Roger M. Goetz Chapter 37

Looking Back

by Roger M. Goetz


 FALL 1950

Our Thanksgiving Day was spent without company, and Mom summarized it in her diary that day as follows:

Went to church at 10:00.  Had fried turkey at 1:30.  Very cold and close to zero.  Enjoyed a fire in the fireplace.  The boys played monopoly and canasta and quarreled only once.  They went to a movie too.

I cannot remember what the fried turkey was like, but I doubt I liked it.  Mom never could fix turkey properly.

During the first part of December, Chuck was home in bed for a week with the flu.

On December 15, Mom hosted the Junior Chemistry Circle Christmas party in our home as recounted in the previous chapter.

The next day, something serious happened:

The 16th Chas. [my Dad] had an accident.  Was at a BB game – dropped his [mechanical] pencil – grabbed for it and ran the pencil point (eversharp) into his rt. hand (at an angle) almost 2 inches. And it almost came out the back of his hand.  Dr. [Joe G.] Fellows [1904-1978] took him to the college hospital and put in 1 stitch.  Kept the hand hot and wet for 2 nites and a day and no infection set in.

The next evening I was in the Sunday School program, but Mom’s diary doesn’t indicate whether Dad was able to attend.

This was the first Christmas at church with our new pastor (Pastor Fields) and things were different.  We had church on Christmas Day but not Christmas Eve and that bothered my mother:

Had a very strange Xmas – no Church on Christmas Eve – I was so busy I didn’t have time to sit and enjoy the tree even.

Chuck wanted a billiard table for Christmas – it cost $60 and came a week before the 25th so they set it up right away and that was all he got so he didn’t have any gifts under the tree.

Twenty-one years later, on June 13, 1971, Mom wrote in the margin, "Seems to me we could have put a few little things ‘under the tree.’"

The purchase of the billiard table tells me that after the first two academic years in Ames, my folks stopped renting out the basement.  Having no tenants down there was a burdened lifted off our family, for we always felt that we were on display to those below us.

Chuck’s billiard or pool table was a smaller, lighter, and less sturdy version of the solid, heavy tables found in pool halls and elsewhere.  It didn’t have a top made of slate.  Dad assembled it in the living room of the former basement apartment.  Thus began the transformation of that space into a rec room.

Mom discussed the matter of Christmas gifts further:

Chuck and Roger bo’t us some gifts and gave them to us several days before Xmas – too much trouble to wrap them up.

I didn’t like wrapping presents because when I did, they weren’t as nice looking as the ones Mom did.  On top of that, I was terribly impatient: I wanted to give the gift right away and see the reaction of the person receiving it.

I’ve gotten better about wrapping presents since I stopped being a perfectionist in that regard.  And after I’ve wrapped one, however, my first emotional reaction is to have the person open it right away; but I’ve learned to wait at my wife’s insistence.

Mom wrote a bit more about Christmas and then New Year’s:

We [Mom and Dad] didn’t get each other any gifts because we’ve been spending money like mad for carpets, refrigerator, dishes, silver, bridge table set, and what not.  So Roger had some gifts to open Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day Pastor Fields and family came about 6:30 and stayed until 9:30.  New Year’s Eve we went to Duke’s.  New Year’s day Duke’s and Hach’s came for 6 o’clock dinner.  Cooking a dinner after getting to bed is too much for my old bones.

Mom was an ancient forty-nine years old at the time!