by Roger M. Goetz
Bruce Lunden was in my class at Louise Crawford School, and we sometimes walked home together. In 1949 his parents, Dr. Walter A. Lunden (1899-1990), professor of sociology at Iowa State, and Lillian M. Lunden, nee Chack (1899-1990), lived at 2332 Donald Street which was roughly three blocks from school and about half way home for me. Some time after that, they moved to 711 Beach Avenue; and that’s the house I remember.
I can remember one winter walking home with him. He dared me to touch my tongue to a metal pole.
I did, and my tongue immediately froze to the pole. For a brief moment I was alarmed. But then I quickly freed myself by flooding the area with warm saliva.
Another winter afternoon as we were walking home, Bruce decided to do something a bit naughty. He began picking up snow and packing it against the side of a tree. By the time he was done, the tree had two white breasts jutting out from it. Since no one saw us, we just continued on our way, leaving the "female" tree behind.
Another time when we were walking home I saw a house on the north side of Donald Street with a long icicle hanging from the eave. I broke it off and carried it with me.
Bruce asked me, "Why did you do that?"
"I’ve decided to collect icicles," I replied. Looking back at this, I remember I liked collecting things even before moving to Ames. But I suspect collecting icicles may well have been a result of Mrs. Percy Carr’s influence on me, for she was a great collector of things in nature.
With his Bruce’s help, I harvested another icicle along the way.
When I got home, Mom asked me, "What are those icicles for?"
"They’re for my icicle collection."
"You’re icicle collection?"
"Yes, I’m starting an icicle collection."
At my request, she reluctantly put them in the freezing compartment of the refrigerator, for we didn’t have a chest freezer.
When I brought more icicles home the next day, she refused add them to my cache in the freezer. "There isn’t room," she said. "Besides, you can store them outside in the cold."
I then knew my icicle collection was doomed once it warmed up, so I abandoned collecting them altogether. And the time came when Mom wanted space in the freezer for something else, so she gave them to me and I took them outside to melt. I’d quite lost interest in them by that time. At least I still had my stamp collection, playing card collection, and marble collection.
* * * * *
One time when Bruce and I were walking home from school he told me he was adopted. He indicated that his parents were actually stars in Hollywood who had given him up for adoption. He went on to tell me that his present parents were the third couple to adopt him.
I didn’t know whether to believe all of this or not. At the time, I suspected the matter of his birth parents being Hollywood stars might be something he said to impress me or to make himself feel better about himself. I thought the possibility that this was his third adoption was more likely to be true. I just made a note of what he had told me and made no judgment about it at all. I was certain, though, that he was adopted.
Our classmate Alechia Daniels, nee Bode, wrote me an email about Bruce May 10, 2010. The first part of it follows:
Thank you so much for the memories you have of Bruce Lunden. I, too, have some very definite memories of him from the time my parents and I moved to Stanton Avenue across from Crawford School. We lived beside Mrs. Carr–Mrs. Percy Carr. What a wonderful place for a child–an only child like me–to live!
Bruce would sometimes come over to my house and sit on the big front porch, looking at the wonderful moth caterpillars that covered this porch [Mrs. Carr’s project for me]. He used to tell me and my mom that he couldn’t go home yet because there was no one there to let him into his house.
He was not allowed to eat unless they were at the table. My mom would give him stuff like peanut butter sandwiches and candy.
He was afraid of storms (thunder and lightening) and would come into our house during those when we weren’t in school–must have been summer time.
He was a nice boy–just lonely and sad–and hungry a lot of the time.
One time, I asked my dad about Bruce’s father. He told me that Dr. Lunden was an expert on raising children. I thought, then, that Dr. Lunden was a professor of child development, but he was actually a professor of sociology at Iowa State and was much in demand throughout the state as a speaker on many different subjects. One example is found in the February 20, 1954, issue of Ames Daily Tribune (Ames, Iowa), page 3, column 5:
Delinquence Discussed By Dr. Lunden
Declaring that fallacies in our thinking prevent an effective approach to the child delinquency problem, Dr. Walter Lunden, professor of sociology at ISC [Iowa State College], listed 11 "stones" in the "Chinese Wall" barrier in his discussion for the Child Study division of FWC [Faculty Women’s Club] Wednesday night.
Most recreational program and youth-serving agencies are unable to reach potential delinquents, he said. A youth with a delinquent act on record is not welcome in private groups and parks are inadequate in size and location with respect to centers of delinquency.
He emphasized that a child is not born law-abiding and he needs to acquire some built-in inhibitions from parents, school, church. Parents need to help children establish good work habits and a positive set of values.
He advised parents to build into children a sense of right and wrong–black and white instead of a relativistic gray.
Members and their husbands then participated in groups discussion with the speaker.
Mrs. Leroy Everson and her committee served refreshments from a table decorated in honor of Washington’s birthday.
In July of 1953, Bruce played in the summer recreation junior high band. And that fall found him active in Boy Scouts Troop No. 158.
In October 1955, six members of the Ames High Class of 1958 were confirmed at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church: Karen Maakestad, Martha Groth, Ava Marie Lee, Joanna Schultz, Dave Erickson, and Bruce Lunden. Two of these, Martha Groth and Bruce Lunden, did not complete their high school education with us at Ames High. I imagine Martha and her family moved away.
Around 1955 and/or 1956, I slept overnight at Bruce’s two or three times. The house at 711 Beach was on the west side of the street and looked east over the flood plain that separated Fourth Ward from the rest of Ames.
The first time I went over there with him to stay, we went in the back door. He was not allowed to use the front door. Once inside the back door, one could turn right into the kitchen or go down the stairs to the basement. We went down the stairs.
As I neared the bottom of the stairs, I saw a four-thong whip hanging in front of me on the wall opposite the stairs. I asked him what that was and he told me it was a prison whip his father had gotten in Germany during World War II. The following article from the January 11, 1954, issue of Ames Daily Tribune (Amens, Iowa), page 4, columns 6-7, relates to this matter:
Says Reds ‘Use’ Captive Americans.
AMES (UP) – A former U. S. Army prison officer believes Korean Reds have used 21 captive Americans who refused repatriation merely to stage "political vaudeville."
"If these men were serious about joining communism, they would show sounder judgment by returning, accepting their discharge and then taking the first plane to Russia," Walter A. Lunden, professor of sociology at Iowa State College here, said.
"There fact that these men are acting the way they do reveals something of the political vaudeville the Reds want to make of the prisoner exchange."
Lunden was a prison officer with the U. S. Army in England, France and Germany from 1943 to 1946. He was chief of the prison branch of Bavarian Military Government in 1945-1946.
From Professor Lunden’s publications, one can see that he was an expert on prisons.
Bruce told me the whip hung on the wall as a reminder to behave.
We turned right and entered his bedroom. He had a bunk bed there. He slept on the bottom and I on the top.
The next morning we had breakfast in the kitchen. Bruce’s parents were very pleasant and friendly. During my conversation over breakfast with Bruce and his parents, I learned something bothered me, however.
I asked some sort of question about the rest of the house, and Bruce told me he was not allowed to go into any other part of the house unless his father or mother invited him. His mother affirmed that and his father said something I didn’t really understand at the time, but what it boiled down to, as far as I can recall, was establishing and maintaining boundaries together with the loss of privileges resulting from misbehavior.
I found out later from Bruce that he was invited into other parts of the house, but not very often.
The next part of Alechia Daniels, nee Bode’s above-mentioned email casts some light upon this situation:
My mother was just starting to go to ISU at this time, and when we moved over to Campus Ave in late 6th grade [she] had Dr. Lunden for some sociology classes. He told the class of the experiment that his adopted son was and she remembered Bruce.
From what Alechia has written and from what I experienced, I suspect that Bruce received "correct" treatment from his adoptive parents but no real love.
Bruce attended Ames High and was in Homeroom 113 in the ‘56 Spirit. He is not in the school annual the next two years. As best as I can remember, what happened was this.
Bruce entered a church and stole something. I think it was money from some women’s purses.
I was shocked. This was not the Bruce I knew.
The next time I saw him and had a chance to speak with him privately, I asked him, "Why on earth did you do it?"
He answered me sadly, "I want to be taken away from my parents."
His words stabbed me through the heart.
"I plan to commit another crime," he added softly. "Then I’ll be sent away for good."
"You want to go to prison?" I was dumfounded.
He nodded glumly. I think he said something about it would be better or he’d be happier or some such thing, but I can no longer remember exactly what he said.
I was troubled by this and wished I could something to help him, but it seemed there was nothing anyone could do. And the day came when he was arrested again.
I never saw him again and never knew what happened to this friend until I found in the Social Security Death Index a Bruce G. Lunden, born 2 Jun 1940, died 14 Feb 2004, with a social security number issued by the state of Iowa. This appears to be the person I knew.
A few days later, I found an obituary which appears to be his:
Quad-Cities Online Dispatch Argus
Obituaries for Thursday, February 19, 2004
Services and visitation for Bruce Lunden, 63, will be 1 p.m. today at Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home, Davenport. Private burial will be in Pine Hill Cemetery, Davenport.
Bruce died Saturday, Feb. 14, 2004, at Genesis [Medical Center] East, Davenport.
Survivors include a stepdaughter, Julie Heald, Davenport.
May he rest in peace.