Prior to high school graduation, I didn't spend much time thinking about
college. As life-long Methodists, my folks thought that I would go to Southwestern
College, which was a Methodist College in Winfield, Kansas. Dad and Mom
knew the Methodist Church District Superintendent, Dr. Abel, so they asked
him about a scholarship for me to go to Southwestern. He said he was sorry,
he'd love to help me go to college there, but no music student scholarships
were available. Since my folks could not afford the tuition funds, let
alone the board and room, that ended that!
The Mennonite Connection and Willis Rich
Graduation from Hanston High School in the spring of 1935 had come and gone, and college was a million miles from me. I didn't know what I was going to do about it. Nothing, I guess! I just had to wait to see what would happen.
The Mennonite people in the Hanston community influenced me. There were enough of them to have a nice little country church northwest of the town. Several young people from the church went to high school with me. It was my Mennonite friends that brought me an opportunity to attend college.
One day, as Dad and I were working with the irrigation system, trying to remove weeds from the ditch in front of our house, a car drove up. It was Willis Rich, the public relations director from Bethel College in Newton, Kansas. He had been calling on the Mennonites at Hanston to see what could be done to recruit new students for the fall semester.
The Mennonites seemed to like music, and my Mennonite friends always were interested in my piano playing and singing. One or more of them had told Willis Rich about that young man south of Hanston who was musical. That got him to our farm in a hurry!
So what? I didn't have any money and how in the world could I ever scrape up enough money to drive to North Newton to enroll at Bethel, let alone pay for tuition, board and room!
"Do you want to go to Bethel?" he queried.
"Oh, I surely do!" I said excitedly. "But how..!"
"Glenn, you can go to college. Bethel College can help you," he continued. "Bethel has a number of scholarships to help take care of your tuition. I am certain you can qualify for one. Then, you can get a job on the campus for a few hours a week to help pay for other expenses."
Mr. Rich was very convincing, and that conversation got me started on my way to Bethel and my college education that I so wanted.
Each year I was given scholarship money for my tuition and an opportunity to work on campus for my other expenses. For some reason I have saved one of the cards I got each year confirming my acceptance and promise of a job. As the front of the card shows this was the day of the original "Penny Postcard."
For many years, Mom had insisted that Glenn was going to college, no question about it. Junior didn't get a degree and she always regretted that. So, she was glad I had the opportunity, and she immediately started making some good plans for me.
Mom and Dad had taken care of Ted in our home for at least three years and they planned to keep him through his senior year in high school. Bethel was only eighteen miles from Burrton, where Ted's mother lived with Grandma Deal. With Mom's plan, I could hitch a ride from Bethel to Burrton on weekends. I thought that was a good idea. Since I was not a Mennonite, I could go to church on Sunday at Burrton. Also my cousins, Gene and Marion, would be there and I would enjoy both of them. Grandma and Aunt Nellie could pack a week's supply of food for me, also. Hot dogs! This sounded just great.
Although Mom really wanted me to go to college, she also had some sad feelings about my leaving home. I remember her saying one day, "You are really going to leave us now. I'm going to lose my baby."
Since Helen died in 1927, Mom had carried a great sorrow in her heart. Because Helen was the only girl in our family, her death was doubly difficult. Consequently, she transferred a double portion of her care and love to me. I always noted that she was very protective toward me. As one example, she didn't want me to play contact sports.
In my excitement about going to college, I'm afraid I didn't pay much
attention to Mom's feelings about the whole matter. I had my application
papers for admission and scholarships to complete.
Catalog Requirements and Mrs. Lyman
From the Bethel catalog, I learned that to study music education with a major in piano and a minor in voice, I was deficient in several things. It said I should have studied both piano and voice music by the masters. Of the composers listed, Mozart was the only one I was familiar with at all. Furthermore, I had never had any voice lessons. Gee! What was I going to do?
Piano lessons hadn't been on my schedule since we moved to Western Kansas. Out there Aunt Myrtle couldn't give me "free" lessons and we certainly didn't have the money to pay anyone for them.
Mrs. Lyman, who lived on a farm nine miles north of Hanston, was a teacher of piano and voice. She had given lessons for many years around the area. Most of her lessons were either at Hodgeman School, close to her home, or in Hanston at one of the churches. She was the only person we knew who might be able to help me meet those requirements the catalog listed.
Since some of Mrs. Lyman's relatives lived near Burrton, Mom had known something about the family for years. That was all the recommendation that Mom needed. She immediately called Mrs. Lyman and told of my problem. Mrs. Lyman was very excited about the chance to give me the lessons that would help me enter the music program at Bethel.
We did not know how we were going to pay Mrs. Lyman for my lessons, but she said, "We will work something out." So, we agreed that we would pay what we could in cash and the rest in produce from our garden.
I practiced hard on both piano and voice. Mrs. Lyman was wonderful. She even let me use her own piano and vocal music.
I played the piano every day. The names of the numbers I played escape me now, but I wanted Bethel to know I had become acquainted with the "Pianoforte Masters."
I also sang solos every chance I got. "On the Road to Mandalay" was one of my favorites. I sang, sang and sang!
That summer was fun and I loved it. Mrs. Lyman liked working with me
and according to her, she thought I had potential in piano and voice.
Old Druzzie Contributes
I knew that my folks were pleased about developments. At the same time they both knew that there was no hard cash to give me to go to Bethel in the fall. I certainly didn't have any cash. The folks had no money to pay me for my work on the farm. I gave a few piano lessons to kids around Hanston, but my income from that was really a joke when compared with my cash needs. My pay for each lesson was the fabulous figure of twenty-five cents!
Dad thought things over and said, "Glenn, this is what I'll do for you. We'll sell old 'Druzzie,' and the money she brings, you can have for college."
I knew that was a real sacrifice for my folks. Old Druzzie was the only pig we had. To top it off, she was a sow and Dad's only hope at this time of getting back into the pig business.
I can't remember for sure, but I believe Dad got $35.00 for that pig.
So with that in my pocket, I was ready to start my college career.
On to Bethel
It wasn't hard to pass the time away that summer. I kept doing the chores as usual, and continued doing the "fun" things that I enjoyed. Actually, I began to wonder whether going to Bethel would be all that great. I had lots of fun hunting skunks, rattlesnakes, jackrabbits and the like. I would miss old Bess, also, and that old stripped-down truck I drove all over the place. Life was great for me. Looking back, I didn't worry too much about being poor. It seemed almost everyone we knew was poor, so we were all in the same boat, so to speak.
Summer ended and it was time to pack and head for Bethel College. Once I was on my way, the excitement grew and I was anxious to get there. The drive from Hanston to North Newton was about one hundred fifty miles. We stopped along the way to say hello to Grandma Deal and Aunt Nellie. Mom always brought garden stuff along from Hanston and this time was no exception, regardless of my hurry to get to Bethel.
Finally, we arrived and I began my first day on the campus. By this time, I had dropped the complete phrase, Bethel College. From then on, it was just plain BETHEL, a place where I was to spend four important years of my life. .
The Ad Building
The first building I saw was the Administration Building. I learned that it was affectionately called the "Ad Building" for short. It had been built by the Mennonite pioneers in the 1800's to educate their young people, especially the young men preparing for the ministry. Women didn't enter the ministry, but there were "many other important things" they could do. They were accepted at Bethel, but not to train as ministers. They could study education, music, home economics and secretarial subjects to enter fields women were "best suited for." The missionary field, of course, was open to all.
Bethel College espoused the peace philosophy. The Mennonites were pacifists
with a very long history of non-violence. They came to that from their
early problems of religious persecution in Russia. Non-violence was not
just a fad. Good Mennonites practiced it with a fervor. Throughout their
history, they had refused to go to war except as non-combatants. I knew
from my experiences with Hanston Mennonite friends that I would be exposed
to this philosophy at their college.
Goodbye to My Folks
When I got to the Ad Building, I rushed inside to notify them that I had arrived. Now what do you know? They made me feel that they had been just waiting for me to come. What a good feeling! I was immediately shown the old Voth house, which was to be my home. It was one block west of the campus. Mrs. Voth welcomed me to my "attic" rooms. She was not responsible for my actions. Her home was just the place the college had selected for me to live while at Bethel. In other words, it wasn't a college dorm situation.
Mom and Dad helped me unload quickly because I had been told that there was a very important meeting on the campus welcoming the new students to Bethel. Parents weren't invited for the welcoming so there wasn't anything for them to do but start for home. I was so very excited that I almost forgot to say good-bye to them.
"Goodbye Mom, goodbye Dad! See you Thanksgiving."
That was just the way I sent them away. Mom pushed back some tears that had been welling up. She didn't want me to see them, but I noticed them anyway. However, I knew I was a big boy and I had to let the folks go. I was now a real man. I would take care of myself from now on, I thought! After all of the things that Willis Rich and the Hanston Mennonites had told us about Bethel, Mom was well satisfied that her little Glenn was in good hands.
"Be a good boy, study hard and write often." Those were words that I accepted readily. I felt that I wouldn't have any trouble keeping the first commandment, "Be a good boy." On the other hand, the second commandment, "Study hard," didn't seem to be a very exciting one, for I wasn't sure I really knew how to study. (I learned later, the hard way.) The third commandment wasn't hard to do at all. I religiously kept that one. Since I felt very close to my family, I wrote many, many letters home. That was a habit that I never let go. Even through my teaching and war years, I wrote home frequently. Sometimes I would start a letter and finish it several days later in order to give the folks a long, long epistle to digest.
This is a note I had written to Mom one Mother's Day. I found it in
my Mom's things. She had kept it for many years so I know it must have
meant a lot to her. Of course, I had no money to send a present or flowers,
so I just did what I could to show my appreciation for her and Dad:
May 7, 1937
Dearest Dad and Mom:
I find it a great pleasure to write you this letter of congratulations.
I was going to write to Mom, but how can I complement one without the other? It has already dawned upon me, as I look back over the years that I have lived, what a wonderful Father and Mother I have had. Not only that I have had, but what I have now. I have come to realize also, that I am having, and have had a very rare privilege lots and lots of boys and girls my age don't get or have. And that is, a Father and Mother who are and have been real honest to goodness pals to me. I'm also beginning to realize just what a Father and Mother have to sacrifice and I want you to know that I appreciate everything. It has made my love for you greater as time goes by.
My greatest wish to you is that I may be able to write many more of these letters of congratulations. I also wish that other boys and girls may have the same pleasure that I am having. I am terribly sorry that I cannot be home to celebrate with you.
"May God Bless You Both"
My Dad was especially good about keeping in touch. He always seemed so interested in all my activities. We kept a conversation via letter for all my college years and all my wartime years. I don't know what I wrote about, but I do know what he wrote to me about. His letters were always informative. He would talk about the weather and how the crops and animals were getting along. To some that might sound boring, but not to me. I was always interested in everything that was happening on the farm.
Usually Mom was somewhat more abbreviated in her writing and, sometimes,
I could almost guess what the next line was going to be. There were times,
however, that she would write many details about things, and I liked that.
She always kept me up on the family news, such as who died, was born or
was married, and details about church happenings and trips to town. She
was a member of the Ladies Aid Society, later the Women's Society of Christian
Service. Every one of those ladies exchanged ideas and kept each other
informed about "newsworthy" events. Now don't get the idea that the ladies
"gossiped." They didn't gossip, I knew that! They were just interested
in each other, their families, the neighbors' families, what happened around
the area, and so on. Well, perhaps they did gossip a little, but it wouldn't
be in a mean or hurtful way.
The Bethel Welcoming
Willis Rich was a terrific public relations person. He was the person who introduced me to practically everything at Bethel. I am sure that most of the students could say that same thing about him. Furthermore, I had the feeling that Willis was closer to me than to any other new student at Bethel that semester. Probably that's how each of the other new students felt also.
Willis had told me that the first get-together of new students would be at Kidron Park. I don't know where the park got the name "Kidron." I suppose I would have to study some of Bethel's history books to learn that. Nevertheless, I did soon learn that the park was an important gathering spot for campus activities.
The welcoming meeting for the new students was very interesting. We
did lots of things, including eating, singing, hearing greetings from the
faculty and staff, and listening to the A Cappella Choir sing. Right then
I decided I was going to be in that choir!
The Voth Attic
I was tired at the close of that first day at Bethel and was glad to
get to my new attic bedroom and prepare for bed. The stairs to the attic
rooms were steep. The attic rooms really seemed to be sort of an after
thought. My room was at the head of the stairs directly to the right. The
toilet and bathtub were in another small room. Frankly, I can't remember
where it was in relation to the other rooms. In my bedroom were a couple
chairs, a double bed, and the usual type dresser. Suddenly, I realized
that I would have a bedmate. However, being very tired, I tried to avoid
my sensitive feelings about sleeping with another person, and jumped into
bed. Of course, I wasn't going to take any chance of getting close to my
new bedmate. I got as close to the far side of the bed as possible. As
a matter of fact, I was really against the wall.
Charlie Tubbs, Bedmate
Charlie Tubbs was my bedmate. He was a rather large guy and one of the very popular Bethel football players. Football wasn't one of my favorite sports, that was for sure, and I wasn't about to cultivate an appetite for it right now.
Sleeping with Charlie had a number of problems connected with it. Since he was much heavier than I, when he got into bed, the entire bed rocked. When he rolled around on the bed, I was rolled around also. Secondly, Charlie snored! I was absolutely stunned. Just a one-time experience, oh no! I would have to be very, very tired each night to sleep through his rock and roll concerts.
There was a third problem that was apparently caused by the rigors of football training. At night when he had worked out especially hard, his body would jerk and toss. At times his left arm would suddenly stick out like a cross-arm on a railroad crossing sign. Ordinarily, it wouldn't have mattered, I guess, but when that cross-arm came down on me, it mattered a lot to me! It could hit me at the most awful times and on the most vulnerable spots!
To make matters worse, I had always been a loner, especially when it came to bedmates. At home I slept alone. My desire to sleep alone came mainly from the fact that I often wet the bed, and I was very, very sensitive about that dang habit. For a long time I was certain that my problem was caused by God. I was sure it was a punishment for one of my "sins of the flesh" about which I had heard the minister preach from time to time. Regardless of the cause, the whole bed-wetting experience had left heavy emotional scars, and I didn't want anyone sleeping near me, anytime, anywhere! At that time I had no other choice, however, and had to make the best of it for awhile.
Another memory of Charlie is his trick knee. As I have explained, the stairs were very narrow. That caused quite a problem when Charlie's knee would "lock" as he was climbing them. It seemed to me that his knee knew when he was in the middle of the stairs, and would pick that time to cause him trouble. When it "locked," Charlie could not, and/or would not, move until the pain subsided. The pain must have been excruciating judging from Charlie's actions and words. No banshee battle cry could match his "expressions" of pain. Getting Charlie either back down or up was a real problem. Harry or Irvin Albrecht, if they were near, could usually figure a way to help him. They seemed to feel it was their brotherly responsibility to help Charlie.
As I look back, I feel sorry that I was so insensitive to Charlie and
his problems. I hope he has forgiven me if I hurt his feelings.
Harry and Irvin
At the foot of the stairs was a larger room containing a double bed on the left, which Harry and Irvin used, an unused cot on the right, and a study table shared by all. At the east side of the room, were, surprisingly for an attic room, two very large windows. That gave us plenty of light for studying.
Now is a good time to say something more about Harry and Irvin Albrecht. Both of them were studying to be preachers. Why I always said "Harry and Irvin" instead of "Irvin and Harry," I do not know. Irvin was the older of the two. I suppose it was because Harry worked at the college print shop and would let me come to watch him at work. Once in awhile he let me operate one of the simple printing presses. That was fun even though I should have been doing my own work. Harry and I became good friends, and that friendship has lasted all these years. In fact, Harry became the Mennonite minister in Hanston during the time I was teaching at the nearby town of Jetmore, and we were able to renew our acquaintance. Through the years we have visited him and his family in Oregon and they have been at our Culver City, California, home.
Harry on his Bed in the Voth House.
Harry and Irvin proved my salvation from sleeping with Charlie. One
day, noting the empty cot in their room, I gathered up enough nerve to
ask if anyone cared if I slept on it. When Charlie heard me ask, he quickly
and graciously volunteered to sleep on it himself. He said that because
of his bad knee, it was easier for him to get in and out of it than the
bed. No one voiced any objection, and you can bet I didn't have any complaint
about the new arrangement. I was gratified.
My First Practice Room
I mustn't forget to mention my piano practice room. Mrs. Voth had a
good upright piano in one of her downstairs rooms. She said she loved music
and I was welcome to practice there as much as I wished. Everything went
fine until cold weather came. That room was beastly cold, unless she would
happen to remember to warm it for me. I'm afraid that didn't happen very
often. Of course, I only lived there one semester before moving on campus,
and then I had to rent a practice room in the basement of the music hall.
At least, for one semester I got a practice room free, such as it was.
In the Voth attic we had a kitchen. It was to the left of the stairs. Harry, Irvin and I shared it. Charlie must have had some kind of financial assistance because he always took his meals at the main dining room.
Here I am with Irvin and Harry
While batching at Bethel, I had a meager collection of dishes and cooking utensils, and my menu was rather limited. In other words, I just got by. Well, sometimes, I barely got by. However, when anyone would ask me how I was getting along batching, I would say it was O.K. I wanted everyone to know how self-sufficient I was. Just how much I believed it myself was debatable.
Luckily, I liked eggs and they were plentiful. They could be cooked many ways: boiled, fried hard or over easy, or even scrambled, in whatever fancy hit me at the moment. As a matter of fact, I liked anything I could fry. I was an expert at frying things, especially potatoes, which were inexpensive. They could be sliced or grated. Often I'd make steamed potatoes with a couple eggs on top.
"Bread is the staff of life," the Bible says and I took that commandment to heart. All kinds of bread, plain or toasted as long as it was white! I felt it was created to be white, not brown, or black. My Aunt Elsie Deal worked in a Newton bakery, and she would sometimes supply me with white bread. Occasionally, if I were lucky, she would give me some cinnamon rolls, right from the oven. That was great!
I almost always managed to get milk. If I had milk, bread, cereal, eggs and potatoes, I could do pretty well.
Speaking of milk and cereal reminds me of my friends Harry and Irvin. They would eat their Post Toasties with water. Now that was revolting to me. I kidded them about it.
"That is the way we like it," they would say, smacking their lips. "You should try it sometime. You'd like it."
Ugh, a sugared shoestring would taste better, I thought.
Well, how ashamed I was when some years later I learned that they didn't
really prefer the water, but that they couldn't afford the milk. I'm sorry,
Harry and Irvin, that I was so insensitive. You proved that you knew how
to go to college on the proverbial "shoestring."
The Whitehouse Dorm
The college workers had been redecorating some of the rooms at the Whitehouse Dorm. They were to be done by the beginning of the second semester. How I wished I could move there. Of course, since I was just a lowly freshman, I didn't suppose I'd have a chance. However, I knew that the administration always preferred having single students in campus housing. I didn't really care whether I was on or off campus, but I did want to get out of that attic.
Surprise! At the end of the first semester, we were notified that the Voth home was to be vacated, and Harry, Irvin, Charlie and I were to be moved to the Whitehouse Dorm.
I never did know why it was called The Whitehouse. True, the building was white, but that was probably not where it got its name. Most of the dorms were named after the families that had donated their large homes to be moved to the campus and remodeled for housing students.
The apartment where Harry, Irvin and I lived had two rooms. One was a bedroom, and the other a combination kitchen and study room. The furnishings were meager, but adequate. Again we prepared our own meals. At the end of the hall was a common bathroom with toilet and the usual old-fashioned tub. Since many students had to use this facility, timing one's activities became crucial, and any privacy was nil. Someone was always waiting his turn and would let you know that your time was up.
Not only did we all have to prepare our own meals, we also have to keep our apartments clean and neat. Our dorm leader, Harry Martin, came around periodically to inspect our rooms. In this picture we are displaying our housekeeping tools.
The Whitehouse was the first building on the right of the west campus
entrance. Next to it was the popular Kidron Park where all the get-togethers
were held. Willis Rich was always promoting some kind of program, especially
early each semester to help staff, teachers and older students get acquainted
with new students. Willis was long on keeping the family aspects of the
campus alive. He succeeded royally.
There was a small street between the Whitehouse and Kidron Park. It was lined with beautiful elm trees that always reminded me of the trees along the Sawlog Creek near my home at Hanston. How I longed to climb one of those trees just for the heck of it. I was still not too far away from those great Tarzan experiences and I would get homesick looking out the window from my new room at those trees.
Not being able to sleep one moonlight night, I dressed and went for a walk outside, basking in the shadows of the trees. Soon I couldn't resist the urge to climb one of those trees, so looking all around to be sure I wouldn't be seen performing such a juvenile act, I did it. It was a good feeling! I was almost ready to quit college and return to the life I had left a few months before.
Then, I heard the sound of footsteps crunching on the rocks of the road
below. I was determined not to be seen doing such a stupid thing, climbing
a tree at 11 o'clock at night. The only thing I could do was flatten myself
against a large limb in that tree, freeze and keep absolutely quiet. As
those footsteps came closer, I imagined all kinds of things that could
happen to me, all disastrous! I never did learn who the walker was, but
if he saw me, he didn't say anything. I was thankful when the footsteps
faded away. However, that was the last time I climbed a tree on the campus.
Sex Education (Outside the classroom)
I thought that I was the only kid who didn't know all about sex, and I believed that none of the other guys thought much about such things. It wasn't until I moved into the Whitehouse Dorm that I really found out that other guys were interested in such things. One day we discovered one of the boys playing with condoms. I didn't know much about condoms and what they were really for. I'd had only two experiences with them. One was at high school when someone hung one on a banister, and the other was finding one beside the road while walking home from grade school. It looked interesting and I had taken it home with me. I should say the interest lasted only until my Mom found it. There was not much of an explanation about the new balloon I had found.
"Get rid of that thing," Mom demanded. That ended the matter.
Now, many years later at the Whitehouse Dorm, I learned the basic facts about condoms and their use.
While cleaning one of the dorm rooms, Harry and Irvin discovered that its occupant had made the room a regular drug store specializing in condoms. Condoms had been stored in that room in the most unusual places, even on top of the windows and doorframes. Some fifty new ones were found hidden around the room.
Another incident involving condoms took place at the home of a faculty member. Usually cleaning the septic tanks was a rather mundane task. The truck with its tank and hoses was a familiar sight around the campus. Since there was no city sewer system, each house had to have its own septic tank. One day as I was walking down the street I noticed that the septic tank cleaner man was having a problem with his pump at the home of a faculty member. In the first place, the septic tank had filled and was running over. What a stench! Then when the man tried to clean the tank, his pump became jammed with condoms. Soon students and neighbors were gathered around watching with amazement, and much amusement. That day I discovered that even people in high places used condoms. Remember this was years ago and such things weren't as public as today. You can bet that the story about those condoms spread around the campus quickly.
At the Whitehouse Dorm, Martin was our dorm leader. It was his responsibility
to see that all things were done properly and that the dorms were kept
in good order. One day the rumor got around that during one of his routine
inspections of the dorm rooms, he had walked in on a couple guys enjoying
a little unauthorized sex. Everyone knew about it in a hurry, but it did
take awhile to discover just who those "terrible" boys were. Nice Bethel
boys just didn't do such things. Martin moved one of the boys to another
room, and I often wondered just how much good that did.
My last three years at Bethel were spent at Goessel Hall. It was a renovated building moved from the town of Goessel, Kansas, during the summer of 1936. My cousin Ted joined me at Bethel that year. He had come for the same reason I had come. Willis Rich also promised him work to help with his expenses. Those jobs were real blessings to both of us.
The old building that became Goessel Hall originally had three floors, but before they moved it in, they prepared a full basement to be used as a cooperative dining hall. Then, they added a fourth floor by raising the roof. It was quite a job, but it worked quite well for a boys' dorm.
Ted and I had a room in the far south end of that fourth floor. Since
it was all new up there, it was quite nice. Climbing the stairs several
times a day from basement to top was probably good for us. We had separate
beds, study tables, dressers and an arrangement for hanging clothes. The
heater wasn't vented and that bothered me from time to time. Apparently
it was O.K. or I'd have been asphyxiated. That was fifty years ago, so
We prepared and ate our meals in the basement cooperative dining room. The college appointed a dorm manager and he oversaw the entire operation. The first thing we did was organize. Everyone had a job to perform, including preparing the menus, cooking, setting the tables, serving the food, and washing the dishes.
The food? Well, we had lots of German soup called borsch. It was made with sour cream, and Ted and I never enjoyed that junk. In fact, we just didn't eat it. However, it was a favorite food for the Mennonite guys.
I was never keen for salads, and the cooks seemed to fix lots of them. One we often had was made by mixing raisins, chopped carrots and cabbage together. That particular salad wasn't too bad. We always had lots of canned vegetables and I liked most of them. I didn't complain too much as whatever was served beat having to do it all by myself. Thinking back over my batching experience, I've decided the co-op was the better way to my daily bread.
I was assigned the job of giving a talk at chapel about our co-op. I
have saved my speech all these years. Isn't it amazing the things one saves!
The Goessel Coop
(Note: I wonder at my arithmetic!)
Two dollars is deposited by each member at the beginning of each week with the exception of the manager who pays nothing and the dietician who pays one-half.
Each member should be willing to give one hour and a half to the coop per day or some where near that.
Those members failing to do their work are duly punished accordingly.
I feel sure that the boys coop is made up of boys coming to school to learn and be taught and instructed, and not to come to school to eat. In other words they do not live to eat, they eat to live.
Dorm Rules and Punishment
Keeping the building clean was also our job and the rules that kept us in order were quite stringent. Sometimes, and, in fact, many times, we got rowdy and disturbed the peace of the entire house. So, we decided to make a set of rules regarding such behavior. These rules also included the proper punishments befitting the culprits who broke them. Kitchen police was a common punishment and that wasn't so bad. The "belt line" was set up for those of us who really needed punishment. Sometimes that punishment was somewhat cruel.
We had our rowdy moments. Rooms were never locked so whenever an entire floor went on a rampage, look out! Usually there was a minimum of damage to furnishings, but I have seen lots of mattresses messed up and even thrown out windows. When such battles started, one had better stay out of the way until the war was over. The reasons for such a fracas were always in question.
One time we even had some thievery and the guys confronted the thief until he confessed. Apparently his prayers for forgiveness were answered because things quieted down and the thievery stopped.
We had about thirty boys in the hall and calling for the "belt line" as a punishment was quite an event. The instructions included lining up in two long rows, about five or six feet apart, and making the two lines stretch out enough to give the "prisoner" plenty of running space. Certainly, having a "belt line" broke the monotony of things, to say the least. We looked forward to discovering some dastardly guilty culprit upon whom it could be used.
Now there would usually be several guys to take the belt on a given occasion, and it was more of a fun thing than an ordeal. One day, Ed Gaedy, an older guy with a lot of spunk and fun in him, had to hit the line. He was the only one that day, as I remember, and what happened was quite out of order.
Belts were used to whack the running guy. The faster he could run, the less opportunity to get hit by a belt. Many of the guys in the line missed their opportunity to use the belt because of poor timing.
"Ready go!" was the command to start at the head of the line. Ed darted out like a deer to take his run.
"Ouch, who did that?" Ed stopped in his tracks yelling at the top of his voice looking for the guilty person who had hit him.
"Not me! I didn't do it!" was the answer from each guy as Ed tried to find out who did it.
What had happened was that one of those guys had used the belt to hit
Ed in front, instead of behind. Not only that, to make matters worse, he
used the buckle end of the belt. That belt buckle hit Ed directly in his
balls and doubled him up in agony. A blow to such a sensitive spot is excruciating,
as every man knows, and it's lucky that he wasn't seriously injured. I
have often wondered why men don't get hit in the balls more often than
they do. Ed was fighting mad and he would have immediately slugged the
guy who had hit him if he had learned who it was. Naturally no one admitted
he was guilty. It was several days later before we discovered who had used
that belt buckle. Luckily for the guilty guy, Ed and everyone else had
calmed down enough to let bygones be bygones. However, the belt line was
discontinued from then on as a means of punishment for dorm rule infractions.
My First Jobs
Working my way through Bethel was sometimes a bore and sometimes a pleasure. The first job was trimming the grass along the sidewalks for sixteen cents an hour. That job didn't last very long. I was soon promoted to operating the power mower. It reminded me of driving the tractor back in Hanston. Around and around I went. It certainly wasn't a fun job, but my wages shot up to eighteen cents an hour. Imagine that!
Before long Willis Rich came to my rescue with a better, less boring job.
"Glenn, we have a new job for you," he said one day. "Bethel is embarking on a new project of converting their very, very old addressing system to one requiring metal plates. I think you are just the person to do the job. Would you be willing to try it?"
I had no trouble saying "yes" to that. I dropped my yard job immediately,
without giving it a second thought.
Bennie, My New Boss
Bennie at Work on His Extensive Filing System
Willis introduced me to Bennie Bargen, my new boss. At first he was Mr. Bargen to me. Then as I came to know that man, Bennie Bargen, I knew he was no "run of the mill" type of person. He was a genius! Very soon he became my good friend, and I no longer thought of him as Mr. Bargen. He seemed pleased for me to call him "Bennie."
Bennie was handicapped, physically, that is. He certainly wasn't handicapped mentally. When he was about four years old, he had polio. In those days, there was absolutely nothing that could be done to help him. Both his legs were paralyzed. The right one, with the aid of crutches, would support his weight, but he had no real control of it. When he pulled himself up with the help of his crutches, he could maintain an erect position. The left one was about six inches shorter than the right. He told me that he prayed that the doctors would remove it from his body. It was worthless.
Bennie taught me how to work efficiently and not waste my time! Every movement of my eye and hand was calculated. He taught me the importance of accuracy, and how to edit my work. Even my time sheet had a particular form to it. Nothing was left to the imagination.
The things I learned from Bennie have influenced my work habits for every job I have undertaken since.
I had the opportunity of living in the Bargen home for an entire summer session. That experience further confirmed my knowledge of Bennie's character. He was a dedicated Christian and a staunch pacifist, believing and practicing all forms of non-violence. In conversations with Bennie one could almost be persuaded that all wars in which our country had participated could have been prevented by pacifist methods.
Non-violence for Bennie didn't end with his war philosophy. He didn't want any of his money to be used for violence of any type. Therefore, in order not to pay federal tax on his income, he would accept only a very low salary. The Bethel administration wanted to raise his salary. They tried every loophole in the book to help Bennie, and still conform to his desire to pay no income tax. He remained content to live on his meager salary in order to be true to his moral beliefs.
I also believe that violence is bad, but avoidance of it is difficult at times. Surely there are moments when even Mennonites would sanction it. For instance, I thought every red-blooded person would do absolutely everything to keep a thug from harming him or one of his own family members. However, Bennie was one of those Christians who took literally the teaching of Jesus concerning "turn the other cheek."
A classic example of true non-violence according to Bennie would be like this:
While the family is enjoying a nice evening at home, a knock is heard at the door. Bennie goes to the door, opens it, and finds himself staring straight into the end of a gun barrel.
"Friend," Bennie asks, "what do you want of me?"
The potential assailant, undaunted, says, "I am going to kill you!"
"Now, why do you want to do that?" Bennie asks.
"Just because I have a gun," the assailant says. "However, first I am going to kill each member of your nice family."
"Kill us all, if you will," Bennie says. "I will not use physical force of any kind to keep you from doing it. I have only love for you. Don't you understand that you are a child of God? Why do want to perform such acts of violence against me?"
Yes, I have heard Bennie explain his belief in just that way. The longer I worked with him and the closer I got to him, the more I was convinced that he would do just as he said he would in any kind of situation.
To live out such a life style, Bennie had to make decisions that made life difficult for his family. Near poverty became the family's lot! The administration gave the most meager housing. Usually it meant an upstairs apartment requiring his climbing to the top with great difficulty. It didn't bother him, but it bothered Esther, his very dedicated wife. She had high aspirations for herself and her two children, and she found it difficult to attain them because of Bennie's demands. Even his eating habits were affected. He would figure his calories and eat only the minimum amount of food he felt he needed to keep alive.
I could go on and on writing about Bennie's life style. Even Jesus might have had difficulty with it. Finally, after the children were grown and away from home, Bennie persuaded Esther to go with him to a very fundamental religious commune. It demanded everything from its members, material, physical and emotional. The "big brother" required its flock to confess all their sins publicly. That was more than his wife could stand so she soon returned to Newton. She said it was only "until Bennie gets his senses back."
Bennie did return home for a time some years later. The older he became, the more severe his handicap became. Finally, he was bedridden. As he neared death he again felt he wanted to be with his commune brothers. The commune community chartered a private plane and took Bennie back "home." He died there!
This is an account of his return to the commune written someone who
was visiting the commune.
We donít know Benny Bargen, never really met him, although we were there the night he arrived at New Meadow Run. It was the last day of our visit. All day long we were aware of an excitement, an expectancy in the air, as people ran back and forth with blankets and sheets and other room furnishings, as children drew large welcome signs in the art room, as women in the kitchen considered how to make the evening meal special for Benny Bargenís arrival.
"Whatís happening?" we asked. "And whoís Benny Bargen?"
Benny, it turned out, was a man about seventy who had lived a year or so with the Society of Brothers some twenty years ago, intending to join the community. But for various personal reasons Benny had decided not to join. A young friend of Bennyís happened to meet some of the people from the Society of Brothers at the February 1972 conference at Reba Place. "Have you heard about Benny?" he asked them. Benny was now an invalid, paralyzed from the waist down in a Newton, Kansas, nursing home. "And I think Benny wishes he could be with you," the young man added.
Some time after the conference several of the men from the Society of Brothers went over a thousand miles west to see Benny at the nursing home. "Benny, come be with us," they encouraged him.
"We want you to come back."
And so Benny came. The Society of Brothers chartered an ambulance plane and flew to Newton and back on Tuesday, July 15, 1972. As evening approached, I found myself listening for the sound of the plane, which would land at a nearby private airport. It flew over as older children and adults rehearsed special music for Bennyís "love meal" the next night. I heard people wondering to each other what they should do when he arrived that evening after his trip. Would he be too tired from the flight for them to welcome him? Would it be most loving to do nothing for the moment and wait until he had rested?
Word finally came from the airport. Benny had taken the trip well and was in fine spirits. Everyone could welcome him.
The large dinner bell rang out over the community. Two teen-age boys ran down the drive lighting torches they had prepared. Old people, single men and women, teen-agers, mothers and fathers carrying children in night dresses all gathered at the end of the long winding drive to wait for Benny.
The station wagon (Iíd seen two boys scrubbing the car inside and out that morning) drove slowly up the drive, its way lit only by the yellow, flickering torches. In perfect silence, old and young began waving. The car stopped. Two men let down the back of the station wagon and slid Benny out on his stretcher. Moved by one spirit, everyone began singing joyfully, "Welcome Home from Your Long Journey!"
In the soft light from the torches, I saw only a prone shadow in the open back of the station wagon. But I knew here was an old man, paralyzed, unable to work or contribute physically or financially to the life of the community. He had nothing to offer except himself, a brother in Christ. Bennyís presence would mean constant care, a giving of time and work and cheer by many people. But because this group of Christians had totally given themselves and their resources to meet the needs and ministries of Godís Kingdom, they had room for Bennyónot in an institution, but in their lives.
My friend, Bennie Bargen, lived and died the life he wanted. I am certain the heavenly hosts cheered at his entry.
This article and tribute can tell Bennie's story in a better way than
I am able to do it:
Bernhard Bargen, Associate Professor of Economics, 1935-46; 1953-57; 1959-68
Retired. Mailing Lists Clerk, 1968-1870.
A memorial Scholarship fund has been established at Bethel College in honor of Bennie, who died November 14. All interested in honoring him in this faction may send donations to the college, designating the gift for the Bennie Bargen Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Dwight R. Platt wrote the following tribute to Bennie.
A few months ago, Bennie Bargen left the Newton community to spend his last months in Pennsylvania. It was a sad occasion and some of his friends gathered at Newton airport to bid him goodbye. Now Bennie has left on a longer journey. But sadness, an expression of our own loss at the departure of a beloved friend, is not a fitting tribute to the spirit of Bennie Bargen. Bennie would want this to be a time of joy and thankfulness for the meaningful experiences we have shared together. For his life has given to each of our lives new meaning and challenge.
We all treasure memories of our friendship with Bennie. His sense of humor, his interest in others, his affection and love will all be missed. As if to make up for his physical handicap his mind seemed able to skip with nimbleness that outran others. Who can forget the systematic way in which he worked and thought? To visit Bennieís office was to come about with a new appreciation for the efficiency and organization of business procedures, But Bennie's greatest contribution to the Bethel College community was not professional or academic. It was the contribution of a man in a Christian pilgrimage sharing with friends.
Bennieís life was a pilgrimage to find Christian community. His major decisions were not made in order to advance his career but were made in an attempt to find the good society. He had a low tolerance for sham and was continually dipping beneath the formal obligations of society to try to find the deeper levels of community. His vision of the Christian community and his faith in the power of love rather than politics to mold society were a challenge to students and friends. For those content with things as they appear, Bennie was exasperation; for those searching for a new way, he was a source of ideas.
Bennie's life was a pilgrimage to find responsible Christian discipleship. For Bennie, all of life was subject to Christian discipline. He was never satisfied with creeds and theories, but was a continual challenge for consistency of word and action. Whether it was on issues of grading, military service, war taxes, or political action, Bennie was often in the midst of controversy. Many have been encouraged to act in accord with the voice of their own consciences because of his witness.
Bennie Bargenís life epitomized the words of Henry David Thoreau:
"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
The greatest tribute we can give to a friend who called our attention to the distant drum is to utilize its cadences in our own pilgrimage.
Now back to my story of the work I did with Bennie. My work station was in the lower floor of the "new" Science Hall. I say "new" because in comparison with the age of the administration building, the science hall was new.
The Science Hall where I spent many hours
working for Bennie Bargen
When Bennie explained the plan for building a brand new mailing list
for Bethel, I was thrilled. I would get to operate the new Graph-O-Type,
a device to punch names and addresses on metal plates. That sounded like
lots of fun, especially compared with running the lawn mower.
That Graph-O-Type was an interesting contraption. Although it was only about fourteen inches square and eighteen inches high, it was very heavy. It had several moving parts to be controlled by my soon-to-be-trained hands. First the right hand positioned a new metal plate ready to be punched with a name and address. Next the left hand operated a three-inch knob that rotated a set of dies, and moved a pointer to the various numbers, letters and special characters. When the pointer indicated the desired character, the operator used his right arm to pull a heavy well-balanced arm forward, firmly embossing the character into the plate. The plate then moved automatically to the left, ready for the next character. As each line of the address was completed, the right hand again was needed to reposition the plate for the next line. To me it was a very ingenious machine. I loved gadgets that worked.
In instructing me how to operate that machine, Bennie displayed some of what I called his genius or talent. He had previously studied the operation of that instrument so he could explain the specific moves that I would have to make to produce plates in a rapid manner. Not only did he explain each movement that must be made, he also showed me the most efficient way to stand and "embrace" that machine. I was to study carefully the plate to be made, getting the characters firmly and accurately in mind. Then, select each character of the word, one at a time, and yank that arm firmly embossing the plate. The plates were then put into frames and used in the Address-O-Graph machines.
I soon learned to make that machine do just exactly what I wanted it
to do, and I took pride in seeing how fast I could make those plates. My
goal was one a minute, and at times I accomplished it. I must also add
that my salary went up a few pennies an hour at this new job.
I'm teaching one of my helpers how to
use the Address-O-Graph
The college had two Address-O-Graph machines, which were used for addressing various publications it produced. The older one was completely mechanical. It was fitted with a device for ejecting envelopes and other printed materials as soon as they were addressed. The ejector then readied the machine for the next mailing piece. Whim, whem, wham! Get out of the way of the material being ejected!
"I will not insure that addressing unit under those conditions!" the Address-O-Graph salesman said after watching Ted and me work. He said that we "two-timed" that machine.
Ted, my cousin, spent two years at Bethel and we lived, boarded and worked together. Ted and I made a great team. We worked out a routine for addressing the Bethel College Bulletin, the college's official publication. Ted ran the Address-O-Graph and I supplied the bulletins and address plates to him. After addressing them, we put them into the post office bags. We had lots of fun proving that we could do that addressing job faster than anyone else could. Of course, our main reason for speed was to get finished with the job and get to some more desirable activity.
The newer Address-O-Graph was a motorized unit. That unit was more expensive, but it was slow and slightly dangerous. If the operator had his hand in the wrong spot, he could get hurt badly. What was great about the unit was that you could empty an entire eighteen-inch drawer of plates into the hopper at one time. The empty drawer was then inserted below the bed of the machine to accept the finished plates.
That was great until it jammed. That mechanism could make a terrific mess in a hurry. It would take a screwdriver and even pliers to clear the unit of its bent and "never-ever-able-to-be-used-again" plates. Believe me, the claim that the machine would operate flawlessly under all conditions was a joke. It would mess-up at the slightest excuse!
The unit had some terrific applications, however. By coding the plates with one or more little metal tabs, we could make it select or eliminate plates at will.
"Please don't let me go crazy coding all of those plates," I prayed.
I organized, coded, recoded, reorganized, dropped, and picked up address
plates hour after hour.
During the time I worked for Bennie Bargen as head of the secretarial office at Bethel, I didn't take any of his classes. My music courses, piano practice and out of class work kept me busy. I did, however, have many opportunities to observe him as an expert teacher of typing and shorthand.
I had become an excellent typist during my high school years. I could write fifty words a minute by the end of my first semester in typing class. By the time I got to Bethel, I was typing sixty or more words a minute. Bennie was impressed with my typing ability. He would share his thoughts about what made the difference between an ordinary and expert typist. I used all the spare time I could find to practice the typing skills Bennie taught me.
Bennie insisted on rigid routines to be followed in typing practice. His students were expected to follow his instructions to the letter, and keep records of their progress. One of his rules was that students must keep accurate daily records of every error made. At the end of each class session, they must then tally all errors for Bennie's scrutiny between class sessions. "Never make the same error twice," Bennie would say, and he would analyze each error, and recommend remedial exercises.
Bennie taught touch typing to his students. He didn't mess around about it either. Hand and finger positions were important.
"The fingers never push the keys. They must always be in a curved position. Each finger stroke must be executed quickly and in a straight downward movement," he would say.
I was an intent listener and sharp observer of anything he said and did. I continued to practice my typing, and tried to improve my technique, following his advice.
Yes, Bennie, was a real hero to me. Not only was he a master typist, he could also take shorthand faster and more accurately than anyone I had ever known. Often he would record in shorthand speeches that were given at the college and then type them. Both his shorthand characters and his typed material were always textbook perfect.
I suppose the ideas I used in running the Graph-O-Type and Address-O-Graph machines must have convinced Bennie that I had an inventive mind. One day, quite unexpectedly, he gave me a challenge.
"Glenn, could you make a gadget that would record electronically on a paper tape a student's finger strokes as he is typing? I could then use the tape to accurately analyze the student's work."
"Let me think about it," I said, realizing what an interesting project that would be.
Whether Bennie knew it or not, he had given me my marching orders. I gathered together my wits and within a few days I had made a makeshift gadget that worked. I wound some wire around an iron nail, and connected it to a battery, thus magnetizing the nail. One end of the wire went directly to the battery. The other end touched the escapement mechanism of the typewriter and then connected to the battery. The escapement mechanism on a typewriter is what moves the paper forward each time a key or the space bar is touched. I put a little iron ring on a stylus and mounted it near the magnet. It was simple. That energized magnet caused the stylus to scratch a fine line across a narrow strip of wax paper. The paper was moved forward with a small motor. Each time the typist touched a key the stylus scratched a little "pip" on the tape. If the pip was sharp, the student had made a quick, clean motion on the key. If it was prolonged, the student's finger action was shown to be sluggish and unacceptable.
Bennie was ecstatic! My gadget worked! The next step was to attach my gadget to a student's typewriter. The gadget would be on the teacher's desk and the student wouldn't know when he was being monitored. We both were anxious to see how things would work in an actual classroom situation.
Fortunately, Bennie's classroom was on the bottom floor in the northeast corner of the ad building. After class one day, I changed clothes and got a flashlight. I found the nearest manhole and slipped through, crawling on my stomach to find the spot where I had drilled a hole in the classroom floor. It was dark as pitch and also very dirty down there. Although I had already dropped the wires through the hole, finding them in the darkness was another thing. As I crawled around, Bennie tried to guide me from above.
Finally, I got the job done, and everything worked. However, after all the trouble I had wiring just one desk, we decided doing the entire classroom would be impractical. We would just let the students take turns on the one typewriter that was wired.
Bennie kept records showing the progress of each student. He now had the evidence, visually, that steady light finger strokes made better typists.
Next we had to find a name for my gadget. Bennie decided to call it a Rhythm Meter. Hoping to get development funding from the Carnegie Foundation, he wrote a scholarly paper about it. However, the name didn't seem sophisticated enough for his scholarly paper.
"Glenn," Bennie said one day, "instead of Rhythm meter, why can't we use Tact Meter? Tact means touch, you know."
Next we added an "O," making the name Tact-O-Meter.
We still weren't quite satisfied with that name. The Meter part of it just didn't seem quite right.
"Why don't we call it a Tact-O-Graph?" I suggested a few days later. I'm sure my idea came from the names Graph-O-Type and Address-O-graph, two machines I had been using in the mailing office.
That name suited Bennie fine. He completed his scholarly paper and sent it to the foundation. It had a section calling for a budget of two thousand dollars. He thought it was a right "hefty" figure. He wrote many letters to his friends about the Tact-O-Graph and what it did to improve the teaching of typing. Howard H. Smith, who had held the world speed record in typing, got interested and stopped by to see a demonstration. He seemed impressed.
After Mr. Smith's visit, Bennie was convinced that we needed to get a patent for our Tact-O-Graph. Of course, I had no money to pay the fee. Naturally, I asked my parents. Somehow they found some money to send me.
First, I wrote a description, took pictures and made sketches of the
various parts of the machine. I put one copy of everything in a registered
letter addressed to myself. Someone advised me to do this. I was to keep
the sealed letter as proof that the invention was mine, I guess. Here is
the letter I wrote:
| Wednesday, January
Norton Newton, Kansas
I am writing this for my own protection of this idea of mine. In part, such as Iíll explain. Prof. Bargen said, "I want a machine that will record the strokes of a typewriter on tape." He need not have said that much, because I had thought of this before, but saw no need of it.
We discussed ideas, but this final draft is my idea entirely.
It is drawn in pencil, but that need not matter, the idea is there.
This machine is designed for the purpose of recording the individual strokes of any typewriter on a tape in such a way as it means something.
The tape may be cut to almost any width, but I preferred using a ½ inch tape. Carboff paper, the word may be misspelled, was used because it was the easiest to work with. The tape puller will run at any speed, being regulated with rheostats. The length of graph stroke can also be regulated. There is a clock to be installed that will shut off the motor at a given time, also, a numbering device, or counter that counts every 5th stroke equal to one word (average stroke for one word is 5). This is operated by electricity through a relay system.
The following is the way the tape should read:
a - No typing being done.
b - Fairly good rhythm.
c - Sluggish on keys.
d - Average strokes.
Each typewriter is connected to the cabinet having a switch and pilot bulb for each one.
The idea for making a contact point in the typewriter is entirely mine.
No one has up to this time seen how I did it. (see on sheet my method.)
The specific points and wheels are in themselves not so important, but the general idea is what is valuable.
This may be arranged in different ways, but Iíll get the same results.
So, arrangement will not tamper the original idea in any sense.
I am signing off, with best of hopes for the future, and may this never be read by any court for the purposes of straightening out ownerships, but if needs be, this proves my ownership.
Glenn Deal McMurry
January 4, 1939
Here are the self-addressed envelope and several sketches.
The record player and control board
I then sent all the papers along with the application and fee to the Patent Office in Washington, DC. After lots of correspondence back and forth, I finally got my precious patent for my Tact-O-Graph. How proud I felt to have a patent! I was a success! Well, almost a success.
My United States patent seems to have been lost somewhere along the way, but I still have the Canadian one that I got after I got back home from my duty in the South Pacific during W.W.II.
One day, just before I left school after graduation, Bennie said, "Glenn, you just as well take the Tact-O-Graph home with you. I can't do anything without you here. I'm sure you can use it in teaching typing wherever you go."
That was a shock for me! I had been so involved in that project, I had thought it would go on forever. I suddenly realized my inventing days with Bennie were over. I was going back to the farm. All of that time I spent with Bennie dreaming about and building that gadget had come to an end. Had I wasted my time? I certainly didn't get any special class credits for that work, but as Bennie had predicted, I did use my Tact-O-Graph in my typing class at the Zook Consolidated Schools where I started my teaching career.
While I was teaching at Zook, I took my Tact-O-Graph to the Crescent Tool Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, and demonstrated it to the engineers there. They showed some interest in it, and said they would like to do some experimental work on the idea. I made a second trip a few months later to check on what was happening with the project. They showed me what they had done, and assured me they wanted to continue with the project.
Not too long after my second trip, along came Pearl harbor and I was
off to war. When I returned to civilian life after nearly four years, I
got a bill from the Crescent Tool Company for "developmental" work. When
I asked for a written report, the company confessed that they had nothing
to show me. The Ohio River had flooded the area and that was the end of
everything. I wrote back and said, "No evidence of work, no money." I never
heard from them again.