Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Athens, Ohio, was a wonderful place to be a child.  Even so, like all children, we children of the manse had our ups and downs.  Some of mine are described in this piece which features a buddy with whom I shared many adventures, including my first crush.          
Davy Jones entered my world in the spring of l944.  My brother Mark, Marshall Siegfried, and I had just excavated a passage to China in the back yard of the manse on the funeral home side of the property. Marshall was the son of the dean of fine arts at Ohio University. The China project had gone smoothly for the first four feet and then we had run into large rocks and noticed that when we returned to work the following day the bottom of our passage was full of water.  We bailed that out and began digging again but soon tired of our labors. 
We agreed to temporarily suspend this major construction project and instead, at Marshall's suggestion, to build a club house in Marshall’s back yard directly across the street.  There were old, gray discarded boards with rusty nails still in them piled at the back of the lot.  We were hard at work framing the floor of our club house when Davy Jones suddenly appeared.
He stood at the edge of the yard with his feet firmly planted on the gravel of the driveway, hands jammed down into his jeans pocket, talking at us from under a flat, brush cut of light brown hair.  Davy had a compact, athletic body, short limbs and was about my size.   He had apparently been observing us for some time and had come to a conclusion he wished to share with us.     

"You'll never finish that," He said. 

We ignored him and went on working. 
He walked closer and he said again, louder.

"You'll never finish that.”  And then he asked, “What is it?"

Marshall looked up.  "It's a clubhouse."

"I thought so," said Jones, his hands still dug deep in his pockets.  “I tried to build one of those.  You'll have problems with the walls."

He was right, of course, though we did not appreciate his saying so.  Of my friends in Athens Davy Jones is the only one I can remember meeting for the first time.  I can recall the entire scene, where he stood in the driveway not far from the garage where our father parked the green Buick and the area of Marshall’s back yard where we were working on our first club house.
Perhaps I remember him best because from the start we were friends and rivals.  We found material for rivalry in almost every situation, on the playground and in the classroom, even in church.  He was a Methodist, I a Presbyterian.  The two churches, less than a block from each other and both only a block from the campus of Ohio University, had long been rivals for the position of first church among equals in ecclesiastical connections to Ohio University. The residence of the Methodist minister, called a parsonage, was separated from the manse only by the house of Mrs. Lawrence.
Davy’s own house was at the end of Church Street, hardly more than a block from the manse and on the direct route of the short cut we used daily down Church Street and through a wooded hillside to the playground of Rufus Putnam. Davy’s father, like so many fathers in the early l940s, was overseas in military service, in his case as a Seabee.   His father regularly sent Davy helmets, insignia, and other paraphernalia of foreign armies.  Though I think Davy’s father served mostly in the Pacific Theatre, he also obtained and sent Davy a German helmet and other articles from the war in Europe.  We imagined this equipment lent a certain authenticity to the war games we liked to play in the wooded ravine beside Davy’s house. We chose teams as if we were playing a school ground game of football or basketball and Davy and I would inevitably end up on different teams, he the captain of one, I the captain of the other. 
An example of a trivial difference we managed to turn in a major conflict was the pronunciation of the article "the."  Jones said it should be pronounced “tha.”  I said, no, it is pronounced “thee.”  We bickered back and forth, letting our egos become deeply involved about the pronunciation of “the” for three days before finally agreeing to have a student teacher at Putnam adjudicate our dispute.  She began wisely by saying that we were both right and both wrong, which neither of us wanted to hear.  We wanted a clear victory with no ambiguity at all.  She explained how "the" is stressed or unstressed before consonants and vowels.
          Davy and I were rivals in sports; in kickball, in baseball, in football and basketball.  We were rivals academically in the classroom.  There seemed to be no field of endeavor in which we were not pitted against each other for preeminence and neither of us was willing to give any ground.  And yet we were companions who spent a great deal of time with each other, which surely is evidence that at some level we must have enjoyed each other’s company.


How I Failed to Make Myself Interesting to Betty Jo Sherlock

An important stimulus to our rivalry was Betty Jo Sherlock, the first of the girls in our fifth grade class to begin the journey to a flowering puberty.   At age 10 Betty Jo’s breasts had begun to develop and her hips were growing wider.   Her large blue eyes and nice features made her one of the prettiest girls in our class.  When she smiled she made sunshine, even on cloudy days.  Her allure was only increased because she looked at least two or three years older than we did and acted more sophisticated. 
Besides Davy Jones and me, two or three other boys in the class had taken note of the changes in Betty Jo’s body and all of us sought opportunities to be in her company.  Beyond being pretty, she seemed to me oddly powerful, able to call forth unusual behavior from the half dozen of us who sometimes followed her around on the playground as if she were a queen surrounded by attendants. I and, I suppose the other boys, made her the center of my fantasy world. 
Davy Jones was candid about his interest in Betty Jo.   He would actually stand next to her and talk with her.  I envied his self-confidence.  My own interest in her was secretive. Had anyone asked me as I stood staring as this wondrous creature if I had a crush on Betty Jo Sherlock I would have denied it.  I would have more than denied it.  I would ask my interrogator, likely to be a female classmate, where she got such a silly notion.  But the truth was Betty Jo filled my dreams, day and night.  I longed for a mere smile or any other sign of her favor.  She was my lady, I her silent knight. 
But when, as sometimes happened, Betty Jo turned to look directly at me or seemed to be about to speak to me, my brain and my mouth simply stopped working.  I was unable to pronounce words.  I was unable to walk.  I could not even flee.  My face turned red.  I became awkward and disoriented.   I realized I had to avoid such premature encounters until I was fully prepared for them.  I did not want to threaten my dream.  As long as possible I preferred to avoid reality and hold to my vision of perfect beauty and perfect love. 
I imagined scenario after scenario in which I became Betty Jo’s prince charming.  In these imagined scenes I was witty; I spoke confidently and with verve.  I memorized some of the lines Clark Gable spoke in “Gone with the Wind,” one of the few Hollywood movies I had seen more than once. I puzzled over how I could work, “Frankly madame, I don’t give a damn!” into a conversation with Betty Jo. Then I learned that Clark Gable would not do.  Davy Jones had uncovered the critical information that Betty Jo’s favorite movie star was Van Johnson.   I could not afford to go to many movies on Court Street, but I could see life-sized portraits of Van Johnson in the panels of the Athena Theatre and -- trying hard not to be obvious -- I studied those as I walked by the Athena and then would spend the next hour trying to imitate Van Johnson’s warm smile. I sometimes practiced what I would say to Betty Jo if opportunities should arise.  I rehearsed whole conversations.  These included questions she would ask me or comments she would make to which I would respond, confidently, fluently, and with just the right tone.  I was afraid that given the opportunity to actually talk with Betty Jo, I would dissolve in speechless incoherence.  Yet I knew I needed some way of making Betty Jo interested in me. 
One day one of our classmates brought a new camera to the Putnam playground.  There was a flurry of interest in taking pictures of each other.  It then occurred to me that if I had a camera that would be a way of drawing Betty Jo's attention to me.  More than that, a camera would make it possible for me to obtain the photograph of her that I so badly wanted and was too shy to request. 
          I mentioned to mom my interest in cameras and she told me she owned an old Kodak I could use.  It had a lens mounted at the end of bellows that had to be pulled out of the body of the camera.  Mom coached me in the basics of operating her camera.  The bellows were stiff from disuse and made a crinkling sound when she pulled them out the first time.  She told me she had not used the camera since her college days, over twenty years before.  Then I asked her if I could take it to school to take pictures of my friends.  She said I would have to buy film for it and that would have to come from my allowance.  So I walked up to Lamborns on South Court Street, the only photo shop in town, and bought a roll of 120, black and white film, twelve exposures. 
I was beside myself with excitement as I loaded the film and shut the case and was already making plans for filming Betty Jo at school the next day.

My Brief Career as a Photographer

Sometimes in life things turn out almost exactly as you dream they will.    You write the script in your mind and you make it happen, or it just happens without much effort on your part at all.   The next day was fine, bright and clear.  I hoped it would stay that way, not yet understanding that most of the best photographs are taken when the sky is overcast and day’s light evenly diffused. I had practiced the day before, opening the case, pulling the bellows out until they clicked, setting the f stop and exposure time, turning the little silver colored key to advance the sprocket and the film on it to the next number.  I even knew how to change a roll of 120 black and white film and how to crack the tape that sealed it, how to load it on the sprocket and feed the tip of the paper into the take-up reel.  I was beside myself with excitement, thinking of what a hit I would be with Betty Jo Sherlock and how envious Davy Jones would be.  She would surely spurn Davy and fall in love with me.
My camera was noticed when I arrived at school the following morning and while some of the kids found it old-fashioned with its pull-out crinkling bellows, I did not mind. Suddenly I and my camera were a center of interest for my classmates.  I told them I would like to take some pictures of them at morning recess.  But I said nothing to the subject I most wanted to photograph, Betty Jo Sherlock. I grabbed my camera at recess and got it ready, opening the case, pulling out the bellows until they clicked on their track.  Grasping the little silver-colored stop control with my thumb and forefinger, I pushed it back and forth between f/11 and f/16, which was where a man at Lamborns photo shop had explained it should be on a bright, clear day.
I strutted around the playground, the camera held in front of me by a neck strap, raising it from time to time as if about to take a shot as the other boys played kickball.  Then I walked around the girls, occasionally pointing the camera in their direction, hoping they would ask me to take their picture but they didn't.  They looked as though they wondered why I was not playing kickball as I normally did.  I was feeling awkward and walked back to the kickball court hoping the other children would let me in the game late and a few minutes later the morning recess ended.   So I put the camera away, closed the bellows and then the case.   I was disappointed but knew I would have a better opportunity at lunch. I tried to think through some approaches that would lead to photographs of Betty Jo. 
It was a late spring day, warm enough to play outside but not warm enough to eat our lunches in the open air.  We had a lima bean casserole hot dish that day and I had brought a lunch from home of cracked wheat bread sandwiches with peanut butter and jelly and the usual carrot and celery sticks and a piece of fruit.   Then we went outside and again I took out and opened the camera.  Betty Jo was off playing with a group of girl friends.  I thought about approaching them and asking her if I could take her photo, but I was too shy to do that.  I was about to join the kick ball game again when I saw Betty Jo and a couple of her girl friends leave the swings and, holding hands, begin walking together around the playground area as they sometimes did.   I decided it was now or never.  I walked over towards where they were standing, intending to ask if I could take their picture, when one of them called out,

"Lewis, come take our picture."  "Yes, come take our picture,” Betty Jo said.

What luck!  I walked towards them.  Just then Davy Jones came running over.  Davy shouted. 

"Hey, take my picture,” and he made faces and clowned at me.
"Let me take the girls, first, I said." 

"Let's do it together," said Davy. 

          And that was the end of any possibility of taking a picture of Betty Jo without Davy beside her, at the time her presumed favorite.  So I took a series of shots of the three girls with Davy. Close and far, I tried to compose the photo so that Davy was cropped out, but he had planted himself right in the middle between the girls.  Despite my best efforts, whatever photo keepsake I managed to get would have my rival Davy Jones in it!  Before I knew it the crank would not turn any more.  I had used all 12 shots.  Despite having Davy in my photos, I was content.  I had operated the camera without any difficulty.  I had photographs with Betty Jo in them.  I could hardly wait to see them. After school, I went home immediately and rerolled the film and unloaded the camera.  I carefully carried the roll up to Lamborns and ordered one print each of the twelve negatives.  The sales person told me the photos would be ready the following Monday.  They were at the forefront of my mind all weekend.  I could not wait to see them. 
I went directly to Lamborns after school on Monday, running much of the way.  I watched as the clerk fingered through the stack of photo packets on a shelf behind the counter.  He stopped, pulled an envelope up and turned towards me.  I saw at once the envelope was thin.  He pulled out a roll of negatives from the envelope and showed it to me.  I looked at the negatives in disbelief.  They were totally blank. There were no images at all.  The clerk began to explain.  But I hardly heard him as he said the camera was old and needed to be repaired.  The bellows were leaking light.  I walked home up Court Street and through the alley we often used to the back yard of the manse.  I was crushed.  How would I explain to my classmates that none of the photographs I had taken with such care had turned out?  All of their posing was for nothing.  I decided to say nothing, hoping everyone would forget that any photographs had been taken.  Of course they didn’t forget and I had to admit the camera’s failure, which was also, despite my best efforts, became my failure. 
This story of my secret romance with Betty Jo ended when over the summer Betty Jo moved with her family to Parkersburg, West Virginia, forty miles away.  Now beyond the reach of my wildest fantasies, she was soon out of my mind and would never know how many romantic dreams, mine and those of the other boys in our class at Rufus Putnam she had inspired.       

Monday, July 29, 2013


The following piece continues the story of the four Luchs adoptees featured in Children of the Manse.  The manse (the Presbyterian minister’s residence) was located at 15 North College Street, barely two blocks from the main entrance to the campus of Ohio University.  We shared the three blocks of College Street with the residences of three sororities and one fraternity, a college dormitory, a doctor, a funeral home, St Paul’s Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, and the residence of the Methodist minister.

We lived in Athens during one of the most exciting periods in the history of Ohio University, remarkable for the flood of mostly male students on the G.I. bill who returned from service in WW II.   It was also the beginning of a great physical expansion of the university under John C. Baker, who left the Harvard Business School to lead OU.  During this same period the flow of foreign students to Ohio University increased dramatically, especially from Nigeria.

Finally, I remember the students who lived with us in the manse, rent free in exchange for help in the kitchen or stoking the furnace, or guiding our piano practices. Before we arrived as many as five students roomed in the manse but there were always at least two students who lived with us.  Their presence explains how our parents could maintain their busy professional lives without slighting the needs of their four adopted children. 

                            The Return of the WW II Veterans
          When the four of us arrived in Athens in the middle of World War II Ohio University’s enrollment had dropped to 1,306 from a previous high of 3,133.  Women outnumbered men in the classrooms five to one.  Most fraternity houses were closed and varsity athletics were sharply curtailed.  Nearly 20 % of the university’s faculty had been granted a leave of absence to join the armed forces or wartime government service. 
          In l945 a new university president arrived.  John Calhoun Baker, formerly the associate dean of Harvard’s business school, would preside over the greatest period of growth in the history of Ohio University.  In l946, as veterans arrived on the campus, the university agreed to accept 4,300 students but was eventually obliged to enroll nearly 5000, 3000 of them veterans. Many of these older male students on the GI Bill were from the industrial northern Ohio cities of Cleveland, Akron, and Toledo and often from working class families that had never dreamed of having a son or daughter in college. 
Overnight, in a reverse of the enrollment patterns during WW II, men greatly outnumbered women and the average age of students on the campus rose sharply.  Among these returning veterans students there was a strong preference for studies in commerce and applied science.  Yet many wished to become teachers in part because Ohio University’s College of Education, under the leadership of Dr. Tomas C.  McCracken, Dean of the College and Provost of the university, had earned a national reputation for excellence.   But some also wished to become teachers because they were idealists who hoped to be involved in the building of a new and better world in the wake of the most destructive war in human history.
It was an exciting time for me and my classmates at the university- sponsored elementary school, Rufus Putnam. Suddenly men were among the student teachers in our classrooms.  They were impressive, in their suits and ties and dress shoes.  These were mature men and most of them were great role models for growing boys.  President John C. Baker, in a 1947-48 report, wrote of the veterans that “Their mature point of view, their desire to get facts, and their irritability with mediocrity…brought a refreshing breath of air into university affairs.”  That new spirit flowed into our school classrooms.
So sudden was the increased university enrollment that some of the returning vets had to be housed in the university’s gymnasium, in the football stadium, and even on cots in the city armory.  Townspeople in Athens came to the university’s rescue and managed to house 2,000 students in their homes and apartments.  Some of the vets found rentals in surrounding towns and commuted to the Athens campus on special university buses.
Army surplus Quonset huts and prefab dormitories suddenly sprang up overnight on most open areas near the university and on lawns within the campus.  These “temporary buildings,” which provided housing, classrooms and faculty and administrative offices, were donated free as surplus from the war years by the US Government which only required the university to assume the costs of site preparation, including foundations and utility hookups.  As was the case of the Mall in Washington, DC, these buildings would be “temporary” for twenty years.   
New areas such as low lying Hog Wallow, twelve flooding acres down near the Hocking River, were raised by landfill to support army surplus dormitories that housed 740 men each.  Hog Wallow eventually became known as University Gardens, then Lower Campus, and finally today, East Green.  Similar buildings appeared almost overnight for married students out by the airport. Only a block from the manse, parking areas were cleared and three dozen or so army olive duplex trailers were set up, again to accommodate married students.
Those trailers, fully opened, were about the size of a small Air Stream trailer today and about one third as large as the bus RVs some Americans drive around on our highways today.  Yet they were divided lengthwise in two, and were used to house not one, but two families.
Some of the returning veterans had one or two children.  They, their wives and children were expected to live in these tiny trailers with hardly enough room to move around.  I was daily in that trailer park delivering the local paper, “The Athens Messenger,” and saw life in the trailers up close.  Often the 25 cent weekly subscription fee for “The Messenger” seemed more than they could afford.  Of those who took the paper, most paid me promptly but some ran up bills or over two dollars or three dollars or more, which I eventually had to write off, taking the money from my own pocket. There were weeks when I carried the Messenger for free.
Most of the returning veterans and their families made considerable personal sacrifices to obtain a college degree. Veterans returning to college on the GI Bill did not waste the taxpayer’s money.  They lived frugally.   That any of the marriages of those living in the tiny olive trailers survived amazes me.  Some of them did not. 
The veterans brought many changes to downtown Athens, filling the shops and bringing new energy to a somewhat sleepy county seat in Southeastern Ohio.  Main streets were clogged by cars and sidewalks were jammed with pedestrians.  Some of the veterans filled the churches, which eventually led to additional services and standing room only crowds at First Presbyterian.  We children watched this highly visible growth and change on the OU campus daily on our walks to and from Rufus Putnam, our elementary school.   

Students in the Manse

          The manse had four large bedrooms on the second floor and a fifth, also on the second floor, which had been used for a live-in maid when the house was built in the early 1870s. This smaller bedroom was at the back of the house and had its own set of stairs up from the kitchen.  The Luchs offered the three bedrooms they did not use without rent to students who would not have been able to go to college otherwise. In exchange the students worked for a few hours each week helping with food preparation or tending the furnace or doing the weekly ironing or sitting with us during piano practice or typing or whatever else their talents and skills could contribute to the general running of the manse.
    But sometimes Mother thought there were too many students in the manse as in this entry in her journal:  "Yesterday Fred came in looking rather like a little boy who, fully expected a scolding, has made a decision to face the worst and have it over.”  He said, 'Well, it has happened again.'  'What?' say I, wondering if someone is sick and needs a place to convalesce, or a group of young people needs a place for a meeting -- or just which of the multitudes of 'happening to us' is being repeated.  Well, it seems that one of the boys he knows has been asked to move out of the house where he stays -- and can he stay here?  Of course, Fred took him in. There are six boys living with us now, about four more than there ought to be. People around town are calling us Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!"
    Mom’s niece Grace Monigold, then l3 years old and about to begin the 8th grade, arrived at the manse in September of l937.  She came to the Luchs because her stepmother refused to care for her and her father’s other children by his first wife, Mom’s younger sister, Winifred Coulter, who died at age 24 of pneumonia. Unhappy, Grace had run away and was found in a cave where she had spent the night. 
            A year later, in l938, when dad’s nephew Richard Amacher faced an emotional crisis during his junior year at Oberlin, Richard came to live in the manse because he didn't feel he could return to the home of his parents whose working class values he did not share. Richard finished his undergraduate studies at Ohio University. Richard was physically a taller, dark-haired version of his Uncle Fred.  But unlike his Uncle Fred, Richard had inherited his grandfather Simon's musical talent.  Richard would one day become a university professor, study and teach at Rutgers and then Auburn University, be awarded a Fulbright scholarship, write several books about Benjamin Franklin, and be a violinist in two symphony orchestras and one string quartet.  His Uncle Freddie was his role model.  He admired how dad had resisted the pressure from the Luchs family to go to work instead of college after graduating from high school.  He later said his Uncle Fred had raised his expectations and given him a larger vision of what he could do in life.
          When Richard nearly died from a blow to one of his kidneys during a high school football game, it was Uncle Fred who brought him the books that opened the doors to learning during Richard's long convalescence.  It was his Uncle Fred who encouraged Richard to earn good marks on monthly high school report cards and Uncle Fred and Aunt Evelyn who took him to Oberlin College to apply for a scholarship. "They helped me straighten out my life," he later said of Mom and Dad. 
          While recovering in the manse Richard found solace in practicing his violin several hours each day, walking back and forth the length of the upstairs and downstairs halls and up and down the stair case that joined them.  The pieces Richard chose to practice reflected his own somber mood as he recovered his emotional health.  His Uncle Fred shut his study door, seeking the solitude he needed to write.  He wanted to ask Richard to practice somewhere else -- anywhere else -- maybe over at the church or in the manse attic -- or at least to play something bright and happy -- but in Richard's vulnerable condition he did not want to upset him.  In Dad’s mind Richard's sad music seemed to go on all day and well into the night, almost every night.  On Sunday mornings, however, the two of them filled the upstairs hall of the manse with a duet of sound, Richard playing Beethoven and Schubert on his violin while Dad loudly declaimed Shakespeare and Macaulay’s "Armada" as he finished his warm up exercises before preaching. 
          While Richard admired his Uncle Fred’s achievements he did not share of all of his uncle’s views, and found his feelings toward his uncle ambivalent.  He was particularly troubled by the way Uncle Fred exploited others for his own ends.  One of their arguments followed his uncle’s question, “What are friends for, Richard, if you can’t use them?” Richard liked to descend the unlighted back stairs to leave the manse and one evening, when mom and dad were entertaining, managed to burst through the door to the kitchen at the bottom of the stairs and scatter 25 custard desserts all over the kitchen floor. 
          When the four of us arrived in l943 there were only three students living in the manse. Grace Monigold, who had returned to the manse to attend college, and Miriam Bader shared the former servant’s bedroom at the back of the house. Harold Sauer was in the adjacent middle bedroom.  Live-in students were a welcomed presence that enlivened and enriched life for the four of us.   They brought a variety of talents and personalities to the old manse.  Nurse Margaret McCabe, whose husband Joe was a chaplain in the navy; Mary Jane Klingensmith, a fine pianist who returned to college following her divorce; Jane Meyers, another Luchs niece and as talkative as Grace Monigold was quiet; the bumptious Grace McVey whose heavy thump, thump, thump, as she tumbled down the back steps to the kitchen is still lodged in my memory; Doris Ann Yoder, a lively southern belle, and Ruth Monigold, Grace’s younger sister whose fiancĂ©e, Carl Rowe, was serving with the US army in the Philippines.  The presence of this series of young adults in the house during the eight years we lived in Athens added much to our education and, I think, something to our healing.  No child can have too many adults interested in her welfare and it seems to me important to do whatever can be done to bring as many caring adults as possible into the lives of wounded children. 

                                  Foreign Students at Ohio University 

The next new wave of new students was from overseas.  Foreign students began to arrive in the late 1940s.  Legislation for the Fulbright educational exchange program was passed in 1948 but most U.S. government sponsored foreign student exchange programs did not get underway until the l950s.   The foreign students who came to OU first were almost all male and were often from royal or moneyed families in India and Nigeria.
Apart from the year long projects we did at Rufus Putnam on the Soviet Union and China in the 5th and 6th grades, dinners prepared by foreign students invited into the manse were the first memory I have of an exposure to a wider world that would eventually become the focus of my life's work in diplomacy.  It was also the first time I heard British accented English, which I was to hear frequently in four of the countries, all former British colonies, (Malawi, Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia) in which I would one day live and work.
           Foreign Students; a Problem

The largest group of foreign students was Nigerians from what is still today Black Africa’s most populous nation.  Racism was alive and well in the Athens of the l940s and 50s.  There were no "Whites Only" signs in public restrooms or at drinking fountains as in the South.   But there was an unspoken “whites only” policy in Athens restaurants, even though the largest and only fine hotel in town at that time, the Hotel Berry, was owned and managed by Cornelius Berry, a black man.  In the late l940s, a decade before the civil rights movement struggle matured, African Americans who lived in Athens kept their heads down.  They did not challenge racism, however angry racist incidents and practices made them.
The arrival of the Nigerians in the late l940s raised the issue of race in a new way and when the Nigerians were refused service or asked to leave restaurants in downtown Athens, the university was embarrassed.  A few Athens residents played a role in changing policies.  Mom and dad would include African friends in their parties when they ate out in Athens restaurants and made it clear that if their African friends could not be seated, everyone would leave.  That was never necessary.  Dad also encouraged African students to use his name when they made reservations for themselves.  Soon the barriers dropped.  Ohio University eventually formed a special educational relationship with Nigeria, as it did later with Malaysia.
It is easy to forget how exotic the national dress of foreign students from India and Nigeria looked on a small town American campus in the late l940s.  Just as unusual was the arrival of new cuisines from major cities in the US. My first experience of pizza, which seemed exotic at that time, was in New York City in the summer of l951.  I did not hear of a bagel until years later.  Our only available seafood in Athens was frozen ocean perch and our available local fish was a mess of crappies or black bass someone had caught in a local river or lake.  Few Athenians would eat river carp because carp were bottom feeders in our polluted rivers.  We did not know that carp are highly prized as food in Asia and were a favorite table fish of kings and nobles in France.  Castle moats were full of them. 


            Yet another story from the lives of the four adopted siblings featured in Children of the    Manse.

                                                        I Discover Kinsey

One day in the late 1940s I was in Father’s study when I noticed a new book with the intriguing title, Sexual Behavior of the Human Male, by one Alfred Kinsey.  Puberty had burst forth within me but months before during the previous summer.  I was fourteen and spent a week of nights without sleeping at all.  My body was being invaded by forces over which I seemed to have no control and I was not at first aware that I was in the process of becoming a man.  I   subsequently developed an intense interest in the mysteries of sex. Sex was not only invading my body but had all but conquered my imagination.  Sex had in fact taken over the center stage in my secret inner life.  I read a few pages of Kinsey’s book, checked the table of contents, gazed at some tables and charts and was hooked.  Even the often boring tables and charts of social science were of interest to me if the subject was sex.  Dare I take the book to my bedroom to read?  Would Father notice it was gone? 
I decided to risk removing the book, at the same time wondering if there was a companion volume on the human female.  One that had some pictures?  I spent some time searching for a companion volume without success, unaware that Sexual Behavior of the Human Female would not be published until a few years later in 1953.   I carried Kinsey’s book off to my bedroom and spent time perusing it, trying to demystify Kinsey’s tables and charts, and finding what I could understand of my own gender’s sexual behavior of considerable interest.
For example, I learned that masturbation was common.   Learning that it was a common male practice was to me a great relief.  Moreover, I learned it was unlikely that such a common practice would, as I had heard it rumored, cause me to have fur grow on the back of my hand, telling the world what I was up to.  What a relief from guilt and worry!  I hid Kinsey’s book in the back of a dresser drawer, covered it with my white shorts and T-shirts and studied it at night after lights were out with a pen light.   A few days later I heard.

“Evelyn, do you know what’s happened to my “Sexual Behavior?”    

“Your what?”

“My sexual behavior.  You know, the book by Kinsey.  The Sexual Behavior of the Human Male.”

“No, Fred, I don’t. “

“That’s strange.  I’m sure I put in on the shelf with my marriage counseling collection.”
The next day I waited until Father was out on afternoon calls at the hospital and returned the book to exactly the same spot where I found it. 
                                        Janey Develops
          Janey was a tomboy.  She much preferred pants to skirts and imitated in most respects the behavior of her three older brothers.  She played football with boys.  She loved to wear shoulder pads and a helmet.  She played as a boy, thought as a boy, and acted as a boy.  She considered that God had played a dirty trick on her in making her a girl and was angry He had done so.    
When Janey was in the sixth grade and 11 years old, her boyhood ended.  Her sixth grade teacher, the formidable Miss Dunham, asked Janey to stay after school.  In her talk with Janey Miss Dunham began by suggesting it was time Janey stopped playing football with the boys and started wearing skirts rather than pants to school. She gave Janey a note to take to home which made the same points and added that mom should buy Janey a bra.  Mom followed Dunham’s suggestion to buy more skirts and some bras and to suggest to Janey that it was time she retired from the game of sandlot football.  Janey was not happy.  At first she continued to be angry with God for making her a girl.    
However, not much later we boys were made aware of a new Janey; a Janey who had decided it was not a curse to be female after all.  In her own words, describing an event I do not remember, she came down the dark back stairs of the manse to suddenly burst into our large kitchen where we were all assembled.  She had become a proud Janey.  With her new bra in place she paraded in front of her three older brothers. She remembers sticking out her chest as if to say,
“I now have something you don’t. And what’s more, you never will!”

  How Father taught us Everything We Needed to Know about Sex

It was after I had explored Kinsey’s book and after a boyhood friend introduced me to “Sunshine and Health” and more than a year after I had entered the confusing Land of Puberty that Father, having again consulted his experts, decided it was time to have a talk with the four of us about sex. He chose a natural setting for our little colloquium.  One bright summer morning, while we were visiting Uncle Charlie and Aunt Bertha, he invited the four of us to go for a walk in the woods.  He found a spot along a creek where we could all sit down on a flat boulder and opened a small book he had brought with him.  He began to read what turned out to be a primer on sex with matter-of-fact descriptions of male and female sexual organs with accompanying photos.  Father held those up high, turning them in the direction of each of us to be sure we missed nothing.   He ignored our nervous giggles. He continued to read as the book described in simple but graphic language the mechanics of a sexual encounter in anodyne words.  
Father had no sooner begun than Janey was blushing and Mark and I were doubled over with embarrassment and nervous laughter.  Janey was blushing because she was in the presence of her three older brothers.  Mark and I were sniggering because the book was so laughably elementary.  Mother Nature had gotten out well ahead of the Reverend Fred E. Luchs.  While Mark and I half believed some myths about sex common among our school mates, we already had a mostly accurate knowledge of the ground the little book covered. Eleven-year-old Michael, on the other hand, did not snigger and seemed interested in Father’s book.  He listened attentively.  I do not remember that Father delivered any moral lessons on this occasion.  He didn’t say anything about sex being best when accompanied with committed love.    

“Are there any questions,” he asked? 

Silence and embarrassed stares at the ants crawling along the ground.    

“Are you sure?  You need not be embarrassed, you know.  Someday, when you are married, sex will be perfectly natural in your lives. “
           More silence.  Eyes tightly focused on the ants and the ground in front of us.  That was the end of it.  He had done his parental duty as his experts said he should.  He closed the book; we rose, and returned home.

His timing was apparently right on target for eleven-year-old Michael, however.  When Mark and I later discussed Father’s seminar with Michael, Michael said, incredibly, “But I thought he was talking about the Bible.”!!!