AFTER Woodstock
Tales of the Class of 1959 Tales -
My life after Woodstock.

Gil. 18 Apr 1998

I was one of 5 members of our class who went to Linfield, a small American Baptist college in Oregon, in the fall of 1959. Willie Knierim stayed one year before moving on to Colorado and Dave Chance and Vinode Sawhney left after the second year, Dave for the army and Vinode for marriage and a career as a journalist. I lasted 3 years before I too enlisted in the army in the fall of 1962 leaving Norman Mundhenk to be the only one of the 5 of us who actually graduated from Linfield.

My 3 years there (Linfield Colege) were an easy time academically and a very hard time socially as I struggled to adjust to the US. I abandoned Christianity in my sophomore year, swearing that I would never enter another church again, a vow that I kept for 14 years.

I did my basic training at Fort Ord near Monterey in California and celebrated my 21st birthday training on the firing range. It was the height of the Cuban Missle crisis and the sergeant in charge regaled us with stories of how he had been sent to Korea in 1950 after only two weeks of basic training. We fell out one morning and discovered we no longer had a company commander because he had been ordered to Florida during the night to prepare for the invasion of Cuba.

After basic, I went to the Army Language School at the Presidio of Monterey where I spent all of 1963 studying Serbo-Croatian 6 hours a day. I was actually engaged in singing the Lord's Prayer in Serbo-Croatian when I heard the news of JFK's assassination. I graduated from the Army Language School in December of 1963 and was awarded the Association of the US Army Award for being the best student out of 287 graduating at that time from the various different language programs. This is the only significant award I've ever received and I attribute it largely to growing up bilingual in India and to Miss Marley's Latin classes and the German classes I had at Linfield.

I went next to Fort Meade, Maryland for radio training after which I expected to be sent to Europe. However, Pres. Johnson decided to cut troop strength overseas about that time and so I spent a month at Fort Devens in Massachussetts while the army tried to figure out what to do with me before being shipped back to Fort Meade.

I spent the rest of my time there working for the National Security Agency, which was then billed as America's most secret spy agency! I was there in August of 64 when word came in that two of our destroyers had come under fire in the Gulf of Tonkin and were requesting instructions on how to respond from the President. When Vietnam started heating up in the spring of 1965 most of my fellow soldiers had to get up and do calisthenics to get in shape for combat but I was excused because I was due to be discharged in September (1964).

When I got out, I came to Eugene, where I have lived ever since, to finish college at the University of Oregon. I spent my first year rooming with Dave Chance and Dick Smith and roomed with Dave Chance for a couple more years thereafter. I had considered majoring in math and psych and philosophy while at Linfield but ended up choosing psych at the U of O because it offered the shortest path to my BA which I got in 1966. I wound up being offered a job as a student research assistant for one of the psych profs and this in combination with the availability of the GI bill kept me going to college parttime for 4 more years. I eventually ended up with a second BA, this time in math, and a job programming computers in the Psych Department which is what I'm still doing today.

While I stumbled into a career completely by accident I had to work for years to overcome my extreme fear and shyness around women. I was married finally, when I was almost 35 to a woman who already had 5 children from her first marriage. I helped finish raising the youngest 3 and am still close to all 5 and to my 8 step grandchildren the oldest of whom are about to turn 15. My first marriage turned out to be a stormy one with periods of happiness followed by separations largely due to the abusive childhood my first wife had been subjected to. One result of this were periodic severe bouts of depression during one of which she killed herself in 1988.

While this was far and away the most painful event of my life it also lead to my second marriage to Martha which occurred in 1990. My relationship with her has been an enormously happy one that seems to get better every day.

I actually met both of my wives through the Unitarian Church. I finally broke my vow about never going to a church in 1974 after I was told that the Unitarian-Universalist Church would be different from anything I had experienced before. This was born out my first Sunday when I discovered that one of the customs was that members of the congregation were encouraged to stand up after the sermon to offer rebuttals to what the minister had said!

I find that I thoroughly enjoy being part of a religious community again, one that has some of the richness of my childhood one in Landour but does not require me to subscribe to a creed and allows me to craft my own theology. But that is a story for another day.

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