big Jim Walker dropped me on Calumet Avenue and after a three-hour hitchhike I reunited with my abandoned car. The doors were frozen shut and the battery was dead, but I was happy to resume my university lifestyle.

I didn't have a place to stay, but I had a pocket full of money. After a day of searching, I found a suburban house on Lynda Lane, spent $250 of bank money, and moved in. I was accompanied by Mark and two hippie friends. Each agreed to contribute $30 per month, but their money was slow in coming. I met Jim Richardson who played guitar in a rock band. After moving in, Jim needed space to practice, so drums, guitars, and amplifiers occupied the living room. Two band members began to couch-sleep in the day and noise-make in the night. Everyone wanted to stay, but no one wanted to pay. After three months of expense, I abandoned the property forfeiting my $100 deposit.

My grades recovered: An A, two B's and two C's. For the Honors Colloquium my group met in Dean Lawhead's house. These dozen hours a week were an island of tranquility in a sea of chaos. I hooked up with a few girls, but nothing clicked. I was intelligent, but unstable; attractive, then offensive. I suffered from ennui; weariness and discontent of soul.

During times of depression and hallucination, my spirit-without prompting-reached back to my childhood days. I never recalled sermons or scripture verses. I rasped embedded hymns: "Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus our blessed Redeemer. Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim. Hail Him! Hail Him! Highest archangels in glory. Strength and honor give to his holy name." These words rescued me from abject despair.

My Catalina was back-smashed and three of us went to a local hospital. Our injuries were not serious, but the car was totaled and the driver uninsured. For the next several months I struggled without a vehicle. My thumb managed to get me back to Whiting every few weeks.

On a hitchhike north, a Purdue student picked me up near Lafayette. As we were talking on Highway 41, the driver scooted toward me and rubbed my thigh with his right hand. I shoved it away and he apologized. He said he was hoping I'd turn out gay. He added he was heading to a gay bar in Chicago and asked if I wanted to join him. Always wanting to broaden my horizons, I consented. It was an eye-opening evening. I drank a few cocktails while fending off several advances. The guy was cool and dropped me off at Walkers at about 3:00 a.m.

The stately Eliot Hall at BSU was reserved for seniors only. In the Spring term I discovered I had enough units to qualify, so I applied and took up residence. Regular sleep and meals helped me cope with depression. My roommate was a graduate student named Grubb, who led the War Resistance League on campus. Every week we gathered at an anti-war rally. I accumulated a new set of friends, some idealists, some rowdies, and some-like me-just wanting to make the scene. I enjoyed the company of a young lady named Diana Batts. She was pretty. I was eager. I kissed her once but scared her away with my radical rantings.

I followed Grubb and soon became a protegé. I helped him pass out handbills emblazed with the red clenched fist of civil disobedience. On April 30, a dozen of us anti-war activists piled into the back of a U-Haul truck and headed to Washington, D.C. Our goal was to shut down the capitol. My button read, "If the government won't stop the war, the people will stop the government." My travel bag contained a camera, handbills, snacks and water. The driver stopped every hour to lift the back hatch giving us a breath of fresh air.

May first, 1971, was crazy. About 30,000 protesters camped out in West Potomac Park near the Washington Monument grooving to rock music and preparing for political action. A fellow traveler provided me with two hits of LSD. I experienced the biggest bummer of my life and partook in my last experiment with hallucinogenics.

It was really heavy stuff and with all the music and strange antics in the park, my mind freaked out-tasting sounds and hearing colors. My primary hallucination was that the world would end at dawn. The distant shining monument appeared to be the gates of heaven and chattering protestors huddled around fires appeared as demons from hell. I must have blown my mind because I found myself lying in a medical tent babbling about four horsemen of the apocalypse. I recovered my senses during the night.

At dawn on May 2, bullhorns announced the park would be cleared. I woke sleepers as helicopters buzzed overhead. A few dozen of us spilled onto a street to block traffic. When we saw D.C. police busting heads, we ran for it. Two in my May Day tribe were collared by the cops. The remainder jumped into a VW minibus to watch the action from a safer distance. I rested in a sanctuary church then spent the night with compatriots from Virginia.

On the evening of May 3, I headed to Indiana in an overstuffed car. My satchel went missing and I mourned the loss of undeveloped film. At 4:00 a.m., as we were entering Muncie, a patrol car stopped us. They combed the car and the people in it, but found no dope. We spent a few hours in detention, then were released. May Day ended my activist career. I still searched for meaning, but I knew it could not be found in radical politics.

I was at a pot party when I hooked up with Patty. I regret taking advantage of that freshman girl from Whiting. For a while I experienced the best the world had to offer. I remember having Patty in bed with me and my best friend Grubb sitting across from me in conversation. We were passing hashish back and forth when suddenly on the radio my favorite song sounded: "Eight Miles High". For a split second I thought, I have sex. I have comradeship. I have dope and I have rock & roll. O, Lord! Why am I so empty?

Soon my third year of college ended. Patty's father provided me with a ride home. I told my girlfriend I was going away for the summer. With a tear, she gave me her Saint Christopher's medal. I hitchhiked to Pendleton and spent a week with Mark stowing some of my goods in his basement. I remember us lying under a full moon in his backyard, bundled in sleeping bags, rambling on to each other through the night.

Mark's parents drove the two of us to Whiting and seven packed into Char's station wagon. Mark and I alternated driving while my sister managed four kids in the back. We traveled on the cheap; eating sandwiches and pausing for sleep only one night. Charlotte, Jimmy, Shelley, Chrissy, and Danny sheltered inside the car, while Mark and I stretched under the stars. In the wilderness of Wyoming, I awoke with a rabbit refusing to vacate my chest.

Charlotte was an incessant talker. Her sole topic was God-the Father, the Son, and especially the Holy Ghost. Mark drank in the gospel, asking question after question. I found myself an unwitting Bible teacher, knowing more scripture than my sister. Mark grew in knowledge as I meditated on the words pouring from my own mouth. I knew the Holy Spirit was gunning for me.

When I arrived at the John Foreman house, I fell under conviction. I perceived spiritual battle. Was my soul the object of targeted prayer? Were dark powers at work-like those who moved the Ouija Board? I suspected such. Mom embraced Mark and called it a Pentecostal hug. My buddy told me he didn't know what "Pentecostal" meant.

Mark had only to observe my dad to grasp the meaning. Dad was a Pentecostal dynamo. In later years an admirer wrote this testimonial:

John Foreman was a spiritual mentor to me and led me into the baptism of the Holy Spirit at a Full Gospel meeting in Longview. My life of miracles began that night. He was both a teacher and a role model for me. I attended the home prayer and Bible study meetings in Longview and saw every kind of miracle. Not only did I watch as John prayed for people's legs to be lengthened and see people's legs grow before my very eyes, but John prayed for me and then I prayed for others when I got home and their legs were healed as well.

Mark and I entered into many rap sessions with my family, especially with Frank and his new girlfriend Lelia. As religious renegades we escaped to Lake Sacajawea, smoked cigarettes, and talked about Jesus. Could it all be true? We could not refute their testimony nor deny their joy. But being a sinner does provide its pleasures. Were we willing to forego our debauchery?

Mark told me this story of his conversion: One night while he was trying to sleep, he felt under attack by demons. Dad and mom were still awake so he rose to talk with them. Finally, they prayed for him and he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

I felt abandoned after Mark's conversion and recognized pride as an obstacle to faith's return. If mom and dad were right about this Holy Spirit business, then I must be wrong. I had been arguing with Frank and others too long to concede.

Mark and I continued to have conversations and have fun, but after three weeks, he, Charlotte and the kids returned to Whiting. Without a job East or West, I lingered in Longview. Dad had purchased a 1961 VW Beetle. He allowed me to putter around town, mostly to shop and visit nearby family. The choice of this car had surprised me. He had once spoken of the VW Beetle as Hitler's dream. My father was certainly a changed man.

I spent some wonderful days at the Zelen farm in Napavine and Eileen dropped by the house the house, bringing along a little girl that she and Terry were looking after over the summer. Dad was often a first adopter of gadgets. He lent me use of his new cassette tape player to hear famed Pentecostals such as Kenneth Hagin. I also watched TV shows by faith healers like Kathryn Kuhlman, and read several books by Christian apologist C.S. Lewis who soon replaced Khalil Gibran as a spiritual mentor. While dad favored the fervor of Hagin and Kuhlman, I appreciated the reflective reason of Lewis.

My father was the newly elected president of Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship International. On the second weekend in August, the fellowship held a convention in Boise, Idaho. I knew I could not return to college without Jesus at the center of my life. It was now or never. Which would it be?

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 8

August 1971 to November 1972
Muncie & Longview

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off,
his father saw him, and had compassion.
(Luke 15:20)

Like the prodigal son who came to his senses while mired in a stinky pigsty, I returned repentant to the sweet fragrance of my Heavenly Father. My revival was not splashy. Still waters run deep.

August 1971

The day was fast approaching for my return to Indiana. I believed God had orchestrated the circumstances. Dad had long planned a drive to his Full Gospel convention in Boise and I agreed to accompany him. We talked the whole distance, but in deference, dad suppressed his glee. He realized inside I was kicking and screaming.

Of his entry into the Christian faith, C. S. Lewis famously remarked he became "the most reluctant convert in all England". I can identify. My reluctance was not due to a lack of belief. I totally embraced the Christian gospel. I was reluctant because I counted the cost-which encompassed everything. I had adopted the view of Invictus: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul". If I chose to follow Jesus, there would have to be a new master and captain. I was reluctant to surrender my throne and to abandon my helm.

The featured speaker was a man named George Otis, former CEO of Lear Jet Inc. and baptizer of crooner Pat Boone. While dad whooped in the main convention hall, I joined a young people's rally. I knew when the presentation concluded, the time had come for me to re-commit my life to Jesus. After stepping forward, I followed a dozen initiates into a gigantic hotel room. George Otis prayed for me; I was filled with the Holy Spirit; I spoke in tongues. My experience was genuine but subdued. I was not an emotive person. My ecstasy arrived in a rush of joy, tears, and inner healing.

Of course, my dad and mom rejoiced at my baptism in the Holy Ghost. The lost sheep had returned. Yet the lamb continued to graze on the margin of the fold. Charismatic emphasis on healing, prophecy, and prosperity struck me as misdirected.

I came to view those baptized with the Holy Ghost along a spectrum: 1. Spirit Filled, 2. Pentecostal, 3. Charismatic, and 4. Holy Roller. I counted myself in group one, remained comfortable with group two, skeptical with group three, and put off by group four. My intellectual bent and contemplative nature disposed me toward the Mere Christianity of Lewis rather than the particular Pentecostalism of Oral Roberts. Still, I found true agapé love among all Spirit-filled believers. I noted that my mom and dad kept a list in their Bible of all in the family who had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I was squeezed to the bottom of that list.

Dad blessed me with a gift of his VW Beetle. I packed it to the window line, and installed a top rack for suit cases. Before pulling away from the house, my dad anointed the VW with oil. He made a small cross on the windshield-top center.

Accompanied by my sixteen-year-old niece, I began my journey east. Debbie had felt suffocated at home and leapt at the chance for adventure with her hippie uncle. We paused at coffee shops and slept outdoors. Once Debbie fainted in a stuffy phone booth. I kept a cautious eye on her for the next thousand miles and advised her to cut back on cigarettes. After we arrived in Whiting, I stayed with Charlotte while Debbie visited her cousins, Bonny and Julienne.

I drove my Bug to Pendleton, picked up Mark, and we settled in Muncie. Truly Mark was a converted man. He chuckled as he described how his parents marveled at the change. My companion and I had metamorphosed from freak to Jesus freak. Our outward appearance remained much the same, but our talk and demeanor had transformed. Mark helped me clean up my VW. As we washed, I noticed the smudged cross of olive oil, said a prayer for my father, and avoided washing the protection away.

While cruising down Riverside Avenue, I noted new construction and a sign proclaiming the "Christian Student Foundation". This was the same outfit I hung out with in 1968. I stopped to investigate and conversed with Gary Edwards, the campus pastor. As I spoke with excitement of my baptism in the Holy Spirit, he appeared pleased, but apprehensive. I told him I considered myself a card-carrying member of the Disciples of Christ, but with an additional blessing.

Gary offered me an upstairs room for the Fall term at no cost. He was unable to charge, because walls were un-plastered and wood dust filled the air. He also asked me not to advertise my Pentecostal bent. As a revived Methodist, Mark found a nook a few blocks down the street.

Instantly, I acquired a bevy of new friends. Marge was CSF live-in secretary, like a house mother. I called her the "Bee's Knees". Ken, Jim, Steve, and Paul were co-habitants. Girls like Susie, Laura, Cookie, and Boston hung around downstairs at odd hours. I slept on a floor mat and grabbed meals as I could. The CSF felt like a sanctified version of the Adams Street Hippie House. Bible study and prayer became part of my daily routine. One night in a dream, I heard a distinct voice repeat three times: "fifteen John five." I awoke and guessed the words referred to a Bible verse, but had no clue as to content. I turned to John 15:5 and read: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." I determined to abide in Jesus all of my days. My friend, Susie, was gifted in embroidery. A vine and branch soon adorned the backside of my blue jean-jacket.

While walking on campus, I often ran into old friends from my dissipated years. I remember a heated conversation with a former radical comrade. Later I wrote him a letter explaining why I no longer attended any of the moratorium meetings against the war and why I withdrew from social protests.

What makes you think I have abandoned my desire to see justice rendered and lost my love for man? If anything, my love and concern for people has grown because I have found the source of all love. God is love.

Why should I spend my time treating symptoms (war, discrimination, and murder), when I can treat the causes (hate, prejudice, and anger) all of which can be summed up as sin. No amount of marching, protesting, voting, or lobbying can change the heart of a single person. Only Christ Jesus can rescue us from sin. Wars will not stop, until Christ is in the heart.

I no longer strive to stop this war or that war, but I strive to stop hate, because when hate stops, all wars will stop. Yes, our methods may differ, but our goals remain the same. You contend one man can change the basic attitudes and morals of another man. But I say only Christ and his Gospel can do that.

The Gospel of John became my favorite book of the Bible. Several of us residents wanted to publish a Jesus Paper and I suggested calling it The Door taken from John 10:9: "I am the door; by me if any enter in, he shall be saved, and go in and out, and find pasture". We worked a few weeks, writing, typing, cutting, copying, and drawing in order to publish Door issue number one. A caption on my column read, "If you're not close to God, guess who moved?" Kenny Hopper printed two hundred copies of the twelve-page paper in Indianapolis.

As editor, I had the honor of writing the lead article of the first edition.

The first issue of The Door is now a reality. I praise the Lord for that and I praise Him for the beautiful people who allowed the Lord to work through them in getting this paper printed and distributed. "The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us."

We have done as much as we can do. It is our purpose to propose Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and we leave it to you to either accept or reject His love and grace. I only ask that you read this, and upon reading it, ponder the words in your heart. Keep your mind open and your eyes on the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. Listen to Christ, not to Christians. Read what the Lord says about peace, love, freedom, and reality. I bet it will shock you. See how beautiful our Lord is and how perfect His love. I praise God that He has allowed me to return to Muncie and print the truth and reality of Jesus Christ.

How different my life is now than from past years. I once thought I had peace because I shouted it and flashed its sign, but my eyes were opened and I discovered that only Jesus Christ provides peace; that He is indeed the "Prince of Peace" (Brothers and Sisters, you can't change the world until you change the heart of man!)

I thought I had experienced love because I took a few co-eds to bed and ran around campus shouting "Love, love". The love of God - the source - is infinite. God is love. Can you dig that (Read 1 Corinthians 13 sometime.)

I thought I was free, because I could shout four-letter words in public and grow my locks long, when in reality, I was a prisoner with a most cruel and merciless jailer, none other than myself. I was imprisoned by self-imposed neglect. Only the Word of God set me free from myself. I discovered the truth and truth set me free!

Reality! I thought I grasped it when my philosophy class concluded that "what you see is what you get" and "if you can't prove it, it ain't so". I was a struggling empiricist; but the only trouble was, I didn't always like the empirical world. From time to time I tried to escape it, mostly by "blowing some nice weed" or by "eating a few hits of acid". At times I thought I had escaped the world, but when I crashed, the world was never better and usually worse. I praise the Lord for amazing grace that could save a true wretch like me. I thank God for His peace, His love, His freedom and His reality.

If you see me truckin' along around campus, it will look like the same old me but it will be the born-again me, a new person, still long hear, still grubby clothes, but my smile won't be a plastic dopy smile. Brothers and Sisters, you need the Lord's smile. Ask Him for it. Your Father in heaven won't refuse.

Agapé, Chris

We promoted the first day of October as the Jesus Trip Festival, headlined by Pat Boone and supported by a multitude of Christian speakers and entertainers. It was a full day of witnessing our faith, passing out one-way buttons, and distributing The Door. We promoted a theatrical release called The Cross and the Switchblade.

The hillside venue was filled with young people sitting on blankets. Two of my friends-to-be came to the Lord that day, Carol Bennett and Jim Rich. I was also introduced to Merle, Denny, and Sunny, adding them to my roster of Christian brothers and sisters. Charlotte drove from Whiting for the event with twelve-year-old Jimmy in tow. He told me in later years The Jesus Trip Festival was a turning point in his life.

An assortment of Jesus people attended an assembly at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell. The atmosphere reminded me of my parents' charismatic gathering back in Longview. We clapped, shouted, and sang choruses. My favorite came from the gospel of John:

We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord.
And we pray that all unity will someday be restored.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.

For young people, these raucous occasions provided a safe space to flirt and pair up. I found myself in continual prayer that God would bring the right Christian sister into my life. An unvoiced question hovered over every female encounter. "Could this be the one"? Sexual tension abounded. I remember a time when Jim was interested in Susie, Susie was interested in Chris, Chris was interested in Sunny, and to complete the circle, Sunny was interested in Jim. Romance was a merry-go-round, each participant stretching a hand to take hold of the brass ring.

My Fall classes were mostly in Library Science and Education. I remember a Teaching Practicum class in which I was required to observe classroom teachers. I attended Clark School for three days, sitting in Mr. Roman's history class. I felt odd at twenty-one, older than students, but younger than staff. I met a neighbor of Arlene. She told me my ex-girlfriend was about to marry and the groom-to-be looked a lot like me. Was I to laugh or cry?

While in town, I also learned my buddy, Jimmy Francis, had fathered a son in Canada and had named him Jason. I recalled Jim had always favored that name as both manly and muscular.

To receive a public-school credential, I needed to student-teach for one full term. In preparation for the winter quarter, Lynn cut my long hair and Kadee helped me acquire a suit of clothes from a second-hand store. Charlotte arranged for me to rent space from Mrs. Walker, her mother-in-law. As I was driving my VW Bug to Whiting, the engine threw a rod and had to be replaced. It took one month and a bank loan to recover my little Beetle.

Following a Thanksgiving holiday with Charlotte, I began teaching at Whiting Junior High School. I shadowed Mr. Mihalo as he taught social studies to three classes of seventh graders and one of eighth graders. It took weeks to adjust to the formality of coat and tie.

For ten days, I observed Mr. Mihalo in action. I interacted with students only when he called upon me. That changed suddenly when his mother passed away and he took a month's leave. I felt like I was thrown to the wolves. I learned much about children and more about myself. Here's a story I wrote about student teaching:

I was in the midst of a history lesson when a spunky girl interrupted me and said, "Mr. Foreman, your face really looks shiny". She was being purposely disrespectful and I ignored her as if her comment didn't faze me. However, before I returned to school the next morning, I found some talcum powder and applied it generously to my face. I really rubbed it in so that my face wouldn't appear shiny.

The next morning, as I began teaching with my powdered face, the same girl interrupted me and said, "Gee, Mr. Foreman, how come your face looks so white?" This was a game and as we glared at each other we both realized that student had conquered teacher.

When I met with Mildred Evans, my BSU supervisor, she offered advice on handling my mouthy girls and rowdy boys. "They won't care that you know, until they know that you care."

My nephew, Jimmy Walker, sat in my advanced seventh-grade class. He told me the definition of a googol, stating it was "a one followed by one hundred zeros." I was impressed. He added, "A googolplex is a one followed by a googol of zeros."

Then I discussed the offensive spunky girl. "What if I made Jamey go to the blackboard and write 'I won't talk in class' one googol times?" He laughed. We enjoyed our conversations.

My landlady, Mrs. Walker, was a difficult person to live with. I remember using a squirt of her catsup on one of my hotdogs. She scolded me to no end. Just after the Christmas break, I relocated a few blocks to the apartment of Bill and Yolanda Butler. Bill was a family friend from the First Church of Christ. He drove me to Lafayette, Indiana, where I picked up my repaired VW, forking over $400 of bank-loan money. I then proceeded to Muncie resuming college life with my menagerie of friends. I was happy to ditch my monkey suit and return to denimwear.

A few girls in the house baked me a birthday cake and a dozen residents helped me blow out twenty-two candles. I disappointed Charlotte by spending Christmas Day at Mark's home and New Year's Eve at the Christian Student Foundation.

1972 to November

New Year's Day holds a sweet memory. The foundation provided a chaperoned space in which to welcome the arrival of 1972. I initiated a long conversation with a pretty high school senior named Jo Caine. We talked for hours about the ways of Jesus and the ways of the world. After sharing a personal problem, she cried, I embraced, then we kissed. I pushed her to arm's length and sighed. Jo blushed. She was too young and I was too old. We exchanged a few letters but both recognized a romance that could not be.

I drove down to Pendleton with Mark and spent a few more nights with him and his folks. Both parents voiced their approval at the change in their son. For my last dinner in town, they invited the youth pastor to join us-a guy of about thirty. He talked to Mark about the Methodist church and presented his testimony about coming to Christ.

The next day, as I was leaving for Whiting, I asked Mr. Orewiler for directions to a local barbershop. I told him I was returning to teach and my hair needed grooming. Upon arrival, I sat in a chair draped in a gown. As the barber began to clip, the youth pastor strode in. He sat near the magazine table, sorting through the stack. I glanced at him but he never noticed me. He picked up a well-worn favorite and began to flip through the pages. Was that what I thought it was? Yes. When he flipped it sideways and un-furled the centerfold, he left no doubt. I chuckled to myself then waved at him as I left.

Returning to Whiting, life improved. I had reclaimed my commuter Beetle. Plus, Bill and Yo were very kind to me and I received much more than I gave.

I grew to enjoy my boisterous junior high students. I managed to finagle a video camera from the athletic department and to record students as they recited lessons. My kids were thrilled to mug for the lens and view themselves for the first time on TV. The boys and girls knew I cared about them. My BSU supervisor sat in on that class and commended my pedagogical action. For the winter term she awarded me with eight hours of A and seven hours of B.

I hung out sometimes with my old Whiting girlfriend Patty, now a BSU drop-out. She would stop by my place and we would flit from food joint to shopping mall. With some of her crowd she drove me to Chicago to see Donovan in concert. Soon Patty stopped dropping by. Without sex as a bond, we discovered little in common.

In March, I moved back to Muncie for my final college term. Merle agreed to shelter me at his house, 401 Riverside. I admired his gracious hospitality. A constant flow of guests streamed through his front door, lounging on sofas, petting cats, and sipping coffee. Some were my friends and some were Merle's friends. In the end, all became our mutual friends. It was a great time in my life and I wrote my parents about it.

I was active in sharing Jesus with fellow students. I was outspoken in class, pushing back against professors who mocked the Bible. Some atheist debaters got the better of me. At times my belief system seemed incredulous: How could God send people to hell? Is Jesus truly the only way? Why is there suffering? Two things kept me on track. First was my encounter with the Ouija Board. That transcendent experience was undeniable and unexplainable through materialism.

Even greater was the testimony of the Paraclete; God's own Spirit witnessing to mine. I learned the distinction between showing God and knowing God. I could not easily demonstrate God's existence, but I never doubted His indwelling. The Holy Spirit was my ace in the hole, the defeater-defeater so to speak. Whatever clever argument could defeat me: whatever sour mood deflate me; the inner witness of the Spirit could in turn defeat. Often, the assurance came after I whispered to myself in miraculous tongues.

Frank and I kept up a correspondence. He was preparing for medical school and had set a July date to marry Lelia. My serious little brother desired to put away his childish things, specifying WLS radio, sports trophies, and marvel comics. At his behest, I filled a large carboard box with comic books and shipped his ex-treasure to Great Neck, New York. Frank also encouraged me to read more C. S. Lewis; and I did, everything I could lay my hands on. Lewis became my exemplar of a Christian who was both faithful and intellectual. He showed me I didn't have to abandon my academic brain to embrace my religious heart.

My final classes were History of High School, Selection of Library Material, Library Administration, Cartography, and an Honors Project. I was too distracted for rigorous study and my final grades were all B's. My four-year grade point average at Ball State was 3.242 out of 4.0

My honor's paper was titled: "The Jesus Movement: Revival of the 70's?" in which I compared the current Jesus movement to various awakenings and revivals of previous centuries. After Dean Steven Hall accepted the proposal, I procrastinated. Then I rushed, staying up for two nights while a female friend flirted and retyped. The final product was sloppy, besmirched with white-out. My sponsor appreciated the effort, even though I misspelled his name as "Stephan" throughout the paper.

In addition to my college classes, I sat with a Lutheran pastor to learn New Testament Greek. I didn't progress much more than the alphabet and a few dozen vocabulary words, but he inspired me to purchase the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (still a fixture of my Bible study).

As the Spring term wound down, Denny led an expedition to a local cave. He called his passion spelunking. Sunny and Boston joined us squeezing down tight shafts and squirming over wet rocks. The girls refused to trudge further when bats flapped past their ears. By the time we fled to the car, the four of us were soaked to the bone, miserable, and complaining. Oddly, the next morning we bragged to others about our great adventure. My senior year in college was memorable.

On May 24, 1972, I graduated with honors from Ball State University. My family came for the occasion. When my name was read out, I rose from the folding chair, strolled across the lawn on the main quad, and received my Bachelor of Arts diploma. My major was Secondary Education with an endorsement in Social Studies. My minor was Library Science. My GPA was around 3.5/4.0

I posed in my blue cap and gown, an honors cord around my neck. Dad chided me because I wore combat boots under the gown-a token of lingering nonconformity. The photo in front of the Christian Student Foundation shows me in the center, flanked by dad and mom. Frank, Lelia, Charlotte, Jimmy, Shelley, Chris, and Danny are huddled around. Other pictures of the day show dozens of my Christian buddies smiling back at my camera. It was funny. Every time I pointed the lens at Frank, Lelia would leap into his arms.

After a night in Muncie, the ten of us car-pooled up to Whiting. Dad bought an old pick-up truck to haul the last of his belongings retrieved from Rose's basement. Then our caravan headed west. Dad drove mom in the station wagon; Frank and Lelia followed in the pick-up, while Grandma Rose accompanied me in the VW bug. Rose peered out the side window mile after mile, often remarking, "How can there be a population crisis? There's so much open land."

In Longview, my dad operated in full Pentecostal mode, fasting every morning and praying through the night. He had found the pearl of great price and he wanted to share its beauty with all he ever met. He also longed for the miraculous, something beyond mundane leg-lengthening and slaying in the spirit. God granted his petition.

The story goes as follows: Dad was working at the Reynolds cable plant where two-inch diameter strands of aluminum cable tighten around eight-foot wooden spools. One morning he heard shouts and rushed to a co-worker who was squeezed in a death-grip of winding cable. Operators unwound an unresponsive body and set it on the pavement. Dad lifted the victim in his arms and prayed fervently. Breath returned to his co-worker as an ambulance carried him to the hospital. The man survived without lasting injury to his body or brain.

The October issue of Voice magazine-a publication of FGMFI-ran a three-page article with the headline: "I prayed for a dead man, and literally saw a life loved back. I firmly believe that faith and assurance was the result of fasting and prayer." John Foreman became a celebrity in the Full Gospel community. People in search of miracles flocked to our house.

A looming event was the wedding of Frank Foreman and Lelia Rose set for July first. On the Saturday before the ceremony, dad planned one last fling with his two unmarried sons. His goal was to leave the house for Mount Saint Helens at five in the morning. It would take a full sixteen-hours of daylight to reach the summit and return. However, Frank and I were lazy and we didn't head out until seven. The climb was a lark for the two of us and about half way up, dad spotted a serious climber quick-stepping downhill. After a powwow, dad ruefully announced we could not attain the summit that day.

Frank and I were not unhappy at the turn of events. We each had brought along a small patch of tarp and planned to sled down the mountain side. Things did not go well for me. The layer of snow contained pockets of exposed lava-rock. Once I gained momentum, I could not stop. Excitement turned into terror. Seeing a large outcropping ahead, I pivoted off the plastic, digging in my toes and fingers. Thankfully, I survived the harrowing slide with only a bruise to my ego.

Frank had invited his Seattle land lady to the wedding. He asked me to pick up Sylvia and drive her back to Longview. On the return trip down a small county road, I became confused not knowing whether to turn right or left. My VW plowed straight ahead up a dirt embankment, breaking a front axle. I was unhurt, but poor Sylvia bumped her head.

The wedding was supposed to start at noon on the shores of Lake Sacajawea. Folding chairs and tables were in place. All participants waited for the delinquent best man. At 12:15 I hurriedly donned my tuxedo and sped to the lake. I was breathless; Sylvia was dazed; Lelia crossed her arms; and the ceremony began fashionably late. Lucy Rose served as bridesmaid, so I escorted her down a grassy aisle between chairs. Frank and Lelia exchanged vows under a large Douglas Fir. A singer and guitarist performed Wedding Song by Peter Stookey: "Wherever two or more of you are gathered in His name, there is love."

Back on twenty-third avenue, we held a reception for the newlyweds. Lelia opened gifts handed to her by eager-eyed Jenny and Laura. Tall Susie Zelen caught the bride's bouquet flung from the back patio. I can't remember how Sylvia returned to Seattle, certainly not by me. I eventually sold my broken Bug for $450, getting cash for the undamaged engine.

A few days later, the Full Gospel Businessmen held a convention in San Francisco. By the time dad and I arrived at the downtown hotel, Frank and Lelia had already enjoyed two nights of honeymoon. We visited UC Berkeley and bopped around the Bay, gawking at the landmarks, before driving back to Longview.

By mid-July Don had left his position with Reynolds. Rumor had it my brother-in-law had been dismissed for cronyism, that is, for hiring his own father-in-law and brother-in-law unbeknownst to the company. But Don was an entrepreneur at heart and looked forward to making his own million. He began to manage a Hardware store in Chehalis and soon the Zelens purchased a farm in the little town of Napavine, complete with horses, gardens, and duck pond. Jack migrated with him, leaving real estate sales and assisted Don with appliance delivery. Jack grew closer to Don than to his own father.

At a later date, Frank wrote this story about how dad had converted my brother Jack:

John's boldness and zeal never wavered. At times, it went over the top. I remember being very uncomfortable as he and I prayed over my brother Jack to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It went on and on and on. Dad was commanding his son to speak in tongues. "Just say: 'ba be ba' and it will start." Finally, Jack babbled something just to get his father off his back. Dad and mom celebrated as Jack got up and ran out the door. I scratched my head and wondered.

Jack and Barbara bought a funky fixer-upper in Napavine. They were in the midst of major rehabilitation when their family suddenly expanded. I was first to learn about Patrick's arrival. Alone in the Longview house, an adoption agency telephoned asking for Jack. They said it was urgent. Born on June 15, 1972, Patrick entered the family a few months later.

Almost simultaneously, Barbara's son from her first marriage arrived in Longview for an alleged vacation. Alan had spent most of his eleven years with his father in Scotland, his grandmother doing most of the child-raising. The vacation turned permanent and unexpectedly both a newborn and a pre-teen were part of the Foreman gang. Skinny Alan was fascinated by all things American. He fattened up on hot dogs the entire summer.

I found myself at a crossroads with no clue of future employment. Where would my life lead? First, I had looked for teaching positions in Indiana. I discovered a glutted market but that was okay. I wanted to move west anyway. In Longview, I handwrote one-hundred letters to school districts throughout the state of Washington. I received only a handful of rejection responses and one offer at an Indian Reservation that quickly evaporated.

In August I received a certified letter from the selective service in Hammond, Indiana, and reported to an assessment station in Portland. I passed the induction physical with flying colors. Uncertainty plagued my days and apprehension kept me awake at night. I wasn't keen on combat in Viet Nam, and applied to the Air Force for an aviation position. A few interviews looked promising, but then I failed a mechanical aptitude test. I was disheartened but not surprised. I knew my hand-eye coordination was sub-par.

A popular song from a musical called Godspell helped keep my spiritual balance: "Day by day, O dear Lord three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly."

Salvation from military service arrived from an unexpected quarter. Way back in March, I had visited a Peace Corps booth in the Ball State commons. I had casually filled out all the papers and mailed in my application. I had forgotten about it.

After the Air Force rejected me, I received a timely letter from the Peace Corps offering me a position in South Korea as a middle school teacher. I telephoned in my agreement and received a confirmation document. I was committed to begin service in November as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV).

Just two days later, I received Greetings from the President. I had been drafted into the U. S. Army. Fortunately, since I had already enrolled into the Peace Corps, my military duty was deferred. (I had dodged a bullet, so to speak.) I had ridden an employment roller coaster for three months and was glad to hop off.

Waiting for my PC start date, I found time on my hands. Every morning I walked around Lake Sacajawea and every evening I watched wood flicker in the fireplace. I was in the habit of strolling to a Salvation Army store to augment my wardrobe. On one visit I stumbled across a display of old Victrola 78RPM records. At first, I bought a few World War One recordings, playing them on my portable record player: "We don't want the bacon. What we want is a piece of the Rhine". Then I purchased a 1930s phonograph with a crank wind-up and listening horn. At twenty-five cents a record, my collection soared to over two hundred antique disks.

The Peace Corps sponsored an orientation session at the Heart of Denver Hotel. From October 21 to 23, I met many of my future comrades: Allen, Jim, Glen, Sherry, Karen, and Pat. I also met some of my soon-to-be Korean and American staff. We listened to lectures on language, culture, and survival. I applied for a new passport.

I learned that Korea was called the Hermit Kingdom because of its self-imposed isolation. Western missionaries did not set foot on the peninsula until the 1880s. At the nexus of three world powers (China, Japan, and Russia), it's a near miracle that little Korea had maintained a distinctive language and culture for three thousand years. It was the Korean War of 1950-52 that turned this obscure country into a household word.

My group of middle-school teachers was designated K-25, the twenty-fifth cohort to serve in Korea. I would be teaching English-as-a-Second Language (ESL). I was pleased God saw fit to direct my path in this unexpected direction.

Rather than catch a return flight to Portland, I decided to visit my family and friends in Indiana. I had planned to hitchhike, but a Colorado cop disabused me of that notion. Instead, I took a thirty-nine dollar/thirty-hour bus ride to Hammond. Charlotte picked me up at the station and I stayed with the Walkers for five days. I loved my sister and her four children. It was tearful to leave them.

I hitchhiked to Muncie on Halloween, landing at the Christian Student Foundation. Several dear friends were hanging out there, and when word got out that Chris had arrived, even more came to greet me. We gabbed through the night. The fellowship was fantastic. I thought of this re-acquaintance, Is this what homecoming in heaven will be like?

I stayed in Muncie a few more days, then traveled to Indianapolis. I met Carol tooling around the city in a Carman Gia. She offered to drive me back to Denver, but wanted a female companion. After a long phone call, Sunny agreed to accompany us. I liked Sunny a lot and I think she liked me. But we were both shy and a romantic conversation never ensued. I was not commitment averse, rather rejection afraid.

The three of us drove to Whiting to stay overnight with Charlotte, then we began our westward journey. Somewhere west of the Mississippi River, Carol suggested we drive all the way to the coast. With three in agreement, we changed course. I was glad I possessed a Gulf credit card to pay for the miles of gasoline.

Traveling through South Dakota, we were listening to the radio. In a forty-eight-state landslide, President Richard Nixon had defeated George McGovern. The Democrat failed to carry even his home state-through which we were then driving.

The travel was not all pleasant. We got tired and cranky at times, mostly about when to stop and where to stay. I booked a single-bed hotel room in Wyoming for nine dollars, then snuck in the two girls. From there it was non-stop to Longview with Carol and I taking turns behind the wheel. The Cascades were treacherous with snow and I almost slid the little car into a ditch.

My Hoosier friends spent a few blissful days in the evergreen state but soon it was time for them to return home. I gave Carol the Gulf card with instructions to destroy it when she arrived in Indiana. I later sent dad money from Korea to pay off the $110 gas charges.

I spent a full week at Uncle Donald's Farm. I looked after Alan and the Zelen kids as they traversed the Lewis County Fair. Debbie was trolling for boys; Susie and Nancy rode on horses; I helped Don John with amusement park rides; while Alan scarfed down hot dogs and cotton candy. I also earned a hundred dollars by charging people to carpark in Don's hardware store lot. With the help of Don and Jack, I constructed a sturdy treehouse near the poopy duckpond. We paid a visit to the Portland Zoo where I shot a picture of the big group.

Back in Longview, I began filling my overseas bags, collecting items that would tide me over the next two years. I cassette-recorded five hours of rock & roll and five hours of classical. I compiled a rolodex of addresses for international correspondence and filled an album with photographs. I packed by Interlinear New Testament and three books by C.S. Lewis.

I also sorted belongings for storage, schlepping boxes of memorabilia, cartons of 78 RPM records, and odd pieces of furniture up into the garage attic. I determined to burn every trace of the faithless Arlene. I collected her love letters, her slides and photographs, then one-by-one consigned them to fireplace flame. I wanted to obliterate the very memory of that heart-crusher. Once again bitter tears flowed. "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?" Oh yeah? Alfred Lord Tennyson must have never run across the likes of Arlene!

Thanksgiving at the farm doubled as my going away party. Dad thanked the Almighty for a bounty of both food and family. I felt as stuffed as my fifty-pound bag. As I looked at friendly faces and familiar surroundings, Korea seemed an infinite distance and two years an eternity. Yet I longed for the voyage.

Two days later, on November 25, dad and Frank accompanied me to Sea-Tac Airport. We were sharing a fast-food meal when I began to recognize familiar Denver faces. Dad laid hands on my head and Frank prayed. We walked together hefting giant suitcases. As I stood in the metal-detecting queue, my father and brother spoke a last word then retreated out of sight. I began to re-acquaint myself with fellow PCVs from K-25. A new chapter of life opened. I was about to board a jet plane and launch into the Far-Eastern unknown.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 9

November 1972 to September 1973
Chunchon & Muguk, Korea

Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days
of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see.
(Ecclesiastes 11:9)

During my entire Korean adventure, I kept a daily journal, filling five notebooks over the course of 655 days. Journaling filled three needs. First, I anticipated my time abroad would be a watershed event so I wanted to record my experience, preserving a written record of this sojourn.

Second, I lived an isolated existence, a big-nosed Westerner in a sea of Korean faces. Putting to paper my deepest feelings provided therapeutic release.

Finally, journaling clarified my thoughts. As Flannery O'Connor once remarked, "I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say."

November 1972

My flight from Seattle to Tokyo took about eleven hours. I talked and played cards with a businessman seated to my right. I was impressed with a stewardess in my section. She was good-looking and read her Bible in spare moments. I was too shy to speak with her, so I slipped her a note. Miss Brabant and I exchanged a few letters.

At the Tokyo Airport I passed through immigration, health certification, and customs, then bussed into the giant metropolis. Downtown Tokyo was ablaze with neon, many of the signs flashing in English. I slept soundly at the Aksaka Hotel, totally jet-lagged, and almost missed the return bus ride to the airport.

I dropped by the zone of tax-free shopping and bought an Olympus Trip-35 camera, along with four rolls of slide film. After the four-hour flight to Seoul, I passed through immigration and customs once more, this time greeted by American diplomats. My cohort of thirty-five PCVs boarded a bus for our training location, the city of Chunchon, capitol of Kang Wan Province.

Along the route, I gazed at the barren countryside. I saw rustic farmers harvesting a cabbage crop with oxen pulling the wooden carts. I exulted in the absolute foreignness of this view until I noticed a smashed Budweiser beer can by the side of the road. Ugh.


We arrived at the King Sejong Hotel where our training began the next day. I plunged into a new mode of existence, mixing with four groups of people: fellow PCVs from K-25, American teachers and mentors who were mostly former volunteers, Korean language teachers, and Korean hotel staff. I was given the new Korean name, Oh Song-min. The "Oh-min" sounded like Foreman, while Song translates as Saint or Christ or Chris.

The first few weeks whizzed by. Initially, my roommate was John Bell, but because he smoked like a chimney, I asked for a switch. Jim McGuire became my second roommate and turned into my best friend. His Korean name was Meng Jinsu and I mostly called him "Meng". Our schedule looked like this: Korean language from eight in the morning to noon; lunch to one; language again until three; followed by some kind of ESL training until dinner at six. On most evenings there was an optional cultural event.

Meng and I sought out local color by exploring frozen side streets. Sometimes we purchased sweets from sidewalk venders. At other times we sipped ginseng tea at a local ta-bang (tea room). At one tiny restaurant the waitress saw us entering and dashed to the stereo to put on "Tell Laura I Love Her". America, won't you ever leave me alone? It is true I may go for weeks without seeing a Western face, but I can't pass a minute without seeing Western influence.

We snapped photos of sights exotic to our eyes. One such sight was the honey dippers. These were local farmers who emptied latrines. Each dipper carried a long pole across his shoulders with a balancing bucket attached to each end. They would lower the buckets into toilets, haul up the human waste and dump the stinking mess into crude wagons which were usually pulled by oxen. I was told no money changed hands. The farmers obtained fertilizer and the homeowners got rid of excrement. We quickly learned to walk upwind and across the road from honey pots.

Korean was a difficult language for me to grasp. To help the process, I was allotted a cassette tape player with four tapes of conversation. My pronunciation improved somewhat, but after a day of schoolwork I could never focus on the language tapes. To be honest, I listened more to recorded music than Korean dialog.

After a few weeks of classroom drudgery, each volunteer went on an outing to visit an established PCV. I traveled to Seoul with friends, then alone to the town of Kumsan. My Peace Corps host was Gus Stokes. He was my polar opposite, a want-to-be sports reporter obsessed with football, liquor, and hookers. He voiced a distaste for all things Korean and went through the motions of teaching. I observed his performance, then followed him to the Roman Club where he wished to educate me in drinking and whoring. He bought us a few bourbons and explained how I could procure a girl of the night for just one-thousand won ($2.50). I sipped the liquor, but no girls showed up. We returned to his guest house at curfew-ten o'clock.

The next day, December 22, was a national holiday, the inauguration of President Pak Chung Hee. After dark, we walked into the bar again. This is my journal entry:

Just after Gus and I sat down and ordered drinks, a young lady walked through the door and snuggled up to Gus. She was all made up with ruby red lips. Gus said, "Chris, let me introduce you to my girlfriend".

I politely bowed and she giggled. Wait a minute, I thought. I didn't know Gus had a Korean girlfriend.

Gus continued, "And I have a girlfriend for you too. She wants to go home with you tonight." From out of the shadows a young lady stepped forward and winked at me. She was gorgeous. My eyes looked up and down her youthful body.

My mind raced between yes and no. Finally, I blurted "anyo" (no) and backed away. Gus stared in puzzlement as I fled from the club.

I later thanked God for enabling me to flee the Roman Club. If I had hesitated one more moment; if I had spent that one night in carnal delight, I can only speculate about how my future may have unfolded. Thank you, Lord, for provoking me to run out the door.

When I returned to Chunchon, I read accumulated letters from home. Along with my parents and the Zelens, Sunny had sent me a hand-made card complete with silly drawings. What could I make of it? Did her silly mean she was serious? Should I pursue her? I still couldn't figure out girls.

My twenty-third birthday came and went. With the Korean peninsula being sixteen time zones ahead of Ohio, I mused about when my birthday actually occurred. On Christmas day I attended a ten o'clock service at Chunchon Holiness Church. I appreciated being in a throng of Christians as they sang familiar carols. I enjoyed bellowing the words in English.

On the day after Christmas, I presented my first ESL class, team-teaching with Andrea. Our lesson plan was based on the May I pattern: "May I stand up?" "Yes, you may stand up." I felt relaxed, but knew I could have done better. We spent an afternoon critiquing our performance.

On New Year's Eve, several friends and I hiked to a local Buddhist temple. I didn't make it to the top, because my big flat boots were too slippery on the snowy grass. After dinner, we gathered in the wedding hall-our activity center-for a party. I wandered around conversing with many and talking about Jesus to a few. I went to my room to pray-in the new year of 1973 and heard gongs and shouts herald its arrival.

1973 to September

Peace Corps training in Chunchon continued for two more months. As I review my journal of January and February, I glimpse a twenty-three-year-old youth, familiar to me yet distant; compassionate yet arrogant.

I hung out mostly with females, their sensibilities more attuned to my own. Karen Bachelor and Pat Lunitz were platonic friends while Lia Driver and Mary Davidson were romantic interests. With these two women the question always hung in the air: "Could this be the one?".

The few male friends in my life were introverts like me: Meng of course, Ed Haugh, Gordon, and Phillip. Allen Chernin was the refreshing exception. He was a curly-haired Brooklyn Jew who claimed he was born in a taxi cab. Allen was loud-mouthed and profane; expressing off-color thoughts that I kept sequestered inside my head. In a group of guys, I often acted as his straight man.

In my off time I played hours of scrabble. Meng was my usual opponent, but dozens of PCVs dropped by our room to compete. During scrabble marathons, classical music stimulated my brain cells-mostly Beethoven. One time, as I prepared for an overnight trip, I wrote down my essentials as "cassette player, tapes, journal, scrabble board, and clothes".

I played lots of ping pong, losing most matches. I displayed excellent spin, but possessed no slam. I kept up with events at home by reading Time Magazine and by listening to Armed Forces Korean Network (AFKN). The audio version of the Johnny Carson show was a late-night favorite.

I heard on AFKN that President Nixon declared an end to the Viet Nam war. I was dumfounded, assuming that conflict would endure forever. Then word came that Secretary of Defense Laird had called off the draft. A few months later, the selective service mailed me an official non-induction notice. I was off the military hook.

The bulk of my time was spent in the classroom absorbing the Korean language and practicing ESL skills. One technique of drill and practice was called minimal pairs in which Korean speakers tried to distinguish between English words that differ by only one phoneme. The liquid sound of R-L proved particularly difficult for Koreans. In one ESL lesson I drew on the blackboard a bowl of RICE accompanied by a bug drawing which I labeled LICE.

I would point to the top figure and pronounce "rice" then to the bottom one and shout "lice". Middle school students roared with laughter as they struggled to distinguish the two. Other such minimal pairs were juice versus Zeus and sheep versus ship.

Our instructors insisted we publicly perform a traditional Korean song. They knew Korean hosts required American guests to entertain at party and restaurant functions. In fact, over two years, I was often asked to sing a song. My American song of choice was "Wake Up Little Susie, Wake Up" and the Korean song I mastered was called Oma-ya, Nuna-ya, kang byung sal-ja" which translates as, "O mother, O big sister, let us go into the mountains."

Ad hoc groups of PCVs planned weekly outings, going to snowy mountain-top temples and drizzly southern ports. During these short excursions, I engaged my comrades in philosophic conversation. I identified two groups of volunteers: go-getters who viewed the Peace Corps as a stepping stone toward an academic or diplomatic career versus slackers who simply sought to prolong their adolescence by means of an overseas adventure. I, of course, resided in the latter group.

I noticed with some concern that my eyesight was not as sharp as it used to be. I visited a local optometrist and discovered my vision was 20/50 and 20/70. The Peace Corps bureaucracy in Seoul questioned my prescription, but the government ended up paying for my first-ever pair of glasses.

As the close of training drew near, I sat with Ed Scott, the head of Peace Corps-Korea, for a final evaluation. I passed with mediocrity. Gary Hendricks said I often arrived late to class and I slouched in my chair. He rated my language aptitude at 2 of 5 and my ESL skill at 3 of 5. Six of my cohort were sent home packing, never earning the title of Peace Corps Volunteer.

A few days later, with our ranks thinned to twenty-nine, we sat in the wedding hall to receive our assignments. I requested "the most remote site available" and that's what I got. Muguk was the only location of twenty-nine listed as a village not a town or city.

On our final day as a unit, K-25 held a celebration. I acted in a Korean-language skit, earning a second-place certificate. Anorexic Becky won the award as "Miss Minimal Pairs" and Meng was voted "most likely to fall into an outhouse". As the evening wore on, my friend Christine overindulged in soju (Korean wine). I enjoyed her company, but when she sat on my lap and puckered for a smooch, I knew it was time to skedaddle to my room.

On the next day, we took a bus tour of the demilitarized zone, where I stepped past a conference table into North Korea. Then on February 25, at the Seoul headquarters, members of K-25 were officially sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers. I now worked for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

I met Principal Kim and co-teacher Miss Pak on the following morning. We bowed and smiled, as Miss Pak translated my fractured Korean to my new principal. I accompanied them in a taxi, then an express bus to Muguk village.


I stayed at the home of Mr. Yoo, a fellow English teacher. His humble abode included several interconnected rooms, a separate cooking area, gravity-powered outhouse, and circular water well. Electricity arrived intermittently. I occupied the premier structure, a twelve-foot by twelve-foot room with one sliding-door to an outside porch and a second to the family area.

This traditional Korean building was roofed with red tiles, supported by earthen walls, and covered inside with varnished paper and plaster. The building was on-dal-bang style which means the room was heated by placing charcoal beneath the brick flooring. The inside floor was barren. When sleep time came, a mattress, pillow, and blanket were placed over the warm spot. When meals were served, low tables replaced the sleep gear, then removed at meal's end. Not a single chair could be found on the entire premises. Mr. Yoo presented me with three prize books: The B volume of an old encyclopedia, a 1965 World Almanac, and a 1951 GI manual on meal preparation.

The family outhouse included a pig in the cellar. Occasionally I heard the snorts, especially as the pig consumed a fresh meal. I had once heard a Peace Corps rumor alleging that one lady volunteer fled to American in horror after she was nipped on the buttocks. I doubted the story at the time, but I could imagine such a thing happening in Muguk.

Mrs. Ahn was Mr. Yoo's wife. (Korean couples don't share a family name.) The three children were Weeju (a five-year-old boy), Chulju (a seven-year-old boy) and Mi-ran (a ten-year-old girl). The family joined me in this big room for meals, but I slept in it alone.

Korean cuisine was simple-rice and kimchi three meals a day. This two-part diet made sense in such a cold agricultural climate. Rice was the universal staple; the measure of wealth and the staff of life. The crop was harvested in the autumn and dispensed throughout the year. Kimchi was pickled peppered cabbage. Fields of Napa cabbage were harvested in October, chopped and mixed with hot pepper and salt, then buried in the ground in large ceramic pots. This two-part meal was served with various side dishes: seasonal fruits and vegetables along with small portions of meat or fish. My only American indulgence was instant coffee. I drank the dark liquid three times a day.

Once, when my instant coffee jar was empty, I tossed it away without considering the matter. A few days later, the discarded jar reappeared. The label had been removed and the glass container was filled with kimchi. This brought to mind my own American wastefulness as well as the poverty which abounded in Korea.

Located to the rear of my house and across a ditch, ran a paved road. It bustled with a jumble of pedestrians, ox-carts, bicycles, and the occasional honking automobile. In early March, frozen rice fields and drab mountains surrounded the valley floor.

Hygiene was challenging, especially in cold weather. I washed my hands and face every morning with one tea kettle of hot water and once a week I dropped by the village mog-yok-tang (public bath house) to get a thorough cleansing.

I suffered from food poisoning on two occasions, complete with projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea. Without electricity and flush toilets, the nocturnal malady required two bedside buckets. Such episodes ceased after my stomach adjusted to the local cuisine.

Park Chung Hee was the president of South Korea. He was certainly an autocrat, but this ex-general strove to raise the standard of living, especially in the countryside. He instituted a program called sae-mal-undong or "the new village movement". The green flag of this movement flew from every pole. Speech contests were held among high schoolers, and every morning, I opened my ears to the peppy theme music of sae-mal-undong.

Most schools in Korea were sex-segregated, either a boy's school or a girl's school. But because Muguk was such a small village, the local schoolhouse accommodated both genders. Most schools were also designated as a middle school or a high school, but I taught at a mixed Middle-High School of six hundred countryside children.

Public schools at the time were military in nature. All students wore black uniforms with white shirts. Boys' heads were shorn and those of girls cropped. This practice was a legacy of Japanese military occupation magnified by South Korea's war posture toward the North. Every school day began with children standing at attention for Tai-kook-ki (national anthem). Twice a week, uniformed boys and girls marched on the parade field. Discipline was harsh for those out of step.

Muguk was home to one other American national. My compatriot was Father Kolinsky who lived a few blocks away in the back of a Catholic church. We often shared conversation and American delicacies like Salerno Butter Cookies and Ovaltine. Father Ko-as he was known- always sent me home with a well-worn paperback or an armload of old newspapers. I appreciated whatever he gave me.

To deal with isolation and homesickness, I was constantly posting and receiving correspondence. I mailed aerogrammes to family and Muncie friends. I stuffed Korean envelops with onion-skin paper and mailed them to Peace Corps buddies like Meng, Lia, Mary, Jim, Allen, and Ed. I spent hours a day in penmanship both journaling and corresponding. It was a joy to receive letters and packages even if American mail took four weeks to arrive.

As I review my early days in Muguk, I see a man in severe culture shock. My biggest challenge was bridging an expectation gap. Every day I failed because "who I was" differed so radically from "where I was".

So, who was I? Chris Foreman was a free spirit-a child of the sixties. My generation learned to "question authority" and not to trust "anyone over thirty". Plus, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I embodied the idealistic adventurer. As an American, I cherished individualism and as an introvert, I coveted privacy. On top of this, I assumed my personal set of values to be superior to all others. My Christian faith mitigated my arrogance, but sadly not by much.

So, where was I located? In regard to authority, Korea was still a traditional culture with a proud four-thousand-year history. The king had been an absolute monarch and no one dared question his authority. Subordinate leaders were vested with power down to village level. Households were headed by the oldest male, while women and children held minimal social status. Orders were to be obeyed and directions followed explicitly.

In regard to age, Korea was a Confucian society. Elders were honored and ancestors venerated. An entire village celebrated when an elder reached the retirement age of sixty. One day a month was set aside to decorate the graves of the revered deceased. Mr. Chung replaced Miss Pak as my co-teacher. When he learned he was five days older than me he thrilled to call me "little brother".

In regard to privacy, Koreans lived in tight quarters. There was never an America notion of personal space. People packed onto busses and slept six to a room. Insistence on privacy was taken as suspicious behavior. What was that sneaky person up to?

In regard to individualism, Koreans took pride in their national identity; part of a larger Korean collective. They celebrated a common blood, common purpose, and common culture. I once heard that a Peace Corps volunteer disparaged an old man by saying, "I can't tell you people apart. You Koreans all look the same." To which the elder sincerely responded, "Thank you."

On top of all of this, there was the poverty. It put distance between me-of-the-first-world and them-of-the-third-world. I learned the term mee-je meant "made in America" and han-je meant "made in Korea". The first refered to something well-constructed the latter shabby. Did that apply to the self image as well?

Given this circumstance in Korea, it's no wonder I ran into trouble. I battled my school principal, whose actions seemed arbitrary and needless. He required me to remain on school grounds from nine to five o'clock just like the rest of his faculty, even though I taught only three of these hours in the classroom. Since I could not converse in Korean, I wanted to experience local sights as a tourist. I often snuck out the front gate. Fellow teachers spied on me and the vice principal tattled to the boss. To his credit, the principal did consider me a special case, but there was constant tension.

As a matter of fact, I was a special case to all Korean teachers. Most had never rubbed shoulders with a creature of my appearance, language, and manner. Some looked down upon me as an oddball or outcast. However, most looked up to me as an ambassador from a dominant nation enjoying special privileges. I was permitted to be a non-conformist; I could act out in ways they could never dare.

One bridge between me and fellow teachers proved to be soccer. Every Wednesday teachers picked sides to play their favorite sport. Since I was young and athletic, I was always assigned as goalie. This position fit me well. I didn't need to coordinate movement using language and I could punt the ball father than any of them.

I constantly asked teachers about inexplicable events, and the answer was usually, "We don't know" or "It's Korean custom". I remember preparing for a full day of classes only to arrive at school and have the principal announce a full day of physical exercise. What? Are all classes cancelled? Then why am I expected to remain in the kyo-mu-shil (teachers' room) all day long?

On another day, I was writing on the blackboard, when a student poked his head in the door, yelled something out, and all my girl-students dashed from the classroom. Startled, I discovered later a provincial leader was coming and all students were required to sweep and scrub.

I remember wooly caterpillar day. When I arrived at school, morning classes were cancelled. All six hundred students were given chopsticks and a hundred glass jars were distributed. Teachers were issued long bamboo poles. I followed this outing shooting pictures of boys and girls as they collected jar after jar of crop-destroying caterpillars. Students would pick them off plants with their sticks, or off the ground when teachers dislodged them from tree tops. I actually enjoyed that bizarre experience, but I did not teach English that day.

I didn't mind staying in Mr. Yoo's large guestroom. I enjoyed the times his three children hung out with me. The boys taught me two children's songs. San toki tokay ya was about mountain rabbits, and Sagwa katan ne owlgul compared a baby's face to an apple. The kids fit into my world as surrogate nieces and nephews.

However, I ran into problems with my host and landlord. Over a period of three days, Mr. Yoo boarded family guests. For three nights my private lodging sheltered four relatives who stumbled in after dark stinking of drink. From that point, I began to seek out a private ha-suk-chip (boarding house). Mr. Yoo took umbrage and for a while forbade his children to visit me. I think he needed the money the Peace Corps provided him for my upkeep. We eventually reconciled, but hard feelings remained.

I found myself in a continual complaint mode; whether it be about silly rules, primitive facilities, slow service, or unresponsive bureaucracy. I failed to appreciate the tradition and virtue of the Korean people. I demanded respect, yet failed to dispense it. Much of my discontent fed upon miscommunication which led to mistrust. One of my irritations concerned photography. The local camera shop developed black and white prints in three days. Always impatient, I ended up paying an extra four hundred won (50¢) for one-day service. I complained to the shop keeper because it took two full weeks for color slides to process in far-off Seoul.

My favorite picture-taking location was an idyllic garden spot perched high over the village. In later years, I wrote "Staircase to Nowhere".

Soon after I arrived in Muguk, I discovered a nearby stairway. This wasn't an ordinary set of stairs, but an elaborate concrete structure of about one-hundred steps winding from a roadside restaurant to the top of a high hill, terminating on a surface area overlooking the entire village. I couldn't figure out the purpose of the stairs. Why would anyone build such a huge staircase just to visit grass and wildflowers? But the view was truly spectacular and I have pictures of Mu Kuk in the winter, Mu Kuk in the spring and Mu Kuk in the summer.

It surprised me that the stairs were in such disrepair. Erosion knocked many steps out of kilter and most had cracks running from side to side. I asked my Korean family to walk up with me, but they seemed reluctant and I always walked the stairs alone. The place remained a mystery.

After a few weeks away, I crossed the familiar bridge and walked toward the concrete stairs, but they had vanished! I was really puzzled by all this and finally decided to talk to one of the English teachers about the mystery.

Mr. Lee shook his head sadly and told me this story: "During the rule of the Japanese, Mu Kuk was administered by a cruel magistrate. He forced local farmers to construct a large concrete stairway to the top of the highest hill. On the summit he built a Shinto shrine where Japanese officials gathered to worship and lord it over their Korean domain. The place was despised by the locals and on the day of liberation, the people ran up the stairs and tore down the shrine. The stairs were too bulky to destroy and so were abandoned." He added, "Just last week the mayor decided to break the concrete into pieces and haul the debris to a local water project." How sad I thought that such a beautiful place had such a sorrowful history.

I escaped from the isolation of Muguk almost every weekend. Sometimes I paid visits to friends; Eumseong to see Gerry, Cheongju to see Mary, and Suwon to visit Meng. I also traveled to Seoul revive my lagging spirit. At the Peace Corps building volunteers greeted me in the lounge. We conversed and shared woes and meals. It felt like rising from the ocean depth to breathe fresh air. On May first, I moved away from my adopted family and into a guest house. The accommodations improved and I experienced more privacy, but still I felt empty. I confessed to my journal:

I want to go home. I'm not happy here; but neither am I unhappy. I'm just dead inside. I feel like I'm sitting on a three-legged stool, staring at a blank wall with a blank face and blank mind. What am I doing here in Korea? To what end am I doing it? I can't feel it anymore! I can't pretend to feel it.

I know what it is. I don't love anything here. I may like it and appreciate it, but where is the passion? Can that be why I don't feel? I must love and be loved in order to be real.

In Korea, I don't share of myself. My inner-most parts are withering in a dungeon never seeing light. I do not love and I do not share.

I thought my tour in the Peace Corps would change my life into something positive and worth living, but, But, BUT. It's more of the same. Lord Jesus, hear my plea. Have mercy on me a sinner and return to me the joy of thy salvation.

As May progressed, my mood improved. The weather brightened and the countryside blossomed. Girl students changed from long pants to skirts. My morning routine included thirty-three minutes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. I pushed the cassette button at 8:15, knowing the four movements well enough to time my exit. My punctual sensibilities thrilled when I could click off the music at 8:47, rush out the door, and enter the teachers' room at 9:00 on the dot.

I enjoyed teaching my girls and boys American songs. I never knew how they would react. "Are you sleeping" was easy for them to sing, but "Row, row, row your boat" brought them to giggles. Those three initial R sounds proved impossible for them to articulate. I enjoyed my times with students. On a few occassions, I accompanied girl-students on outings with fellow teachers. I taught English words for nature items.

On May eleventh I journeyed to Seoul for a three-day language workshop. I dubbed the bus driver "Speed Racer" because he sped to the capital city in just two and a half hours. For me, the academics were secondary. I cared more about meeting friends than learning language. I connected with dozens of buddies in the Peace Corps lounge. Then I perused the current Newsweek magazine; the pages filled with Watergate scandal. Could President Nixon really get impeached?

Lia and I hung out a lot. We shared a meal and a movie. I played for her a recording of a favorite 78 RPM by Montana Slim: "Makes no difference now what kind of life they hand me". She commented it was so melancholy, so like me. I was unable to decipher her. So, was Lia interested in me as more than a friend? I floundered in uncertainty. Again, my fear of rejection outweighed my desire to become intimate. I confessed to my journal, "Faint heart ne'er won fair maiden." Still, my heart remained faint.

Back at my hotel, I roomed with Allen. We talked until dark then I began to write in my journal. He looked over my shoulder and commented, "If I ever write a book about Korea, I'll title it "Two Years in a Whorehouse'". Allen then went out to the streets to conduct research for his proposed book. After he left, two PCV girls sauntered into my room, inviting me to join them in smoking weed. I politely declined and continued to write and read. Allen returned after midnight, inebriated and unsuccessful in his data quest.

The next day I had a chance to talk with the two girls in the adjoining room-Peggy and Diane. Peggy asked why I didn't want to get high with them. The discussion turned religious, Lia joined in, and after a few hours, I led Peggy to the Lord. She really wanted to know about Jesus. She asked me to write her explaining the gospel. I counted my day as blessed.

Just before leaving Seoul, Lia and I dropped by the local camera shop to pick up a batch of black & white photos, but the prints were still sitting in development fluid. She laughed out loud when I sang out to her in falsetto, "Someday my prints will come. Someday we'll meet again."

I spent two weeks in Muguk, missing my good times in Seoul. Throughout South Korea, May was designated "Defend Freedom Month" and May eighteenth was "Anti-communist Day". I helped four students write patriotic speeches to deliver in English. I considered the whole exercise rather hokey.

I was often startled by the cruelty with which teachers punished students. The designated punishers were the vice-principal and the P.E. coach. I witnessed a dozen girl students get their hands wacked with a ruler for failing to display proper uniforms. At one outdoor assembly all the boys were ordered to empty their pockets. Any student found with cigarettes was slapped and knocked to the ground. Boys so punished had to return to their feet and suffer abuse again.

A few weeks later, I visited Allen. I wrote about an incident that occurred at his school:

In June, Allen invited me to visit his Middle School in Seoul. I left Muguk on a Saturday morning with my camera in hand. When I arrived, he was just finishing his English lessons. Allen asked me to wait in the teachers' room for a few minutes until his class finished.

I introduced myself to the vice-principal and met some other teachers. After a few minutes, a young boy-student entered the teachers' room and stood in front of the P.E. teacher's desk. I didn't have anything else to do, so I watched the proceedings. It seemed odd to me, because the teacher purposely ignored the boy. I'm sure he saw the trembling student, but he just shuffled papers and joked with fellow teachers. The student stood rigid at attention in front of the big desk, his black uniform out of place in the room of suit and tie.

After ten minutes or so, the P.E. teacher began to shout at the student. I couldn't understand the words but I sensed the anger. The teacher yelled out a question ending with EH? and the frightened student would whimper a meek answer. The teacher got red in the face and finally began to hit the student with a blackboard pointer. Most other teachers were looking on and grinning. I looked away for a while, but looked back as if witnessing a train wreck. The P.E. teacher got out from behind his desk. He grabbed the boy by the shirt and belt and hurled him like a bowling ball across the slick floor. BANG! The boy hit some steel lockers and remained on the floor shaking. The teacher picked him up and smacked him in the face. Again, he hurled him against the lockers. Again, there was a loud bang as head hit steel.

In my heart I knew that the student was being mistreated. I felt I had to intervene. My Korean wasn't very good and I knew my words would not have stopped the beating. My camera was around my neck, so I took it in my hands and walked to where the angry teacher could see me. I pretended to take a picture of the incident. I took a few steps back and pretended to take another picture. The P.E. teacher looked puzzled then he took a few steps toward me. Two fellow teachers took him by the arms and I quickly left the room.

I waited outside for Allen, sitting on the front stairs. My adrenaline was still pumping when he met me several minutes later. I asked if he were in trouble with his principal. He said that the principal was mad at him, but not to worry about it because I had done the right thing. Allen told me that the seventh-grader was being punished because he held a part-time job. It was against the rules for any student, no matter how poor, to work in a shop. When he told me that, I replied "In that case, I'm glad I brought my camera with me today."

Mr. Chang was my daily companion in Muguk. As my co-teacher, we coordinated our classroom schedule. I would conduct drill and practice while he would lecture. We eventually grew into a proficient tag team. As an English speaker, we spent after hours together as well. He dropped by my room every second evening usually with boy-students in his company. Sometimes I enjoyed our get togethers, more often they proved annoying.

Gerry lived down the road in Um-song. He was a K-23 volunteer and was in the process of returning to the States. After a few visits, he agreed to bequeath me his excess property. On one trip, I wrestled home a fifty-pound bookcase and on another occasion, I rode his bicycle back to Muguk. It was a sturdy simple bike, but bumpy roads required constant upkeep. Fortunately, the guy at the local bike shop kept my vehicle well-tuned at a low cost.

The bicycle brought joy into my life. I raced to school and peddled around town. One June day school was not in session because it was rice planting day. On a whim, I decided to bike all the way to Cheongju to visit Mary Davidson. That distance was about one hour to Um-song then another to Mary's school-four hours round trip. I brought along a satchel of water bottles and headed north.

I lunched with Gerry in Um-song while he was having a going-away school party. I also shelled out two-thousand won for a padded bicycle seat. Then I headed to Cheongju. This leg of my journey was arduous. I walked my bike up long stretches of steep switchbacks, but the following miles of downhill proved exhilarating. As things turned out, Mary wasn't home. I hung out in her guesthouse for a few hours reading her paperbacks, then as I was leaving, she showed up. We shared tea, cakes, and conversation but shadows were growing. It was time for me to head home.

I really pushed my body on the return trip. My butt hurt and my muscles ached. I did pause to take a few pictures of the hundreds of farmers, families, and students toiling in the rice fields. I straggled into Muguk as the last beams of light passed behind the mountains. My landlady was surprised to see me so disheveled and offered me my evening meal and pan of soapy water. I partook of both and brought to close a long day.

The next morning, I brought three pairs of pants to the laundry/tailor shop. He measured me and took the waist line in about two inches. I had lost fifteen pounds since arriving in Korea.

On June 22, I took a long train trip to the southern coast, to Ul-san to visit Lia Driver. I really liked her. I confessed to my diary that I was in fantasy with Lia. Yet my heart was faint. Being a K-23, Lia was in her final days of Peace Corps service. I toured some local sites with her and attended going-away parties. She lent me Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis which I read intently over the three nights I lodged in Ul-san. Between Lia and me everything seemed chemically combustible, but a spark never ignited a romantic fire. Similar to my non-romance with Sunny in Muncie, if I had kissed Lia just once, who knows how my life may have altered.

The months of July and August were optional summer school in Korea. Some children continued to study at extra expense while others worked in agriculture. On June 30, I bussed to Seoul to attend the wedding of Christine Miller. She was the PCV who wanted to smooch me a few months earlier. She had found an army sergeant to share her smooches. I threw rice at the newlyweds as they emerged from the Camp Page chapel. I didn't say much to her; just clasped her arm and wished her God's best.

While in Seoul, I attended a send-off celebration for all K-23 PCVs. We hugged our final goodbyes. I exchanged American addresses with Mary and Gerry. Lia was about to catch a flight to Paris, so I joined the line for a last embrace before her departure. I put my hands on her shoulders and looked at her with sad eyes, then I pecked her on the cheek. As I turned away, I heard a whisper, "Someone finally kissed someone." I glanced back, she smiled, and I walked into the evening wondering about what could have been. Why is love so elusive?

On July 1, I stayed at a hotel which hosted dozens of volunteers. After weeks of English-as-a-second-language, how great it was to express inner thoughts in my mother tongue! I mixed with a host of recent acquaintances, spending hours in conversation with Diane Ferramonti. I liked this woman. She was K-26, a university teacher with a master's degree. She had taken vows as a nun, but never joined a Catholic order. In the evening, I visited her place and she prepared a delightful dinner for me. I invited Diane to visit my countryside home.

In July, I carried on a whirlwind romance with Diane. She shot into my life like a rocket then crashed to earth in a ball of flame. On July 6 Diane paid me a visit in Muguk. I gave her a tour of the village and my middle school classes. All this was a stark contrast to her cushy environment at Ewha Woman's University in Seoul, but she was game to experience the rural adventure. She checked into an adjoining room in my guesthouse. We talked and joked long past midnight.

The next day we departed on a big outing to the swimming pond. Mr. Chung and a few students joined the fun. We procured a bicycle for Diane and we all peddled down a rippled road to the water hole. I lent her a t-shirt and shorts and we took the plunge. I swam one-hundred yards to the far side then back to the middle to meet Diane. I gave her a big body hug savoring her buxom figure. After an hour we dried off and headed home. Poor Diane. She struggled with her bike, so I switched with her. Still, she arrived back at the guesthouse bruised and bedraggled. I figured this was a test of sorts. I reckoned she liked me because she endured this punishment with grace. After an evening meal, I promised to meet her at her college on the following weekend. Diane was on my mind and heart for the next six days. Was she the one?

On July 14, I headed to Seoul for a weekend rendezvous. Diane's college apartment consisted of two side-by-side rooms. I stayed the first night in the smaller of the two. She walked me around Ewha University and I looked in on some of her classes. We talked and laughed until midnight. Then she asked, "Is it okay if I rub your back?" I consented and our friendship exploded into passion.

It had been so long! Her lips, her body; her sexual frolic, ecstasy. She drew a line before consummation. "Okay", I assured her. "That's as far as we go." As our fires cooled, I confessed, "Diane, I will make you a good friend. I can make you a passionate husband, but I lack the self-control to make you an honest boyfriend. Please figure out what you want. I'll follow your lead."

I attended mass with Diane on Sunday morning and in the afternoon, we walked to some of her downtown haunts. Once again, unbridled passion thrilled the evening, but I knew where to draw the line. Neither of us wanted the night to end. About three in the morning, we collapsed from sheer exhaustion. At daybreak, she shook me awake, asked me to dress quickly, and vacate her apartment. Diane said a scandal could ensue if word got around that a gentleman shared her room. She might even lose her job. We kissed goodbye and I was out the door

Back in Muguk, my thoughts churned in circles. What was this about? Is it a game? Is she real or an illusion? Will I marry Diane or is she history? Why are my thoughts gravitating to Lia? On July 22, I traveled to Seoul once more seeking answers. As Diane and I sat across from each other in a tea room, she explained it was time to terminate our relationship. She claimed she did not love me. My feelings were truly mixed. I was crestfallen at the rejection yet relieved of the burden. I liked Diane but we were incompatible. I partied with other PCV friends that evening and Diane left my life as quickly as she had entered it.

I wrote my ex-girlfriend a long letter expressing my frustration. I ended it with a lyric from Bob Lind: "Don't be concerned, it will not harm you. It's only me pursuing something I'm not sure of. Across my dreams with nets of wonder, I chase the bright elusive butterfly of love."

After spending several days with Meng in Suwon, I traveled to the east-coast resort town of Gangneung. About twenty of us PCVs had signed up to participate in a government workshop. The provincial governor was on hand to see how the experiment would fare. We five Americans shared accommodations with a dozen young Korean diplomats, not only teaching formal English lessons, but also sharing meals, entertainment, and daily life. This select group of young people was intelligent and motivated to learn.

Our hotel sat on the shoreline with cool breezes chasing away summer heat. Every evening, we walked the beach, sometimes braving an invasion of jellyfish to splash in the refreshing Sea of Japan. Our Korean hosts continually corrected us by calling this body of water "the East Sea". My two-week holiday of fine food and excellent accommodation passed all too quickly.

I returned to Muguk, but remained for only a few days. The Peace Corps was sponsoring a re-training session in a town called Euseong. I decided to attend but I added adventure to academia. I packed clothes, supplies, and sleep gear into a duffle bag. I bought a large-scale map of Korea to help me navigate the roads. The odd thing was, I could not purchase just a road map of the Republic of Korea. For political purposes every map showed a single nation from the Yalu River to Jejudo Island. With a pair of scissors, I cut off the portion north of the DMZ.

The skies were dark as I began my fifty-mile trek; and after just a few miles, rain began to pour in buckets. I kept peddling, speeding down a highway until a policeman told me only motor vehicles were permitted on the road bed. Next, I found a dry spot under a bridge, but an old man told me it was illegal to sleep outside. Next, I hung out in a large culvert for a few hours, but I garnered attention. A group of half-naked kids sat pointing at me in wonderment. Me-guk sa-ram! Me-guk sa-ram! (American! American!)

Well after midnight, I stumbled upon an overnight guesthouse and slept soundly until morning. The next day I peddled my poor body into Euseong, checking into the Peace Corps hotel. After cleaning up, I met dozens of my friends who were amazed at my travelogue. Unfortunately, I also met Diane.

My ex-girlfriend ignored me, sometimes carrying on polite conversation in the presence of others. It's not that I harbored any romantic feelings toward Diane, but just being near her accentuated my loneliness. I longed for intimacy, confiding to my journal: "Chase love and it will flee from you. Flee from love and it will find you."

I spent time with friends like Allen, Gordy, and Ed, but I was depressed. I attended Korean language sessions, but my heart was not into learning. I often slept late, missing a few hours of morning instruction. I wrote, "I guess I like sleep because it comes closest to oblivion."

I remembered that August 18 was the day Debbie Zelen was to be married. Jeanne wrote me that she could not see what attracted her daughter to Denny Necker. I had insight into my niece's motives. Sometimes a person marries to escape loneliness, to hope for happiness even in a forest of red-flags.

The ten days proved difficult. I felt as if I were in exile from life. I wondered again what I was doing on this far side of the globe. Rain fell every day. I remember sitting at a sidewalk cafe slurping noodles with Allen. He told me that he had purchased a half-price ticket home by agreeing to accompany orphans from Seoul to New York City. I decided to look into that. Maybe I could fly home over Christmas.

Pelting rain made further conversation impossible but Allen was reluctant to step into the downpour. I shouted to Allen, "Don't worry. This fiberglass roof makes the rain sound more important than it really is."

I biked home on August 25, experiencing rain one moment and sunshine the next. I splashed through puddles as trucks splattered me with road spray. By the time I finally straggled into Muguk, I was sunburned and muddied head to foot. My Korean friend at the guest house ordered me to assume the push-up position while he hosed down my entire body.

After a few days of recuperation, I traveled to Seoul to check out the Holt Adoption Agency. I filled out an application form, paid twenty dollars, and provided two photos. I discovered that the agency was headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, and began to converse with the representative. She discovered my charismatic predilections and invited me to a prayer meeting.

Mrs. Devoir drove me to a missionary's house where dozens of believers were assembled singing praise songs. It was being transported back to Longview. I requested "Silver and Gold Have I None", one of my dad's favorite tunes. The leader of the group asked if anyone had a miracle testimony. I raised my hand and shared the miraculous circumstance by which I had arrived at this house of praise.

At the start of September, I participated in a mid-service conference. The two-day event was held in Seoul and involved Peace Corps volunteers providing feedback to administrators. A few dozen of us sat around a large table and spoke directly to area reps, directors, as well as officials from the Korean ministry of education. The most hotly discussed issues were site selection, corporal punishment, and money. Prices in Korea were rising faster than our monthly stipends. As usual, my interests lay outside the conference room: mixing with friends, recording cassette music, and figuring out life.

When I returned to Muguk, the school year was just beginning. Mr. Chung and I were busy planning and co-teaching middle school classes. The weather grew variable: cool one day and hot the next. I switched out my summer short-sleeves for sweaters. From Jim Francis, I received notice of a second son named Ryan and from Sister Jeanne, a note that she was pregnant with baby number five. I noted in my journal there were four things I liked: 1. sorting photographs, 2. writing in my journal, 3. receiving mail, and 4. reading my Newsweek magazine.

On the fifteenth of September the village of Muguk, like the rest of South Korea, held a daylong air raid drill. As sirens screamed, all shops were shuttered, traffic was stopped, students marched, and police motored their vehicles up and down local roads. I sheltered in my room napping and enjoying the four things I liked.

September 17 was a momentous day; the day I decided to quit Muguk. Several events conspired to harden my resolve. First was the cancelation of classes. I had just opened my lesson book, when word came that all students were required to sweep and scrub the school grounds because the military inspector was due at the school. Just when students were reassembled in classrooms, again they were dismissed. This time because the cleaning job was not adequate and they had to tidy up again. The dozen who did not demonstrate janitorial aptitude were marched onto the parade ground and swatted with sticks. I sat in my empty classroom listening to the shrieks.

I wrote in my journal:

How can I explain my wanting to leave? I simply must go. The only joy in my work turns into my greatest pain-my students. It's such an upper to see happiness in their eyes when they learn something new, but such a downer to see pain in their eyes under the rod of an unmerciful teacher. I just can't stick around any longer. I may be able to endure Mu guk for another year but why? Just to say I've done it? I'm going to Seoul to see what else I can do.

The next day, I impulsively jumped onto the first available bus to the capitol city. I stood for a while cramped in a corner. Babies were wailing. Passengers were bouncing. I finally acquired an open seat, but a woman plopped onto my armrest using my shoulder as her backrest. I called the experience "a cramped, movable three-ring circus, available for the price of a bus ticket."

I had hoped to get a job in Suwon as a conference planner, but that position was already promised. Then I hoped to transfer to the PC HQ in Seoul managing the library, but that job was discontinued. Finally, I spoke with Mr. Williams, the director of Peace Corps-Korea, who said my only option was to transfer to another middle school, but that change was not guaranteed.

Mr. Song was the Korean liaison to schools in my province. He traveled with me back to Mu-guk and spoke with Principal Kim. The man was shocked to learn of my desire to leave his school. He asked me to reconsider and promised changes. I hesitated, but my resolve stiffened. I asked Mr. Song to proceed with my transfer. I could see the principal was trying hard to accommodate me, but I could also perceive a culture of Korean education too deeply embedded to make serious change.

The next day, I traveled with Mr. Song to the city of Jecheon, about sixty miles north. We met with the principal of the city's middle school and he offered to accommodate me in his English department. A deal was struck, but I still had to wait for the official papers to process through the American and Korean bureaucracy.

My final week in Muguk was surprisingly sad. I didn't realize how attached I had grown to my village, my school, my English teachers, and my guest house. Fellow teachers even sponsored an unofficial going-away party for me. Mr. Yoo and his little boys were tearful to see me leave town and provided an elaborate meal on my last night in Muguk, September 30, 1973.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 10

October 1973 to March 1974
Jecheon & Seoul, Korea

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
(Proverbs 31:10)

My steps led me to the city of Jecheon. My heart led me to a wise and virtuous woman. Could such a thing really happen? Could God's providence be so great? Could the name of my beloved truly translate as "wisdom and virtue"?

October 1973

The first day of the month found me living in the new town of Jecheon. My contract required I teach at both the girls' school and the boys' school. Mr. Lee was my primary co-teacher and was kind enough to show me around town.

On the next day, I returned to Muguk to pack up my possessions and lug them to Jecheon. I was able to recruit three boy-students to help me carry the heavy items including a bookcase and a portable wardrobe. It was an all-day affair, from bus, to train, to taxi, into my new digs. I bought the boys lunch and provided them with return bus fare plus a handsome tip. I spent several hours sorting and arranging my stuff in the guesthouse room.

A newly-arrived PCV dropped by. Larry Oresick was about my age and volunteered at the po-gun-so (health clinic). His job was to screen patients for tuberculosis by looking at sputum samples through a microscope. Larry was a close companion for the months I resided in Jecheon. He would lend me cassette tapes of Johnny Carson monologues and I would provide him with classical music.

When I reported to my principal on October 4, he advised me that all schools were on a one-week break to observe Chuseok-the three-day harvest festival. I mapped out a journey that took me on visits to Karen and Meng, then to Gordy's wedding in Busan. I bussed to Seoul, then caught the train south. Because of the holiday season, all modes of transportation were packed to overflowing. For long periods, I stood on my feet more than I sat. Finally, I arrived in Busan on the far south coast.

Gordy was a casual acquaintance and I attended the event as much to tour the country and schmooze as to celebrate the wedding. I couldn't help but wonder how far in the future my own wedding would occur. After an elegant reception, I hung out with PC buddies at a local night club. When noise rose to an ear-shattering level, Meng and I retreated to our guesthouse for quiet.

We caught the bus on the following afternoon, but with crowds, delays, and a lack of reservations, we only got as far as Miryang, achieving forty miles in three hours. We struggled to find accommodations for the night. Meng and I left early the next morning and made it to the large city of Daegu, where we joined a gigantic Chuseok Festival. Karen and Pat caught up to us and we four strolled the park grounds.

It was so odd. We ran across a kind of side show complete with acrobats, men in tiger suits, and a leashed baboon. As we stopped to observe, we turned behind us to see Koreans pointing and gawking at the four Americans. Unbelievable! Someone even asked to have a picture taken with us. Where was the greater freak show?

During my return trip through Seoul, I paused overnight to recover from all the travel. I passed the evening by reading the momentous national and international news. I couldn't believe it. Spiro Agnew had resigned as Vice President and Israel was once again at war with its Arab neighbors. I saw pictures of cars lined up at gas stations waiting to fill up on over-priced gasoline.

When I returned to Jecheon, I began teaching in earnest. Although I felt a kind of homesickness for Muguk, I liked my new situation. The town was much bigger and offered better facilities. My guest house was not so primitive, and the schools were better appointed. Plus, since I itinerated from school to school, I was less accountable to a single person. In transit, I could rest in my room and run day-time errands. As long as I taught my classes, the principle was satisfied. Larry was in my life almost every day, talking, shopping, or just sharing life. It was good to have a local support system.

At midmonth, I returned to Muguk to pick up mail and collect a few stray items. When I returned to my guest house in Jecheon, I was stunned. Yellow tape draped my doorway. The landlady spoke in broken English "robbery". What could I do? I immediately determined my tape player and camera were missing. Cassettes, jeans, and trench coat were also gone.

The houseboy ran to school to fetch Mr. Lee. He brought a police man with him and I gleaned this from the discussions: I had locked both the front door and the window, but a sliding door between my room and an adjoining room was only glued shut. During the night, the boarder in the neighboring room, broke through, pillaged my belongings and escaped to Seoul. The landlady knew the thief and police would try to track him in the metropolis.

I was devastated with the loss of my camera and cassette player. Media was such a big part of my life, helping me cope in my exile. Over the next few weeks, I noticed small items missing: thirty-five dollars tucked into my Bible, a jar of peanut butter, a pair of socks, and an umbrella.

A few days later, from behind a high wall, I heard the wobbly strains of Beethoven, but the sound faded and I could never locate the source. The thief was never caught and the items never returned.

I traveled to Seoul a few days later to report the theft. The front office mercifully gave me another tape player (for language learning of course) and the director authorized an emergency stipend of fifty dollars.

On October 14, I made a jackass of myself. From the journal I quote:

A messenger arrived in the teachers' room with a letter for "MacDonald". He was the former PCV who had returned to America a few months earlier. I assumed the letter was addressed to him.

Mr. Kim who sits next to me received the envelope and slowly began to open it. I got a little upset. Then he began to read it and I got angry. I scolded, "Mr. Kim, you shouldn't read another person's mail."

He continued as if he didn't comprehend. His non-response made me even edgier. Finally, I snatched the letter from his hand and self-righteously tore it to pieces. Mr. Kim looked utterly bewildered. My rage continued until it slowly dawned on me what I had actually done. I realized the letter was not to David McDonald but from David McDonald to Mr. Kim.

What a perfect ass I had made of myself. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to evaporate, to crawl into a corner and die. Such embarrassment and self-loathing I had seldom known. I profusely apologized, dug the aerogramme pieces from the waste basket, and pasted the jig saw puzzle to a sheet of paper.

I continued to seek forgiveness and helped Mr. Kim translate the English. David MacDonald had written such a beautiful letter. I nearly wept at the thing I had destroyed. I resolved to acquire a new attitude of grace. I can be so impulsive and quick to condemn. I must change all that. Lord, help me!

My job in Jecheon was expanding. I tutored the principal's niece on Tuesdays and taught factory workers on Fridays. I was helping high-school students prepare for English exams. The local education minister tasked me to instruct all the English teachers in the city. There were about fifty in total.

On October 22, I organized my first city-wide workshop at the ministry building. We were supposed to start at six in the evening, but teachers were still trickling in at seven. I began to speak to the group, asking the best time to meet and the best curriculum to incorporate. In the midst of this discussion, I noticed a petite woman sneak into the classroom and stand plastered against the rear wall. I waved at her and she waved in return. As a final comment, I asked all participants to sign the attendance roster. The late-arrival walked from the back of the room signing her name "Kim Hyun Deok."

The next few weeks overflowed with daytime teaching and after-hour carousing. With Larry as a co-conspirator, we decided to take a class in taekwondo. We purchased the outfits, learned a few moves, practiced on each other, and ran in formation through city streets. The instructors were distracted by our participation and we couldn't grasp what they were trying to teach us.

In November the weather turned frigid. The Korea Times reported a night-time low of seventeen degrees Fahrenheit. Two exposure deaths occurred in the Chung-Chan province. Fortunately, my parents had mailed me a woolen union suit which became a feature of my daily clothing. I bought a kerosene heater to boil water and keep my room frost free. One of the reasons I finally quit taekwondo concerned sub-freezing temperatures. The blackbelt instructors required us white belt neophytes to wrestle and run barefoot outdoors. I took issue then took leave.

I remember one evening walking home cold and hungry from an ESL class. I solved both problems with one purchase. I noticed a street vendor selling boiled eggs. I bought two, grasping one in each palm. When my fingers thawed, I snacked on the hand-warmers. On frigid days, the bathhouse proved a balmy respite. I would spend an hour in hot water scrubbing and luxuriating. I jumped from hot to cold then cold to hot. During the walk home, my de-sensitized body defied the cold.

Meng paid a visit to Jecheon staying a week in my guest house. He always lifted my spirits. Larry joined us for conversation and scrabble. We three swapped books and copied music. From Meng I received Alice in Wonderland and from Larry I recorded an album by Tom Paxton. The High Sheriff of Hazard was my favorite. Eyes and ears were kept busy over long cold evenings. With the oil crisis in full bloom, the Korean government considered closing public schools to save on fuel costs. My room rent increased because the charcoal used to heat the floor skyrocketed in price.

Wherever the three of us walked about town we became the objects of attention. Many times, a stranger would invade our space making a comment like, "I want to English conversation you." We were forbearing up to a point, letting our body language inform the intruder when it was time to bug out.

On my street there was a man with a loud voice who sold kimpop (sushi). He would shout out "kimpop, kimpop". One afternoon, Meng, Larry, and I were sitting on my floor with the sliding door open. Meng demonstrated how he could imitate the street vender with a loud "kimpop, kimpop". Suddenly another door flung open and a man shouted in Korean, "Hey, give me some kimpop over here". He was startled to see an American making the sound. We laughed to exhaustion.

I could not distinguish between discipline and punishment. Sitting in the teachers' room at the girls' school, I observed five seventh graders as they were marched to the vice-principal's desk. A female teacher held each head while the man chopped hair with an over-sized pair of shears. I was told girl-student hair could not hang below the collar. Was this discipline or punishment?

At the boys' school, I looked through my frosty window onto the parade field. A few hundred boys were on the ground in the front-leaning rest position, their knuckles in the dirt. As the P.E. Teacher barked orders, they would lift then wiggle an arm or leg. I asked Mr. Lee why they were being punished. He glanced out the window and remarked, "that's not punishment, just discipline training."

As I sat pondering, I figured Mr. Lee had a point. In the Republic of Korea all males must serve three years in the military. There were very few exceptions. The high-school boys on the parade field would soon be in army uniform and endure greater discipline than leg wiggles. Perhaps this outside activity was good training.

Word came to me that a round-trip charter flight was planned from Seoul to Seattle costing only $300. I managed to telephone the PC HQ and reserve a seat for the mid-December to mid-January flight. I traveled to Seoul to follow up on this fantastic deal.

On this third weekend in November, my cohort of K-25 also celebrated its one-year endurance party. I hung out with a dozen of my buddies until booze reduced conversation to blather. On the next evening we dropped by the apartment of our PC director who hosted a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The American furnishings, cornucopia of food, and familiar talk of past holidays provoked a sigh of nostalgia. I relished an upcoming month in the States. However, my furlough was dashed. The oil crisis had restricted all air travel and my charter flight was canceled.

I completed my third Korean journal on November 27, having filled 224 pages over 104 days. I tallied the letters I had received over the course of one year: Mom & Dad-5, Zelens-7, Walkers-7, Jack-5, Eileen-3, Frank-7, Sunny-8, Boston-10, Lia-8, Lynn-5, Carol-4, Mark-3, Jim Francis-7, Jim Rich-7, Maggie-3, Kaydee-3, Merle-3, and Denny-4. Plus, I received about twenty letters from people who wrote once or twice. The 110 letters represented about one USA letter for every three days in country. And for every single piece of American mail, I received two from friends in Korea and the PC office. With daily journaling and corresponding, my literary life was full.

I finished up this journal asking, "I can't help but wonder what the next 104 days will hold. They couldn't possibly be as unpredictable as the last ones. Could they?"

Over the final days of November, I attended a planning conference in Daegu. Mr. Williams, the PC director, led the day-long event. He informed us that all public schools in Korea would be on an abbreviated schedule beginning on December 4. He also requested that PCVs not take photos of university riots in Seoul. Not by coincidence, I thumbed through the international section of Time magazine and noted that all photos of campus disruptions had been clipped out.

My friend Karen Bachelor dropped by Jecheon for an overnight visit. She slept in my room while I doubled up with Larry sacking out on his floor. On December 5, Karen assisted me as I taught at an evening workshop. The dozen local teachers were pleased to see two Americans in conversation. As we walked from the education building, Miss Kim approached the two of us inviting Karen and me to a tea room. Up to this point, Miss Kim had been just one of twelve faces. I learned she was twenty-two years old and in her first year of teaching. I was impolite peaking at a newly-arrived letter from Lia. Karen carried most of the conversation.

Since schools were on a minimal schedule, I traveled to Seoul for the weekend. I visited with K-25 buddies who also shared an unexpected vacation. I walked to the Korean telephone department and requested a long-distance call to Longview, USA. I hadn't spoken to my parents in a year and it was a joy to hear their voices. I was transported to America for the ten minutes of connection.

Back in Jecheon, I enjoyed my fellowship with Larry. He would drop by my room; I would give him newly acquired magazines; and for an hour we would sit in silence. I didn't seek communication, but communion. As the new vice president, Gerald Ford appeared on the cover of Time.

On December 12, I led the final teachers' workshop of 1973. As we were breaking up, I asked Miss Kim to join me at a tea room. (I thought I would return the favor for the previous week.) I told her we could practice English conversation. As she sipped ginger tea, Miss Kim asked if I could continue to teach her after the workshop was over. She added that she wanted to teach me Korean. As unsure as I am about persons of the female persuasion, I figured she liked me. I invited her to a movie on Saturday and she accepted. On the walk home, my romantic self caught fire. Immediately I entertained notions of marrying this woman, of the ramifications and possibilities.

On December 13, I received a letter from Lia. She informed me she had obtained a job in Japan. I was happy for her, but sad for me. I had fantasies of Lia and me getting together in America, maybe spending a lifetime together. Japan was not in my plan. The future prospect of Lia dimmed while the present reality of Miss Kim brightened.

On December 14, I walked through Jecheon, taking pictures with Larry's expensive Nikon camera. I noticed long lines of vehicles cramming a local gas station, horns honking and drivers shouting. I snapped a few pictures. As I was walking away, a policeman approached me from behind and scolded me. To the best of my understanding, he was distressed that I was making Korea look bad. I apologized, but what could I do?

Finally, December 15 arrived. This Saturday evening at six, I planned to meet Miss Kim at the cinema. I thought I was early when I greeted her at 5:45, but she was upset. She informed me our appointment was at 5:30! She said, "I planned to count slowly to one thousand. If you didn't arrive, I would go home. You're lucky. I just counted to eight hundred." I was indeed fortunate. If I had arrived at my scheduled time, Miss Kim may have been history.

The James Bond movie was difficult to follow. I stopped trying to explain the action to my date and just bask in her company. There was no physical contact, just giggles and flirtation. When I returned to my guest room, I confessed to my journal:

My emotions are tangled. I'll have to pray hard during the coming weeks. I have a feeling that our relationship will either get hot fast or get cold fast. A simple friendship looks improbable. Before I pursue this woman further, I must be sure on two counts.

Number one, that my attraction to Hyun Deok isn't based on loneliness. Part of love must surely be the need for intimate companionship, but that can't be all of it.

Number two, I must be sure that my exile in Korea isn't skewing my perspective. If we were both in America with American girls all around, would I still prefer this Korean woman? I must be sure.

On December 16, we attended her church together. I think she was checking out the depth of my faith. I knew the songs and could recite the scripture. I think I passed her religious test. Back in my room I wrote this:

I'm thinking about Hyun Deok now. Could she possibly be the one that God has in store for me? I'm sure she likes me and that I could force romance to happen but is that the best for me? for her? Love must be free to take its course. There are so many practical considerations, but Agapé-God's love-is the thing that rates of greatest importance. Let events take their course and may I be open to God's will.

On December 17, I was busy at school and did not see Miss Kim, but on December 18 she paid me a visit. As was my custom, I asked the landlady to dial her number. Once she was on the line, I invited her to my place to meet a few American friends. Unfortunately, the group was late in arriving. Miss Kim hesitated in the courtyard, then entered my room. I knew this was a bold gesture for a single Korean school teacher, even with the door wide open. She glanced around, remarking my room was small. I walked her home. My buddies were warming around my kerosene heater when I returned. I blushed as they quizzed me about the woman in my life.

On December 19, we shared another date, this time at a ping-pong parlor. To smack the ball, Miss Kim had to remove her winter coat. I was astonished. She actually had a shapely figure. To this point, I had never seen the contours of her body. It was a pleasant surprise. I sighed, maybe it would become a bonus. I won three matches and she won two but we weren't counting.

As I walked her home, a bitter wind whipped her coat. She kept her hands in her pockets. I asked why and she replied that she had lost her gloves. We stepped into a small market and she allowed me to purchase her a pair of nylon mittens.

The walk to her house was pure joy. The roadway was dark and slick. She would slip on a patch of ice and I would quickly put my arms around her waist to keep her from falling. This happened several times. On each occasion I released her when she regained her footing. It was not proper for a single girl to be seen having physical contact with a man.

As I walked her home, I asked if she were happy. She responded only "half happy" and that when we were together in Seoul, she would be "full happy". I thanked Jesus under my breath. I escorted her to her door and wished her good night. So many subtle cues emerged over the course of that evening. Just maybe I had finally netted that bright elusive butterfly of love.

I was at school on December 20 when I received a message from Miss Kim. The runner told me she had an emergency in Seoul and had to leave immediately. I had to stick around the classroom for another hour. When I returned to my room, the landlady said Hyun Deok had dropped by. She showed me this note: "To Mr. Foreman, I have some trouble. So, I can't meet you tonight. I go to Seoul right now. I can't wait for you. Excuse me. Please call me up on the 23rd after five o'clock, tel. 2502. from Miss Kim."

My first thought concerned the sweet note. The second thought concerned the sweet woman who penned the sweet note. I held the paper close to my heart. I think it was at that moment I fell hopelessly in love with Miss Kim Hyun Deok.

While Miss Kim was in Seoul, I had business in Cheongju. I had agreed to assist the Peace Corps in the sale of Christmas seals. This concept was novel in Korea. Why would people pay money to buy charitable stamps to affix onto postage? I stood in front of a post office, my alien face attracting curious shoppers. A Korean partner did the hustling.

Many kind people bought one stamp for ten won, which is about two cents. It never made sense to me. Korea was still a poor country without a tradition of charitable giving. I was provided an eight thousand won (sixteen dollar) per diem for my two days in town while my team sold just a few dollars' worth of Christmas seals.

On December 23, I met Hyun Deok at the entrance to her church. As we sat side by side, she handed me a Korean-English Bible turned to Ephesians, chapter five. She pointed to the last verse: "Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

After church, we sat in a tea room for a serious discussion, no giggles. I sort of asked Hyun Deok to marry me. I couldn't figure her out! I think she was afraid of me-afraid of marriage-yet in love with me. I didn't get an answer, or whatever answer she provided proved as vague as my proposal. At times she was reassuring and at other times baffling. In one breath, she insisted it was too early to speak of marriage, and in the next breath she spoke of it. In any event, her parents might not permit their daughter to marry a foreigner. She smiled. She wept.

I reminded her the next day was my birthday. She agreed to meet with me in the afternoon. We closed our eyes and for the first time at midtable we touched fingertips. I prayed that God would sort out this mess for the two of us and His will be done in our lives.

As I trudged home, my mind was swimming. I recognized that our hearts were way ahead of our heads. It was December 23 and just eighteen days earlier we sat face to face for the first time. Oh God, You must be the author of this union. If not, we are doomed!

I turned twenty-four years old on the twenty-fourth day of December. My sisters would term this event a golden birthday because the calendar number matched my age number. The day was golden indeed! On this Christmas eve, 1973, Kim Hyun Deok and Chris Alan Foreman pledged to marry. We were uncertain of the date and place but confident of the outcome. We knew God had joined us together.

I woke up on my birthday to the coldest day of the year. I fired up the kerosene stove at six and set the kettle to boil. I re-emerged from under my blanket at seven. The room was still chilled with frost on the inside of the papered windows. Walking into the bathing room, the plastic pan of water was frozen solid and the waterpipes unworkable. My kettle water melted the ice and made for a comfortable face wash.

When I arrived at school, Mr. Lee informed me the nighttime temperature had dropped to minus seventeen Celsius-one-degree Fahrenheit. The dozen teachers shivered around the single pot-bellied stove. After warming my hands and picking up mail, I rushed home.

I wanted the daylight to pass. My date with Hyun Deok was set for 5:00 P.M. I read through the newly acquired Time Magazine, then took a nap. My thoughts and prayers focused on my Miss Kim. How could I live without her?

I arrived at the tea room early and stood in the doorway. Soon she strolled up. What a delight to see her form. While sipping tea, she gave me a card which read, "To Mr. Foreman. Happy birthday and Merry Christmas. Thank you for your sincere teaching. From your student, Miss Kim."

The card I handed her was more straightforward. "Merry Christmas. Remember I love you."

As her lips sounded the words, her eyes filled with tears. After a moment of silence, she whispered, "I love you too".

I felt a tingle from head to toe. I waved to a shy ragamuffin girl and bought two of her tiny tangerines, paying double her asking price. Giving Hyun Deok one, I promised her a truck load of tangerines when we settled in America. She responded that all she wanted was my love. I knew in my bones that I had just won the lottery of a life time.

As conversation continued, we spoke of marriage. She was so afraid of how her mother might react to wedding plans. She also said she was in trouble at school. A man teacher had hassled her because she was spotted in public with an American. That was a breach of Korean propriety. Young ladies could not be seen with an American man. The woman might be looked upon as a prostitute.

I walked her home through the dark cold, then skipped to my room in light-hearted song. I thanked God for His magnificent goodness and for His personal concern. How could there possibly be a better birthday gift? Wrapped in a gorgeous package, God had presented me with the desire of my heart; the love of a Christian woman whom I loved in return. I asked for His wisdom and continued blessing.

Christmas began as another frosty day so I sheltered in my room. Shops and schools were shuddered for the holiday but Hyun Deok was stuck with school duty, which meant she had to sit alone in the chilly teachers' room until 6:00 P.M.

I paid a few visits to fellow teachers distributing small bags of Christmas candy. Finally, darkness fell and I headed to the tea room to meet with the love of my life. We gazed into each other's eyes as we talked for hours. I learned she's the oldest of six kids, spaced two years apart. First born were four girls then came two boys. All six children have a "Hyun" in the name, which means wise. The "Deok" in her name translates as virtue. She explained that "wise and virtuous" is typically a boy's name.

We spoke of our common future. I wanted to wed this wise and virtuous woman as soon as possible. She wanted to leave Jecheon and relocate to Seoul. Small-town prejudice was too strong against a mixed-marriage. Events were moving fast, but when you are sure of your destination speed is your friend. We planned to travel to Seoul the next morning, so we parted ways about ten. My mind thrashed in a dozen directions. I heard my wall clock bang three.

I dropped by my middle schools in the morning and met Hyun Deok at the train station at 11:00. The three-hour ride was wonderful, just to sit hip to hip. I was so much in love. She whispered to me that everyone on the bus was staring at us. I chuckled, "Well, that's something you better get used to." When we arrived at the Seoul depot, my hip left hers so I could catch a local bus to the city center. She caught a later bus to lodge with her sisters.

I had reserved a space at a hotel near the Peace Corps headquarters (PC HQ). My roommate turned out to be Jack Farrell, a K-27 and casual friend. He was in the process of reading through a dozen books and asked me not to disturb him. So, I spent the rest of the day with Meng, Allen, and Sherri. We went to a movie, ate dinner at the Civilian club, and played board games into the night. Returning to my room, Jack and Allen were passing around a dope pipe. I departed talking in Meng's room past midnight.

I spent much of the next day with Hyun Deok. In the morning, I met Hyun Ok, who scanned me head to toe. If the second sister approved, she might support our cause with their parents. We taxied to the Civilian club on Yong San army base. Passing under the front gate, I was transported back to the States. Hyun Deok was impressed with the American look-wide streets, lawns, and lampposts. But she was apprehensive in the midst of so many young ogling soldiers. She kept her coat on to hide her figure.

Hyun Deok didn't recognize anything on the menu, so I ordered us spaghetti. She commented the pasta seemed like Korean noodles, but such food could be better eaten with chop sticks rather than a fork. We returned to the PC HQ where I introduced my wife-to-be to my best friend Meng. We talked a while, then the hour came for her to depart.

I kept an afternoon appointment to see the Peace Corps dentist, who filled a large cavity. While exiting the building I ran into Allen. My libertine friend was on his way to see the doctor in order to have his VD treated. I asked him if he could relate to Bob Dylan's VD Blues.

On Saturday, I met with Hyun Deok's best friend Miss Lee. We visited a giant department store called Cosmos, talking, shopping, and getting to know one another. As we were taxiing to the PC HQ, I noticed the two ladies were arguing in the back seat. When I spoke afterward to Hyun Deok, she said that Miss Lee had stunned her by saying, "How can you trust this American guy? You can't even trust Koreans."

I did what I could to assuage her, assuring her of my character and motives. Nonetheless, there was substance in her words. The two of us were certainly rushing headlong into an unknown future. I told her, "Sometimes in life you must be bold, trust your guts, and ignore the naysayers."

The evening was unforgettable. We went to the top of Nam Sam, the mountain in Seoul where the radio antenna towers above the skyline. In the shadows I could put my arm around her. I nearly wept with joy as we cuddled and looked upon the shimmering lights of the big city. Hyun Deok murmured it was the happiest day of her life. Her expression of joy ratcheted my own joy to an even higher level.

The next morning Hyun Deok and two of her sisters met me at a tea room near my guest house. Since it was Sunday, we headed to the Protestant chapel on the army base. After the service, we lunched at the military cafeteria, then headed to her alma mater-Kyung Hee University. She said it was her first visit since graduation. We strolled the campus, but no hand-holding. She met five of her eleven sorority sisters while I walked the grounds giving the girls time to chat. By day's end, I had spent twelve hours with Hyun Deok. The time felt short because the love was long.

The next day was New Year's Eve. I attended a few Peace Corps meetings, receiving some new ESL material. Dan Holt invited everyone to his big apartment for a New Year's Eve bash. Allen told me he wasn't going. His doctor said alcohol and VD antibiotics don't mix.

I met Hyun Deok about noon. She had been to the beauty parlor in preparation for the big party. Her black hair was shellacked, appearing to me like a football helmet. I preferred her natural coif, but kept my thoughts to myself. She surprised me by inviting me to her house for lunch. When we arrived on the far side of town, she was embarrassed by her humble surroundings. I greeted Hyun Ok and met her high-school sister named Hyun Hee.

For the first time, I saw the playful side of Hyun Deok as she flipped through picture albums. She laughed, danced, and spun in circles. My girlfriend was alive with joy. Hyun Ok served a dinner of rice and soup. We talked a while then the two of us headed back down town.

Hyun Deok was a bit frightened as we entered Dan's house. The space reverberated with loud partying Americans. On the first floor we snacked and drank punch, which I spiked with a bit of vodka. On the second-floor celebrants danced to loud music while the roof top was cold, but quiet. We spent most of the three hours on the snack floor sitting and talking. We avoided the intoxicated crowd and walked to the roof top. The city lights shimmered. I put my arm around her waist, pulling her close to me. She put her chin on my shoulder and we almost kissed.

The roof top was cold so we retreated to the punch bowl level. I talked with some friends as I saw her converse with Jack Farrell. When we returned to the rooftop just before midnight, Hyun Deok was sullen. I finally weaseled out of her the cause of her distress. Jack had told her to slow down and not marry an American so fast. She questioned with tears, "First Miss Lee, now your friend; Do you think this is right what we're doing?"

As shouts and gongs marked the new year of 1974, I said to her, "Sweetheart, you and I determine our own future. If it were up to me, I would marry you tomorrow. But if you want to wait, I can do that too. I will always put your wishes before my own." And that's when I received her very first kiss.

January 1974

The first twelve days of January were momentous for Hyun Deok and me. On January first, as we were walking down a side street, a teenage boy began to follow us shouting out insults. He trailed far enough behind so I couldn't throttle him. I understood some of the nasty words, but Hyun Deok came to tears. She was so shaken we sought refuge in a tea room. As we recovered from the harassment, she said. "Let's get married soon and leave this country." Hateful words led to a joyful heart.

I attended language classes while in Seoul, but my brain could not process. Every few moments my thoughts wandered to the object of my passion. I felt guilty when I picked up my sixty dollars for attending the re-education. Dan smiled, "Don't worry about it."

On January 5, we survived our first significant quarrel. It had always been a slow-burning issue. I continually wanted to put my arm around her while she insisted we display no public affection. At a bus stop, she said I was no gentleman and I called Miss Kim "Miss Prim". Harsh words escalated; I shouted; she stomped away. I pursued her apologizing. She ignored me. I turned from her and circled the block. Her back was to me gazing in the direction of my departure. When I called her name, she spun to me in tears. She embraced me and all was forgiven. After that incident, my hands remained in my pockets-at least for a while.

Over time I figured out there were two steps for us to marry then four additional steps for her to travel to America. This required coordination between American and Korean bureaucracies. The process would eventually involve numerous headshot photos, countless forms, four toe-jangs (signature ink stamps), multiple signatures, a dozen separate fees, two interviews, and one bribe.

After picking up my passport at the PC HQ, we walked to the nearby American consulate to obtain a form called "Document of eligibility for an American citizen to marry a Korean citizen". On my part, I only had to show my U.S. passport and state that I had never married. Hyun Deok had to obtain a paper stating, "We the parents of Kim Hyun Deok born on February 20, 1951, do hereby permit our daughter to marry Chris Alan Foreman, an American." This form was required because my bride-to-be was not yet twenty-three years old. One of the female administrators looked askance at the two of us, figuring I was a GI and she was a streetwalker. I perceived her rudeness and in my feeble Korean spoke to her, "Peace to you. A Peace Corps volunteer I am and my girlfriend a middle-school teacher is. Much each other we love. For helping us thank you." The woman gasped at my language and Hyun Deok grinned. The administrator's helpfulness improved.

We were also required to listen to an embarrassing lecture about "sham marriages." A consulate official closed her door and warned the two of us in private that many Korean women marry American men just to get a one-way ticket to the US. She looked at me and added "Eighty-percent of marriages like yours end in divorce after two years in the States. Are you sure you want to proceed with this?"

I was agitated but responded in measured terms, "You neither know me nor my fiancée. If you had bothered to look at us two as individuals, you would see a man and a woman in love with no motive other than to spend a lifetime together."

During these busy days, Meng was my supportive roommate. He liked Hyun Deok, saying she was a great catch. We talked for hours in the evening, listening to cassettes. Simon and Garfunkel strummed out, "Old friends sat on the park bench like bookends. How terribly strange to be seventy". I mused if I would still be with Hyun Deok at that distant age.

I sought for advice and counsel from several quarters. Mr. Keaton-the second in command of Peace Corps Korea-advised me to terminate before I married, saying he could not support a relocation to Seoul, especially since I had transferred once already. I figured I had about one more month as a PCV.

One of my American doctors was married to a Seoul woman. Hyun Deok and I met with the couple. My wife-to-be was greatly encouraged by the Korean-to-Korean conversation. She was reminded that South Korea's first president, Syngman Rhee, was married to a foreigner. The older woman contended that love, commitment, and prayer could overcome any cultural obstacle. Hyun Deok was also glad to hear that I could easily earn $600 per month teaching ESL at a Seoul language school. I needed that money. I had just presented my fiancée with a $300 engagement ring.

Hyun Deok traveled to her family home in South Cholla Province to break the marriage news to her mother who was still clueless. She also had to fetch her family genealogical records along with required toe-jangs.

On January 12, I returned to Jecheon. With school on an oil-crisis hiatus, I could rest and read. Hyun Deok arrived a few days later, bringing good news. After initial shock and mutual tears, her mother was open to our international marriage. Yippee! A weight was removed from her shoulders. Since her mother had been informed of our intentions, I asked my bride-to-be to write a few lines to my own father and mother. Together we composed an introductory letter, enclosed passport photos, and mailed it off to America. She was concerned my mother might object to her son marrying a foreigner. I responded, "You don't know my mother. She'll love you to pieces."

Hyun Ok had accompanied Hyun Deok and stayed in Jecheon a week. Her sister really liked my praise cassettes, singing along with many of the choruses. I lent her my tapes and player while she was in town.


After a middle school graduation ceremony, we returned to Seoul. My life zoomed into the fast lane. Rather than lodge in a guest house, I located a host family. My rent was modest because I agreed to teach English. The Kims were kind to me: a father and mother, teenage twin boys, and a little girl. Their house would remain my Seoul home for the next few months.

The cute girl posed for dozens of pictures and one of the twins presented me with a cassette copy of the String Quintet No. 3 in C major by Mozart. It grew to be one of my favorites. The piece ran for 31 minutes and 18 seconds. Unfortunately, the thirty-minute cassette castrated the allegro with 78 seconds remaining. It was brutal, but I adjusted.

I gradually met members of Hyun Deok's family. First there was Hyun Ok then Hyun Hee. Next, I visited their home for dinner to meet Hyun Ea and Kyu Nam. The big event was to actually meet her mother. This woman, Lee Il Song, loomed large in Hyun Deok's psyche-the person who sacrificed everything so her daughter could succeed.

Hyun Deok told me her mom's story. Il Song Lee was born in 1927 in a small town near Pyung Yang in what is now North Korea. Her own mother had died when she was young and she was raised in a comfortable household by her grandmother. In a time of Japanese occupation when most girls went uneducated, Miss Lee graduated from High School and attended Pyung Yang Presbyterian Seminary. Her early experiences shaped her in two ways: first, for her entire life she remained a devout Christian and second, she always valued education, especially for girls. But soon her life changed dramatically. Overnight she transfigured from college student to refugee.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Miss Lee left her home and fled south. She hid in the daytime and crossed over mountains in the night. If stopped by the Northern side she would be accused of fleeing to help the enemy. If stopped by the Southern side, she would be accused of being a northern spy. Miss Lee ended up seeking refuge at a farmhouse in Cholla Nam Do Province.

There she met and married a young teacher named Kim Youg Ou. This was a love marriage, but it was also difficult: north meets south; city meets country; modern meets traditional; Christian meets Buddhist. Another problem was children. In a culture that prizes boys, the first five children were born girls: Hyun Deok in 1951, Hyun Ok in 1953, Hyun Hee in 1955 and Hyun Ea in 1957. Hyun Ea's twin sister died in childhood.

Kim's father was a teacher and moved between villages almost every year. This made a stable home life difficult. The last two children born were sons: Dong Hyun (In Ju) in 1959 and Kue Nam in 1961.

There are many stories to tell from these years as this mother of six struggled to pass along the twin passions in her life. She single-handedly sent her four daughters to be educated in Seoul and supported them with a meager income. She also passed on her Christian faith as best she could.

Her parents grew estranged, because her traditional father had acquired a younger mistress. He did not see a problem with an extra-marital sex partner. Her Christian mother disagreed. She had little contact with him, struggling to support four of six children in Seoul schools.

I met her mother in a tea room sitting across from her with Hyun Deok at her side to interpret. Dong Hyun, the fifth sibling, was also with us. Il Song studied my appearance then asked questions. "Why do you want to marry my daughter?"

I responded, "I love her. That's why I want to marry her".

"What do you want to do for a living when you return to America?"

"I want to be a good husband to Hyun Deok".

I saw some concern on her mother's face at the responses. I was as honest as I could be. My life goal had never been to become a doctor or lawyer, but to marry a good woman and raise a family. I believed her daughter was better than any woman on earth. After several minutes of interrogation, I left mother and daughter to talk alone. Hyun Deok later told me the meeting was productive and her mom would support our marriage. She did advise we slow down the process.

The Lunar New Year fell on January 23. In the morning, we celebrated by eating traditional pastries. Next, we stopped by a photography studio posing for our official engagement picture. We sat through a cinema matinee of Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon. In the evening, she visited my private room and we passed the kiss barrier. I struggled to contain my libido and promised to wait for consummation until our wedding night.

I discovered Hyun Deok had a male admirer. She made a tea room appointment to inform him of our upcoming marriage. She asked me to greet him, so I met him briefly. He was an ensign in the Korean navy. I saw disappointment in his downcast eyes.

When I met Hyun Deok later in the evening, she was troubled and asked, "Do you think we can have a spiritual relationship?"

She went on to explain that the ensign had told her, "You can have a physical relationship with this American guy, but never a spiritual relationship." She was tearful.

I asked, "Are you God's daughter? Am I God's son? That's more basic than being American or Korean. If we are His children, we can certainly have a spiritual relationship with each other through Him. Hyun Deok, we are one in the Spirit. We are one in Christ. Soon we will be one in marriage." Her face shone with release as we prayed together.


We determined to complete the civil wedding as soon as possible in order to facilitate her Korean passport and American visa. We knew that process could take a few months. We stood in line at City Hall to collect papers and pay fees. This was bureaucratic hoop-jumping at its max. We needed one form in triplicate, we needed her family genealogy translated into English, we needed the toe-jang stamps from two witnesses. We were not able to complete the process on February first nor on the second.

February third was a Sunday. I bussed across town to the largest Presbyterian church in Seoul-perhaps in the world. The crowd overflowed as eight of us sat in a row. Her mother, all six kids, and me. I once caught a glance from her mom. She smiled when she saw me singing, even though my words were in English.

We returned to City Hall on February fourth with documents complete and handed the bundle to the clerk who processed international marriages. He plopped the papers into an inbox, then shuffled away to handle the application of the couple behind us. Finally, Hyun Deok figured out the problem of delay. The clerk wanted a saba-saba (bribe). My almost-wife was furious, but what could we do? She discreetly asked around and the standard fee to expedite the process was one-thousand wan (two dollars). She handed the clerk a cash-filled envelope and fifteen minutes later we were officially married. My watch showed high noon.

With certificate in hand, we walked to an office building that processed Korean IDs. We gave the clerk a copy of our paperwork so my newly-minted wife could obtain an ID with the name of "Kim Hyun Deok Foreman". This was her first step in getting a Korean passport with which she could obtain an American visa. After paying a five-thousand won fee, we taxied to her place. Her mom had prepared an elaborate meal and all six children were on hand to celebrate.

That night I wrote in my journal: "Guess what? This is my first entry as a married man. I still can't believe it! Hyun Deok is officially Mrs. Foreman!! The Lord sure has been good to me!"

Hyun Deok and I returned to Jecheon the next day. School was finally starting after a prolonged winter break. I reported to both of my middle schools. Rumors ran rampant among my teaching peers. Was I in a relationship with Miss Kim? Were we engaged? Married? I learned several more people had spotted us together in Jecheon. The P.E. teacher claimed he had seen us in a Seoul tea room. I shrugged off their inuendo, smiling and giving vague replies, more amused than offended.

My new wife could not shrug off the malicious gossip. At her own school, she was grilled unmercifully. She reported that one of the men teachers asked her slyly, "So, what do you like better? Korean hot dogs or American hot dogs?" She was mortified and stormed from the room.

Her agony was short lived. The next day, the principal at Jecheon East Middle School called her into his office. He handed her a resignation paper and asked her to sign it. What could she do? She signed, cleared out her belongings, and walked home in tears.

This was more than a mere job loss. She was abandoning her career. All Korea was one big school district. If she could not teach school in Jecheon, she could not teach anywhere in the nation.

When she came to my room, her tears were dry. "It's all for the better," she said. I hate it there and I was about to quit anyway." She looked into my eyes, "I am trusting you with my life. Please be my protector and husband."

I understood her sacrifice. Sixteen years of Korea schooling had just gone down the toilet. "You married the right man. I will never leave you. When we get to America, you can start fresh. Any career is open to you."

The times were confusing. Were we married or not? Should we consummate our relationship or not? I thought yes but she was unsure. After one embrace, my young wife would jump from guilt and despair to joy and passion. Our love was genuine and white hot. Yet, everything about sex frightened and embarrassed her. She was an absolute innocent. Nobody had ever given her the talk. She was indoctrinated with the idea that only whores enjoy sex. She wanted no part of it.

She confessed she had never intended to marry, never wanted to bear children. She said she desired a pure non-physical spiritual relationship. Yet, after one kiss all that talk dissolved. She was every bit my equal in the Eros department. We loved each other with an ardor that brought tears to my eyes. Every page of my daily journal became splotched with tears and peppered with the words, "I love you so much."

One Saturday morning, we were cuddling in my room. I answered a knock at the sliding door and who should appear but Meng. Both of us were delighted to see him. He had just returned from a fortnight in Japan. Meng handed over my new camera, a replacement Olympus Trip 35 with flash attachment. I had given him one-hundred dollars a few weeks earlier to make the purchase in Tokyo. Once more I could document my days in Korea.

The next morning, Meng, Hyun Deok, and I walked through crunchy snow about forty minutes to reach a city park. My new wife looked great in the boots and gloves I had presented to her. The outing displayed an arctic landscape. Gazebos were graced with new-fallen snow and the cheeks of my princess bride blushed in the cold. A small boy was selling roasted snacks tucked into a cone made of newspaper. It was bon-degi (silk worm). Hyun Deok crunched on them like popcorn, while Meng and I snacked on a few roasted chestnuts. Three pairs of legs were sore when we finally trudged into town.

Meng was with me a few days, playing scrabble and talking of life. I shared with him the extent of Hyun Deok's sexual inhibitions. He proposed to me that Western Christians struggle with guilt (an offense against God) while Eastern Confucians suffer with shame (an offense against community). Meng conjectured that being an Eastern Christian, perhaps my wife was plagued with both dispositions.

Larry was proving to be my good friend. I talked with him almost every day. He was now lending me Sherlock Holms mysteries while I lent him Christian philosophy. We had some serious talks about Jesus, but he never reached the point of commitment.

Sometimes, I'd drop by his health clinic interrupting his inspection of sputum samples. Once I found him in a side room, observing a lecture on family planning. I noticed the charts and contraceptives on display. I mentioned to him that my wife was concerned about pregnancy but was too shy to visit a clinic. When the meeting adjourned, Larry introduced me to the nurse-lecturer. She promised she would pay a confidential visit to Hyun Deok and soon my wife was family planning.

Hyun Deok's twenty-third birthday occurred on February 20. I presented her with a timely gift-a shiny wrist watch. She loved it. I told her, "Now there's no excuse for you being late for a date." She received a second gift. I gave her a piece of mail addressed from Longview. I had already peeped at the contents. As she read the words, worry turned to joy. Both mom and dad welcomed her gladly into the Foreman family.

On February 21, I filled the last page of my fourth journal. My epilogue read:

Book number four of my Korean life is complete. I can now peek behind at all the pages to glimpse God's hand in the past seventy-seven days. The miraculous has happened in an inconceivably short time. At the beginning of this book, I knew her only as Miss Kim. Now she is my wife. God knew my heart's desire. My life has acquired a new meaning. Jesus has mended my broken life and has given me Hyun Deok. I will always sing your praises, Heavenly Father.

I waited on the Lord; most often reluctantly. But now I see plainly the path my steps have trod. I see why a dozen girls never became my wife in spite of tears and pleading. And I see why my steps led me to this little town in Korea. I see and I praise the Lord.

I announced in my fifth journal that I would not be writing daily entries. Life was too hectic. I needed to recover and repurpose that one hour per day.

I noted that on February 23 we spent our first night together. We had talked over wedding plans in my room until past midnight. It was rainy and she consented to sleep with me. We were both so fatigued, yet somehow, we frolicked for hours. She left before sun up.

My last day in Jecheon was February 24. A replacement PCV had arrived in town named Alan Landry. I showed him around town and around the middle school. He claimed my guest-house room. In the evening, Hyun Deok and I caught the train to Seoul, lugging a huge suit case and over-stuffed duffle bag.

I was fortunate because the next day in Seoul, I landed a part-time job. I began to teach English at a hac-wan (small private school) for one-thousand won an hour. At first, I taught only two hours per day, but that soon expanded to four hours. I was prepping a dozen Koreans who were traveling to the USA. For many, I was the first American they had met. Until my wedding day, I lived with the Kim Family and Hyun Deok continued to lodge with her three sisters and brother.


As the month began, my time in the Peace Corps ended. The process took a few days. I sat through an exit interview turning in my ID card-I was sad about that. I submitted to a complete medical examination, discovering I had parasites in my poop. Dr. Coe said my condition was common and the pills he prescribed would eliminate my problem. I signed a pile of papers and received a severance stipend of twenty-thousand won. That cash came in handy. My bride-to-be was pleased to receive half of it.

I was blessed with a second teaching position on March 4. This contract was with Korea Airlines (KAL). I taught a few dozen employees between five and seven every evening, earning 1500 won per hour. With my first job at CASA hac-wan and now this second job, I was able to marginally support the two of us in Seoul.

The next few weeks were consumed with ESL employment and wedding plans. Events were hurtling to our March 23 marriage date. I left most of the planning to Hyun Deok, who with the help of her mom and sisters chose the minister and the church. I passed out invitations to about thirty of my Peace Corps friends and bought a new brown suit. Meng agreed to be my best man and Larry would take pictures with his Nikon camera.

We often went to Yong Sang Army Base. I told Hyun Deok it was to get her Americanized. One afternoon we went bowling. It was her first time to knock down pins. She threw mostly gutter balls getting a 47. I amazed myself. I threw four straight strikes scoring a 193, my highest total ever. We were so exuberant, the grouchy man to my left scolded us, telling me "to pipe down". But we were so young and so much in love.

We did have some trouble with her family. Dong Hyun was a rebellious teenager. He got picked up by the Seoul police for breaking curfew. As punishment he was sent home to the countryside. He got even with us by blabbing to everyone that his oldest sister was marrying an American. Gossip ran wild. This was a problem because now the father was in the loop. I asked Hyun Deok if her dad could attend our wedding. She was estranged from him, still she would have preferred him to be present. However, her mom would have none of that.

We located an apartment a thirty-minute bus ride from downtown and agreed to rent a large room. On March 21, we moved our bits of furniture and luggage into the place. We received gifts of sleeping mats, blankets, and low tables.

As I was sitting in the Peace Corp lounge talking with Meng. I overheard a new PCV speak of her unsuccessful efforts to locate a living space in Seoul. I connected her to the Kim family-the place I was about to vacate-and Pam moved in the next day. She was thrilled to exchange rent for ESL. I had always felt guilty because I was supposed to teach English, but I was too involved in marriage plans to accomplish much.

I must have showered too much attention on the perky volunteer. Just before bed time, Hyun Deok pouted, "So you like Pam now. Are you sure you want to marry me?"

My eyes closed and I exhaled. "You are my world. Nothing can ever come between us. Tomorrow we will marry and I'll be the happiest man in the world." She was at peace and I fell asleep for the last time as a single man.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 11

March to September 1974
Seoul, Korea

For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
(Genesis 1:24)

Our church wedding was scheduled for 4:00 P.M. on March 23. Although I had considered myself married since February 4, this was the real deal; the moment I would vow before God and witnesses that I would forever love, honor, and serve this woman in holy matrimony. The bride, groom, and minister practiced on March 22. I whistled the wedding march because the pianist didn't show.

March 1974

Meng and I shared a hotel room and we rested until ten the next morning. Then the most transformational day of my life began. We bought cake and punch for the wedding reception, donned our newly pressed wardrobe, and filled my last suitcase of bachelorhood. We left for the Sam-San-Li Church at three and arrived just before four. Nobody was there, but soon Hyun Ok arrived, then my Mu Kuk co-teacher Mr. Chang. Next came the minister with my soon-to-be mother-in-law.

I was nervously waiting for my bride to arrive. This wedding was really on the cheap. The back-pew rows served as our reception area. Onto fold-out tables, Meng, Hyun Ok, and I laid out sponge cake, punch, with other finger food.

The bride showed up at 4:30, saying her hairdresser was a perfectionist and would not let her depart until she was satisfied with the look. I smiled at my gorgeous Hyun Deok arrayed in a white gown, veil, and mask of makeup. Guests filled the front rows. It was time.

I wrote these words a few days after our wedding:

The bride and groom stood at the back of the church a few seconds until the minister took his first step. We then began our long march up the aisle. It seemed I floated in a surrealistic dream; the wedding march music, my friends with their heads craned back, all the smiling faces, and me taking those slow steps up the aisle unable to hide my own grin. We finally made it to the front after a seemingly eternal amount of time. All was quiet for a brief moment and I couldn't believe where I was. I couldn't believe it was actually happening to me! Me, Chris Foreman, Clark High School, Whiting. I couldn't believe it was coming true.

A million things rushed through my head. It seemed I had known Hyun Deok for such a short time yet there she was, my bride. A few months earlier she had been my student in a Jecheon workshop. Now she was about to become my wife. Amazing.

I thought about my family, about Arlene, and my old girlfriends. I felt a little bit surprised to look next to me and see a Korean woman. I blinked. It seemed very strange and yet very proper, very right, and very natural. As the minister droned on in Korean, my mind wandered more. I swung between moments of nonchalance, "What's the big deal?" and surprise, "My Sweet Jesus, is this really happening to me?"

My good friend Meng was still taking pictures while at the same time recording the event with my trusty cassette player. I was embarrassed by the minister's fractured English. I fought that negative feeling and relaxed through the rest of the ceremony. I said "I do" at the appropriate moment and promised to love and cherish Hyun Deok until death us do part. One of Hyun Deok's sorority sisters sang, then another prayed, and it was all over.

We held white-gloved hands and walked up the aisle, but had to return for a series of pictures. It took a while because the minister had to find a brick to stand on. My white-gowned wife did not break a smile. Korean folk wisdom dictated that if a bride smiled for a wedding portrait, her first child would be a girl.

I greeted each guest, disappointed that only fourteen had shown up; five Koreans and nine Americans. We received several wrapped gifts and piled them into a waiting taxi. Hyun Deok, her sister, mom, and I took a forty-minute taxi drive to our new apartment room.

We enjoyed a pleasant dinner with our hosts, then we were finally alone. For us two newly-weds, the night sizzled beyond delight. Oh, how I loved that woman!

After the wedding, I took a hiatus from journal writing. Instead, I began reading novels borrowed from the PC library. Work kept me busy too, not only with teaching but also endless commuting. Plus, my new place did not have a chair or desk and I found it difficult to write sitting straight-legged on the floor.

Toward the end of March, I went on a Spring picnic with my hag-wan students. I intended it to be a show and tell. About a dozen of us took a bus to a nearby mountain. We hiked to a stream and cooked rice over a twig fire. I enjoyed the outdoors and the company. I told them, "Go into the woods. Find something interesting and I will tell you the word in English. You then have to record it in your notebook."

One student approached me with cupped hands and showed me a jee -bangi, asking for the English word. I looked at the unusual insect and responded "walking stick", thus expanding our vocabulary.

One of my best students was Mr. Cho, Chinese by heritage. He shared how difficult it was for Chinese people to prosper in Korea. His family was looked upon as second class non-citizens. His university-trained parents struggled to operate a meager restaurant. I was surprised. Just looking at my Korean and Chinese students I couldn't tell the difference.


I traveled to Jecheon on a one-day mission to pick up stored summer clothing, along with a few left-behind items. The six hours round trip zipped by as I read all 425 pages of For Whom the Bell Tolls.

My suitcase bulged when I returned late that night. Hyun Deok expressed curiosity about my four Korean diaries. She asked if she could read them. I wanted to be totally transparent with my new bride so I handed them over. A few days later I asked about the books.

"I just thumbed through them and whenever I ran across a girl's name, I read carefully." She was saddened when she read my words about Arlene and Diane, but gleeful about the many times I confessed my love for her.

I responded, "I'm glad you know about these things. I will always be honest with you; no secrets between us."

On Easter Sunday, April 14, we travelled to the church where we held our wedding. The minister was glad to see us, calling us to the front of the congregation. I waved and Hyun Deok spoke a few words of appreciation. I gave him a copy of our official wedding portraits. We then bussed across town to a small lake. A bit overdressed, we rowed to mid-water and kissed. Lots of pictures; it was wonderful.

The next day I discovered a new source of breakfast food. While strolling down a side street I spotted a vendor who shot rice from a cannon. Big paper bagfuls cost only two-hundred won. With a little sugar and milk, puffed rice became my morning staple.

After two and a half months and ten-thousand won, Hyun Deok's passport was finally ready. Her official name was now Kim Hyun Deok Foreman. I asked Mrs. Foreman, "So, do you want me to introduce you to my American friends as Kim"?

She closed her eyes and uttered the name. "Yes, that will be better. They always mangle the name Hyun Deok anyway." That's how she adopted the first name of Kim.

I found another job working for a different hag-wan called California. For the first few weeks I only tutored one couple for one hour, but soon things picked up. My day then started at 10:00 when I left the house and tutored at two neighboring hag-wans in the down town area. I commuted home for a few hours before continuing on to Kimpo Airport for my big ESL class. I typically got back to Kim by 7:30.


Once Kim got her passport, the next objective was to obtain an American visa. The first step in this long process was to pass a physical exam. After accumulating several thousand won, she went alone to a Catholic hospital to have her chest x-rayed. On May third, the doctor pointed out a dark spot on her lung telling her it might be tuberculosis. She freaked out.

In tears she burst into our room, "I can't get a visa. You can't kiss me. We can't sleep next to each other." I calmed her down as best I could. I told her such requests were impossible. I'd love her no matter what. After all, that was our vow: "in sickness and in health".

I learned that in Korean culture TB was akin to leprosy. Kim was scared; about herself; about being a pariah among her own people; and about me deserting her. Her fear was not unfounded. Such things did happen in Korea.

She hadn't had enough cash to pay for two weeks of TB medicine, so she and I returned to the hospital the next day. She talked with the physician who explained many people in Korea have TB and it's perfectly treatable. Nobody in Korea nowadays dies from TB. He added the disease will not disqualify her for an American visa, as long as she takes medicine.

We scheduled a follow-up x-ray, picked up her pills at a local pharmacy, and went home. It was a difficult time, compounded because Kim chose to keep her condition secret from family and friends.

When she took her second x-ray, it was confirmed she had soft TB. Again, she was in tears when she arrived home. With earnest eyes she pled, "Chris, you must divorce me and go to America alone".

I assured her such a thing could never happen. "I will always be at your side. This experience will make us stronger."

I described in my journal three big problems. First was Kim's TB and visa situation. Lord, help us out with that. Second was my readjustment allowance. The Peace Corps owed me nine-hundred dollars-sorely needed-but the check was hung up in DC. Third was a Holt flight to America. I maintained weekly contact with the adoption agency, hoping to procure two cheap tickets to the USA. For the first time in my life, I felt the burden of two lives weighing on one set of shoulders.

On May 15, misfortune struck. As I was exiting a crowded bus in downtown Seoul, I discovered my wallet was missing! After double-checking my room, I drew the obvious conclusion that my pocket had been picked while I was scrunched back-to-chest in the bus.

I calculated I had lost two thousand Korean won, four American dollars, my Washington State driver's license, a photo of Kim, and of course my nearly-new leather wallet. The loss wasn't great because I had so little.

Kim and I were really living hand to mouth. We counted our wealth and discovered she had eight hundred won in her purse plus nine hundred in loose coins. The landlady kindly lent her three-thousand won. Fortunately, a few days later I received my week's pay from KAL, 18,000 won.

I wrote down the big news events on May 24: 1. President Nixon is coming closer to impeachment. 2. Henry Kissinger is signing a peace treaty in the Mideast. 3. Patty Hearst turned from a kidnap victim to a criminal. In local news, strawberries are now in season and every day on the way back from work, I buy a bagful for my berry-loving wife.

Kim wanted to get out of the apartment and acquire a useful skill for America. She began to take English typing lessons at a downtown hag-wan. Since I knew the keyboard, I would shout out to her, "A-B-C-D" and she would respond with the appropriate finger movement.

At the same time, I acquired a fourth job. This one was part time at a telegraph center. The Korean telecom firm sent telexes to America and wanted an educated English-speaker to proof them before they were sent out. I guess I qualified. Most of the messages were in good shape. I corrected a misplaced the and repaired subject-verb agreement. Only on occasion did I suggest a clarifying phrase.

I was amazed to see the company's three-shift hangul (Korean alphabet) typewriter. I didn't realize such a mechanical contraption existed. I also handled my first digital calculator. It had a small black LED display with red letters. When I clicked the on button, a random number sequence flashed until the first digit was pushed. It was incredible to consider pencil and paper calculations were on the road to obsolescence.

Since I now lived in Seoul, Meng stopped by the apartment whenever he occasioned a visit to the metropolis. Most stop-overs were unannounced. He'd just rap on the door and appear. It was great to have such a friend. We would play scrabble, snack. and talk until the last bus left the corner.

Since Kim and I did not take time for an official honeymoon, we decided to do something traditionally Korean. That was to visit Jejudo Island off the south coast. This marked a double-first for her: first time in an airplane and first time on the island province.

We packed our bags on June 4, and early on June 5 arrived at the Airport. My Kimpo friends assured me I would get a discount since I taught them English, but that benefit proved to be only for full-time employees. Kim's Korean passport (Kim Hyun Deok Foreman) did not match her ticket (Kim Hyun Deok) and we had to pay an extra five-hundred won. We rushed and were last to board the plane.

Kim was so excited to gain speed, leave the ground, and stare out the window. She didn't look away for the eighty-minute flight. When we landed, she said, "I can't believe I'm actually in Jejudo."

I was supposed to hook up with my Peace Corps friend, Jim Nemeth, who lived in Jeju City. While Kim was on a pay phone trying to reach him, I recognized Jim standing in a line to board our same airplane. It was a brief introduction. He and his Korean girlfriend were headed to Seoul for a civil wedding. Jim said not to worry about getting around the island because his friend, Miss Lee, would function as our tour guide.

Miss Lee was unusual to behold. She was rotund and dressed in Jim's cast-off clothes. She said to call her dung-sun-ee which translated as "fatso", so that became her name. She was hospitable and walked us to a few hotels. The first was too expensive; the second too run down, so we settled for a third priced in the middle. Dung-sun-ee walked with us on a tour. First, we visited Dragon Head, a large volcanic formation along the ocean shore, then we walked through snake cave. We shared dinner with Dung-sun-ee as Kim partook of her first-ever glass of makoli (Korean rice wine).

We bussed back to our hotel room; Kim woozy on her feet. We got to bed early in order to rise at dawn.

My watch read 4:45 when I aroused Kim to get dressed. The sun's first rays illuminated our path as we trudged toward the beach then up a huge rock formation that rose along the extreme eastern tip of Jeju island. The sun quickly climbed above misty clouds and we could see sheep grazing on hilltops. The ocean stretched before us and Mount Halla loomed behind, the central feature of this volcanic island. It was a beautiful sight. We returned to our room by 6:00 and slept until 9:00.

Dung-sun-ee lived on the reverse side of the island, so Kim and I boarded a local bus to continue our adventure. The ride to Soegunpo was memorable. Old women stepped aboard with wooden boxes filled with thrashing fish. Water sloshed onto floorboards emitting their peculiar odor. The vehicle turned out to be a fish market on wheels.

Dung-sun-ee sat at a tea room waiting for us. We dropped our bags off at a nice hotel, then walked to Song-pang Falls, famous as the only stream in the orient that plummets directly into the ocean. I liked the falls, but Kim loved it, saying it was the most beautiful place she had ever been in her whole life. I could tell that was true by the rapture on her face and her twirling outstretched arms.

We visited a few more sights, buying straw hats and lava-bead necklaces. We were tired from our long day and returned to our hotel room for some rest. After dinner with Dung-sun-ee, we played a tournament of ping pong. I settled for third place.

The next day we three hopped on a bus and traveled down the shoreline road. We jumped off at an obscure crossroad, remote in the countryside. We strolled a half hour, past a cascade of four waterfalls to reach the seashore. Chung Mun Beach was pristine and deserted, with a run-down changing room, a spicket of fresh water, and a natural cave. We donned our swimwear and frolicked in the waves. I swam on my back, while Kim, not able to swim a stroke, splashed in the shallows. We laughed and stretched on beach towels for a while. The sand was hot to our soles. After rinsing off salt water, we sat on basalt rocks to write postcards.

On the return walk to the crossroads, we ran across a young girl carrying a huge pack of cane on her back. I snapped a photo while Kim spoke to her. Kim was shocked because she couldn't grasp a word of her extreme dialect. I ended up taking lots and lots of pictures on our honeymoon.

On our final vacation day, we returned to Jeju City, but not by the coastal route. This time our bus chugged toward Mount Halla, at 6300 feet the highest point in South Korea. From the summit, we could view ocean in all directions. We met with Jim that day along with his new wife. Five of us strolled the boardwalk then we caught our return flight to Seoul.

When we arrived home, late in the evening, I plucked a grain of sand from between my toes then hugged my beautiful wife. I was so thankful to God for providing me with more grace than I could ever deserve.

On June 21, we decided to move from our rented room into a studio apartment. We desired more space and privacy. Plus, issues arose. This was one incident I wrote about in later years.

When I was first married, my wife and I rented a small room in somebody else's apartment. In the main room, our landlady kept a large cabinet with glass doors. In the cabinet she displayed her treasures. I saw family pictures in frames, golf trophies, Korean dolls, a fancy set of teacups, and on the top shelf I noticed a toaster.

One morning when I was alone in the apartment, I decided to fix myself an American style breakfast of eggs and toast. Not thinking much about it, I opened the glass cabinet and removed the toaster. I put two pieces of bread in the slots and enjoyed a big breakfast. When I was finished, I cleaned up the dishes, wiped down the toaster and put it back in the cabinet.

Later in the evening I was reading in our room. Suddenly I heard a boisterous Korean conversation in the main room between my wife and the landlady. Next my wife stormed into the room.

She said in English "this crazy woman says that her toaster is ruined and that you ruined it".

I said with some guilt in a timid voice "Well, I did make some toast this morning" and I added quickly "but I thought that's what the toaster was for. You know, to toast bread."

My wife stared at me like I was crazy, then she talked some more with the landlady. I think I heard her apologizing and something about "Americans not being sensitive to Korean culture."

So that evening, I helped my wife take the toaster apart and shine every portion of it until every crumb was cleaned away.

I said while I was rubbing, "This is ridiculous. It's just a toaster".

She said, "But whatever is behind glass is valuable for show, like the dolls and the golf trophy".

So, I said, "you mean the toaster was a trophy too?"

She nodded yes like I was from some other planet for not understanding.

"Okay", I said to myself "a trophy toaster" and another small bit of Korean thinking worked itself into my brain.


July first fell on a Monday. I noted the year was half complete as I began another busy week. I fell into a rhythm of commuting to three or four worksites; reading while idle, collecting small cash payments, while interacting mornings, afternoons, and after dark with the love of my life. This is a complete journal transcript for July fourth, 1974:

Although this day is a holiday back in America, it was just another working day for me. I got up at 8:15 and stayed in bed until 8:30 when Kim brought me breakfast sandwiches. I then hurried to the bathroom to pee and wash up. (I got back in thirty seconds.) I consumed two egg sandwiches and two peanut butter and jellies, along with two cups of coffee before leaving the apartment. My wife always waves to me from the sixth-floor window until I'm out of sight.

I felt a few drops of rain as I caught the 129 bus and read Sherlock Holmes, nearly missing my stop from engrossment. A few more drops hit me while I walked to the Ku-Ho telegraph office. I had to write a nasty telex because Kum-ho has so many missing parts, they can't assemble the teleprinter. I then walked to the CASA hag-wan through a slight rain. The two hours went by quickly as I tutored the two America-bound women. Soon I was out on the rainy street again, umbrella-less. I got just a little wet during my ten-minute walk to my bus stop.

I read my book and time zoomed past. It was raining hard and I had already accepted my wet walk to the apartment. But who happened to be there waiting for me? None other than my lovely wife Kim Hyun Deok Foreman. It was so nice of her to bring me that umbrella. Such a wonderful wife I have!

It was good to have two hours free before heading to work again. We did not waste our intimate time together. I left around five o'clock, taking the umbrella along. When I got to Kimpo Airport I was told that lesson 13 was missing (perhaps stolen) so I did an impromptu lesson 14. It wasn't raining when I walked from the airport to the first bus stop and then to my second bus stop to home.

After dinner, I settled down to finish Hound of the Baskervilles. Then I just sat and talked with Kim. That's why I'm such a lousy diarist; all spare moments that formerly went into writing are now spent in her arms. The rainy evening was cool and I slept lovely then soundly. I was always taking pictures of my bride, sometimes to her reluctance.

On July 12, when I returned home from my tutoring work, Kim was despondent. She couldn't find her diamond ring. I helped her search the two rooms but to no avail. She remembered taking it off while washing dishes and placing it on a food tray. Our best guess it that she emptied the tray into the garbage chute, with the contents dropping down seven floors into the giant waste bin. I assured her I would buy her a new ring when we settled in America. It was our love that bound us together, not the ring.

On July 13, I got a letter from Frank. His life had turned a significant corner. After months of frustrating attempts to enroll in medical school, my brother had signed papers with the U.S. Air Force to attend dental school at the University of Washington.

I dropped by the PC HQ a few times every week because it was next door to my downtown hag-wans. I was constantly checking in and out library books and running into old friends. On a Friday, I met Meng, Pat Lunitz, Jack Ferrell, and Larry Oresick and invited the four to my apartment the next day. They accepted my invitation and Meng led the bunch to my front door.

Was I showing off my beautiful wife and marvelous life? Perhaps. Kim served American hot dogs, home-made kimchi, and Korean watermelon. The rooms were stuffy on this late July date so we retreated to the rooftop for conversation and Meng's wine.

On July 22, Kim phoned me at CASA hag-wan to tell me the critical letter had arrived from Longview. It contained my long-lost $900 separation allowance as well as a certified letter from Doctor Starr stating he would supervise Kim's TB treatment. Now we could move forward with her all-important visa. We filled out forms the next day, paid the fee, and submitted the doctor's form, but ran out of daylight before we could actually obtain her visa. On July 24, Kim was the proud possessor of both a Korean passport and an American visa. All we needed now were two flight tickets to Seattle.

In July, I became addicted to radio news, listening for hours to impeachment hearings on AFKN. Kim couldn't understand my fixation with politics. I became an even more voracious reader, consuming two or three books a week. I read all 1087 pages of The Source by James Michener in four days. I remember falling asleep with that volume smacking on my face then dreaming about Israel and antiquity.

I read Cooper's Deer Slayer over a few days and dreamed of Natty Bumpo and flint-lock frontiersman. Robinson Crusoe, The Peter Principle, The Scarlet Letter, Gulliver's Travels, along with numerous anthologies were checked in and out of the PC library.


The month entered with a heat wave. I coped with the extreme temperature by guzzling ice water, facing into my electric fan, opening windows, and spraying insecticide to combat bugs that passed through holey screens. One late evening we were relaxing on the rooftop. The wind picked up and within thirty seconds the heavens opened with the heaviest rain I had ever experienced. We were drenched in the ten seconds it took to reach our apartment. Kim had to mop the floors because the downpour had entered through our windows.

We began to pack, wrap, and mail parcels to the USA. The cost was 2580 won for a sea-mail package under five kilos. We sent a dozen over the month. The post office girl greeted be by name. Now we knew we would have some possessions when we finally set foot in America.

I continued to monitor the political situation across the pacific. On the morning of August 9, I heard the resignation address of President Nixon, and the next day listened to President Ford reciting his oath of office. I strained with rapt attention to hear the radio commentary of Paul Harvey. I wrote in my journal. "The king is dead; long live the king."

Kim and I acquired yellow WHO cards and received our necessary inoculations. I had no reaction, but poor Kim hurt for a few days. We checked with the Holt Adoption Agency a few times a week. There were flights to New York, Chicago, and Houston, but none to Seattle. Patience was a virtue we did not possess.

On August 12, an event called Explo 74 launched on Yoido island. The site was just a few bus stops from our apartment. Billy Graham topped the big-name billing. Hyun Ok, Hyun Deok, and I attended the opening proclamation. I was astonished to see one million people jam onto the gigantic military plaza. Featured speakers were simultaneously translated and with amplified reverberation, I could hardly catch a word of English.

Kim and her sister spent hours at Yoido in prayer and praise. I attended on the final day, August 20. I stood close enough to see Bill Bright preach and was peeved that he denigrated Pentecostals, telling folks not to get excited about the Holy Spirit and not to speak in tongues.

August 15 was Korean National Independence Day. President Park Chun Hee was addressing an immense crowd when shots rang out, missing him, but killing his wife. The nation was in grief. Kim watched the breaking news weeping with the lady from across the hall. Shops were closed while the nation mourned. I was off work a few days and cocooned in the apartment.

Waiting for our Holt flight, I grew bored. At the hag-won I taught two ladies for two hours and at the telex office I sat for one hour, helping with English messages. I felt guilty for receiving a five-day salary of ten-thousand won for mostly reading books. On August 20, I ended my work for KAL. Kim and I attended my going away party. I drank too much makoli. Kim was a bit embarrassed.

I received my Time magazine with Gerald Ford on the cover; Also, my Newsweek featuring the population bomb. I spoke to myself, Could the world population really reach ten billion people by the year 2000? What would my life look like at the new millennium? By God's grace, will I even be alive?

Kim's little brother, Kyu-nam, dropped by our place for a day. We took him to an amusement park which used to be a golf course. Kim gasped at the manicured lawns. She had never seen such greenery before.

In my boredom, I played hours of solitaire, rummy, scrabble, and wha-too (a Korean card game). Every evening at 9:00 Kim walked next door to watch Korean dramas. I went to the breezy roof top to read under a lamp post.

On the last day of August, Meng dropped by. I handed him a copy of an old Newsweek and snapped a picture as he showed off the headlines "Nixon Resigns". He had always been proud that his home state of Massachusetts had been the only one in fifty that voted for McGovern.

Kim and I enjoyed walks around our neighborhood. We often ran across a father-daughter team who sold bon-dig-ee (steamed silk worms) served in little newspaper cones. The man would shout "Bon-bon-bon" and the little girl would chirp "dig-ee-dig-ee-dig-ee". I only tasted silk worm once and didn't care for it. At one time Kim ate the treat like popcorn. I used to tell my wife, "If we ever lose our jobs in America, we could always sell bon-dig-ee! I'd shout ‘bon-bon-bon' and you could follow with ‘deg-ee-de-gee-de-gee.'"

I also remember an old gentleman who used to push a small Ferris wheel around the neighborhood. The wheel only held four small children. I think he charged ten won per child for turning the wheel about ten times. I sometimes stood to watch the smiles of kids as they went round and round. Once I gave the man one-hundred won and asked him to turn the wheel as long as he could.

I recall the little girl who sat in a small chair next to a hot grill and sold little waffles to passers-by; and the man I only spotted on rainy days with his arms full of cheap umbrellas.


I ripped August from the wall calendar, crumpled the paper into a ball, then tossed it toward our waste basket (two points!). I commented to Kim. "Well, I predict this month we'll be going to America." I was restless in my hot apartment and we were both anxious; me to return to the world I once knew so well and Kim to leave the only world she had ever known.

On September 4, when I arrived at CASA hag-won, the secretary approached me exclaiming in broken English. I understood the words "wife", "telephone", "Holt" and "tenth". That was enough. Hooray! I suffered through the one-hour tutorial, then bussed back to our apartment. At the news, Kim was sad, happy, and determined.

The next morning, we hopped on the 103 bus for Holt. Yes, we shared a flight to the States in just five days, but it was complicated. Kim would travel one-way to SEATAC airport then de-plane. I would continue on to JFK airport and spend one night in New York City, returning to Seattle the next day. That was the best Holt could offer, so we accepted their deal.

I discovered details of our journey. Kim and I would each escort two orphaned babies, both around the minimum six months old. Korean personnel would assist until we boarded the aircraft, then at the other end, American helpers would greet us and complete the adoption process. Our specific duty was to chaperone the babies while in transit. To make the system work, we signed papers becoming temporary employees of Northwest-Orient Airlines. Kim and I then each made a $300 donation to the Holt Adoption Agency. With the airfare paid and papers signed, our days in Korea were numbered.

In the afternoon, Kim and I went to the California Hag-wan. It was my final lesson and I wanted my two ladies to meet my awesome bride. Kim was impressed with the two telling me they were very rich. They invited us to a fancy restaurant where we enjoyed a ham dinner. My wife was also impressed with her husband. One lady told her, "Mr. Foreman is a great teacher and a true gentleman".

The next day we attended an orientation lecture where Holt agency reps provided details of the process. I met Mary Davidson who was with Nick, her new husband. They were planning to honeymoon in Europe and were escorting children. It seemed several older kids were headed for Europe while a dozen babies were going to the USA.

I was able to reach my groggy mother in Longview and give her the date and number of our Northwest flight. Kim and I spent the remainder of Friday buying small gifts, souvenirs for my family ahead, and tokens for her family behind.

Kim wanted to spend one last night at her home town in Cholla-do. It would be six hours on the train, twelve hours on the ground, then six hours back again. I asked if I could accompany her. I figured it would be respectful to meet her father.

She sighed, "That's not possible. It would upset my mom too much-too much drama. At this time in my life, I have to choose between my mom and dad. I can't be friendly with both. Even though I think she's wrong-headed, I have to honor her wishes. She supported me through high school and university. My father did not lift a finger."

I asked her to share some memories of her father. She told me these four stories.

When I was five years old, I was tiny for my age. Maybe it was my poor diet during the Korean war. My dad taught primary school and would let me tag along, even though I was too young. I liked to be with him. On cold days, he would tuck me inside his top coat and button it up. My head popped through the collar. I remember that.

I have a distinct image of my dad and me walking across a frozen rice field. A big gust of wind blew off his round hat and he chased it across a road. It was rolling and he was running. That image will never leave me.

Here's another memory. We lived inside an orchard and my favorite fruit was persimmon (yum-yum). My dad would get a long pole and knock fruit from the higher branches. I would try to catch them before they hit the ground. Dad asked me to poke the low persimmons, but I couldn't because I didn't see them. I discovered I was totally colorblind and not able to distinguish the red persimmon from the green-leaf background.

When I was in eighth grade, my parents were breaking up. My traditional father didn't see anything wrong in sleeping with a younger woman. It was Korean custom, he said. One evening in mid-winter, my dad dropped by our separate living quarters to talk with mom. He asked me to leave the room. I saw their winter coats hanging side-by-side on wall pegs. I wanted them so much to reconcile so we could be a family again. I found a string and tied the coat sleeves together-like holding hands. When they came out from the room and saw what I had done, dad was amused, but mom scowled and broke the string. I cried. I loved them both and wished they could get along. What more can I say about my father? He was a happy-go-lucky man, a decent dad, but a miserable husband.

When Kim went south for the weekend, I invited Meng over for the day. We spent our last hours eating fried rice at a Chinese restaurant then sipping rice wine back in the apartment. We played scrabble, talking for hours. We also exchanged gifts. He gave me a portrait of Jesus composed of miniscule text taken from Luke's Gospel. I gave him a carved lava idol I had picked up in Jejudo. (I would feel awkward taking it into my parent's house anyway.) We walked to his late-evening bus stop, shaking hands for the last time. When Kim came home after 10:00, she collapsed in fatigue.

The next day we made a point to visit our wedding minister and my pre-wedding family. It was sweet sorrow to greet then depart from them. They had been so kind to me. Kim spent that penultimate night at the family residence, weeping and hugging her farewells. I returned to my empty apartment feeling lost without the love of my life.

Our final day in Korea was hectic. The apartment was a mess with sorting, packing, and giving away. Her mom and siblings kept coming and going. We finally got to bed after midnight. Kim sobbed herself to sleep. I stared at the ceiling in anxiety until the wall clock struck two.

I woke up the next morning at 7:00. Just as I was climbing into my pants, her mother knocked on the door with Hyun Hee and Hyun Ea in tow. After a fast breakfast, we carried our two big pieces of luggage-a trunk and duffle bag-down six flights of stairs and into a waiting taxi. Her mom and sisters stayed behind to clean up the apartment for inspection. Our adventure was about to begin.

We were first to arrive at Holt, but soon five foster mothers entered the lobby. It was heart-breaking to see the women part with the kids they had nurtured for six months. I counted eight infant girls and two boys about the age of three. Soon, four other escorts arrived. I was elected spokesman of our six-person group.

The Holt bus took us the Kimpo airport where I was surprised to see Kim's mother and two sisters once again. They walked with us all the way to the Northwest Orient gate. Hyun Ok ran up at the last moment passing onto Kim her college transcripts translated into English. The mom with four daughters embraced for the last time.

Kim had sobbed all her good-byes; wept all her tears dry. Now it was our obligation to usher and care for two babies each. Farewell Korea. Hello USA!

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 12

September 1974 to May 1976
Longview, Washington

I have come down to rescue them and to bring them up out of that land into
a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
(from Exodus 3:8)

The United States of America in the Korean tongue is called "mee-gook", which translates as beautiful land. Re-crossing the Pacific, I was eager to resume my interrupted life in the land of the free and home of the brave. Sitting at my side, Kim was leaving behind a lifetime of family and friends, crossing into a promised land she had never laid eyes on.

For 655 days, I had been a stranger in a strange land. Now Kim and I would reverse roles. I didn't recognize until decades later how difficult this transition was for my new wife and how much trust she placed in her new husband.

September 1974

The Northwest Orient jet pulled out at 11:30 and soon the 747 was in route to Tokyo. I made friends with Mr. and Mrs. Suderman, an older couple who were escorting four babies to New York City. I wrote in my journal:

How can I describe the situation? We had the back of the un-crowded jet to ourselves. Kim and I were very busy and didn't get a chance to see each other much. There were two young boys and eight baby girls to look after. The boys were compliant but I had to hold the infants, walk them around the cabin, change diapers, and listen to incessant wails. When one baby cried in solo, seven others joined the chorus. Thankfully, the flight to Tokyo only took ninety minutes.

We were supposed to deboard the plane to allow for cleaning. However, our babies were sleeping. The pilot got permission for the seven escorts and twelve orphans to remain on board. The Japanese cleaning crew worked around our feet.

Soon we were winging to Seattle. The nine hours dragged. There were few passengers and the kind stewardesses walked the aisles with infants at their shoulders. The kids quieted adjusting to their surroundings.

We landed at SEATAC at 7:00 a.m. local time. Kim and I roused and dressed our orphans then headed to a waiting room. Holt volunteers managed the twelve kids during our two-hour stopover.

It took eighty minutes for Kim and I to pass through customs and immigration. While plodding in a long line, I spotted our welcoming party through glass panels. I counted twelve in all: dad and mom; Eileen with Jenny and Laura; Frank and Lelia; Jeanne, Susie, Nancy, DJ, and a very pregnant Debbie. I wrote:

It was really weird to look at them. How can I explain it? Not only had they changed in my two-years abroad, but my perspective had altered as well. They just weren't the way I had pictured them in my mind. Their noses seemed too big and none appeared too attractive. Perhaps I had grown accustomed to Korean faces.

I only chatted twenty minutes with family when the Sudermans called me onto the flight to New York City. I left my bride in the care of family and soon was in the air winging East. Since it was after midnight Korea time, the orphans and I slept the entire flight.

After landing, I woke and dressed my two infants. I handed off one baby to a Holt rep and carried a second in my arms to meet her new parents. I read off the name tag, "Matthews" and two young parents shrieked with joy. I handed over their new child. It was a memorable event. I talked with adoptive parents for a while, posing for some photos.

The return flight would be leaving for Seattle the next day at 10:00 a.m. How fortunate I was. The Sudermans offered me a place to stay for the night. We taxied to Manhattan, where I passed the night in an apartment overlooking Central Park. Skyscrapers glittered out the eighteenth-floor window.

After a hot shower and night on the couch, I thanked my hosts then taxied back to JFK Airport. I wasn't one-hundred percent sure my SEATAC ticket would be waiting on me, but there it was. I boarded the same aircraft and a familiar flight crew greeted me.

Upon landing in the Northwest, I noted a cultural shift. One of the uniformed passport agents was a female. That was different. An airport cop was also female and she holstered a gun! That was shocking. Then, when I telephoned my family to advise them of my landing, the operator was male. America was changing.

After a long wait, my sister Jeanne showed up in her station wagon. I saw for the first time my six-month old nephew, Nathan. My sister drove me to the farm in Napavine. It was great to see my wonderful wife, meet Denny Necker for the first time, and marvel at how my nieces and nephews had sprouted. I had to re-habituate my eyes to once-familiar faces.

Longview - with Dad and Mom

After dinner on the farm, my parents drove Kim and me to their home in Longview. Lelia had decorated an upper room, which would be our abode for the next several months. The next day, we visited Terry and Eileen to view their new family room-converted from a garage, as well as Jack and Barbara to see their new place on Nichols Boulevard. So much was familiar. So much had changed. The next day I got word that Debbie had given birth to a baby girl named Stephanie. Jeanne was now a grandmother and my mother became great.

As part of her immigration process, Kim was required to visit Dr. Starr once a month to receive anti-TB pills and to sit for a chest x-ray. The doctor told her the tuberculosis was vanishing and there was no reason for concern.

We were only in town a few days when Frank and I decided to visit Expo 74 in Spokane, Washington, taking along our wives. We drove dad's Chevy van, camping halfway there then again halfway back. We enjoyed many international exhibitions. In the USSR pavilion, we were looking at the mounted heads of Russian wildlife. Kim spotted a moose-like creature with a large proboscis. She joked to Lelia, "That's how all Americans look to me".

We also visited the South Korea exhibition. Kim was astounded to see dozens of compatriots in traditional garb, folk dancing, and synchronized drumming. How strange that I didn't see that quality of performance during my twenty-two-month tour of Korea.

Kim had the time of her life when a Native American boy called her on stage to join in a Blackfoot dance. After leaving the stage, Kim remarked the dance was a lot harder than it looked. On the return trip, we stopped to greet the great aunt and uncle of Lelia, then paused to look at the Stonehenge replica in Maryhill.

I had some time on my hands and took Jenny and Laura to the Cowlitz County fair. I think my childhood ended on that day. I went on the roller coaster, ate cotton candy, and got sick. It felt like adulthood had arrived.

It was time to get serious. I needed a job. I followed the employment principle of ABC-anything, better, career. My anything job started at the labor hall in Longview. I donned my work clothes every day, packed a lunch pail, then sat in a smoke-filled room for two hours with a dozen other guys. I did get a few one-day jobs, earning twenty dollars, but it was frustrating.

Finally, a better job arrived. I had applied for positions at the Weyerhaeuser Lumber Mill and on October 7, I began to work at a facility that manufactured presto-logs. This portion of the huge mill collected mountains of sawdust, fed the waste product into a pressure machine, which pooped out cylinder-shaped logs about twenty pounds each. My job was to remove the logs, one in each hand, from a circular conveyer belt and stack them onto pallets. A forklift driver would then relocate the pallets onto flatbed trucks. I worked the evening shift-four to eleven-with an eighteen-year-old named Mike. I stacked presto-logs for about four months.

As the weather cooled, my extended family drove six cars on a big outing to Mount Saint Helens. Four siblings and a dozen nieces and nephews frolicked in the snow. Kim had an especially good time joking with Eileen.

I did enjoy my family. I used to give the little girls a squeeze and shout, "I love nieces to pieces." I remember letting Jenny and Laura drive my car down the back alley. They were so thrilled to sit on my lap with their little hands grasping the steering wheel as I maneuvered dad's Mazda past a few back yards.

The big house at 1618 23rd Avenue contained four bedrooms. My parents occupied a downstairs room while Kim and I lived out of the paneled room upstairs. In October, my parents invited Grandma Morris into the second bedroom downstairs. My folks possessed the gift of hospitality in a way I could respect but not imitate.

Kim was a high achiever, eager for everything. I began to give her driving lessons, borrowing the station wagon. I sat in the passenger seat, while she drove around the empty Mark Morris High School lot. Kim enrolled at Lower Columbia College taking English language classes. She knew more grammar than most high school graduates, but her accent was still heavy.

Kim was finding her stride in America and hooking up with local Koreans. She commented, "When you find one, you find them all." In contrast, I was becoming depressed. In Korea I had held a respectable job and earned a decent salary, but in this land of plenty, I devolved into a humble laborer working by the sweat of my brow and not by the dint of my education. My depression manifested in my sleep. After working a swing shift from 4:00 p.m. to midnight, I would unwind alone until 2:00 a.m. I remained in bed nearly to noon, share a few hours of activity with Kim, then return to the drudgery of physical labor.

I earned the prevailing wage, netting about $280 per week. With one paycheck, we sent $100 to Korea, with another Kim enrolled at college for $136, with another I paid dad $50, with another I bought a fancy stereo for $200, and with another we put $100 in the bank. I worked as much overtime as possible to make things comfortable for Kim and me. Still my life was going nowhere.

Faith kept us afloat. We adopted the charismatic home-style, listening to Christian cassettes and watching Pentecostal TV. Dad's favorite show was the 700 Club. As son of the president of Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International (FGBMFI), I accompanied him to several of his functions. Kim was involved in Bible studies and prayer groups. Together we supported the home prayer meetings, setting up folding chairs and watching dad lengthen legs.

In spite of his Pentecostal bent, dad remained a faithful elder at the First Church of Christ in Longview. Kim and I were regular attenders listening to weekly sermons by Earl Sample. Dad shared with me his trick to turn these non-Pentecostals into Charismatics. "Raise your left hand if you love Jesus," he would shout. Next, he would add, "now raise your right hand if you're happy you're saved." He would follow up, "See. It's not that hard to get two arms in the air. Keep both of them up there as we praise God with a joyful noise.".

In late autumn I accompanied dad to a Full Gospel retreat in Thorpe, Washington. His continuing quip was, "Why do they call this a retreat? It's an advance." John Foreman was exuberant as he stood in front of one hundred peers to introduce Jack Foreman, Chris Foreman, Frank Foreman, Don Zelen, and Terry Zimmerman.

My parents' home acquired an ambient soundscape. Eileen had presented them with the Praise Album, by Maranatha! Music. These simple repetitive songs continually filled my ears. "Don't you know it's time to praise the Lord in the sanctuary of His Holy Spirit? So set your mind on Him and let your praise begin and the glory of the Lord will fill this place". Indeed, the unending words of praise to God soothed my agitated soul.

A strange incident occurred at work on Halloween night. I was somewhere on the noisy conveyer belt, clearing a logjam with a crowbar, when I heard a weird howl. At first, I thought it was a Halloween prank. but as I continued to walk down the line, I saw Mike screaming and pulling at his leg. I flipped the emergency switch, helped Mike extract his broken foot from the belt, then ran for the shift supervisor. My young co-worker was carted away in an ambulance not to be seen again.

On November 13, Kim went to Dr. Starr's office for her fourth TB checkup. This test proved negative, but a second proved positive. My wife was pregnant. The way she calculated; she was just entering her second month.

Kim was dismayed, not wanting a baby at that time. She was so concerned that her child might be damaged due to a contraceptive foam or by TB pills. It took weeks of prayer and assurance for her to embrace the miracle growing inside of her.

As Christmas approached, the economy worsened. Unemployment rose to 8.5%. My boss at Weyerhaeuser told me to enjoy the holiday with one week of un-paid vacation. During that winter week, I visited Frank at the University of Washington and applied for graduate school in the department of Library Science. When I reported back to work, I learned the presto log facility was idled. I was reassigned to the planer, pulling boards off the chain.

For this job, twelve-foot-long planks of Douglas fir clattered along a wide conveyer. A few specialists quickly examined each plank and marked it with an A, B, or C. My job was to grab and stack the different grades of board. Sometimes the work was slow. Other times I struggled to keep up with the pace.

I was handed a second week of un-paid leave over Christmas and New Year's. Despite the underemployment, Kim and my family encouraged me with a happy birthday party and a merry Christmas morning. We rang in the new year with festivities at the Zimmerman house.


As the year began Frank and Lelia hung out at the house. Kim and I got along well with them, playing scrabble, walking around Lake Sacajawea, and visiting local family.

By mid-January, work picked up. I was able to do double shifts at the planer and dry kilns. We began to put away some money for the baby due in July. Kim passed through a miserable season of morning sickness, then glowed as the pregnancy progressed.

Around Valentine's Day, my parents opened their house to a homeless couple. The Hunters moved into the vacant room across from us: Dave and Jeanne with children David, Shelly and Deja. Kim and I felt imposed upon, but what could we say? My Christian parents were living out their faith.

Dave Hunter helped me buy a used car. Up to this point I had been borrowing my dad's Mazda pickup. He and I shopped around and settled upon a 1972 VW Opal. I paid $250 cash and borrowed $1200 from the credit union. Kim was not pleased with the purchase and flunked one driving test because the stick-shift car stalled at an intersection. I never realized until decades later that my mom underwent a Korean mother-in-law test. Kim told me she passed with flying colors. I wrote this:

When I returned home from the Peace Corps, my Korean bride accompanied me. Of course, she was anxious to meet my family and her new in-laws. After we passed through customs at Sea-Tac Airport, she met for the first time her brothers-in-law, her sisters-in-law, her father-in-law, and with most apprehension her new mother-in-law. They all hugged my new wife and welcomed her into the family. But what kind of mother-in-law would this be?

We lived with my mother and father for the first several months of our life together in America. There was a lot of adjusting to do. My only task was to adjust to a new wife, but Kim had to adjust to a new husband, to a new culture and to a new mother-in-law. But what kind of mother-in-law would this be?

Kim had told me stories of the typical Korean mother-in-law. She was first a girl who was born as so-and-so's daughter. She had no rights or authority. She next passed into womanhood and married. As a wife she was often powerless. If she were lucky, she gave birth to a son. Still, she had no voice. Finally, when her son married, she herself became a MOTHER-IN-LAW, often a living terror, ruling over her son's wife with an iron fist. This is especially true if the poor girl is unlucky enough to live with her husband's parents, compounded if the first baby turned out to be a girl. But what kind of mother-in-law would this be?

Shortly after I arrived in America I went shopping for a car. I saw a white Opal in a used car lot. Some of my buddies said it was a good deal so I bought it and drove it home. I did not consult with my new wife and she was not part of my decision-making process. My lovely wife disliked the Opal from the start. Maybe it was the stick shift or maybe she didn't like it because I bought it without her approval. We drove the Opal around the block then entered the house. We started to shout at each other in the kitchen. My mother was sitting at the kitchen table listening to the angry words. My wife knew that in Korea, a son's mother would always side with her son against his wife. But what kind of mother-in-law would this be?

With tears streaking her face, my wife looked to her mother-in-law. My mom locked eyes with mine and said, "Chris, you have a wife now. You should not have bought that car without talking to Kim about it first". I sighed in resignation, nodded my head in agreement, and a few weeks later I sold the car. A month later, we shopped together and bought a Toyota. The relationship between my wife and my mother has seen its ups and downs. But in the kitchen on that day, my wife discovered what kind of mother-in-law she turned out to be.

In April I began working at the large Weyerhaeuser planer with a group of four. Three would be busy pulling and stacking boards, while the fourth rested. I spent my sit-down time reading paperbacks in 15-minute increments. I also discovered that my transistor radio fit nicely into the webbing of my hardhat. The plant was noisy and nobody noticed my musical head. KFOG radio helped the time pass until the station signed off the air at midnight.

My nastiest job involved the pull chain. A few of the plank graders loved to chew tobacco. They would mark the plank A, B, or C, then spit their chaw into the pit. My job was to walk down the long gully and toss out broken and splintered boards. It was like treading in a spittoon.

My future remained in the air. I considered working at the Trojan nuclear plant, but the starting salary was too low. Weyerhaeuser told me a management position might open up in the fall, and for me to hang tough. I received a non-acceptance letter from the UW department of Library Science, and no letter at all from all the applications I sent to Washington State school districts. There seemed little hope to escape manual labor and I resigned to put it all in the Lord's hands.

I visited Frank on April 20 when Joshua Caleb was born. He was only nine hours old when I snapped his first photo. I whistled to Frank a tune I twisted into "Pomp and Circumcision".

With the station wagon rather than the Opal, Kim passed her driver's test on the third try. She began to drive herself to LCC college classes. She was attending a helpmate class, a circle class, and macramé lessons. Her life was full.

Eileen became active in Women's Aglow Fellowship-an organization similar to Full Gospel Businessmen. With amazing speaking and organizational skills, she soon led the Longview chapter with mom providing front-row support. Kim, wearing her Aglow lapel pin, often joined in the meetings and retreats.

My father also continued on the speaker circuit. I have a recording of him addressing a Full Gospel audience. His outline ran like this: First he described the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the lengthening of legs; Then he led in the singing of Silver and Gold Have I None; Then he read verses of Jesus healing; presented his testimony about fasting; told about witnessing to a doctor; talked about the power of positive confession, then prayed for Nancy Jo, Susie, and overeaters.

The news was shocking in April, 1975. Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, fell to the Khmer Rouge. A week later Saigon fell into the hands of the Viet Cong. Sixty-thousand refugees from Southeast Asia were streaming to the shores of America.

In May my employment situation became shaky. I'd report to my supervisor for my daily assignment. Most of the time my job entailed sweeping and shoveling sawdust. I remember listening to top forty hits as I pushed the broom. I enjoyed a song called Mandy by Barry Manilow. I remember thinking about baby names while shoveling wood chips into a hopper: Amanda for a girl and Geoffrey for a boy. I also liked the name Zachariah as a Bible-based name. Kim preferred Zachary because she liked the John Denver song: "Oh we want to call him Zachary and we'll raise him in the mountains." We also determined to give all of our offspring Korean middle names just in case we ever resided in Korea.

I accompanied Kim on her pregnancy check-up. Dr. Starr said I could participate in the delivery if I took part in six Lamaze classes. I attended class one called the third trimester, class two about imagery, and class three about the Lamaze method. I was still writing occasionally in my Korean journals. As the last entry in the last book, I detailed the birth of my first born.

On May 22, from midnight to 5:00 a.m., I was aware Kim was awake most of the night. I'd roll over and notice her sitting up or not notice her at all because she'd be in another room. I arose at 5:05 for my work. She told me she was having pains all night, nothing bad but just enough to keep her from sleep. She joined me at coffee downstairs.

Then just before I left, she experienced a sharp pain. (She later said that was her first real contraction.) I didn't think much about it. After all the baby wasn't due till July. So, I went to work and had an average day, not giving much thought to the morning events.

I got home at 2:15 and saw mom talking to some lady friends. She had a worried-serious look on her face. I could tell something was amiss. She said Kim was up in the room having regular pains. I couldn't believe it. Mom wanted to take her to the hospital earlier, but Kim insisted on my arrival. I rushed upstairs. She said the pains started right after I left for work. She went to her church circle and to the new Korean store in Rainier. She couldn't believe the baby was on its way.

I sat with her timing her contractions and interims on my wristwatch. I saw her wince in pain and decided to call Dr. Starr. He was out of state. He told me to take her to the on-call doctor at Cowlitz General Hospital. I got there about 3:15. Kim was examined by a nurse who said her cervix was dilated and could give birth that day or in a month. The nurse released her and we left about 4:00 pm.

For the first time I came to grips with the fact I was about to become a papa. Over the next two hours I was with my wife timing the length of her contractions. I thought the baby was way pre-mature so I hoped they would go away, but they didn't. She was in a lot more pain when I took her to the hospital for a second time at 6:30. She could hardly walk as I got her into the back seat of the station wagon. She laid on her side. Mom and dad weren't around because they went to Chehalis to pick up my new used 1968 Toyota.

This time the duty nurse said the baby was on the way. I stayed with Kim a few minutes, then went to sit in the waiting room. I had a wallet full of cash from my work check so I paid sixty dollars as a down payment for the medical bill. I sat down from about 6:30 to 7:40 and nearly finished The Confessions of Nat Turner. At 7:45 I decided to go thru the swinging doors and see how my wife was progressing.

I asked an aide about it. She smiled and said, it was all over! I couldn't believe it. She pointed to a window and there through the glass and in an incubator was my child. They wouldn't tell me what sex it was. During the entire pregnancy, I guessed on a girl, but at the last moment I figured it would be a boy.

They wheeled Kim out on a stretcher with a needle in her arm and glazed eyes. She told me "a boy". The specialist who delivered the baby told me he arrived about three weeks early. I saw Kim in the room again and we decided upon Zachary Jin Ha for the name.

Visiting hours ended at eight and they asked me to leave. On the way down Broadway, I passed mom and dad in the pick-up. Terry and Eileen were driving my new Toyota. We went back to the hospital and were able to see Kim and Zachary. Born at 7:30, weighing five pounds and five ounces. He was 16.5 inches long. We stayed about one-half hour. After getting home, I called all my brothers and sisters. I got to bed about ten, still not fully believing what had happened that day and in no way feeling like a daddy yet. Was it a dream?

Kim spent only one night in the hospital and on Wednesday morning I drove to pick up my wife and new baby boy. The attending physician wanted to keep Zachary in an incubator for a few days, saying his weight was at the margin, but we both insisted and the newborn came home with us.

A few days later we returned to Cowlitz General for a checkup with Dr. Starr. He was a bit concerned with Zachary's yellow tinge thinking it might be jaundice, but concluded it was his Asian heritage. He gave the baby a PKU test, which later proved negative. The doctor also noted the Asian bruise at the base of his spine and weighed him in at five pounds-one-ounce; just two ounces over the incubator recommendation.

Kim was room bound for five days marveling at the wonder of her new born son. Two Korean girlfriends brought this new mother traditional seaweed soup. Zachary struggled for a few weeks with nursing and weight loss. We marked his progress: Up to five pounds-two ounces on May 30; five pounds-fourteen ounces on June 6; eight pounds on July 1; and sixteen pounds on September 1. In later years, I explained to Zachary he was double-ating during his first half year of life.

On June 1, Kim and I officially joined the Church of Christ. I clipped a birth notice from the bulletin: "Chris and Kim Foreman are the proud parents of a baby boy and his name is Zachary Jin Ha (Jin Ha means truthful). Of course, John and Jenny are proud grandparents!"

I took dozens of photos of my new son. One of my favorites shows tiny Zachary bundled into my Weyerhaeuser lunch bucket. I joked with Kim I would take my son to work with me. At five and a half pounds, he and his blue blanket fit snugly. I also snapped plenty of pictures of Zachary with his cousin Joshua, one month his elder. One of these photos I called Bottle Battle. The two cousins are leaning across a piano chair with a baby bottle between them. The camera shutter snapped as the bottle tilted into a fall.

Looking back, it may have been a questionable undertaking, but on July 2, Kim and I began a road trip to Indiana. Along with baby Zachary, Frank, Lelia and Joshua loaded into my dad's van to launch a round-trip trek of five thousand miles. In the mid-1970s, seatbelts were not required and the two babies were lap held or rested on mats.

We brought along camping equipment and slept in the big white Chevy van. After three marvelous days on the road, we pulled into Whiting spending three nights with the Walker family: Big Jim, Charlotte, Jimmy, Shelley, Chrissie, and Danny.

Terry and Eileen surprised us by appearing unannounced at Walker's door. They laughed as they explained their last-minute decision to visit Terry's mom in Hammond. The next day, two brothers, two sisters, with eight kids drove to the Indiana dunes, dancing in the sand and splashing in the waters of Lake Michigan. We also dropped by the Chicago Field Museum and visited Grandpa Dydek. One of my favorite photos is of this eighty-year-old man grinning as Zachary squirmed in his arms. In another photo, Josh is in one arm and Zach in the other.

Our van traveled south to Muncie, Indiana, where I showed off my new wife and son to as many Jesus-People friends as I could locate. My time with Mark Orewiler was especially delightful and he hitched a ride back to Whiting, where he and Charlotte renewed their Pentecostal acquaintance. We then headed into the sunset with Shelley as a seventh passenger. She helped with the babies and slept on a mat mounted across the front seats. We traveled a southern route across Colorado and Utah. The mid-July Rockies and deserts were spectacular. The whole cross-country adventure was one for the ages.

Longview - A Place of our own

When we returned to Longview, Kim told me ten months was long enough to live with her in-laws. I was gainfully (if not happily) employed and she was tired of the noisy Hunters. A church friend owned a nearby apartment complex and soon we packed our belongings. I was paying dad fifty dollars per month and our new two-bedroom apartment rented for one hundred dollars more. So, on August 2, we moved into 838 9th Avenue, apartment 3, in Longview.

We didn't have much furniture and went to an auction to buy what we needed. We got a king-sized bed and throughout our married life Kim and I stuck to that size. Grandma Morris donated to us a good-looking sofa. Unfortunately, a cat had sprayed the couch and no matter how hard I chemically cleaned it; a persistent odor lingered.

Our place was quickly inundated with Kim's Korean friends. I think my wife was reluctant to invite them to my parents' home which perhaps was one of her motives to move out.

Jim and Charlotte Walker drove out to Longview in early August taking along Chris and Dan. On August 10 my extended family celebrated a reunion at Lake Sacajawea. The official photograph shows thirty relatives in attendance: My two parents, their six children with six spouses, fourteen grandchildren, one great grandchild, and one Denny Necker. Jimmy Walker was the only absentee. Most of that crowd visited our new apartment and a few presented us with house-warming gifts. After a week on the west coast, Walkers returned to Indiana with Shelley.

Our small apartment hosted all the local family; Mom and Dad, Jack and Barbara, Terry and Eileen. The two Zimmerman girls often tagged along and gushed over baby Zachary. Jenny at eight and Laura at six loved to play babysitter. My sister gave them their first training in anatomical differences between girls and boys. As the three of them changed Zachary's diaper, a stream of liquid arced into the air. I remember Eileen saying, "See. That's what little boys do."

On August 29 Kim and I walked to the front of our church to dedicate Zachary to the Lord. Dozens of people cuddled him in their arms and blessed him. The next day we held a celebration for Zachary. Our son was exactly one-hundred days old. On this auspicious day a Korean male child was added to family records and a stylish photo was taken of his naked body-bearing witness of the maleness. We celebrated with family and friends but pictures of Zach show him in his green and red Korean wardrobe.

I played an American game with my son. I spread out before him a hammer, a pen, a toy rocket, and a comb. I wanted to test him. Would he be a laborer, a scholar, an astronaut, or a barber? I think the fix was in. As he reached out, his mother pulled three objects back and pushed forward the pen. Sure enough, with his mother's connivance, Zachary would become a scholar.

I fancied myself as an inventor of games. I played a lot of scrabble with family and friends and devised my own scrabble board. My super-scrabble board boasted 400 squares (20 x 20) rather than 225 (15 x 15). In the corners, I placed four quadruple-word squares. I created the board from construction paper and colored the squares with markers. I combined two sets of wooden scrabble squares and played ten letters at a time. I actually played this game with Jack and Barbara. My brother said I should try to market it, but inventing was my gift, not salesmanship.

I also devised something I called circle chess. The board was shaped like a large donut. Instead of 64 squares, circle chess had 120. The single home row still housed the eight key pieces, but there was a of pawns on either side (16). The game was played exactly like chess, the only rule change being that a board piece could not circle the board and rest upon the same square it had left. I played that game a few times too, but not being much good at chess, I stashed this invention in my drawer of unrealized dreams.

In September, my work duties changed again. I was assigned to the night shift to a large room into which all Weyerhaeuser sawdust funneled. Alone for eight hours, my duty was to make sure none of the giant bins became clogged. I sat most of the time but every twenty minutes, strolled to inspect a dozen hoppers. I carried a ten-foot pole to poke loose an occasional jam. Once or twice the night supervisor walked through the building. My greatest challenge proved to be staying awake. I did a lot of reading.

About that time, our church sponsored a representative from the Wycliffe Bible Translators. I was intrigued. I dreamed of quitting my crummy job, of traveling to an exotic location, of living with the natives, and of translating scripture into their language. What could be more wonderful? It would be like a sanctified Peace Corps. There were two problems. First, I would have to raise my own funds; something I found distasteful. More importantly, Kim was aghast even at the hint. She had just left the exotic land of Korea to pursue the great American dream. And I wanted to go to the boonies with my newborn son!? I fully realized what a dreamer I was and what a realist she was. We were opposites in this respect, but good in combination. As our life progressed through the years, she would rush down the path to success while I would pause to smell the roses.

On the Wycliffe table display, along with recruiting brochures, lay a few dozen pocket Gideon New Testaments. I asked if I could take a few home. I showed them to Frank who was on break from Dental school. He knew about my night shift and suggested I begin memorizing scripture. I liked that idea and decided to focus on my favorite book, the Gospel of John. I returned to church on Sunday and picked up five more New Testaments. I placed one in the car, one by my bedside, one in my lunch bucket, and kept several in reserve. I was serious.

I began with John 1:1 in the King James version: "In the beginning was the Word. And the word was with God and the Word was God." Having identical books was handy. I could memorize by both sight and sound. I strove to remember both the appearance of the text on the page and the rhythm of the words on my tongue. Memorizing great chunks of scripture proved to be a joy.

In the solitude of night, I was able to knock out chapter after chapter. On one night I would struggle through eight new verses. The next night I would recite them to myself again and again as I paced the lumber mill. The next night I would bring pen and paper to write out all the verses I had learned. By October I could recite the first four chapters of John. I kept on going.

Although I appreciated the solitude of the night shift, I wanted something that would pay more. Job openings were posted on a bulletin board and I applied for a position as a band saw sharpener. I took the aptitude tests and toward the end of November I moved to a different part of the plant. It was probably the top wage job and I got a dollar-an-hour raise.

The two men I apprenticed with were kind to me. The talkative one explained the intricacies of band saw sharpening. He told me it might take years to become a master sharpener like himself. The quiet one just grunted and pointed. The two guys walked constantly, tinkering and measuring, as the automated grinders whirled and buzzed.

I got the feeling if I wanted a steady blue-collar career this might be the summit. But that was not my aspiration. I feigned interest and did learn to operate the machinery, yet I could not picture myself twenty years around band saws. My heart was not in it.

Thanksgiving was was celebrated at my parent's home. From the picture, it looked like Zachary had bowed his head as the prayer was being said. Kim and I did all we could to keep our son grounded in the faith.

The year 1975 was drawing to a close. For my birthday I presented myself with a Cannon SLR camera. I could finally take the quality photos I wanted. We celebrated baby's first Christmas then Kim invited a dozen Koreans over to welcome in the new year.

1976 to May

My job at the lumber mill was now steady days and I cleared over fifteen hundred dollars a month. Kim and I could enjoy life, even though I did not relish my work. With my new camera, I was taking a hundred pictures per month-some transparencies, some black & white, some color prints. The object of my photographic obsession was Zachary. My mom hand-stitched a papoose backpack for me and I carried little Zac almost every time I walked outside. Sometimes he bounced in his Johnny Jump-up as I snapped photos of his giggling face.

Kim and I made friends with church couples and went on outings to Cannon beach and Ecola state park. I truly liked the Pacific Northwest, my domestic homelife, and my church. It was also a pleasure to have loving family within driving distance. Kim was blossoming, happy with a host of Korean friends, new baby, and study at Lower Columbia College. Zachary was an unmitigated joy. However, I endured my menial job and no better prospect appeared on the Longview horizon. I was dissatisfied. I wanted a challenge, an adventure.

I interviewed for a position as a Cowlitz County deputy sheriff. College education was a plus, but service in the Peace Corps did not recommend itself to law enforcement. After I was passed over for the position, the sheriff obliged me with a conversation. He appreciated my sincerity and values, but he told me there were a dozen Viet Nam veterans waiting in line for the job. And they knew how to handle weapons.

That interview planted a seed. In February unplanned I drove past the Armed Forces Recruiting station in the Triangle shopping center. I passed it several times deliberately before I parked in the lot. I spoke to the Air Force recruiter first. Jack and Frank were both airmen so maybe it would work for me. The sergeant said I could enlist but there was no expedited program to become an Air Force officer.

A few days later I spoke with the Army recruiter. He explained there was a new program for men like me. He called it the College Option program. This special track was available to any college graduate who could pass the requirements. First, I would have to qualify on paper, next graduate from Basic Training, finally graduate from Officer Candidate School (OCS). If I accomplished all that, I could be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. This was an opportunity not a guarantee. If I washed out of OCS, I would be obliged to serve in the enlisted ranks.

I stopped by a few more times to talk. The recruiter explained the army pyramid, something like one general for every five colonels, one colonel for every five majors, one major for every four captains, and one captain for every three lieutenants. Since the end of the war in Vietnam the pyramid was out of whack. There was a surplus of captains and a dearth of lieutenants. Captains were hanging on attempting to retire while lieutenants fled for civilian life. The army needed thousands of new lieutenants to expand the base of the pyramid. Did I have the stuff to become an officer?

I talked with Kim. She was surprised. She knew how much I disliked my laboring status, but wasn't this an extreme solution to a temporary problem? I spoke with her about the army pyramid and she grasped the window of opportunity. She said, "I never dreamed I'd be married to an American GI. I tried to avoid those guys." Many of her Korean girlfriends were married to (or divorced from) American GIs. She prayed about this life re-direction and after a while warmed to the idea.

I talked with dad. He was troubled, saying "Chris, you don't have to join the military. A good job will open up for you soon."

I didn't share his optimism, especially in 1976 and in Longview, Washington. "Sometimes the army is a person's employer of last resort." I joked that the army was like the Boy Scouts but for grown-ups.

I talked with myself as well. I couldn't fathom my own inclinations. I seemed to have a love-hate relationship with military life. Invading foreign lands seemed repugnant but defending my homeland seemed noble. Taking the lives of others seemed unbiblical, but laying down my own life for the sake of others seemed Christ-like.

Back in 1971, I had rioted in the nation's capital to end the war in Viet Nam. In 1972, I was relieved to dodge the draft by joining the Peace Corps. How is it possible to jump from the Peace Corps to the War Corps? It seemed crazy. Maybe it was.

I spoke with my mother. Her biggest concern was me getting killed, but without the war in Viet Nam she supported my decision. My brothers encouraged me, although Jack shook his head at my transformation of heart and mind.

Kim invited over a Korean friend who was married to a former army officer. After dinner, the ex-captain offered suggestions, telling me my path would be physically and mentally challenging, especially OCS at Fort Benning. Yet it could be rewarding. Kim was more accepting of a military life after her friend spoke in Korean about the privileges and prestige of an army officer's wife.

I passed a battery of physical and aptitude tests in Portland. Then, after getting a final nod from Kim, I signed up for the army on March 22, 1976. I enrolled in something called the delayed entry program, which meant my time in service for rank and retirement purposes would begin on that date, even though my army report date wasn't until May 17.

My life was in transition and my fancy camera was as restless as I was. I took roll after roll of transparency film and packed each slide into one-hundred-slot rotary trays, eventually filling thirty-three of them. Upon every visit of family, Kim would help me shine the images against an empty wall. I became famous - or rather infamous - for showing slides whenever family dropped by.

I remember sitting in the break room at Weyerhaeuser. I was acquainted with most of the guys, many of them Viet Nam vets. When I announced to them, I was quitting my cushy job in band saw sharpening to enlist in the army, they were flabbergasted. "What, I was counting the days to get out and you're going in? Are you crazy?"

When I told my two mentors at the sharpening room about my impending military service, they were not especially surprised. The talkative one said it was all for the good since I could never attain his status of expert sharpener. The quiet one opened up about his army experience in World War Two, something he had never mentioned. I asked him lots of combat questions and during my last thirty days we became actual friends.

I began to run laps around Lake Sacajawea, do push-ups and sit-ups. At home and at work, I continued to memorize scripture. I was determined to complete all twenty-one chapters in the Gospel of John before beginning a new chapter in my own life. By May Day, I was able to recite chapters one through nineteen, two chapters short of my goal.

My biggest disappointment about the timing of my departure was Zachary's birthday. He would be one year old on May 22, so I would miss the event by six days. Kim and I decided to celebrate his birthday one week early and invited everyone to the park across the street from our apartment. Zachary was dressed in his one-hundred-day-old wardrobe. At one-hundred days it was too baggy; At one year it was too tight. Zachary walked on tip toe through the tall spring grass and of course I took dozens of pictures.

Since I would be in the military, my wife decided she wanted to become a citizen of the USA. I helped her with the paperwork. Kim and I stayed up late on the day before my flight left from Portland. I figured we might be separated for eight weeks. We wept, we prayed, we embraced, we planned. What would our world be like when we next got together?

Early the next morning, May 16, Kim was still sleeping with Zachary at her side. My wife had a morning class at LCC and it had been a long night for the two of us. I kissed her sleepy lips, then Zachary's rosy cheek and was out the door.

I left for the airport with my brother Jack. Along the way we reminisced about our time together in Berlin when he was in an Air Force uniform. As he dropped me at the gate, Jack gave me a big hug and said he was proud of me.

I flew into Columbia, South Carolina, attaining my thirty-seventh state. I was alone now on the cusp of a big adventure. I knew I had twenty-four hours before I had to report for duty at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. During two flights, one bus ride, and one night in a motel, I managed to recite the last verse in the Gospel of John: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

I had accomplished the biblical task I had set out to do. Would the same be true for the whirlwind I was about to step into? Could I complete this military training and actually become commissioned an army officer?

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 13

May 1976 to April 1977
Fort Jackson - - Fort Benning - - Fort Belvoir

They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line, not swerving from their course.
(Joel 2:5)

As I stepped onto the military bus, I knew I was stepping into a new life. The seats were packed with swaggering young men, representing a swath of America unfamiliar to me-Blacks, Latinos, eighteen-year-olds from dixie and cowboys from the wild west. There were no females. I didn't understand in the moment, but the goal of BCT (Basic Combat Training) was to deconstruct this motley crew-including myself-then to reconstruct us into a lean, mean, green, fighting machine. This process lasted eleven months.

Fort Jackson, South Carolina
May 1976

Reception station was a half-step into the army. Over four hectic days, raw recruits shed their distinctiveness to adopt a common appearance. We were fitted for uniforms with name, rank, and unit. "Foreman" was sewn over my right pocket. A PFC patch (one up/one down) adorned my right shoulder. I had earned the rank of private first class by virtue of my four-year college degree. Most of my comrades were privates (slick sleeve) or privates E2 (mosquito wing). The round patch of TRADOC (United States Army Training and Doctrine Command) adorned my left shoulder. Along with a duffle bag of army gear, we received buzz haircuts, ID cards, inoculations, and the rudiments of military behavior. I was handed my embryonic medical, personnel, and finance records.

After this inprocessing, we bussed across post to our billets. Our six weeks of BCT had begun. The vehicle had barely stopped when two drill sergeants leapt through the door screaming: "Hurry up. Grab your gear. Line up over here". Talk about immersive training! This was like being cast headlong into unknown swirling waters.

Our barracks were brand new, air-conditioned structures. We called them starships. My particular starship was four stories high with one training company on each floor. I was in Charlie Company, first platoon, consisting of about forty men. We were led by Drill Sergeants Rodriguez and Michaels. Lieutenant Cooper seldom showed his face. I did manage to write a letter to Kim.

The two drill sergeants taught us to stand at attention, right-face, left-face, about-face, present-arms, order-arms, parade-rest, and at-ease. We learned to march. Double time marching meant run. We received our M-16 weapons (not called guns). For those who voiced the verbal error, a drill sergeant had them repeat and gesture, "This is my weapon. This is my gun. With this I kill commies. With this I have fun." We had some classroom instruction, most of which was monkey see/monkey do. We recited the ten-step chain of command from Second Lieutenant Cooper to Commander-in-Chief Ford.

Our bodies were whipped into shape. The newly adopted PT (physical training) test consisted of only three events: sit-up, push-up, and two-mile run. Because the late Spring temperature was already severe, we fell into formation at zero six hundred hours. Fort Jackson was notorious for its sandy hills-two steps up and one step back. As we double-timed, we sang in cadence to old ditties about Viet Nam. We sweat and marched until zero seven hundred. The chant while responding to physical training was, "More PT drill sergeant; more PT. We like it. We love it. We want more of it. More PT drill sergeant; more PT."

During our hours of double time in formation, a drill sergeant would serenade us with ditties like:

When my granny was ninety-two, she did PT just like you.
When my granny was ninety-three, she did PT just like me.
When my granny was ninety-four, she did PT out the door.
When my granny was ninety-five, she did PT to keep alive.
When my granny was ninety-six, she did PT just for kicks.
When my granny was ninety-seven, she up and died and went to heaven.
Met Saint Peter at the pearly gate. Said to Saint Peter, "Hope I'm not late."
Saint Peter said with a big old grin, "Drop down granny and give me ten."
Your Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right.

The first week we sat side-by-side at long tables disassembling, cleaning, then re-assembling our weapons. The M16 assault rifle, when field stripped, fell into fifteen components, each with a name we had to recite; its nomenclature. By the end of the week, some were able to disassemble and re-assemble the rifle blindfolded. I could never accomplish that feat because I fumbled around with the tiny spring.

Our rifle training consisted of three parts. One week we zeroed our weapons at fifty meters. My shot group ended up being tighter than most, six holes in the center two rings of the paper target. The next week was field fire. Here we alternated at three positions (foxhole, kneeling, and prone) to fire at pop-up targets from 50 to 300 meters. We kept tallies, but this was just practice. Our refrain as we left the firing line was "no brass, no ammo, drill sergeant."

During the last week of BCT we went for record fire, similar to field fire but with the pop-up targets having a system of automated scoring. There were three levels of achievement: marksman, sharpshooter, and expert. I missed the expert badge by just three points out of forty. Two things limited my performance. My black military-issue glasses kept slipping down my nose, especially in the prone position. Second, I fired left-handed which meant I needed a deflector to keep the ejecting brass from jumping down my shirt.

We experienced a weapons week when we fired the M50 machine gun, the light anti-tank weapon (LAW), and threw a hand grenade. The grenade toss was dangerous for drill sergeants. If a trainee dropped his explosive ball, things could turn ugly. A few of the mental marginals mustered out before they threw a grenade.

We camped in the woods for three nights to hone our survival skills. My shelter half joined with another. We dug a tent gully around the perimeter with our entrenching tool, and two of us spent the night head to toe. The trench was needed because it rained during most of the field training. I passed the PT test with flying colors nearly maxing the push-ups and sit-ups but sucking wind on the two miles.

Part of the strategy of BCT was to script every second of the day, no breaks; from lights-on at zero five thirty hours to lights-out at twenty-one hundred. Every minute was allotted such that no time was free. On one occasion, a bus was late at pick-up, we broke into pairs and asked each other questions about the Code of Conduct. Once my platoon found itself ahead of schedule. Word was out, "when your weapons are clean, you can break". I must have scrubbed my M16 spotless for two hours straight. The inspector told me time and again "Clean it. It's still dirty". He pointed to an imaginary spot on the bolt. Magically, ten minutes before scheduled dinnertime, the drill sergeant inspected weapons and all were acceptable.

I did keep in regular correspondence with the Homefront. As a matter of fact, the drill sergeants gave everyone a pen and paper and ordered us to write our parents so they wouldn't pester the company commander with phone calls. I missed Kim and baby Zachary and was able to exchange about one letter per week. One guy in the barracks possessed a polaroid camera and for one dollar I mailed my wife a picture of her soldier-husband. I learned that right after I left for the army, Jeanne gave birth to her sixth child, Benjamin Josiah.

My age, personality, and religious bent conspired to keep me an outsider in my platoon. My fellow trainees also knew I was an officer-to-be. This engendered both admiration and resentment. I went with the flow and after fifty-three days graduated. By that time, several fellow trainees warmed up to me and wished me luck at OCS. I had once heard the high point of morale in any soldier's career is upon graduation from basic training. After watching the amazing transformation of teen-age losers into credible soldiers, I believed it.

On the last day of training, I was singled out and disciplined. Sergeant Rodriguez had a lacky-trainee pass the hat for a collection. All forty of us were requested to contribute five dollars each. Supposedly this was to recognize the drill sergeant for his outstanding service. Thirty-nine contributed. After I refused, I was directed to remain at attention while the others were dismissed to supper. I stood rigid for an hour until Lieutenant Cooper passed by. He asked what I was doing. I explained. He dismissed me, saying he'd have a talk with Sergeant Rodriguez. Nothing more was said, although a few buddies in my squad gave me a "way to go".

We graduated on July 2. The following day was supposed to be a day of R&R (rest and relaxation). However, the commanding general of Fort Jackson ordered all trainees to the parade grounds. We practice-marched and synchronized for eight sweaty hours.

This extra effort was aimed at a gigantic Independence Day celebration, the bicentennial of the USA. A dozen notables sat in the stand as we passed in review. At the head of the first column marched four figures: one dressed as a revolutionary soldier, two from the civil war (one blue and one gray), and one from World War Two. The post band followed playing marshal music, then I marched somewhere in the mass. The new command I learned to execute on that day was "eyes-right".

I remember watching the fireworks display over the parade ground wishing Kim were at my side. I sang under my breath the current hit "Sky rockets in flight. Afternoon delight". I was missing my delightful wife.

As a successful graduate of BCT, I was issued orders to report to Fort Benning on July 14. I lagged a few days at Fort Jackson, working in a mess hall, then bussed 340 miles southwest to Columbus, Georgia, where I entered my thirty-eighth state.

Fort Benning, Georgia
July 1976

The official name of my upcoming program was Basic Infantry Officer Candidate Course (BIOCC). The class number was 1-7T. Congress had just changed the start of the fiscal year from July 1 to October 1. Therefore, the three-month interim was designated as neither 1976 nor 1977, but as T for transition. BIOCC 1-7T lasted thirteen weeks, broken into three phases with each phase granting more liberty.

As stated in my handbook, the mission of BIOCC was "to train selected personnel in basic military subjects, to evaluate and qualify them for commissioning as second lieutenants in the Reserve Corps of the United States Army, and to prepare them for subsequent officer basic course training."

There were three routes to an army commission. First was through the Military Academy at West Point. That was the most prestigious. The second source of commission was ROTC, participating in army training through four years of university. The third source was OCS. This route was designed for enlisted men who aspired to become officers. Nearly all in my cohort had experience as army sergeants. Just a few like myself were college option, my only prior military experience being fifty-three days of basic training.

As I reported to duty, I was promoted from PFC to Specialist Fifth Class, but that was only for pay purposes. As rank, I wore the brass letters O.C.S. like all candidates. No one candidate displayed a higher grade than another.

Fiftieth Company of the Training Brigade consisted of 170 officer candidates. We were divided into seven platoons and housed in four WW2 barracks which surrounded a central courtyard. I was in first platoon with 1LT Weiss as my TAC officer.

My old-style temporary barrack consisted of two floors with long central corridors. Four-man rooms with two bunkbeds each flanked these hallways. My two roommates turned out to be David Dungan and Chuck Puchon. A fourth man never materialized, for which we three were grateful. Because he was senior, Chuck slept on a lower bunk without a top bunkmate, while I slept on a bottom bunk with shorter David on the top. Dave and Chuck became two of my best friends.

I was issued seven additional sets of olive drab fatigues. These wrinkly cotton uniforms were so heavily starched that I had to push my arms and legs through the holes. Sometimes we had to break starch twice a day. My fatigues were continually being starched and returned to my room. I was also issued a black gloss helmet embossed with OCS. This served as my primary head gear.

The first five weeks were the hardest, constant drill and ceremony, physical training, and weapons training. There was plenty of fault-finding and shouting by the TAC officers, but nothing over the top. The new army commencing after Viet Nam focused more on professionalism and less on mindless harassment. It was lights on at 0530 hours and lights out at 2200.

The PT test consisted of five events. The run-dodge-and-jump involved zig-zagging through four hurdles, leaping over a ditch, hand-smacking a post, then returning to the start point. I managed to max this event most of the time. The inverted crawl (nicknamed perverted crawl) was a short there-and-back race with belly upward, hands and feet on the track. This was a challenge until I learned the technique of sideways crab crawling. I was sometimes able to max this event.

The third event was the horizontal ladder. My body was too heavy for these overhead bars and I was happy to pass with a minimum score. For the first few weeks I couldn't even get there and back on the twelve-rung ladder. The fourth event was sit-ups an the fifth was a one-mile run. My overall performance was among the best.

In July and August, Fort Benning grew devilishly hot. We ran in shorts and t-shirts at sunrise. The lieutenant was constantly whirling a contraption called the wet bulb, a metric of temperature and humidity. If the reading was too high, we stopped running. Rumor had it that a candidate collapsed and died a few months earlier.

Similar to Basic Training, we always sang Jody songs as we marched and ran. The chants helped us to keep in step, which always proved to be an issue for me. When the word left was spoken, you stepped on your left foot. Some of the trainers had outstanding voices. The cadence I remember best went like this:

Your left, your le-eft; Your left, right, left; Your military left; Your left, your right, now pick up the step, your left, your right, your le-e-eft. Sound off (one-two); sound off (three-four). Bring it on down; (One-two-three-four, one-two-THREE-FOUR).

You had a good job when you left. (you're right).
Your mother was there when you left. (you're right).
Your girlfriend was there when you left. (you're right).
And that's the reason you left. (you're right).
Sound off (one-two); sound off (three-four). Bring it on down; (One-two-three-four, one-two-THREE-FOUR).

OCS maintained detailed evaluations. TAC officers took copious notes of candidate performance and on Sundays we filled out our own self-assessment. Peer assessments covered seven candidates in my squad. There were words like military bearing, judgment, intelligence, and tact. Check boxes ran from one to ten. The hardest part of the evaluation was to rank order the eight (including myself) from top to bottom. I generally fell in the mediocre middle. Our unspoken motto was "cooperate and graduate."

Integrity was the premier criterion. Anything other than ten of ten might be reason for dismissal from the program. One candidate down the hall was dismissed a few weeks into BIOCC.

The senior TAC officer was a West-Pointer named Captain Travis. We called him the Beast of Benning. He seemed to delight in inspecting bunks, tearing them apart, and making you late for formation.

Candidates were required to rotate combat boots every day. One pair was on our feet and a second pair was spit polished, displayed beside the bunk. Captain Travis would ask, "Candidate, did you rotate your boots today?"

He had a test if he was suspicious. When the room was empty, he stuck a scrap of paper in the toe of a boot. If you presented him with the note on the next inspection, you earned a weekend pass. If he found the note in the bottom of your display boot after you swore you rotated your boots, then you packed your bags and were gone by morning. I learned there was no compromise with integrity. It's either one-hundred percent or not-at-all.

The T in 1-7T stood for transition, the three-month gap between FY 76 and FY 77. My class also marked a transition in another sense. We were the last to be all male. Beginning in FY 77, women would compose one platoon. A female lieutenant in our midst drew curiosity until we learned LT Prewitt was on the ground to facilitate the integration of enlisted women into class 1-77.

I went on sick call twice during the ninety-two days of OCS. Once I was pulling night CQ (Command of Quarters), walking the grounds from lights-out to midnight. It was a steamy night and electric fans were aimed at sleeping bodies. As I opened my room door, I knocked over a fan, tried to catch it with my bare hand, and nearly lost a thumb tip. The scar remained.

A few weeks after that, the company was on an activity called "land navigation over extended distances during hours of limited visibility." It involved three soldiers; one with a map, one with a compass, and one walking paces. My group collapsed in place about zero three hundred hours and stood up again at sunrise. It was a dreadful rainy night.

The next day, back in barracks, I reported to LT Weiss for sick call. He growled questioning my ailment. "And what's wrong with you, Foreman?" I said nothing, just lifted both trouser legs to expose fiery red bumps from mid-thigh to ankle. "Oh, chiggers!" he grimaced and signed my pass.

About this time, candidates were asked to apply for army branches. The decision rested first on the needs of the army and second on the preference of the applicant. Dave put in for Military Police and Chuck for Signal Corps. My first choice was Corps of Engineers, followed by Artillery, then Military Intelligence. A few weeks later, all three of us learned we had received our first choice. I would be reporting to Fort Belvoir for Basic Officer Engineer School. All candidates were also urged to apply for Airborne and Ranger training, both held at Fort Benning. I opted for Airborne wings, but nixed the Ranger patch. Thus, I was scheduled for three weeks of Airborne school at the conclusion of officer training.

Phase two of OCS began at the end of August. Spouses were now authorized to occupy post housing. Kim had already vacated our Longview apartment, sold the Toyota, and stored furniture in my parent's garage.

She and Zachary arrived at the Columbus, Georgia, airport on a Sunday afternoon. Kim packed only a few suitcases. Tears ran down my cheeks as I saw her step down the walkway. This woman really loves me, I thought to myself, making such a sacrifice to join her husband in super-hot south Georgia. I spent one delightful night with my wife in guest billeting before I returned to duty on Monday; Sky rockets in flight.

I was unable to assist Kim's transition into military life. Thank God for the Officer's Wives Auxiliary. This group took Kim under their wing and helped her get housing, ID cards, clothing, and pantry furniture. She made fast friends with a few Korean wives. God certainly blessed my family of three as we came back together after three months apart. From this point on, candidates were on pass from Saturday evening to Monday morning. The army understood the readiness value of a happy soldier and strove to accommodate families.

Training in basic military subjects continued. We were constantly evaluated, qualified, and prepared for life as an Army officer. I learned how to use the bayonet and fight hand-to-hand. We began to have hours of classroom and motor-pool training. The unchanging constant was PT, long runs before breakfast and after sunset. I became so overheated, I would return to my room, strip to my skivvies, and hug the polished linoleum floor until the heat ebbed out.

In the long boring classroom sessions, I could sneak out a blank sheet of paper and write out a chapter of John's gospel. It looked like I was taking intensive notes. Dave who sat next to me was astounded at my memory. To fight fatigue, dozens of candidates would line the walls study notes in hand. We joked about the ranger alarm clock. This was a sharpened pencil clutched in your fist and pointed upward. If you began to doze, you'd stab yourself in the forehead.

Kim got a hold of my paycheck and bought a one-year-old Toyota Corolla. I learned the precept "happy wife/happy life". I signed up with USAA for my car insurance-the beginning of a decades-long relationship.

One Saturday evening we headed south in the Toyota to Panama City, Florida. I wanted a diversion from army over-saturation. We spent one night in a hotel and a full Sunday on the bright white beach, splashing in the gulf and playing in the sand. Zachary had a ball, but I didn't think to apply sunscreen. Stupid me! In the evening, Zachary squealed in pain while my ankles and legs burned. I applied wet towels helping me drive home.

The next morning, I was really hurting with body parts beet red and swollen. I was able to score some Bactine spray from a buddy, but couldn't report to sick call. My wounds were not duty-related and I would earn demerits. So, I suffered in silence. I remember on a Monday PT run, deliberately splashing in puddles to alleviate my ankle pain. It was torturous, but after a few days improved to tolerable.

At phase three of OCS, we acquired powder blue helmets. TAC officers relaxed and wives were involved in more activities. We were learning the social aspect of being an army officer. The company sponsored a formal ball where Kim looked stunning in her white Korean hanbok. Both David and Chuck were single and dropped by my quarters on free weekends. They took a fondness toward Kim and a liking to little Zachary. My neighbors were wonderful at helping Kim and I thanked them whenever we met.

I was in good physical and mental shape as OCS drew to a close. I qualified as expert on the rifle range and maxed three of the five PT events. I was a little slow on the mile run and never able to master the horizontal ladder. I graduated number 53 of 174.

On October 18, after 92 days in OCS, I swore my oath as a commissioned army officer, thereby becoming a second lieutenant:

I, Chris Foreman, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So, help me God.

I invited Dave and Chuck to my quarters for a farewell party. We stayed up past midnight, looking back on our mission accomplished.

I enjoyed about ten days rest, then signed into the Basic Jump School, designed to be three weeks long. Because I was stationed at Fort Benning, I was put through an unofficial zero week. I reported to the school to run two hours in the early morning, then reported again to run two hours in the evening. We chanted such ditties as:

C-one-thirty moving down the strip. Airborne daddy gonna take a little trip. I don't know, but I think I might jump from an airplane while in flight. Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door, jump right out, and count to four. If my chute doesn't open wide, I got another one by my side. If that one should fail me too, look out ground I'm coming through.

Week One was called ground week. Here we learned the PLF (parachute landing fall). We jumped straight down from increasing high platforms then tethered to steel cables at different angles. The actual jumping was simple. It was imperative to learn how to hit the ground without hurting yourself. We also visited the parachute-packing facility to see first-hand how these packs were put together.

Week Two was designated tower week. Fort Benning possessed two huge jump towers each with four hoisting cables. I understood the army purchased these monsters from a New York amusement park. We lined up to make our jumps, four a day, and so had twenty jumps during tower week. We didn't pull a cord, but all jumps were on a static line. When we reached two hundred feet, the chute automatically popped open and we floated to the ground. Except for the combat gear I was toting, Fort Benning felt like Coney Island.

Week Three was designated Jump Week. On Monday I loaded into a C-130 aircraft, circled a drop zone hear Phoenix City, Alabama, then leapt from the open door. I stood upright in the center aisle in full battle dress, steel pot, and M16 rifle. Our parachute packs were checked and double-checked. We scrunched chest to back. Our chutes were attached to an overhead static line which meant they flung open upon clearing the exit. A jump master managed the exits, spacing them apart, and pushing each of twenty jumpers out the door.

On my first jump the single thing that staggered me was the incredible tumult. Training can't prepare you for that. Standing at the open door, the jet engine roared at 140 decibels. The 150 mile-an-hour wind added to the chaotic soundscape. Once out the door-very suddenly-an incredible stillness ensued with a slight downward rocking motion.

After such a deafening roar, the descent of one thousand feet seemed silent. How beautiful it was to float to earth gazing at surrounding chutes and the land below. It took about forty seconds to strike the ground. And as the surface approached, I had the illusion of falling faster and faster.

A paratrooper generally hits the ground at 22 feet per second. That equals a free fall from a height of seven foot-six inches. My first jump was perfect. I executed my PLF, gathered up my open parachute and double-timed to the parked bus. I thought my first jump was the most exhilarating experience of my life.

My jump on Tuesday was equally thrilling, but this time I could relax because I knew what to expect. I had completed two of my five required jumps. My Wednesday jump was a bit difficult. The wind dragged my chute along the grass before I could stop and gather it.

The humor went: after completing a successful fourth jump all you need do is strike the ground for a fifth time to earn your silver wings. A broken leg or body cast doesn't matter. You have earned the right to be called airborne, dead or alive.

I didn't quite make it that far. On Thursday, I struck the ground hard. Maybe I stepped in a chuck hole. I don't know. I stood up limping and I struggled to carry my parachute to the bus. A doctor examined my left foot, pronounced it not broken, but sprained. He advised against jumping on Friday.

And so, I was recycled for one week. I was disheartened not to graduate with my cohort, but what could I do? I stayed off my feet for three days, ran for three days, then showed my foot to the doc. He said I could jump if I wanted to. After all, this was my fifth jump and all I need do was survive the fall.

My final jump was textbook. I stuck the PLF and ran with joy onto the waiting bus. Kim and Zachary attended the ceremony when silver wings were pinned to my chest. I knew my wife was proud of my accomplishment and we both looked forward to the military adventure that lay ahead. I wrote a letter to my folks about the experience.

It was late November and Engineer Officer Basic didn't commence until January fifth. I was assigned work in a training headquarters assisting an infantry captain. He asked me to review his reports and look for errors. I double checked his math and one day asked about a number he presented as ".02%". I informed him 1/50 should be represented as either .02 or 2% but not both. He was grateful for the correction and gave me the rest of the day off. Larry and I became friends until I left the post.

This captain told me how fortunate he was to have survived the rollcall reduction in force. He explained that in the same way the army was frantically acquiring lieutenants, it was shedding excess captains. On the first day of a recent Infantry Advanced Course, he was among 200 army captains who had gathered in the installation auditorium. The infantry commandant read the names of 100 officers who then stood, grabbed their headgear, exited the hall, and involuntarily mustered out of the Army.

Kim and I enjoyed our few months living in Fort Benning quarters. On Halloween, Zachary wore his 100-day Korean outfit, very tight by this time. I walked him to a few front doors to collect candy and a neighbor thought he was costumed as a pirate. I also bought a costume; a second-hand dress blue uniform-the army equivalent of a tuxedo-for just fifty dollars.

November second was election day. Although most of my army buddies voted for Gerald Ford, I cast my ballot for Jimmy Carter. A few days later, on Saturday, I drove twenty minutes to Plains, Georgia, the president-elect's home town. A large banner read, "Welcome home, Mr. President". I stood far back in the crowd as Jimmy Carter stepped to a microphone to deliver a joyous speech. I snapped a few photos, milled around, then returned home.

We attended the post chapel as often as we could and I enjoyed conversations with Chaplain Wright. As we talked theology, he suggested I should have opted for the corps of chaplains rather than the corps of engineers. I agreed, but the die was cast. My Christian faith would have to simmer on a back burner, while my military career boiled in the front.

We also attended a Korean church in Columbus. Kim loved listening to her native language and schmoozing with fellow Koreans. Zachary met several kids like himself, half-American and half-Korean; Amerasians?

I checked out my accrued leave. At two and a half days per month, I had earned two weeks' vacation. I talked it over with Kim and we decided to drive the Toyota all the way to Longview, then resume for a cross-country trek to the east coast by January 5. It would be a mammoth trek, but my adventurous wife was up for it. She wanted to see America close up. We cleared our quarters, serviced the car, packed our bags, said our good-byes, and left the state of Georgia on December 19. I bought a top rack, so we didn't leave much behind.

We decided on a southern route along Interstate 10 with the first leg ending in San Antonio, Texas. We passed through Alabama, Mississippi, then Louisiana which was my thirty-ninth state. Kim and I took turns at the wheel driving over fourteen hours and nine hundred miles. We only made the necessary stops and pulled in to my Uncle Joe's house about noon. I hadn't seen Joe and Hattie since 1966. We talked about his Air Force career, shared dinner, phoned my mother/his sister, and left the following morning.

We drove another twelve hours to stay a short overnight in a Phoenix hotel. We brought groceries along the way and ate with Zachary at a few rest stops. Kim marveled at the trackless vistas. She wanted to stop at the Grand Canyon, but there wasn't time.

The drive was long into California, then up Interstate 5. We paused near Mount Shasta for the night, then continued north. My sister Jeanne had recently relocated to Eugene, Oregon. We stopped there for a quick visit and meal, then finally arrived at my parents' home about midnight. The three-thousand-mile drive was exhausting and we were glad to flop down in the same paneled bedroom we had occupied a few years earlier.

The next day was my twenty-seventh birthday. Jeanne, Jack, Eileen and Frank dropped by for the occasion. During our eight days in Longview, we met, played, and prayed with friends and family; I answered all kinds of questions about my military life; We visited Mount Saint Helens to play in the snow: and I took a line-up picture of six babies sitting on mom's big sofa: Nathan, Josh, Stephanie, Zachary, Benjamin, and three-month old Heather.

There were two pieces of bad news. I was not surprised that Charlotte's marriage to Jim Walker was unraveling. I was never quite clear if they were officially divorced or on the verge. Also, my dad did not look healthy. He claimed he was just fasting a lot, often two or three days a week. Frank told me dad was discouraged because he had been voted out as president of Full Gospel Businessmen and mom said he was going through jars of antacid tablets to ease the discomfort of heartburn. I was concerned about my old man.

Like most everything else, the army had a regulation about assignments. If your orders send you to a location for less than sixty days it's called TDY (temporary duty), but if the orders state sixty days or longer, then it's called PCS (permanent change of station). My orders to Fort Belvoir sent me there for ninety-two days. Kim could accompany me; the army would pay a housing allowance and ship my household goods from my HOR (home of record) which was Longview. Kim and I boxed our belongings stored in the garage, ready for pick-up when we established ourselves in Virginia. We sold some things, gave more away, and threw out even more.

One thing we did not toss out was Kim's pregnancy wardrobe. We shared with the family that Kim was expecting our second child. Like Zachary, baby number two was due on the Fourth of July. I was jubilant. Kim was apprehensive. One child was a handful. What would two be like?

I wanted to make the most of this West Coast visit, extending it to ten days. I have a photo of cousins Zachary and Joshua standing together draped with a sash announcing the arrival of "1977". Kim and I spent the new year moment at the Zimmermans.


We left town early on New Year's Day beginning a twelve-hour drive along the entire length of Interstate 80 North (since re-named I-84). Wind in the Columbia Gorge pummeled the Toyota, making it hard to keep on the roadway. We passed through Oregon then Idaho. I bought snow chains in Twin Falls where we paused for dinner. We spent an eight-hour night near Ogden, Utah.

The next leg was the longest, over nine hundred miles along I-80. We soon left Utah and travelled the length of Wyoming and Nebraska. The temperature dropped to the teens, but we were fortunate in that there were just a few snow flurries. Kim and I took turns driving. When not at the wheel, I dozed or looked after Zachary in the back seat. My son was good most of the time. He seemed to love the rocking and whirl of a moving car. He spent a lot of time looking out the window and snoozing. When Zachary did act up, Kim or I (the non-driver) would hold him on our lap.

We found a cheap hotel outside of Omaha and left six hours later at sunrise. I apologized to Kim, admitting we should have skipped the New Year's party and left a day or two earlier. Our original plan had called for us to spend a night in Whiting, but since we were in a rush, we struck south speeding along I-70 rather than I-80. It was another long slog, seven hundred miles through Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana; all the way to Columbus, Ohio. Snow was falling, but plows kept the Interstate clear.

We were both exhausted, so we decided to rest at a Quality Inn for a full twelve hours. I told Kim my report time was 8:00 a.m. the next day and I would drive the last leg in the night and report for duty exactly on time. We left the hotel about four in the afternoon in the midst of a snowstorm. I had four hundred miles ahead of me.

The first few hours were decent driving. I-70 to Wheeling was fairly flat and kept clear of snow. But then triple trouble began. I ran into darkness, mountains, and a blizzard. When I finally crawled into Morgantown, West Virginia, the Toyota was sliding on the roadbed. I stopped at a service station and paid to have my chains installed. It was a slow-going slog from there, through the Appalachian Mountains, the parkland, and finally over the Cumberland gap at midnight.

The snow ceased to fall, a full moon beamed overhead, and the mountains appeared eerily bright. Trees, telephone wires, housetops; everything was flocked with a blanket of fresh snow. The bright moon and white landscape almost constituted daylight driving. But the roads were still dangerous. With a hundred miles left, I checked my watch. It was zero three hundred hours. At thirty miles an hour I made it to Hagerstown. I removed the chains at Fredrick. The hubcaps had formed an interesting four-point star of roadway slush. I edged around Washington D.C. and arrived at Fort Belvoir thirty minutes late.

The admin clerk didn't seem to notice my tardiness. He remarked because of the snowstorm, check-in for the Engineer school would not commence until the next day. He stamped my papers and directed me to the billeting office. I had wasted a lot of anxiety.

Fort Belvoir, Virginia
January 1977

After signing in to the Engineer Officer Basic Course, I drove weary Kim to billeting. We all slept together in a big bed in a big room with shower and kitchenette. It wasn't until evening when we left our room for dinner. We occupied that guest quarters for about a week

This course was different than the previous three army courses-BCT, OCS, and Airborne. EOBC was a gentleman's course in that I spent most days in a classroom and most nights at home with Kim and Zachary. According to the book, my goal was to learn combat engineering, general engineering, and geospatial engineering.

Training was divided into four modules: a defensive module, an offensive module, a general engineering module, and a construction module. For most subjects I studied in the classroom first, then executed in the field. Because we were officers, we received a grand overview of combat engineering, not so much to perform the grunt work, but to lead platoons in what they should do.

Most subjects seemed to have a constructive side and a destructive side. For instance, we learned how to build bridges and how to demolish them. We learned how to lay a minefield and how to detect one. We also learned how to operate heavy construction equipment. I operated a bulldozer in a mud pit. That was the high point of the course.

There was a voluntary PT run every morning before the first class at 07:00. I usually ran with the group. There was also a mandatory formation and PT run on Friday afternoons.

Because of the nature of this course and my personal constitution, I did not make many friends. My focus was on my home life with Kim and Zachary. A few weeks after his inauguration, President Jimmy Carter announced an amnesty for draft dodgers in Canada. As most of my comrades complained loudly about this, I thought of my buddy, Jimmy Francis. A few weeks later, I did learn that he had returned to Whiting.

While I was in the classroom, Kim was seeking an apartment. Her strategy began by looking in the yellow pages for a Korean grocery store. Here we were in luck. Northern Virginia was home to more Koreans than any place on the east coast. Once she walked into a Korean shop, she introduced herself, and was directed to the best Korean church. After a single Sunday among Korean worshipers, a dozen compatriots from the pastor on down were willing to assist her in any way they could. Kim was always gregarious and collected friends like a magnet gathers iron shavings.

She found a nice apartment in Woodbridge, about thirty minutes south of Fort Belvoir. I arranged for the Longview furniture to be shipped east, and after ten days we moved from sleeping mats to our own bed. Our bulky TV arrived with the picture tube shattered. The mover asked, "Did you ship it like that?" We were happy to have the government pay for a replacement.

Woodbridge was our home for the next eighty days. I drove the Toyota to work on most mornings. Sometimes Kim would drop me off in order to shop and get out of the house. She would pick me up about 5:00 p.m. and we'd do something special on post like bowling or catching a movie.

EOBC seemed to be a regular day-job with occasional fresh-air outings. I did well on written exams. Book tests were always my strong point. I didn't do as well with the hands-on field tests; how to lay a minefield or how to inspect a dump truck. The four phases and thirteen weeks whizzed by. Virginia was a pleasant interlude for the three of us.

I was astonished at how fast the words of John's gospel faded from memory. I figured brute memorization was like this: I once shoveled snow off my driveway during a daylong snowfall. The original task of plowing was most difficult but as light flakes continued to fall; I had to go outside every few hours to brush away recent fluff. In Virginia, I brushed up the Gospel of John chapter by chapter.

We made two tourist outings during our three months in Virginia. One morning we drove to D.C. to visit the monuments. We leisurely walked the capitol mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol. We also spent a lovely afternoon at Mount Vernon. I remember strolling the grounds with Zachary perched high on my shoulders. As I took a picture of smiling Kim in front of Washington's tomb, she grimaced. "Is his dead body really behind that door?"

I also remember visiting the home of a faculty member who showed me amazing technology. He had an electronic gizmo attached to his television. He switched from broadcast TV to this thing called Pong. He handed me a device with four buttons and I played my first video game. I couldn't fathom how such a gadget operated.

I enjoyed my homelife with a lovely wife and toddling son. Zachary was speaking his initial words, the first of which I think was "no!". Kim was astounded when I taught him a baby song I learned as a Peace Corps Volunteer, "San-toe-key, toe-key ah" about the hopping mountain rabbit. He performed the song and gestured his bunny ears at our Korean church while Kim's friends giggled in delight.

January and February were unusually cold. We walked in our neighborhood bundled up and kicked a beach ball around the apartment parking lot. March weather was still cold and windy. Warm weather didn't arrive until April. Walks around Fort Belvoir were verdant with Spring growth and cherry blossoms.

A few weeks before graduation, I petitioned for my first duty assignment. The army's choice was with the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I countered with a tour in Korea. The Engineers accepted my preference and orders were cut for Korea. When I read the document carefully, I recognized it was an unaccompanied short tour. I had assumed Kim would be accompanying me, so I asked for a change. The army was reluctant, but re-assigned me to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

I only took a single picture of my EOBC; a graduation photograph. The picture shows fifty-seven graduates with one female and one Saudi student at front and center. I graduated three months to the day after I had arrived in Virginia. I posed for an official photograph at Olan Mills Studio and Zachary posed as well.

We lingered at Fort Belvoir for a few days, packed up our household goods, and headed west to Missouri. We included a diversion visit to Whiting. Jim Walker had already moved into his girlfriend's house down the street. I knocked at Charlotte's door on April 9th.

As we talked, she explained how she worked at a care facility, emptying bed pans and caring for the elderly. The pay was paltry, but she said she was able to witness about Jesus and pray for those on death's doorstep. As a senior in high school, Jimmy was mostly out with his buddies. He stayed with his dad on some occasions too. I remember walking with Shelly, Chris, and Dan to Whiting park to give my sister a break. Kim, Zachary, and I strove to provide her cheer as she entered a season of singleness.

Charlotte had become friends with my old flame, Arlene. She and her husband lived just half a block down Sheridan Avenue. At the mention of Arlene, I felt that old stab in my heart. I dawdled behind Zachary as he toddled down the street. I paused across from the big corner house, gazing at the structure that contained the woman who had jilted me five years earlier. I sighed, did an about-face, and returned to Charlotte's place.

April 10 was Easter Sunday; I decked out in my class-A uniform with special engineer brass. Seven of us went to Charlotte's church across the state line in the Hegewische section of Chicago. The place was over-the-top Pentecostal. The Holy Ghost dove at the front was major, the cross at the back was minor, and quotations casting out demons plastered the walls. After the Easter service, Char, Chris, Dan, Kim, and Zachary posed for pictures on the front stoop, candy-filled baskets in hand.

After this short but sweet visit, Kim and I headed southwest to Missouri on Monday morning. A new adventure lay ahead.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 14

April 1977 to August 1980
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; … a time of war, and a time of peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,8)

My three and one-half years at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, marked a season of Ecclesiastes; a time to be born (my son Simon) and a time to die (my father John); a time of war (honing battle skills) and a time of peace (no combat on the horizon). It was also a season to gather stones together (launch a military career) then to scatter them (separate from active service).

April 1977

I drove through the front gates of Fort Leonard Wood on Monday evening, April 11, 1977. We only spent two nights in guest housing before moving into our new quarters. My sponsor accompanied me as the housing official showed me various homes. As he was walking through two-room billets, I said, "but my wife is pregnant and is due in a few months."

He nodded, "Then let's look at three-bedroom places". My sponsor later suggested I showed cunning when actually I was being truthful.

We moved into 11 Pick Place, the right half of a one-floor duplex at the end of a cul-de-sac. It took a week for our furniture to arrive from Virginia. Our duplex-neighbor was a nurse with a civilian husband and a girl named Shannon, about Zachary's age.

Fort Leonard Wood was a training post (TRADOC) with a primary mission of preparing recruits (BCT) and conducting AIT (advanced individual training) for the MOS (military occupation skill) of 12b, that is combat engineer. The post was home base to enlisted engineers just as Fort Belvoir was home to engineer officers.

The mid-size military installation was about a one-hour drive southwest of Saint Louis along I-44. The nearest cities were Rolla and Springfield. Situated at the north edge of the Ozark mountains, the setting was rural but with a first-class hospital, PX, and commissary. Its nickname was "Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, Misery".

My initial assignment was with Training Group as a range officer. I drove between four firing ranges: M16 zero, M16 field fire, M16 record fire, and LAW (light anti-tank weapon). Each of these ranges was led by one Sergeant First Class accompanied by three or four other enlisted men. Sometimes I sat in the shack-a cinderblock resting area. At other times I walked the firing lines, especially while they were active with trainees.

I was a functionary butter bar knowing less of the operation than the least of the enlisted. I interacted with my own NCO's but also with drill sergeants that accompanied the recruits. It was odd to consider that just eleven months earlier, I myself was that struggling trainee firing an M16 for the first time.

Kim made Korean friends immediately. (If you find one, you find them all.) Most of her lady friends were wives of military men. Some lived on post while most lived in the off-post towns of Waynesville and Saint Robert. Of course, she located a Korean church as well. She would have liked to look for employment, but at seven months pregnant, her focus remained elsewhere.

As April warmed into May, we planted a garden beneath our kitchen window. Soon, starter plants of tomatoes, beans, peppers, and squash sprouted with tiny fruit. Rain and wind were abundant. A furious thunderstorm knocked a utility pole into our back yard, just missing the house. We survived without electricity for two days. As her pregnancy advanced, Kim spent more time at home, chasing Zachary, and sitting in the backyard sun. Zachary celebrated his second birthday at a park with Korean church kids.

By this time, I was able to recite the entire Gospel of John in one stretch. It took about two hours straight as I spoke into the bedroom mirror. I decided to enter a bold quest to memorize the entire New Testament. I mapped out a four-year strategy listing all twenty-seven books plus several forays into the Old Testament. My next challenge was to memorize twenty-one selected Psalms.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

As part of her pre-natal care, Kim was making regular trips to U. S. General Leonard Wood Army Hospital. Ultrasound revealed our number two child was a boy. I joked with Kim that she was batting two-for-two. I wanted to give this son a thoroughly New Testament name. I liked the name Simon as well as the name Peter, but the two in combination sounded awesome. Kim selected a Korean name that alliterated with Peter. She chose Pyung Hwa which means "peace".

On Monday morning, June 20, Kim experienced contractions. She said they were nothing like what she had felt with Zachary. Plus, she added, the due date was still two weeks off. She encouraged me to go into work. Should I have said no? When I returned home about 1700 hours, Korean church friends sat ministering to her. I drove Kim to the nearby hospital. One of her friends agreed to look after Zachary.

Army policy allowed husbands to share in the birth experience and I intended to do so. I milled in the hospital for ten hours, sometimes at her bedside, and sometimes in the waiting room. A few expectant fathers shared the space with me. Both were bummed out because the hospital commander had just ordered cigarette smoking banned inside the facility. They kept stepping out of and into the waiting room. I almost smoked my first cigarette in years.

Finally, about 0500 hours, I spoke with Captain Stoddard, the attending physician. He informed me her contractions had paused and I might as well go home and get some rest. I peeked in on Kim as she was lying on her back, flipping through a Korean magazine. She agreed I should rest at home. And so, I drove the ten short blocks.

Three and a half hours later, as I was preparing to return to the hospital, the telephone rang to inform me that I was the father of a baby boy. I had missed a second birth! At 0806 hours on the first day of summer, Simon Peter Pyung Hwa entered the world. He measured nineteen inches long and weighed in at seven pounds, ten ounces. I grabbed my camera and headed for the hospital.

Kim was sitting upright in a gurney signing papers. She was smiling. "Do you want to see your new son?"

"Of course, I do."

An attendant walked in with a tiny bundle and placed the newborn in Kim's arms. I snapped a picture, then gently lifted Simon Peter to my chest as the attendant photographed me with a big grin and the baby with a big yawn.

I apologized to Kim for missing the birth. She insisted that was okay with her, confiding she would have been embarrassed and it was not a Korean custom anyway. She felt strong; the baby was healthy; and that's all that mattered. When I signed out the next day with my wife and her bundle, the army bill totaled $12.30: $4.10 for each meal she consumed.

A week or so after Simon's arrival, Kim and I held a talk about family planning. She was sobbing. "Two babies are enough. I don't want anymore. I want a career. Zachary came in spite of contraceptive foam and Simon with an IUD in place. Chris, I love you, but I don't want to get pregnant again. It's your turn to step up and do something."

I understood her meaning. In the army we termed it change the angle of the dangle. It was my sacrifice for her sake. More children would have been fine with me. Although it was elective, the army provided the procedure at no cost and soon a vasectomy was performed. The doctor said the surgery might be reversed, if done within a few years. That made me feel somewhat better.

The family went to an Independence Day celebration held at the post parade ground. As we picnicked, I sat my newborn strapped in a baby holder against a pine tree. A dozen passers-by stopped to admire the sixteen-day-old boy. I was certainly proud of my growing family.

The summer of 1977 witnessed a cascade of family visitors. Being on the route between Whiting and Longview had something to do with it.

First, six Zelens dropped by: Jeanne, Don, DJ, Nate, Ben, and Grandma Rose. They stayed one night at the army guest house. Nate, Zachary, and Ben splashed in a backyard plastic pool. Soon they headed out to Eugene with Don's mother to spend the summer together. Susie Zelen was going to be married to Don Davis in August

A few days later, dad and mom dropped by in the white Chevy van. Frank, Lelia, Joshua, and Shelly Walker were also part of this group. My dad looked rail thin. He told me he had an ulcer and that made it difficult to swallow. Just before dark I put on my PT clothes to run a few miles behind the house. Dad responded, "Well, I don't feel strong today, but maybe on the next visit I'll run with you." Standing by, Frank wagged his head at that suggestion.

I have a wonderful photo of Kim and me, mom and dad, with Zachary and Simon posed in front of 11 Pick Place. My dad studied me in the battle dress uniform of a second lieutenant, saying he was proud of my accomplishment.

As he was leaving, Frank told me how much he liked Fort Leonard Wood. He and Lelia had visited a local waterfall after a thunderstorm and witnessed an amazing full-circle double rainbow.

Just as they were leaving, Charlotte arrived with Jimmy as a co-driver, Chris, and Dan. They also stayed a few days. The two boys were eager to climb inside the Sherman tanks resting near army headquarters. I learned that my sister Charlotte was in a serious relationship with my best friend, Jim Francis. I was amazed. He was twelve years her junior, but something clicked between the two of them.

A month after this, four Zimmermans stopped by for one night at the guest house. I showed them around the post. Terry wanted to look at the aircraft. Jenny and Laura played mommy with baby Simon.

On September 1, we celebrated Simon's 100 days-pek-il-ki-nyun. In the Korean tradition, one-hundred days old marks the moment when a child has survived long enough to be counted in the town record. Kim and I were surely enjoying this addition to our family. Our second son was a happy chubby-cheeked gurgling bundle of joy. I took dozens of pictures of my two sons posed side by side. God had truly blessed me with this family of four.

In September, I was in weekly communication with mom and Frank. I learned dad had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and the disease was spreading. Almost every day my mother was driving him to Portland for chemotherapy. Finally, on October 5, I got a call from my brother Jack. He told me dad was dying and I should hurry to Longview. I didn't have enough money to cover three tickets so Jeanne loaned me the funds to fly west. The Red Cross informed the army and I was allotted ten days of emergency leave.

I was the last of six children to arrive in Longview. Dad was at home and chemotherapy had ended. The cancer had spread to his pancreas and there was nothing more doctors could do. Dad decided to spend his final days at home.

When I first saw him, dad was lying in his bedroom on a narrow hospital bed. Charlotte and Eileen ministered to him most of the time, moving his body position to make him comfortable and prevent pressure sores. He was so lightweight it took little effort. A nurse who attended the Christian Church dropped by once a day to check his vital signs.

Dad was so grateful the single time I assisted him onto the toilet. After years of him caring for me, it seemed odd but correct for me to assist him in this personal way. Throughout most of his suffering, praise tapes sounded on a cassette player near his bedside. Gospel choruses drowned out his occasional groan.

I sat with him in the evenings and read scripture mostly from the Psalms I was memorizing. I repeated to him the psalm he once recited as a child passing through Indian burial mounds in Ohio:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23)

Frank explained how the previous months had been so difficult on the family. My father was a Pentecostal man with a stubborn streak. Being a disciple of Kenneth Hagen, he believed in positive confession, denying that sickness had invaded his body. Through gritted teeth, he proclaimed he was in perfect health. He resisted going to the doctor when he first struggled to keep down food. Perhaps this cancer could have been successfully treated in March. We will never know. Dad resisted medical help until mom coaxed him to see Dr. Starr who diagnosed his esophageal cancer. Even after chemotherapy and a terminal diagnosis, my father continued to confess that Jesus would heal him of cancer and his survival testimony would astound the world.

Dad's older brother Frank and my Aunt Anne were staying in the house. Uncle Frank helped me push Simon's baby carriage to Lake Sacajawea where Zachary fed the ducks with bread crumbs. Terry, Jack, Frank, and I played golf one afternoon-my one and only attempt at the sport. One day we picnicked in the woods, but sorrow overwhelmed most hours of the day. While I was in constant conversation with my five siblings, Kim was occupied looking after Zachary and Simon. For my brother Frank, joy tempered his sadness. Lelia was expecting baby number two in just a few months. While in town, I visited both Jack and Eileen, of course taking pictures.

My ten days of emergency leave soon expired and my family was just about to return to Missouri when dad took a turn for the worse. I was granted additional leave and about 10:00 p.m. on October 19 my father passed away. I stood at his bedside when he shuddered. I heard the death rattle in his throat as he swallowed down his last breath. His eyes were shut and he hunched into a fetal position.

I fought to contain my grief. I walked into the kitchen to announce to faithful friends that Jesus had taken their mentor home. I lifted the phone receiver and dialed the funeral home. I could not utter the word deceased, but burst into uncontrollable sobs. One of dad's friends took the phone from my hand and calmly passed on the information. My father was dead, just one month beyond his sixty-third birthday.

Mother sat alone with dad for an hour longer, grieving and carrying on a one-way conversation. Soon Jeanne, Charlotte, Jack, and Eileen arrived at the house. We wept for my father as mortuary workers removed his remains for transport to the funeral home.

The next day mom and Eileen went to Longview Memorial Park and bought two crypts in the mausoleum. Mom picked out a coffin and brass name plate. The burial service was held two days later at McVicker's Parkview Funeral Chapel. Dad's coffin and viewing took place in a small room set to the side. Three pastors spoke words of comfort and we sang some of dad's choruses. A large stain glass window portraying Jesus the Good Shepherd cast colored light upon us. Zachary wandered the mausoleum in a cookie monster jacket while I held Simon in my arms. Mom placed a temporary marker on my dad's marble crypt: "With Jesus".

A memorial service was set for October 17 at the First Christian Church. For the next five days, we comforted mom and reminisced about dad. We all loved John Foreman, yet I felt resentment that he hadn't sought medical treatment sooner.

"He could still be with us", a sister said. "He was just a year from retirement. He had wanted so much to make that road trip with mom at his side."

The thought that early intervention could have restored my father seemed to make his untimely death even more tragic. "And only sixty-three years old!", Uncle Frank lamented.

The Homecoming Celebration was held for John F. Foreman at the First Christian Church in Longview on October 27. The bulletin, produced by Eileen, shows Earl Sample presiding with the Vader Brothers leading in Praise and Worship. Jack gave the eulogy; Chris the Scripture Reading; and Frank gave the closing prayer.

A singing of his favorite song, Because He Lives closed the ceremony. On the back of the bulletin were words to another of dad's songs: He is Lord! He is Lord! He has risen from the dead and He is Lord. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!" A few of his fellow Reynolds workers were in attendance and presented mom with a Bible in memory of the man who touched so many lives at the cable plant. Dozens of his fellow Full Gospel Businessmen wiped tears as they spoke of him. My father was loved and respected by so many people. He had led hundreds into the kingdom of God. In later years, Frank wrote this about our dad:

John's burden to see God's Kingdom advanced was burning in him. He saw the need was urgent. And his patience was not great. But as his Pastor said at his Memorial Service: "Some didn't like how John did things, but I think that God liked how John did things better than how we don't do things." His zeal was sometimes not leavened with the greatest of wisdom. But as Jack said at his memorial service: "It's hard to not like someone who is constantly telling you how much he loves you."

His death was very difficult on his family. All loved and respected our father. To a varying extent they had embraced his faith teaching. It was difficult to comprehend God taking their father after only seven years of incredible ministry.

Thirty-seven years later, Don still said that the first thing that he wants to ask God in heaven is why he took John too soon. It is always risky to attempt to discern the meaning behind God's actions. Eileen feels as if God was sparing dad from the waves of perversity that would flood our society in the decades to come. Taken to its extreme, the faith doctrine can be very cruel and unloving toward the poor and hurting. And dad was never one to take anything half way. My feeling is that maybe, if dad had continued in this path, it would have compromised his loving ministry. God had mercy and gave him an early retirement.

The day following the memorial service, my family of four flew back to Missouri. I meditated on my father and the transience of life. Like Saint James said, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away." I think what caused my heart the greatest sadness was that my two boys would never get to know their grandfather. They would have no remembrance of him. I was also grateful that I had three older sisters. Mom was in good hands. What if I had been an only child?

Kim spoke up about what a great father-in-law my dad had been; what a role model for me and what a rock of support for her. She shared, "I didn't know what to expect when I first landed in your parents' home. On the second evening here, thirty people crammed into the living room. A picture of Jesus hung on the wall. I was timid and afraid until the whole group began singing and clapping. Your dad led that group and your mom banged the tambourine. From that point, I knew the heart of your parents. I guessed we might have some issues with them, but I observed love was so thick, it could cover any misunderstanding."

My dad's death was also noted in his beloved Voice Magazine.

When I returned to duty, I learned that I was charged twenty-one day's leave. I was ten days in the hole-no vacation for a while. I also learned that Charlotte upon her return to Whiting had married Jim Francis. My oldest friend had now become my newest brother-in-law.

I continued to work on the firing ranges. Captain Walton was my supervisor and Major Moore was his boss. One day I got a major chewing out by the crusty major. It happened like this: Major Moore published a weekly newsletter for everyone in Training Group. He included hails, farewells, safety tips, and a calendar. In his personal column he lambasted readers of the newsletter, especially junior officers. He stated he had "deliberately made spelling errors and grammar mistakes in a previous newsletter" and he was disappointed no officers pointed out his mistakes. He added we should strive to write in a soldierly manner.

I took his comments as a personal affront. After all, I once taught language and grammar. After distribution of his next newsletter, I carefully read his opinion column. I took a red pen to it, making suggestions, then passed it on to a command sergeant major in the headquarters. A few days later, I was summoned into the major's private office. He smiled as I closed the door behind, then as they say in the army, he proceeded to tear me a new rear end. I stood impassively. When he finished his rant, I saluted smartly, about faced, then exited the office. The NCOs were grinning. Was I a hero or goat? Captain Walton was upset with me, but nothing more came of it. I later heard the Colonel of Training Group had a good laugh at Major Moore's pomposity.

I got a break from the routine when I attended a three-week workshop on the "Systems Approach to Training". Then the holidays arrived. Because the ranges were quiet, I was granted time at home without taking leave. I asked a neighbor to take a Christmas photo of my family standing in the front yard, snow on the ground. I was erect in my class A uniform; Kim stood at my side in her white hanbok holding a red-clad Simon; and Zachary stood in a cute little sports coat holding a toy camera. That served as the Foreman family 1977 Christmas card. We also snapped a few inside pictures.

For my birthday, Kim baked a skewed chocolate cake. I put two large house candles at center mass and surrounded them with eight birthday candles. The next day was Simon's first Christmas. He celebrated by bouncing in the Johnny Jump-up. Zachary celebrated Christmas at his pre-school by eating cake. As the new year approached, I gave thanks to God for the wife and children He had entrusted to my care. Perhaps I never excelled as an army officer because I considered by primary duty devotion to Kim and to my two sons.


In January, I learned that Drury College had just opened several masters level courses at the nearby education center. One of their offerings was a master in education (MEd). The curriculum was designed with soldiers in mind. All classes were held in the evening with college faculty driving the fifty miles from the Springfield campus. I began my first class before the end of the month.

Kim was anxious to get out of the house and to begin her career. She applied to teach ESL for the Waynesville school district. With her BA degree and considerable pluck, she landed the job teaching four hours per day. It was a good fit. Many of her language-learners were Korean.

Kim's employment necessitated two changes. First, I bought a 1970 Ford Maverick to drive from range to range. Kim became the sole driver of the Toyota. Also, we employed babysitters. It wasn't too hard to find young military wives who wanted a part time job. We rotated between two local army wives that got along well with the kids.

With her first pay check we drove to a place in Rolla called Barrel Furniture and she bought a dark oak bedroom set: king-size head board and base board, one upright dresser, one long dresser with mirror, and two end tables. We donated our pressed-board cast-outs to the furniture pantry. With our growing family and finances, Kim and I thought it prudent to write a Last Will and Testament. The Army assisted us as we did that on January 19, 1978, and we agreed that in the event our deaths, my sister Eileen would become guardian of Zachary and Simon.

In February, we took a long weekend to visit Jim and Charlotte Francis in Whiting. I hadn't seen my buddy since 1970 so there was a lot of catching up to do. He explained the collapse of his marriage to Peggy, his adventures in Canada, and his courtship of Charlotte. His two sons, Jason and Ryan, were with him for a week-end visitation. With my two boys, Charlotte's two boys, and Jim's two boys we went to visit Mr. and Mrs. Francis on Lake Avenue. It was a pleasure to gab with them.

About that time, Kim and I decided to commit to a church. We had been hopping around for nearly a year, sometimes going to the on-post chapel, sometimes to a Korean church in Saint Robert, and sometimes not at all.

Agapé Chapel was a congregation of about thirty that met in a Waynesville real estate office. Desks were pushed to the wall and folding chairs were set in rows. Brother Bob led the charismatic service. The music team were professional-caliber country singers and about half the people were military. Simon was taking his first steps about that time.

Kim missed her family, especially her mother. She realized the only route for her mom to come to America was for herself to become a US citizen. When my wife focused, she could accomplish amazing things. For two weeks she studied the citizenship book day and night, asking me to quiz her on presidents and the constitution.

On March 9, 1978, I went to Springfield to witness her swearing in as a US citizen. She held up a certificate and waved a flag as I snapped a picture of this newly minted Korean-American. The certificate also legally changed her name from Hyun Deok Foreman to Kim Hyun Deok Foreman. Of course, the first thing this new citizen did was to invite her mother to America. I signed an affidavit vouching for the character of my mother-in-law.

In March I was transferred. I was still working for Training Group but now overseeing drill sergeants in Company A. This special unit was for hold-overs, what were called the sick, lame and lazy. Trainees with broken bones, failed PT tests, or mental issues, reported to our First Sergeant. From this limbo, young soldiers were either discharged into civilian life or re-cycled into BCT. The need for my oversight was minimal. The NCOs carried out the real grunt work as I appeared here and there as quality control.

A day after Easter, Kim sat impatiently on the front steps. She was looking up the street for her sister. Hyun Ok had married a GI in Korea named Michael King and they had returned to the US for Sergeant King's assignment at Fort Bliss, Texas. When Michael's Datsun 280z pulled into the driveway, both sisters ran to each other in excitement and embraced. It had been nearly four years since they parted at Kimpo airport.

Hyun Ok and Michael stayed with us a few days, most of which time the sisters sat side-by-side in conversation. Hyun Ok doted on her two nephews and let Kim know her first child was on the way. Michael helped me tune my misbehaving Maverick. I was so happy to see my wife so happy.

A month later, Char and Jim Francis dropped by the house, towing a U-Haul trailer. Accompanying them were Shelley, Chris, Dan, and Jason. Jimmy had graduated from high school and chose to remain in Whiting, while Ryan remained with his mother in Toronto. Jim had some job prospects in Longview and the newly-weds wanted to leave their troubles in Indiana for a fresh start in the Northwest.

Shelley agreed to stay with us at Fort Leonard Wood. She was a bit traumatized from the divorce and remarriage and was seeking solitude. Kim and I were seeking a baby sitter, so it worked out for all. Shelly was a joy to have in our home, reading to the boys and dressing the boys to look like thier father. Shelley also planned Zachary's third birthday

Kim had discovered water cress from one of her Korean friends and on a few occasions drove to a secret spot, waded knee-high into a spring-fed pool and plucked out a basket full of the fresh-water seaweed. I picked up my son Simon by his ankle and dangled him upside down. Kim scolded me, saying "That's how you hold a frog." Shelley's salary for staying with us was a one-way ticket to Portland a few months later.

My brother Frank dropped by the house a week after Shelly left. He had graduated from Dental School and did some additional training at Wichita Falls. He wanted to pay me a visit before going overseas. There is a great photo of Captain Foreman and Lieutenant Foreman standing shoulder to shoulder in class-A uniforms.

With summer came muggy Missouri weather. Our window air conditioner wheezed overtime with little effect. We lived on my salary alone. Kim sent much of her income to Korea, and made major purchases with the remains. She bought a living room set, heavily upholstered (child-proof) in a maize checked pattern. We set the new ottoman in the backyard grass for Simon's first birthday. My second son posed with bright Korean clothes. Simon waved and Zach grinned in the group photo. I wanted to drive out to Longview for the July 4 holiday, but I wrote to my mom saying it was too much of a challenge.

Kim signed up for the MEd at Drury College. We sat in some classes together, but with my head start, she followed in my footsteps. I often lent her my notes. Her inspirational instructor was a woman named Ramona Agruso. Kim aspired to be a college professor just like this role model.

Dramatic headlines riveted my attention. Pope Paul VI had died, followed thirty-three days later by the death of his successor, Pope John Paul. On August 16 there was big news of the first Polish pope, John Paul II. I felt pride in my Polish heritage and wondered how my Polish community back in Whiting might celebrate the occasion. Also, in the news was a mass killing at the Peoples Temple in Guyana, South America. Jim Jones and over 900 of his cult followers had died, many after drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid.

As the summer turned to autumn, Kim and I took the kids to hike in the woods. The maples and oaks showed their brilliant fall colors. We walked along an abandoned rail track and I began to collect wire insulators from broken-down telephone poles. Zachary sought after them like Easter eggs. Soon I possessed a dozen of the multi-colored glass doodads. I also acquired a tandem bike. Sometimes we traversed the neighborhood as a bicycle built for four. I pumped and managed the handle bars; Kim pedaled behind me; Zachary was strapped into a rear seat; and Simon was tucked into the front basket.

I was occupied throughout 1978 attending college classes at the education center. I was handling two per week, usually on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The faculty was fun and there were only eight students in my classroom. Without much effort I earned A's and B's. The background music of study was purely classical, sometimes from vinyl LPs but mostly from cassettes. I began to favor two of Brahams Piano Concertos, 1 and 2. Sometimes for a change of pace, I spun my old 78s.

Around the anniversary of my father's death, I remember sitting in class, writing an ode to my father called Change of Address.

My duty at Company A was not strenuous. On most days I filled out recommendations for the disposition of my sick, lame, and lazy soldiers-either back to Basic Training or back home. However, in September this desk-bound job came to a sudden end. There was a unit on post that would soon be heading to Germany, and they were in need of Engineer officers to achieve full strength.

In October, orders were cut reassigning me as a Platoon Leader to the Fifth Engineer Battalion. This was my first combat position. Sergeant First Class Snyder was my chief NCO and under him were four squad leaders. In all I led about forty men. I was fortunate in that 11 Pick Place was only two blocks from my workplace. Also, at the two-year mark of my commissioning, October 19, I was promoted to First Lieutenant.

In January we would be deployed on something called REFORGER-79 (Return of Forces to Germany). The Fifth Engineers would support an infantry division as it conducted war games across the breadth of West Germany. The last few months of 1978 were hectic. My platoon spent days in the field honing our engineer skills, especially erecting floating bridges. Our military greeting became: "fit to fight" with a response of "can do". Finally, we had a week-long breather just before Christmas.

Kim was excited. After nine months of effort her mother was emigrating to the States. A week after Kim's mom arrived in our house, my mom also flew east for a visit. Kim interpreted as the two grandmothers conversed. Their common grandchildren got lots of tender loving care.

Six of us celebrated my birthday then Christmas. Yet the time was bittersweet. Three days after Christmas I constructed a giant snowman in the front yard. Then I reported to the Fifth Engineers and prepared for a five-week deployment to Europe. I spent one night with my platoon in barracks, then boarded a C-130. We stopped in Halifax to refuel, then traveled on to Iceland where we deboarded for a few hours.

Wet snow greeted our arrival in Germany. Our tents sagged with the weight. I melted snow in my steel pot and managed to shave. We spent a week in tent city to toughen up and drill while our battalion commander plotted a campaign with the generals. I found it difficult to sleep on New Year's Eve. Most of my platoon was outside drinking hooch and partying past midnight.


The army certainly lived up to its reputation of hurry up and wait. We didn't begin maneuvers until January 4. My Fifth Engineers were part of a defensive team that guarded the Czech border as mock Soviet troops advanced from the Fulda gap. The magnitude of the exercise was so large and my platoon's role so minor, that I never grasped what was going on. I just followed orders as we passed from German village to village, never glimpsing the big picture.

My platoon convoyed in four Deuce-and-a-Half cargo trucks. I sat in the shotgun seat of the lead truck with SFC Snyder and a driver. The others followed as we traversed the countryside. I was amazed at the ability of our drivers to wind their trucks through tiny downtown streets. I was astonished to see Sheridan tanks making the same maneuvers over cobblestone.

We did not mix much with local Germans. Since I was acting as an unofficial photographer for our company, I stopped at a photo shop and bought slide film. The few guys who entered the shop with me were surprised at my facility in German. I was amused. A Korean word would pop from my mouth whenever I forgot a German word. I joked, "I can speak two languages, English and foreign."

The two-week REFORGER was cut back to ten days after road damage reached its financial maximum. We must have driven in circles three hundred miles without ever building our bridge. Nevertheless, our battalion commander commended us for a job well done. I remember standing at attention when a staff captain won an award for air-lifting six porta-potties to battalion headquarters. Such was the army.

The early end of the exercise meant we had extra time on our hands. We billeted in an abandoned apartment complex. I remember one of the privates asking me what that object was protruding from the porcelain toilet. He had never seen a bidet. The army was sponsoring tours of the area as we waited for our return flight. I opted for a short bus tour of France and Luxemburg, taking pictures at the WW1 memorials. Those were the ninth and tenth countries I had visited.

I also focused on Bible memorization. Over the previous few years, I had committed to memory the New Testament books of Matthew, Ephesians, James, and Revelation. I struggled to keep these words fresh in mind and decided to pause further memorization until such a time as I could recite what I had already stored in my head. I knew the Gospel of John best and in times of reflection, thrilled to the self-spoken words of the beloved apostle.

When I returned to Fort Leonard Wood, Halmoni (Korean for grandmother) was the caregiver for my sons. Zachary marveled at the mustache that now appeared on my face. Kim was busy both teaching ESL and studying for Drury college. I was able to re-join my classes at week three by completing extra homework. It looked like I could graduate in June.

As Halmoni was bathing Simon she noticed a bulge near the base of his belly. Sure enough, it was a hernia. Little Simon has surgery and spent a night in the hospital. Kim wanted her mother to stay with us, but Halmoni wanted to be independent. She had a friend who now lived in Santa Clara, California, and soon she left for the west coast to find work in Silicon Valley.

I was platoon leader for a few more months after REFORGER and kept weekly notes. This was my platoon schedule for 30-April to 04-May, 1979:

Monday a.m. - Engineer Tools - SGT Picotte - Tool room
Monday p.m. - Pay Day activities
Tuesday a.m. - Star hour - Bio Classes - Baker Theater
Tuesday p.m. - Standard Pattern Minefield SFC Snyder - TA 148
Wednesday all day - SERE training – Training Area 148
Thursday a.m. - Duty company AGI prep
Thursday p.m. - PRT barracks check
Friday a.m. - Human Relations BN classroom
Friday p.m. - Command Maintenance

After REFORGER, officers were being shuffled. The battalion communications officer was court marshalled after military police found a cache of army ammo in his private residence. It was an upward move for me. I was fortunate in that my new office was just a short walk from home. On most days I ate lunch with my family.

I was not branch qualified in the signal corps, but my six NCOs were competent. I pretty much let them run the show. Our job was to maintain twenty AN/PRC 77 radio sets. These manpacks provided short-range, two-way voice communication within the battalion. Our home base was a commo truck full of electronics parked in a barbed wire enclosure. I studied the manuals and became proficient enough to coordinate communication. Every unit, down to platoon level was allocated a prick-77 during a field exercise.

I was planning a vacation for the summer and wanted to travel in a station wagon. Kim was reluctant to part with her Toyota, but agreed to trade it in for a Buick Estate Station Wagon. This slightly-used vehicle was cherry red with pushbutton windows. Our first expedition was to Lake of the Ozarks, where we rented a motorboat and sped to an island for a picnic. Kim was startled when I jumped out of the boat, swam underwater to the other side and shouted at her backside.

My final two Drury classes were in the summer. In one I studied Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development. This concept fascinated me combining my interests in education and religion. His three stages were preconventional, conventional and postconventional, that is, what is externally imposed; what is imposed by society; what is understood through abstract reasoning.

I wrote my Master's thesis about these stages of moral development, giving them a Christian twist. The paper was accepted and I graduated with a Master of Education degree from Drury College on August 11, 1979. The MEd was not so difficult for me and the idea was planted for me to pursue a PhD.

I had finally accrued enough leave to take a long vacation. Before heading to the Northwest, I washed and packed my newly acquired car. (Zachary decided he should wash his tricycle as well). I coordinated with Frank so we could have a family reunion. After this long drive, I took a wonderful line-up photo of eight kids in Zelen's back yard, all born between 1974 and 1977: Heather, Zachary, Joshua, Stephanie, Ben, Nate, Simon and Lucinda. It was a wonderful get-together. I did miss my brother Jack. He, Barbara, and Patrick had moved to Dallas, Texas. Alan stayed behind in Eugene. No one was surprised when this eighteen-year-old ran into difficulties living unsupervised.

Of all dad's children, Eileen was the one who picked up his spiritual mantle. She continued to be active in Women's Aglow Fellowship, serving on the Southwest Washington Area Board and speaking at conferences.

During my stay in the Northwest, we visited Fort Vancouver, and the Astoria Column. On the return trip we stopped off in Santa Clara to visit Halmoni.

On a late summer day, I was flipping burgers on a backyard grill when I saw an unusual sight. It was a tiny vehicle whizzing down Minnesota Avenue. I spied the same car a few days later parked in the hospital lot. I examined it and discovered the wedge-shaped vehicle was an electric car, something like an oversized golf cart but street legal. I discovered the City-Car was owned by the commander of the hospital and was bold enough to look him up in the hospital office and ask him where he had purchased such a cool vehicle. The colonel was enthusiastic and said he had just bought his for $3000. The model was one of seven at an obscure location near Springfield.

I had to have one! I sold my Maverick and Kim drove me to the dealership. I learned City-Car of Florida had gone bankrupt and sold off its inventory. This lot of 1976 plug-in cars ran on deep-cycle marine batteries. They were constructed of light-weight fiberglass, reached a maximum speed of 45 MPH, and could-recharge overnight. Kim thought I had lost my marbles, but she loved me and put up with my eccentricities.

My powder-blue flying wedge was perfect for on post driving. The cantonment area was flat, military police enforced a speed limit of 30 MPH. Plus, I did not pay an electric bill and never bought gas. I made it to the farthest ranges with ease.

We did run into a problem once. While I was in the field for a week, the Buick engine threw a rod. Motor oil covered my driveway. Kim had no choice but to drive the City-Car into Waynesville. She was embarrassed. The speed limit once out the front gate was fifty-five and at thirty miles round trip, the maximum range was challenged. I was scolded, but she did admit some of her school buddies thought the little car was cool. It cost $1500 to have the Buick engine repaired.

In September, Zachary began attending pre-school and was soon counting to thirty. I worked with him to recognize the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. He was such an enthusiastic learner. Simon was so loving, clinging onto my leg whenever I was around. I have to say the best job I ever had was rearing my two sons. They were amazing.

I continued to work out of the commo section, but was mostly bored. I needed a project, so I re-wrote the Battalion code book from scratch. I typed it on to 8x12 paper then shrunk it down to half size. I bound it with plastic covers. The battalion commander was so pleased with the result he wrote me a letter of commendation.

LT Foreman has become a most proficient battalion communications officer in a short period of time. His ability to adapt and learn quickly and pay close attention to detail in the many activities of his section was instrumental in quantum improvements in section performance. He responded to guidance and special requirements in a professional, mission-oriented manner. His ability to analyze complex detail and produce completed staff actions was exemplary.

In October, the shah of Iran fled his country and the Islamic Republic was born. After the shah re-settled in America, Iranians went berserk. On November 4, radicals stormed the American embassy in Teheran and held as hostage fifty-two US diplomats and civilians. This sent a chill through the army. We were put on a low-level alert.

Word came to us that war with Iran was not out of the question. My friend David decided it was time for him to leave active duty. He thought he had joined a peacetime military. I saw a hand-written note above our army toilet that read, "Flush twice. It's a long way to Iran".

Kim and I followed the news every evening. We were greeted with the words, "Today is day such-and-such of the Iranian Hostage Crisis." The days would eventually grow to be 444. Battle maps of the Mideast replaced maps of those of central Europe. Jimmy Carter seemed powerless. He later attempted a military rescue that failed miserably. That debacle marked the nadir of military prestige.

On December 24 I turned thirty years old. Did I really want to remain in uniform for another half lifetime? At thirty I also entered an age of enlightenment. Jesus carried out his earthly ministry from age 30 to 33. He had always seemed like a wise elder. Now I was Jesus's age at baptism. What would I accomplish? The year ground to an end with me wrestling with my mortality and with my future in the army uncertain.

1980 to August

With the new decade, I entertained new thoughts. After consulting with Kim, I decided to separate from active duty. The army uniform seemed ill fitting both literally and figuratively. I was attracted to the military's sense of duty and its romance of honor. I liked staff work and statistics. I certainly enjoyed the security of a steady paycheck. However, I lacked military bearing; the comradery, aggression, and bravado necessary to lead men into battle. I recognized this shortcoming and decided to pursue a different course in life.

I made the official request through channels and on February 14 received a notice "Release from Active Duty", to be effective August 15. My life was at a crossroads once again. I wrote out applications to the law school at the University of Missouri, to the PhD program at the University of Oregon-College of Education, as well as the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I cast my bread upon the waters, not knowing where my path might lead.

Meanwhile life continued. Halmoni visited for a few weeks. Zachary joked that she was a dumpling making machine. She demonstrated her grandmother love by cooking and knitting for her two grandsons. I noted the love-tension relationship Kim showed toward her mother. I considered my wife a wonder woman; she was plugging away on her Master's degree; she worked full time; she was raising two young boys; and she was active in church. She certainly seemed like a high achiever to me. Yet it was never enough for her mom. I know Kim loved her in theory, but in person, only in small doses. I wrote about this relationship years later.

The Asian Mother Paradox is this: Your mother will sacrifice everything for your success, and yet your mother will never admit that you are fully successful. In other words, no amount of your success will fully satisfy her. The counterpoint of this relationship is the Asian Daughter Paradox which states: You will sacrifice everything to win the approval of your mother, and yet you recognize that no matter how successful you become, you will never win her full approval.

I stuck with the Fifth Engineers for the remainder of my time at Fort Leonard Wood, but since my supervisors understood I would not be a career officer, they re-assigned me to battalion headquarters and loaded me down with extra duties.

In March I had the duty of being an escort officer. This episode was unusual. A big news event had just occurred on the installation. Two soldiers were carrying on an adulterous affair. The man shot and killed the woman, then killed himself. I was selected to escort the parents of the woman from a bus stop to the hospital morgue. An attendant pulled open a cooler to reveal her corpse. Of course, the parents wailed. The father then demanded to see the corpse of the assailant as well. This was not authorized. Yet he insisted.

I asked him to sit in the waiting room, while I called the hospital commander (the other guy on post with a City Car). I explained the situation and he rushed over. He calmed the grieving parents. I was concerned about contacting the colonel, but he assured me my action was appropriate. I set the parents up in billets for the night, then drove them to Saint Louis the following morning.

I learned I had been accepted at all three of my educational institutions. I agreed with Kim that the University of Oregon was the best option for us. Family also pulled me to the west coast. A dozen relatives now clustered around Don and Jeanne in Eugene. We made plans to relocate to Oregon. Jeanne offered to house us for a few weeks until we found our own place.

A sad event occurred at our little congregation, Agapé Chapel. As the musicians transitioned from praise and Brother Bob opened his Bible, several ladies suddenly and unexpectedly put caps on their heads-little bonnet-like things that they tied under their chins. Bob stared at the women and their husbands, asked some questions, then walked down from the pulpit and out the front door. One of the instigators took his place and explained how the new policy was for women to keep their heads covered in accordance with First Corinthians. Kim never donned a bonnet and I never returned to that church.

For my next extra duty, I was selected to teach something called the Leadership Management Development Course (LMDC). This curriculum seemed right up my alley, addressing inter-communication, leadership styles, management techniques, and personality tests. It was disparaged by many as too touchy-feely for macho military types. I first had to attend the five-day course as a student, then sit through two weeks of intensive teacher-training. After this I teamed up with an NCO to co-teach four back-to-back sessions. That consumed the three-month tail end of my military career at Fort Leonard Wood.

As a teacher, I mastered the material, using portions of it for many years to come. I administered the Myers-Briggs many times. I turned out to be: Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging or INTJ. In the top right corner of sixteen personalities, my type was dubbed a mastermind because of its strategic logical way of thinking. When I gave the test to Kim, she turned out to be an ESTP. We were different in three aspects, but alike in thinking.

In mid-May a major event occurred near my home-of-record, Longview. That magnificent mountain called Saint Helens blew its top, spewing ash for counties around. The mountain had lost is gorgeous symmetry and two-thousand feet of summit.

I wrote a story years later about this volcanic eruption calling it "The Permanence of Men and Mountains". I described how in 1972, my dad, Frank, and I strove to attain the 9000-foot summit of Mount Saint Helens. We turned back about half way up. My father told us as we began our retreat, "That's okay. We'll do it another time".

Unfortunately, there was never another time. My dad passed away in 1977 and just to make the point emphatic, my mountaintop passed away in 1980. As the preacher of Ecclesiastes proclaimed, "Vanity, vanity all is vanity. It is all chasing the wind."

When I flew to Portland on May 28, my jet made a westward detour to avoid volcanic ash. I was in town to witness the wedding of my niece Nancy Zelen to Brian Ament. I have a picture of the couple in wedding attire adorned with face respirators. There's also a great photo of Frank and me decked out in our dress blue uniforms standing with the bride and groom.

My last day of active duty occurred on July 11. I attended a Hail and Farewell where all my Fifth Engineer buddies toasted my departure. I mentioned to a few that during my time in the military, I felt like a fish out of water.

The summer seemed to pass to quickly. Zachary then Simon had their birthdays and I drove them to the pool most every day. Little Simon said he could swim like a "fith". Meanwhile, Kim was in full-crisis mode pounding on our bulky manual typewriter, striving to complete her Master thesis in the allotted time. She was losing weight, now down to 113 pounds.

On August 2, I cleared quarters at 11 Pick Place. As I packed my belongings for shipment to Eugene, I counted ten new boxes of slides; that was about one thousand in total. So many of my tranparencies were portraits of my sons, and pictures of the two of them. How could I ever find time to look at them all? I figured Kim and I would enjoy the memories once we were retired.

I had rented a trailer at Lake of the Ozarks for two weeks to enjoy the pines and lakeside. Kim spent a few of those days with Zachary, Simon, and me, but mostly she stayed with Deena at her big house in Saint Robert. This isolation allowed her to focus on school work without distraction. We never spoke of it, but this Korean friend of hers ran a massage parlor just outside the installation. Kim's heart was big and generous. She made friends with all kinds of people. I told her it was her ESTP personality.

We gathered outside the Education Center to see Kim graduate on August 10. She was so pleased to wear her cap and gown and be surrounded by classmates, friends, faculty, and family. She received from the trustees of Drury College the degree of Master in Education.

I had prepared our Buick Estate Wagon for travel a day earlier, hitching a wooden trailer to pull my City Car all the way to Eugene. We filled the wedge-shaped car with our suitcases. After spending one night with Deena, we set off with the rising sun in our rearview mirror.

I had received a decent separation allowance, so we took our time, driving for eight hours, then cooling off at a hotel with swimming pool. We shot northward to Mount Rushmore then headed west. We drove through Yellowstone where a light rain turned into snow flurries. I was amazed to see flakes on the windshield in August. Then the weather turned hot-into the nineties. My Buick began to overheat and I had to pause every hour or so to let the big engine cool. We drove through one night just to avoid the heat. After spending a day and night in Bend, we drove over the Cascades into our new home city of Eugene, Oregon.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 15

August 1980 to December 1983
Eugene, Oregon

Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, but I learned that this, too,
is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
(Ecclesiastes 1:16-17 & 12:12)

Our years in Eugene were a time of family and friends, growth and academic achievement. Kim and I had hoped to settle in this university town, raise our boys to maturity, and retire in its environs. But this was not to be. We proposed, but God disposed.

August 1980

My family arrived in Eugene, Oregon, on August 15, 1980. I found my way to the Zelen residence where Jeanne opened the door saying, "Welcome to my abode". I told Zachary that the digits of the house number indicated the year in which Zelens had moved into the house and in which direction the backyard faced: 1976 Sunrise.

Jeanne's three daughters were married and out of the house. Don John was a fifteen-year-old attending Churchill High School. Nate was a year older than Zachary and Ben a year older than Simon Peter. We shared space for about five weeks. Kim and I slept in a downstairs bedroom while the boys slept on couches in the family/TV room.

A large backyard faced east, overlooking the Willamette Christian Center. This nearby location served both as grade school and church. Murray McLees was the senior pastor when we attended this Assembly of God.

Also in Eugene were Debbie and Denny Necker who lived across town with Stephanie and Heather. Susie and Don Davis lived down 18th Avenue in an apartment. At twenty-one years old, Jimmy Walker studied philosophy at the university and raced twelve-inch radio-controlled cars. Alan Foreman was just out of high school, staying with friends, roller skating his days away. Nancy Jo lived with Brian in nearby Portland, dropping by on a few occasions.

It was good to be around family again. Kim and I sat in folded chairs as DJ led a backyard circus. Zachary posed as an acrobat walking a tightrope laid upon the grass. Simon was a Siamese Twin with cousin Ben; the two of them wearing DJ's big coat, each with an arm stuck through one sleeve. We cheered and whistled as the cousins performed their pseudo-stunts. Peter and Ben were certainly kissin' cousins.

After three weeks of Zelen hospitality, Kim focused on house hunting, enlisting the help of new Korean connections. We had only a few thousand dollars to our name so purchasing a home would be a challenge. We had hoped to relocate before the onset of the school year, but we had to enroll Zachary at Westmoreland elementary just down the street.

I began my doctoral studies at the University of Oregon on the day after Labor Day, September 2. The PhD was a three-year post-graduate program. I was credited with fifty-four quarters from Drury College which reduced my university stay to two years. I spoke with the department chair and consulted with a few of the faculty.

My interest lay in soft areas of higher education like philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. Together we worked out a plan to earn the doctor's degree in two years. My first load of classes was: Educational Psychology, Policy Seminar, History of Higher Education, and Philosophy of Education. Academia seemed like home. I was a fish in water.

Without jobs and a down payment, it was miraculous we were able to buy a house. Yet Kim finagled it. We assumed a bank loan for $26,000 at nine percent interest-no cash required. There would also be a $9000 balloon payment after five years. On September 21, we moved into 4028 Josh Street. Our small three-bedroom place was down 18th Avenue, ten blocks west of Zelen's house and a straight shot to the university. I was happy to be a resident of Oregon.

On move-in day, Kim and I were so pre-occupied with unloading and arranging that we lost track of Zachary and Simon. Just when we realized their absence, a car pulled up. A woman escorted my two young sons from the car and asked, "Do these belong to you?" adding, "I drove them around several blocks until they recognized your station wagon."

I made a couple upgrades on our house. I stuck faux brick to the kitchen wall and transformed the garage to a play room with bookshelves, washer-dryer, and just enough room to park and plug in my City Car.

We also bought our first telephone. This was a new experience. Hitherto fore, phones were property of the Bell Telephone monopoly and were hardwired into the house. We chose a pushbutton, long corded, Princess phone: 503-484-9388.

Don Zelen owned and managed a hardware store called U-Can located on 13th Avenue. I saved my trash disposal cost because he allowed me to dump my compacted garbage into his large containers. I planted trees in our new back yard and did a little landscaping.

Kim and I both needed to earn money. She found a decent job at Lane Community College, working in a place called a computer lab. I was able to do work-study at the university which covered about half of my tuition expense. I also found a job with my previous employer-the U.S. Army.

I looked at positions with both the Oregon National Guard and the Army Reserve. The Guard appeared too political and I seemed a better fit working with drill sergeants at the Army Reserve Center. I signed up with the Third Battalion, First Brigade, of the 104th Training Division. The Reserve Center was located on Chambers Boulevard, about halfway between home and the U of O. I would be in uniform one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This part-time job fetched me about $200 per weekend-not shabby.

Zachary transferred to Bailey Hill Elementary school, not far from Josh Street, attending four hours per day. Two of my college classes were in the evening but three were in the morning. We hired baby sitters for the eight hours per week when both Kim and I were out of the house. I typically studied from the hour the boys were asleep to way past midnight. I saw Kim out the door about 7:30, then looked after Zachary and Simon until she returned. I had no issue with being a stay-at-home dad, although I did allow the boob tube to do too much babysitting.

I was driving my City Car to the university. It was a perfect flat commute of about five miles. Kim considered the Buick Estate Wagon to big and gas guzzling, so she traded it in for a brown 1978 VW Rabbit. This vehicle became her long-time commute car.

Just before dark on Halloween, Sue joined Kim and me to go trick-or-treating. Our cul-de-sac was ideal for such activity. We followed Nathan, Ben, Stephanie, Heather, Zachary and Simon as they shuffled from door to door. Simon wore a Lone Ranger costume with a string-held mask. Ben asked him with some worry, "Simon, is that you?"

He lifted the mask, "Yep. Here's my Simon face".

On November 4, Ronald Reagan was elected fortieth president of the United States. It seemed odd to mark the occasion by watching "Bedtime for Bonzo" on Zelen's TV. Zachary cheered the election results, but later confessed he thought the USA had elected Ronald McDonald as chief executive. Could he get free hamburgers?

Zelens sponsored a big Thanksgiving get together. Terry and Eileen, Jim and Charlotte, along with numerous nieces and nephews packed the house. (Jack had relocated to Texas and Frank was stationed in Japan.) Mom held the position of matriarch while Don Zelen presided over the prayer and turkey carving. These family assemblies always gave me a sense of belonging, continuity, and accountability. I knew who I was in the presence of others who knew me even before I became who I am.

Being on the quarter system, the Fall term ended in December. I earned three A's and a B without too much hassle. My winter term began with Research Methods, Policy Seminar, Academic Governance, Educational Institutions, and Educational Anthropology. I learned about something called the Sapi-Whorf Hypothesis which suggested that language either determines or influences one's thoughts. People who speak differennt languages see the world differently. In my leasure time I wrote a short story about language and thought called The Brat.

Kim enjoyed watching TV dramas. She said it helped her learn English. The catchphrase throughout 1980 was "Who shot J.R.?" As a big fan of Dallas, Kim sat in front of the TV on November 5 for the answer. She was thrilled to learn it wasn't Sue Ellen.

As I was exiting a morning class on December 8, I overheard someone saying, "John Lennon's been shot." I raced home in my City Car, turned on the TV news, and learned that my favorite Beatle had died at forty years old. It hardly seemed possible.

The university paused for two weeks over the holiday season. Zachary brought home a Christmas card from kindergarten. We celebrated a cozy Christmas in the first home of our own. As Christmas music sounded on my stereo, Kim squatted Korean-style smiling as her sons ripped open gift after gift. The boys received mostly educational books and action figures. Zachary's special gift was a Little Professor calculator; while Simon's was a squawking Woodstock the Bird. When the celebrating ended, I gathered the wrapping paper as starter for the wood in our brick fireplace.

1980 ended with hope. Kim and I owned our home, attended a large church, enjoyed two healthy sons, cavorted with extended family, and were pursuing our dreams.


Kim caught the bug to study computers. She enrolled at Lane Community College to pursue an Associate of Science in computer programing. At home she studied the languages of Fortran and Cobol. Kim was incredibly self-motivated.

On the day of Reagan's Inauguration, forty-four American hostages returned from Iran. At the Reserve Center our Battalion Commander spoke about the military threat moving from the Soviet Union to the Middle East. On that day, I turned in my Officer Evaluation Support Form.

In my six months as training officer, I have contributed to the Training and supervision of A Company personnel. I have evaluated Drill Sergeant led classes, going to sites in order to observe and evaluate sessions. I have reviewed records of individual training. During the Field Exercises, I participated in and observed all aspects of training. My extra duties included mess officer, supply officer, maintenance officer and Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) officer.

About this time, Hyun Ea arrived at our house to stay. Kim's twenty-three-year-old sister assumed the name of Pam. She occupied our third bedroom for a couple months. With a student visa Auntie Pam began taking classes at Lane Community College and helping with the kids.

Pam was also into wicker crafts and kept supplies in her room. One afternoon Zachary peered under her pillow and discovered her sharp knife. Zach ended up in the emergency room with three stitches in his finger.

Pam was fascinated with cars and Kim helped with driving lessons around the High School parking lot. When Pam acquired her license and a used car, she moved into her own place. However, she soon relocated to be with her mom in Santa Clara, California.

About the same time Valerie Olson waltzed into our life on the arm of Jimmy Walker. This winsome lady was beautiful both inside and out. I couldn't figure how my under-performing nephew attracted such an over-the-top woman. The couple became threads in the fabric of our lives, attending parties and dropping by our house on occasion. Sometimes Valerie baby-sat our boys.

I was sitting at home writing a paper on March 30 when Jeanne phoned me. She said breathlessly, "Are you watching the news? President Reagan's been shot."

I replied in the negative, hung up the phone, turned on the tube, and followed the breaking story. I was a bit miffed because I had always prided myself in being the first to shout the news. The president survived the attack and John Hinkley was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.

On a related note, one of my boys' favorite TV shows was called The Greatest American Hero. The hero in question was called Ralph Hinkley. Zachary noticed his name quickly changed to Ralph Hanley.

I flourished in the intellectual atmosphere of the university, typing out one or two papers per week. For my class Education in Anthropological Perspective, I wrote a seven-page term paper called "Language Acquisition of a Mother and Child." The opening paragraph read:

The thought occurred to me even before my first child was born. In a reflective moment, I asked my expectant wife, "Do you realize that in only a matter of four years, this unborn child will be speaking the English language better than you?" My Korean-born wife smiled in tacit agreement. As it was spoken, so it came to pass. Today our three-year-old son makes fewer English language mistakes than his thirty-year-old mother.

Infused with academic jargon, I compared and contrasted how Zachary and Kim acquired the English language. I received an outstanding grade, although the professor suggested I find someone to proof my spelling.

When the spring term began in April, I was taking classes in: Policy Research, Policy Seminar, Thesis Seminar, Current Issues, Practicum, and Administration. A concept that has stuck with me since that time was the conclusion of the Coleman Report: "The number one predictor of academic success in school children is the involvement of their parents". Over the years, I have spoken that wisdom whenever the topic of educational reform arises.

I took joy in being a scholar, a soldier, but most of all in being a father. I colored eggs with my sons before Easter and hid a few dozen on Easter morning. What fun to search for them inside the house and in the backyard. I had to assist the younger son because it was imperative that each ended up with the same exact number of eggs in a basket; otherwise, tears ensued.

After a whirlwind courtship and engagement, Jimmy and Valerie married on May 8. Val's family lived in Springfield, Oregon, and the couple remained local. She was a pleasant addition to our extended family.

The summer was crammed with personal, college, and military events. First, Zachary celebrated his sixth birthday on May 22. Five of his guests were family and four were school mates. His mom had bought him a special superman cake. Zach's favorite gift was a combination safe to keep special things locked away from his brother.

In June we drove the VW Rabbit down to Santa Clara to visit Halmoni. She and Pam shared a small Silicon Valley apartment. Halmoni was among the first to work in a computer chip-making facility. She explained how she had to dip her gloved hands into toxic solutions. We traveled to the coast one afternoon, frolicking at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The boys loved to chase the waves as they retreated then dash from them as they swelled.

Simon's birthday was a family affair at the Zelens. All cheered as he managed to blow out all four candles. He brought such joy into my life. I continually marveled at how well Zachary and Simon, Nate and Ben, Stephanie and Heather, all got along together. It was a singular time in the life of these six cousins..

My extended family was into something called Basic Youth Conference headed by Bill Gothard. Kim and I attended one of his seminars in Portland. It wasn't held in a church but a sports stadium with Bill's visage appearing on giant screens. Several thousand were in attendance. I liked his seven basic life principles, but considered him to be a bit legalistic. I though his reasons for rejecting rock music were just plain silly. Lelia's sister and her husband took his teaching to heart-especially the full quiver principle-and produced three additional offspring.

In June-July, I enrolled in two university classes: Statistical Research and Sociology in Education. I was in the habit of driving my City Car to park on the street then walk a hundred yards through the beautiful campus.

Don John's dad had bought him a sports car, but when he really wanted to impress his High School chums, he borrowed my flying wedge. He called his high jinks cruising the gut.

In August, my army battalion held its two-week summer training at Camp Rilia near Astoria. Kim took time off work and my family of four stayed with mom in Longview. We visited Eileen and Terry who still lived in the Pondarosa development. Jim and Charlotte had purchased a house at 800 Academy in Kelso.

My battalion, a part of the 104th Division, was busy molding recruits into soldiers. It was a strange time to be in the army. Since the end of the Viet Nam war, army standards and morale had plummeted. I think the bottom had been plumbed. Half of our trainees were high school drop outs; One drill sergeant wore a wig to disguise his long hair; and the PT requirement sunk to include something called the two-mile run-walk. My hope was President Reagan could re-invigorate the military.

In the Fall of 1981, I returned to the U of O for more coursework. For a class called Ideology and Education, ten students car-pooled in a caravan to the University of California at Santa Cruz. Our professor loved this place. UCSC was founded in 1965 with an intention to showcase progressive undergraduate education; innovative teaching methods; and contemporary architecture. We sat in on several seminars as campus leaders extoled the virtues of such liberal concepts.

I sat as a passenger on the long ride back to Eugene. With flashlight and note paper in hand, I sketched out an idea for my doctoral dissertation. I determined to answer a percolating question, "Why do parents enroll their children in Christian schools?" As preliminary to this investigation I devised a model with three clusters of reasons: religious, social, and academic.

Over the next year, I would flesh out this R-S-A model, develop a questionnaire, interview parents, produce a dissertation, and receive my PhD in Education.

I also enrolled in a class outside the College of Education. Philosophy of Religion provided me with a larger outlook of worldviews. I wrote a thesis paper that impressed my professor, assessing church life in Oregon. I compared official religion with actual religion. From the "Atlas of Oregon" I extracted church statistics. The six top faiths listed in the state were Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Mormon, and Baptist.

The university housed all thirty-nine phone books published in the state of Oregon. I examined the yellow pages. According to my research and approximations, Baptists had the most adherents, followed by Pentecostal. I also uncovered 272 unaffiliated evangelical churches. Truly, conservative Christians were undercounted. This research was preliminary to the dissertation I was planning.

Also, in anticipation of Christian school research, I moved Zachary from Bailey Hill to Willamette Christian Center for first grade. I figured this placement would give me more understanding as I interviewed Christian-school parents. Zachary was an adaptive child and thrived in his new environment.

Simon began to attend half-day preschool. On his first day back home, he was crying because a few classmates teased him with the moniker Simple Simon. I asked if he would like to use his second name. He nodded yes. I spoke to his teacher the next morning and my second son was known thereafter as Peter. Dick and Bob, Asian twins, became his best friends.

Frank and Lelia were enjoying military life in Japan. I received good news and bad news from my brother. His third child, John Foreman, was born on September 22, 1981. The bad news concerned Lucinda. She wasn't communicating at four and a half years old and showed signs of severe autism and perhaps mental retardation. Frank told me the official diagnosis was autistic behaviors, because the doctors were reticent to diagnose autism which might indicate bad parenting. My brother and his wife were devastated. I upheld them in prayers.

The year passed quickly with hours of university coursework, writing, and research. Kim and I attended WCC every Sunday always mingling with Don and Jeanne, Sue and Don, Jim and Val. Peter reported that Valerie was his Sunday School teacher.

We spent a few days with mom over Christmas. From that year, the holiday seemed to take on an ethnic hue. Charlotte, Jeanne, and Eileen prepared a feast of Polish sausage, sauerkraut, and various old-world desserts. Eileen remarked, "We're getting back in touch with our root-skis".

At the last drill weekend of the year, Captain Endicott handed me my Evaluation Report:

1LT Foreman served as Executive Officer for the unit during the rating period. While besieged with requirements, he consistently accomplished high-priority tasks. He was able to update unit requirements, handle day-to-day activities, and establish effective working relationships with all company sections. He is a calm, thoughtful officer, thinking through a task or problem before acting. He offers advice and opinion freely, and his opinion is respected. 1LT Foreman is competent and has served this unit well.


As the new year began, my university coursework came to an end. I was still earning credits, but they were strictly thesis hours-five in the Winter quarter and four in the Spring. I projected six months to finish up my doctoral studies at the University of Oregon.

I learned that earning a PhD is equal parts aptitude, perseverance, and strategy. I memorized the doctoral handbook, clarifying the finer points with the department chair. I knew what hoops to jump through, when to hop, and how high to leap. I penciled out a diagram of goals and objectives, step-by-step, week-by-week. A critical step was acquiring a three-man advisory team who could assist in writing my dissertation and championing my cause.

While interacting with faculty over the previous sixteen months, I had noted those professors who might sit on my advisory committee. I made a point to impress them so they wouldn't forget my face or name. I sought them out in January and all three agreed to advise me. Benton Johnson knew history and religion; Phil Runkle was a great editor; and Robert Bowlin held clout in the College of Education. I thought we were a great team.

A dissertation in education comprised five chapters: introduction, review of literature, methodology, findings, and conclusions. I went to work immediately on chapters one, two, and three.

To help with computer programing Kim bought a Commodore 1530 with data-cassette and keyboard. She hooked the pieces up to the TV, and voila, we had our first home computer. Kim used it to practice Cobol and Fortran. I was astonished. I was able to type in the first chapter of John and the next day able to retrieve it from the data cassette. The little computer was a hit for all who dropped by.

Zachary and Peter were active and enjoyed racing around the cul-de-sac on their bikes. Zach owned a banana seat high-riser and Peter a Big Wheel Spin-Out racer. A few other kids lived nearby and after school marked bike time.

Zachary also began to play soccer with the American Youth Soccer Association (AYSO). Coach Ortiz lived nearby and would pick up Zach to drive him to the high school fields. Oliver was the coach's son and Zach's friend. Zachary was certainly a type-B personality. He played defense and when the ball was on the far side of the field, he would pluck blades of grass, toss them in the air, and watch as the wind caught them in a breeze.

I had such a ball raising my sons. I remember once it was past nine o'clock and the boys weren't in bed yet. Rather than nag them to flip off the TV, I walked out the front door barefoot and crouched under the TV-room window. I spoke in a growling voice, "This is the Boogie Man. It's time for you to go to bed. Ha, ha, ha."

Peter was frightened and said, "Who is that?"

Zachary laughed, "It's just dad."

It was then I stepped on something squishy. In my Boogie Man voice, I shouted, "Just stepped on a slug. Gotta go." Then I raced through the door, wiped off slug slime, and casually rested on the couch.

The boys entered the living room to examine me. Peter said, "Daddy, can I check out your foot?"

The boys walked in the winter rain, flew paper airplanes, and blew bubbles for the camera. Zachary needed chewing gum, but Peter managed it with spit. On one occassion, Kim decided she wanted two daughters and posed the boys as girls.

There were four parts to earning my PhD. First was the coursework. By 1982, that was behind me. I had met the requirement by completing ninety-six hours-mostly A's and a few B's. However, grades didn't matter much. The fourth part was the published dissertation complete and signed-off by my faculty advisors. Two hoops lay in between: written comprehensive exams (comps) and a public oral defense of my dissertation proposal (orals).

I took my comps with a dozen other graduate students. A panel of six faculty read and graded responses. I needed to score 70% on all eight questions. Results of the comps were posted on the official bulletin board. I was among the one half who managed to pass all eight questions. I was surprised that a few of my comrades, who were smarter than I, didn't meet the mark. In conversation with faculty, I learned that the biggest shortcoming involved not actually answering the question as written, but pivoting into a direction where the writer was knowledgeable. Professors recognized this ploy and a few erudite students failed because their brilliant answer did not engage the simple question.

My committee accepted my proposal in April. I would address the question, "Why do parents in Oregon enroll their children in Protestant Christian schools?" I composed a ten-page questionnaire that would cluster parental responses into three groups of reasons: Religious, Academic, and Social. My submitted proposal was only twenty pages long in order that faculty who chose to read it would not be over-taxed.

On the big day of my orals, I sat in front of a classroom with my notes at hand and three advisors in the front seats. Kim was present as were a few of my graduate-school colleagues. I hoped to keep the atmosphere non-adversarial.

My advisors had read the proposal and peppered me with clarifying inquiries. I answered with aplomb. They also tossed me a few softball questions. My colleagues were annoying. They hadn't read the proposal and so asked oddball questions. A problem arose when a few irreligious, contrary faculty dropped in. They thought my proposed dissertation was not sufficiently rigorous and threw hardballs.

These contrarians sparred with me, then with my advisors. Finally, a compromise was reached. Yes, I could pass my orals, but I would have to conduct a pilot study in order to demonstrate my process was workable. If this were done, and my advisors accepted the pilot study, then I could complete the dissertation by writing chapters four and five: findings and conclusions. This delay meant that I could not graduate in June, but had to wait until September.

I developed an interview guide consisting of seventy-one questions all designed to gather information about parental motive. Why are parents enrolling their children in Christian schools? I would ask questions and check the box or fill in the blank. Parents also completed a one-page sheet of demographic information.

Life happened outside academia as I juggled responsibilities to my family, my church and the army. On April 6, Captain Endicott was promoted to major, and I became commander of company A. I led one second lieutenant, a first sergeant, several NCOs, and a few dozen enlisted. I strove to do the best for my company and for my Battalion commander, LTC Root.

Zachary held a festive birthday party at Ferrell's Ice Cream in Portland. A few friends from Eugene attended along with four cousins. My son was really into science and received a telescope and globe. The special treat for the birthday boy was something called The Portland Zoo, a trough with five scoops of ice cream, sprinkle, sauces, strawberries, and a split banana. He had some help, but Zach earned the ribbon that read "I made a pig of myself at Ferrell's".

A few days after Zach's seventh birthday, Nancy Jo gave birth to a daughter. Melissa Ament was born on May 29, 1982.

On June 11, I sat in the sun at Lane Community College. When her name was called, Kim walked to the platform to receive an Associate of Science degree in computer programming. With diploma in hand, she also received a promotion. She was now the assistant to her friend, Marie, who ran the computer lab. To celebrate her new position, Kim bought a TRS 80 (trash-eighty) computer from Tandy/Radio Shack. This machine came with its own integrated screen and little keyboard.

In July, I returned to Rilia for my second summer camp, but this time as company commander. BCT worked like this: the 104th Division was responsible to qualify one cohort of trainees from the states of Oregon and Washington. My four platoons of drill sergeants looked after thirty trainees in the third and fourth weeks of training. My role was as leader, quality control, and coordinator with battalion HQ. The two weeks passed quickly, especially since any free time was devoted to writing my dissertation.

My pilot study took place at Willamette Christian Center and Salem Christian School. At each location I interviewed ten parents using my seventy-one-question guide. I collated results then met with my advisory team. With their input, I tweaked the questionnaire, and gained approval to move forward with the main study. I ended up interviewing twenty-two parents in three primary schools and eighteen parents in two secondary schools.

I hired a typist to transform my rough-hewn notes into a 139-page document. I bound four printed documents, giving the signed copy to the university. When she handed me the manuscript, the typist showed me a piece of plastic, asking if I wanted to pay an extra ten dollars for it. I asked her what it was. She said, "Oh, it's a floppy disc that contains the words of your dissertation." I turned down the offer, not knowing what a floppy disc might be.

The abstract of my dissertation read as follows:

This study surveyed parents in Oregon who had enrolled their children in Protestant Christian schools during the 1981-1982 school year. Forty parents of children in kindergarten through twelfth grade were interviewed in depth, using both structured and open-ended questions.

The results of the survey provided a bounty of demographic information about Protestant-school parents and in a variety of ways answered the question, "Why do parents in Oregon enroll their children in Protestant Christian schools?"

Special attention was given to the religious, social, and academic reasons for enrollment. The study concluded by suggesting ways in which public schools can retain students and thereby meet the challenge of emerging Protestant Christian schools.

Overall, twenty-five parents cited mostly religious reasons for switching to Christian schools, seven social reasons, and eight academic reasons. My most interesting result showed religious commitment to be consistent across all grades. However, in primary school, parents tilted toward academic over social, while in high school, social ranked over academic.

My four suggestions for retaining children in public schools were: 1. Stop being hostile to the religious convictions of children; 2. Provide a decent learning environment for all children; 3. Return to basics; and 4. Listen to parents.

My committee met with me in late August to sign papers. I just made the deadline to graduate on September 3. On that propitious day I wore my cap and gown along with a gaudy neck tie to project an aura of non-conformity. A platform was erected on the grass outside the administration building flanked by hundreds of folding chairs. Kim, Zachary, Peter, mom and the Eugene contingent were present for the occasion. This post-summer ceremony was low key and speeches were short. When my name was called, I walked on stage to receive The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Kim took pictures of me with my mom, then Jimmy Walker snapped photos of my proud family posed around me.

Like Caesar in Gaul, I had accomplished my mission. I came to Eugene; I saw the challenge; and I conquered academia. But like Alexander at the Indus, I also felt empty. There were no more academic worlds to conquer. For me, the PhD had been more of an end in itself than a means to an end-like a real job. Perhaps I could find employment on campus?

In the following weeks, I searched everywhere at the university for a job, but 1982 was a recession year. I nearly landed a few post-doc positions, but they didn't pan out. I discovered an opening for Peace Corps liaison and became one of two finalists. I didn't get it. As proficient as I had been in attaining the degree, so was I deficient in follow-up employment.

Although I was still filling carrousels with slide transparencies, I bought a used black & white video camera from a friend on campus. The camera recorded to a device housing oversized cassettes. My first recording was of Zachary and Peter in a karate fight. They tussled in our living room for a few minutes knocking over a lamp. Kim was referee and judged Zachary to be the grand winner and Peter the super winner. We could not have real competition without Peter tears.

Frank had returned from Japan in August and was furthering his dental education in Portland. His family was in town so Joshua and Baby Johnny made video appearances. Zachary and Peter recited books of the Bible. Number-one son named all sixty-seven. Number two got through the New Testament and recited the Old Testament up to the book of Jones (Job).

Kim and I had to make a decision about schooling. Although we liked WCC, it was too expensive for both Zachary and Peter to attend. We opted to enroll them at Bailey Hill. We accompanied our boys the first day, walking Zach to second grade and Pete to kindergarten. We told them they could walk by themselves on the second day. The distance was about three blocks. There were a dozen school age-kids on the sidewalk and crossing guards along the route. Kim snuck behind the boys to make sure they could find their way.

In the fall I enrolled in two undergraduate classes to acquire my Oregon teaching credential. One class was titled the History of Oregon and the second was a Political Science class. I was inspired to write a term paper for poly-sci, seeking to discover where I stood politically. My muse was C.S. Lewis who described himself as culturally conservative yet economically liberal. I devised a chart outlining my view that a political spectrum cannot be measured along a linear continuum but must be plotted along an x-y axis. In 1982 I plotted myself to be centrist-liberal. Over the years, I've crept toward the conservative corner.

Life continued to happen while I insulated myself in the ivory tower. Alan Foreman ran into problems with the Lane County sheriff. I visited him in the county jail, ministering as best I could. To avoid further jail time, Alan left Oregon and reunited with Barbara in Euless, Texas.

I ran into problems with my City Car. Driving up the steep grade to visit Zelens blew fuses on the deep-cycle batteries. Related electrical problems developed and soon my flying wedge sat for days in a repair shop. Because Kim needed the VW Rabbit for work, I struggled with transportation. I began looking for a reliable third car.

In national news, an odd series of murders took place in the Chicago area. A person unknown had tampered with Tylenol containers, inserting a lethal dose of cyanide poison inside the capsules. After several unknowing victims died, all Tylenol products were pulled from store shelves. In short order, all medications were sold in tamper-proof containers and in the long run all processed food products were likewise sealed.

At the five-year mark of my army commissioning, I was promoted to captain. My pay and prestige increased marginally. I was proud to serve my country and volunteered for any extra duty or military school. Admittedly, part of my motivation was to generate additional income.

I discovered the McKenzie Study Center near campus, where free Bible classes were offered to U of O students. I began learning Greek with the help of one-thousand flash cards. I sat in on apologetic lectures provided by a Bible answer man. Question: "Can God create a stone so heavy He can't lift it?" Answer: "Assume God created such a stone. Now your question becomes, 'Can God lift a stone that God cannot lift?' Omnipotence means God can do all possible things. One thing He does not do is nonsense."

Often times, I turned off the TV and turned on the radio. KLCC provided National Public Radio and KPDQ-AM was the go-to place for Christian Radio. I enjoyed listening to both Prairie Home Companion and Focus on the Family.

I occasionally flipped through the fire-sale books offered at the U of O bookstore. I latched on one called "Sunset in a Spider Web: Sijo Poetry of Ancient Korea." I shared it with Kim who was surprised to see the poems in English version. She could recite many of the poems in her native tongue. Our favorite was by Chung Chul:

I'd like to carve a moon
Out of my heart
And hang it ninety thousand miles
High in the sky
So it would shine on the place
Where my love is tonight.

Eugene, Oregon, was the epicenter of the jogging craze. Kim and I bought sweat clothes and joined in. Together we jogged the neighborhood sidewalks and the track at Churchill High School. I ran as part of my army training as well, while Kim ran the track at Lane Community College during her lunch hour. The University of Oregon boasted the premier runners in the nation and often I would see Olympian Alberto Salazar blazing down Eighteenth Street.

I enjoyed filming videos at family events. During the Zelen Thanksgiving gala, Don led in prayer, voicing the blessing inherited from my dad. After the prayer Eileen led in singing the doxology and "We give the sacrifice of praise". Then Frank spoke from memory the 103rd Psalm: "Bless the Lord, O my soul". Mom stood back loving every moment of it. Auntie Pam and her boyfriend were bewildered at this spontaneous praise to God.

On Christmas morning, stockings were hung to the sides of the fireplace with little gifts inserted. I video-taped the ritual gift unwrapping. While in pajamas, Zachary and Peter collected gifts from under the tree and set them on the coffee table. To accommodate the camera, each son opened his gift one-at-a-time and told me his prize. The boys shared a walkie-talkie set, passing Christmas day in military-like conversation. A Christmas memory was preserved for future generations.

At church the next day, I dropped a note into the offering plate addressed to Pastor Murray McLees. I asked him if there were any way I could use my higher education to help Willamette Christian Center proclaim the Gospel.


On New Year's Day my extended family met in a little Quaker church near Frank's house in Portland. As I anchored in place thirty-six people strutted past my video camera: ten Foreman, five Zelen, five Walker, four Zimmerman, four Necker, three Ament, three Francis, and two Davis.

My top priority for 1983 was to find a job. Kim and I both loved Eugene, Oregon, and hoped it would become a place we could plant roots. Pastor McLees called me into his church office. He explained there were no jobs at present, but I could volunteer, maybe work my way into a position. I dropped by the middle school a few times and taught a few classes, but nothing seemed to gel.

After I received my Oregon teaching credential, I signed up with the Eugene School district to substitute teach. This avenue appeared more promising and I was working a few days per week. I did enjoy the kids, but without the continuity of a regular workspace, curriculum, and pupils, it was challenging. I was earning a few hundred dollars per month, but hoped my part-time work would expand to full time.

In the Spring we drove south to California to visit Halmoni. I was surprised to see Dong Hyun, now twenty-three years old. Kim did most of the talking while I looked after Zachary and Peter. I learned Q-Nam also wanted to immigrate to America, but he could not get a Korean visa until he had completed two years of required military service.

After a few months, Dong Hyun showed up at our door along with Pam. We hosted them for a week as they both looked for employment. They couldn't find work in the area so they returned to Silicon Valley.

As Spring passed into summer, Kim enjoyed a TV miniseries called Thornbirds, Peter signed up for AYSO soccer, and I watched from the sidelines as a gaggle of kids huddled aroung the ball. The coach often shouted "Spread out - spread out!". Zachary won a second-grade science project.

My video camera proved to be a hit at Bailey Hill kindergarten on parent's day. I hooked the gadget into the classroom TV, then focused on each of the five-year-olds as they spoke their names. They sang a few songs and mugged for the TV. All were amazed to see their faces on the screen. It was a first for most adults in the room as well.

I remember Peter was learning the alphabet and sounding out the twenty-six letters. One day sitting in the Rabbit he looked at the letters next to the gear shift. I quizzed him on the letters, P-R-D-L. He looked puzzled. "Where's the J?"

"J?" I asked with interest.

"You know, the J for Jrive."

It was a joy to have family so close to the heart as well as close to the home. I often took a collection of kids to a local park, to view local parades, to the top of Skinner's Butte, and into the great outdoors. My mother often came down from Longview to join in festivities. Sometimes we would visit the Zimmermans at their Ponderosa house.

Kim and I volunteered to teach a fifth-grade class at WCC. Both of us were needed. I would speak for ten minutes while Kim walked the floor calming rambunctious kids. Then we would switch roles. All students were enthusiastic and a few were eager to learn about Jesus.

My sons became Star War fans after I brought them to a theater to see Return of the Jedi. They especially identified with the little Ewoks. I bought them light sabers and action figures to live their fantasies.

To my astonishment, Kim earned a second Associate of Science degree, this time in Data Processing Computer Operations. On June 10 she walked on stage to receive her diploma. Kim was promoted to head of the computer lab. She genuinely liked people. In turn, they liked her and helped her climb the ladder of success. Networking came second nature to her. At times I envied my wife's ability to schmooze and acquire jobs. I wished I had half of her facility.

My City Car was becoming less dependable and I began planning a road trip to the East Coast. A third car was in order. After shopping around, I bought a 1974 VW 412 wagon. This mustard-colored beauty featured a rear air-cooled engine. The kids thrilled when I drove them short distances locked in the front trunk. I loved its novelty.

Kim's mom, sister, and brothers drove up to Eugene in mid-June. Pam kept company with Kim while Dong Hyun helped me prepare for the cross-country trek. I bought a top carrier for the VW wagon, a tent, camping gear, and mats. With my brother-in-law to assist we made great time, driving non-stop 1200 miles to Denver. Debbie Necker now lived in the Colorado capitol so we crashed there for the night. Zachary and Peter hung out with their second cousins, Stephanie and Heather.

The next day we drove another thousand miles into Indiana. I wanted to rest more, but Dong Hyun was a driving demon. The boys didn't seem to mind. We'd pause at rest stops and for fast food. I even napped on the back mats as the miles zoomed by. We finally set up the tent at a campground near Terre Haute and rested for about twenty hours. The final leg of our sojourn was six hundred miles to Petersburg, Virginia. The excuse for our long journey was to visit Hyun Ok and Michael, now stationed at Fort Lee.

Our stay was pleasant. I hung out with Michael; Zachary and Peter with little James; and Dong Hyun with his sister. We were in Virginia for Peter's sixth birthday and celebrated the event with cake and paper streamers. James took a polaroid picture and gave it to him as a present.

We paid a day-long tour to the U.S. Capitol, strolling from one end of the mall to the other. In the Capitol Building, I lost track of Peter. I was engrossed in looking at the statuary, noting the contribution from each state. I panicked until I made my way to the courtesy desk. Peter was in tears, a policeman talking with him. My son kept saying, "The man said 'I wasn't lost'. It was you that was lost.'"

We also stopped by the Shenandoah Caves with the kids. That location is remembered as the place Peter lost his Ewok named Wicket. We posed for a photo next to a stalactite with three boys and two furry friends. The next day we noticed the Ewok went missing. We later joked about the doomed creature wandering the caverns forever.

Soon we were on the road again, heading southwest. We camped more on the return trip-the boys in the car; Dong Hyun and I in the tent. We stopped in the Great Smokies one night and the Ozark Hot Springs the next. Arkansas was my fortieth state. At a convenience store in Texarkana, I left my wallet behind when I made a purchase. I didn't notice it missing until the next fill-up. Rather than drive backwards a few hundred miles, I phoned and the manager agreed to mail the wallet to the address on the driver's license. One week later I received it in Eugene, minus five dollars for the shipping.

Then we rested two nights with my brother Jack in Euless, Texas, splashing together in their backyard pool. My two boys mixed with cousins Patrick, Alan, and his new girlfriend. We continued on, pausing at the rim of the Grand Canyon. Next, we spent a day exploring Disneyland. Zachary wore a pirate hat and Pete was Peter Pan. I was amused that the boys preferred the fake Grand Canyon boat ride to the real Grand Canyon of a few days earlier. We stopped a day in Santa Clara to visit Halmoni, then we arrived back in Eugene, altogether putting six thousand miles on the VW. The entire road trip was a trek for the ages. We saw a lot of America!

The remainder of summer 1983 quickly passed. I attended my third Army summer camp at Rilia. I talked with the two-unit administrators and decided to apply for an Active Guard/Reserve (AGR) position. The more time I spent underemployed, the better the army option looked. I gathered references, filled out forms, and stood at attention in my Class A uniform for an official photograph. Peter tagged along to the photo shoot and volunteered to pose for an unofficial picture draped in my green army jacket. The tag board read 17 June 1983.

Every time I dropped by the reserve center; I'd ask the unit admin if I had received a response. He told me positions were easier to come by for NCOs. There were few slots available for captains.

Kim and I grew weary of Pastor McLees and his name-it-and-claim-it theology. We eventually switched to God's Freewill Tabernacle, a foursquare church. Although still Pentecostal, the pastor seemed less Bible thumping and more Bible proclaiming.

I continued to look for work, re-visiting Christian schools that were part of my doctoral studies. I nearly landed a job as assistant principal in Salem. I was assured of a position as principal in Canyonville. I returned home to Eugene believing that job was in my pocket, only to learn on the following day the founders of the school had handed the position to their son-in-law. I continued to do occassional substitute teaching for the Eugene school district.

Kim loved her work and colleagues at LCC. She was running laps round the college track and figuratively running laps around me. Her career was in ascent while mine stagnated. Depression led me to watch too many re-runs of MASH and assemble too many 1000-piece puzzles.

We took the VW 412 on a vacation to Crater Lake. Josh Foreman accompanied us. The sights and mountain air were fantastic. Then Peter complained about his hair. He said it was itchy. As Kim examined his scalp, she discovered head lice. My wife was grossed out. Upon further examination, all three boys had cooties. Once home, all were treated and cured. It made for a memorable outing.

In October we paid a visit to Zelens. Brian and Nancy Ament dropped by and we cuddled their new bundle of joy named Crystal. Brian was successful in his dad's construction business and Nancy flourished as a doting mother. In November, a frightful TV movie sent shock waves across America. "The Day After" dramatized the aftermath of thermo-nuclear war. Our Pastor devoted an entire Sunday morning to discuss the film and calm the fear. I admired the pastor and liked our new church home.

My wife and kids lifted me from the doldrums. Zachary was now playing basketball. I would have sunk beneath the waves without them. Kim hosted a surprise birthday party for me on December 24 with the Eugene family contingent in attendance. On Christmas morning, the boys were most pleased with their "Dukes of Hazard Race Track." We bought additional hot wheels track and the General Lee raced during the entire Christmas break. I took my last home movies with my video camera as the boys showed off their loot. The video contraption broke down beyond repair.

I felt inadequate as head of the household. I figured I should be the principal bread winner, but Kim brought home the bulk of bacon. End-of-the-year tax records revealed I had earned just $866 in 1981, $1572 in 1982, and $2267 in 1983. I continued to descend into a no-job funk. What would the next year bring?

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 16

January 1984 to June 1984
Eugene, Oregon & Chun-An, Korea

And the LORD said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your
father's household and go to the land I will show you.
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing."
(from Genesis 12:1 & 2)

It was the toughest decision I made in my life; to leave my wife and sons in order to prosper in a foreign land. Yet, I felt this was God's will for my life. I had always viewed myself as family man first and working man a distant second. I confessed to Kim I would do anything for Zachary and Peter. As things turned out, getting a job fell under the heading of "anything".

January 1984

The year 1984 had always brought to mind the dystopian future painted by George Orwell. In high school when I had read his novel, the year seemed unimaginably distant. Now with Reagan in office, many of my contemporaries wondered if the prophecy might come to pass.

The year began with a glimmer of good news. Kim knew someone who knew someone who might offer me a professor position in Korea. Kim was hesitant to tell me because she had no desire to return to her home country.

I met with Dr. Kim Jung Ae who was the education director at the Korean consulate in San Francisco. He happened to be a graduate of Dan-kook University in Seoul. He had just returned from his alma mater where the college president informed him the English Department was searching for a native speaker with both a PhD and familiarity with Korean culture. I seemed to fit the bill.

After a flurry of letters between my wife and Dan-kook University, I signed a one-year contract to teach in Korea. Together we arrived at a difficult decision. I would go to Korea alone while the family would follow at the end of the school year. My heart was broken at the prospect of family separation, but what could I do? Kim was concerned about being a single mother for five months, thereafter leaving a town and job she loved. Becoming a college professor in Korea would be a sacrifice for all concerned.

In the weeks before my departure, I learned that the Eugene School District was about to offer me a full-time position. The pastor a God's Freewill Tabernacle asked if I'd consider being a deacon. With troubled heart, I declined both offers. If only this had happened in 1983. I stopped by my Reserve Center to resign my company commander position. That too was difficult. There was still no word on my AGR application.

I remember sitting at my going away party at Zelen's home. I asked Jeanne heart-to-heart to look after my family. Michael Jackson was on TV singing Beat It. Zachary, Peter, and their cousins were testing break dance spins on the linoleum floor. I hated to leave all this joy. My boys were very attached to me. Most especially I hated to leave Kim. She was the love of my life. She was my rock.

I bought a one-way ticket to Seoul, renewed my passport, filled two fifty-pound bags, and on February 12 headed to Seattle-Tacoma Airport. With resolve and resignation, I hugged Zachary and Peter. "I can do this," I fortified myself. Tears filled in our eyes as Kim and I kissed farewell.

Cheon-An, Korea

I arrived in Seoul the next day and was met by a delegate from Dan-kook University. My sponsor held up a placard that read Dr. Foreman. Dan-kook was headquartered in Seoul and had just expanded with a satellite campus fifty miles south in a city called Cheon-An. The centerpiece of campus was a brand-new dental school, but the university also offered an undergraduate degree in liberal arts. I became part of the English department.

I stayed in Seoul a few nights meeting with university officials and signing papers. I then travelled with my sponsor to Cheon-An and was boarded in a newly-constructed dorm room, sharing space with a Korean lecturer. A toilet and shower were at the end of a hall. I discovered the urinal leaked and the floor slanted. The first time I peed, my slippers got the back-wash. I was under-whelmed. My meager office space wasn't much better. I sat in a common room with six other English-language faculty. I was the lone native speaker.

I felt the victim of bait and switch. The department chairman handed me a college-level text and I was on my own with three classes of freshmen. Most of my instruction proved to be drill and practice. I felt like somebody's talking parrot; a bauble in the English program. I grew isolated. It was similar to my days in the Peace Corps. After colleagues understood I would not socialize with them-that is, carouse, smoke, get drunk on soju-they left me alone.

I did get along with some of the students. We held informal rap sessions where I taught them songs and answered questions. At the time, many students had the nervous habit of twirling their writing pen on the back of their hands. I tried flicking the pen, but could never manage it.

I was surprised to see several non-Korean undergraduate students strolling the campus. I learned they were Moonies-followers of Sun Myung Moon. They were pleasant enough as long as you didn't question their cult.

I awoke one night to find my roommate dead drunk, standing next to his bed, and peeing against the wall. The splash sound woke me up. I raised a stink with my bosses and soon I had the room to myself.

I had a lot of time on my hands and determined to learn Korean. I flipped through vocabulary cards, studied a grammar book, and conversed daily with Korean faculty and students. I wanted to learn the colloquial language and began to read through comic books. I wrote a story about that experience.

One Spring day I was struggling through a Korean comic book. A female character shouted at her boyfriend Kea sori ha ji ma. As I translated the words to myself, I chuckled. The words meant "Dog sound don't make". I repeated the words a couple times. Now there's a useful phrase, I thought.

The next day was hot so I went outside wearing a short-sleeve shirt. While standing in line to board a bus, I heard giggling behind me. I turned to see two girls pointing at me. One was whisking her fingers up and down her arm saying "Monkey, monkey". I realized I was the hairy beast in question.

I remembered the comic book and shouted at them in my best Korean "Kea sori ha ji ma". One of the young ladies gulped an involuntary "Eu Ma" (meaning mother) and the other blushed red. An old man standing next to me grinned. As I sat down in the bus, I thought to myself Thank goodness for comic books.

My regular salary for Dan-Kook figured to be about $1500 per month. I was able to augment that by earning another $500 teaching English at a local high-tech firm. I learned they were exporting floppy discs to America.

As in the Peace Corps, I felt like a square American peg fitting into a round Korean hole. For instance, once I asked my boss about deductions from my pay check. I was told ten percent of my salary was deducted for social security. I then asked when I might see that money again. My sponsor looked perplexed, saying I could never collect because I was not Korean. I asked, "Then why is it deducted?"

I spent many evenings working on a Korean pronunciation guide based on minimal pairs; that is two phonemes in English that cause confusion in the Korean ear. I used my learning guide in my English classes to train Korean students. That exercise kept me busy and my mind off home. Parts of my introduction ran:

The purpose of this book is to teach English pronunciation to native Korean speakers by isolating some of the arbitrary vocal symbols used in English language communication. By investigating certain English words which have little difference in sound but big difference in meaning, non-native speakers will learn to differentiate between English sounds. The sounds-phonemes-under investigation are those particular ones that give Korean speakers the most trouble. By learning to distinguish between similar-sounding phonemes in both speaking and hearing, Korean speakers will learn one important part of the English language.

Finally, language learning should be enjoyable. One of the more amusing ways to point out difference in English sounds is to chuckle at the resultant meaning when two similar sounding phonemes are confused. This guide is chalk full of them and should be entertaining to use. Koreans who can pronounce their way through its pages should have fun as they learn their way to better English pronunciation.

My favorite sentences with proximal pairs were: "Itch each ear each year" and "Red led Blue; four to two". Two sentences with minimal pairs were: "Let us pray" and "Let us play."

A Zoo-ful of Z's became "Zany zebras zip zestfully in the Zanzibar zoo." A double-dose of double-you's read: "War-weary women would wind World-War-one wounds with wide white wool." I typed out about twenty pages of such playful sentences with explanations. I had hoped to publish my work. Of course, I got distracted and nothing came of it.

I was in continual correspondence with Kim, sending her one letter every three days. My poor wife was under extreme stress. She was looking after two boys; working full time; trying to sell two cars; rent out our house; and store our goods. She was torn emotionally. She loved me and wanted me to be a professor. However, she favored her American way of life.

Kim had a true love-hate relationship with Korea. In one letter she'd write about hooking up with her sorority girlfriends, while in the next she'd say we should live separate lives on distant shores. I asked Jeanne to talk with her and our church pastor to counsel with her. I sent all the comfort and humor I could muster, but at eight-thousand miles distance, I felt helpless and hapless.

I wrote to Kim a few times a week. Posatage became easier after I discovered I could avail my Army Reserve status and send mail via APO. The record shows I sent letters to her on April 3rd, 11th, and 17th. Looking back on the seperation experience, those months generated more letters than I would write to her in the next 20 years.

I also received a letter from Peter that brought forth a stream of tears. He illustrated four pages in pencil.

Page one: "The day without dad."
Page two: "Once upon a time a family didn't have a father." There appeared a map of the Pacific Ocean showing Oregon, Korea, and an airplane in transit.
Page three: "The two kids were sad." A stick figure was drawn with head slumped down and an unhappy face.
Page four: "Dedicated to Dad, by Peter."

I missed my two sons!

I paid a visit to Muguk, but all the people I knew as a Peace Corps volunteer had moved on. Just a few people in the middle school remembered me. Ten years had brought massive change to my little village. I also visited many local sights, mostly in the company of a ten-person English club that I started.

I took advantage of my military status. With my army I.D. I could visit Yongsan Army Base. One Saturday I wore a wrinkly army uniform onto Yongsan to see what might be available to me. There was no USAR unit on post, but there was an Army Reserve club where inactive soldiers could congregate to help each other earn retirement points through classroom attendance. I did that twice.

I also stopped at the Ministry of Education building to check out the Peace Corps office. Was there anyone I still knew? I learned to my surprise that the Peace Corps had left Korea in 1978, the last class being K-36. I was told the presence of Peace Corps volunteers indicated poverty and Korea wanted to show itself to the world as prosperous. I was sad about that.

In 1984, Korea was striving at double speed. Signs of new construction were everywhere. Posters and propaganda universally proclaimed the 1988 Summer Olympics which Seoul would host. The Hermit Kingdom of Korea considered this upcoming event to be its coming-out-to-the-world party.

While in Seoul, I experienced an amusing clash of culture, about which I later wrote.

Some events in life only become clear in retrospect. One of these events centered on a visit to my sister-in-law's house in Seoul. In 1984 I was in Korea teaching English at Dan Gook University. My wife was still in America and I was obliged to visit my wife's sister, Hyun Hee, to eat dinner at her house.

We enjoyed the time together. I showed her pictures of her sister and nephews. Then she said "My husband and I have already eaten, so you can eat alone as much as you want". That seemed odd to me but I understood that I was an honored guest.

Hyun Hee served a full Korean meal: a big bowl of rice and lots of little side dishes. The meal included a side dish of bul-go-gi (BBQ beef). I finished it off pretty quickly. After a while, Hyun Hee opened the sliding door and popped her head into the room. She saw that the first dish of bul-go-gi was empty so she took the empty dish and quickly returned with it re-filled.

I like bul-go-gi so I soon finished off the second dish too. Hyun Hee looked in again and saw that the bul-go-gi was gone. As she went to pick up the dish, I told her "No, no I've had enough". She took it anyway. This time I heard some conversation and commotion in the outside room. Hyun Hee was sending her son, Sung Kyung, to the market to buy some more beef! I couldn't believe it. I had told her that my stomach was full.

After 30 minutes or so, she entered the room and presented me with a third dish of bul-go-gi. I was sick of the stuff, but I didn't want to insult my sister-in-law. My parents taught me to finish everything on my plate. They would say "Just think of all those hungry people in China". So, I just managed to finish off my third bowl of meat. I was really stuffed.

But when my sister-in-law saw that the bul-go-gi was gone, she gave me a fourth bowl. This time I couldn't eat a bite (even if I thought of the hungry people in China). I just pushed the table away and said, "My stomach is full. I'm gonna die". That ended my big meal. We talked some more and then I left.

At a later date my wife came to Korea and together we visited Hyun Hee. I understood enough of the conversation to catch that Hyun Hee was laughing and telling my wife how much bul-go-gi I ate. I defended myself by saying "I only ate what she gave me. I thought I was supposed to do that".

As the two sisters talked and talked, a light bulb went on in my head. It was a battle of ethics I thought. My deep-seated Protestant ethic told me to finish all my food and not be wasteful. This clashed with her Confucian ethic to give me as much as I could eat. I was only completely full when I left a morsel uneaten on my plate. With 20/20 hindsight I could see that I ate and ate and nearly got sick in order to be polite and that she sent her son to the market to buy more food in order to be polite.

I chuckled to myself "That cultural lesson added an inch to my waistline".

After Kim informed me that she had purchased three one-way tickets, I felt relief. I knew my wife was coming, but I didn't know what mood she might be in. At first, I was gung-ho about spending a year at Dan-kook University. Now I was wishing I could return to the States.

Kim also telephoned me about the Eugene USAR contacting her. The Unit Admin reported there might be a position for me in the Active Guard/Reserve. I found that information both complicating and intriguing. Kim sent me this aerogram a week before her departure to Korea:

I received all three of your letters today. I cried after I read each one because I am so blessed with my husband. God must really love me so much that he brings you into my life.

Chris, I was confused very much after I talked with you on the phone. I realized suddenly I cannot handle things here. Only with God's help can we make a decision. Frank called a little while ago and we talked and prayed over the phone. I must let you know I will do what God wants you to do. Let's pray about it. We don't know if God wants us to be in Wisconsin or Korea.

I want to make it clear to you that the letters I wrote in my depression shouldn't be the sole factor in your decision. Evaluate every aspect and decide whatever is best for our family. I miss you as much as you miss me. I will follow you wherever you go if you seek the Lord. I feel so empty without you. Nothing is very important anymore but you and the kids. I don't ever want to be separated from you again. I will be in Korea on June first no matter what.

I want to tell you about my stressed and distraught letter. I was in deep depression just before my monthly period. You know how erratic I can be and touchy during those times. I am sorry. Already I told you I am going to yield my will to the Lord and will support you 100% whatever you decide-to stay in Korea or move to Wisconsin. I want you to be happy because seeing your spirit soring like an eagle makes me happy and very proud of being your wife. Bye, my sweetheart.

What a wonderful wife! Yes, we would decide together, but unless she insisted on Korea, I figured we would soon be returning stateside.

I took advantage of my military status to shop at the Post Exchange. An expensive item caught my eye. It was a high-end color video camera cabled to a VCR recorder. I had been saving my money, had a passion for gadgets, and loved taking videos of my family. At one thousand-five hundred dollars, I immediately transformed from a photographer to a videographer.

I located a place for my family to stay in Seoul at the Faith Christian Center. This was an outreach to the American military sponsored by the Church of God. Roy Humphrey, the director, said my family was welcome to stay a few weeks while in transit.

On June first, with video camera in hand, I met Kim, Zachary, and Peter at Kimpo Airport. One hundred-eight days had elapsed since I saw them last. It was a joyous raucous occasion. Hyun Hee and family accompanied me as part of the welcoming party. Peter spoke of an upgrade to first class. Zachary showed me a new watch he had received for his birthday. I couldn't keep my eye off my beautiful wife.

We split the next twenty-six nights, staying at the Christian Center, Hyun Hee's house, and Cheon-An campus. Kim was surprised when she visited the education center on Yongsan. Her Master's degree, computer diplomas, English ability, and American citizenship combined to make her a red-hot commodity. They offered her a high-paying job on the spot. She also talked with officials from Dan-kook who offered her an immediate faculty position in data processing. Ten years after losing her middle-school job in disgrace, Kim returned to Korea a conqueror. My wife was being offered positions she once treasured. Would she take them?

We all traveled to Cheon-An so my family could see my workplace. The next day we went on a long walk to Gak-won-sa Temple, site of the largest sitting Buddha in all Korea. As we climbed staircase after staircase, the boys were fascinated with the foreignness of Buddhism. When we reached the massive Buddha, devotees were lighting incense at the statue's base. Peter asked if we would do that. I said, "No, we are Christian. They are Buddhist."

Peter was puzzled; Zachary was introspective. As we sat and talked, the subject shifted to baptism. I asked if they wanted to be baptized as Christians once we returned to America. They both assented. My two sons didn't grasp what a Christian was, until they actually saw people practicing a contrasting religion.

Kim and I decided to visit Panmunjom, while the boys stayed with Hyun Hee. We boarded a military bus in Seoul and headed north into the mountains. Officials checked our passports and gave us instructions like "don't make inappropriate gestures to the North Korean guards".

At the DMZ we looked at Northern guards who were peering back at us. Kim and I entered the meeting room where peace talks are held. A painted line ran across a long table separating the nation in two. Before we exited the room, the guides invited us to walk around the table and thereby step into North Korea. I was happy to visit the north, but surprised at how frightened my wife was. Just the thought of stepping foot into the land of Kim Il Song disquieted her. She half-joked that she might be kidnapped. However, we made it back to Seoul just fine.

My family often traveled around town on crowded trains. As a foreigner, I tended to be the focus of attention. I was uncomfortable with this, but Peter loved it. He would entertain passengers with Michael Jackson impressions. Wearing his multi-zippered black jacket, my son would strut the aisles, lip-sync into is fist, and demonstrate the moon walk. He was quite the entertainer.

While I was in Cheon-An, Kim decided to take her sons to her hometown on the south coast. She preferred I not go along. I continued to be a point of family disgrace. The boys were able to meet their haraboji (grandfather) and a host of other relatives. Peter reported back to me about the rustic home mostly empty except for a giant TV. He held his nose as he spoke of a refrigerator filled only with fish.

Kim brought with her correspondence letters from Mary Casey, an AGR captain stationed at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Captain Casey suggested that with a few phone calls I might be able to finagle her slot. I placed a call to the commander at the Army Ready Reserve Training Center (ARRTC). We struck it off and we struck a deal. Colonel Smith could cut orders for me and I could report to Fort McCoy in July. I asked for a few days to discuss the matter with my wife.

I talked with Kim and she agreed it would be best if we returned to America. She was surprised at her own reluctance. She hated living in Korea. Yet, with such good job prospects, she hated to abandon them.

So, our lives once more took an unexpected turn. I had figured my family would live in Korea for at least one year, but I could see God's hand behind the scene. My exile was relatively short. Korea was not a destination, but a weigh-station. God had other plans for me and my family. I called the ARRTC on June 15. Army orders were cut and forwarded to Yongsan.

A few days later, I returned to Cheon-An. I was embarrassed to talk with my sponsor and department chair. They were shocked and a bit angry at my early and sudden departure, but there was no changing my mind. The campus setting was idyllic and sweet, but the culture was too bitter to swallow.

Often, I'd walk with my sons several blocks from the Christian Center onto the Army base. Peter would whine, "Are we there yet?"

I'd respond, "How old are you now? Well, when your seven years old we'll get there".

On June 21, Peter did turn seven and we held a birthday party for him at the Faith Christian Center. About a dozen military dependent children showed up as he blew out seven candles. He received a cartload of plastic toys, so plentiful in Korea.

My brother-in-law, Dong Hyun, was in negotiations to marry a Korean girl. He had earlier traveled to Seoul to court her. As I later found out, Dong Hyun mis-presented himself as a rich entrepreneur. The girl's family was also skilled at deception. They rented a giant house for one week to impress a potential husband from America with their wealth. On this double-duplicity, the two were married in Seoul on June 23.

His father, brother, and two sisters were in attendance. My boys were intrigued by the exotic and elaborate ceremony. Peter tried to peel off a decorative red circle from the bride's cheek. We were all stuffed with Korean delicacies.

We spent the day before departure in the shopping district of Itewon. The boys got monogramed jackets. I bought brass figures and Kim bought bedwear. To pump us up for Wisconsin living, we each bought complete snowsuits with our names embroidered on the pockets.

We taxied to the airport on June 26. Hyun Hee, her husband, and son accompanied us. As I was video recording, I asked the boys about their most memorable event. They responded, "Sung Yung's pyun-so"; that was their cousin's stinky outhouse.

We spent five busy days in the Northwest boarding at mom's house, visiting as many relatives as we could squeeze in. Kim and I paid a visit to her friend Marie. My inoperative City Car sat in her back yard; never to whiz again. We also dropped by 4028 Josh Street to meet with the new renters.

I became a videographer par excellence. My record of nine clips provides an outline of our short stopover:

1. Welcoming at mom's house. Terry, Mom, Peter, Zachary, and Kim in the kitchen; Jim Francis, Char, Jason, Shelley, Frank, Lelia and Johnny in the hallway. Eileen pulling up in front of the house.

2. Mom's front yard. Zachary and Peter talking with baby Johnny.

3. Visit to Florence. Four of us running on a sandy beach.

4. The Oregon coast. Trees, drift-logs, and crashing waves.

5. Picnic at Orchard point. Don John joking with Valerie, kids playing on jungle-jim, Frank leads kids in game of follow-the-leader. They can't manage his back flip.

6. Rafting at Orchard Point. On the rubber raft with Nate, Ben, Zach and Peter, all mugging for the camera.

7. Visiting Zimmermans. Eileen's extravagant hall display and Jennifer's more extreme bedroom wall. Laura and Shannon make an appearance.

8. Visiting Zelens. In the nook with Valerie applying make-up; DJ bearing his awesome chest; Frank and Jimmy chatting; Nathan drawing Garfield; Kim giving Korean-bought underwear to Pam.

9. Leaving Eugene. In the Zelen Driveway, with Joshua, Kyu Nam, Pam, Jeanne waving goodbye to us.

Goodbye treasured family. I thank God for each of you.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 17

July 1984 to June 1988
Mauston and Tomah, Wisconsin

He shall eat the fruit of the labor of his hands; he shall be happy,
and it shall be well with him. His wife will be like a fruitful vine within his house;
his children will be like olive shoots around his table.
(Psalm 128:1-3)

The four years of my redeployment to Wisconsin were fruitful and happy. I was gainfully employed and physically fit. Kim was pursuing her dream of becoming a professor. Zachary and Peter grew from childhood into adolescence. God was surely blessing my family of four.

July 1984

On July 1, Kim, Zachary, Peter, and I flew at government expense to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thus, I entered my forty-first state. I rented a car and drove three hours southeast to Fort McCoy. It was a Sunday and after locating my headquarters, I reported with a copy of my orders. I met the adjutant, Don Carlson, who became a friend during my tenure on post.

Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, was situated between Sparta to the west and Tomah to the east. The installation was designed in a large isosceles triangle with parade fields in the center space. Fort McCoy was a mobilization site intended to expand the base in case of war. Training took place year-round and a contingent of civilian maintenance workers kept hundreds of vacant barracks in readiness.

I was a soldier in the Army Guard/Reserve (AGR), on active duty but not in the active component. This sleight of hand was done so that AGR would not count against the end-strength of the active army, then capped at about half a million. The sole function of AGR was to support soldiers in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

The Army Reserve Readiness Training Center (ARRTC) was the designated site for all AGR training. Instruction was divided into three teams: Logistics, Personnel/Admin, and Training/Management. As Evaluation Officer, I worked in a small branch of ARRTC called Training Design and Evaluation (TD&E). I was the only uniformed team member in my seven-person branch.

The first weeks were busy getting established. We stayed in guest housing-a mobile home-and I hung on to my rental car. I dropped into my workplace, but Al White, my supervisor, advised me not to occupy my desk until July 5.

Al was a great story teller. He told me he was stationed in Germany in the 1950s and had married a German national whose first husband had been a Nazi officer killed in action. Al explained how he had served twenty years in uniform, then twenty years as a civilian. He added with a sly grin, "I'm just like George Washington. First in war, first in peace, but second in Martha." That was Al's humor.

Colonel Smith, the commander of ARRTC, invited my family to a barbeque on Independence Day and that's when I was introduced to employees of ARRTC, about half military and half civilian. I also met Captain Mary Casey whom I was replacing. I thanked her for the kindness she had shown in corresponding with Kim.

The next day I formally met my work mates at TD&E. Al White sat in a private office as did the clerk steno, Diane Pitel. The rest of us sat in cubicles sectioned off by room dividers. Rose Kimberly sat to my right as my evaluation collaborator. Phil Zeps, Ralf Zielinski, Mike Christianson, and Patrick Houlihan rounded out the second-floor occupants of building 440.

I was permitted to work half days until I fully settled my affairs. I got a good deal on a VW Diesel Rabbit and returned the rental car. For the three Sundays we lived on post, we attended the post chapel. There was no family housing on the installation and most military personnel lived in either Sparta or Tomah.

Kim shared her heart with me. She had made an extraordinary sacrifice in leaving her job, her community, and her friends. She reluctantly followed me to Korea then dutifully back to the States. She had served as the primary breadwinner during our four-year stint in Eugene while I pursued my dream of a PhD. Now it was her turn to dream and my turn to earn money to support her vision. How could I disagree?

Kim's dream was to enroll at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and earn her own PhD. She suggested the four-year duration of my army tour was just about right. However, Madison was a 120-mile drive from Fort McCoy.

I traveled with her to Madison and she loved the campus. With her MEd from Drury College and two AS degrees in computers she enrolled in the UW College of Education. A new field was opening up called Educational Technology which combined her two passions. It was a perfect fit for her. After she was accepted into the program, we sought out a suitable place for us to live and a reliable car for Kim.

To help with her commute we agreed to live about one-third of the way to Madison along Interstate 90. We settled on the town of Mauston. That would make my daily commute to Fort McCoy about forty miles and Kim's occasional commute to the UW seventy-five miles. She required a dependable car and chose a two-year-old Ford Escort. I desired to accommodate my wife in every way possible.


Kim and I conducted an extensive housing search in Mauston. By mid-August, not finding much, we settled for life in a mobile home park. Our address for one year was Route 3, Kounty Aire Estates, Box 36. Forty-five mailboxes were clustered under a shelter at the entrance next to a large pond.

Our unit was only 1100 square feet renting for just $300 per month. We borrowed kitchen utensils and bedding from the installation pantry and I bought a bunk bed for the boys. When our household goods arrived from Eugene, I had to buy a backyard shed to store overflow items that would not fit into our tiny space.

The trailer was set on an idyllic lot surrounded by oaks and farmland. We purchased a cord of firewood-stacked against the aluminum siding-to augment space heaters. The structure was a bit worn and shabby. Our single toilet sunk into the floorboard and a few windows didn't shut tight, but we accepted our situation as transitional. In any event, Kim focused on academics not home life and I was an army man; primitive suited me. Looking back years later, Peter couldn't believe we lived for a whole year in a trailer.

We checked out the Mauston Assembly of God, but the church lacked young people. We then visited the Tomah AG and found a home. We both liked Pastor Gast; many couples like us were in their mid-thirties; and there was an abundance of children. Our kids joined the Royal Rangers for a while.

I remember attending an ARRTC planning session. Colonel Smith chaired the group while Frank Struble, the Director of Training, moderated. Al White sat next to me. The colonel introduced me as the new Evaluation Officer and began to stress the importance of evaluation. After a few minutes of generalities, I raised my hand and impertinently asked, "And how are classes being evaluated now? How do you distinguish between good and bad instruction?"

Mr. Struble looked at Mr. White. Both hemmed and hawed. Finally, the colonel broke in to say, "There is no classroom evaluation at the moment. We studied your resumé and hoped you could develop something. That's why we invited you to this meeting."

I then waxed elegant, speaking of my love for statistics. I emphasized the importance of objective and measurable criteria. I spoke of evaluation as both the means of setting a standard and then assessing its accomplishment. My passion caught the group by surprise.

The colonel, the director, and my chief were impressed. Colonel Smith remarked, "The fiscal year begins in six weeks, October first. Can you have an objective and measurable evaluation system in place by then?"

Al White spoke in my behalf. "Yes sir, we can. I'll put Captain Foreman and Rose Kimberly on it right away." On the way out the door, Al slapped me on the back. "Way to go. Now get to work."

In August I discovered the Fitness Center. With the proximity of my workplace to the military gym, I determined to whip myself into shape by noon time workouts. Over the summer, we attended a few army picnics and made a trip to Wisconsin Dells where the boys enjoyed the amusement park rides.

Soon it was time for school to start. We enrolled the boys at Westside Elementary, Zachary in third grade and Peter in first. When I first visited their classroom, I entered from the back. I located my sons right away. Their hair was black. All other students were either blond or brown-haired. In fact, my boys were the only minorities in their classrooms. Most others were of German or Scandinavian extraction.

Kim began her commute to Madison. She planned the first term in a way that she only commuted on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. After making acquaintance with the campus and students, she began staying overnight in Madison once a week. I supported her as best I could.

I didn't want Zachary and Peter to miss out on pets, but neither Kim nor I had a fondness for dogs or cats. I decided upon hamsters. The first time Peter heard this word, he said, "Oysters? You're going to get us oysters for pets?" Soon, Zachary was playing with Big Mac and Pete with Blackie. These two rodents kept the boys occupied for a few years.

Television kept the boys entranced. For the first time we were hooked up to cable TV-with 60 channels. Saturday morning meant Smurfs, Muppet Babies, and Chipmunks. The boys were singing all their theme songs.

A few months after arriving in Wisconsin, I visited the installation dentist. He gave my teeth a thorough looking over. Then he closed my mouth and shook his head, as one might slam the hood of a car when the engine had blown. He said nearly all my teeth were flattened through bruxism and he recommended I have all but four of them crowned. On September 7 the ARRTC adjutant submitted an official request for the four-month treatment.

Over the following months, I traveled forty miles to the Gunderson Clinic in La Crosse, Wisconsin. First, I underwent major gum surgery. I lost ten pounds, unable to eat. Then when my gums had healed, a specialist filed down twenty teeth into stubs. I wore plastic teeth for a while until my permanent crowns were cemented into place. The total cost was $7,206.70 which the Army covered. I received a thank you letter from Dr. Drago, DDS, for my "excellent cooperation throughout the course of your prosthodontic treatment". I loved the result, but the process was long and painful.

Before October first, Rose and I completed an Instructor Evaluation for each of the twelve courses offered by ARRTC. I had a lot of fun developing this one-page two-sided evaluation form. It was a skill I had acquired at the University of Oregon and I excelled at it.

The classroom evaluation was broken into three parts: instructor's presentation (nine statements), course content (eight statements), and classroom environment (three statements). For each of the twenty statements, students marked one of five check boxes; five points for agree very much down to one point for disagree very much. There were four open-ended responses. Five options times twenty questions meant a perfect score was one hundred.

The director of training marveled at the simplicity of the evaluations and insisted instructors distribute them at the end of every class. The form was intuitive for teachers and enlightening for their supervisors. Most of my work hours were taken up in grading evaluations, plotting results on a grid, and awarding each instructor with an overall class grade. Within three months I had become an indispensable and well-respected part of the ARRTC team.

Kim thrived in her academic environment. From a friend in Madison, she bought an IBM Portable Personal Computer. The bulky machine weighed about thirty pounds; so rather than portable people called it luggable. She lugged it to campus while I lugged it into and out of the trunk of her Escort. We attached a dot-matrix printer and soon she was printing out her college assignments from home. Kim spent hours a day in intensive home study.

Autumn in that part of the world was spectacular. Surrounding oaks, maples, and sumacs turned from green into a palette of red and yellow. On October 14, I set up the video camera to record the first annual leaf catching contest. In the midst of a dozen tall trees, a golden leaf would float downward every few seconds. I recorded Kim and the boys as they scurried trying to catch a leaf before it drifted onto the grass. They placed a few legitimate leaves into the bucket before I noticed the unauthorized stuffing of surface leaves.

As the weather turned cold, I wanted Zachary and Peter to learn a new sport. The town of New Lisbon lay down the road a few miles and I enrolled them there in a gymnastics class. I video-taped their antics as they practiced floor exercise, pummel horse, and parallel bars. That activity only lasted to the end of the year.

With the frequent snow came a variety of outdoor activities. The Korea-purchased snowsuits became invaluable that first winter in Wisconsin. Snowball fights occurred nearly every time we left the house and an on-going, always morphing, snowman graced a side yard. It also seemed that every family in the trailer court owned a snowmobile. Our neighbor tied a rope to the back of his machine and pulled my kids on a round sled until frost nipped their noses. Kounty Aire Estates made for ideal snowmobiling.

A few days before Christmas, Kim was baking cookies in the oven. She twisted the dough into various shapes. The boys formed dough into letters that spelled their names. Munching their delicious names was a memorable way to shelter on a dark, cold, winter day.

For Christmas, the boys received mostly transformers-large and small. Kim bought herself a rice maker, and I bought a bargain-basement snowmobile. The seller admitted the engine was shot, so he only charged me fifty dollars. I figured I could drive it one winter and if the family enjoyed snowmobiling, I could repair it over the summer. We drove it un-licensed and off-road five or six times before the engine conked out.

I debuted our snowmobile on Christmas afternoon. The sun shone bright on the fallow cornfield next door. Each of us motored the machine over acres of foot deep snow. Kim puttered; Peter thrilled at full throttle; Zachary raced around the perimeter; while I videotaped. What a memorable Christmas day it was!

Of course, December 31 was the last day of 1984. It also marked the close of the first quarter of the military year. I had a big job ahead of me: create the first ever Quarterly Evaluation Report for ARRTC.


I believed my biggest contribution to ARRTC was my Quarterly Report. With the help of Rose Kimberley and newly-hired Rose Prell, I churned out fifteen of these volumes over the course of four years at Fort McCoy. Each report was a collation and distillation of the twelve ARRTC courses. Some of these courses were offered ten times per quarter and others just once.

Al White joked I was the thorn who sat between the two Roses. We three worked our tails off to complete the first Quarterly Report before the end of January, which looked back upon training during October-November-December 1984. Our efficient stenographer, Diane Pitel, typed out a polished fifty-page report taken from handwritten notes interspersed with pasted student comments.

The Quarterly Report provided the basis upon which fifteen military instructors and fifteen civilian instructors were evaluated. Colonel Smith met with Rose, Rose, and me in Al's office to congratulate us for such an outstanding product. I asked Diane to join us to get her share of the accolades.

I was summoned into Al's office a few weeks later for a scolding. Rose Kimberly was standing at his side. Al explained that her position was the civilian counterpart of mine. We were equals, yet I had treated her as a subordinate. Al said "You're acting like a college professor treating Rose like your graduate assistant." I agreed; apologized to Rose; and strove to become more collaborative in the future.

I did teach a few workshops for ARRTC instructors. The method at that time required an overhead projector and a stack of eight-inch by ten-inch acrylic transparencies. It was a good system. The slides were easy for teachers to create on a copy machine and easy for students to read on bright white screens.

On a snowy day in January, I received a phone call from a hospital in Middleton, near Madison. Kim had been involved in a car accident. I grabbed the boys and rushed to her bedside. The good news was that Kim had only received superficial bruising. The bad news involved her Ford Escort which she had totaled. As Kim explained, she was driving down a steep hill slick with ice. She braked as best she could, but the car slid and rammed into a stop sign, then a utility pole before coming to a halt. She was not issued a driving citation, but we did pay $120 for a new stop sign. On all subsequent drives to campus, she would point out that stop sign as her own.

Kim was anxious to buy a replacement car and acquired a Dodge Omni for $1000 from a university acquaintance. Just after that, the weather turned bitterly cold and the Omni refused to start, even with a heating pad on the engine. I couldn't assist much because my diesel Rabbit proved difficult to start in sub-zero temperatures.

Fortunately, the seller of the Omni felt sorry for Kim and returned the money after she had returned the car. Since I had a good job and she had a long commute, we decided to buy our first new car. It was Kim's choice. She decided upon a 1985 Pontiac Sunbird, purchased for $6000 at a Mauston dealership. My wife loved her new red vehicle and hung onto it for seven years.

Bone-chilling winter months continued. I bought a second cord of wood to feed the pot belly stove. My habit was to fire it up before bedtime and let it burn until morning. Confined to the warm interior of the trailer, my family developed our own entertainment. After a church party, I brought home three helium balloons and asked my boys, "Do you want to see me talk like Mickey Mouse?" I gulped down half a balloon, and my voice sounded adolescent. After the second dose, Kim and the boys wondered at the magical effect. My video shows Zachary and Peter in high-pitched laughter.

In February, Zachary joined the Cub Scouts. He liked the blue uniform and snacks, but there was not enough to hold his interest. He earned a few awards but when we left Mauston, he was done with Scouts. Peter's uniform remained the multi-zippered Michael Jackson jacket we had purchased for him in Korea.

As a member of the AGR, I was obliged to attend ARRTC training. From March 11 to 15, I attended the Basic Supervisory Development Course. I could see why Captain Jon Robinett and SFC Mike Wilson earned such high marks in evaluations.

Over Spring break, my family drove the Sunbird to Virginia. We paused along the route in Whiting to meet with Shelley and Chris Walker. They were surely growing up. At Hyun Ok's house were gathered Halmoni with five of her six children. Kim had such a great time, talking and eating with her mom, two sisters and two brothers. She loved to be around her family as much as I enjoyed being around my own.

After that morning church service, I used my video camera in support of a university project for my wife. She was to conduct a special project for a childhood development class. She suggested we video-tape Peter as he performed tasks, then ask him to relate what he had done. I had hidden five Easter eggs which he then went on to discover. I video-taped him as he rummaged for the eggs then explained where he had found them. The project turned out great. Unfortunately, her professor didn't like Peter's cuteness as much as we did.

After her first school year ended, Kim focused on buying real estate. She told me that since she could stay overnight in Madison, a longer commute was okay. Her house-hunting centered in Tomah. I figured that whatever property met her standard, would also meet mine. I trusted her judgment.

We celebrated Zachary's tenth birthday in Mauston. A lot of kids lived in Kounty Aire Estates and the trailer was packed. After the party, the boys performed karaoke on the front lawn. I laid down cardboard as a stage, posting a sign "Putting on the hits". I video recorded the boys as they sang Chipmunk songs. Zachary performed Greatest American Hero, while Peter lip-synced Fame-I'm Gonna Live Forever.


We purchased a house in Tomah on June 2 for $47,000. The address was Route 1, Box 272. I loved this place. At 2500 square-foot with five levels, our new home rested on an acre of land. The rural house was supplied with well-water, a propane tank, and a septic system. The first floor of the split-level home was a two-car garage, which stepped up into a lower bedroom and utility room, which then stepped up into the main floor-kitchen, living room, and dining room with enclosed back patio. A stairway then led up to two bedrooms above the garage. We also had a full unfurnished basement with oversized furnace. Adding the garage, basement, and patio, our actual living space was about 4000 square feet. A patriot must have occupied the house before us because a pole with hoisted American flag flew in the breeze just outside the front door.

We scrounged $5000 of our own money and I borrowed $10,000 from my co-worker, Rose Kimberley. She offered and I accepted. We maintained a close personal yet professional relationship. Rose was recently divorced with a small child and-I think-attracted to me. I once asked her, "So many men are asking you out to dinner. What kind of guy are you looking for?"

"A man just like you, but not married," was her response. Kim and I made a point to repay Rose's loan over the next year. We also carried a $32,000 mortgage from a local bank.

We celebrated Peter's birthday a day late, because I was in the woods on an army exercise. On June 22, Kim baked Peter a chocolate cake with the words, "Just for You". His big gift was a much-desired boom box. I had purchased the cheapest Chinese product at Walmart. After he inserted batteries and a cassette tape, he ran with it outside. As he dashed across the lawn, the handle pulled loose in his grip. I felt bad. He was old enough and worthy enough. I should have bought my special son something special.

On July first I received the best Officer Evaluation Report (OER) I had ever received. Al White wrote this:

Within 30 days of assignment, Captain Foreman developed a unique comprehensive evaluation plan for both resident and decentralized courses. He designed and developed seven surveys which measure student learning. He trained his subordinates so well that they are preparing the Third Quarter Report with minimum guidance while he is working on a FORSECOM IRR Study. He was not required to instruct any classes but did perform on-site evaluations of nine decentralized classes. On numerous occasions he demonstrated his ability to address senior officers to outline the ARRTC Evaluation Plan.

Mr. Struble wrote:

Captain Foreman is an educator. He excels at detail work and enjoys innovation. He has done a superb job at applying his extensive background to real world problems. I am confident that his clear input, abilities to quantify the seemingly unquantifiable, and courage to stand up for what he considers correct will continue to serve ARRTC well in the future. This officer's potential for future development knows no limitations.

Colonel Smith wrote:

Captain Foreman has performed his duties as evaluation officer in an excellent manner. He developed a comprehensive program to evaluate the totality of ARRTC functions. The evaluation has proved to be an excellent vehicle for making needed changes in curriculum and operating procedures across the board. His expertise in this area, in my view, is unsurpassed in any TRADOC service school. He would make an excellent staff officer at MACOM level.

The summer passed warmly as we adjusted to our new house. I bought a bicycle and began to bike into work every second day. The distance was about ten miles and took me about forty minutes. I kept up my bicycle commute as long as we lived in Tomah.

The city of Tomah sponsored swim teams and Kim drove the boys downtown most every summer day. Our city was growing. Two establishments of note opened their doors about the same time we bought our house. At the crossroads of Highway 21 and Interstate 94, a Walmart held its grand opening. Next, a few blocks away a new McDonald's debuted. We had the essentials of civilization just out our front door.

With Kim busy in summer school, I determined to take Zachary and Peter on a road trip across America. I switched cars with Kim and drove the Pontiac north to Minneapolis, then northwest to Fargo, North Dakota. I thus gained my forty-second state. We drove along Interstate 94, stopping to gaze at herds of buffalo and the Little Big Horn battleground.

At one of the fuel stops, we grabbed fast food. Peter noted our soft drinks and quipped: "How come you're a dad, but you drink Squirt; and I'm a squirt but I drink Dad's?" I could only smile at my son's wit.

With only two week's leave, the road trip was rushed. We stayed a few days in Longview, a few in Eugene, and then returned home along Interstate 90. I enjoyed the time cooped together with my two boys. Kim was happy to have few weeks to focus on her school work then even happier to get her red car back.

As school began after Labor Day, Zachary and Peter attended Lemonweir Elementary. The boys caught a yellow school bus at a nearby corner. They could always wait to the last moment. The bus roared on a street behind our house before looping to the school bus stop. The roaring bus was their signal to stop whatever they were doing to rush to the corner.

Kim also got into a rhythm at the University of Wisconsin. Her usual schedule was to sleep at home five nights a week, leaving for Madison on Tuesday morning and returning on Thursday night. She was determined, telling me of her exploits, staying overnight with classmates and sleeping on couches. Her oddest experience was spending one night on a couch sacked out next to a large snake in a terrarium.

The boys flourished in Tomah, riding bikes, shooting basketballs into the driveway hoop, and throwing footballs across the extensive lawn. They also built their own go-carts, using wheels from wagons and carts. They roped wooden planks and other objects to assemble their creations.

I also made a project of our basement. It had naked concrete walls and floor. I installed paneling and carpeting with the boys providing some help. We moved our old plaid couch, chair, and ottoman downstairs while Kim bought a new blue sofa for our upstairs living room. We kept the TV in the basement to create a playroom for the boys. In cold months, a kerosene heater kept the subterranean space warm.

Our family faithfully attended the Assembly of God, just a few miles away. I began to lead a Sunday School class focusing on the Gospel of John. On the drive home we passed a few family restaurants. On most Sunday afternoons, we stopped to treat ourselves and the boys.

The weather in Wisconsin changed quickly. The boys were in summer clothes and suddenly - it seemed - snow was falling. After the first frost, I decided the time was opportune to unload my diesel Rabbit. I hadn't known when I bought this car that diesel fuel and extreme cold don't mix. I purchased a new Chevy Sprint for $7000. This Suzuki-made hatchback ran on three cylinders and got about fifty MPG. I drove this gas-saver for about six years.

Soon after I bought my Sprint, the temperature dipped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. I was thankful both Kim and I operated new cars on cold nights and slippery roads. Snow was plentiful and Zachary and Peter helped to keep the sidewalk and driveway clear.

In early December, a thirty-six-hour blizzard dropped three feet of white fluff. Work and school were shut down while plows cleared the roadway. The boys loved trudging in waist-deep snow and equally loved returning to the house to defrost. Kim enjoyed play-acting with Zachary and Peter. In one instance, Pete acted as a quiz-show host and Kim as the contestant. Another time numerous stuffed toys conducted a skit for Kim and me.

Without an extended family and with a few feet of snow on the ground, Christmas was a home-bound family affair. Kim and I both relished this cozy holiday season and thanked God for His grace showered upon us.


We marked the new year of 1986 in our refurbished basement. I video-taped the moment as Zachary and Peter whooped it up. We began our tradition of making New Year's resolutions patterned after Luke 2:52: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." Each of us told of our plans to grow mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

I acted on one aspect of my resolution and began to spend more time at the fitness center. I informed my co-workers this was not time off from work. Rather, since the army required me to stay fit, it was indeed my work. My effort paid off as I maxed the army PT test three times with eighty-plus push-ups, one-hundred plus sit-ups, and a sub-sixteen-minute two-mile run. I joined a fitness program called Run for your life, jogging five miles distance three times a week. I logged my miles on paper and earned six patches all the way to 750 miles.

I was working in my cubicle on January 28, when Rose interrupted my concentration. She said one of the space shuttles had exploded. The folks in TD&E gathered around a TV to watch news about Challenger, a rocket that had broken apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members aboard. The death of Christa McAuliffe was especially sad because she had been all over the news as the first school teacher in space.

In February, Zachary and Peter joined Bible Quizzing, a national program sponsored by the Assembly of God denomination. Kids from our church would compete against kids from another AG church. The competition included a briefcase with three push-down buzzers for each team.

At ten and eight, my boys were Junior Bible Quizzers. I bought a pack of one-thousand flash cards. White cards were easy (10 points); Pink was medium (20 points); and Blue was difficult (30 points). During a contest, a judge would read a card question and a competitor would hit the buzzer.

We fielded a team of five, Zachary specializing in thirty pointers, many of which were quotation questions. Peter specialized in ten pointers. We practiced a week before our first competition against a church in Sparta. Peter was quick-handed but lacked confidence. He proved to be a premier quizzer:

Reader: "Question one for ten points. 'What giant--' [buzz] Interruption Red Three."

Peter: "'What giant did David kill?' Answer, 'Goliath.'"

Reader: "Ten points for Red Team."

Later in February, we drove up to Minneapolis to see the magic of the Ice Palace. We walked through ice cathedrals, watched blocks of ice being chiseled into human form, and voted for our favorite ice animal. The boys had a wonderful afternoon throwing snowballs clad in snow suits-Zachary now promoted to Kim's and Peter to Zach's.

About this time, the AIDS epidemic began to impact the military. All service members had to attend lectures and be tested for HIV. I was found negative just before my departure to Fort Belvoir. For two weeks in March, I attended my EOAC (Engineer Officer Advanced Course). I dropped by Woodbridge to visit Michael, Hyun Ok, James, and a new addition to the family, Megan.

With Kim away in Madison three days of the week, much child-rearing devolved to me. I enjoyed an exceptional closeness to my sons. The kid's school schedule worked out well. As the yellow bus pulled away, I headed into Fort McCoy. The same bus dropped them back home about four and I was home by five. At nearly eleven, Zachary was mature enough to monitor his little brother during my one-hour absence.

At Lemonweir Elementary, Zachary performed as a magician doing magic acts with a pair of twins. His teacher was Miss Elmblade. Peter roared in a school play as a lion resplendent with a yellow construction-paper mane.

Soon it was summer and we embarked on another vacation to Virginia. Kim was delighted to see her first niece, Megan King, who was just a few months old. My sons were big fans of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and called the baby girl Megan King Kong Bundy, referencing an overweight, oversized wrestler. Her dad was not amused. Likewise, we were not amused by Mike's treatment of James. We witnessed a continual battle of wills and subsequent punishments.

After a few days we headed home, stopping off first at the Gettysburg Battlefield where the boys climbed over the many Civil-War era cannons. We then paused in Whiting. Don Zelen was hanging out with his mother and two sisters at Forsyth Park. We joined the picnic which included Jeanne, Nate and Ben along with Don and Sue Davis.

I had been in conversation with Pastor Gast since the first of the year. He and I had met privately with Zachary and Peter to talk about following Jesus through baptism. Both of my sons understood the significance and seriousness of this Christian commitment. On June 1, 1986, Pastor Gast immersed in water Zachary and Peter in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Kim and I rejoiced that Zachary and Peter, who were born into our natural family, had been promoted into God's heavenly family as well.

On July first, I received my second Officer Evaluation Report from ARRTC. It was just as positive as the first one, addressing in glowing terms my accomplishments in classroom evaluation. Frank Struble's first sentence read, "Captain Foreman is an educator." That was true. However, he made little mention of soldierly qualities like leadership or military bearing. Perhaps he recognized me as a professor in an ill-fitted uniform. If so, his perception was correct.

Colonel Smith mentioned "He thrives on innovation". This was also true. However, after two years in my position, drudgery was replacing innovating. I continued to go through the motions at work, but I was looking for alternative outlets of expression.

I returned to Bible memorization and explored philosophy. I learned that Greek philosophy was divided into five parts; Metaphysics, Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics, and Logic. I looked into all these corners, especially metaphysics and more specifically questions of cosmogony-the origins of the universe.

My brother Frank was stationed at Lackland AFB near San Antonio, Texas, when our mother went to visit him. I thought this presented good opportunity a family reunion, so the four of us drove in the Pontiac down to Texas. It was hot without an air conditioner. After a few days of fellowship with Frank, we drove north to see Jack near Dallas. There were fourteen of us: Mom, Jack & Barbara, Alan & Patrick, Chris & Kim, Zachary & Peter, Frank & Lelia, Joshua, Lucinda, and Johnny. After a few more days of fellowship with headed back to Wisconsin, this time with Joshua in tow.

My nephew fit in well with Zachary and Peter and provided a spark to produce imaginative skits. The three boys would stand behind the basement couch with stuffed animals and other props, voicing and acting various roles. I filmed many of these plays, most notably Riddle Me. Joshua stayed with us for a few weeks.

Kim and I fellowshipped with many couples from church especially parents of Bible Quizzers. Many invited us to luncheons and in turn we invited them to picnics in our backyard. Their faces remain a cherished memory, even as their names have vanished into mist.

At the end of August, I asked the boys to mow our extensive lawn. Zachary did the back and Peter the sides and front. One of my favorite videos is of Peter struggling to push the gas mower through the high grass. Then on Labor Day we hosted a picnic with twenty adults and kids in attendance. Frisbees and footballs flew through the air as adults knocked croquet balls through hoops on the newly mowed lawn.

Soon school was back in session. Once again, Kim was making the long drive to Madison and the boys were catching their yellow school bus. Zachary entered fifth grade; Peter third. We also re-engaged with Bible quizzing, this time as coaches. We had enough kids to break up into two teams. Peter was on the Hawks and Zachary on the Eagles. Together our teams were termed the Birds of Pray.

I had known for a while that Frank and Lelia were planning to adopt a newborn child. In September, I learned their adoption agency had contacted them about a baby boy in El Paso, Texas. They flew out, fell in love with the guy, and brought David Carver home the next week. A month later the adoption agency called them again, informing them a two-year-old girl was available. So Amber was adopted in October. I marveled at hearts so spacious. When I spoke with Lelia, she told me the adoptions stood as a pro-life statement. Both babies were conceived in rape and were biracial. The two might have been aborted because such babies were deemed "un-adoptable". When I spoke with Frank, he told me he had adopted Amber so David would have a sibling that looked like him and so they could have a daughter that talked.

Also in September, Kim decided to fix her teeth. For years she had been self-conscious of her smile, because her two front teeth crowded in on each other. She told me the deformity happened when her wisdom teeth grew in at about twenty. I sat in a waiting room in Madison as all four wisdom teeth were extracted in one procedure. She hurt for a week and I called her chipmunk because of her swollen jaws. A month later, she was fitted with braces to realign her upper bite. She had them in her mouth-on and off- for a few years.

In October, we attended a harvest festival at church, an alternative to the excesses of Halloween. We dressed as historical characters and carved a large pumpkin. One of my favorite photos portrays Halloween as it transpires in Wisconsin. The large jack-o-lantern on our front step, collapsed with age, sat encrusted in a heavy layer of snow.

In November, Kim became overburdened with college work. She had been writing hundreds of pages per month with me serving as her initial editor. Two weeks before Christmas, on the final day of the semester, she had to pass a preliminary examination on the road to her doctorate. To inject humor into her anxiety, I made a video documentary titled "Basket Case". Kim's stress extended over the holidays because she did not learn she had passed her prelim until the following year.

At Christmas, I video recorded the recitation of gifts. Peter got a megaphone with programmed tunes. His favorite was Dixie as played on The Dukes of Hazard. Zachary got a wooden chess set and his usual Almanac. Kim peddled on a new stationary bicycle; and I listed off five Christmas books: The Joyful Christian; The Visionary Christian; Space, Time and Gravity; Einstein's Space and Van Gough's Sky; and In Search of Schrodinger's Cat.


Kim, Zachary, Peter and I waited in the basement for the arrival of 1987. Pete stood on his head at the transitional moment and boasted, "See, I can stand on my head for a year!" He then played "Auld Lang Syne" on his megaphone. Zachary clasped and unclasped the hand cuffs he had received for Christmas as I planted a kiss on my beautiful wife.

In the depth of dark and cold, I developed a twilight game. "Let's get the stink blowed off," I told the boys. All four of us bundled up, rushed to the street, and took turns booting an old soccer ball. We counted the total kicks for a quarter mile down an icy road all the way to the Interstate 90 underpass. The back and forth usually took about thirty-five kicks as we flailed at the ball for half an hour.

In late January, Kim arrived home from the optometrist with three pairs of glasses. She had to pick one pair and return the other two. I suggested I videotape her modeling each pair. She giggled as she donned the first, but by the third her entrepreneurial mind kicked in, "Really. You could make money doing this. It's a good idea."

Video games were becoming popular and prices were falling. I bought the boys a Mattel Electronics Intellivision. I was never good at such hand-eye coordination, but the boys and their friends spent hours in the basement playing games like Burger Time, Tetris, and Centipede.

My work at ARRTC continued its rhythm of weekly classroom evaluations. Monday was a day of gathering and sorting for classes completed in the previous week. Tuesday and Wednesday were compilation and composition days. On Thursdays, we gave our drafts to Diane for typing. On Fridays, we'd return corrected copy to Diane and by noon pass our reports up to Al for outward distribution.

In March Colonel Smith spoke to me about a special assignment from which he had just returned. He confided he was one of five colonels to sit on an AGR continuation board. He joked that when my name appeared for consideration, he urged his peers to approve it on the strength of his own strong recommendation.

Zachary sang and acted in a school play called You Can't Trust Boys and recited a book report about parachutist Roger Reynolds, who fell 3,600 feet from the sky and later ran in the Boston Marathon. At my urging, Peter joined the Cub Scouts just long enough to receive a Bear badge. Over six months, he was active, then excited, then apathetic, then absent.

Over Easter, our church hosted a traveling Passion Play. About a dozen actors performed on stage the events of Good Friday and Easter. A charismatic twenty-year-old portrayed the figure of Christ crucified to a cross. A few days after Easter I learned that the sixteen-year-old daughter of a church elder had run off with Jesus. It was a scandal.

The area was ideally suited for bicycle forays into the hinterland. Monroe County, Wisconsin, was on the boundary of continental glaciation. I'd leave my house in rolling farmland and soon pass by rocky landforms which were created by ancient moving ice. I began to fancy myself a bicyclist and so purchased a fancy bike for four hundred dollars-a lightweight and teal-colored Trek. I peddled my mountain bike nearly every day.

In late April I traveled to Virginia to complete my EOAC. My certificate read, "Be it known that Captain Chris A. Foreman has successfully completed the Engineer Officer Advanced Course and is therefore entitled to receive this diploma. Given at Fort Belvoir, Virginia this 8th day of May, 1987."

In late May, I bought a plane ticket for my mom to visit us. I hadn't seen her in two years. Mom flew into Minneapolis where we picked her up. She sat in on a Bible quiz meet, sang with us in church, and peeked in at my work place. She enjoyed teaching the boys how to make hamburger patties. I felt it important that she recognized her fifth child was healthy, successful, and faithful.

Joshua dropped by for a second summer both to escape the stress of his home in San Antonio (two babies and a special-needs sister) and to frolic with his cousins. Once again, I video-taped their skits including, "Riddle Me Two". Joshie-squashie, as he was known, also taught my sons some tricks on their video games.

In July the health of my supervisor, Al White, deteriorated. One afternoon he summoned the second floor into his office to announce he suffered from terminal cancer and was retiring that same day. ARRTC held a party for him the next week but he was too weak to enjoy it.

Oscar Wilson replaced Al as chief of TD&E. To make his mark, he changed procedures and rewrote manuals. Oscar asked me to remove a Korean-made name board that sat on my desk: "Dr. Chris A. Foreman, PhD". Kim had bought the plaque for me in Korea, but Oscar said instructors considered it off-putting. We butted heads to the discomfort of us both. My champion, Colonel Smith, also moved on and my job satisfaction sank.

The farmland area around our house was set off in rectangular grids. Kim and I got into the evening habit of biking these squares. One day with me in the lead, her hat began to blow off; she reached to straighten it; and she crashed to the ground. Kim was shaken and bruised. I drove her to the emergency room and she returned with bandages on her hand and knee.

Doyle and Rita from church became regular visitors. I was a mentor for him. Doyle video-taped my family of four cruising past our rural home. We also biked with church friends on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. The sign read: "This 37-mile state trail was formerly the mainline of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. The conversion from rail to trail represented a new concept in recreational development." As summertime bikers, we especially enjoyed the cooling tunnels.

When the school year began in September of 1987, I enrolled Zachary and Peter at Crossroads Christian Academy. The two sat in the same classroom. It wasn't that I was unhappy with the public school, but I wanted to rear my sons in the "fear and admonition of God". Zachary now had the opportunity to participate in soccer and basketball, although Peter had to wait a while.

With a mix of philosophical and Christian fervor, I began to write articles in defense of seven-day special creation. One was published in Omni Magazine and a few others in Christian periodicals. I bought for my own use my first personal computer: an IBM AT.

With my army tour at the three-year mark, Kim recognized she had just one more school-year to complete her doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin. She threw herself into researching and writing. Sometimes she was away seven straight days, renting a small room at a woman's house named Molly. I explained to the kids we were batching it. Zachary, Peter, and I drove down to campus about once a month to encourage her.

Seasons of life happened around me in the month of October. Jennifer Zimmerman married Jeff Brotherton; Debbie Necker divorced Denny; and Al White passed away. I attended his funeral and spoke words of tribute. He once complemented me, saying my calm religious demeanor reminded him of his own father.

My sons remained active in Bible quizzing. Zachary was now a senior Bible quizzer focusing on books of the Bible rather than flash cards. He was responsible for mastering chapters 1, 5, 10 and 13 of the Book of Hebrews. My video recorded his reciting all of chapter one: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by a Son."

At one Bible quiz meet Kim's integrity was sorely tested. She had intended to be a mere spectator, but was coaxed into being a judge. This meant she sat with quiz officials to consult if a child's response was in doubt. As it turned out, Peter hit the buzzer first and responded to a quotation question. Was it word-for-word exact? As I looked at my son and my wife, I could see she was in agony. Should she rule for him or against him? Unfortunately, Peter lost his thirty-pointer.

My family remained active in church. Pastor Gast retired from his position and the Tomah Assembly of God elected Jimmy Blake as his replacement. As a deacon of the church, he was not my first choice, but on the night of the vote, I was on military duty. Some of his changes were good; He invigorated the youth group. However, others were divisive; His wife took over as worship leader. Zachary and Peter took part in a Christmas play, donning the customary bathrobes as Biblical costume.

I recall two notable car rides to church. Once we left the house, me driving and Kim to my right. The backseat boys would not stop bickering. I stopped the car once and scolded, making them sit staring out their respective windows. But then they went at it again, hitting and screaming. I got so angry, I pulled into the Walmart lot, grabbed each boy and whopped him on the butt. People began to stare. I told my wife. "Let's go home. This is not the proper spirit to attend church".

On another occasion, as we were returning from church, I noticed a state trooper close behind me. This was just at the time when a federal seat belt mandate was put in place. I said, "Okay everyone. There's a cop behind us. Buckle up."

The cop pulled me over and said, "I appreciate that you put your seat belt on, but that law isn't enforced yet in Wisconsin. However, I did see you swerve. Please drive safe." Then he let us go. We were pretty good about seat belts after that.

Halmoni dropped by for a few weeks over Christmastime and we celebrated her fifty-ninth birthday. She became a dumpling-making machine. Kim was happy with home cooking, but after every meal of kimchi, she had to pick vegetable fragments from her braces. For my thirty-eighth birthday, I bought myself a CD Player-my first. I also bought a few classical CDs. After hearing the quality of sound and recognizing the simplicity of the disc, my 180 cassette tapes suddenly became obsolete. My obsession over the next year was to replace my classical cassette collection with equivalent CDs.

This is the New Year's letter I mailed out on December 30:

Dear Family and Friends, I have discovered anew tradition: the sending out of New Year's cards! Actually, the tradition is a cover-up born of procrastination. I always approach the year's end with a mixture of thankfulness and hope; thankful to God for looking over our family for the year past, and hope that the year to come will bring us closer to His Son whose birth we celebrate during this season.

The year, 1987, has been good to us. I have been busy at work, evaluating army training. My evenings have been spent writing articles about God's Special Creation, and even getting a few published. Last April I was elected deacon, and have been involved in Junior Bible Quizzing (Peter), Senior Bible Quizzing (Zachary), and Wednesday Bible Study (first Job, now the parables). All this keeps me hopping. My army tour ends in June and in a few months, I should know where our next home will be. We ask your prayers to continue in God's will.

Kim has led a dual existence over the past year, living two days in Madison as a scholar and five in Tomah as a wife/mother/worrier. She enjoys the challenge and looks forward to the fruit of her effort, a PhD in Educational Technology. If things go as planned, she should be finished just before we move. Our church supports two junior Bible Quiz teams. Kim coaches the Eagles, and I coach the Hawks. This is an extra-joyful time since Kim's mother is visiting with us for a couple of weeks.

Zachary and Peter continue to grow and continue to be a source of joy in our family. At Crossroads Christian Academy, both are in the same classroom. They have enjoyed their 2-week Christmas break, but the boys are ready to return to school. Zach has played soccer and basketball, but Pete has to wait a while yet. They received a Nintendo video machine and have played Super Mario Brothers non-stop for the past several days. Zach also got a water bed, though both sleep in it. Both are doing well in school and in Bible studying. Thanks for all the cards and gifts you sent to us. We love you all. A belated Merry Christmas and happy New Year. ~ May your life be a sermon.

1988 to June

In early January an old friend dropped by the house for a visit. I hadn't seen Jim McGuire since my Peace Corps years. He hung out with us for a week, visiting local sights and talking about old times in Korea. To my sons he became Uncle Meng. Later in January, I sat through another one-week ARRTC course.

Kim was home for her thirty-seventh birthday. She bought herself an upgraded computer, selling the IBM luggable. Her favorite moments occurred when her two sons presented her with gifts. They hopped around in excitement as she pulled away the wrapping paper. Then they squirmed with joy as she embraced them in a hug. Approaching thirteen, Zachary was just about her height with a voice at the yodeling stage.

The boys were still involved with Bible quiz and at times it proved difficult to induce them to study. Peter would sometimes hide under the table as we practiced a handful of flash cards. Zachary was better. Yet I had to sit him in the quiet living room and put the Hebrews study guide in his hand. During a competition in La Crosse, Zachary quizzed out, that is he correctly answered five questions and a team mate had to take his chair.

Pastor Blake's two boys were about the same age as my two. Sometimes they would come by the house to play video games indoors and play two-on-two football in the back yard. It was fun to watch as they made up rules on the fly. The strategy of the two older boys was to win the game without making the two younger boys cry.

I was into Special Creation in a big way, becoming a member of the Institute of Creation Research. I was invited to speak at a forum sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. A Jesuit priest spoke about Darwinian evolution as proven fact, not worthy of debate. He blessed science and belittled Scripture. Then it was my turn to take the podium. Zachary was on hand to flip transparences on an overhead projector.

One hundred people fell silent as I mounted a rigorous defense of Special Creation. I didn't think they expected my strident words. I compared side-by-side the two models of Evolution and Creation along ten lines of argument:

1. Continuity – continuous process or discontinuous episodes?
2. Cosmogony - natural or supernatural?
3. Thermodynamics - creative/upward or conserving/downward?
4. Biogenesis - inevitable or impossible?
5. Probability - favors life or hostile to life?
6. Design - secondary or primary?
7. Mutations - helpful or harmful?
8. Homology - common ancestor or common designer?
9. Fossil Record - uniform column or systematic gaps?
10. Age of the Earth - billions or thousands?

I spoke of specified complexity, the argument from design, and the tragic legacy of Charles Darwin. The listeners seemed aghast as I left the platform. Many questioned if I were really a PhD. However, a few cornered me and thanked me for presenting a truly contrary point of view.

On Palm Sunday, March 27, a tragic event occurred. Kim, Zachary and Peter had gone to church without me. I was at Fort McCoy spending twenty-four hours as the ARRTC CQ (Charge of Quarters). About ten in the morning, I received a phone call from Don Carlson, the adjutant, telling me one of my sons had been injured in a car accident. He said he would fill in for me but I should rush to the hospital in La Crosse. I asked him which son, but he didn't know.

I raced in my Chevy Sprint toward Saint Joseph's Hospital. My thoughts tormented me during the thirty-minute drive. How bad was it? Was it life-threatening? Would I rather it be Zachary or Peter that was injured?

When I arrived, I heard this story: As soon as the church service ended, Peter and other boys rushed out the doors to play catch. They were tossing a ball near the parking lot, under overhanging eves which were supported by large wooden beams. Suddenly a parked car lurched from the lot toward Peter. The man behind the wheel, waiting for his wife, had passed unconscious due to a diabetic shock. Peter dashed to avoid the on-coming car and nearly did. However, his left foot was pinioned against a support beam by the car tire. The wheels continued to spin on Peter's ankle, giving him a severe friction burn.

A group of nearby teenagers surrounded the car and lifted it off his leg; Pete was now wailing in pain. His brother, mother, and Pastor Blake comforted him until an ambulance arrived and rushed him to La Crosse.

I was at Peter's side as a doctor examined his leg. Nothing was broken or bruised, but the flesh above his ankle bone was shredded and blackened with tire rubber. The doctor's first job was to scrub the wound with a stiff brush to remove all the embedded grime. This could not be done gently and my poor son howled in agony. I felt helpless as I squeezed him tight for five minutes.

The doctor administered pain meds, bandaged his wound, and set him in a hospital bed. I stayed with him until dark after which he was tranquilized to help him sleep. The doctor said there would be no debilitating effect, but scarring would be severe, just like a fire burn.

Kim or I sat next to our son over the next week as Peter stayed in the hospital. We agreed to have a patch of skin removed from his hip to cover the ankle wound. This grafting procedure was also painful and extended his stay in the hospital.

Many of Peter's friends dropped by to visit him with balloons and get-well cards. He watched hours of TV to pass the time; his favorite show being Mister Ed. Peter also received a box-full of gifts. He especially liked the plastic replicas of the California Raisins, an animated musical quartet: "I heard it through the grape vine."

Peter was discharged a few days after Easter and walked on crutches for a few weeks after that. The military covered all expenses and we contacted the insurer of the driver-State Farm-to recover monetary damages in Peter's behalf.

Zachary took a skills test at Crossroads called the Stanford 7-Plus. On all sixteen tests he rated PHS (Post High School). His complete battery total ranked at the 99th percentile. In Math applications he scored 40/40, in Social Science 60/60, and Science 58/60. His Principal gave him a special award. Of course, his mother was supremely proud of her boy genius.

It was time to arrange for my Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Kim was frantic, because she was behind in her doctoral studies. I requested an extension of my ARRTC tour so Kim could study in Madison longer. Oscar declined that request. I then asked to be assigned to Milwaukee, but there were no slots available. I was finally assigned to a USAR Center in Miami Beach. We didn't mind that, but soon that position fell through.

Frank Struble, Oscar's boss, knew somebody in California who might have a slot available for an AGR captain. In May, orders were cut assigning me to the 91st Division in Sausalito, California. My report date was set for July first. At the time we were disappointed. Kim and I had preferred Florida to California. I told Peter about our future home and he quipped, "South Toledo. That doesn't sound like a good place to go!"

I took the boys to a State Bible Quiz meet in Eau Claire on May 7. Poor Peter bombed on the first question, misstating a Bible quote. But that was okay because we had a camping trip planned. My sons had never set foot in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I wanted them to visit the U-P before we left Wisconsin. We drove across the state stopping in Green Bay, then headed north to Wells State Park on Lake Superior. Zachary and Peter especially enjoyed dancing around the campfire with flaming marshmallows on their sticks. The boys liked to pose in trees.

May was a busy month for all of us. Kim managed to get her dissertation approved and was thus set to graduate in July. She was living full time in Madison, having packed all her important items in the Pontiac.

I began winding down at ARRTC, boxing up my papers. I attended a Hail and Farewell, leaving at the same time as a guy named Captain Julius. I had known this instructor casually as a likeable soldier, but a poor instructor. (After all, I had read two years of his classroom evaluations.) People made such a fuss over his departure. In contrast, they simply grasped my hand in farewell. I observed that over my four years at Fort McCoy, I had gained much respect but little affection. Whereas few respected Captain Julian's academic prowess, yet he held a special place in the hearts of many. Love or respect, which was preferable?

In the absence of Kim, I cleared out our Tomah house, sorting and putting our things in storage for transport to California. My sons were not only leaving Wisconsin, they were also leaving behind childhood. As we sorted through their toys, stuffed animals, and school papers, I explained to them we would create a memory box for each. I bought two metal foot lockers and asked them to stuff the boxes with memorabilia. That accomplished, we sealed the containers and marked each with the words, "Do not open until the year 2000". The turn of the millennium seemed so distant at the time.

I hired house cleaners, landscapers, and made a few repairs. I then advertised the place as a rental. A Master Sergeant, stationed at Fort McCoy, signed a lease agreement on May 25. I felt good about this contract, because I knew I had leverage over him. His company commander was an acquaintance of mine.

On May 27 I attended a graduation ceremony at Crossroads Christian Academy where Zachary garnered a few awards. Both boys were out of school and it was time to follow the sun.

When June arrived, Kim and I devised complicated plans for our move to California. I would drive the Sprint with the two boys to Longview and leave them with Eileen for one month. Kim would stay behind in Wisconsin to finish her doctorate, while I began my job in California. In July I would fly back to Wisconsin to drive the Sunbird to the west coast. Kim would use the return half of my air ticket.

On June 4, Zachary, Peter and I stayed with Don Carlson for a night, then on June 5 we hit the road for California. All we carried in the little Sprint were three suitcases and camping gear. I told my boys, "Get ready for a new chapter in life."

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 18

June 1988 to May 1989
Fort Baker, California

Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten
by a snake. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
(Ecclesiastes 10:8 & Proverbs 6:27)

For Kim and me, moving to the Golden State was like arriving in the promised land. For fifteen years we had wandered in the wilderness, setting up our tabernacle first in Seoul, then in Longview, Fort Benning, Fort Belvoir, Fort Leonard Wood, Eugene, Mauston, then Tomah. Our new home, nestled near the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, promised to be Paradise. And as in the paradise of Eden, a serpent coiled - this one crouching in my heart.

June 1988

Zachary, Peter, and I left Tomah on June 5, 1988, pausing at Mitchell, Nebraska, then stoppingat Ellsworth Air Force Base to visit Jennifer Brotherton and her new husband Jeff. We stayed in her mobile home one night, then went to Mount Rushmore to view the granite images of four presidents. We continued west angling up highway 212, through Missoula, to Spokane. At Mount Rainier we headed south to Longview.

We stayed with mom for a few days, then I dropped off Zachary and Peter with their Auntie Eileen. She and Terry had earlier agreed to look after my boys while I reported for military duty and while Kim completed her studies. This aunt was a favorite; So much so that when Kim and I wrote our will, Eileen was custodian of our boys in the event of our deaths.

For the next month the four of us were scattered-Kim in Madison, the boys in Longview, and me on army duty in California. I headed down Interstate 5, stopping one night in Eugene to visit Zelens. Debbie dropped by the house where I met Thom, whom she would marry in July.

The drive south was scorching as I passed through the Central Valley of California. With an outside temperature above 100 degrees, I was shocked to feel a cool breeze blow through my down-rolled windows. I noted the location as Richardson Bay in a town called Mill Valley.

A few exits later, I turned right, passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and pulled into Fort Baker. I found the Headquarters of the 91st Division and reported to the adjutant with my orders. He signed me in, then directed me to the Presidio for bachelor billeting. Soon I was ensconced in a comfortable room situated near the magnificent parade ground.

The next day, on June 14, I reported into the G3-Operations building. I met Dan Cherrick, my day-to-day supervisor. He was about ten years my senior and held a GS12 position in the civil service. Dan and I maintained a cordial but cool relationship. He occupied a private office with me sitting just outside his door. Master Sergeant Simons also shared this large space, seated in a desk across the room from me.

Designated as a sub-post of the Presidio, Fort Baker was an amazing site. The sturdy brick buildings were constructed in 1915 to support a battalion of coastal artillery. On the nearby hills, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, sat abandoned artillery batteries. Murray Circle formed the heart of the sub-post with a dozen grand buildings encompassing a large parade field. Eucalyptus trees, massive in girth, lined the streets and a stiff foggy breeze kept flags and banners in constant flap.

I resided at the Presidio for a few weeks commuting across the bridge every day. Since my room was near the parade grounds, I remember waking every morning to Reveille and turning in at night to the mournful sound of Taps. In mid-July, the bulk of my headquarters unit was in the field, so I spent the time looking for quarters at Fort Baker.

Jimmy Walker dropped by for a visit with little James. Valerie was pregnant with number two. They loved the stroll around the Golden Gate. My nephew and family had moved to Auburn after he completed his law degree in Los Angeles.

I discovered I was one of twenty AGR soldiers who worked alongside of twenty civilians; many of whom donned a Reserve uniform two days of the month. For Example, Dan Cherrick was a Chief Warrant Officer during weekend drills. My situation was difficult. As a fulltime worker, much was expected of me. Yet I remained a lowly captain sharing a headquarters with two generals and a dozen superior officers; having much responsibility but little authority.

My duties as Operations Training Officer were ill-defined. "Represent Division G3 in Key Trainer matters, collecting and reporting Key Trainer information. Organize, maintain, and present Command Slide Briefing. Coordinate all activities between Division and the ARRTC. Monitor training activities within Division. Organize and maintain division Historical records. Act as special projects officer."

At Fort McCoy, the prescribed uniform had been comfortable Class B, but now I wore battle dress. I bought three sets of army BDUs at the PX. I also bought a few household items in anticipation of our move to quarters. I kept in contact with my wife and kids and our complicated plans were falling into place.

I struck out north on July 3 and celebrated Independence Day with the Zelens in Eugene. The next day I arrived at Zimmerman's with a mission. Peter was going to purchase a pet cockatiel with the assistance of his aunt. Eileen kept parakeets, but Pete wanted a bigger bird with a bigger personality. I went shopping with my sister and my son adopted Wilbur-named after a character from Mister Ed. We bought the necessary cage and other paraphernalia. Eileen helped Peter create perches from branches taken from a corkscrew willow in her backyard. We visited family

My sister helped to civilize my little savages. Neither Kim nor I had ever taught our sons how to set a table with plates and utensils, or make a bed, or vacuum a carpet. She also instructed them in many crazy songs she had taught her daughters. I have always appreciated how my sister loved on her nephews for the month she looked after them.

The next day, I flew from Portland to Chicago, rented a car, and drove the three hours from O'Hare Airport to Madison. Kim was all smiles. She showed me her PhD diploma and her hardbound dissertation. The title of her thesis was: "Cognitive Style, Cognitive Ability, and the Acquisition of Initial Computer Programing Competence."

The front pages gave thanks to Vere Devault, her major professor, and Michael Streibel who helped her with research. She dedicated this volume: "For my best friend and husband, Chris, who believed in me. For my sons, Zachary and Peter, who lost their mommy to this study."

We dined out that evening with a few of her friends and the next morning bid farewell to a few of her professors. Kim was both sad and happy to leave her place of learning. Then we headed out, Kim in her Pontiac and me in my rental. We had a big event ahead of us.

On the afternoon of July 9, Kim and I attended my twentieth high-school reunion. My class of 1968 rendezvoused at noon on the front steps of Clark School. I faced this reunion with trepidation. I did not want to come face to face with Arlene. After two decades, I still felt a pang in my heart. I conversed with many of my old acquaintances: Eric, Reinhard, Lloyd, Sandy, Sharon, Faye, and Bob. I breathed a sigh of relief, when I realized Arlene was not among the thirty people present. At a gathering in the cafeteria, Jim and Charlotte Francis won the award for most kids: six. I joked with Steve Hurley, "You know, the older I get, the better I was." Eric Tangelos was now a gerontologist at the Mayo Clinic. He told me he was attending a convention in San Francisco in August and I invited him to drop by Fort Baker to visit me.

As well as talking with classmates, we spoke with several teachers who joined the group. I learned that my old track coach, Mr. Powell, had spent time in prison for embezzling funds. I also happened to run into Mrs. Chambers, my third-grade teacher. We spoke on the street for a few minutes. I told her she had inspired me to get a teaching credential.

With my video camera in hand, I paid a visit to my old residence on Lake Avenue and to Jim Francis's parents who lived down the street. I ran into Jim's youngest brother, Brian, who was born in the year I graduated from high school. He was a feral youth and within a few years of our only encounter he would die of a drug overdose.

Kim and I stayed the night in a Whiting motel and left early the next morning. We drove our cars to O'Hare Airport where I returned the rental. In 1988 it was possible to purchase a single round-trip air ticket and for one person to use the arrival flight and another the departure. No one scrutinized the manifest at take-off and "Chris" passed as a female name. I waved good-bye to Kim a.k.a Chris and headed west with the Pontiac.

I drove straight to Portland, sleeping in the car in the Black Hills of South Dakota then in a motel near Billings, Montana. Along the miles of Interstate 90, I meditated upon my high school reunion, the Francis Family, my Whiting home, and my three-year romance with Arlene. My mind was conflicted. At the same time, I was glad I had not bumped into my old flame, yet disappointed at her absence. Maybe our paths would cross at the thirtieth reunion.

I drove into Portland on July 12. Pam, Dong Hyun, and Kyu Nam now lived in the area, and I found Kim in their midst. Hyun Ok was also present with little Megan. I greeted my wife with a forehead smooch and my boys with twirling hugs. I joined in a Kim family reunion with Halmoni as matriarch. I paid quick visits with my family and scooped up my two boys. Eileen had tears in her eyes as Zach and Pete walked out her door.

Kim had been driving my Sprint for a few days and I switched cars with her. Then we headed south. Kim drove the Pontiac still filled with her university possessions. My Sprint contained Zachary, Peter, and Wilbur the cockatiel. We paused by the roadside at an exit arrow named Wilbur. Peter held up his bird in front of the sign. We paused the night in Ashland, then continued to San Francisco.

The four of us checked into temporary family housing, just a short distance from the Golden Gate view point on Presidio. It was a million-dollar location, but the suite was a tad run down. Peter dubbed it "the Fleabag Hotel".

The environment of urban San Francisco loomed in stark contrast to the small Wisconsin town we had left behind. Diversity is what struck me first. My wife and kids were no longer oddities. Half the population looked Asian. Politics were liberal; Culture permissive; Religion marginalized. There was not a burger joint on post, so I drove the family to Lombard Street and parked at Clown Alley. Peter marveled at the gritty neighborhood. The chef laid aside his cigarette before flipping four burgers.

The wonders of Presidio charmed Zachary and Peter. It was so obviously urban yet so wild that skunks got stuck in the dumpsters behind the fleabag hotel. The boys tramped through the bayside woods and explored abandoned military bunkers.

Fort Baker

On August 1, we finally moved into a duplex at Fort Baker. Our new address was 521B Fort Baker, Sausalito. The place was not spacious, so we shed some of our furniture. The home was single story, two bedrooms, about 1300 square feet. I appropriated an over-sized storage room as my home office. Kim filled the place with our possessions and bought a piano from a departing neighbor, hoping our boys would take lessons.

I bought a student desk for Simon at a second-hand store. He wanted to spiff it up and applied a few coats of varnish. I was proud of him for doing that. We never knew if Wilbur the cockatiel was a boy or girl bird. Whatever, he/she became a squawking part of our famly.

I counted my steps on a few occasions. My commute was just 120 downhill paces as measured from my back door to the entrance of my workplace; So close, in fact, that sometimes I arrived late.

Lieutenant Sconce, his wife Kim, and two boys lived in the other half of the duplex. She began to give Zachary and Peter piano lessons. The post seemed idyllic to raise children, an enclave of tranquility with a view of the bridge from our picture window. A few dozen military urchins caught a local bus into nearby Sausalito.

Kim's brothers dropped by a week after we arrived. They set crab cages off the pier near the Coast Guard Station. Kim prepared crab for dinner. Not partial to seafood, I let the Koreans consume my share.

We found a church home in nearby San Rafael. Pastor Will Nelken welcomed us to Trinity Community Church which was affiliated with the Assemblies of God. On most Sundays we drove there as a family, although on drill week-ends we joined a small group at the Fort Baker Chapel which was just across the street. Kim Sconce played piano.

After finding a place to live and a church to attend, Kim's next priority was finding a place of employment. Her first opportunity was at City College in San Francisco. She signed on as an adjunct as the Fall semester was starting. With only a part-time position she continued seeking something better.

We hosted Josh Foreman for a third summer. This time the boys' interest lay in skate boards; building ramps, posing, and performing stunts. Josh also introduced my sons to Weird Al Yankovic and soon the trio were lip-syncing his parodies. I shot plenty of video of the three guys rumbling down hills and pseudo-singing.

Both sons enrolled at Bayside/MLK school in Sausalito; Zachary in eighth grade, Peter in sixth. I dropped by for an open house and was surprised to see that half the students were African-American. This appeared odd because most residents I observed were either White or Asian. I learned this circumstance was due to a childless population in Sausalito described as DINKS (dual income no kids) and the enclave of Marin City, home to most of the county's Black population. After a few days in sixth grade, my second son announced he had introduced himself not as Peter but once again as Simon.

Doctor Eric Tangelos dropped by Fort Baker and we walked Murray Circle a few times talking about high school days. I quired him about Simon's skin grafts which had turned into ugly scars. Should I sue? He advised against it by saying large skin grafts are unpredictable. That's why the graft was taken from the hip, a place usually clothed.

September 6, 1988, marked the day when my life began to derail. I remember spading weeds by the front driveway when Kim approached from our mail box. I stood up and she placed in my grubby hands a letter from Arlene T. She recognized the sender as my old girlfriend. I put the envelope in my pocket, rushed into the house, washed my hands, and read the words. Her letter began something like: "I'm so sorry I missed the high school reunion. Sharon told me you were there. If I had known, I would have been there too."

I noticed Kim's eyes were reading my face as I read Arlene's letter. I handed it over to her and she perused it. I asked, "What do you think I should do?"

Kim responded, "Do what you think is right. If you want to answer her, that's okay with me." Was Kim testing me?

In clear-eyed retrospect, I wish I had asked Kim to compose a reply, telling Arlene to bug off and never contact me again. However, curiosity about her present situation combined with a failure to adequately close our old relationship, compelled me to respond with a five-page missive. I poured out eighteen years of gall and regret. I asked her, "Why did you betray our love? Why did you abandon me?" There the issue sat until I received her response.

Kim and I agreed to an insurance settlement for Simon's ugly auto injury. After negotiating with State Farm Insurance, we signed papers that allotted Simon $3000 upon his sixteenth birthday, then $8000 upon his birthdays 18 to 21, finally a $25,000 payout at age twenty-five. We concurred that since Simon did the suffering, he should spend the money however he saw fit.

Kim had a bad experience while teaching at the SF City College. While lecturing in front of her class, a college official interrupted her and abruptly escorted her into the hallway. She was forbidden to re-enter the classroom. As it turned out, her TB test had come back positive and she had neglected to attach documents showing her disease had been successfully treated. Kim felt humiliated.

The next day, I accompanied my wife on a job-seeking visit to San Francisco State University. Without an appointment she entered the computer lab and engaged the lab manager in conversation. The discussion was going nowhere. As she sputtered, I noted a wall poster adorned with the University of Wisconsin badger. I addressed this guy who was fiddling with a computer, "Hey, did you graduate from Wisconsin? Oh yeah, so did she". The ice broken; Kim was able to schmooze her way into her first position at SFSU.

In late September, Korea was constantly in the headlines. The 1988 Summer Olympic games were held in Seoul. The Korean government had spent massive amounts of money to improve infrastructure and athletes from 159 nations participated in the games. Korea won few medals but the event marked an international coming out for the Republic of Korea. At one point, I had considered attending the Olympics, but the dream never materialized.

Kim was away most days of the week, teaching at colleges in San Francisco. I sat at my work desk, looking out the window for the mail truck. After seeing it pass, I walked home and emptied our mail box. I stuck a letter from Arlene into my pocket and returned the rest. My deceit had begun.

I read a long letter about our romance and her reasons for dumping me. She said I was unstable, radical, and likely to move to Canada. She encouraged me to continue our correspondence and work through our issues. I wrote back asking her to use my military address: Captain Chris Foreman c/o 91st Division. My deceit expanded.

A few more letters changed hands, then I decided to telephone Arlene. I dialed her number from the pay phone outside the building. She was shocked to hear my voice. I retorted, "You were bold enough to initiate the written correspondence, so it's my turn to start the phone calls." I made fun of her parochial accent and she called me a California yuppie.

Something evil hatched in my heart; something hard to explain. Arlene infatuated me. I had no desire to hurt Kim, or Zachary, or Simon, yet I felt my soul pulled in an alien direction. I knew my actions were sinful, yet I felt powerless to resist. I anticipated a train wreck, yet knew not how to avoid it.

Arlene and I exchanged a dozen letters over the next month. I expressed words of affection, regretting our separation, confessing I wanted to be with her. I sent her poems and we exchanged pictures. I kept her photo inside my wallet, hidden behind Kim's. My duplicity had progressed into infidelity. I had become unfaithful to my wife of fifteen years.

How was my mind so able to compartmentalize? I considered Kim to be my wife and Arlene my secret lover. I rationalized my illicit behavior, convincing myself Arlene was my first love and therefore had legitimate priority. I wanted to heal a long-bleeding wound, half-knowing that its cure might kill a marriage. Sad to admit also, these stolen waters tasted sweet.

I had scheduled myself for an ARRTC class at Fort McCoy and on October 23 flew to Chicago. I rented a car and made arrangements to meet with Arlene on November 5. The twelve-day Training Management Course passed excruciatingly slow. My mind could not focus on my studies, neither on my Wisconsin friends whom I visited in the evenings.

I shared with Rose Kimberley a bit about my extra-marital plans. She was startled, then quoted from a popular song: "If you can't be with the one you love. Love the one you're with." At that time, nothing in the world seemed more important than my rendezvous with Arlene. Was this obsessive behavior infidelity or insanity-or both?

I remember on the night of October 22 I could not sleep. I thrashed in bed until 1:00 a.m., then decided to drive to Whiting. My mind was in turmoil. What would happen? I pulled into town about daylight-six hours before our appointed time. I dozed fitfully in the parked car, walked along the shore of Wolf Lake, then sat in a diner. I felt distant from God, but I did pray. I asked our Lord to work things out, to somehow allow me an affair with Arlene while keeping my family intact. Was God great enough to accomplish both?

Arlene had suggested we meet at the location of our first date on October 4, 1967-the Rupp Branch Library. When I arrived, I walked through the stacks without spotting her. I pulled a few books off the shelf that I remembered reading in grade school.

While sitting, thumbing through a magazine, Arlene approached me. We hugged for a moment and began to plot the day. She had told her husband not to expect her home until eight. That was fine with me. My flight from O'Hare didn't leave until five the next morning. We left the cars parked at the library and went for a long walk, past my old house on Lake Avenue, then down to Clark School.

We chatted about our lives unable to keep our glances from each other. I told her about Kim and our two sons. She shared about her husband, son, and daughter. The girl was named Lisa, a name we considered if we were ever to have a child. I explained I was unhappy in my marriage and she repeated the same to me. I was never sure about the truthfulness of her assertion, but it's false to say my marriage was floundering-at least until Arlene entered the picture.

We reclined on the Clark School steps for a while, continuing to talk. When we returned to the library, she sat beside me in my rental car. We drove around a while, pointing out old haunts and laughing about the good old days. We entered a restaurant about four and conversed for two hours. I carried a Clark School yearbook with me and we talked about all the people we knew from the class of 68.

It was just getting dark when I asked, "So where do you want to go now?"

She giggled, "You know where, silly. Whiting Beach of course, where we used to watch the waves."

We parked about sunset, then walked down the sand as we had two decades earlier. It was too dark to seek out washed fragments of colored glass; also, too late for town gossips to spot Arlene holding hands with someone not her husband.

It was getting cold on this November evening so I fired up the car engine and turned up the heater for a few minutes. I must have performed this action five times while we snuggled side-by-side in the car. I remember there were cathartic tears; there were ardent embraces. However, by God's grace, there was not a single kiss nor any sexual activity. It's true I fell deep into infidelity, but God kept me from outright adultery. Arlene glanced at her watch and gasped, "Past nine". I drove her to the library where she picked up her car, then I followed her home, pulling up behind her. As she slammed the car door and waved good night to me, I saw her porch light flick on and a male figure stand in the doorway. Her entry into the home marked my last view of Arlene.

I drove to the airport, trying to digest events of the day just passed. Arlene was still in my blood. My desire was to prolong our relationship. I returned the rental car then stretched out on a bench until boarding. When I returned home, Kim asked about my army class. I talked about the old friends I had met, keeping mum about my secret date.

Our romantic correspondence continued. We wanted to meet again, maybe after the new year. Momentous world events swirled around me, but my world orbited around one woman. George Bush defeated Mike Dukakis on November 8 to become the 41st president of the United States. Gorbachev promoted Gasnost and Perestoika. The Polish trade union Solidarity held independent elections. I remained oblivious to all.

In the midst of my infidelity, I wrote a song with a country-western pathos describing my predicament. I never forgot the words, even after the paper was burned. I pictured myself as a moth, fatally attracted to a burning love:

Like a moth to the flame, like a moth to the flame, We're flying in circles. We've come where we've came. Living in shadows, loving in shame, My fatal attraction, like a moth to the flame.

Like a moth to the flame, like a moth to the flame, I know that you're married. You know I'm the same. No winners, just losers, and no one to blame, In tightening circles, like a moth to the flame.

Like a moth to the flame, like a moth to the flame, I'm scorched with a fever, no tonic can tame Praying to heaven, my soul to reclaim, From burning desire, like a moth to the flame

Why can't I fly away to my home? Why won't you leave this poor heart alone? Can we escape this fiery deadly game? Will we soon be two souls caught in that flame?

Like a moth to the flame, like a moth to the flame, We're flying in circles. We've come where we've came. Living in shadows, loving in shame, With smoldering passion.... like a moth in the flame.

My wife trusted me, never suspecting an affair. If she had been more observant, she may have noticed my odd behavior; writing and mailing letters, sneaking out for phone calls, and increasing inattention to herself and to my sons. It was sad but all too true.

As I later strove to fathom my unfaithful conduct, the best illustration I struck upon concerned patriotic confederates. These true believers in the Lost Cause shouted, "The South shall rise again." Their spoken wish continued to be that Robert E. Lee and the Confederate armies had won the Civil War and thereby destroyed the American union.

What was odd about these folks from Dixie was that on the back of their pick-ups they affixed both an American flag and a Confederate flag, proclaiming to be both nationalist and sectionalists. Were they so clueless as not to comprehend the absurdity of this position? How could an American-flag waving patriot embrace a traitorous cause, that if successful, would have torn that very flag in twain?

This incongruity I bore in my own soul. I was a believer in the long-lost cause (Arlene) and wished that things would have turned out differently. In fact, I wished I had married my teenage flame. Maybe yet, twenty years later, I could make my own lost cause come true.

At the same time, I was a true patriot, devoted to the preservation of the American flag (Kim). On the backend of life's pick-up truck, I affixed both a flag of Arlene and a flag of Kim, not accepting that an embrace of the former would affect the destruction of the latter. A battle was taking place in my soul; a war between the states of my mind.

From the outside, I maintained a façade of normality. I have video clips of Kim escorting Zachary and Simon to the school bus. Another video shows Kim sitting at our piano interacting with the boys. Simon was mastering Ode to Joy and Zachary Morning Mood.

On the inside I was falling to pieces. I was not practiced in deception nor gifted in secret-keeping. Yet every day I deceived my family and every letter from Arlene remained a savory secret. My life hung in suspension for several weeks, then began to unravel over the Christmas holidays.

With our house bedecked in Christmas, we packed the Pontiac on December 22 and headed north. We first stopped to visit Halmoni in Portland. That woman must have had infidelity-detecting radar. She looked me over, noted a change in personality, and told Kim in the Korean language, "What's a matter with him? Is he having an affair or something?"

Kim was shocked at her mom's observation and when she confronted me, I mumbled, "Certainly not." Yet, Kim's suspicions were aroused.

We celebrated Christmas in combination with my 39th birthday at my mom's house. Pictures of that event reveal my forced smile and misty eyes. I remember trying to avoid Kim and jogging around Lake Sacajawea to postpone a confrontation.

Just before entering the car for our long trip home, Kim asked me point blank, "Chris, are you having an affair?"

With swollen eyes and quivering voice, I confessed, "Yes, I am."

Her face contorted in pain. "Who is it with?"

"Arlene," I said.

She hung her head in dejection then sat in the car seat next to me. Zachary and Simon took their places in the back, knowing their dad and mom were quarreling, but unaware of details.

The drive home seemed to last forever. We only stopped a few times along the twelve-hour route. I was in hell-mile after mile. I had betrayed the woman who loved me and she was forced to sit at my side. Sometimes she glanced at my tear-streaked face; sometimes she gazed out the window; on occasion a sob escaped from her lips, but she never spoke a word-mile after mile. She constrained her anger by looking at her sons in the back seat.

I was physically and emotionally exhausted when we arrived at Fort Baker. It was after midnight and the boys went straight to bed. In the living room, Kim wept bitter tears. She shouted, demanding details. I begged forgiveness and explained as best I could.

After an hour of howling pain, I took a blanket and pillow from the bed and slept on the couch.

As I had read in the Bible, I had dug a pit and I fell into it. I had broken through a wall and was bitten by a snake. I had taken fire in my bosom and my clothes were ablaze.

The next few days were charged with emotion. She stormed; I apologized. She was furious; I was contrite. I remember curling in a fetal position on the bedroom floor weeping like a baby. Kim took pity on my broken soul. She said she had called my mother. My family was lifting us up in prayer. I met this news with both satisfaction and mortification. My mom had called Frank and my brother was flying down to San Francisco to help in the rehabilitation of his wayward brother.

The next day I drove to SFO still in great distress. I parked the Sprint in the short-term lot and met Frank as he deplaned. We walked and discussed my situation. He guessed it was bad but by God's grace not beyond repair. I could not find my car! I had no clue where I had parked it. We wandered for an hour before it was discovered.

My brother played a key role in the restoration of my marriage. I showed him all of Arlene's letters, which he read, and passed on to Kim. After I assured him the completeness of her writing, Frank and Kim watched as I burned the correspondence in our back yard. This destruction was not without discomfort. Part of me wanted to hold on to Arlene. The spell was broken, but still I walked in a mist. I cared for my teenage flame, but understood the righteous action was to cut the connection at the root.

We read from the Bible together, "But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Matthew 5:28-29)." I agreed that one-hundred percent amputation of Arlene was required.

Frank stayed for a few days. He walked Zachary and Simon around Murray Circle explaining the situation to them. He washed dishes as Kim and I talked things over. On December 31st my sons partied at a neighbor's house to ring in the New Year. Frank, Kim, and I were watching TV, waiting for the ball to drop.

1989 to June

At the stroke of midnight, the telephone sounded twice then ceased. I shouted in dread, "Oh no. That's Arlene's secret signal. If it rings again, she'll be on the line."

Frank said, "That's good. I'll talk with her." And so, he did. I left the room as my brother calmly carried on a ten-minute conversation.

After he hung up, he brought Kim and me together. "I think Arlene understands what she was doing was wrong. She claimed she was just trying to help Chris with marriage problems, but I read her letters. She was seducing him. Maybe she was as infatuated with Chris, as he was with her. I don't know, but I believe she is out of your life for good. I suggested she talk to her husband and meet with her priest. I'm praying that'll be the end of it."

Frank left us on January 2 with four suggestions: meet with our pastor for marriage counseling, listen to praise music, get out of the house and enjoy family fun, and attend a marriage enrichment seminar. His instructions became a roadmap.

We met with Pastor Will Nelken every Monday evening for five weeks. After hearing our stories, his first request was for me to write a one-page apology, admit my sin, and ask forgiveness from God and from Kim. He asked me to include a commitment to forsake all other women and remain true to Kim. Pastor Nelken then requested Kim to read my letter and ask me clarifying questions. She was then to respond in writing, accepting my apology, granting me forgiveness, and promising to work through the difficulties as God enabled her. Kim and I walked the headlands around the army post, mostly in silence, sometimes exchanging a few words. I would glance at her and see the hurt in her eye.

At the next session, we read our letters to each other. I was in tears. I did not deserve such a wife as Kim. There were still bumps ahead, but through my contrition, Kim's forgiveness, and God's grace our marriage weathered a severe test.

One of Will's illustrations stayed with me. He held one pencil in each hand between his thumb and forefinger. He brought the tips together, saying, "Chris, imagine you are at the base of this pencil and, Kim, you are at the base of the other. God is at the peak. Notice, as you draw closer to God, you naturally draw closer to each other."

My nephew Jimmy Walker wrote me a long letter, voicing concern and asking how he might help. I inquired about the old praise albums so popular in the early seventies. He put me in touch with Calvary Chapel and soon I possessed six CDs of Maranatha! Music.

I set my classical repertoire aside and for months praise songs cycled endlessly in the background of our home. Songs like In His Time, Seek Ye First, Father, I Adore you and As the Deer provided a sonic balm to souls in recovery. I ramped up the volume for the Spirit Song.

O, let the Son of God enfold you with his Spirit and His love.
Let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.
O, let Him have the things that hold you and His Spirit, like a dove,
will descend upon your life and make you whole.
    Jesus, Jesus, come and fill your lamb..

I took a week off work and the four of us drove south to Disneyland. The boys were a bit old, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. My favorite souvenir was a set of oval framed family profiles. Snipped from black paper, the faces of Zachary and faced to the right, while in a second Kim and I faced left.

I made a big deal of Kim's thirty-eighth birthday by presenting her with thirty-eight roses. I held back tears at this event. My comely wife was so joy-filled, so vivacious, so bubbly. And to think that my selfish sin brought our marriage to the brink of dissolution. How could I ever have been such a selfish jackass?

Zachary and Simon loved their enclave of Fort Baker. There were a dozen other military offspring in the neighborhood, room to explore, bike, shoot hoops, join Troop 14 which met at Calvary Presbyterian Church on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. That wasn't a logistical problem for me, since my son got regular rides from Fort Baker fathers.

Joe Ehrman was a strict scoutmaster, requiring uniform and commitment. His troop worked differently than mine in Indiana. There were no fourteen-year-old Eagle scouts. At fifteen, a scout could earn his Star; at sixteen his Life, and only at seventeen his Eagle award. I actually preferred this method. It kept the older boys involved.

Kim and I attended a lavish ball at the Division Headquarters just 200 steps from our home. One of my captain friends was jealous of our prime location, joking he had driven all the way from Fresno. The video shows Kim in a formal dress and me in a dress blue uniform. I was so pleased to see the return of Kim's giddy effervescence.

On March 23, our fifteenth anniversary, I presented Kim with fifteen long-stem roses. I wrote this poem in a card to her:

To my over-coming, ever-loving, always-patient, never grudging wife ~
Fifteen roses for fifteen years;
Fifteen roses nourished by tears.
Some tears of gladness; some tears of pain;
some tears of sweetness, but all tears of gain.

Now fifteen roses; that's one rose per year;
Just fifteen roses; may one hundred appear!
Who would have thought back in seventy-four,
that we'd make it past fifteen and still look for more?
~ Your husband-that-loves-you, Chris

Kim gave a card the next day with this hand written on the inside:

My dearest husband and friend ~ Happy anniversary-our first and also our fifteenth. With all my soul and heart, I love you. I didn't know I would love anyone so deeply as I love you now. I think that we needed all these years to appreciate each other because this marriage is a gift from God and only works in His time.

Those fifteen roses symbolize our marriage; their lovely fragrance, noble and exquisite beauty are like our relationship that we have now. As we add one more rose to the bunch, our lives will be as sweet as the smell of the roses.

My love, I thank God for our union that seemed to be so odd fifteen years ago. Because our love was deeper than human love, we survived through bad times and we even can witness to others that God can overcome any barriers, even East and West can meet and have a happy life.

My life with you started out with the fragrance of roses. I think that thorns come with roses too. I cannot promise I will be a perfect wife from now on, but I sure want to be like a fragrance to you. I also know that you can handle thorns so you won't get hurt too often. Here are five different fragrances that you leave with me:

1. You are a godly man, listening to God's word and doing it.
2. You have the best pair of arms where I can be a woman, a little girl, or a playful tomboy.
3. You have patience. You stay up late to iron out my emotional turmoil.
4. You are loving and gentle-in your soul, mind and body to me.
5. You know how to express your love; constantly lifting my soul by kisses, hugs, and roses.

On Easter weekend, the boys and I traveled to Longview. I got to know a whole new bevy of great-nieces: Melissa and Crystal Ament, Kristina Davis, Alisha Walker, and Joanna Brotherton. My recent bout with infidelity passed unspoken. I made it a point to speak of Kim in the highest terms and voice her regret in not joining me.

Jimmy and Valerie dropped by for a visit on April 22. I thanked my nephew for his genuine concern in regard to my marital problems. They brought along a new addition, Josiah, now five months old.

On May 12 I video recorded a busy living room scene. Simon was at the piano practicing the Entertainer as Wilbur scooted around his shoulder. Zachary was in his Troop 14 Boy Scout uniform. His pup tent was displayed near the front door. Kim sat on the couch, dutifully stitching a patch on Zachary's neckerchief. I was grateful to God for this domestic scene. I quoted a praise song, "Oh God, what a wonder You are." I continued to write poetry. I was especially fascinated by word play and homonyms. I wrote this petitionary prayer based on three words that sound the same.

Rain in my heart, Lord, rain in my heart! Teardrops like rainfall seem not to depart, Wounded and bleeding and broken apart. Rain in my heart, Lord, rain in my heart.

Rein in my heart, Lord, rein in my heart! Bridle my passions. Your grace please impart. Guard me from sinning before I can start. Rein in my heart, Lord, rein in my heart.

Reign in my heart, Lord, reign in my heart! Be Thou my Sovereign, my Savior Thou art. Fill me with Christ-joy and flood every part. Yes! Reign in my heart, Lord, reign in my heart.

During my six months of marital crisis, I neglected my military obligations. I'm afraid it showed. I was on active duty in body, but inactive in mind. I held a confidential discussion with Dan Cherrick and explained my marital situation and apologized for my dereliction.

On May 10 I was officially promoted to the rank of major, at least on paper. However, because I was an AGR officer I could not wear the rank nor earn the salary. Major had to wait until I filled an O4 slot. I soon became an over-ripe captain.

Kim excelled at SFSU. Not only was she a caring and competent instructor, but also a two-fer, meaning in regard to affirmative action she possessed a favorable ethnicity and gender. The day after I was promoted to major, Kim received this official letter: Upon the recommendation of Eugene Michaels, Coordinator, Educational Technology Center, I am pleased to offer you a fulltime tenure track position as Assistant Professor in Educational Technology for the 1989-90 academic year. The salary for this position will be $33,192 for the year. ~ Henrietta Schwartz, Dean, school of education.

Kim and I attended a marriage enrichment seminar called "Weekend to Remember" held at Santa Cruz hotel on a Saturday and Sunday. We sat side-by-side listening to speakers, watching videos, and taking notes. We circled in a small group where I shared parts of my marriage failure. Kim added her perspective when appropriate. It felt cleansing to share our trauma in this setting. No one condemned us and all appreciated our witness to the power of God. We were able to convert our pain into God's gain.

After a marriage-themed sermon on Sunday morning, our charge was to compose renewed wedding vows. Kim and I took this project seriously. As we sat knee-to-knee in lawn chairs I read my vows. She wept as I repeated three times the words "forsaking all others".

The damaging effect of my infidelity continued to ripple through the decades. It was mentioned occasionally, but over the years less and less. This story became a part of our biography, certainly a sad chapter, one that shook me to the core, and one that kept me one-hundred percent faithful to Kim until death did us part.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 19

June 1989 to October 1992
Fort Baker, California

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
(Psalm 51:10-12)

God upheld my family for the years we resided in army quarters at Fort Baker. He restored my soul and renewed our marriage. Kim flourished at San Francisco State University and I persevered in the ill-fitting uniform of an army officer. Zachary and Simon increased in stature and character. All four of us grew to love the Bay Area and plotted ways to plant our roots in the rich soil of California.

June 1989

In mid-1989, I began a book-writing project. This work began humbly enough.

On June 12, I found myself at work with absolutely nothing to do. In sheer boredom, I calculated my precise age to be 39 years, 5 months, and 20 days. I had a World Almanac at my elbow and made a calculation. I figured that at 57 years, 2 months, and 6 days, George Washington was inaugurated as president of the United States. I made a few similar calculations involving politicians, sports figures, and celebrities. Next, I put these entries in order of age at accomplishment. Soon I had twenty single-line entries about people noted in the almanac. This was the genesis of an obsession.

Eventually I learned that at my exact age of 39 / 5 / 20, General Stonewall Jackson died of wounds sustained during the battle at Chancellorsville. I found his battlefield death to be an interesting juxtaposition to my chair-bound army life.

After a few years of compilation, composition, and typing, I bound 539 pages of dense text. I titled my work: "The Almanac of Comparative Biography: A Guide to Achievement at Your Exact Age in Years, Months, and Days."

The introduction ran:

The Almanac of Comparative Biography concerns people, events, and ages. The central body of the work lists forty years of life according to the day-age of the event maker (year/month/day). Each single-line biograph consists of the person's name, a notable event in the person's life, and the age of the person on the day of the event.

Biographic entries are presented day-to-day, starting 20 years / 0 months / 0 days and extending to 60 years / 0 months/ 0 days. Grouped in one-month increments, the book lists 14,881 biographs (40 years x 12 months per year x 31 days per months, plus 1 day).

My introductory quote was by Satchel Paige: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were – at age ? / ? / ?".

The writing and expanding of the massive tome relieved the boredom of a mundane military job, keeping my mind engaged for a thousand hours.

In Eugene I had created a statistical dissertation; and in Tomah a statistical evaluation system. Now I was creating a statistical almanac. My occupation remained soldier but my preoccupation became scholar and statistician.

My mother flew to California for a one-week visit. She was pleased to see my marriage on the mend and her grandchildren happy. We crossed the bridge to visit the Palace of the Fine Arts, just outside of Presidio. As we strolled the grounds, I remarked this Pacific exhibition was constructed in 1915, the same year mom was born.

On June 21, we celebrated Simon's twelfth birthday, gathering at the playground picnic table. The video shows a few of the local military kids and a handful of Bayside middle-school students. A girl named Twee flirted with my son. Grandma Jenny joined us in singing happy birthday. The Simpsons was a new TV hit and Simon got a Bart tee-shirt among his many gifts.

With my mom present, the boys preformed a piano recital on June 26. Kim Sconce presided over her two charges. The venue was classical with each son rendering a few short pieces. The boys shared the keyboard for the Turkish March by Beethoven. At the conclusion of the recital Zachary received a bust of Mozart and Simon of Bach. Of course, their mother beamed with joy as her children demonstrated their skills.

A few days after mom left, Frank arrived from San Antonio. He was relocating to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. He had just purchased a heavy-duty Chevy Suburban for the rigors of his new assignment. The video shows a family of seven: Frank, Lelia, Joshua, Lucinda, Johnny, Amber, and David. This was my first look at the two adopted children. Kim shot some of the video for me.

Jimmy Walker and family dropped by on July 4 and we all went to Muir Beach to frolic and to dig geoduck clams. I helped with the digging but not the eating. Kim and some of her Korean neighbors enjoyed a feast of meaty bivalves. My brother continued his long trek north on July 5.

Kim and I encountered problems with the military renters in Tomah. The sergeant's wife was playing games, deducting money from the $450 per month rent because "things weren't working right" in the house. I sent a letter to the Master Sergeant's commander and this problem was solved. However, we did not want the headache of a distant rental, so we sold that property. We had purchased the home for $47,000 in 1985, sold it for $55,000, but owed a $22,000 mortgage.

Kim asked if she could invest the profit from the sale, $33,000. She knew many Korean business women and offered this money in a Korean investment system, called a key. She got back $40,000 at year's end and began the process again. Kim set aside this collection of cash for our eventual house purchase.

While I was adding names to my never-ending almanac, my wife was thriving at work. She loved the academic environment, the prestige, and the politics of university life. She began composing a brag book to document all her achievements. This would help her advance up the hierarchy.

The SFSU college of education was committed to Apple Computers and soon Kim brought home a Macintosh SE. This small desktop was the first time I viewed a Graphical User Interface (GUI) with something called a mouse. This bright interface was so much more playful than my dull DOS Computer. I joked with people at the time that we had a mixed marriage, "She was Apple and I was IBM".

Rather than watch TV, I acquired the habit of radio listening. I continued this practice for decades to come. On KQED public radio the day consisted of "Morning Edition", "Forum", "The World", "Marketplace", "All Things Considered", "Fresh Air", and the "BBC World Service". On weekends I looked forward to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and "Car Talk".

On KFAX Christian radio, the day included "Through the Bible" with J. Vernon McGee, "Focus on the Family" with James Dobson, "Insight for Living" with Chuck Swindoll, "Grace to You" with John MacArthur, and the "Bible Answer Man" with Hank Hanegraaff. Of course, I didn't listen to all these shows all the time, but looking back, it is odd to consider how my waking/non-work pleasure time was broken into sixty-minute segments. I knew the moment when these radio shows began and I was disappointed when the hour hand reminded me that I had missed a favorite start time.

In late July, my military position was under the spotlight. A division change of command was planned for August 20. This was a public spectacle. Brigadier General Hillhouse was replacing Major General Vukasin. These generals determined what to do, the colonels decided how to do it, and I was responsible for carrying out day-to-day details. Over a few weeks, I made a hundred phone calls and sat in on a dozen meetings. This duty was awkward, reducing me to not much more than a glorified go-fer.

I video-taped the pomp and fanfare: a platform of VIPs in front of the headquarters, a few hundred soldiers in ranks on the parade field, the marching division band, three helicopters, and a cannon salute. It was professional, appreciated, and reflected well on me.

I also enjoyed my extra duty as Division Historical Officer. I spent several days sorting and cataloging a storage room filled with memorabilia. I got permission to set up a display at a turn in a staircase heading up to the General's office. I rotated items from time to time. Everyone seemed to appreciate my effort.

Just before school started, we headed to the Great Northwest for a visit. Kim saw some of her family, hanging out mostly with Pam. We enjoyed a picnic in Portland and I shot video at the homes of Jeanne, Susie, Eileen, and Pam. When school picked up again, Zachary moved up from Bayside in Sausalito to Tamalpias High School in Mill Valley. My number one son gravitated toward geeks and nerds while cool number two was attracted to the new rap musicians like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. Kim reported that she loved her half-hour commute over the Golden Gate Bridge, down 19th Avenue to the far side of San Francisco. My commute remained at 120 paces.

When my family moved to the Bay Area, we realized we were moving into earthquake country. Since the day I had arrived in California, I had been feeling small tremors. It was odd. One time I sat studying at the dining room table with almanacs open and spread. Wilbur the cockatiel roosted on the chandelier above my head. Suddenly, Wilbur squawked and fluttered to the carpet. I thought to myself, What is that crazy bird doing? As fast as thought, the building quaked and dishes clanged.

These rumbles were prelude to the big event that occurred on the afternoon of October 17. Kim, Zachary, and I had just crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to shop at the new commissary. It was the grand opening. While in the rear of the store checking out hamburger meat, the floor tiles appeared to wave like water. Then I heard grocery items crashing to the ground. A few voices shouted "earthquake". Zachary was at my side, but Kim was standing in another aisle. My son pushed at a back door but it was locked, so we walked quickly out the way we entered. I remember the smell of pickle juice and the sight of scattered cereal boxes. Soon, Kim joined us outside, shaken. She said she had dropped a carton of pancake mix, tried to find us, then fled the store. We were able to re-cross the bridge to Fort Baker. Electricity was out, pictures had fallen to the floor, and the pendulum clock had stopped at 5:05.

At the moment of the quake, Simon reported he was in the back seat of a car cruising down Bridgeway avenue in Sausalito on his way to a basketball game. The driver thought he had blown a tire, when an oncoming car nearly front-ended him. He pulled to the curb and all had realized an earthquake had occurred.

At magnitude 6.9, the quake killed sixty-seven people and caused more than five billion dollars in damage. The upper deck of the Bay Bridge collapsed, buildings in the Marina district burned, and the Giants-A's World Series game was brought to a halt. A few days after the quake, a sergeant knocked on our door to hand us two boxes of ice cream. He said the stuff was about to melt and was told to pass it out to military residents. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 was a singular experience for each of us.

A month or so after the quake, we drove the Pontiac to Reno, Nevada. We stayed the night in a casino hotel and poked our heads into a few of the gambling establishments. Simon snuck through the outside doors to look around only to have a security guard chase him out. Kim stayed inside long enough to lose a fist full of nickels.

On a Sunday afternoon, I drove Zachary, Simon, and a few of their friends to the Exploritorium, housed inside the Palace of the Fine Arts. The kids loved all the hands-on scientific exhibits. They also liked an item in the gift shop called a Zube Tube. This cylindrical object made a reverberating twang whenever struck. While the boys were playing, I purchased this noise-maker and smuggled it into the car. As we were driving home across the bridge, I said, "I bought you guys a gift and you'll never guess what it is."

At that very moment the car banged over a pothole and a twang emanated from the trunk. Zachary shouted, "We know what it is. We know what it is!"

Toward the end of the year, world-changing events were happening in Europe. On November 9, the Berlin Wall crumbled as thousands fled from East to West. This burst of freedom was a link in the chain of events that would downsize the U. S. Army and spell an end to Fort Baker as a military outpost.

I got the urge to drive north over the holiday school break. Kim wanted time to herself, so I headed up I5 with Zachary and Simon in the Sprint. I was glad I carried tire chains. A blizzard had dumped a few feet of snow on the Siskiyou Pass and without the chains we would not have made it into Ashland. We took advantage of the winter weather and rented snowmobiles in south Oregon. I celebrated my fortieth birthday at mom's house, blowing out a candle stuck into a carrot cake. Our Christmas visit was cut short by the snowy weather. On the return trip we headed south coastal Highway 1, stopping for the night in Eureka.

On New Year's Eve the four of us made our Luke Chapter Two resolutions; to grow physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. At the clang of midnight, I thanked God for rescuing me from the sad day exactly one year earlier.


On New Year's Day, my family drove to the summit of Mount Tamalpias as a farewell activity. From the fire lookout station, we gazed upon that amazing combination of seascape, mountain-scape, and cityscape. I spoke to Kim and the boys about my upcoming military duty and how much I would miss them all. On January 2, I packed my duffle bag and on the next day Kim dropped me off at the San Francisco Airport.

I was on my way to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to attend the Command and General Staff College (CGSC). Up to this point in my military career, all training had been focused upon combat skills; basic, infantry, and engineer. At Fort Leavenworth, the aim was wider. It was a graduate school for soldiers. The college "educates and develops leaders for the full spectrum of operation; acts as lead agent for the army's leader development programs; and advances the art and science of the profession of arms."

At CGSC I learned how the army operates. My eyes were opened to its different branches and functions. I learned about G1/personnel, G2/intelligence, G3/operations, G4/ logistics, and G5/civil affairs. I learned how to lead meetings and conduct briefings; to present my commander with a minimum of three options: one is do nothing, two is limited, and three is risky. As a staff officer, my function was to explain these scenarios, state my preference, but understood my commander decides.

I remember the long classroom days, the organized sports, and study sessions. I brought along my reference books and in the evenings added names to my growing almanac. The volumes were in two types: books of famous people with birthdays and chronological books of notable events. The former provided the start dates and the latter achievement dates. This detailed work helped pass the time while five weeks away from family. It also helped that I paid a week-end visit to Jenny Brotherton and her new daughter, Joanna.

I was overjoyed at my return to Fort Baker, remarking at how both boys had grown. In Building 533, my G3 section had also grown. Captain Ray Nagy was an AGR tasked to look after drill sergeants and Sergeant Butch Johnson performed as his enlisted counterpart. I began to focus more on command briefings-something I had learned at CGSC.

Kim and I became more active at Trinity Community Church. We did some investigating and discovered an Assembly of God Bible Quiz organization. For about one year we had a solid trio of Senior Bible Quizzers in Zachary, Simon, and Peter Nelken. We launched the team at a church potluck when the youngsters challenged the Pastor and two deacons to a Bible-quoting contest using the briefcase buzzers. The quizzers were quicker and the congregation supported the team.

A few weeks after that, Pastor Nelken asked me privately if I wanted to serve the church as a deacon. He asked only one question, which struck me as odd: "Were you ever married before Kim?" After an assurance that I had no previous marriages, the congregation voted me a deacon of the church.

I taught an occasional Sunday class for teenagers, my two sons being semi-willing attendees. I tried to explain child-rearing options to them, giving this analogy: "There are three ways that you can raise a dog. First, you can keep it on a short leash-no freedom at all; second, you can keep the animal in the back yard within the safe confines of a fence; third, you can let the dog run wild in the streets." After discussing the pros and cons of each option, every teenager voted he or she was definitely option one. And I was so confident I was an option-two dad!

My duties with the army continued. The evaluation system at the 91st Division appeared strange to me. My rater and senior rater were both part-time officers whom I typically saw only one week-end per month. My rater, Major Schmidt, wrote this about me in his annual report:

Captain Foreman is a highly intelligent officer and is capable of producing outstanding work. His performance during this rating period has been acceptable. He has performed his assigned duties in maintaining key trainer statistics, the Division Command Briefing, the Division historical files, and the management of the ARRTC school quotas in a competent manner. His report on drill sergeant attrition for TY 89 was excellent. He also did an excellent job in successfully writing the Letters of Instruction for the Division Change of Command. Although very capable, Captain Foreman is not a self-starter and usually does not seek out additional tasks or offer assistance to fellow members in the section even though he often appears to have time available.

My senior rater was Lieutenant Colonel Heil. He was a close friend with my day-to-day task master, Dan Cherick. I detected Dan's voice in this evaluation.

Captain Foreman possesses the necessary skills to be a truly outstanding officer. His superior intellect and organizational abilities can produce exceptional results. He fails to demonstrate however, the initiative, enthusiasm, and drive necessary to sustain more than a satisfactory effort. He excels at setting up systems and initially organizing data but loses interest when tasked with routine maintenance and updating of those systems. Captain Foreman possesses both the competence and potential to be a significant contributor to the section and the AGR Program.

Ouch! This Officer Evaluation Report was difficult to read, but spot on. They were an accurate portrait of the soldier wearing my uniform.

On May 22, Zachary celebrated his fifteenth birthday. It was a quiet affair. His mom baked him a cake and adorned it with his name. I video-taped him opening gifts and also taped Kim as she showed off her first academic publication; "Cognitive Characteristics and Initial Acquisition of Computer Programming Competence." That ten-page article held a prominent place in her Brag Book.

Simon's birthday was only a month away and he wanted a special gift, a $500 bicycle. I was startled at the expense, but agreed to pay half of the amount as a birthday present. I would double-ate whatever money he was able to raise. For the next month, my second son did everything he could to get $250-doing extra chores, selling some old stuff, and even borrowing small amounts.

I helped him out in an entrepreneurial effort. Fort Baker was an ideal location for runners and bicyclists. The post sat between the beautiful city of Sausalito and the awe-inspiring Marin Headlands. (As a matter of historical fact, the mountain bike was invented to traverse these same headlands.) Simon agreed to sell cold water and sport drinks for one dollar per bottle. We went together to the commissary and I bought about $20 worth of drinks. I then liberated a hundred pounds of ice cubes from the Division mess hall and used the top carrier of my car as a bathtub-cooler. Simon stood along the bike trail waving cold drinks at sweaty passers-by. After one weekend, my hard-working son stashed a hundred dollars in his pocket.

On his thirteenth birthday, we went to Odyssey Bike in Sausalito and Simon bought his Trek bike for $480 plus tax. He paid his half in cash. My half I paid with a check. Sometimes Simon joined his mom and me on bike rides around Murray Circle and into the Headlands. Back in 1990 the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge afforded unrestricted access. I have a few beautiful pictures of Kim peddling her bike under the gorgeous bridge.

We whiled away the summer months. I continued to labor at my almanac and Kim taught summer school, putting aside as much money as possible for our future house. We strolled at Baker Beach in Presidio but left quickly when we spied nude sun bathers. We also dropped in at the Arts Fair in Sausalito, where Zachary was volunteering as a guide.

Kim's sister, Hyun Hee dropped by with her son. When she left, Sung-yung stayed with us for a month. His mom wanted him to absorb American culture and learn the English language. Stephen, as he was christened, was three years younger than Simon. The three boys hung around the neighborhood and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Before the start of school, five of us went on an outing to Lake Tahoe. The August temperature soared and my boys jumped off a pier into the chilly waters. Stephen was a bit timid and stayed on shore. When we arrived home, my nephew returned to Korea with his mom.

In the Bay Area, Fleet Week occurred over the Labor Day weekend. A highlight of this annual navy celebration was a flyover by the Blue Angels. The first thunder of a low-flying aircraft always caught me by surprise, but after hearing two or three of the sonic blasts, I said to myself, Fleet Week is back. While living at Fort Baker, the fly-over was a crowd-gathering event. Hundreds of folks flocked to the parade field to gaze into the sky and listen to the rumble. I had to show my army ID to MPs in order to reach my quarters.

September 4 was back-to-school day. Zachary talked about trying out for the water polo team and Kim sported a new, short, wavy hair-doo. Simon was playful. He bought a whole new eighth-grade wardrobe and spread the pieces on the floor. A paper plate with hand-drawn eyes, nose, and smile provided his head.

Just when I figured the U.S. Army was becoming obsolete, Sadaam Hussein sent his Iraqi army into Kuwait. President Bush and other world leaders railed against this aggression, but little seemed to happen. Then I began to notice subtle changes. In September, the 91st Division was ratcheted to a higher alert status. In October, the active army sought reservists with airborne training. I was qualified, but the army had little need of a forty-year-old captain. War preparations were afoot, but most was outside public view. For the remainder of 1990, sabers rattled across the Middle East.

Both of my sons were athletes. Simon was playing basketball at Bayside Middle School and Zachary joined the water polo team at Tam High. Kim and I attended some of their games to cheer and shoot video.

My sons also competed in Senior Bible Quizzing at Trinity Community Church. We traveled to four competitions in Citrus Heights near Sacramento. Peter Nelken dropped out and I couldn't recruit a third competitor, so we disbanded. In any case, Zachary and Simon lost interest and I didn't want to force them to study the Gospel of John.

Kim began to blossom as a Korean writer. She attended workshops and entered competitions. At one event, she participated as both judge and competitor. My wife won first place in creative writing. The certificate was written in Korean with "Kim Hyun Deok" as grand winner. In the judge's signature block, her name in English appeared as "Dr. Kim Foreman."

My fifteen-year-old son was certainly a good sport. Grade school kids at church put on a Christmas skit called Psalty. Zachary dressed as a book (Psaltery) and provided the deep voice to accompany squeaky children. After the Christmas carols ended, twenty kids pulled on Psalty's fake arms until they accordioned across the stage.

For my forty-first birthday, I bought myself a new computer system. It was my first color monitor, first mouse, and first CD ROM. I was so amazed to see color animations dance across my screen. For Christmas my sons received the video game Where in the World is Carman San Diego?

At the end of the year, my family drove up to Longview to celebrate my mom's seventy-fifth birthday. Jack flew in from Texas so all six of mom's children posed around her for a photo-op. It was a Polish-themed celebration with everyone wearing red sweatshirts on which was emblazoned "Jak sie masz? Dobrze" (How are you? Good). There was plenty of Polish food and polka, before forty of mom's descendants sang to her Happy Birthday. My two sons gave brief testimonials to their grandmother's love and care. We stayed New Year's Eve at mom's house, catching up with Jack and Barbara then left the next morning.


When we arrived home on January second, I planned a second outing. This one to Hawaii. I had been investigating space available military flights connecting Travis AFB to Hickam AFB near Honolulu. The four of us packed and drove to Travis. As our wait time stretched from two to four to six hours. I asked the sergeant behind the desk what was going on. He was reluctant to tell me. Finally, he escorted me to a private room and whispered, "All available aircraft are being diverted to the Middle East to support coalition forces. Sorry, but you aren't going to catch a flight today."

A few weeks after our disappointment, I watched TV as Desert Storm commenced with Air Force bombers leading the way. I could sense a national pride as my U.S. Army helped liberate Kuwait. I became a fan of General Colin Powell. In a short time, battle dress uniforms switched from forest camo to desert camo. I attended briefings and was given a badge.

I grew tired of my little Chevy Sprint and began looking for a replacement. I planned cross-country drives so I was shopping for something more comfortable. While passing through San Francisco, I spotted the car I wanted- a 1987 Peugeot Wagon. This heavy-duty vehicle looked like the more expensive Mercedes wagon, but at half the price. I closed the deal at $5000. The geot had 90,000 miles when purchased and while in my service surpassed 200,000 miles.

Kim discovered the Korea Center in San Francisco. This was a non-profit organization occupying a large building in Japan town. Soon Professor Kim was a leader then shortly after a board member. Her motive for the greater part was to promote her home country, but to a lesser degree she was also building her brag book in order to attain Full Professor. At forty years old she was striding toward her American dream.

In the Spring of 1991, I have videos of Zachary in high-school concerts performing both madrigals of the 1600s and doo-wop of the 1950s. I also recorded Zachary receiving his Star scout award at a Troop 14, court of honor.

I accompanied Zachary on a ten-mile hike through the Marin Headlands. He strove to memorize the poem Gunga Din by Rudyard Kipling and I tried to memorize The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. For about a year I was able to recite all eighteen stanzas.

Simon proved to be a track star (like his dad). He was a leaper; setting middle school records in high jump, long jump, and triple jump. I loved to catch his motion in mid-air with my camera at ground level.

The 1991 Officer Evaluation Report I received in May was better than the one of 1990. Major Schmidt began "Captain Foreman's performance has improved significantly during this rating period."

LTC Heil added:

Captain Foreman has demonstrated a substantially improved level of performance during this rating period. He has personally chosen to become involved in section activities and duties and has actively sought additional responsibilities. He was assigned as the fulltime coordinator for MATC-92, the section's most significant mission, and has done an outstanding job. He has demonstrated both the competence and potential for assignment to increasingly responsible positions in the AGR Program.

Zachary was already thinking about college. For his sixteenth birthday, he requested money for his college fund. How could a parent refuse that? A picture shows him beaming as he holds a certificate of deposit (CD) for $3000. He was also looking forward to drive the Pontiac.

I didn't realize it was a big deal, but on June 12, Simon graduated from Bayside Middle School. He rented a tux with bow tie and gelled his hair. He was certainly looking sharp as I took pictures of him walking forward to pick up his diploma.

In mid-June we drove the Peugeot to Longview for a wedding. On the fifteenth, Laura Zimmerman married Jonathan Umfleet. Kim and I were onlookers, but Zachary and Simon were candle lighters bedecked in tuxedo and boutonniere. I joked with Simon about wearing two tuxedos within two weeks. The wedding was a reunion of sorts with three sisters and one brother present. Terry walked Laura down the aisle, the groom kissed the bride, and the celebration continued with picture taking by Lake Sacajawea.

While in town we also visited Auntie Pam. She was in the process of buying a business called Verti-Burger located in Portland. She was proud to show us around her potential place. Pam asked Kim to lend her funds to buy the burger joint. I was skeptical, mentioning we were saving money to buy a house. Kim wanted to help her sister in some way. I gave in, but put the maximum at $10,000. It may have been a Korean custom to lend money to family members, but to me it spelled unhappy entanglement. Eventually Kim and Pam did sign a business contract.

For Simon's fourteenth birthday, we bought him a Sega Genesis. Sonic the Hedgehog was the popular video game. Simon also received an uncomfortable gift, a set of braces to straighten his teeth.

I remember the Walker family visiting us at Fort Baker on the Fourth of July. For this trip they brought a new addition, Jael, just two weeks old. We tried to grill burgers in the back yard, but gale force winds forced us inside. The fireworks were a failure too. Howling fog through the Golden Gate obscured our vision and reduced the spectacle to an occasional pop.

At that time, I was still taking photographs with my 1975 Pentax camera. Pieces of it began to fall off and break. Soon I placed this bulky camera into limbo storage. I never used it again, but it was too expensive just to throw away. I bought a smaller pocket camera and subscribed to Seattle Film Works to develop their special film.

A sad event occurred in mid-July. We lost a family member. Wilbur the cockatiel died from a malignant lump under his wing. Simon was heartbroken. The bird had brought such joy and whistles into the house. We placed Wilbur in a box and buried our friend on the side of a hill behind our quarters.

Boy Scout Zachary spent his first summer at Camp Royaneh, near Cazadero in Sonoma County. For ten days he canoed, rowed, built fires and earned merit badges. Simon went with me to drop off Zachary and we all spent one night in a cabin. On the return trip Simon and I stopped in Calistoga to buy another cockatiel. My son was reluctant, but I encouraged him. He named the yellow bird Chester.

During the summer, Zachary invited his Tam buddies over to play hours of Risk. The gameboard lay open for days at a time with color tokens covering the map of the world. My first son was becoming more conservative and more fashionable. He dressed the part.

Kim continued to invest in her Korean Club. After her monthly meetings she would bring home a stack of cash. In August, Simon counted two hundred one-hundred-dollar bills, threw the currency in the air and let the Franklins rain down on his head. He then stacked and counted the money a second time. He loved playing rich.

I began to train for a marathon, running five miles every day before lunch. A long-distance run was on my bucket list and at forty-one years old, it was now or never. I did compete in a few ten-k runs, but the twenty-six miles of marathon was beyond my bulk. The closest I got was ten non-stop miles in one maximal effort.

Just before school started, Kim sent her two sons to Korea camp. This three-day event, designed for Americanized teenagers, put participants back in touch with their Korean roots. Zachary and Simon particularly liked the physical games. They reported some of the youth were on the wild side.

On September 2, the boys returned to school, both to Tam this time. Zachary was a junior and had earned his driver's permit. Sometimes would drive with a parent in the passenger seat. Simon a freshman and for the last time I coaxed him to pose next to his first day clothes.

I had always been fascinated by gadgets and came across something special while thumbing through a computer magazine. It was a digital Bible-King James Version. I special-ordered this handheld device which sported a small keyboard and a three-line display. Now I was able to search Scripture by chapter and verse, as well as by key word. I sat my paper Bible aside for the next several years and carried this device to church. I showed off my expensive toy to Jim Francis who was so intrigued, he bought his own immediately. At $200, Kim was not so impressed with my purchase. She referred to my new toy as "Bible Junks."

In September I learned that the Engineer Plans Officer was leaving the 91st Division. Major Curry held the position I sought. I was engineer qualified and an over-ripe captain who could only be promoted once in an O-4 slot. I petitioned the HQ for the re-assignment listing five reasons:

1. The person in the position now has accepted a slot elsewhere.
2. It is an O-4 position and I have been promotable to major since October 1989.
3. Because the division is scheduled for re-configuration in FY 93, it would be difficult for an outside AGR to PCS for a 24-month tour.
4. It is important to make the transfer soon to allow for overlap.
5. If Division inactivation takes place, dealing with property and buildings will be a top priority activity. I am already familiar with the Division, its property and its personnel.

I remember a drill weekend-October 19 and 20- when the sky at Fort Baker grew black, especially along the eastern horizon. Then I smelled smoke. Next ash fell to the ground along with pieces of blackened paper. We learned the darkness, smoke, and ash was caused by a major fire in the Oakland Hills. When the flames were finally doused, twenty-five people were killed and over three-thousand homes destroyed in a massive fire storm.

In November, I received a response to my request for re-assignment: "The 91st Division has concurred with Captain Foreman's reassignment to be the Engineer Plans officer." Yippee! Finally, I was entitled to wear my major rank and receive major pay. As Engineer Plans Officer my job was as follows:

Ensure that the Engineer Section fully supports the Division mission. Carry out BASOPS function as Division Facility manager. Deal with work orders, maintenance, and new construction. Plan and prepare for the excess Division facilities due to Reorganization. Plan and prepare for the acquisition of Division facilities at stations sites. Oversee programs that are facility related such as environmental compliance and energy conservation. Supervise the two enlisted soldiers in the Engineer Section.

Personally, I felt better suited as a classroom trainer than as a facility manager, but I needed the promotion for three reasons: the prestige of rank, the bump up in salary, and the opportunity to acquire better quarters.

With promotion orders in hand, I visited family housing at Presidio. I knew of a single-family dwelling that was newly vacant just up the hill from 521B. This new place at 525 Fort Baker tripled my commute from 120 steps to 360 steps, and was certainly a step up in quality. We now had a third bedroom, separate dining room with chandelier, and more privacy. On December 10, I enlisted my army friends to hand-carry furniture and boxes up the hill into our new digs. Kim was delighted with my new rank, new pay check, and especially our new surroundings.

A week before Christmas, I met with my new boss, Lieutenant Colonel Savage. The Division Engineer and I spoke of the uncertainty surrounding the 91st Division. With the Soviet Union in collapse, the end of the cold war seemed at hand. Therefore, the future of the 91st Training Division also appeared in doubt. All reserve properties from Fresno to Ukiah would have to be evaluated and their property scrutinized. That job would fall to the Division Engineer.

A week after my meeting with LTC Savage, Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down as leader of the USSR and Boris Yeltsin stood in his place as head of the Russian Federation. I spoke with Frank about these momentous events. He reminded me as kids we learned to hide under school desks to protect ourselves from atomic bombs. Lelia commented it was like a great darkness lifting from the back of her mind. She was grateful her children wouldn't have to live under a cold war threat. The end of communism in Russia served as a Christmas gift for the world. It was an unexpected turn of events and an amazing way to end 1991.


As the new year began, I moved into a private office on the second floor of Building 533. Gone was the day-to-day supervision of Dan Cherrick and the need to coordinate my calendar with two captains and two sergeants. I was on my own seeing LTC Savage a few times a month, and phoning in every Friday. This loner life was more to my liking even though the duties were more mundane.

After learning the ropes, I discovered I could meet all the requirements of my job in just a few hours of effort per day. I devoted excess time to taking extended lunch breaks, running five miles per day, and developing my almanac. I settled on a program called dBase to sort and catalogue my biographical data. I also spent hours studying programs like WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3. I strove to learn as much as possible about desktop computing.

Eventually, I felt guilty for not doing military work so I initiated a plan to visit each of the Division's twenty sites. My proposal was approved by HQ and I laid out a schedule for the following six months.

The winter was unusually cold and stormy. Snow actually fell on the Golden Gate Bridge and carpeted our back yard. I have of photo of Simon posing with a hand-held snow man. We wanted to see more of the white stuff, so we headed to the Sierra mountains.

We stopped first in Auburn to join with the James Walker family, then headed to Tahoe for two nights. The roads were treacherous and required chains. Kim and I enjoyed the bunny slopes; James and Val skied the bigger hills using the lift, while Zachary and Simon had a ball plying the grounds on snow boards. That was my last time on skis.

Simon was playing freshman basketball and I have video of him dribbling and shooting on the high school court. When the season ended, I visited the Presidio facilities manager and asked if a basketball pole and hoop could be set up in the chapel parking lot. It helped that I was now the division engineer. Soon the Fort Baker kids enjoyed additional recreation.

Both Simon and Zachary went out for track. Zach was chagrined that his little brother outperformed him in high jump and triple jump. I was pleased that Simon found a sport in which he could excel.

My family visited Presidio once a week to drop by the commissary or stop by the PX. We three guys also got our haircuts at the PX concession. Simon called the very old barbers holocaust survivors, because of their heavy accents. On one visit, we made it a point to eat at the brand-new Burger King. It was the first fast-food joint on post and we all loved it. I told the boys this particular restaurant sat on the choicest piece of real estate in all America.

At Tamalpias High School a teacher named Yuri Suzdaleff was a Soviet emigre. He set up a sister-city relationship between Mill Valley and Olympic City in Russia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he traveled to Russia with groups of high school students. Kim and I thought it was worth the few thousand dollars for Zachary to experience this part of the world. With five fellow Tam students, Zachary was touring Moscow and Olympic City. At the conclusion of the tour he was interviewed with two of his buddies, Robbie Elem and Jason McCoy.

On April 25, I flew round trip to Huntsville, Alabama, to attend Engineer Training. The course concerned facility downsizing which was my pressing concern at the time. I was away from home for about a week. While away I heard news of the not guilty verdict in the beating of Rodney King. I watched the motel TV showing the rioting in L.A. that followed.

The day I got home; my sons were participating in a protest march from Tam High School to the Golden Gate Bridge. The riots were also a major news story in the Korean community because many of the L.A. shops that were burned and looted belonged to Korean immigrants.

In May I attended a 91st Division conference in Reno, Nevada, to discuss re-organization. LTC Savage was the featured speaker since facilities management was central to the planning. I whispered in his ear as he held the microphone. My boss appreciated my expertise.

The venue was really odd. Our hotel rooms were on one side of a casino and our conference room against the opposite wall. I remember a dozen uniformed officers traipsing past slot machines to attend our sessions. I figured the Division saved a bundle of money meeting in Nevada.

Throughout March and April, I had visited several local USAR units, all within driving distance. In June I made overnight trips to Ukiah and Lathrop. After a tour of all Division properties, I spent days creating a command presentation. By combining narrative with still photos, voice, and video, I produced a polished briefing for Division Headquarters-a top-notch dog and pony show. I got word that even the generals were impressed with the quality of my work.

When Zachary turned seventeen in May, we presented him with a car-the red Pontiac Sunbird. He was happy as was Kim. She got to buy a brand-new vehicle. After stopping at several lots Kim decided to buy a Saturn. Simon suggested the color gray. We paid only $9000 cash, getting the maximum rebate of $5000 for using our GM credit card. This new line of cars was supposed to be special, but Kim had issues with the Saturn over the next six years.

Zachary drove his newly-acquired Pontiac to Camp Royanah for a week of scouting. Kim drove her new Saturn to photography classes in Mill Valley. She had purchased a fancy SLR camera and for several afternoons she and her class practiced their skills in the Marin Headlands. She also bought a polaroid camera and snapped a multitude of pictures.

While Kim was learning about my passion-picture taking-I was learning about hers-desktop computing. I bought a new software program called Microsoft Windows 3.1 and began mastering it. Windows enabled a Graphical User Interface which I thought looked just as cool as Kim's Apple Macintosh.

Kim enrolled Zachary in a Journalism Camp at SFSU. He was able to hang out in a dorm room with other 12th graders. I not sure what he learned concerning journalism, but when he returned home, he was an expert juggler.

On the Fourth of July, Johnny Foreman came by for a two-week stay. He said he was tired of Alaska. At eleven years old, Zachary and Simon treated him as a little brother. He tagged along as his big cousins took him to sights in San Francisco and Marin.

Just after Johnny left, we had a tragedy in the family. It happened like this: I remember leaving my quarters in the middle of the day with an arm full of books. I must have left the front door slightly ajar. It was open just enough for our neighbor's cat to enter the premises, pass through two rooms and seize the bird.

When I returned home a few minutes later, I saw the front door open and yellow feathers scattered in the house. I saw the cat lurking in the shrubbery and chased it away. I began looking for Chester and eventually located him through faint squeaks. The bird was yet alive and I rushed him to the pet hospital in Sausalito.

The veterinarian did what he could, even putting a splint on the bird's wing. But the trauma was too great and Chester died the next morning. It was sad and I apologized to Simon for my neglect. We buried Chester next to Wilbur at the top of the hill. Two dead cockatiels were sufficient for Simon and we packed away the bird cage with all its paraphernalia.

The summer Olympics were held in Barcelona, Spain, in late July. In later years, I wrote a newspaper article about Kim, Zachary, Simon, and I watching a portion of that Olympics on TV. I called the piece "The Olympic Cheer Test".

During the summer of 1992 all four of us were watching the Barcelona Olympics on TV. Specifically. we were watching the marathon. The last mile of this race was really exciting. Three competitors were running neck and neck. The lead runner was an American. Close behind was a Korean runner named Hwang Young-Cho.

My wife wasn't paying close attention, but when she heard the name "Hwang Young-Cho" her ears perked up. She had never heard his name before and didn't know much about the marathon, but when she saw Korean flags waving, she started cheering wildly "Go. Go. Go." When Hwang pulled out ahead, she was jumping up and down. "Run. Run. Run." Suddenly, the American ran ahead again.

My two sons began cheering "Go. Go. Go."

My wife's face got red. She yelled "You're Korean. Don't cheer for him".

They said "we're not Korean".

After a minute of shouting at the TV, Hwang Young-Cho passed the finish line first. Ecstasy possessed Kim's body. I couldn't believe how passionate my wife could be about sports. (Understand. This is a woman who won't even touch the sports section of a newspaper.)

What explains this? After all, she is an American citizen. If you Korean readers cheered for the Korean runner, you are Korean at heart. It doesn't matter what country you adopted as your home.

I realized that Zachary was one year away from high school graduation and Simon was not far behind. I began anticipating this empty nest and wanted to spend quality time with my two sons. Looking for adventure, I determined to make a road trip all the way to Alaska. I was able to take military leave from August 4 to 21.

This trek began with the four of us driving to Portland in the Peugeot. Zachary served as an excellent second driver. In Portland I attended a military conference while my family enjoyed fellowship with relatives on both the Kim and Foreman sides. For three nights we stayed at the Red Lion Hotel along the Columbia River.

With Zachary and Simon, I then began the long road trip north. Kim lingered in Oregon a few more days before Pam drove her back to Fort Baker for some sister time.

We three guys drove north through Washington State, up to Vancouver, B.C., then across British Columbia to the start of the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek. Here we moteled for the night and side-tripped across the border into the province of Alberta.

The next day we began the 1390-mile route of the Alaska Highway. We passed through the top of British Columbia, then across the bottom of the Yukon Territory. I remember slowing the car for moose and bugs plastering the windshield. We stopped at a hot spring, but once in our swim suits, the mosquitoes were so brutal, we hopped into the steamy water then right out again. There was a rule that whoever did the driving got to pick the accompanying music. I heard the sound track from Aladdin more than I cared to.

I remember driving north as the sun was rising. When I rounded a corner, brilliant light dazzled in my face. I shoved the visor down and cupped my hand over my sensitive eyes. A motorcycle RCMP pulled me over. He saw me swerve and figured I might be intoxicated. After a sober conversation, he let me drive on.

We spent one night in Whitehorse. I slept in the station wagon and the boys shared a tent. We crossed the Alaska boundary and continued to the terminus of the Alaska Highway at Delta Junction. In another hundred miles, we passed Eielson Air Base then stopped in North Pole, Alaska, a little town just short of Fairbanks. As I pulled up to their log home, Frank and the family greeted us. He was relieved we had successfully navigated our long journey.

We remained in North Pole for three nights. I hung out with Frank talking about God, dentistry, and life in Alaska. We hiked all over town and up hillsides. We visited local sites and toured the Air Force Base. Zachary and Simon hung out with their cousin Joshua and his new girlfriend, Stacy.

Earlier I had made a bargain with Simon. For a year he had wanted to sport an earring. He agreed to wait-mostly at the insistence of his mother-and I promised he could get his ear pierced in Alaska. One of our activities in Fairbanks was to visit a tattoo/piercing parlor and fit Simon with a tiny left earring.

Frank had not explored the state much outside of Fairbanks, so he decided to join us for part of our return trip. We headed south along Highway 3 skirting the fringe of Denali National Park. We wanted to view Mount McKinley, but the sky was too overcast. The Peugeot did lose its muffler on a gravel road just inside the national park. We passed numerous glacier-fed waterfalls and drove under the Alaska pipeline.

While caravanning south in two vehicles something strange happened. I wrote about it at the time:

A big part of the adventure was losing Josh. This is how it happened. Frank and I were driving and stopped in the middle of nowhere to consult maps. During this two-minute stop, Joshua hopped out of the car to take a whiz. He was wearing only tennis shoes without a shirt. He says he climbed over Simon who was sleeping.

Frank and I drove away, each thinking that Josh was in the other car. After two hours or so, we realized that Josh was not among us. Frank's son was seventeen years old, but still we panicked. We called the highway patrol and finally caught up with Josh at a service station in Wasilla. The days were long and even at 10:00 p.m. there was plenty of light. Josh said he lifted stones to keep warm.

To memorialize this mishap, Josh re-enacted the series of events as I took photos: 1. Josh climbing out of the Suburban over sleeping Simon. 2. Joshua with back turned taking a whizz. 3. Josh chasing after the fleeing car. 4. Josh bare from his waist up, thumb up, trying to hitch a ride.

With Joshua safely in the Suburban, we looked around Anchorage then spent the night camped out in two cars and two tents. I acquired a new muffler during a lunch stop near Anchorage. We viewed oil tankers in Valdez then headed north to join up with the Alaska Highway. Frank parted from us in Tok and his family returned to North Pole.

We returned to the U.S.A. by a different route. In northern British Columbia we left the Alaska Highway and drove a more rugged road called the Cassiar Highway. We stopped along the route many times to marvel at the glaciers and waterfalls. I grabbed a football sized chunk of glacier and packed it into the ice chest.

We popped into the Alaska panhandle at a tiny town called Hyder, dubbed "the friendliest ghost town in Alaska". Although the town was located in America, we bought supplies in Canadian dollars. We camped out near Hyder, then continued south. The Cassiar Highway may have been a shorter route distance-wise, but much of the roadway was gravel, slowing our Peugeot to 40 MPH.

Two days later we arrived in Longview. I remember putting the remnant of the glacier chunk into my mom's freezer. I spoke with Eileen while in Longview. She related how the three sisters had taken mom to a hospital for psychological testing. Our mother was diagnosed with dementia. Shelley Walker was now living with mom providing her with some live-in help.

The next day, I placed the ice sliver in my glass of cola. As I crunched the glacier with my teeth, I regretted that this great Alaskan adventure was so soon over. After a day's rest Zachary and I drove the final ten hours to Fort Baker; altogether an adventure of 7200 miles. I looked through all my slides, developed and undeveloped; almost a full tray of one hundred!

When I returned home, I asked Kim how she had spent her time in my absence. She answered, "I was shopping for real estate. I know your army tour is almost done and I want to stay in Marin. I've been looking mostly in Mill Valley."

"That's a good thing," I replied. "I think I have a few more years with the 91st Division. I've only been in this engineer slot for eight months and with the re-organization, I think they need me around a while longer. I'd like to do six years of active duty here, then put in two more years as a reservist. That way I could earn my twenty-year retirement."

Just before school began, a big event occurred at Fort Baker. Escape from Alcatraz was a much-publicized triathlon. After a swim from Alcatraz Island, a run through San Francisco, and a bike ride in the Marin Headlands, the triathlon ended at Fort Baker. As facility manager of division property, I was asked to be on hand at the finish line. Zachary and Simon joined me in passing out water bottles and spraying cyclists. For our effort, each of us received an Escape from Alcatraz tee shirt.

When school started up, Zachary entered his senior year at Tamalpias High School and Simon was two years behind him. Zachary was now driving the Pontiac into school. He was typically running late and a few neighbors complained that he was speeding down Murray Circle too fast. Zachary was also taking honors/college prep classes. He was striving to graduate at the top of his high school class.

As Kim began the 1992-1993 school year, she was promoted from assistant to associate professor. With this advancement she also received a raise and a private office. Kim was overjoyed with her academic profession and future prospects.

Kim phoned her mother inviting her to drop by before Christmas break. She so wanted her mom to visit her campus, her classroom, and her private office. Kim always said it was her mother who inspired and motivated her success. She anticipated how proud her mom might be of her. Maybe she would even have a new house by the end of the year.

We began looking at homes in earnest. Kim had accumulated about $65,000 from her Korean club and had reclaimed $15000 from Pam. On August 12, we sold our property in Eugene for $62,000, clearing $30,000. I also got a note from Wells Fargo bank qualifying us for a $200,000 loan. That put our house-buying limit at $310,000. We settled on a neighborhood called Marinview in the hills above Tam High School.

Over the course of two weeks, we looked at a dozen properties. The market was tough for sellers and many places went un-sold. We gave our prospective homes descriptive names like, "grouchy-guy house", "two-dog house", and "mansion house". Finally, we bid for the two-dog house at $305,000. This property was located at the end of a cul-de-sac and was occupied by three single guys-refugees from the Oakland fires. The house appeared run down and cluttered. But that was a bargaining chip.

The owner-who lived in Hawaii-countered with $325,000. We couldn't come up with that amount and figured we had lost the property. However, on September 21, our real estate agent called to say the owner would work with us. She agreed to accept our promissory note of $20,000 and the deal was closed.

On the very next day, I received unfortunate news. The division adjutant approached my desk and asked me to follow him to the Chief of Staff. I was handed a letter which read in part: "Subject – Results of the AGR continuation board. This letter is to inform you that the continuation board did not recommend you for continuation in the AGR program." A week later, on October 7, I received my official orders informing me of my de-selection. "You are released from active duty, not by reason of physical disability, and assigned to the USAR Control Group effective January 4, 1993. You are involuntarily separated and authorized to receive full separation pay."

My inglorious end came as a bolt from the blue. The action could not be undone. I figured two things conspired to doom my AGR career. First was the bad OER I had received in 1990. Second was my long-delayed promotion. I was barely a major when the continuation board considered my records.

Events progressed quickly. Two days after I received orders for involuntary separation, Kim and I signed papers for the property at 306 Ashton Lane with a move-in date set for November first. The tenants had three weeks to vacate the property.

It seemed to me, from my humble perspective, that God had orchestrated the whole concert of events in our behalf. I had maintained my military job just long enough to qualify for the bank loan; no job/no loan. Also, because I was involuntarily dismissed from active duty, I was handed three months of paid leave/readjustment time. In addition, I would be getting a separation check of $32,000 in January. As much as the summary dismissal hurt my ego, it was much to my advantage for the army to release me rather than for me to release the army.

Plus, the timing was perfect. The new house was in hand just as we were forced to clear military quarters. I couldn't help but think of the Bible verse, Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

We received tragic news in mid-October. Kim's mother was flying from Seattle when she suffered a stroke descending into Seoul. She was forced to spend a few months in Korea where Hyun Hee looked after her. Kim felt so bad and lamented for years to come, "My mom never got the chance to see me in front of a university classroom. She would have been so proud of me."

I found myself in an odd situation. I talked with my supervisors and all said I was on transition leave and permissive TDY until my termination date of January 4. I still had an office, military quarters, and a position until that date. I explained to them my plan to vacate all by November first. That was no problem. My engineer successor would arrive in December.

I carried a form called Installation Clearance Record and shuffled from the career counselor, to the dental clinic, to the finance office, to the personnel register, to the provost marshal, and to the mail room. All was complete except for clearing my quarters at 525 Fort Baker. That wouldn't happen until November 7.

Since I had unstructured days in my engineer office, I plugged away at The Almanac of Comparative Biography. Just before leaving the Division, I pulled an all-nighter and worked the printer for six hours to run off 539 pages of my opus magnus. The first proof was finally complete.

Kim, Zachary, Simon and I spent our last day at Fort Baker on the last day of October, 1992, a day of trick-or-treating prior to All Saints Day.

~ Return to Table of Contents ~
~ The Dash between the Dates ~

Chapter 20

November 1992 to December 1999
Mill Valley, California

Go your way for God now accepts your works. Live joyfully with
the wife whom you love for that is your portion in this life.
(from Ecclesiastes 9: 7-9)

Over the next seven years, Kim and I nestled in our bucolic Mill Valley home. Zachary and Simon grew into adulthood and un-nestled, each to follow his own muse. Kim expanded her academic career at San Francisco State University, while I pursued a patchwork of positions. Often, I juggled three jobs at the same time. My heart was restless, and as Saint Augustine observed, "restless, until it found its rest in God".

November 1992

Kim and I spent the first day of November sleeping on floor mats, strolling around our empty rooms, and admiring forested views out our patio windows. The house was supposedly cleaned, but we toiled for three days in extra floor-scrubbing and touch-up painting.

Our new homestead was only a ten-minute drive from Fort Baker so I rented a small U-Haul to load and off-load our belongings. The truck made three circuits in one day. At seventeen and fifteen years old, my sons were strong enough to walk furniture up two flights of stairs into the living room. At entry level, Zachary chose the room on the left and Simon the one on the right. They appreciated their shared bathroom and kitchenette. We installed two phones downstairs-one for each son-and a third phone upstairs. Our new number was 415-389-6929.

As we were moving boxes, I monitored presidential election results. On November 3, Bill Clinton defeated George Bush. Bill was my choice at the time and Kim admired the fashionable Hillary.

On November 7, I cleared my military quarters with a housing inspector, then stopped by the 91st Division HQ where the adjutant handed me my outgoing Officer Evaluation. LTC Savage was effusive in his praise. I smiled. It was a pat on the butt on my way out the door. While I was still in uniform, I posed for an army picture - maybe a parting shot?

The purchase of 306 Ashton Lane took every penny we possessed. It drained our savings and maxed out our credit cards. We were stretched to our financial limit. I was waiting on my severance pay to rescue us from debt.

The bottom back of our house was left purposely unfinished containing just a furnace, drainpipes, and walkway. Our steep hillside sloped into this wasted space. With time on my hands, I began to excavate the dirt and carry it in buckets into the back yard.

By December, the three-foot wide pathway had expanded into a ten-foot living space. I installed plywood floors and make-shift walls. We moved our washer and dryer into the right side re-imagined as a utility room while the left side eventually transformed into a half bedroom.

Kim finagled me some classes at SFSU. I taught one group about Microsoft Windows and another about trouble-shooting PCs. My wonderful wife was advocating for me and I appreciated her effort.

I understood that Simon was done with pet birds, but I needed a house companion. I did some research and figured a conure might be the right fit for me. This bird was termed a pocket parrot because of its size relative to cockatoos or macaws. On December 2, I bought a dusky conure in San Francisco. Paco the parrot was a little larger than Wilbur or Chester. He didn't whistle, but he did squawk and imitate background sounds.

Paco inherited the cockatiel cage and equipment. This gregarious bird was my home companion for the duration of my time in Mill Valley. I used to joke with Kim, "You can tell how long I've been sitting at the computer. Do you count one, two or three poops on my shoulder?"

Zachary embraced his senior year with exuberance. At a Music Expo in November, he dressed in period costume as part of the Madrigal Singers. Two monster songs dominated the pop charts in late 1992: Boyz II Men singing End of the Road and Whitney Houston with I Will Always Love You.

In December, Zach asked if we could host a Russian boy for ten days, and so Dimitri from Olympic City celebrated Christmas Day with our family. He was Zachary's special guest hanging out with him over the holidays. He was present for my forty-third birthday.

On New Year's Eve, Kim was nagging Zachary to a point of desperation. My son had applied to only one college for early admission-Harvard. That was his single hope and he had no back-up plan.

Zachary the procrastinator had partially completed applications to Stanford, Williams, and UC Davis. These letters had to be post-marked by December 31 to be valid. Kim was frantic, shouting "If you don't complete these forms right now, I'm going out to that deck and jump off!"

Zachary got the point. The two of them sat at the dining room table, and together completed the applications. Kim personally drove the letters to the post office to ensure a postmark of 1992.


My last day as an AGR officer occurred on January 4. I visited the Division HQ on the next day to ask about my severance pay. Mr. Gibson, the assistant chief of staff, made a few phone calls on my behalf. The best he could tell me was that "the check is in the mail." I was issued a new ID card.

I remember stopping at a gas station to fill the Peugeot. I tried two credit cards but each were declined for non-payment. Just when I was considering an emergency bank loan, the big check arrived. After paying $6000 in credit card debt, Kim and I decided to make several residential upgrades.

Kim considered her home way too dark. We installed two sky lights, painted the ceiling beams white, and sanded the parquet flooring, converting it from walnut brown to light oak. Next, we hired two guys to work downstairs. Simon called these two Bevis and Butthead because of their comedy routines. Over the course of a few weeks, they finished the utility room to include an outside window; then completed the extra bedroom to include an outside door. We installed a ceiling fan in the peaked dining room and new linoleum in the kitchen. We ran out of money as we ran out of upgrades. Kim was now happy with the appearance of her abode.

Without a full-time job, I repaired decks and fencing. I also landscaped the back yard. With abundance of eucalyptus trees, I was constantly raking, grooming, and dumping. My wife and I agreed upon a division of responsibility. She was princess of the inside while the outside was my domain.

I was struggling at home while Kim taught at SFSU and the boys attended Tam. America on Line (AOL) was emerging as the premier on-line community. I bought a computer modem, connected it to the telephone line, and acquired my first email address: Soon I was able to join chat groups and search for jobs. AOL had not yet connected to the internet.

Zachary was heartbroken when he was wait-listed for Harvard university, especially after pouring his heart into an original parody called "I am the very model of a modern Harvard graduate". He decided to join ROTC and so declined the offer to attend Williams College in Massachusetts. He did receive a full scholarship to enroll at the University of California at Davis, but finally committed to attend Stanford University. It was not his first choice because it was too close to home.

After his college status was settled, Kim and I traveled with Zach to the Stanford campus to check things out. We later went for a parents' orientation. Unlike our son, we loved the fact he was only eighty minutes from the homestead.

It was an eventful Spring for Zachary. He made an unanticipated trip to Russia after a Tam student dropped out at the last moment, acquiring her cheap tickets, room and board. He was in Russia for a second time from April 8 to 19. He reported the saddest part was to see old veterans peddling their military decorations in Red Square. Zachary returned with Soviet medals and a ton of souvenirs.

My busy high-school senior performed at the Senior Banquet Talent Show. He and five of his friends dubbed themselves "Mad Men" and sang Duke of Earl and In the Still of the Night. Zach participated in a mock senate at the Mill Valley city hall and wrote poetry for the Tam News. Kim treasured these last days of both Zachary and Simon living in the house. She would often prepare a breakfast for them, then playfully snatch pieces of food off their plates when they weren't looking. They would laugh as she hid the morsels in her mouth.

Simon was doing academically well in school, earning somewhere around a B average. He hung out with a different crowd than his big brother. Number two was an experiential learner, respectful but with an attitude of his own. His hip-hop mentor / muse became Tupac Shakur, a rap artist from Marin City who had attended Tam High School a few years ahead of Simon. My son also bought a pager; a pocket-size device whose signal notified him of a message. I was never sure what he used it for.

Simon often hit me up for money. I pretended to be an ATM machine-cha-ching! He'd tap me on the chest and I'd provide cash from my wallet. His slang became, "Flow me some juice, Pops." In a humorous vein, he began calling me "Flow".

Simon once again excelled in track. He set a sophomore record for the triple jump and anchored the half-mile relay. His best friend, Danny Leven, said he had negro legs.

The big national news of the Spring was the standoff in Waco, Texas. A cult leader named David Koresh holed up in his Mount Carmel stronghold. On April 19, after a fifty-one-day siege, the compound was stormed by police and military. A fire ensued killing seventy-six Branch Davidians. I remember seeing Attorney General Janet Reno on TV nearly every evening.

Along with intense schoolwork, Zachary was frantically trying to complete requirements for his Eagle Scout award. The looming deadline was his eighteenth birthday. After some misdirection, Trinity Community Church was kind enough to provide a senior project for him. He spent a weekend landscaping around the rickety old gym. His scout friends Andy Nation and Jesse Hammons helped out.

I remember sitting at my computer when I received a phone call from the San Francisco Police Department. Zachary was at the downtown station. I raced to find him sitting across from a detective. I couldn't believe it. This seventeen-year-old had been standing inside a church stairwell where Troop 14 met. He was in his scout uniform including neckerchief and shorts. A drug-addled man approached him, pointed a handgun, and demanded his wallet. My son complied. The cops nabbed the robber within a few hours and Zach's wallet was returned.

Scoutmaster Joe Ehrman presented my son with his Eagle badge a week before his birthday. Kim and I stood on either side of him at the court of honor. A major topic of conversation was the armed robbery.

Zachary's eighteenth birthday was low key. He was happy to receive from his parents a T. Row Price certificate of investment. His $5000 in technology mutual funds nearly doubled in value over the next four years.

Zachary graduated fourth in his Tamalpias class of 260 students. He claimed he dropped in rank because he received one B+ in one leadership class. On prank night he and his buddies painted the Redwood HS football into Tam colors. Zachary was also a National Merit Scholarship finalist. His friend Robbie messed with the huge Tam High announcement board, mixing and reversing letters in the names FOREMAN, JACOBSON, PETROCELLI, and LARI.

Kim and I attended the outdoor ceremony and I snapped photos of Zachary as he accumulated several awards. Kim loved it. She knew her son was destined to become a professor following in her footsteps.

As Zachary graduated from high school with plans to move on to college, his cousin in Alaska also graduated from high school but with plans to move on to marriage. Frank was not thrilled with the prospect, but supported his son as best he could. He told me Josh was tired of home schooling by Lelia and baby-sitting for Lucinda. Marrying Stacy was his ticket to a new life. In June I paid for my two sons to fly to Alaska, Zachary as best man and Simon as a groomsman.

Just after the wedding, Frank and family relocated to Battle Ground, Washington, while the newlyweds stayed in Alaska. Frank became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve working full-time for an outfit called Gentle Dental in Vancouver.

In June I finally landed a part-time job at nearby Tamalpias High School. For three evenings per week, I taught adults about technology. My instruction was bottom-rung basic. I brought my own desktop computer into the class, explained terminology, and answered questions. I attempted to de-mystify the technology. I held up my input devices; keyboard, mouse, scanner and camera. I pointed out my output devices: monitor and printer. I opened the chassis to reveal the processing components: CPU and RAM. I explained that disk drives were for storage and the modem was a communication device providing input and output.

On his sixteenth birthday, Simon received a check for $3000 from State Farm Insurance. His mom and I approved him buying a car. With help from his buddies, he located a burgundy MG convertible. Kim drove us to Berkeley in her Saturn where my son and I met with the seller in the parking lot of a Wells Fargo Bank.

After Simon checked out the car's looks and I its operation, the seller cashed Simon's check and handed over the title. Simon only possessed a learner's permit and he didn't know how to work the stick shift. For a few days, we practiced driving together at Fort Baker. He drove round and round Murray Circle grinding the gears. After another week, he earned his driver's license driving the MG. My son was one proud sixteen-year-old.

When not otherwise engaged, Simon was constantly playing a video game called Ecco on his Sega Genesis. The goal was to help a lost porpoise to find his way back home. I remember poking my head into his room for progress reports. My son could never solve all the mysteries and Ecco never returned to his pod.

In late July, Zachary traveled to Korea with his Aunt Hyun Hee. After six weeks of wanderlust, he returned to the States accompanied by his cousin Ko Sung Kyung, otherwise known as Stephen.

Kim had struck a bargain with her sister. Stephen would live with us for four years at no cost to her while Hyun Hee would cover Zachary's Stanford tuition cost for four years. In the end it worked out well for both of us.

Once Zachary left the house for college, Simon re-located to the double room and Stephen took up residence in the single room. My Korean nephew was thirteen and a half at the time and should have attended Mill Valley Middle School, but after Professor Kim met with the middle school principal, Stephen matriculated as a Tamalpias freshman.

Kim and I loaded up the Peugeot with Zachary's possessions and, driving his Pontiac, Zach led the way to his dorm room. At West Lagunita Residence Hall, my son seemed so happy, so suited, both to be on his own and to live in such an academically rich environment. I knew he was exactly where God intended him to be.

Simon began his junior year at Tam making two adjustments. First, he was racing his MG back and forth to school and second, his younger cousin was on the high school campus, keeping an eye on him on behalf of his Auntie Kim.

Simon needed gas money. I asked Tom, my friend at church, if he needed help at a place he ran called the Ham Shoppe. Simon worked a few hours per week, especially over holidays. Often his job was to baste conventional hams with a sugar mix and put the blow torch to them. Simon joked about his honey baked hams.

I expanded my job search by applying as substitute teacher in the Mill Valley school district. I passed the CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) and attended one class at SFSU in California History. I also visited the Mill Valley Police Department for finger prints and mug shot. Although I received a credential to substitute teach, that is one thing I never did.

I expanded my tome, The Almanac of Comparative Biography, adding a few thousand names from birth through nineteen years old. I supplemented the text with a complete decade of names for people sixty through sixty-nine. Finally, I added names beyond seventy all the way to the last accomplishment-Jean Calment of France who was yet living at 118 years /5 months / 10 days. I attempted to market my book, sending letters to publishers of off-beat almanacs which I had collected over the previous four years.

Zachary thrived at Stanford. He auditioned for several a cappella groups, and was disappointed he didn't make Fleet Street. However, he was accepted into the Harmonics. We attended a few of his performances. He also sang in the chorus of Iolanthe performed by the Stanford Savoyards. He told me there was an amazing college golfer in one of his classes by the name of Tiger Woods.

Before Christmas, Kim brought home from SFSU an amazing CD-ROM to play on her Macintosh computer. It was called Myst, a video game where players solve puzzles and travel to other worlds. I could never immerse myself into this fictional universe and so became frustrated trying to travel about the Island of Myst. My avatar was simply dumped in front of a door and I had to figure out stuff on my own. After a few hours of futile activity, I gave up the effort.

As the year drew to a close, all five of us celebrated Christmas day at Trinity Community Church. God had been good to the Foreman family in 1993. Kim and I had settled into our new nest, Zachary had flown the coop, Steven had taken his place in the household, and Simon Peter grew to be more independent with a new car and new friends.

I missed Christmas with my family in the Northwest, but received a photo from Eileen showing Brian Ament standing in for me. A Christmas letter I mailed out to family summarized the year of 1993.


In January, I interviewed for a part-time position at the College of Marin. I soon began driving to the Indian Valley campus in Novato teaching adults how to use Windows 3.1. I quickly added Microsoft Word and Excel to my portfolio of instruction. Along with my Tamalpias class load, I was earning money four evenings per week.

Kim and I dropped by Stanford a few times a month to see Zachary. Because Stanford did not support ROTC, our son was driving to Santa Clara University learning how to salute, march, and polish boots. In February, Zach discovered he was medically disqualified for military service and his hope of an army commission was dashed. He was disappointed, but his life moved on. With recent visits to Russia, Zachary focused on becoming an Eastern European Studies major.

My brother Jack and I liked to tease each other about football. The San Francisco 49ers had championship teams, but so did the Dallas Cowboys. After the Cowboys won Superbowl 94, Jack sent me a t-shirt emblazoned with "Dallas Cowboys". A few weeks later, I mailed him a picture of his t-shirt in the bottom of Paco's cage.

When Kim and I visited his dorm room, we were amused. We had often scolded him for his messy bedroom in Mill Valley, but now his mess at West Lagunitas was epic. Pizza boxes, school books, Snapple bottles, and dirty clothes competed for every inch of floorspace. He kicked stuff aside as we entered to make a path. All I could do was sigh in exasperation. Tidiness was never my son's gift.

In April, we saw Zach star in a Lagunita Court production of Into the Woods. He disguised himself as both the Wolf and Rapunzel's Prince. At the same time Kim and I were relishing our lives in California, tragedy struck in Africa. On April 7, I began to watch news reports about mass killings in a tiny nation called Rwanda. I had to check my map to locate the place. For one hundred days, gruesome stories of Hutus killing Tutsis filled my daily newspaper-the Marin IJ. I could not have guessed this far-off land would someday play a major role in my life.

Simon was experiencing another great year in track. He was the top prep athlete in Marin County in April. The newspaper clipping read:

Last week he won the high jump with a leap of six feet, the long jump in 20-2 and the triple jump in 38-7 and was also the second leg on Tam's winning 440 relay team during a meet against Marin Catholic on Thursday.

Coach Bruce Grant says, "He's really coming alive as an athlete this year. He's taking it a lot more seriously. He's only a junior, and as big and strong and fast as he is, it's really just a matter of getting the technique down and he's going to get a lot better."

Oftentimes I would drive to SFSU-to pick up Kim, drop her off, or deliver boxes. It was always fun to pop into her office and converse with her fellow workers. I usually stopped at the bookstore to peruse the discount bins. I bought several CDs there, like Mozart's Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, and Bach's keyboard concertos.

My wife was always on the lookout for job openings on my behalf. One of her students named Lee Thompson told her about a position just launching at Golden Gate University in downtown San Francisco. I interviewed and by mid-May worked for an outfit called TSI (Technology Specialists Incorporated). I finally had the full-time job I had sought.

TSI had contracted with GGU to facilitate technology in all its aspects. There were seven of us liaisons on the team. I turned out to be the Faculty Liaison because of my PhD and academic background. Four women were liaisons for finance, library, students, and administration. A pony-tailed companion programed code all day. We sat together in a large room and reported to Lee Thompson who inhabited a corner office. My new email address became:

My charge was to pro-actively meet with each faculty member to facilitate use of technology both in their office space and in their classrooms. I also began to offer classes to small groups of faculty as they requested. Lee and I got along well as I set about to meet with as many professors as would grant me audience.

My report time at GGU was 9:00 a.m. On most days I would leave the house at 7:45, park the Peugeot at the commute lot in Sausalito, then travel by the Golden Gate Ferry to the Embarcadero. I'd then walk about ten blocks to the corner of Mission and Ecker. I enjoyed this water commute much better than driving. I could nap, drink coffee, and gaze out the window at the marvelous skyline. Once a week, I'd make a bicycle-ferry-bicycle commute into my work place.

While in the City, I converted 300 of my favorite slide transparencies into a CD-Kodak format. It cost me fifty dollars per disc, but I wanted to preserve these priceless memories.

I remember on June 19 watching the evening news when a flash occurred concerning the former pro football player O.J. Simpson. I had followed a live broadcast as LA police pursued a Ford Bronco at low speed. Could O.J. really have committed a double homicide?

In late June, the whole family headed to the Northwest to look in on Kim's mother. All six of her children had assembled in Portland to support Halmoni. Kim and I drove in the Peugeot while Zachary, Simon, and Stephen followed us in the Sunbird.

This was the back story. After her stroke in late 1992, Halmoni spent a few months in a Korean rehabilitation center. Then she returned to the USA in early 1993 accompanied by Hyun Hee. Once settled in Oregon, Pam and two sons didn't know what to do with their mother. For over a year she languished in a Portland nursing home-out of sight / out of mind. No attendant spoke Korean to her and no one provided Korean food. Poor Halmoni regressed to the point of grunting communication.

When Kim, Hyun Ok, and Hyun Hee finally visited their mom in 1994, the sisters were appalled at her condition. They felt shame and all determined she would stay in the same house as Pam. The three older sisters agreed to underwrite a full-time care giver by sending money to the youngest sister. After three days in the Northwest, Kim and I returned home. Stephen stayed with his mom and dad for the summer, while Zachary and Simon worked for their Auntie Pam.

Pam was an entrepreneur to the core, buying merchandise at a low price and selling it high. She purchased one thousand dollars' worth of goodies at Costco, traveled to various county fairs, and resold her product for three thousand. She giggled as she explained how she bought jugs of liquid syrup, froze her own blocks of ice, then sold shaved ice at a dollar a cone.

Pam had struck up a relationship with a Finnish man-a Jehovah Witness-named Ilka. These two were odd business partners. He would do all the heavy lifting while she scripted a gypsy lifestyle. Over several summers Zachary or Simon would join Pam and Ilka for weeks of county fairs and Indian powwows. Often the boys would return home with a thousand dollars in their pockets.

In the Autumn, Zachary returned to Stanford and Steven to Tam. Simon recognized he ran with a bad crowd at Tam and petitioned the school district to switch schools. I supported his transfer to Redwood High School and bought him a bright-red running suit. The kids at Redwood knew him by reputation and a few guys harassed him.

My son would not be bullied and within a week he got into a serious fistfight. I sat with the principal of Redwood and we agreed he should return to Tam. Official paperwork had never been fully processed and so it was like the transfer never happened at all. Simon returned and finished his high-school days at Tam.

Kim began her sixth season at SFSU always documenting her achievements and moving up the ladder of success. I returned to GGU and noticed the atmosphere seemed to sour. Lee Thompson began to resent my easy air and cozy relationship with certain of the faculty. He hired me because I was a doctor in name. Yet he was saying I shouldn't use "doctor" in correspondence. I strove to avoid the man.

After writing to a dozen almanac publishers, I finally found one that showed interest. I signed a few letters of intent with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and negotiated over the course of two months. They changed the name of the book to At Your Age and it looked like I might become a published author. However, a second review of my project concluded At Your Age was not marketable. It broke my heart when I received the letter declining to publish and wishing me luck. In dejection, I banished all my materials, binders, and reference books into a corner of the attic.

In October I purchased a Motorola MicroTAC 9800 flip phone. I justified its purchase to Kim by telling her I was keeping up with technology. The monthly charge of $50 was steep for the amount of use. I remember once cruising on the Golden Gate Ferry when a man experienced chest pain. He shouted out "Does anyone here have a phone?" I was a hero for that moment. I carried the Motorola for about a year, before it was moved into the attic-that graveyard of unwanted technology.

With the attic being increasingly used for storage, I decided to lay a plywood floor over the 2x6 cross-beams. I first increased the size of the entrance hatch then installed a permanent wooden ladder. Because four-foot by eight-foot plywood would not fit up the hatch, I cut several to a two-foot width. I installed lighting and hired someone to mount a window to the outside. It was a worthwhile project. With carpet on the floor and wicker stuck to the peaked roof it became a semi-habitable space.

We traveled to the northwest over Christmas, having the big get-together at Frank's new home. Frank had a trampoline set up. Zachary, Simon, and Johnny had a ball. It never ceased to amaze me how the generations multiplied. I was astonished to see myself surrounded by great nieces and great nephews. We dropped by mom's house. In November Terry and Eileen had sold their own home and graciously moved in to look after her. Dementia had worsened and Shelly, who was showing signs of bipolar disorder, moved into her own apartment. With a magnifying glass, mom would examine boxes of old pictures and laugh through hours of I Love Lucy.

On December 27, we celebrated a second Christmas, opening belated gifts under our own tree. A photo shows Simon wincing as he displays an unwrapped Chia Tree. Zachary ended the year according to his long custom. He wrote the digits 1-9-9-4 on a piece of drawing paper. At the stroke of midnight, he ripped the paper into tiny fragments and sprinkled them over his mom's head. Once more we shared how would grow spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially.


On January 2, I stood in Lee Thompson's office during an intense argument. I explained to him I had reserved three nights at a Lake Tahoe rental for myself and family.

He responded, "I don't approve of that. The team needs you here to support the faculty."

Showing him my pay statement with ten days of vacation, I spoke calmly, "This is semester break and most faculty are out of the office. I have a commitment. I'm taking three days off starting Monday."

Lee shouted he could not approve of my absence. I countered that I did not require his approval and stomped from his office.

I was never sure what the issue was with Lee. Was he just exercising his assumed prerogative? Was he testing my loyalty to TSI? I did know one thing. From that point forward he was out to get me.

My family did share a wonderful three days at Lake Tahoe. We all luxuriated in a hot tub surrounded by snow. On one morning I bought ski passes for five and watched Zachary, Simon, and Stephen ski down a hill side. On the next day, I dropped the three boys at the ski lift while Kim and I walked across the state line to the casinos. Although the time was pleasant, my mind was troubled by the hostility at work.

Later that month at lunchtime I saw the Super Bowl champs, San Francisco 49ers, parade down Market Street. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. A few weeks after the Superbowl celebration, we celebratred Kim's 44th birthday.

Tamalpias High School provided students with exceptional educational opportunities. At the same time, the ultra-liberal high school promoted many notions antithetical to my Christian worldview. A look at the high school newspaper called the Tam News revealed student predilections.

Three headlines read: Student group proposes free distribution of condoms; Typical night for student raver; Do drugs enhance the experience? The trio of sex, drugs, and rave parties permeated Tam all the way down to grade nine. Zachary showed little inclination toward these diversions, but Simon was an experiential learner.

In the company of his family, Simon was always respectful, but amongst his peers his behavior conformed. Regarding his car driving I once pointed out to him, "Simon, think hard about those five times you got either a ticket or in an accident? Every single time you were showing off for your friends, right?"

Kim and I were in constant prayer for Simon. Three times we picked him up at the police station; for shoplifting, for dope smoking, and for trespassing. He was finding himself and in doing so finding himself in trouble.

We sought a counselor for our son. Trinity Community Church had no such person, so we checked elsewhere. For a few sessions, Kim, Simon, and I sat with a minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon. After hearing Simon explain himself, I discerned him to be a good, intelligent, and creative person. He saw nothing wrong in smoking marijuana and attending all-night parties. As a seventeen-year-old, he resisted authority and sought autonomy. I figured that was natural enough. He didn't look for trouble, but trouble often looked for him.

Track season kept his focus for a few months. He participated in all the meets, and made it to the Nor-Cal regional meet in long jump. He almost made it to state. I watched him as he scratched his final leap of twenty-three feet. His toe stuck over the take-off board. Except for the ultimate champion, I guess all competitors end in defeat.

My son was thinking about his future and visited UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara. It was a tough choice for him, but when he discovered a few close friends were opting for the latter, he decided to attend UC Santa Barbara. Kim and I were encouraged when he got his conditional acceptance letter. We knew the place had a reputation as a party school, but I thought the laid-back ambiance seemed well suited to our son's personality.

Simon was working at Subway, referring to himself as a sandwich artist. He ditched the MG-which was falling to pieces-and bought a 1988 Chrysler Conquest TSI. This turbo-speed car was roaring fast. I remember Simon saying he could drive up to Portland in just four hours. I dared not calculate the MPH.

Simon also led a busy social life, dating a girl named Chandra and hanging out with guys like Kareem, Danny, and Paimon. These folks often came to the house, sitting on the side stairs and in the back yard. I felt good when the group was on Ashton Lane. I could keep a closer eye on them.

Zach continued to thrive at Stanford. His a cappella group, the Harmonics, performed the national anthem at an SF Giants baseball game. I drove a carload of the guys from Stanford to the ballpark and dragged along my old video camera to my outfield seat. As the harmonics performed, I hit the record button. Nothing happened. My ten-year-old wonder of technology had reached its obsolescence. After lugging it home, one of my favorite toys of all time retired to a corner of the attic.

Kim managed to work Zachary into her professional life, inviting him to Korean festivals and casting him as a foreign affairs expert by the name of "Kim Jin Ha".

I heard about the tragedy while working at Golden Gate University. I was busy on April 19, so I just caught tidbits. On the ferry ride home, I listened to KQED as the news flooded in from Oklahoma City. A home-made bomb had killed 168 people and injured more than 500. It turned out to be the worst ever peacetime bombing on US soil. The perpetrator of the attack, Timothy McVeigh was executed six years later.

At GGU I learned about something called the World Wide Web. I remember talking with my colleague, Sharon, whose hometown was San Diego. On her computer she opened a program called Mosaic and typed in some numbers. "Look at this," she chirped. "This is a highway that runs past my house. This is an actual video of what's actually going on right now. Isn't that cool?"

I certainly thought it was cool, and spent many of the following days reading about the Web, exploring its nooks and crannies. I had the inspiration to create a website called The Millennium Source Page. The year 2000 was not far ahead and as I searched, I found little about this watershed date. When I did a search of the word "millennium", the phrase that popped up most often was Millennium Falcon of Star Wars fame.

Bridget was the technology liaison to the Library. Her station sat next to mine. She posted an illustrated cartoon reflecting her attitude toward TSI: "Some days you're the windshield and somedays you're the bug". Most of my days at Golden Gate seemed to be bug days.

In June, both Simon and I suffered disappointment. My senior-grade son failed a physics class receiving an F. He was then one credit short of qualifying for UC Santa Barbara and his acceptance letter was revoked. This really upset his mother. Simon quickly adjusted his plans and enrolled for the fall term at Santa Barbara City College. Kim and I attended his high school graduation, but his disappointing news put a damper on celebration. Simon insisted for years that Mr. Lapp, his physics teacher, was out to get him.

There was also someone out to get me and on June 3, Lee Thompson succeeded. Earlier he had told me to turn over excess desktop computers to TSI so he could re-distribute them elsewhere. I knew of a few professors who had requested a computer for their office. I thought little of giving computers to faculty. Lee was furious when I casually told him what I had done. He stormed from his office, consulted with the big boss, and when he returned demanded I clear out my desk. I smiled and complied.

I dropped by the office of the big boss who explained Lee was too well-connected to be disregarded. I told the boss not to be troubled, because "God does not shut a door without opening a window." Our conversation turned spiritual and he invited me to a farewell lunch. We passed a bookstore with a sign out front "George Foreman signing books today". We walked through the door just as George walked down the center aisle. I reached out my hand and he grabbed my thumb. He was one big dude. A few minutes later, I exited the book store with a signed copy of By George.

The job loss was okay with me. Working in proximity to Lee was miserable. The hard part was breaking the news to my wife. As we sat in the parking lot of Barnes and Noble, I lowered my head to the steering wheel. She asked, "Chris, is something wrong?"

I began weeping, not because I had lost the stupid job, but because I seemed to be such a failure at every task I put my hand to-our marriage, the army, my almanac, this job. I felt like such a loser. Kim comforted me, assuring me of her love. With confidence she spoke, "I'll help you find the place that God wants for you. Let's work as partners."

My precious wife was more than I deserved. When her semester ended, we spend hours together. There were so many trails within walking distance of our house. We could exit the back fence of our property, climb up deer paths, scramble over rock outcroppings, and traverse three miles of sage to attain a lofty ocean overlook. We often walked to Tennessee Valley shoreline where Kim stacked flat stones on the sandy beach. The fabled Muir Woods was just a ten-minute car ride. At 7:00 a.m. the park was un-peopled. We could admire the giant redwoods without charge and in seclusion. It was like our private park.

Kim not only helped to rejuvenate my soul, she helped me knit together a patchwork of jobs. She understood who I was. Kim held the rock-solid job with benefits and retirement. It was fine that her husband freelanced at several jobs as long as I was busy, happy, and pulled in an amount of money comparable to hers.

She helped me obtain a business license framing myself as a computer consultant. I named my company "Praxxis Educational Services" adding to my calling card "praxxis is the application of knowledge." My email became: I advertised in a local computer magazine and over the next year worked several odd jobs-some odder than others.

I visited one old man whose passion was to play computer chess. When he had upgraded to Windows, his familiar DOS program no longer worked. I suggested he upgrade his chess game to a Windows version, which he declined to do. I charged him for five hours as I created a macro that would revert Windows to DOS and open his treasured game. I also helped a local author named Susan Roane who had written How to Work a Room. She needed help in how to work her computer.

At forty-five years old, it was clear to me I could not earn a retirement unless it were through the U.S. Army. I had seventeen good years of military service which meant I had to serve just three years more to hit the magic twenty. Kim encouraged me to persevere. On June 16, I went to Fort Baker and dropped off a letter seeking an O-4 position with the 91st Division, 1stBrigade, located about thirty miles away at Parks RFTA (Reserve Forces Training Area). I also began taking army correspondence courses, needing all the retirement points I could muster.

Kim was able to find me a position teaching computer classes at the SFSU downtown center. During that summer, I taught eight classes in Windows and in MS Word. The center was located just a few blocks from my old place at Golden Gate University.

I also replied to a newspaper ad seeking a computer instructor. I hooked up with a guy named Ernie through whom I taught a few private Windows sessions in Sausalito. Soon my patchwork grew into a quilt and I was teaching nearly every week day.

Zachary spent the month of July in Latvia with a program called Students for Eastern European Development (SEED). In August once again, he and Simon migrated to Portland to earn money at county fairs and Indian powwows. By this time Dong Hyun and Kyu Nam were operating convenience stores in the Portland area. The boys helped out there too, receiving generous renumeration. Kim appreciated her two sons living in proximity to her two brothers. Our family attended a family reuion, specifically to honor my mother in her twi-light years.

I remember driving alone from Portland to Mill Valley in late August. As I sped south on I-5, I noticed a bright object burning in the sky to the west. It seemed to be following me. Was it a UFO? I pulled the Peugeot to the side of the road to gaze at comet Hale-Bopp, unbelievably bright with a shining tale.

Simon was eighteen and on his tip-toes taller than me. In the autumn, Simon packed his Conquest and moved down to Goleta, California, near Santa Barbara City College. He booked a dormitory-style room at a place called Tropicana Gardens. Several of his friends soon joined him in the frolic. His classrooms were located within sea-sound of Venice Beach. It would be an understatement to say Simon was distracted from his college studies.

Zachary enjoyed communal life and returned to West Lagunitas for his third straight year. Steven was comfortable staying in the single bedroom for his junior year at Tam. He was a quiet nephew, renting tapes from Video Droid and hanging out with Asian buddies. In October, I found short term employment at Patten College in Oakland. This small Christian school had just inaugurated a Degree Completion Program and wanted me to teach a course called Research One. I taught students on four consecutive Fridays, six to ten at night. The texts were mandated and not well suited for my audience. I had to slow down and leave out parts. I remember one woman who was startled upon learning one negative number multiplied by another negative number yielded a positive number. I spent thirty minutes explaining the reasoning behind the math. After my initial commitment of four classes, I did not return to Patten College.

I was anxious to join the First Brigade and round out my military service. Yet, the army seemed to drag its feet. I penned a few letters to the brigade adjutant with no response. I finally called upon a few old comrades at Fort Baker and shortly received welcome back orders on November 28: "You are released from USAR control Group and assigned to 91st Division 1st brigade at Parks RFTA in Dublin." It took yet another month for me to report for duty at Camp Parks.

I calculated seventeen good years, 1976 through 1992, and three bad years 1993 to 1995. That meant I required just three more good years: 1996 to 1998. With a reserve retirement, I could begin collecting a pension at age sixty.

In December, I signed up for a Web class at SFSU. I learned about something called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and how to code a simple page with tags. How cool it was to create a web page with text, image, and hyperlink! I tried the web magic at home, but couldn't make it work. I discovered that my Windows computer did not distinguish between upper case and lower case, but the Apple servers at SFSU did make the distinction.

A few days before Christmas, I drove Zachary to the San Francisco Airport. He was once again headed overseas. This time for a program called Moscow for Stanford. Simon was living on the edge, yet he sent me a touching birthday card.


My first drill with the First Brigade occurred in January. I made the one-hour drive to Camp Parks which was near Dublin in Alameda County. Colonel Roach was my brigade commander and LTC Enberg was his deputy. First Brigade consisted of officers and senior enlisted soldiers who traveled throughout the West, assisting Reserve and National Guard units. The brigade consisted of three sections: Military Police, Transportation, and Engineer. Majors Hamner, Kaufman, and Burger worked with me as engineer evaluation officers.

For most of my time with First Brigade, I would drill at Camp Parks for two drill weekends of planning and coordinating, then travel for annual training in a five-day segment. My first stint involved an engineer evaluation at Fort Grafton, North Dakota. I remember it being so cold that we did not exit the Quonset hut. The ground was too frozen for land mines or entrenchment. The temperature hit twenty below zero; the coldest I had ever experienced.

Kim and I were burning out at Trinity Community Church. Part of it was the church's inability to help Simon in his teenage angst and part of it was Pentecostal theology. It seemed to me that the Third Person of the Trinity was supplanting the other two. The balance should be Father then Son then Holy Spirit, not all Spirit. I attended a Giants baseball game with a church group and spoke with Will Nelken between pitches. He noted my spotty attendance and I laid out my theological objections. He sadly agreed it might be time for me to resign as an elder and move on.

Kim and I looked at the nearby Lutheran church, but found it too liturgical. Kim suggested a Presbyterian church because she was reared in that denomination. Also, we had appreciated the effort of Westminster Presbyterian on behalf of Simon. So, we began attending church in Tiburon. Kim was overjoyed with the place. "More her kind of people," she said, but I had reservations about the liberal theology. Kim formally joined the congregation, receiving the biblical name of Esther as she stepped up front.

I did enjoy the men's group which met early on Friday morning. Usually about a dozen guys got together to munch donuts and talk about private lives and public news. I was at the younger end of the spectrum while Phil Oconomen, our facilitator, was a youthful eighty-five. Phil was an army veteran of the D-Day landing. I remained faithful to this group attending for the next ten years.

Simon managed to complete just one semester at Santa Barbara City College. He caroused with too many buddies, romped on too many beaches, and got high at too many parties. Simon remained in Santa Barbara living the high-life of an emancipated eighteen-year-old. I remember getting a letter from Tropicana Gardens expelling my son from his room and accusing him of theft and property damage. I knew my son projected a tough persona, but he was neither a thief nor a vandal. I figured he needed a few hobo years before settling into a more stable lifestyle.

Kim and I were driving to Portland every three months in order to support her ailing mother. We often spent the night in Ashland, Oregon, and considered this town as a possible site to retire. Once in the Northwest, Kim would have a brief encounter with my family and I would greet my in-laws. Then we would part company for a few days. While her mom was alive, Kim made sticking to her side the priority.

On one trip north we stopped by Nancy Jo's extravagant home. Brian Ament was in the construction business and had built his own million-dollar mansion complete with grand entrance and winding staircase. The estate rested on an acre lot complete with hobby-farm and Christmas-tree grove. Their third daughter, Aubrey, was celebrating her sixth birthday on the afternoon we dropped by. The event was an over-the-top affair with a magician entertaining. My niece was living the fairytale life she had dreamed of.

In April I posted my first Home Page on the World Wide Web. It was hosted at SFSU. My motto stated: "There's no place like cyberspace!" My first home page contained nine categories: Praxxis Educational Services; SFSU; Resume; Millennium Source Page; Multimedia Studies Program; Favorite links; U.S. Army reserve; Church; and Family Photos. I updated this page by handing over floppy discs to the guy at the SFSU computer lab.

Kim became more involved with the Korea Center in San Francisco. Together we attended fund raisers and cultural events. We often traveled to Stanford to see Zachary in various performances, as when he played in the Mikado. (He showed an affinity for Gilbert and Sullivan.) Kim and I enjoyed a street fair in San Rafael marveling at sidewalk chalk art. With my army weekends, consulting business, and three venues for teaching computers, I was pulling in nearly as much money as Kim.

I always had a penchant for new technology and bought a Winbook with a Pentium 75 MHZ chip. This laptop computer with all its accessories cost me about $5,000. Kim winced at the price, but it wasn't much more than her new Macintosh with printer. I carried the Winbook to Camp Parks and to my computer classes. My computer-geek friends thought it was pretty cool.

In August I flew to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, attending Command and General Staff College for two weeks. I still harbored hopes of a promotion to LTC. I made a point to visit Jack in Dallas. By 1995, my 35-year-old nephew Alan had three children by three women and 24-year-old Patrick was out of college working at a bank.

On our quarterly visit to the Northwest, Kim hung out with her family while I spent most of my time with Frank. My brother and I finally accomplished that long-delayed climb to the summit of Mount Saint Helens. After the volcano erupted in 1980, the mountain shrunk from 9000 to 6000 feet. Frank and I, along with eight of his in-laws, made the ascent, posing at the lip of the caldera on a wonderfully clear afternoon.

Zachary took off a full academic year of college to study at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. We kept up a regular e-mail correspondence between paladin@ and praxxis@ My son experienced a major misfortune when he first set foot in Krakow. He left his one-hundred-pound duffle bag unattended and all was stolen except the clothes on his back. Because of this loss, he struggled the first few months in country. Zachary had chosen Poland as a place to study to get in touch with father-side roots. However, he found no one in that country with the surname of Formanski. I acquired a new passport thinking I might him in Europe.

By this time, Simon had relocated to the Portland area. He lived for a time with his cousin Don John and with his Auntie Pam. He sometimes slept in a filling station or at Washington Park. Simon related this funny story: a relative had asked him the whereabouts of his big brother. After Simon told of his location in Eastern Europe, the startled cousin responded, "What? Zachary's living at a ‘crack house in Portland?'"

When Simon came home on Thanksgiving Day, he bore a new facial ornament-a nose loop. His mother couldn't stand it. She yelled and threatened and would not look at his face. Stubborn Simon would not remove the loop. As a compromise, he covered his nostril with a band-aid during Thanksgiving dinner. The meal was tense. There was not much opportunity to give thanks. My advice to my wife was "just ignore the nose ring". Immediately after the meal, Simon stormed back to Portland.

I continued my patchwork of jobs and the months passed. On November 6, Bill Clinton was elected to a second term defeating Bob Dole. We made a point to connect with Simon, meeting him at a coffee shop in downtown Portland. He was pierced and tattooed, carrying a hand-painted backpack with a plastic dinosaur dangling from a strap. He relished his freedom, telling us about couch surfing and living on the streets. We voiced concern, but Simon scoffed, urging us not to worry. Our conversation remained pleasant, but Kim shed tears as he walked from the coffee shop. We held hands and prayed that God would keep our prodigal son in the hollow of his hands.

By this time, my mom had moved out of her house and into SunRise Care center in Vancouver. We stopped by with Frank to visit her in her new setting.

While Zachary was abroad, Kim and I took the opportunity to both visit him and indulge in international travel. This would mark Kim's first time in Europe. While we were away from December 18, 1996, to January 2, 1997, we asked Simon to look after the house and take care of Paco.

Our trip to visit Zachary started in Frankfort, Germany. We rented a car and then drove nonstop to Prague. Because no major highway ran from Germany into the former Eastern Bloc, roadways became increasingly small as we approached the Czech border. Crossing the frontier was no problem. I think Czech border guards were happy to entertain Americans.

We had planned ahead of time to meet Zachary and his semi-girlfriend, Zoreen, on the famous Charles Bridge at high noon. After walking the bridge for an hour, we almost lost hope, but we finally hooked up with them. We spent the night and the next day in snowy Prague posing in front of noteworthy buildings.

The next day the four of us drove to Vienna, Austria. We paused at the Austerlitz battlefield to visit the site of a famous Napoleon victory. Vienna was fun and we stayed overnight, again driving around the city taking pictures at monuments, especially the Schoenborn Palace. Zoreen parted our company in Vienna.

The three of us passed through Budapest, without stopping, then into Slovakia. We paused in Bratislava, then spent the next night in a little resort area called Banska Stiavnica. It was a snowy time.

We then drove up to Krakow and spent four days with Zachary, including Christmas Day. We toured around town viewing medieval fortresses, church buildings, and Jagiellonian University. Zachary's favorite spot was a McDo