what you have here before you is very personal testimony about what I
have come to understand as to how societies succeed – and why they
sometimes fail. It is about what I have learned through not only my
many years of social research and course development but also through
those same years of my own quite personal frontline encounters,
struggles, occasional successes and occasional failures, in going at
I've majorly "been there – done that" over those 80 years of my life. And in this process, I came to this particular understanding, how it is personal involvement, even more than well-thought-out plans and schemes, that is what makes the whole thing called "life" work.
That's because we humans were made that way.
"Been there – done that" involved not only living in various points around the country – including a substantial portion in Washington, D.C. (an eye-opening experience in itself!) – but, as I previously mentioned, also residence and exploration abroad, in all kinds of different contexts.
Family as central to the process
But arriving at this understanding included also being part of a personal legacy that my family or ancestors before me developed as "family tradition." Much of what I did or became happened simply because I was raised in this particular family environment, in this family tradition.
But it's also a legacy that my children, coming after me, have also taken up, and in the process themselves have validated in their own ways, further verifying the wonderful qualities of this family legacy. I have thus learned from their own experiences as well.
Thus I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that family, even more importantly than government and its officials, is what brings rising generations to the Truth in life.
I know this very well having also served many years as a street and prison pastor, sadly discovering along another pathway how important the American family system is to its people, and the tragedy that hits our society when the family system is messed with by "progressive" social planners, modern-day Sophists who have no personal, no intimate, knowledge of what actually works in the communities and streets of America. Their Truth is rational, abstract and high-sounding. But it has no bearing on what is actually True about life, since such Truth is not found at their desks but instead through personal involvement in the world they are trying to preside over.
"Middle America" as a witness to such Truth
Thus what my sons and daughters (and my students) have discovered is that the great Truth in our lives is simply to live gloriously as supporting members of a "Middle American" family, finding a serviceable place in a social realm that is not too fancy – requiring only some vision, some understanding of how it works, and a willingness to do the labor necessary to make it work for us personally. There is much joy to be found in living so simply.
Living as "Middle Americans" has indeed worked for countless generations before us. It has been a social approach to life that much of America was founded on, especially in the Yankee North and the wild, wild West. And it is a social approach that, through much testing, has consistently brought Americans – including the many immigrants who flocked here, eager to take up the challenge of living the American way – to grand success. And it ultimately brought America itself forward as the world's leading "superpower." And, it is a social methodology that has also gone on to inspire the lives of many others around the world outside of America itself.
Again, personal involvement rather than social engineering
as the path to Truth
But for a number of very bad reasons, "Middle America "is undergoing rejection today, by Americans themselves. This is largely because social planners – self-appointed social authorities off in some bureaucratic office, or before you in the never-ceasing presence of the "media" – have decided that they know better than the rest of Middle America how life needs to go forward, how it needs to be more "progressive."
And we are increasingly seeing the brutal results of these Sophists' grand plans and ideals, however, not for the first time in our history – and very much so in my own lifetime.
Again, very personal involvement at the local level – rather than just grand social ideals coming from some distant social managers – has proven itself to be the best teacher concerning what works and what doesn't work on a very practical basis here in America, and even around the world.
And so, as the professor-consultant-pastor-teacher I have long been, I am inviting the reader of this journal into that personal world, to come to understand how the grand American legacy works – on that very personal basis, one that anyone can – and should – take up.
So let us begin this personal journey.
Collinsville, the heartland of Middle America!
I was born in July of 1941, just before America's entry into World War Two, and raised in Collinsville, a small midwestern town in Illinois, a little to the east of St. Louis. I grew up there with a younger sister, a mom at home, and a father who worked as a chemical engineer in nearby E. St. Louis.
Collinsville was only 10 miles to the east of downtown St. Louis, though actually it was never a suburban retreat for the city of St. Louis. It was a social universe unto itself, fully self-sufficient as a community of around 14,000 people – typical of thousands of such small communities spread across the country.
Family background: Dad's side of the family
My dad, Paul, was the baby of a family of six children, and raised within a professional family, both of his parents being college grads. His father was the class president of his senior class and his mom was its secretary. Reaching back even a generation earlier, his grandfather (my great-grandfather) was actually a co-founder of that same Seventh-Day Adventist college in Lincoln, Nebraska, and well-known for his experimental work with fruit orchards and bee hives. And his mother's father (my other great-grandfather on that side of the family) was mayor of the medium-sized town of Sedalia, Missouri.
But I knew of that side of the family only through the few stories I was able to piece together over time. My Dad's father became a banker, but one who ended up financially and emotionally devastated by the financial gyrations that descended upon rural America after World War One. Even sadder, my dad's mom was physically devastated by the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, became permanently infirm, and thus a remote personality during my dad's youth. And she died when he was still quite young. He really was raised by his older brothers and sisters, particularly when the family moved to Kansas City, where one of his brothers became a fast-rising lawyer, the oldest sister a corporate secretary, another sister a nurse, and yet another sister a church secretary. And there was another brother, who headed off to New York City, eventually to rise as a technician in the new TV industry located there.
Dad's father had also died before my dad and mom married. And though I came to know my aunts and uncles quite well, Dad seldom talked about his parents. Thus I grew up knowing little about my grandparents on his side.
But I did come to know that my dad grew up in Kansas City as a quite tall youth (6'3"), was considered to be very good looking, and at the same time was quite unsure of what it was that he was supposed to become as a person. Apparently, the family worried about him quite a bit.
Mom and her family
On the other side of the family, my mom, Margaret Blanche Miles, was a pampered only child, who knew little of the realities of the Depression, her parents being able to put her through Baker University during the darkest of those days.
Her parents (my grandma and grandpa!) I knew quite well, and was very, very close to – like being a second set of parents! My grandfather grew up as a farm-boy in a rural community in central Illinois, was well-known locally for his adventurous streak, was the first person in the county to own a car, and as soon as he could, headed off to Chicago to avoid the destiny of farm life. But he had started up a relationship with my grandmother, a local school teacher (also born and raised in central Illinois). Ultimately that relationship led to marriage, with the two of them then heading off to Kansas City, where my grandfather started up a business as a restaurant owner. This business too (like my other grandfather) had its ups and downs during the 1920s, and my grandfather ultimately sold the restaurant and went on the road selling asbestos fire-curtains for movie theaters. He did sufficiently well at this so as to be able, as just mentioned, to put my mom through private college, where she majored in English.
My mom was working as a writer for the Kansas City Star when she met my father at Christian Endeavor, a popular way for young adults to meet each other during the 1930s. My father fell head over heels in love with her, becoming totally devoted to her (as he would be for the rest of his life), and wanting to marry immediately. But she held out on that until he finished his engineering studies at the University of Kansas in Topeka.
|He met much of the financial burden of university studies through a
ROTC scholarship – which led him to be commissioned into the reserves
as a 2nd Lieutenant. Thus I came very close to being raised as an army
brat. In the end, however, they chose the world of private industry
rather than the army. Thus just before America's involvement in World
War Two, they came to the St. Louis area for Dad to begin work at
Monsanto Chemical Co. – just before I was born.|
Dad's job with Monsanto was considered very strategic for the war effort and thus he was never activated to service. Consequently, I had very little sense of the war and its deprivations, even though I spent my first years going through it.
My sister, Mary Virginia or "Gina" (or just "Sis" to me) was born a year after me, and we remained close growing up – though often closer in battle than in peace!
Denver, my other home
In growing up, my sister and I moved back and forth seemingly constantly between St. Louis (that is, Collinsville) and Denver, where my grandparents now lived. My grandfather at that point worked for the Union Pacific Railroad as a dining car steward or manager, at home three days and on the road three days in constant succession.
Gina and I loved Denver. My grandparents owned a beautiful home on 8th Avenue just across from Cheesman Park, a park that became my summertime front yard to play in, also offering wading pools and all kinds of cultural activities – including an annual popular opera, such as Oklahoma, South Pacific, etc
My grandparents also owned a cabin home – complete with a little pond I could skate on in the winter – just outside of Evergreen, up in the Rocky Mountains just west of Denver. Evergreen at the time was reached by a winding road along mountain cliffs that used to excite me with fright as we made our way along it. And also, at that time, Evergreen was still something of a frontier town. I used to love to ride into town on a horse to pick up the family's mail!
Indeed, Denver itself at the time also still had something of the Old West flavor to it, founded heavily on the world of cattle and railroads. Years later I was to discover, to my great horror, that after I grew up, not only had Denver become totally "yuppified," Evergreen too had become a fashionable Yuppie suburb of Denver – thanks to Interstate 70!
|I grew up very close to my grandparents and spent most of my summers with them in Denver which before it became a major Yuppie center, was still something of a frontier town (cows, horses, and trains)|
July 1953 - Me (12) with my mother and grandparents in Denver
I also loved greatly their mountain cabin, a couple of miles outside of Evergreen, Colorado
Eisenhower and Nixon
Also, it was in Denver that I took my first steps into a world that would come to have great importance to me: that of national politics.
Actually, I had just taken my first interest in that world back home in Collinsville the year (1952) that my parents bought a new 13-inch TV set, and I found myself that summer following intently the Republican National Convention, covered fully by one of the national stations. I was deeply intrigued by it all.
But it was in Denver that the "personal" part of that world opened up.
It seems that General Dwight Eisenhower, who had just been selected by the Republicans at that same convention to be its presidential candidate, happened to be in Denver later than summer, when we too were there. He and his wife Amy were visiting Amy's mother (who lived only a couple of blocks down 8th Avenue from my grandparents), and was holding a reception, open to the public at the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver. So off to meet this man I went, where indeed, this 11-year old boy got to shake hands and be greeted – not only by Eisenhower but also by his running mate, Richard Nixon.
That meant a lot to me, something I would never forget, something that brought home to me that the idea that national politics was not really that remote, if you were willing to step forward a little to engage it personally!
And what a privilege for an 11-year-old (me!) to meet both Eisenhower and Nixon
Here they are at a church picnic in central Illinois. My grandma (center), my grandpa's brother next to her, and my grandpa to the left of both of them (I think there might have been a bit of competition going on at the time). My grandma was a teacher and my grandpa, a country boy who was the first in the county to own an automobile – and who escaped to the city as soon as he could (Chicago).
|And a grandmother and a grandfather on my father's side, grandparents I never knew (both had died before I was born). They too had her own stories – which I learned from my father and aunts and uncles.|
– their college graduation pictures (1896)
he was class president, she was the class secretary ... a great combination!
grandmother, her sister and her
– in Sedalia, Missouri (he was the town’s mayor)
|And my great grandfather (Noah Hodges) was part of the story. He was very much a "progressive," helping found the 7th-Day Adventist college near Lincoln, Nebraska that my grandparents graduated from. Here he is with his sons (my grandfather on the left) with his beehives and experimental fruit orchard in Nebraska|
Our family led a quite middle-class American life ... in our new but still modest home
... which my father designed and had built
(and I got to help out in the later stages of its development)
... and with my father working at Monsanto ...
and my mother
deeply involved in the town's social
Here she is, president of the town's Women's Club.
But in general ... we Hodges truly celebrated the glories of middle-class life. Middle-class America enjoyed a prosperity unequaled anywhere else in the world ... and we were very well aware of that fact. America was a very safe, secure place (virtually no crime). And American politics was largely uncontested ... with President Eisenhower well-loved by everyone.
It was an awesome time to be an American (as it surely seemed to me at the time).
on for me
the Presbyterian Church in town
Boy's Sunday School class – 1953 (I'm the one with glasses. I was 12 at the time).
I attended church camp each summer from junior high all the way through high school.
Here I am (second from the left) singing in the church camp choir!
Meanwhile, my world as I advanced into my teens (the second half of the 1950s) remained quite serene ... and culturally precise (even limited) because my world seemed so completely "put together."
That was because I was of the "Silent Generation" ... born just prior to the great "Baby Boom." The "anti-authoritarian" children's program got started late in our own development!
We "Silents" would not be as deeply impacted by the anti-authoritarianism (actually "anti-authority" of any kind ... whether our teachers, our parents,or anyone else in authority above us) that was being pushed so hard at the time. It would really impact the Boomers coming up behind us Silents!
July 1955 - me (14) with my grandma ... as I am about to enter high school
In high school things seemed to kind of come easily to me. I was sort of this nerd-athlete (cross-country, football and track). Needless to say I did not play football wearing my glasses!
I earned my first "letter" in sports as a sophomore in long-distance running (cross country).
That's me way at the back with glasses ... standing in front of two all-American national basketball 1st and 2nd team selections. Basketball was actually more like a profession than just a mere sport in our "basketball town" of Collinsville. I stayed out of that sport ... it was way too serious a matter for me!
The track team my senior year (me in the middle)
Nonetheless, by the time I was a senior, I was an officer in the lettermen's club.
I seemed to know how to do just enough work to earn decent grades in school ... and was an officer also in the National Honor Society (based on grades plus social activity)
... and an officer in Mu Alpha Theta
(national Math Honor Society).
Socially speaking ... my life was pretty
Here I am with Roseann both before and then during Junior Prom. We had been sweet on each other since 8th grade ... though we never dated seriously ... but were always there for each other for special events such as this!
And here we are dancing together the next year (our senior year) at the prom.
However, socially speaking, it was my Presbyterian church youth group that meant most to me ... and my senior year I was Moderator (president) of the regional (some 50+ churches in the region ... termed a Presbytery) youth organization, Westminster Fellowship.
I knew early on that a call to full-time ministry was in my future.
camp on the campus of Blackburn College
My sister and I
actually said "no" to joining my parents in Venice, Italy
Part of my motivation was that I had actually started
So our grandma moved in with Sis and me ... while mom and dad were away (4 months)
you know, the young lady dumped me ...
Anyway ... finally, off to college
I went off to a Presbyterian-affiliated
college (Hanover) in Indiana
Me with the humiliating freshman beanie.... and my Beta Theta Pi fraternity photo
Hard at work in my studies!
The attempt by my Bible professor to "modernize" the way he thought we should be reading the Bible led to my confusion and loss of Christian direction ... and his suicide that spring.
The whole thing left me numb. Upon the advice of an art professor that I admired very much, I came to the decision to change both my college and my major ... to architectural engineering at the University of Illinois.
Dec. 1959 - Dinner at home during Christmas with my family
(including my grandparents visiting from Denver)
Apr. 1960 - spring break ... with our dog Sheba
second thing that would interrupt even those career plans
The trip opened my eyes up to a vast new world ... much bigger than my middle-class American world. I found myself engaging in conversations with the locals everywhere I could. I was fascinated ... I was captivated. I wanted to learn more.
It was in Venice that it all hit me! I could have lived there ... right on the awesome Grand Canal ... with my parents during a good portion of my junior year in high school (1957-1958)!
(the photo above was actually taken in the
spring of 2012 by either my son Paul or my
And Europe in general was awesome!
June 1960 - Trying to get comfortable on the stony beach at Nice (France)
July 1960 - I found enough snow in the Austrian Alps for a snowball!
Upon my return to the States in September (1960) and arriving at the University of Illinois, I immediately changed from engineering to arts and sciences ... and began to prepare for my junior year, which I knew would be spent in Europe.
Although things got off to a slow start at Illinois, over Christmas I got contact lenses (thus looking less like a nerd) ... and my social life picked up!
July 1961 - at home in Collinsville with family (and visiting grandparents and other relatives) - and girlfriend Susie (we got "pinned" ... a fraternity-sorority ritual!).
I was working that summer in a very hot, nasty zinc plant, waiting until I could get away to Europe in August!
At first I was disappointed that this was not France. But I got over my disappointment quickly when I found out how very international Geneva happened to be.
I had studied French for two years (and had a chance to use the language in numerous conversation the previous summer in Europe) ... and was ready for study at the University.
I was delighted to discover that the University of Geneva was filled with students from all around the world.
We hit it off big ... and at the end of the course (which we were both taking), she headed back to Oslo to tell her parents that plans had changed and she wanted to study full-time at the University.
And I hitch-hiked up to Oslo ... only to arrive to find that her father had plans for her other than this relationship with me. I hitchhiked back to Geneva alone, heartbroken and exhausted.
We stayed in touch for a while (she did become an SAS stewardess) ... but I would never see her again.
Thankfully, I had also begun the study of German the previous year ... and found that I ended up speaking as much German as French (maybe even more) ... because my closest friends in Geneva were mostly German (who, except Adam, spoke no English).
..Indeed, it was Adam
who became something like a brother to me.
Adam's girlfriend Kati, with me in front of the Reformation Statues
Enjoying the sun at a Swiss ski lodge
Early the next year I started dating an American girl, Kim, who was also attending the university. We hit it off ... and I would finish out the academic year in her company.
Something that was a lot of fun was the International day (mid-June) at the university, in which the various countries represented there put on displays representing their countries. I took charge of the American exhibit. Being Americans, naturally we felt compelled to go really big ... so not only did we put together an "Oncle Sam's Campus Bar," but also a dance floor next to it ... to demonstrate some American dance steps popular back in America!
with Margie, my dance partner, and another American girl (from Georgia)
Me in front of
the American pavilion
I would spend the time I had remaining in Europe (until September) with Kim and her family ... first in Paris and then at a villa along the Mediterranean coast at Nice.
We would continue that relationship when we both returned to the States
I was reminded in a very personal way that the Cold War was still on ... when that summer I visited Berlin (celebrating my 21st birthday there in mid-July) and saw the wall that the Communists had placed around the Western part of the city - to keep people from escaping to the West from the hard world of the Communist East (they had just started putting it up the previous August when I first arrived in Europe).
In September I returned to Illinois to finish a political science major (history minor)
After Kim and I returned to the States (September
1961), I headed off to finish my course work for my political
science major (history minor) at the University of
Illinois ... and she began her study at Connecticut College for women.
She would spend Christmases with us rather than return to her parents' home in Paris ... and we would also get together as best we could. It got a bit easier when I got to Georgetown in the late summer of 1963. At least we were on the same side of the country.
Kim was charming, but ambitious. I never quite figured out what it was about me that could have interested her.Then after graduation in 1963 from the University of Illinois, I headed off to Washington, D.C. ... to begin graduate work in international studies at Georgetown University
It was while at Georgetown University (1963-1968) that I was introduced not only to the political world of Washington, DC, but also to the the heart of international politics and diplomacy
I arrived in D.C. at the height of the Kennedy Era ... when America was dedicated to winning the Cold War, ultimately not by guns and tanks ... but (under Kennedy's new direction) by winning the hearts of a rising "Third World" (Asian, African and Latin American countries) through programs like the Peace Corps.
I even took a
part-time job at
the Washington headquarters of the Peace Corps
Ultimately, living in Washington, D.C. during the 1960s proved to be quite traumatic.
President Kennedy was shot during a visit to Dallas that November
We were doubly shocked by the
man who took his place, Vice President Lyndon Johnson
But we were soon to learn that he was going to compensate for his public shortcomings ... by working behind the scenes to build Washington into the nation's new nerve center ... reshaped so as to direct every aspect of American society that Johnson could lay his hands on.
Washington exploded in size (and expense) during Johnson's five years in the White House ... and he completely reshaped the Democratic Party around his Socialist ideals.
President Johnson at the
University of Michigan commencement ceremony
He also sent off hundreds of thousands of American young men ... supposedly to bring democracy (by gunpoint) to the troubled Vietnamese nation. He was a man with huge ambitions ... seeking to prove to the world that he could be more awesome than even a Kennedy.
To Johnson, "civil rights" meant full government support in life for the underprivileged ... at the taxpayers' expense. Thus he led the Black community to believe that the government was going to compensate them for all the previous years of White mistreatment. Blacks could now expect wonderful things to come their way ... because it was owed them by the American people and their government.
But becoming dependent on such government "assistance" would soon prove disastrous to the Black's ability to work their way out of poverty ... as had previously done the Irish, the Poles, the Italians, etc. who came as poor and powerless, but worked hard to advance their families ... and bring them into full status as members of the American middle class.
Above is Johnson in 1964 signing the Civil Rights Act (to be followed in 1965 and 1968 by even more comprehensive Civil Rights Acts).
Meanwhile, with the first Boomers (or "Hippies") coming of age in the mid-1960s ... American Boomers headed down a very zany road. They were set on proving that they were ready to answer to no authority but their own instincts or impulses ... just as they had been trained by their middle-class Vet parents in the 1950s.
I was only about 5 or 6 years older than the first Boomers ... but was part of a very different generation: the so-called "Silent Generation." We were still intensely patriotic and still willing to work within the system ... something that distinguished us greatly from the younger Hippie Boomers.
But cultural change was in the air everywhere. And
seemed most odd to me at the time, "change" included a new thing
of women rising up in rebellion against the "tyranny of men" ... even against the idea of
the middle-class life itself ... a process shaped and directed by Betty
Friedan, who wrote the new Bible of the Feminist Movement, The Feminine Mystique (1963), an
immediate best-seller ... especially among the students at women's
colleges across the country.
Kim let me know that Friedan's book was a hot item at her Connecticut College for Women!
Kim and I go our separate ways
Most of my first two years at Georgetown proved to be incredibly tough for me emotionally. Besides a serious spiritual loss of the ability to believe in anything high or grand, even at times in myself, I found life tedious and uninteresting. At first I could afford an apartment only across the Potomac in a nondescript neighborhood of Arlington. I would, however, be able in my second year to move into DC itself in finding an apartment just off Dupont Circle, a big step up. But still, I had no social life apart from an occasional visit to or from Kim.
Our visits tended to swing between delightful and painful – for I found her both warm and intimidating. She was very demanding of performance – from both me and herself, which made it impossible to be truly relaxed in her company. Also I always seemed to be having to play catchup with her obvious sophistication.
I was therefore entirely caught off guard when on her third Christmas visit with me back in St. Louis I realized that she was pressing for a deeper commitment from me as to our future together. She would be graduating in June and we talked about going together to London to the London School of Economics, she to study for her MA and me for my PhD. That had seemed fine with me, until London wrote back stating that it would admit both of us to its Master's program – and I of course was just about to receive a Master's degree from Georgetown. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until much later that this was a standard admissions practice for doctoral studies in England, and that my Georgetown work would probably have all transferred toward the PhD after I took some qualifying exams in London.
Anyway, I made the decision that I would not be going to London – which then put Kim in the position of having to decide what to do. She indicated a willingness to decline the London invitation – except that faced with this possibility, I could not, would not, ask her to do that.
I really couldn't say why I was encouraging her to go on without me – except that at that moment I had a vague feeling that my life was much too thin emotionally to carry the responsibility of another person's permanent commitment, a person especially as high-powered as Kim. I felt myself panicking at the prospects – even as much as I deeply cared for her.
This all proved to be a major crisis in our relationship. And after several follow-up phone conversations in January (1965) in which it became obvious that nothing was going to change for me, our 3-year relationship simply came to an end. I certainly didn't want our relationship to end. But under the circumstances I wasn't able to move forward with it either. Kim, in her decisive way, withdrew completely.
Me ... during a visit to my sister in Chicago around that time
Depression and detachment
The spring of 1965 was a low-water point for me. However, I did find my apartment in the Dupont Circle area offering me a reasonable 25-minute walk to and from the University, and found these walks to be the only thing that seemed to give me any peace.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of trying to remedy my loneliness by reading more existentialist literature, which merely made my sense of spiritual malaise all the deeper.
I finally decided simply to stop pressing life for its answers – and called my parents, to ask them to fly me home for an emotional R & R (rest and relaxation). Then while back in Illinois I drove up to Chicago to visit Sis, somewhere along the way got interested in Greek dance and language, bought myself a new navy blazer, a set of repp-striped ties and khaki slacks – and decided to put all further questions about life on hold. I returned to Georgetown determined to party.
Of course I continued my studies, moving on into Georgetown's PhD program in the summer of 1965, as well as into Georgetown itself residentially – finding a townhouse, only a couple of blocks from the university, to share with three other grad students.
But I now moved forward as a detached observer of the human scene. I focused the remainder of my graduate work on social change and revolution, trying to find the main causes or forces that shaped human culture and civilization. But I never allowed any of this to draw me in emotionally. I simply observed, analyzed and described – coldly but accurately enough.
My father encounters the ugly world of political journalism
An event that occurred about this same time in my father's life brought my father into this same "Realist" world. A reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, St. Louis's leading newspaper and also owner of one of its main TV stations, asked my father if he would be willing to be interviewed about the pollution-abatement work my dad was doing. My father had been appointed several years earlier by the Illinois governor to serve on his new pollution control board as its technical expert, whose input was considered to be very valuable in finding practical ways that Illinois industries could take up strong anti-pollution measures – without bankrupting themselves in the process. Indeed, my father's work was becoming so well-known that he had been back and forth between St. Louis and Washington, consulting with congressmen about his work, and what could be learned of a practical nature from that work. It was, after all, the mid-1960s, and the issue of pollution control was just becoming a big political item.
So my father agreed to sit down with the reporter and discuss quite frankly the problems, the difficulties, the breakthroughs, etc. in trying to deal with the problem. He spent a full hour with the reporter in doing so. And overall, my father thought the interview went well, that the young man now understood the difficulties my father faced in taking on this challenge.
How shocked he was, however, when the interview was soon presented on TV, briefly (a minute or two in length only) in which the reporter had skillfully gone through the interview, cutting and snipping here and there, actually redoing his own questions posed to my father. And then he presented the whole thing as a discovery of a major "coverup," one in which he, this young crusading reporter, caught the evil Monsanto Chemical Company attempting to hide from the public.
My father, ever the engineer, lived in a very orderly world, one of logic and reason. He had no idea that people could be as devious as this young journalist in presenting a pure lie as the truth!
Anyway, he was so upset that he tendered his resignation to the Illinois Pollution Control Board. But the governor begged him to stay, and Monsanto reminded him that his work was invaluable, if the country was going to be able to make the transition, and still stay alive economically. So my father backed down, and continued his work on the Board. But his heart was deeply broken.
He told me this story on one of his visits to DC soon after this event. Ever the Realist, I told him that this was just how politics works. It's all about developing the right kinds of public perceptions that advance your career. That's all the journalist was interested in. He probably couldn't care less about the pollution issue, something however that absorbed my father, heart and soul.
The difficulties involved in trying to live above human deception
Unfortunately, there was nothing you could do about this kind of human behavior. It was/is/always will be part of our human world. All you could do personally was not to allow yourself to be thrown off course by such behavior. It's going to happen, especially if you are involved in something of deep public concern at the moment. You just have to keep going, and not get distracted by such evil.
I knew enough from my own study of history that being able to address public opinion, without being caught up in it at the same time, was what great American leaders of the past (such as Washington and Lincoln) had to do in order to succeed in doing truly great things politically and socially.
Sadly, however, my reading of history at that point did not seem to give me any understanding of why these "greats" were able to do this, of how a deep spiritual strength that these particular individuals commanded was based on a very intimate relationship with God, so that they could avoid being drawn into a dependence on public opinion itself. They reserved that sense of dependence on a very trustworthy God.
Unfortunately, it was only later, much later, that I came to discover the importance of this kind of a relationship with God as the source of enormous strength supporting awesome social leadership.
At the time, I was simply not finding this insight in the history books I was reading, or just found myself not able to understand or absorb the deep meaning of this dynamic when I might have run across it in my readings. Which of those it was that shaped my understanding, or lack thereof, of this component of truly great American leadership I'm not certain. Anyway, that key portion of my understanding of life's "realities" was just not there, not yet anyway.
In any case, living in DC, I myself got to see this self-promoting dynamic, one that had hurt my father so deeply, all around me – every day. It's what feeds DC social life. Nothing other than such politics is ever "produced" in DC. And if you intend to work and function in DC, you had better understand the rules of the game!
And so I got to actually counsel the one individual who had himself inspired me almost every step of my own journey! I learned (as I would someday even from my street guys as well as my students) that counsel is mutual in all significant human relationships! It goes both ways!
At the same time that I entered the Georgetown PhD program I also entered something of a Georgetown party program (!), centered on some of the foreign students at the University, in particular the sons and daughters of European diplomats posted to Washington. It started out for me when in the late spring of 1965 the daughter of the German 1st Secretary invited me into the "junior dip(lomat)-set." There I also met and started dating Stefania, daughter of an Italian NATO general. I had no car, but double-dated with Faisal, the Saudi ambassador's son, who was dating Stefania's sister, and who owned a Ford Mustang. It was quite a group – with parties both Friday and Saturday nights, every weekend – not infrequently formal in attire (I thus spent my scarce funds to buy a used tuxedo).
And now living in Georgetown itself only expanded my social life even further, as our townhouse became one of the major gathering points – sometimes almost nightly – for the junior dip-set, especially the German contingent.
Interestingly, rather than finding my studies undermined by this hectic social pace, I found myself more relaxed and concentrated when I did study. And my work showed it.
|The next year, as I got started on my doctoral studies at Georgetown, I started dating Martha, a girl from Texas whose Daddy had got her a summer job (she was a teacher back in Houston) in their Congressman’s office in Washington. At the end of the summer she decided to stay in Washington and not go back to Texas. I knew what that meant!|
We dated (but I also dated other girls at that time)
Stefania returned to Rome with her family for the summer. While she was gone a new relationship opened up for me when Martha, a summer intern in her Texas Congressman's office on Capitol Hill, came into my life.
She and a number of other females moved into a townhouse next door to us in Georgetown (along with the Indiana beauty-queen previously mentioned!). And my friend Courtney, who was over visiting me at that time, made it a point to send an invitation across our back fence for all the girls next door to have dinner with us. And thus I met Martha.
Anyway, Martha and I hit it off immediately, in a whirl of activity that had us together virtually all our free moments. Needless to say, when Stefania returned from Rome at the end of the summer, she found that the DC world she had left behind for a few months had changed dramatically. I felt sad, for I truly liked Stefania a lot. But as I still understood things, you can't have these feelings about more than one woman at a time. I chose – not entirely gladly. But choose I did.
At the end of the summer, Martha decided not to return to her teaching job in Texas but to stay on permanently in her Congressman's office, and moved to another Georgetown townhouse with some of her friends, only a couple of blocks away. Our relationship continued on its hectic course.
As I was laying low with the junior dip-set because of my switch in relationships, Martha opened a new set of social affiliations with some of the Capitol Hill crowd. But we tired quickly of the incessant jockeying for status that all social events on the Hill entailed. Eventually I returned to the junior dip-set, with Martha in tow. I found this world forgiving and still welcoming, and both of us found it to be much more to our liking.
We lived next door to each other on
Prospect Street (I lived in the
house on the right,
she on the left), just a couple of blocks from the University.
|I had a very busy social life in Washington (mostly with the sons and daughters of the foreign diplomats posted to Washington). But my best friend was Courtney – a law student at nearby George Washington University. We would remain close friends over the many years (until his fairly recent death). He would end up not only practicing law in DC but become part of Nixon’s White House staff ... as legal counsel in the White House / Pentagon relationship.|
Me (with my Abe Lincoln beard) and CourtneyMartha and Courtney ... in a visit we made to his English girlfriend Valerie
Martha continued to work for her Congressman for one more year. Then the second year, at my urging, she enrolled full-time for some special post-grad work in history at George Washington University – at least for a semester.
But she wanted to get married. And she let it be known that she was not going to wait around forever. In the early spring of 1967, she returned to Texas.
I had not always dated Martha exclusively – though certainly predominantly. I had found other interests along the way, though none of them were ever serious. I just somehow could not get focused on Martha, being about as panicky at the thought of a permanent commitment with her as I had been with Kim.
But for some reason not entirely clear to me, I soon found myself in my phone calls to Texas talking with Martha about the eventual possibility of marriage. Before I knew it, the date was set: the coming October 14th, her parents' anniversary.
She returned to DC for a few months and then went off with one of her former Georgetown roommates to Europe, supposedly for the whole summer – somewhere along the way meeting my parents in Vienna to pick out her crystal glassware.
Breaking off the relationship
But with Martha away I found myself in more relationships. Thus I realized that there was going to be no wedding in October.
I was taken by surprise in mid-July when I received a phone call from Martha, announcing that she had returned early from Europe because she was missing me so much. My reaction was one of panic, for I knew that the moment that I had been dreading had arrived: I was going to have to confront her with my feelings. I did – and she again took off for Texas.
I felt sad, glad, dismayed, guilty, and I'm not sure what else during the blur of the following weeks. My family was also dismayed – for they liked Martha very much and were looking forward to the wedding.
Grandmother passes on
If that were not enough emotional confusion, I then learned that my beloved Grandmother was in a hospital in Denver, dying of cancer. I flew out to Denver and found her in a semi-coma – wrestling with death in the most dispiriting way.
It made me all the more convinced that the Christian faith was largely worthless, for it seemed to bring my grandmother, a longstanding pillar of the church, no visible comfort at this critical moment in her life. I was sad, even bitter about this.3
I was also still feeling enormously guilty about what I had done to Martha. Indeed, I felt as if my feelings or emotions were no longer my friends but my enemies, as I wrestled with them.
Towards the end of that week in Denver something inside of me resolved to forget my emotions and "stand up and be a man." I was going to go through with that wedding – and put all this useless torment behind me. It was much the same way I resolved my existential depression several years earlier: just deciding that I wasn't going to spend any more time worrying about things that have no logical resolution.
At the end of September, I drove out to Indiana to be a groomsman for Courtney, as Martha arrived there to be a bridesmaid for his English bride-to-be, Valerie (who had also been a roommate of Martha's in DC). I knew that Courtney was as paralyzed as I was over the thought of marriage – even more so. And thus watching him go through the process gave me no small amount of encouragement.
Two weeks later, in mid-October, Martha and I got married in Galveston, Texas, as originally planned. It was a small wedding, mostly family, and only a few friends, such as Courtney and Val.
3It was only much later that I learned that, fairly soon after my return to DC, she found the strength that her faith was supposed to offer, and faced her end quite peacefully.
I was a groomsman at Courtney and Valerie's wedding in Indiana.
He and Val (in the photo below) attended Martha and my wedding in Texas
two weeks later (October 1967).
With Courtney and
Sis (Gina), Mom, Grandpa and Dad
At the luncheon that followed our wedding ceremony
My mom and dad about this time
|Martha and I
then returned as husband and wife to DC for me to finish out my last
semester of doctoral studies before I took the last batch of my
doctoral exams the following spring.|
For a while life seemed pretty uneventful – until April of 1968.
Martha and I
returned to Washington to our apartment just off Dupont Circle
|Martha with one of our two cats. Notice ... she is sitting in front of a huge project of mine: an immense historical time chart (from China across the top ... down to America running along the bottom) ... reaching back to 3000 BC and coming up to the present, each century represented by a 3" vertical column (a section of the lower left however shows a break-down of Western history by the decades since 1700)! What a perspective on the move of history this gave me.|
|However... we did get to witness up close an event that took place In October of 1967, when thousands of young people descended on Washington to participate in an anti-war demonstration in front of the Pentagon|
But elsewhere – and at the same
time – anti-war protests often took on an angry character
as Boomers protested the "Fascism" of those defending the evil "System."
I had been fairly preoccupied with finishing up my doctoral exams and hadn't paid too much attention to the news. But at 5:00 p.m., as I was finishing my last comprehensive written exam, the proctor spoke up and announced that we had to finish and quickly return to our homes: a curfew had just been imposed on Washington, D.C.
What??!! Then it all came back to me. Martin Luther King had been assassinated the day before in Memphis. Trouble had been expected – even in DC.
Apparently, things had gotten bad. I could tell how bad by the large cloud of smoke that hovered over the city ahead of me as I made my way on foot through the deserted streets of Georgetown toward Dupont Circle where Martha and I lived. Martha met me at the door with bags packed: we would be fleeing across the Potomac to Virginia to stay with Courtney and Val until this all blew over.
Dr. King's Last Sunday Sermon
This was all very eerie to me also because just the previous Sunday, we had been at the Episcopal National Cathedral, where we went most Sunday mornings.
This attendance at the Cathedral however had not been so much to worship God as to touch the deeper roots of our waning WASPish heritage. Neither of us was at that point really a believer in God. Martha had been raised Baptist, but like me had abandoned the faith some years before. But we were both hungry to build on something loftier than our little lives.
Anyway, we were quite surprised to find the area around the Cathedral a buzz of activity that particular Sunday. "Dr. King is preaching" we were told when we inquired about all this activity.
So there we were as Dr. King preached ... his last Sunday sermon ever.
Now as I reflected back on this sermon, I remembered how he spoke, as it now appeared quite prophetically, about how his work focusing on the advancement of Black civil rights was coming to a close. He did not approve of how the Black Panthers had taken over the movement, and anyway he made it clear that he was presently refocusing his efforts in promoting the lives of the poor, White as well as Black.
He had also commented on how, with the Black movement initiative passing on to others, things might take a nastier turn. Indeed, how quickly and ironically his prophecy had all come to pass.
America in moral-spiritual crisis
While we were in Virginia with Courtney and Val, Courtney decided to answer the call that went out for lawyers to come to the DC courthouse to take up the defense of those arrested for pillaging or burning businesses in the District. I accompanied him back into DC, but actually only to observe up close how all this chaos was being handled.
So I found myself at the Courthouse, sitting out among a massive number of individuals awaiting their cases, listening to the conversations around me to get a sense of the actual dynamic of "burn baby burn," something that by this time had become something of a Black Power mantra. But what surprised me most was that there was something almost of a party atmosphere filling the massive waiting room. Indeed, sitting right next to me were two young men who decided that they had enough time before their case was due to come up, to head out to a place where they were certain they could get themselves some new shoes! And I am quite certain they were not talking about purchasing those shoes.
What struck me most about the whole thing was that this had nothing to do with Dr. King, or civil rights, or anything else political. The activity that got these people in trouble had nothing to do with standing up for Dr. King and the horror of what had happened to him. It seems I was more impacted emotionally by his death than they were. For them, the whole mess seemed simply to amount to economic opportunity afforded by the breakdown of law and order!
I also felt as if I was observing the results of something similar to what happened with the wild mob charging across faculty lawns anxious to conduct a panty raid on the girls' dorms at the University of Illinois. It was just mob mentality in action.
We stayed only a few days with Courtney and Val, moving back to our apartment when things quieted down. But we still lived under a 3:00 p.m. curfew enforced by members of the National Guard, whose military convoy would pass in front of our apartment a couple of times an hour. Could this be our Washington, D.C., capital of the Free World? It really played to my growing sense of cynicism.
What was happening to America at this point?
I knew I was watching the passing of the age of American innocence (and childish presumptuousness). Hippie kids had recently been camping out in large numbers just a block away from our apartment, in a rather contrived effort to demonstrate "flower power." "Peaceniks" were beginning to beat a steady path into town to protest the Vietnam war – evidencing spirits themselves that bespoke war rather than peace. And now DC was a city of several burned-out sections (one within a few blocks of where we lived)!
Sadly also there was a new mood in the air, in the largely bi-racial Dupont Circle area where we lived (in fact, only a block away from where I had lived several years earlier). On a couple of previous occasions, we residents of the area had come out to work together to clean up the trash (broken wine bottles mostly) that littered the streets and sidewalks. There was a very positive neighborhood spirit at the time, one that I liked immensely. But with Dr. King's assassination, that spirit had become very icy, as Blacks now looked on Martha and me with clear contempt as we passed by.
But we had had no role in Dr. King's assassination. It didn't matter. This was how "identity politics" always works. Tragic, but not an uncommon tragedy in America. Even more tragically, it was one that would appear on the scene again and again in the years ahead.
Our plans to move on
Martha and I for months had been making plans to leave the States at the end of that summer – to follow the trail-of-conquest of Alexander the Great across Asia, all the way to India, eventually to settle in Belgium for me to do my research work for my doctoral dissertation. As the summer approached, I was ready – very ready – to get on with my life, and to get away from this madness that seemed to be infecting my people. Thus in August – an apparent American failure in Vietnam (given the seeming success of the Viet Cong's "Tet Offensive"), Johnson's announcement of his future departure from office, the King assassination and consequent burning and plundering of America, another Kennedy assassination, a disappointing Poor People's March on Washington, and a madcap Democratic national convention later, all in that same annus horribilis (horrible year) of 1968 – we gladly bid America goodbye.
In Washington, the looting and burning of the city came to within two blocks of our townhouse apartment in a mixed Black-White neighborhood … and Martha and I would be forced to flee to the home of Courtney and Val across the Potomac in Virginia.
Tragically, even when things finally settled down and we returned to our place on Dupont Circle, once friendly relations with our Black neighbors were icy ... as Blacks now looked on our "Whiteness" in anger.
What was so wonderful was that it was past the tourist season … and we had famous historical sites nearly to ourselves. In fact, in most instances, we were the only ones on site.
In Greece: the ruins of ancient Sparta and the ancient Stadium of Olympia
Mycenae: The Lion's Gate and King Agamemnon's Palace
The ancient city of Corinth
Athens – Early October (1968) The Parthenon and the Erechthion
Knossos, the capital of the great Crete civilization / Martha staring down into the Labyrinth
The king's room and the throne room at Knossos
Alexander's capital at Pella in Macedonia
It's November ... and we arrive in Istanbul: The Bosporus and the Hagia Sophia
Inside the Hagia Sophia
As we head East from Istanbul through Bithynia, we are most definitely in Asia ... and getting our first glimpse of the Asian countryside as it will appear across Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Impressive vistas ... but barren.
We stop along the way at Gordian, to visit "Midas's Tomb" (probably not!)
... and the ruins of the city where Alexander "untied the Gordian Knot" with his sword ... fulfilling the prophecy that one such as he would conquer the world. Although Alexander did not conquer the world, he did conquer a good part of it!
We finally arrive (through massive mud) at Boğazkale … location
Once again, we spent the day alone there (noting where a swinging door left its scratches!)
We arrived at the coast of the Black Sea (which most definitely is not Black!)
... and a very nice road, though a bit crowded here and there!
While at Trabzon, an American soldier posted at an observation post there told us a tragic story of how this region known as Turkish Armenia was cleared of its Armenian population by the "Terrible Turks" during the early part of the 20th century ... by Turks loading the Armenian men into boats and dumping them out in the Black Sea ... and then turning on the women and children ... who suffered all sorts of unmentionable treatment by the Turks.
At this point we headed into the Armenian Mountains
This made me quite nervous,
because I knew that we had to come back
Eventually we came down the other side ... where I had some serious car cleanup to do!
Then we headed east across northwestern Iran. I would begin to see a lot of fortified villages ... a reminder of how violent life could be in that part of the world.
I realized also the risks Martha and I had embraced in taking on this trip. I was, of course, always apprehensive ... but never afraid. Indeed, what actually kept us going was a strange sense that there was some "unseen hand" on our lives ... something I would come to call "fortuna." I had long ago given up my Sunday School idea of God … but had not (not yet anyway) given up on the notion that somehow I enjoyed very peculiar protection. It allowed me to do things that held most people back.
Years later I would come to understand that this had always been the hand of God.
Eventually we arrived at the city of Tabriz in Iranian Azerbaijan ... where a Mr. Hararichi took us under his wing to show us around ... including a rug factory where a man was hand-weaving a very fancy (and thus probably very expensive) Iranian rug.
Then we headed on to Tehran, Iran’s capital, where we stayed with the family of a former Iranian Georgetown housemate of mine. We were surprised to see how modern it was … at least the northern half of the city (thanks in part to the modernizing policies of the Shah). We were told to stay out of the Southern half of the city (militantly traditionalist Muslim), because the people there hated Westerners … and what Western culture had done to their Muslim world.
Then we headed north out Tehran, soon reaching the snowy Elburz mountains,
crossed them and then came down a very steep road on the other side ...
... to the Caspian Sea ... whose coast resembled greatly the coast of the Black Sea
Then we headed into Eastern Iran ... the bastion of Iranian-Muslim conservatism. Aware of this sensitivity of traditional Islam … we continued to move East cautiously … finally arriving at Mashhad, sort of the headquarters for this traditionalism.
conservative city, Mashhad ... in Eastern Iran.
Martha was of course "uncovered" ... and we really stood out as strangers! A group of people took an interest in us when one of them was able to converse with us at a restaurant. I don't remember in what language, because French or German were just as likely as English to be known in this part of the world. Actually the likelihood of any of those languages being spoken in Mashhad was slight!
The remoteness of Eastern Iran ... as most everywhere in central Asia
At this point our roads grew very challenging!
arriving at the Iranian-Afghan border ... we got hopelessly bogged
down along the 3-to-4-mile-long "no-man's-land" between the two
The next morning we met the president of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce, Mohammed Saleh (actually giving him a ride into Herat) ... and then later enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with his relatives in Kabul (a surgeon who had trained in Houston and his family), attending a reception and dinner put on by Afghan’s king and queen, and just hanging out with Mohammed's nephew, Nasir (a London-trained architect).
With Mohammed in Herat
In Kabul with Nasir and an Indian musician / Martha decked out in an Afghan burka!
Here I am relaxing in our hotel room in Kabul.
As we drove toward the Khyber Pass, we found ourselves in major Pashtun territory ... a rather violent land where people lived behind high walls and men ventured forth only if well-armed.
Pakistan, India and Nepal
Then we went through the Khyber Pass (major Taliban territory today) … down into the crowded streets of Pakistan … where we left the car and continued on into India by train!
Then we spent
the next month in
Delhi's Temple dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi
The Red Fort at Delhi
Along the Ganges River at Benares
The crowded streets of Benares / the Buddhist holy site at Sarnath (nearby)
We then flew across the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains to Nepal’s capital, Katmandu, and nearby religious center of Patan … where we felt as if we had stepped back several centuries in time.
We then returned to India for another month of travel.
The Buddhist Ajunta caves
In Bombay (today’s Mumbai) we encountered not only remaining elements of Victorian or British India … but an old friend Deepak (at this point a professor at the University of Poona) … who also introduced us to India’s famous movie industry.
A still quite Victorian Bombay (at that time)
Fun with my old friend Deepak
We visited a place where they were filming an Indian movie ...
and of course we visited more of the requisite historical sites (there being many in India!)
The famous Taj Mahal at Agra ... once the center of Mughal imperial power
The luxurious Agra Red Fort and palaces
Finally in late January we began our trip back to Belgium
... this time a very grueling trip because we went across the Baluchi Desert (where Alexander lost much of his army on his return West from India). We get bogged down in a sand drift ... only to find two road workers a hundred yards off, able to get us back on the "road." Interesting, because these were about the only people we saw that day. Angels?
We get a short break from the bad roads and snow when we come to Isfahan (Iran), the old royal capital ... with the Ali Kapu Palace and Bazaar.
The Iranian-Turkish border town / The road as we start out
By the time we reach an equally somber Istanbul, we are completely exhausted.
Finally in mid-February we arrived at our European destination … Brussels where I planned to research and write my doctoral dissertation on Belgian language issues ... and Belgian political leadership trying to move the country ahead in the face of linguistic divisions.
We soon found
an apartment just in time to receive a visit from
However, we eventually got settled in quite comfortably!
Welcome to our apartment building!
We loved to sit on our balcony ...
and look out on our neighborhood (Ixelles or southern Brussels)
Avenue du Derby ... from our balcony
On this basis we quickly made ourselves at home in Belgium
Doing the Greek hasapiko
dance with Victor and family ... at his home in Halle
Dinner with Belgian (French-speaking Walloons) and American friends
Pierre and Anne / Ben and Ann (lots of Anns!)
In Liège with Pierre and Anne and family
Being invited into the homes of our Belgian friends ... was like being accepted into family ... a great honor!
On a canoe trip in the Ardennes Forest with Belgian friends
But IBM drained all my energy daily … and I was making no progress on my dissertation. Then finally with Martha’s job at the American military school, we could then easily live off her salary alone.
I quit IBM (to their great surprise) after 9 months and headed off to the Brussels library to begin my research … and that first day met two grad students from Tulane University (New Orleans) also doing doctoral research: Bob Sanders and Newt Gingrich. We would become close friends … taking long lunches together … and discussing the problems of the world … but especially those going on back in America.
and his Danish wife Ann
Belgium itself was beautiful ... and we did a lot of touring the area. We spent a lot of time in London as well ... and traveled to Paris a couple of times.
Here we are in Bruges / Brugge (depending on French or Flemish
I approached completion of my research in mid-1970, Martha and I
debated whether to settle permanently in Europe or head home. We both
loved Europe very much. But we knew that our futures really belonged in
America. So in the late summer of 1970 we returned to the States.|
We returned to a more subdued – though still distressed – America. The Kent State massacre had taken some of the edge off the antiwar movement and young people were backing down from the great causes, and getting more "into themselves."
Anyway, I had a busy year writing up the results of my research (most of this effort spent in Texas living with Martha's parents in Galveston) and looking for a teaching job. I knew that I was in for a tough challenge in this job hunt. Even when we were in Belgium, TIME magazine came out with a cover showing a student in doctoral robes, filling a gas tank (back then the work of a filling station attendant). The meaning was clear. The job market for PhDs was all dried up.
Indeed, colleges and universities were suffering declining enrollments as America began withdrawing from Vietnam (thus cutbacks in the draft, the great incentive to male college enrollment!). And this was occurring at a time when there was also a huge glut of new PhDs (who had found graduate study preferable to service in Vietnam!) coming onto the market looking for fewer and fewer college teaching jobs. I quickly discovered that with dwindling job openings, PhDs were a dime a dozen.
But again, Fortuna smiled. In the summer of 1971, as I was sitting in Courtney's office in D.C., seeking a job from my friend – who was now political appointments chief for the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – a call was forwarded to me from Mobile, Alabama. A fairly new and still growing University of South Alabama was interested in possibly hiring me to teach in the international relations field. I gladly agreed to be interviewed, flew to Mobile, found the interview to be a very positive experience, and was hired.
Martha and I quickly located in Mobile a small cracker-box rental home to live in (a short drive away from the university), moved all our belongings there, and then a few weeks later I happily took up my new teaching duties at the university.
This was also what I believed to be the last that I would ever need Fortuna to get me through. I felt that I was now in a position to shape my own destiny. All my youthful preparations for becoming the consummate "self" now kicked into gear.
We eventually located ourselves more permanently in Texas ... where I had my hands full finishing the writing of my doctoral dissertation … and searching for a university teaching job.
In the summer of 1971 I was hired by the political science department at the University of South Alabama (Mobile) … to begin teaching there that fall.
From this point on I would no longer be calling on the "unseen hand" to help me along. I had my own life plan well under my own control (or so I now believed)