When our eldest son Matthew was to be deplored to Iraq in 2003; we planned a farewell dinner at Harbor Lights in Tacoma before he left. Unfortunately, that week a dear cousin of mine passed away and subsequently my family scheduled a memorial service planning session for that same evening. Since I was unable to attend, the least of my responsibility was that we get my parents there. My father was to be the officiant for the service. Linnea and I allowed plenty of time to drive around, pick Mom and Dad up in Federal Way and get them to north Seattle. We would then meet Matthew, his girlfriend, his father/wife in Tacoma before he departed from Ft Lewis later that night.
But, on that particular November day, the Seattle traffic was incredibly heavy. Having left with lots of time to do the pickup, we found ourselves barely creeping towards Seattle. Finally, with less than an hour left to meet Matthew who was flying out that night, we were merely approaching China Town. In desperation, I contacted one of the cousins who was already at the north end and have him come back and pick up my parents at the barber salon near Auntie Grace’s apartment. This arrangement was done quickly and apparently without my parents (hard of hearing) knowing anything. The salon was lit and warm, so we left them there saying that one of the cousins will be there soon. (They were fighting traffic as well.) Linnea and I left headed towards Tacoma.
Unbeknown to any of us, the salon closed at 7 pm and left my parents outside on the street waiting for over one hour! It was dark, and they were cold.
To this day, my Mom still tells stories of me ‘dumping’ them on the street in the middle of nowhere in Seattle on a cold November night!!
After graduation from The Ohio State University in 1966, I was attending the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. Everyone there was diligently ‘hitting the books.’ Studying 24/7 was a new and exhausting experience, yet I felt I was always behind. There was so much to learn and so little time!
One day in October I got a phone call from Mom asking me if I had joined a fraternity while I was at The OSU. I answered her “No.” She said, we received a letter from some fraternity asking for $50. I told her I didn’t owe anyone anything so go ahead and throw that letter in the garbage.
Later in mid-November Mom reported that another letter had arrived; but this one was certified, requiring a signature as receipt. It again requested $50 for the price of a key to some Greek fraternity. I told Mom that I’d come home for Thanksgiving and I’d get that straightened out.
The letter was from Phi Beta Kappa. I was now placed in the class of 1967 since I had not remitted the required $50 for the ‘key’ in time for the 1966 class. If I wish not to accept the membership, (though they’ve not had refusals before,) I should notify Phi Beta Kappa personally and my name could be removed. If the $50 fee posed a hardship, they had scholarship to help and I can/should apply.
I explained to Mom that this was not a Greek fraternity at The OSU. This was a national honored scholarship organization. It was renowned and deemed a privilege to be selected. For example, everyone in my Hopkins’s class was a member.
We remitted the $50 promptly.
p.s. my step-son Marco Simons is Phi Beta Kappa 1997 from Harvard and my daughter Catherine Chu (Kramer) is Phi Beta Kappa 1998 from the University of Washington.
After Uncle David completed his divinity studies at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, he was ordained and received his first Call at Adams Lutheran Church in Batesville, IN, and served from 1961-1963. Prior, as a student, he drove a 1950 Chevy and kept it running in relatively good shape. Now that he had contracted a full-time call, he offered to sell his car to William and me for $50. We accepted his offer and took over ownership. Since William was of and had the engineering mind-set and already worked the previous summer at a ‘body shop’, we thought that we’d be able to spiff this car up ourselves and learn some auto mechanics in the process. First, we ‘gapped’ and replaced all the spark plugs. Finding that a few wires appeared too worn, we went to a junk yard and towed home an identical car model to use as replacement parts. That worked well because we could choose and use the better parts from either car. Next, we borrowed Uncle David’s timing gun and adjusted the engine fly wheel to specification. Then we cleaned the carburetor. During the summer, we fixed all the dents and spray-painted the car from olive green to a light sky blue. We also exchanged the front driver’s seat but kept the passenger and back bench seat because David’s car seats felt more comfortable. We always noticed that the ‘plastic’ steering wheel of the car was cracked, and the junk car had a leather lined one. We loosened all the nuts and bolts visible on the steering column but simply could not ‘budge’ the steering wheel more than ¼ inch. (Of course, we had no manual to follow). Cocky Smart as I was, I suggested that we use the tire jack and position that to ‘jack’ the wheel out. Accordingly, we tried. But the wheel moved slightly and only ‘crookedly’ not symmetrically as expected. Both William and I pushed the jack handle together once more, but the jagged tip of the jack suddenly popped out and glanced past William’ arm and hit me squarely on the right side of my nose, tearing off a flap of tissue ½” by ¾ inches, along my nose just under my right eye. Of course, this was accompanied with much bleeding and pain. We ran into the house and had Mom wash the wound. After the bleeding stopped, l noted that the torn tissue seated very well back in its original position. Mom wanted to take me to the ER. I argued that they cannot sew me better than if I kept it clean and protected it with a band aid. If it got worse, we’ll go later. Self-care healed it in 7 days. We put all the nuts and bolts back and kept driving the car with the even more cracked and disfigured steering wheel.
My Mom’s older sister by 16 years, Auntie from New York, came for a visit. We proudly showed her our car. She was gracious and gave us some money to buy new seat coverings to make the car look even better.
The car serviced us well from high school through two years of college. And we learned a lot about car repair and maintenance; very useful lessons.