by Roger M. Goetz
NEW BEGINNINGS WITH OLD FRUSTRATIONS
The new year brought new beginnings, since Pastor Wilbert ("Bill") J. Fields (1917-1996) had accepted the call to come to Memorial Lutheran Church in Ames. He was there for a long time and got his master’s degree in psychology at Iowa State after he came. He also confirmed me in 1954 and ordained me in 1968. He was in many ways my mentor.
Pastor Fields came to Ames from a parish in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1950. The next year, in 1951, Miss Margaret Snodgrass, came to be the Iowa State organist, serving until 1955, when she left to study with Helmut Walcha in Germany. Following her return to the States, she married John Mueller; and they both taught at the college in Winston Salem, North Carolina. But returning to her arrival in Ames: she also became the organist at Memorial Lutheran Church.
I had never paid any attention to the organ in church until I began studying piano with Miss Snodgrass at Iowa State. Then pay attention I did, and in a couple of years began studying organ with her as well. I didn’t know Pastor Fields and Margaret Snodgrass had known each other prior to coming to Ames until my freshman year at Valparaiso University in Indiana. When I went for my first organ lesson there with Philip Gehring in1958, I said to him, "I suppose you’ve never heard of her, but my first organ teacher was Margaret Snodgrass."
Professor Gehring responded, "You must be from Pastor Fields’s congregation in Ames."
I was dumbfounded. "How did you know that?"
"Margaret Snodgrass and I both studied at the Conservatory of Music in Oberlin," he said. "Pastor Fields married my wife and me in Oberlin, and Margaret Snodgrass played the organ for our wedding."
Little did I know all of this was ahead of me when the year 1950 began.
* * * * *
January was a busy time for my parents indeed.
For one and a half days, on Wednesday and Thursday, January 11 and 12, Mom and Dad cleaned the parsonage without any help except for Wednesday evening.
Further, Dad was appointed personnel chairman of the Iowa State Chemistry Department. Regarding this Mom noted, "It will take a lot of time, but he likes the work."
On Saturday, January 14, the members of Memorial had a potluck supper at Pastor Zagel’s church near Boone, Iowa, as a sort of farewell to their vacancy pastor.
Memorial’s new pastor, W. J. Fields and family arrived in Ames on Tuesday, January 17, and spent the night at our house, I suppose waiting for their furniture to be delivered the next day. Having them was quite a strain on Mom because Dad was out of town attending at meeting of the National Fire Protection Association in New York; and I knew Mom well enough to tell it was a strain. Nevertheless, we all thought they were a wonderful family from the first time we met them.
On Saturday, January 21, Mom and Dad were dinner guests of chemistry professor Adolph F. Voight and his wife Mary.
On Sunday, January 22, Pastor Fields was installed as the new pastor of Memorial. The same day, Mom and Dad attended an "at home" at the Hixons for Professor and Mrs. Martin, who had been married before Christmas.
And Friday evening, January 27, found Mom and Dad at the Speddings.
* * * * *
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1950, Mom wrote,
Yesterday I went to Ladies Aid [at church], after I had sworn off. It was the usual dumb session. The only thing I enjoy is visiting with the women. Guess I’m a sinner.
I don’t think she felt terribly repentant about her opinion. Compared to her Ladies Aid experience, she was much more enthusiastic about something that happened two days later:
The 9th on Thursday our automatic Kenmore Washing Machine was connected, and that evening we washed clothes. It works beautifully and I’m thrilled about it.
They paid $224.35 for it.
Friday, February 10, Mom was as busy as ever. She had five for dinner, namely, Professor Fred Duke and wife June, Professor Robert Hanson and wife Gilda, and Professor Rachel Edgar.
* * * * *
Two things in March were very stressful for Mom and she wrote about them on Monday, April 3, 1950:
[Monday] March 15 Eve we had a bad scare. Daddy had a pain in his chest – left side – which got worse after climbing stairs, so we immediately worried about a coronary thrombosis. Dr. Rosebrook [Dr. Lee E. Rosebrook (1907-2004)] came at 9 p.m. ordered vaso-motor dilating pills and told him to stay in bed. Had an electrocardiogram which was negative, thank goodness. This was done on the 22nd. By now he’s feeling pretty good.
. . . .
March 27 I had Neighborhood Club and it about finished me. I’m wondering whether "entertaining" is worth it.
April had its moments, too, as Mother wrote on Friday, April 21, 1950:
Easter was the 9th and it was a horrible day. Cold rain and sleet for a while. Got up at 5:30, went to 6:00 o’clock services and couldn’t enjoy it because I worried bout the 15 dozen eggs to be scrambled for the Easter Breakfast. Had to leave the service early – washed dishes until 9:15. Went to 10:45 services and was too tired to listen.
April 15 the Gamma Delta Lakes Region had a convention Banquet and the Ladies Aid prepared and served it – also washed dishes. To me that was a nightmare. Went to the church at 2:30, served at 7:30 and ate a cold horrible tasting dinner at 8:45 and I couldn’t eat, I was so tired. I was so weary, I was numb, and I left, not helping with the dishes.
Mrs. Duke kept Roger all p.m. and I called for him at 9:10. He was very tired – came home and Chuck had been waiting for me since 7 – wanting something to eat. Charles left that morning for Detroit to attend the A. C. S. [American Chemical Society] meeting. Wed. (19th) he went to Cleveland to the Electro-Chem. [Electrochemical Society] meeting.
Mom was not the only one in our family who had frustrations. I did too, and it happened at Veisha, the spring festivity celebrating Iowa State and its five schools: V [Veterinarian Medicine], E [Engineering], IS [Industrial Science], H [Home Economics], and A [Agriculture]. I still remember it vividly. Mom described it this way in her diary on my tenth birthday (Wednesday, May 17, 1950):
Veisha week-end was last week at the college and Roger had a big day Sat. watching the parade and seeing open houses. He and Jimmy [Robin] went together – took 2 sandwiches each along for lunch. I tho’t it was just a mid morning snack but they made it their noon lunch and stayed until 6 p.m.
To understand the next part of what Mom wrote, one should understand that all over campus there were concession stands selling food and pop. Some people discarded the pop bottles wherever they happened to be when they had finished drinking from them. Mother continued [my additions in brackets]:
They [Jimmy and me] gathered up about 36 empty coke bottles from lawns and tried to sell them [that is, to took them to a store to get the nickle deposit] and the store wouldn’t take them so they tried to bring them home in boxes and Roger’s bike basket. [The cardboard boxes couldn’t take the weight and started to come apart.] He finally parked some of them and came home crying. He said, "I almost cried in public but I was too bashful." Daddy went after the rest of the bottles [in the car].
I should mention that after about a week had gone by, my parents began taking a few bottles at a time to a grocery store. That way they got the nickel deposit on each bottle and gave me the money. At this point Mother’s account changes subject:
He [Roger] loves to plant things and says one day "I believe I have a green hand" when he saw a green shoot come up from a carrot top. He was very thrilled when the pussy willow branches sprouted roots and I didn’t dare throw one out of 8 or 9 away. He carried one to his teacher and Daddy and he planted one in the back yard.
The rest he left in the container – an old water pitcher – to grow better roots. One day he decided they needed fertilizer, so he bought a grape basket full of manure (well rotted cow) for the one little container and plunked it right on the kitchen counter.
He helped Daddy plant radishes, he loves the tulips, pansies, honeysuckles and brings some to his teacher almost every day. I like to see the flowers in the yard and I had only 6 daffodils and he felt very much abused because I didn’t let him pick them. I finally relented – after they had bloomed quite a while.
The next entry in Mom’s diary, penned on Wednesday, May 31, 1950, shows how busy she was as the academic year drew to a close:
The 20th we had the Voight’s and Martin’s over for dinner. That evening Chuck took Lorraine Earls to the H. S. Play.
The 26th the L. L. L. [Lutheran Laymen’s League] had a pot luck supper at the church.
The 27th the chemistry wives and husbands entertained the U. of Iowa chem. wives and husbands. I was on the committee and we had a meeting some time ago.
Sat. I was at the Union at 9:00 a.m. helping with flower arrangements for 9 tables. (There were 101 or 2 for lunch at the Union) 3 bouquets on each table. Lunch from 12:30 to 2:00 – Campus tours from 2 - 4 and then Tea at the Institute Seminar room at 4:15. I helped with that too and went home at 5:00.
A long hard day but fun too. Rained all p.m. and my new permanent kinked up horribly.
Charles was in charge of all the details – arranging tours, etc. and he did a swell job, of course, and many told him so.
Sunday Eve, May 28th Chas. And I went to [church for] the Gamma Delta semi-formal "Rosebud" banquet for the graduating seniors.
Yesterday we went to the Country Club picnic with the Earls. It turned cool and windy after a nice p.m. The boys were very happy to be able to go swimming but it got too cold later in the p.m.
The Spring ended on a happy note indeed, but major changes were heading our way.