LIVING WITH BRITTLE BONES
with Clifford Davidson
©Audrey Ekdahl Davidson 2004
AUDREY EKDAHL DAVIDSON
BOOKS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS
I Will Sing a New Song
Lord: The Works of Heinz Werner
Zimmermann. Springfield, Ohio: Chantry Music Press, 1969. Out of
Substance and Manner: Studies in Music and the Other Arts. St. Paul: Hiawatha Press, 1977. Out of print.
The Quasi-Dramatic St. John Passions from Scandinavia and Their Medieval Background. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 1981. Out of print.
(Co-Editor) Sacra-Profana: Studies in Sacred and Secular Music in Honor of Johannes Riedel. Minneapolis: Friends of Minnesota Music, 1985. Out of print.
St. Martin's Mass. Kalamazoo: St. Martin's Episcopal Church, 1988. Musical Score for organist/choir and congregational use.
(Editor) Hildegard von Bingen, Ordo Virtutum. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1985; 2nd ed., Bryn Mawr: Hildegard Publishing Company, 2000. <http:/www.hildegard.com>
Plays and Ceremonies for Holy Week and Easter from Medieval Sweden. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1990. <http:www.wmich.edu/medieval/mip/>
(Editor) The Ordo Virtutum of Hildegard of Bingen: Critical Studies. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1992. <http:www.wmich.edu/medieval/mip/>
A Selection of Early Music from the Repertoire of the Society for Old Music Transcribed by Audrey Ekdahl Davidson and Published as a Tribute to Her on Her Retirement, ed. Matthew Steel and Nicholas Batch. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1993. <http:www.wmich.edu/medieval/mip/>
(Editor) Hildegard von Bingen, Songs for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Bryn Mawr: Hildegard Publishing Company, 1995. <http:/www.hildegard.com>
(Editor) Wisdom Which Encircles Circles: Papers on Hildegard of Bingen. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1996. Out of print.
(With Clifford Davidson) Performing Medieval Music Drama. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, for The Society for Old Music, 1998. <http:www.wmich.edu/medieval/mip/>
Hymn to Mary (Mixed Voices), An Heavenly Song (Mixed Choir), Mass in D (Men's Voices). Privately printed, 1999.
Olivier Messiaen and the Tristan Myth. Westport, Connecticut, and London: Praeger, 2001. <http:www.greenwood.com/books>
This memoir should have been written at a time when its subject could still use a keyboard, since of necessity at this time the book had to be as told to her husband, often leaving it up to him to provide the words in which the story would appear. Nevertheless, even in this clumsy way, it has been thought to be important to prepare this account of a lifetime of living with brittle bone disease, even the struggle with its effects in old age. But the story is also one of a lifetime of engagement with music, in later years especially with early music.
A number of people helped to provide information for the book and offered encouragement. These include my sister Lucile,and cousins Gwen Forsline and James Nyquist, among others. Previous knowledge about osteogenesis imperfecta was augmented by the Osteogenesis Foundation and the web site of the National Institute of Health as well as various publications available in the Western Michigan University Library.
The x-ray was provided by Bronson Methodist Hospital, and Gwen Forsline kindly lent her photo of Paula Stephens. A preliminary version of this biography was printed in an edition limited to forty copies in December 2004.
A. E. D.
Coping with Aging
and Brittle Bone Disease
In spite of living with a bone disease all my life and being confined to a wheelchair since 1959, I have never wanted to think of myself as really disabled. My disease, osteogenesis imperfecta, did, however, become much more serious after sixty, as would be expected, especially for women with this disease, and I am now in my mid-seventies. I can no longer deny my disability. A few years ago I went to a new physician, who said, "I didn't know that people with OI lived this long." But, depending on the type and severity of the disease, they can, as witness the information that I have marshaled in chapter 2 of this book, though it seems that men are more likely to be long-lived than women.
I have had a good life, made more livable, after six years in Detroit, by our choice in 1965 of employment at a university in a relatively small and self-sustained city. I have been able to have a career as a singer, a music director, a church musician, and a professor. I have been married for fifty years, and, with help from my husband, I had been able to travel to most countries in the Western world for conferences and to use libraries and archives as well as for pleasure. This was always not easy, of course, as the account I will tell in the present book will reveal. There was, for example, the time that British Airways smashed my wheelchair between Copenhagen and London's Heathrow airport. I was forced to use a loaner for my work in the British Library when it was situated inside the British Museum as well as for travel to a conference by train to Glasgow. The wheelchair that I was given was one of those inferior models with small front wheels, hardly designed for the use I would give it for the next couple of weeks. The sensible thing is to meet this kind of thing with a bit of humor and a positive attitude. I would presently be very glad to put up with the kind of vicissitudes that I remember in my travels if I could once again set eyes on a music manuscript by Hildegard of Bingen, regarded as one of the greatest mystics of medieval times, or the shrine of another mystic, St. Birgitta (often known as St. Bridget of Sweden) at Vadstena, where my friend, Sister M. Patricia, is having her own problems in coping with old age. Or once again to see the glorious rose window encircling the Virgin Mary at Chartres, the most beautiful building I have ever seen, even if the lavatory facilities -- shall I for politeness call them North African style? -- for women across the street were nearly impossible for a person in a wheelchair! But even there kind people were present to lift and hold me, and I managed what at first seemed impossible.
Perhaps, because I am of Scandinavian descent, it makes me feel better about my condition to think that it was a bone condition possibly shared with a twelfth-century Norwegian king whose story is told in the Norse sagas. It is said that King Inge was injured when he was carried into battle as a very young child, supposedly under the belt of a warrior. But the description given in the sagas, without being conclusive, suggests osteogenesis imperfecta: his back "knotted into a hump, and the one foot . . . shorter than the other," and "scarcely able to walk as long as he lived" (Heimskringla, 15.1). His illness was such that he had to be lifted onto his horse, yet he was known to participate in vigorous military ventures. His reign lasted twenty-three years, a period of civil war and disputed rule, before he was betrayed and killed in battle on 4 February 1161. His body was placed in St. Halvard's church in Oslo.
If I have had my share of suffering, for fractures are painful indeed, I cannot therefore regard life as filled with misery. The necessity of a bit of pain and poverty actually may have been for me a "bulwark against bitterness," to use the words of a recent writer. Even recent years have in some sense been good on the whole since I have been able to enjoy reading, sometimes scholarly books but also a whole spate of fiction and other creative work that had eluded me when I was studying, then teaching, doing research, and directing musical groups. For me idleness would be misery, in spite of the fact that nowadays I of necessity need much more rest and time for sleep than I ever would have imagined. The reasons are set forth in the following, which I hope is not too much of a dry medical report on my physical condition. It certainly will be of interest to those who are concerned with aging generally or with the results of aging with OI in particular.
On 11 September 2001, ten years had already elapsed since I had first fractured my left hip, and, in spite of new treatment to which I shall return below, I knew that I needed to be extremely careful. I had been lifted into a reclining chair of French design at night, and needed some help with hair washing and even dressing myself. The latter was a function that I had been determined to do as much without assistance as long as possible. On this terrible and unforgettable day my husband had phoned to tell me to turn on the television to CNN. After his return to the house and after our lunch, I continued to watch television with him until about 2:00 p.m. Distracted by the scenes of the incredible fall of the twin towers -- towers that we knew had been designed by Minoru Yamasaki, whose buildings also graced the campus of Wayne State University where we had studied and taught many years ago -- I moved carelessly and catastrophically shattered my left femur and hip so that neither could be repaired, in part because the bone was too soft to hold a prosthesis and also because my general health was too problematic. My bone surgeon at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Roby Thompson, who had performed the hip replacement in 1994, was consulted by phone and was among those who advised against surgery. The wisdom of this advice became very clear a few days later, as I shall explain.
Persons with OI usually have vivid memories of the arrival of the paramedics, being lifted onto the stretcher and rolled out to the ambulance, and the ride to the emergency room. There are the check of one's "vital signs," the preliminary examination by the emergency room doctor, and then the x-rays. And the waiting, for care is as slow in a relatively small city as in a large. After a break, the shock stimulates the body to create its own painkillers, but these dissipate after an hour or so. Pain killers make the pain bearable but also cast a kind of haze over one's mind.
I was lucky that Dr. Mark Noffsinger was on call that fateful day and that I could be taken into his care without delay. I also thought about how lucky I was that something catastrophic like this had not happened when away from home in one of the world's out-of-the way libraries or at a conference site such as Perpignan in southwestern France where we had attended a medieval drama conference in 1986. Now I expected the worst. The news came back from X-ray that my hip was so smashed that the femur (actually, the prosthesis from the 1974 hip replacement), itself broken, was penetrating it. Traction would be necessary. My husband insisted on staying with me as Dr. Noffsinger's assistant drilled through my leg at the knee in order to position a rod to which the traction wires could be attached. Fortunately, the procedure was successful, and in the midst of the night I would be taken to my hospital room at the new Bronson Hospital where I would be guaranteed a private room. In spite of the fact that this was my first visit to the new hospital, the experience was all too familiar.
The sight of the smoking ruins of the twin World Trade towers nevertheless stayed in our minds like a rumbling bass underneath all the hospital sounds on that fateful day. The deaths, the people falling from a hundred stories to their deaths, what must have been the smell of destruction, the clouds of smoke and dust as those incredible buildings collapsed -- and all was happening not so very far from the New School University where only a few years ago my husband and I had collaborated on a report on a production of a music-drama by Hildegard that we had mounted -- a presentation that had duly been noted in the New York Times. And, we knew, the tragedy was also taking place not so far from the offices of Clifford's once and future publisher, AMS Press. But the events of the day had to recede in our minds as time elapsed and, in my case, the pain intensified.
The following days, as I remained in traction, were a blur, punctuated by meals and Clifford's frequent arrival and departure. His office, since he was still at the university, was a mere five minutes away, and our house was only five minutes farther in driving time. My heart was being monitored carefully since I had a defect, mitral prolapse, which was exacerbated by the collapsing in of my chest cavity due to the progressive shortening of my spine that was caused by vertebra fractures. This too was ultimately due to the effects of OI. In older terminology, I had a serious heart murmur caused by a valve that did not open or close as it should. The nurses noted that my blood pressure, sometimes high, sometimes close to normal, was not as stable as it should be, even allowing for the trauma of the broken bones. But a little past the middle of an afternoon the aide checked my blood pressure only to find that it had plummeted dramatically well below any safety level. Clifford, who was present, says that she dropped everything and ran out into the hallway to find my nurse. I was immediately being rolled in my bed, with traction still in place, down the hall and then up the elevator to the intensive care unit, where a central line would be installed and I would be given blood transfusions. The villain in this case turned out to be not my heart but rather a bleeding ulcer from the medications that I had been given by mouth.
I'd had previous encounters with life threatening experiences, to be sure. This time my husband in his concern met my then family doctor, Penny Rathburn, at the nurses' station and asked her for affirmation that I would live to see my next book in print. I had only finished proofreading it the previous month and had sent the proofs back to the publisher. It was a long-range project growing out of my University of Minnesota doctoral dissertation that I had put off all too many years. The topic was a set of three related compositions -- a set of songs (Harawi), a symphony (Turangalîla), and a choral work (Cinq Rechants) -- comprising a "Tristan trilogy" by the French composer Olivier Messiaen which he had begun composing while his wife was institutionalized with a disease that caused her to lose her mental and physical functions and eventually led to her death. Dr. Rathburn insisted that all should be well, though as we knew (to adapt the words of the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich) all manner of thing should not be entirely well. In the meantime, in New York the effort to rescue the bodies of those killed in the World Trade Center continued, and the world's sympathy poured out to the nation.
When it was felt that I could pivot on my right leg so that I could use the commode, Dr. Noffsinger ordered my catheter removed and arranged for my discharge. I set up volunteers to help at regular intervals through the day and evening. I still do not understand everything that went wrong with me physically. In a few days I found myself having difficulty organizing the schedule, and then I sustained a sprain or hairline fracture in my right hip that meant another trip in the ambulance to the hospital. Tests showed that my sodium level was very low, and this would explain my difficulties with organization. On the other hand, the problem could as well have been caused by pain medication, which I was still required to take. When the right hip was x-rayed, there was no overt evidence of a recent break, but of course in the instance of bone that has been broken in the past as many times as my right femur, a new hairline crack simply would not show up immediately. The emergency room doctor, this time a rather green resident, kept telling me that merely having pain was no reason to be re-admitted to the hospital. He clearly had no understanding of OI, and I was reminded of all the times that I had been forced to explain the nature of my disease to people for my own safety. At last one of Dr. Rathburn's colleagues, Dr. Gupta, came by and cut through the red tape. I was back on the orthopedic floor.
The episode with the resident in the emergency room was bureaucratic, but another was a lapse in judgment that afterward caused me much pain and inconvenience. A male aide was lifting me, and insisted on doing so according to "standard procedure" but in a way that sprained or, more likely, caused a hairline fracture -- an injury of my shoulder from which, as in the case of my right hip joint, caused years of trouble for me. The aide was very frightened and hoped that no permanent damage had been done. We could have consulted a lawyer, but we did not. The deed was done. As a result it now was necessary to have three people at hand to lift me out of bed, and at the same time Dr. Noffsinger correctly insisted that I must be up and seated for a minimum of six or seven hours a day. I would need to retain the catheter, and, until it was possible for me to be lifted in and out of bed by two people, I would need nursing care. Of course, hospitals no longer do this, so arrangements were made for me to transfer to a nursing home. My husband surveyed the sorry possibilities in the community, inevitably finding that the best option was not available. Another nursing home rejected me. We learned that in the latter case, a nursing home with high visibility in the community, staffing problems were in fact under scrutiny by the state regulators. My third choice was The Springs, associated with The Fountains retirement and assisted living facility, also highly regarded in the community.
I remained at The Springs for about six weeks. We posted a large sign above my bed that said "OI Patient -- Move with Extreme Care." In the hospital there had always been the danger of an aide arriving in the middle of the night and saying, "It is time to turn you over now" -- and proceeding to attempt to do so. On each occasion then I had been able to contravene the aide's attempt, and now in the nursing home we wanted to make sure something worse did not happen. I was of course in a leg brace, and I indeed needed to be moved very carefully. One problem with nursing homes is that the staff is accustomed to giving orders to patients and to doing what they will, especially when tidying up beds and so forth. All the patients are presumed to be somewhat mentally deficient from old age, it seems, though I will say that many of the staff were indeed wonderful caregivers. Yet there was always of necessity anxiety about who would help lift me out of bed and back into bed again. Clifford insisted on being always on hand then and on being allowed to help. One of the nurses, for example, tended to bump me more than should have been the case, fortunately without any bad results. The other nurses often went out of their way to see that I was treated well, and even the house doctor, when he learned at the end of my stay that I had a Ph.D., warmed to my problems. Some of the best and most competent were an aide, Christina, who had been born in Puerto Rico, and a pair of young women, Joey and Naomi, who probably had not been intellectual stars in high school but were likewise very competent and utterly devoted to their patients. If I had an aide for the evening who was not sympathetic or likely to be careless, they would make a point of leaving whatever they were doing in order to answer my call-light first. The night shift was the least energetic. In the middle of the night one aide would always answer my call-light with "Now what do you want?" Since the building was being redecorated, there were sometimes scraping sounds in the hallway which also were an annoyance.
In spite of the cost, and in my case I had considerable help from Medicare, there is simply not enough money in the nursing home system for first-class care. The state requires only two baths per week, and, unlike hospital practice, that is all that the patients received. I required bathing every day, and my husband, arriving at 7:00 a.m. before breakfast, did this for me. He also supplemented my breakfast with food, vitamins, and iron pills from home. The food then and at the other meals not only was designed for people with weak digestive systems but also was not of the quality to which we were accustomed in our daily living. Yet I remained cheerful, and I did improve. With assistance from the physical therapists we were able to learn to transfer me using a sliding board as well as, for the return to bed, a Hoyer lift. It is dismaying to learn that the government is intent on cutting back on physical therapy in nursing homes, since, as I saw in my short stay, it is indeed a lifeline to so many residents.
After returning home, I had aides supplied by a local agency. Some aides not surprisingly were better than others, but one, Antoinette, managed to steal from my checkbook two blank checks, one of which she tried to cash for $1300. The agency had checked her record and had found nothing about her previous arrests. The policeman told us that she was known to them as a thief who liked jewelry and collectible stamps and that she had been charged previously, but either she was not convicted or the report to the agency was flawed. I fortunately, through the good services of an alert cashier at the credit union, was able to stop the check from being negotiated, and to place a stop order on the other check. But sadly another item was missing from a drawer where I had kept it: my wedding ring, which I had not worn recently since my finger knuckles had expanded on account of arthritis. The police turned up no sign of it in pawn shops or other likely places.
The best of my aides was Martha Rassool, who was married to an Iraqi with a Ph.D. who had fled his country with his family when the Baathist regime became impossibly repressive. She tells of one relative who was confined in an underground cell for six months for laughing at a political joke. Martha's husband, from a prominent family, had refused to join the Baathe party and still insists on being strictly non-political. They still own a house in Baghdad. During the most recent conflict, the house was reported to be still standing. The caretaker merely said, "I open the windows a little when there is a war" -- the third in recent years. During World War II Martha's father, William Melms, was in charge of the vessel that later was outfitted as a spy ship and renamed the Pueblo. His book about his experiences has recently been published. As an aide, Martha was blissfully someone to whom one could talk -- and someone one would want to retain as a friend.
I also had help from students who stayed at our house when they were able. We had decided some time ago to allow a foreign student to occupy our guest room since we knew about the exorbitant cost to which they were put for their education in the United States. Starting with Gosia Sieminska, a Polish sea captain's daughter and now a graduate engineer, well before my most serious problems began, these students always volunteered to assist me not as payment but as an act of kindness. Wenli Zhou, from Sechuan province in China, was an up-and-coming pianist who went on to receive her M.A. at the University of Michigan. I had met her previously when she was accompanist for the church choir that I directed. Then Revathi Murugappan followed, a delightful woman of South Indian descent from Malaysia, a dancer and professional journalist, who also took part in the production of the Play of Daniel, a twelfth-century masterpiece, for which my husband served as dramatic director in May 2002 for the International Congress on Medieval Studies. This is an annual meeting, the largest gathering of medievalists in the world, and a conference that Clifford and I are proud to have helped to nurture from the two hundred attendees in 1966 to nearly three thousand now. Some were scandalized by Revathi's dancing before the player king of Babylon inside the communion rail of the church where the play was performed, but others saw her as a beautiful performer, much better than the juggler, who kept dropping his balls. Still, I am not sure that she could compete on that occasion with the lions, who roared wonderfully as they devoured the evil counselors after the release of Daniel from their den. I of course was unable to attend, but I was given a videotape of the production. The musical score was one I had transcribed mostly while sitting in the old manuscript room of the British Library when it was still located centrally in the British Museum, but because of my illness I have been unable over the past decade and more to participate as formerly in the role of musical director for such productions.
Eventually Revathi was succeeded by Yi Wang, the second pianist from mainland China we have taken into our household. In the time she was with us, she become as devoted to us as we to her, and in addition she introduced us to her Taiwanese friend Jackson Chen, whom we also appreciated. And even more I am indebted to Swee Sin Ng, Revathi's friend from Malaysia and truly a helper in a time of need whom we will deeply miss when she returns home.
From December of 2001 until June 2004, my daily routine did not much change and was interrupted only by two more stays at Bronson Hospital on account of respiratory problems due to asthma and heart congestion in 2002 and 2003. I have had to alter my diet dramatically, not only eating a low cholesterol diet but also reducing sodium to less than 1500 mg. per day. The latter dietary solution seemed to us to be an odd one for low sodium -- indeed, low sodium that at one point reached the life-threatening level -- but this was joined with restricted water intake. My new diet, along with a change in my blood pressure and heart medication, seemed to have stabilized my health. I also used oxygen, generated by an oxygen condenser, at night and sometimes when I was tired during the day to assist my breathing.
My day began -- and still does -- with medication-taking at around 7:45, a half hour before breakfast, which my husband brings to me in bed on a tray. Breakfast is pretty much always the same -- juice, toast, and bran cereal topped with apple sauce, the latter a prescription ordered by my visiting nurse, who now is coming once a week to change my catheter and, when necessary, to draw blood for essential tests to monitor my progress or regress. For two and a half years, the schedule was constant. When my nurse was to come, I bathed, or, to be more accurate, had my husband help me to bathe before she arrived. I left my brace open at night, and did not close it until the nurse was there to examine my leg, both for skin problems and for observation of the spots where screws inserted to hold a break in 1962 are starting to come loose -- a sign that the bone in my tibia is lacking in strength. On other days, bathing was followed by dressing, which entailed slipping on a short-sleeved jersey and more or less rolling into a denim dress that buttons either up the front or along the side. I still wore only a sock on my left foot so as to allow me to wiggle my toes. My nurse, Lynn Cramer, is a strong woman, very skillful at what she does. She proved to be handy at the sliding board, which we used to slip me into my wheelchair, either my manually operated chair or, after a time, a motorized model provided by Medicare following considerable haggling by mail and supporting letters from my physician and bone doctor.
On other days, two people were still needed to slip me via the sliding board into my chair from the hospital bed that has been supplied to me. Even before the "9/11" accident, I had found it necessary to learn how to wash my hair, or, to be more exact, how to have another person, usually my husband, wash it since with spontaneous vertebra fractures and shortened height I was no longer able to rinse it in the sink in the usual way. My husband placed a towel and then a piece of plastic around my neck, then another towel on top. He used a pan to catch the excess water, and proceeded to soap up my hair with a washcloth, then to rinse carefully, using as little water as possible. This is hard on the hair, but it works. I kept my hair cut fairly short, since long hair becomes too difficult to cleanse using this procedure.
Often after I had taken a turn around the living room of our house, which I love, I rolled up to the rather battered dining table that we purchased in 1963 for $3.00. There was no use buying a new one, since I had always the bad habit of banging into the legs with my wheelchair. Our house, which we named "Logres" after the legendary Arthurian kingdom, was a tremendous find when we purchased it in 1978 for a price that would now seem embarrassing. It has no steps whatsoever, and was designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protégé who had studied and worked at Taliessen. Except for the sharp turns required to go to the bedroom and bath, the house is remarkably accessible. I will have more to say about the house later in the book. Often in the morning I would take a nap once I was settled. I still take another set of medicines at 11:30 preliminary to my lunch, which Clifford prepares.
I am appalled at the amount of medication that it now takes to "keep me going," as the saying is, but I am immensely grateful to my present family physician, Dr. Elizabeth Warner, for her effort and interest in my case. Recently, deciding that it was too difficult for me to go to her office for appointments, she began making house calls. She is a former actress and always, it seems, on stage and alert, unlike some other doctors that I have had and with whom I occasionally had difficulties. She further has Minnesota connec-tions, and to this native of Minnesota that seems like a very good thing. Fortunately the drugs she prescribed are covered in large part by my supplemental insurance from employment at the university, from which I retired more than a decade ago. Otherwise the cost would be a very heavy burden indeed.
Afternoons were devoted to reading or, when an opera was being broadcast, to listening. When encountering a less familiar opera such a Verdi's Nabucco or Rossini's The Italian in Algiers I was able to listen with the music at hand, usually a vocal score propped up on a stand. For Wagner's Ring, I followed the text from the floating of the Rhinemaidens and the theft of the magic gold by Alberich all the way to the twilight of the Gods, the engulfing of Valhalla by flames, the death of Siegfried and Brünnhilde, and the return of the gold to the Rhine four operas later, all broadcast of course on different Saturdays. My husband accuses Wagner of gigantism and compares his characters to the Gustav Vigeland creations, also larger than life, that are displayed in the Vigeland Sculpture Park at Oslo in Norway. My reading has been quite eclectic, ranging from Martha Rassool's father's How to Stay Afloat in Army Boots about his experiences as commander in wartime of an army transport ship, for which neither he nor the crew had adequate training, to Doris Lessing's Martha Quest from her Children of Violence, Muriel Spark's Memento Mori, and Halldór Laxness's recently translated Iceland's Bell. When we were in Iceland nearly thirty years ago, I had seen Laxness's name on a door at the university. Since Laxness was a Nobel prize winner, I would have expected the librarian who was escorting us to have expressed some pride, but it was clear that he despised him. I had read his Independent People nearly half a century ago, and now it was a chance to catch up on other Nobel prize winners and to read the Times Literary Supplement -- as well as a chance to read some professional magazines in the field of music thoroughly. From TLS I learned, for example, much more about Tantric religion and that sort of thing than I want to know. In the evening, I was able to continue my reading until 9:00 or 10:00, always with a book that is small and light enough to read in bed.
We have had to move our dinner to 6:00, which seemed to us very early when the change took place, but this was a time that tended to be more compatible with my helpers' schedules. So around 5:30 there is another round of pills and capsules, then the meal, again prepared in most cases by my husband. Dietary considerations rule out using deli food, or at least very much of it, so the meal needs to be prepared pretty much from scratch. Semi-prepared foods and many frozen foods tend to be smothered in salt, more of it in a single helping than I am allowed for the full day. The availability of salt-free food, while limited, helps, as does the stocking of salt substitutes by the local health-food store. Fortunately we can obtain fresh fish and non-factory chicken, the latter brought in from Indiana, and our local grocery has good vegetables and fruit the year around. For potatoes, however, Clifford likes to go to the health food store, which stocks organic varieties, since when he was a child he remembers how he saw first arsenic and then DDT heavily used to control the potato bugs in his father's potato patch -- and, he wonders, what pesticides are used now?
Then it was time to go to bed, a process that required the use of a Hoyer lift and two people to operate it. They would swing me over into the bed, lower the lift and remove the chains attached to the sling, then lift my legs, turn me into position so that I was lying correctly in the bed. Then they pulled the Hoyer sling out from under me, and my husband and another person, if a woman, together would slip off my clothes and help me put on my nightgown, fastened in the back and designed for bed patients. I am almost embarrassed to mention that I was even then no longer able to use a commode so must use a bedpan, which to be sure is not so bad as it sounds since when not in use it is kept scrubbed scrupulously clean.
The evening routine remains the same. Around 9:30 I have a small helping of yogurt to guard against yeast infections (always a problem anyway), followed by a glass of orange juice and a capsule containing Pamelor, which though an anti-depressant is useful for pain tolerance. I had not taken any of the usual pain medications for a long time prior to June 2004, about which more below. I still spend the evening reading until I am too tired to go on, and then ask Clifford to turn on the television. Often there is a good PBS program or an interesting Book TV or other presentation on CSPAN. In desperation it is sometimes necessary to turn to CNN or MSNBC with their plethora of ads and packaged news and superficial discussion. Aside from an event such as the crashing of planes into the World Trade Towers, we never turn on the television earlier in the day. Even at night, there are times when there is literally nothing whatever in the lineup in all those stations available on cable. A wasteland indeed. It is luck that there is a good local university radio station, WMUK, where my former student Cara Lieurance is an announcer, as well as WKAR at Michigan State University. At one time there was good radio from the University of Michigan, but this station was savaged by a new manager who changed the format mainly to rather dreary talk radio against the wishes of the devoted staff. Incredibly, the new station manager, Donovan Reynolds, claimed that the station's programing had been "moribund." The staff included Peter Greenquist, who had moved over from WMUK some years before and who, incidentally, had taken part in an entertainment designed to accompany Adriano Banchieri's Festino that I directed at a medieval conference at our university in the 1970s and which shall receive mention below. The loss of the University of Michigan station was acutely felt. One of its programs, "With Heart and Voice," which featured organ and choral church music of a very high caliber, formerly was aired at 6:00 a.m. on Sundays. We would get up that early just to hear the program. Now it is broadcast by the Andrews University station, which we also can usually receive, at 8:00 p.m. on Fridays. Being able to tune in on such programs becomes very important when one is confined to the house, as I have been for so long, and this is especially true because it has become impossible for me to operate the compact disk player.
I found that one is able to have a surprisingly rich life even under such circumstances when the days go by pretty much the same. It is a matter of looking back without sorrow at the past and of being content with the present as the best that one can make it. To slip into depression or alcoholism simply seems to me to involve unattractive options when so much can be made of one's existence even if one is not able to do the things which excited one in the past -- or if one is not able to execute some of the things that were planned for one's old age. Of course I miss being able to sing and otherwise to perform music, which had been my lifeblood, and there is a level of isolation that one would prefer not to have. But friends do come around to the house, and I have had a fine relation with the foreign students who have stayed at our house. Those who are not away in some faraway place such as Malaysia come to visit, and in a sense whether nearby or far away they are our family.
These remarks apply more than ever to my present condition, for in June 2004 a helper inadvertently twisted my right foot, and my right leg, always the weakest, snapped. I knew from experience that it was broken since there was a kind of grinding feeling when it was moved. The good thing is that, unlike the other leg which remains in a brace whenever I have to move even in bed, the bone remains in place, so healing may be adequate to return me to the schedule that I have described above. But quite unfortunately also when in the hospital, two aides against my expressed wishes turned me all too quickly and roughly one evening -- one of the great hazards of hospitals for OI patients -- and produced a fracture in my shoulder, and because of the soreness in my arm I suspect the possibility of a hairline fracture there too. So at this time I had only one good limb, my left arm, a real disability since I am right-handed. Lying in bed and not being able to get up provided of course great potential for more trouble, including the possibility of succumbing to congestive heart failure. Bed sores are inevitable, so have to be controlled. And while lying down my breathing is not good, even though I use oxygen now all the time, and I sleep more hours per day than before. But I remained ever hopeful that this would pass, and now with the help of the Hoyer lift I am able to be up again. Nevertheless, the remarks in this paragraph were not those originally intended to form the concluding point of the present chapter, which, like the rest of my story, was written before the latest fractures.
The Ekdahls always felt close to their immigrant roots. My paternal grandfather, Ole H. Ekdahl, who was born in1840, came from Kiaby in Skåne, not far from the Baltic coast in one of the provinces taken by Sweden from Denmark in the Skåne War (1658). It was indeed in this very region that for more than fifty years a guerilla action against the Swedes was mounted in the brutal aftermath of this war. The modern idea of Swedes as particularly pacific people does not apply to this period when Sweden was engaged in imperial expansion, which eventually came to an end when its resources were overtaxed and its national energy expended. In Kiaby, the old homestead is no longer remembered, but the town itself is typical for the region and is situated around the parish church, a building dating from perhaps the twelfth century. My great grandparents, Ole and Marna, are buried somewhere in the churchyard. The church itself is not large, with a low roof and small chancel, the latter decorated with remarkable wall paintings showing scenes such as the Ascension of Christ into heaven accompanied by angel musicians and a repository for use in Good Friday and Easter ceremonies that mimicked the Entombment and Resurrection. The wall paintings, however, had been covered with whitewash throughout the nineteenth century and were revealed to sight only in 1937. Neither my grandfather nor my great grandparents would have seen them. Its fine little pipe organ seems to be modern and an example of the high level of the craft of organ building in Scandinavia. But the font, dating from the Middle Ages, where my grandfather was baptized remained in place through the change in religion in the sixteenth century and the more pietistic climate which eventually followed in the Swedish church.
The name "Ekdahl" was actually a made-up surname that was taken upon arrival in the United States. Ole's father's name was also Ole, and so according to the use of patronymics at that time he by rights should have been named Ole Olson. It has been speculated, without proof, that my grandfather's principal reason for coming to the United States in 1864 was to avoid service in the Swedish army, though oddly this was during the Civil War and his arrival coincided with General Sherman's march through Georgia. But the latter half of the nineteenth century was a time of severe poverty and even famine in Scandinavia. Something like fifteen percent of the population of Sweden emigrated with many coming to Minnesota. My grandfather first settled in Red Wing, and then moved to the Willmar area three years later and became a successful farmer. Typically among Scandinavian immigrants who lived on the prairie, he planted an orchard and raised grain. His industry and eccentricity were legendary in the family. I remember hearing it told and retold how he hitched up his horses and, with light from kerosene lanterns, worked through the night in the fields. Those were not easy times in spite of the technological advances in farm machinery -- for example, grain binders that tied up bundles of wheat or barley with twine and left them in piles for the hired men to collect and stand up in "shocks" to finish drying -- that came by the end of the century. The advances did not of course include pesticides, so at times grasshoppers devastated the farmers' crops. The weather on the prairie also was unpredictable, and one year a tornado destroyed my grandparents' house. The house I remember and that so far as I know still stands is the replacement, a large brick house, square and representing what may be described as a Swedish Renaissance style.
My grandfather married Anna Stephens, who had come to Minnesota at age six from Svenstorp in Skåne with her mother in 1862, when the family was reunited, since Anna's father had preceded them two years before. Svenstorp is located northeast of the university town of Lund, the site of the great romanesque cathedral with its two massive nineteenth-century towers where the hero of Ingmar Bergman's film Wild Strawberries, Professor Isak Borg, concluded his journey and received his honorary title. Near Svenstorp is one of the most famous castles in Skåne, a massive structure that had been built in the time of Christian IV of Denmark at the end of the sixteenth century before the absorption of the province into Sweden. Anna came from a Baptist family that had converted from Lutheranism in Sweden, and her influence seems to have been crucial in her husband's role as one of the founders of the Swedish Baptist church in Willmar. Her family had been motivated to leave the Old Country in order to find religious freedom apparently rather than for any other reason. This was a factor that now is recognized to have been far more important for emigration than previously recognized. America was presented as a Land of Canaan where none of the restrictions on worship or church attendance applied. As letters to the folks back home exclaimed, this was a place where there was no prescribed orthodoxy and where no laws existed that would bar persons from their own religious practices or even from being purely secular. Anna's parents, Lewis and Hannah Person Stephens (originally Stephenson), had found themselves under severe pressure in Sweden from the church authorities, who severely repressed those who participated in free church services and, especially, those who refused to have their children baptized in their parish churches. Baptist services differed from the formality of the Lutheran ritual of the state church and, as frequently remarked, especially appealed on account of the new style of singing and the new hymns that seemed to appeal directly to their perception of spiritual emptiness. While much of the larger structure of the traditional services was retained, the prayers in particular were extempore and the sermons often directed to reinforce the participants' conversion to a new life apart from the religion of the larger community. In Sweden these folk were not allowed to build meeting houses, and inevitably their religious practices raised the ire of the neighbors. One of my distant relatives tells of an incident in which a Baptist service was being conducted by a lay preacher one evening in a house of an ancestor. The service had only begun when they heard stones being thrown at the house by a hostile mob, and then the police arrived. Candles were extinguished. A quick-witted woman threw a shawl over the head of the lay pastor and led him to the door, whereupon she said something like "Grandmother, it is time to go home," and they walked in the darkness through the hostile crowd safely. Obviously Anna's family was much better appreciated than this in America, since after their move to the Willmar area her brother George would serve as a school-district clerk and later, after he gave up farming, as the city of Willmar's night marshal, a position for which he was honored in a public meeting. It was then that George was given a gold-headed cane "for efficient and faithful service."
Anna, who died before I was born, appears very stern in the photograph that I have of my grandparents and their children, of whom my father Harry was the youngest. But my sisters, who were much older than I, always exclaimed about her kindness to them. I think about the hard life that she would have had on the farm even with household help, for she lived in a house without plumbing or electricity, which would not be available until the rural electrifica- tion program was instituted in the 1930s. Water was pumped by hand from a well, and was heated in a reservoir attached to the kitchen wood stove. Clothes washing was done by boiling the heavily soiled items in a copper boiler, and then by scrubbing both these and less soiled pieces on a washboard by hand. Bathing was infrequent of necessity, especially in the cold Minnesota winters that could drop temperatures to below -30 F. Yet the family retained a respectability that would put many modern people to shame. For attendance at church, the chores would need to be completed first, then everyone had to be spiffed up neatly before the trek to town by a horse-drawn buggy. The household included not only four children, two of whom were already seen to be seriously afflicted with osteogenesis imperfecta -- my uncle Lewis and aunt Annie -- but also Anna's disabled sister Paula. My father Harry was less severely afflicted, and most likely it was not known at this stage that he had the disease as well. All were well cared for. Not all Scandinavian families valued education or high culture at that time, but Anna had been able herself to attend Gustavus Adolphus College. In contrast to the many children of Scandinavian descent in Minnesota who were made to go to work at age twelve, sometimes after only three or four years of English school, the Ekdahl children were very fortunate. In Anna's house a piano was present and music encouraged, and my father was given the opportunity of attending the Willmar Seminary, which offered a two-year program equivalent to the course of study today in a business or community college. Ultimately my grandfather owned seven hundred acres of which more than four hundred were under cultivation, and at threshing time the task of feeding the entire threshing crew, as was expected, was the responsibility of my grandmother.
By the time that my grandparents retired and moved to a house on Second Street in Willmar, the region was as settled as the Sweden they had left behind. The Indian wars of the nineteenth century had long ago resulted in the removal of the Sioux to reservations in South Dakota following the hanging of the leaders at Mankato on 26 December 1862. There were only memories of scalpings and atrocities on both sides. An early sign that a war was immanent had been the killing of thirteen Swedish settlers west of Willmar. Legendary in my family was Guri Endreson, who endured a brutal attack on her homestead, saw her husband and two of her sons killed as well as two daughters taken into captivity, was reputedly scalped, and lived to return to her farm near Willmar when hostilities were over. The rectifying of the incredibly shoddy treatment of Native Americans had been championed by Bishop Whipple of the Episcopal Church who had even traveled to Washington to talk to President Lincoln, but the panic among folk who lived in the Willmar region was to produce long-lasting hostility. I remember only two Native American girls in my class in high school, and, even if individuals were accepted, there was widespread prejudice. This went hand-in-hand with prejudice against other persons of color as well as the feeling that people of Scandinavian descent were superior -- a feeling that, of course, favored the group to which one belonged, whether Norwegian or Swedish. Ethnic jokes were most commonly turned against the other group, as in the example of the joke in which a Swede (or Norwegian) was cited as shooting an arrow into the air -- and he missed. There was also tension between the religious denomina-tions, with the Lutherans looking down on the Baptists and the Baptists scorning as "holy rollers" the new sect of Pentecostals, drawn from the less affluent members of the community. Catholics, many of them workers on James J. Hill's Great Northern railroad, were mainly Irish and hence at the bottom of the social ladder; many believed them to be subversive, storing guns in the basements of their churches. Following the Prohibition period, the county of Kandiyohi remained dry. The only wine available to the public was at communion in Lutheran and Episcopal churches, though low-alcoholic-content beer was allowed. Baptists, of course, did not approve at all of alcohol, smoking, or movies, which were absolute- ly forbidden by my parents. Crime was practically non-existent. Many, both in the city and on the nearby farms, did not lock their doors even at night. I am trying to remember if we even had a key to our house in those days, though I suppose we must have.
I know far less about my mother's family. Her early childhood was spent in Dassel, a village roughly halfway between Willmar and Minneapolis, where her father, Christian Brenne Nelson, practiced his craft as a shoemaker. Later he moved west to Litchfield, located pretty much where the prairie begins. He had been born in Bergen, the great seaport and Hanseatic trading center on the west coast of Norway, a country then still under the sway of Sweden after a previous centuries-long domination by Denmark. The sign of foreign occupation remains to this day in the Rosenkrantz Castle, the seat of the Danish governors of Norway that receives its name from the same family that, along with the Guildensterns, was named in Shakespeare's Hamlet. The city is situated on the harbor from which my grandfather set out for the New World, perhaps, as in the case of my paternal grandparents who came over on a ship named the Baltimore, by way of England and probably the port of Liverpool. He was an alcoholic who reformed after a fire, apparently accidentally set by his alcoholic brother Dave, burned down his shoemaker's shop. This traumatic event seems to have been what precipitated a change in his life, for he put aside the bottle and substituted pietistic religion, probably of the Baptist variety. When his first wife, who had been born in the Swedish province of Värmland, died, his daughter Lydia -- my mother -- was then in the seventh grade. In order to care for the two other younger children, Mamie and Lil, she dropped out of school to care for them. By now her father had become rather fierce in his insistence on religiously correct behavior, and the younger girls found him very difficult -- or, to put it the other way around, he found them very difficult. In later life I could hardly believe that these two sisters, who as older married women would live above and below in a duplex in south Minneapolis, could ever have been considered "wild." It is less hard to understand why they would have rebelled against their father, who had all the zeal of a convert and did his best to convert everyone with whom he came in contact, including his customers, to his radical religious beliefs.
When my mother left home, she went to Minneapolis where she was given a job working for a Mr. Greenberg as a clerk in a dry goods store. With visions of becoming a missionary she also immersed herself in volunteer work at the First Baptist Church, where she assisted young women of lesser means, including many from the extensive Swedish community. She taught them how to do household tasks and to perform other skills needed by women of the day, and she also worked with their English skills, which often were deplorably inadequate for life in the city. The church was not Swedish but rather was affiliated with the Northern Baptist Convention. It was led by a fiery preacher named W. B. Riley, who in later life was regarded as "the grand old man of fundamentalism in Minnesota" and who eventually broke with the liberal wing of the denomination, of which my relative Edwin Dahlberg would be one of the leaders.
Minneapolis then had much to offer persons with Scandinavian roots. Singing in the mother tongue and dancing were available on "Snoose Boulevard," so called on account of the widespread use of snuff, a form of tobacco that came in small round containers -- the most popular brand was Copenhagen -- and most often was placed under men's lower lips rather than actually chewed. This entertainment district was located on Cedar Street, across the Mississippi River from the main campus of the University of Minnesota. But of course my mother would have had absolutely nothing to do with the worldly pursuits of Snoose Boulevard during the years that she spent in Minneapolis, which otherwise was in any case a very livable city with a good public transportation system and attractive public spaces that included Loring Park, where Nor- wegian Independence Day was celebrated every seventeenth of May -- Syttende Mai -- a date made all the more meaningful since full independence from Sweden was achieved in 1905. My mother, after all, was as much of Norwegian descent as she was Swedish.
My maternal grandfather eventually remarried to a Mrs. Olson of Willmar and moved there. It was while visiting them that my mother met my father, who was singing in the choir at the First Baptist Church, of which his father had been a founding member. The language of the church was still Swedish, of course, and would remain so until around 1930. Some Swedish was in fact used until 1951. The threat of the change to English is said to have caused an older lady in the congregation to say, "If the Swedish language was good enough for the apostle Paul, it is good enough for me." The repertoire of the choir included music from Sweden and already songs and anthems adapted from the American evangelical movement. My uncle Lew had a fine tenor voice, and the others also had good pitch and an accurate sense of rhythm. The new hymnal, Nya Psalmisten, published in 1910 (I still have my father's well-used copy), was a continuation of earlier American Swedish hymnals.
My father was a bookkeeper and was considered very eligible by the young ladies of the church. He fell in love with the beautifully dressed young lady from Minneapolis who made her own clothes and was determined to marry her. There is an amusing family story of rivalry involving one young local lady who felt that she should possess him and of the necessity of telling her bluntly that his heart was elsewhere. So my parents did marry, on 16 October 1912, at the First Baptist Church, at Third Street and Trott Avenue, in Willmar. The church, built only three years previously, was in most ways deliberately a challenge to the usual style of the local Lutheran churches. Nevertheless the windows were adorned with stained glass, including one window with the image of the Good Shepherd. It was essentially a meeting house, square with an entrance in one corner and a raked floor leading down to a platform with, in center position, a lectern for preaching and praying. The choir shared the platform, and behind it was the baptistry, which was closed off except when needed for baptisms.
My parents would live at a house only a few blocks away, at 723 West Third Street, that had been built for them by my paternal grandfather. It was a Queen Anne style structure, with a marvelous almost-medieval tower. This house would be my parents' home for the rest of their lives. My sister Lorraine would be born the next year, and my sisters Ione and Lucile thereafter at eighteen-month intervals. My own birth came after a longer interval of fourteen years.
This will be a chapter in which I discuss medical history. It will be of especial interest to persons with orthopedic or other mobility problems, and will include some information that of necessity will overlap with episodes in the narrative that I will tell later in this book.
My bone disease, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), has been the subject of study for more than two hundred years, at least since Olaus Jacob Ekmann treated the subject in his doctoral dissertation, which he defended in 1788. Though in my case it was inherited through an ancestor from Svenstorp in Skåne, it is not a disease that is associated with any particular country or even continent. The disease was long known to have different symptoms and different levels of severity, and in the 1970s the Australian researcher D. O. Sillence developed the four categories that still are used today to describe these. The distinctions are, however, somewhat murky, but it seems clear that I have Type I. Type I is typically characterized by fragile bones, blue sclera, and sometimes hearing loss. In my case, I was born with blue sclera and still have this symptom to a degree, while others lack this characteristic. My hearing was in fact extremely acute until my late fifties. In a hearing test many years ago I was told that I could hear what few people could hear -- a range that might allow me to hear some dog whistles. I always suffered from fragile bones, having more than three dozen fractures in my lifetime. Others with Type I OI have only moderately fragile bones. Types II-IV are more severe and are likely to cause one to have a much more shortened life-span, in the case of Type II indeed very little chance of survival at all, assuming that the mother's pregnancy had not already resulted in a stillbirth. In all, there are perhaps 30,000 to 50,000 persons living with OI in the United States today, according to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.
Because I can trace my disease back beyond two previous generations, I believe it will be useful to examine what I am able to remember or glean from others about each family member who was afflicted to a greater or lesser extent with the disease. As a disease which is autosomal dominant, approximately half of the children of parents who are carriers will be born with it. Its cause is an inheritable dominant altered gene that either programs cells to create a defective collagen protein or does not do its work in telling them to make it in sufficient quantity. The latter is the case with Type I osteogenesis imperfecta, for only about half the normal amount of type 1 procollagen may be found to be produced. Collagen may roughly be described as the necessary binding agent in bones. It is a protein, the principal fibrous agent of bone, tendons, etc. Scientists explain that it is the longest protein, made up of a triple helix that measures 3,000 Ångstroms in length and fifteen in breadth. In recent research the defective gene has been identified and the point of the mutation located in the COL1A1 (Collagen, type 1, alpha 1) or COL1A2 (Collagen, type 1, alpha 2) gene, which on account of the damage to it is non-functioning. None of this was of course known to my doctors when I was younger since genetic research has essentially blossomed only in recent years.
The mutation that caused the gene to be defective must have existed in the family prior to my grandparents' generation since my great aunt Paula (Pernella) was affected by the disease, as noted above. My grandmother is therefore implicated as a carrier since, like her sister Paula, she was descended from Lewis Stephenson (b. 1819) and Hannah Person Stephenson (b. 1818) of Svenstorp in Skåne. Of course, if my great-grandmother was a carrier of the mutated gene, though she was reported to have been in good health at age 87 in a county history that was locally published in 1903, it seems plausible that the disease may be traced back even further to her parents, Per Person (b. 1787) and Anna Person (b. 1788). Her mother, Anna Person, is reported to have been born at Diyvik, a village that I have not been able to trace in any Swedish atlas but is located most likely, like Svenstorp, in Skåne.
Since Paula died before my time, I did not know her, nor do I have as much information as I would like about her. She was severely disabled and used a wheelchair. However, in those days of horse and buggy travel she often had to be carried about. Yet she nevertheless was able to work as a midwife. She would be lifted into the bed of the expectant woman, whereupon she would do her midwifery tasks to bring the infant through the process of birthing. This suggests that her upper-body strength was very adequate, while it is most likely that her legs had sustained multiple fractures or at least some that had not healed properly, given the state of nineteenth-century medicine. Her ability to overcome her disability seems to have made her admired in the family for her determination as well as her skill.
It is interesting and rather sad that seventy-five percent, or three out of four, of Ole and Anna Ekdahl's children were afflicted to some degree with OI. While the eldest, Mathilda, seems to have been spared, my uncle Lewis, my aunt Annie, and, to a far lesser degree, my father Harry were all affected. Uncle Lew, who like my father had been educated at the Willmar Seminary, was remarkably successful in spite of his disease and was the stable center of the family as long as he lived. He shared his home with his sister Annie's family, and I shall return later to his crucial role in helping to support my parents' family during difficult times. His disease did not prevent him from being content with his life, and I remember that he always had a small, secret smile or chuckle. He was very small of stature, under four feet in height, with many signs that he had suffered from fractures in earlier life. He had a distended thorax and bowed legs, and he walked with some difficulty with a cane. He had the controls of his automobile modified and fitted the seat with a "cooshun" so that he could see over the dashboard. I loved to ride with him in his car, even if it was only to run errands or pay bills. In those days, we would pay bills in person rather than by check through the mail. Sometimes the bills that he would pay undoubtedly would be for my family, since by then we were the poor relations.
Uncle Lew never married, and parlayed his income and his inheritance into a substantial holding of property in Willmar. Officially his occupation was as a bookkeeper (nowadays he would be called an accountant) for the Great Northern Railway, but he was clever with money in a way that he was able to be charitable and accumulate wealth at the same time. His devotion to church and family was phenomenal. I have previously mentioned his excellent tenor voice. At his death he was seventy-eight years of age. The only sibling without OI, Mathilda suffered from a mood disorder (post-partum depression) requiring hospitalization. She had married Per (Peter) Parson, the proprietor of a blacksmith shop, an essential business for the local economy in the days when horses required horseshoes. The shop also was important for the farmers in the area since farm machinery frequently needed to be welded as a way of providing quick repairs in the middle of harvest or of other agricultural processes. Per was respected as a very caring man who, his relatives in Sweden told me, had left the Old Country because he did not want to serve in the Swedish army. Mathilda had three children, Martha Nyquist, Agnes Parson, and Latimer Parson, who inherited the shop, at which he eventually just specialized in welding. None of Mathilda's children had OI, nor did her grandchildren or great grandchildren have the disease.
My aunt Annie was the most seriously affected of the Ekdahl children by OI, which caused her to be more hampered with regard to her mobility than uncle Lew. She married Ed Hanson, a steamfitter and, for a time, a foreman for the Great Northern Railroad who either devised or adapted a wheelchair for her, though when she was younger she was able to walk about the house. She was bright, clever, and musical. I enjoyed very much spending time with her, especially too because she had a piano in the house. I discussed Greek mythology with her and mistakenly thought that she had given her daughter the unlikely name of Persius Arloueen. Persius was, of course, the man who decapitated Medusa, placed her head in a wallet, and unveiled it against enemies, some of whom were turned to stone to become the Atlas mountains. However, Arloueen's name was instead Persis from the Bible, for St. Paul mentions "the beloved Persis" in Romans 16:2. I thought (incorrectly) that naming her daughter after the destroyer Persius must have been intended to guard against the demon OI, and if this had been true it would have given the appearance of working, though in this instance I must have had a flight of fancy. Arloueen was free from the disease and would grow up to be a tall, attractive, energetic woman. Her fear of passing on the disease that afflicted her mother, however, influenced her in choosing not to have children of her own.
Annie's role in life was as a music teacher who taught piano at home. It was a time when talented and less talented youngsters were channeled to study piano, and, like other teachers, she had her share of both types under her tutelage. Her death at fifty-two, resulting from a severe attack of asthma, was a shock to us all. Though taller than uncle Lew, she nevertheless had a constricted rib cage, which would appear to have contributed to her death.
In contrast to Arloueen, her brother LeRoy, whom we always called "Boy," did possess the mutation that caused OI. He was taller than uncle Lew but still very short, a little shorter than I was at that time, before I suffered height loss in older age. His bones were very fragile, and hence he had many fractures in early life. His chest was distorted, and his legs were extremely weak. Later, I remember seeing him only once when he had a broken leg, following, as I recall, slipping and taking a tumble. The wood floors in the house where he lived were always, it seemed to me, much too heavily waxed. Boy's arms, however, were strong, and he always used crutches when he walked. None of this deterred him from working around the house on Second Street or in his garden. As one who admired the take-charge ethos that he saw in business, he could be quite forceful. He felt, on account of his height and his disability, that he needed to be stern if his voice was to be respected. I recall an incident at church when my mother had permissively allowed me to run around or otherwise misbehave during a service. Boy pressed me down in the pew with his finger and ordered me to behave. It was a lesson I never forgot. For many years Boy worked at The West Central Minnesota Tribune in Willmar. When Lew died in the early 1950s LeRoy inherited considerable money and the house on Second Street which my uncle had shared with his family. He resigned from the newspaper but unwisely invested his money heavily in a turkey farm, which was a disaster since in the first instance the turkeys were improperly caged and many smothered, and then there was a fire that pretty much, as they say, "wiped him out." He had invested some of the money that Lew had left to me in this venture, and for a time I held a promissory note for the amount of $1500. My husband and I were desperately poor at this time, but we did, I believe, the honorable thing in destroying the note. Boy did not seek further outside employment and thereafter devoted himself to managing his household affairs, which involved a parental role for many years with the student nurses who were being trained at Rice Hospital and who rented rooms from him. Further, he put his accounting skills to work as treasurer of the First Baptist Church. He had never married, but maintained a long platonic friendship with a family friend. In 1978, at sixty-five years of age, he died of a heart attack. It is impossible to say whether his bone disease was implicated in the heart attack, but the constriction of his chest and other factors related to OI such as enforced lack of adequate exercise are known to contribute to heart disease. His sister Arloueen, who rose to be a mid-level executive at the Munsingwear corporation, was of great assistance to Boy in later years. She married a pharmacist, Everett Nyman, and, as noted above, did not have any children. To her disappointment, she and her husband were also not able to adopt children, though today it would be hard to imagine a couple who would make better parents.
My father Harry had not at first shown overt signs of OI, but these developed as time went on. Unfortunately, they appeared along with symptoms of bi-polar disease which first afflicted him after World War I, some say as the result of the strain of overwork for the railroad as part of the war effort. In the 1920s he was working for the Peterson brothers' furniture store when he fell from a wagon loaded with their wares. Because his broken leg did not heal, he was referred to the great orthopedic specialist Dr. Carl Chatterton, whose main affiliation was with the Children's Hospital in St. Paul. There would, however, be no magic cure, and with further broken bones, shortened stature, and a distended thorax it was clear that he was not free from the disease. At the end of his life he descended into a deep depression and, fearing the return of the other side of his bi-polar illness, confined himself to bed at home for the final decade of his life; by then his orthopedic problems were very serious. Barely able to walk, he hobbled about only when necessary. He even took his meals in bed. However, these illnesses were not lethal, and he lived to be eighty-one years of age. I am angry, however, that the medication, lithium, that would have helped him had been developed by the army in the 1940s but was, for a reason that I cannot fathom, kept secret until for my father it was too late. Harry was a wonderful father when he was in a stable mental state. I loved it when he would take me to see a ball game, for example. Then he sang in the church choir and was fun to be around. He would read to me such works of literature as the writings of Rudyard Kipling or Longfellow's Hiawatha. I will never forget his rendition of Longfellow's "Excelsior," a poem about a young man who, striving ever upward to the heights in the Alps, always cries "Excelsior!" and carries a banner with this word on it. The ending -- a St. Bernard dog, apparently from the Grand Chartreuse, finds him frozen in the snow -- invokes heroic failure, for he still grasps the banner in his frozen hand.
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,
Father's great hero was Theodore Roosevelt, who had overcome physical weakness to become eventually a strong -- and reforming -- President.
It was in the 1930s that he became a fast friend of Dr. Chatterton, and this was to have real importance for me later when I required surgery to strengthen and straighten my right femur. They went hunting together in northern Minnesota, which as yet did not have the incredibly heavy influx of tourists that one finds today. Going into the north woods was also a good treatment for my father's asthma, and there were times that he went yet further north into Canada to avoid the aerial substances that caused his allergic reactions. Though Annie too had asthma, which as noted above even proved fatal to her, a connection between it and OI is extremely unlikely. I have allergies too, and have had episodes of respiratory congestion that were diagnosed as asthma in later life.
Two of my sisters had no symptoms of OI, and of these only Lorraine had children -- and grandchildren -- none of whom have the disease. The third, Lucile, has never admitted that she has an extremely mild case of OI, but the signs are there, particularly her shortened stature which led to her nickname of Tiny. As a potential carrier of the defective gene, she is fortunate that neither her son Douglas nor either of his children have the disease. Tiny, even after some spontaneous vertebra fractures, still is considerably taller than I was when I was at my full height, now reduced on account of fractures in recent years. I always had certain areas where the bone was particularly weak. My right hip was tipped so that the femur, which itself was weak, was bowed, and the hip joint too was a potential source of trouble. The right leg was shorter than the other, and altogether this put extra pressure on the left leg. Unsurprisingly, the right femur sustained the most fractures, beginning when I was six months old -- and, because the plaster was taken off too early and replaced with a smaller cast, once again, so until I was about eighteen months old I had lived for many months in plaster. Scandalously, nowadays health professionals uneducated in the nature of OI and law enforcement people sometimes accuse parents of child abuse when a youngster with the disease suffers frequent fractures. In my case my family knew very well what was wrong with my bones and could explain the situation if the doctor or a nurse required educating. OI had been recognized by them from the time of my birth from the blue color of my sclera.
I did not fracture my right femur again until after surgery at fifteen, when Dr. Chatterton corrected the severe bowing in my right leg and inserted a metal plate, attached with screws. I had been fairly mobile up to this point. I recall when my mother had wrapped me up in winter clothes and sent me off to elementary school nine blocks away in -30 degree weather. It was not a rough school. Teachers and the children looked out for me. There was of course no elevator in the building, and when necessary a teacher would carry me up the stairs. I naturally hoped that the operation would make all things well, so there was a bit of disappointment when this did not happen. I still walked with a limp.
The next break took place two weeks before the end of my senior year in high school when I tripped on a curb. I was with my friend Adina Lundquist, the banker's daughter, following a concert in the Willmar auditorium, a location later to find mention in the radio programs of Garrison Keillor, for Willmar is not far from his mythical Lake Wobegone. Adina ran to her home about a block away, and her brother John picked me up, put me in his car, and took me first to Dr. Proeschel's house and then to Rice Hospital. This of course interfered with my high school graduation. A story in The West Central Minnesota Tribune reported how "one of Willmar High's top ranking graduating seniors" received her diploma in "special commencement exercises" in my hospital room, where I was recovering from a fracture due to "an abnormally delicate bone structure." The fracture had occurred, the story said, "only a few days after she played the French maid role so ably in the senior class play." Finally, the story said, I "was cheerful in the enthusiastic way that her friends have come to know" in spite of the setback. For setback indeed it was. My physician, Dr. Proeschel, believed the burden of taking care of me to be too much for my mother and hence kept me in the hospital for three months -- something that now would be unthinkable. In October I went to visit my sister Lucile in Worthington, Minnesota, where she owned a gift shop and lived with her husband, a radio technician. I was walking along the street and heard something -- my femur -- go "snap." After all these months the bone was still not strong, and a spontaneous fracture had occurred. Thoughts of college for the fall had already been put aside, and I would make plans for continuing my education one year later, in 1949 instead of 1948. Even then I would still be on crutches.
While still a pupil in the public schools at Willmar, I had other fractures, however. I was considered too fragile to attend kindergarten, and I believe that it was when I was in the first grade that riding on the back of my tricycle was Marion Ann Franklin, the aunt of Don Franklin, who would, like myself, become a musicologist. The trike tipped over, and she fell on me with a resulting broken shoulder blade. I already, at some earlier date, had sustained a broken collarbone. In 1941 I had made the mistake of kicking a football -- a mistake that resulted in a broken ankle. Then, although I had been successfully and carefully treated by a local chiropractor, Dr. Coss, in Willmar when my vertebrae were out of adjustment, my father and uncle Lew made the mistake of taking me to a chiropractor in nearby Paynesville, a town even more directly implicated in Keillor's Lake Wobegon country, but in this case aptly named since the result for me was even more pain. The chiropractor was clearly at fault, and the result was at least one broken vertebra as well as further distortion of my back and shortening of my height. I never allowed myself to be treated by a chiropractor again.
In 1952 I was walking down the stairs in the music building at college when I somehow seemed to float out over the final two steps. In reality I fell and broke not only my right femur but also my left leg at the ankle. I was treated in the hospital at St. Cloud and sent home, where my mother cared for me once again. Dr. Chatterton's plate in my femur had held, but recovery was long, and I could not return to college until the fall of 1953, after which, since I was very short of funds, I was forced to drop out to work for a term. My checkered college career, due to orthopedic problems and finances, meant that in 1954 I still had a year left to finish my bachelor's degree. I married instead, and in the fall went to work for the state of Minnesota in the department of public property, then located in the state capitol where now and then we would see the governor, Orville Freeman. When hurrying to catch a ride to work one morning in the spring, I tripped on an uneven sidewalk and had a ride in a city ambulance to St. John's Hospital near downtown St. Paul where Dr. Chatterton patched me up one more time. Unfortunately, the force of the fall had bent the plate in my right leg so that it would be a long time before I could walk again, and then for any distance only with the help of crutches and an assisting hand.
The instability of my walking contributed to the next break, which again only affected the femur. My husband had helped me into the house on a cold and snowy night in late November 1958, but in walking across the floor I slipped and fell, again breaking the right femur. This time I purchased a wheelchair, a bargain-basement model from Sears. But, in spite of having front wheels that would break and need replacement now and then, it pulled me through until, some time later, I could afford a better model. It was with the Sears model that I went with my husband to Detroit and enrolled at Wayne State University to complete my bachelor's degree in music. I immediately continued studying toward my master's degree, which too was delayed because in August 1962 my husband and I were involved in an auto accident at Duluth while returning to Detroit from Minnesota. In this accident I sustained a broken left leg below the knee and multiple facial injuries. My face had simply crumpled under impact with the dashboard, but my life was saved by the fact that my husband had just installed seat belts, albeit in those days without the shoulder belts that later would be required. I was treated by the orthopedic surgeon and the plastic surgeon in Duluth, then flown back to Detroit, where my leg was found to be healing, so my surgeon, Dr. Campbell White, merely added some screws to hold the bone in place. I still had a broken orbit under my eye, with the expectation that this would end my singing career, for I was then singing professionally in Detroit. However, after I explained the importance of the sinuses to voice production, the fine plastic surgeon at Henry Ford Hospital decided to do a complicated surgery that would restore my sinus and also raise the orbit under my eye so that it would not droop.
A less happy experience was in store for me in 1967, two weeks before the end of the fall semester, when I had the ill luck to be tripped by one of our cats while walking across a room in my house. (The cat, by the way, tried to trip a car a few months later, with dire results for him.) The right femur was again broken. We were by then living and teaching at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. My orthopedic surgeon was Dr. Maynard Conrad, who put me in a body cast and, several months later, discovered that no substantial healing had taken place. Instead of having the procedure he recommended, I made arrangements to go to Henry Ford Hospital. Campbell White was no longer there, but the surgery was done by Dr. Edwin Guise, who fortuitously was then married to a college friend of my neighbor Betty Anger. By luck a new and more slender rod had just been developed and acquired by the hospital at the time of the surgery, so the femur could be straightened and rodded. Ed joked about "shishkebobbing" the bone. I spent five days in the hospital before I was sent home in a body cast, and then later I was given a new cast that allowed me to be seated. In two months I was able to return to teaching, though on a reduced schedule. When I was able to stand again, I could give up the raised right shoe that an orthopedic shoemaker had made for me in Detroit to give me balance for singing. I still, however, had to use a wheelchair for mobility except for short distances.
The only fracture that I had over the next seventeen years involved a finger that had inadvertently got caught in a car door -- a fairly minor incident. However, it is clear that my bones were becoming more porous as I advanced in age. I had inquired about estrogen, but was told that it was not appropriate in my case. In 1985, I was preparing for a rehearsal at my house, where the music ensemble I directed regularly met, when I tripped and sustained a spiral fracture, again in the right femur. This time, on account of the rod in my leg, I did not need to have a plaster cast. The bone would heal, but the break left me less able to do the things that I had been able to do. I now had to use my wheelchair to go out onto the stage to conduct concerts as well as to move about at church, where I directed the music. Fortuitously, we had just then arranged to have a shower re-installed in our house, and this I was able to negotiate. Still, I was able to teach and travel pretty much as before until I was sixty. Then, in March 1991, I had an unexpected and spontaneous fracture of my left hip, which had taken so much wear and tear over the years. My good local orthopedic specialist, Dr. Thompson, had left town, and I was treated by Dr. Thomas Ryan, who decided against surgery. I had a non-union, and naturally had a great deal less energy when in fact I was able to resume some teaching, again on a reduced schedule. The pain became very severe, and hence I was happy in 1994 when Dr. Roby Thompson of the University of Minnesota Medical School offered to do a hip replacement. He found the condition of the bone very problematic, soggy rather than hard as bone should be, but was able to do the replacement, which, though it ultimately did not allow me to walk, reduced the pain.
Unfortunately, my back was also beginning to show signs of further deterioration, and in July of the next year I began having a series of spontaneous vertebra compression fractures. This led to a period of three years when I could not lie down on account of the pain; I slept in my wheelchair, with the result that I had considerable damage to the vascular system in my legs. Despite all our care, I developed swelling and sores, at one point being hospitalized so that I could have a strong dosage of antibiotics intravenously. I would need help going to the commode, and in the hospital there were times at night that the nurses would summon Clifford to help me. We did not trust the nurses or aides to assist. At last we found a recliner that I could be lifted into, and this was a tremendous relief. My legs improved, but even to this day I have slightly swollen feet and red toes. These fractures were very painful, as one might expect, but I was determined to use as little pain medication as possible and whenever possible none at all. Fortunately, a friend who had gone through much pain in her life recommended that I should try the prescription drug Pamelor. This is an anti-depressant that is not much used any longer for depression but, prescribed for pain, allows one better to tolerate it. However, there was a good side to my next fracture that I have described in chapter 1, above, since I could then lie in a hospital bed and sleep reasonably comfortably. However, the frustrating thing was that when this break occurred, I was beginning to get over a vertebra fracture that had kept me from going out, and I had been hopeful that I could again sing in the church choir, if without my former clear tones. Then, with fractures of the right femur and in the shoulder, I could not even hope to go out of the house in summer and had to do battle against the effects of being confined to bed until the fall.
I have mentioned that I have been having a new treatment for my collagen deficiency which at least has stopped bone loss. I heard about this in a most unusual way. I learned about the possibility of advances in medication from a doctor whose wife, Helen Martin Reisz, had gone on a church-sponsored tour of Cuba with Margery Selden, my friend of whom I shall say more in subsequent chapters. Through phone calls first to Dr. Reisz and then to Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, I learned about a clinic in Detroit that had just moved from Henry Ford Hospital to St. John Hospital on the other side of the city. I also discovered that information was available on the web site <www.oif.org> maintained by the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. In 1999 I started receiving a new treatment for OI at the Bone and Mineral Clinic that was presided over by Dr. Henry Bone. Dr. Bone asked, with a name like mine, what else could I do but go into this specialty? I initiated chemotherapy with Pamidronate with Dr. Bone's assistant, Dr. Joan Pinto. The drug, then costing a thousand dollars a treatment, stopped the rapid bone loss that I had been experiencing, and since I found the trip to Detroit by ambulance van very exhausting, disorienting, and even impossible at times when I was suffering most from vertebrae fractures, my treatment was transferred to a local hematologist, Dr. Heggie, at the West Michigan Cancer Center, and I continued with the drug for five years. Pamidronate, also called by the trade name of Aredia, is now an approved treatment for osteoporosis, and perhaps, seeing an opportunity for the drug company to gouge older folk, this is why the cost of treatment with the drug has escalated by almost thirty percent in 2004. Unfortunately, treatment beyond five years is not recommended.
A Charmed Childhood, in Spite of It All
My mother claimed that I was born about 6:30 in the evening. "I'll bet," my nephew Peter said to her, "you didn't feel like eating supper after that." Peter was only nine years younger than I, the son of my sister Lorraine and her husband Hugo, a teacher who would be drafted into the army medical corps in World War II. Peter himself was fortunately, like his mother and his siblings, free of OI, which seems now, since none of the younger generations show any symptoms of it, to be no longer in danger of reappearing in the family. The alert young boy that I remember would eventually attend West Point, become a respected officer and professor at the military academy, and retire as a brigadier general. But in fact my mother's memory was just a little inexact on the point of the time of my birth, and there was also a glitch in the way that my birth certificate was registered, for I was simply identified as "Baby Ekdahl," later even more bizarrely changed to give me my sister Lucile's name instead of my own, Jean Audrey. When I had the record corrected many years later, I had my name entered as Audrey Jean, the way that I had been signing it.
At my birth, my father had been hospitalized on account of his bipolar condition. When he was told that his new child had been named Jean Audrey he misheard it as "Gene Autrey." A boy! Alas, I was to disappoint him, for I would be his fourth daughter, not his first boy. Gene Autrey would have been in imitation of the popular Hollywood cowboy, whose singing was widely heard on radio at that time, for my sisters had seen to it that our household had one of these devices, still regarded as fairly newfangled and potentially as costly as a washing machine.
As mentioned above, I was born with blue sclera, which my parents recognized as a sign of OI, and, in spite of the care with which I was normally treated, I was unlucky enough to have a fracture when my sisters were playing with the cute little child, who fell out of bed. This was my first fracture, at six months. Inevitably, my cast became wet after a time, as one would expect with a baby in diapers, and my father, objecting to the odor, asked Dr. Fiksdal to cut it down. This the agreeable doctor did, and then I promptly broke my leg again just above the shortened cast. I think I can recall Dr. Fiksdal's appearance -- a kindly and troubled face. I realize that this seems hard to believe, though I do have some other surprisingly early and detailed memories that were verified by my parents. For example, I recall a white threshold about which, when I inquired, my father said, "You couldn't possibly remember that."
As a child who had proven how fragile she really was, my sisters and my mother looked after me with the greatest care after I emerged from the leg cast. At first all three sisters were still in high school, and I think they must have regarded caring for me as a duty. I know that, on account of my parents' age when I was born, they considered me an "afterthought." I doubt if they thought of caring for me as good preparation for marriage, which would come to Lorraine when I was six. The others would wait much longer and in the meantime would help, along with assistance from uncle Lew, to support the family. My father was employed only fitfully, and at last not at all on account of his illness. These were Depression years, difficult for all. As soon as they graduated from high school, my sisters went to work. Lorraine found a job at Woolworth's Five and Dime Store while waiting for her fiancé to finish his studies at Macalester College. Ione and Lucile clerked at uncle Lew's grocery store that he had established in 1932 with the purpose of providing him with something to do after his retirement. My father also worked there when he was able, but it was my uncle with OI who had to go into the basement every morning to start the coal-burning furnace on cold days, sometimes very cold indeed in those Minnesota winters, on his way to his regular job so that the store would be warm when clerks and customers arrived. Later, the basement was made available to a very funny Dane, Martin Larsen, who, I assume, took over the stoking of the furnace from uncle Lew. All the children loved Martin, whose name had to be pronounced as if one had stones in one's mouth. This is interesting because he was the antithesis of neat and clean. I wondered if he ever changed his socks. But he could make us laugh when he merely himself laughed, and any story he told would seem like the height of humor. He told how he and a friend Oscar Peterson were moving some lumber that they had been given on a wagon, and Oscar was sitting on top "like a bird in the nest." For years we would repeat "like a bird in the nest," using his strange Danish pronunciation of "bird," as an occasion for laughter. The only story that made me laugh more when I was young was when my sisters Lucile and Ione told about hiding behind bushes and releasing a doll buggy into the path of an unsuspecting bicyclist, who responded after it hit him, "I'll never do it again."
The family grocery store, for that is what it was, had no refrigeration. Meat was available across the street at the meat market belonging to Jalmer Nyquist, who was married to aunt Mathilda's daughter Martha. Milk was delivered to the house by the milkman. At home when we could afford ice, we would keep the milk in the icebox, and I assume that the same was true in many families at the time. (Refrigerators were not cheap and cost as much as eighty-five or ninety dollars -- and required expensive electricity to run.) But the store carried canned goods, fruit, fresh vegetables in season, baking stuff, and of course cookies, candy, and pop which were favorites with us children. Farmers brought eggs to us, and very early my job was to "candle" them to see that they were all right for sale. Then they would be stored in the cool of the basement until sold. When I was able to do so, I was also allowed sometimes to ring up prices on the cash register for customers.
Prices in those days were low by today's standards. A candy bar or an orange drink cost five cents throughout the Depression and until 1950, when inflation set in and the prices doubled. In 1936 one could expect to pay $1.09 for a bag of the best grade of flour, thirty-nine cents for a peck (fifteen pounds) of Idaho potatoes, nineteen cents for a box of Quaker Oats, twenty-five cents for a two-pound jar of peanut butter, ten cents for a pound of rice, and nineteen cents for a dozen tangerines when advertised. Unadvertised products tended to be slightly more expensive, though not inevitably.
The Crescent Grocery, affiliated with a supplier named Clover Leaf Farms, carried bread, though many people made their own. Box cake mixes were blissfully not yet on the market. Flour was thus regarded as a necessity for most families, and was available in two sizes, in twenty-five- and fifty-pound cloth bags, which could be made into clothing or even curtains. The flour sometimes had to be delivered directly to customers' homes. This, particularly the larger size bag, was usually the most onerous of the things that needed to be delivered, but one of my sisters told how a woman made her return three times before she would agree that a box of peaches was satisfactory; then she did not pay when she received her bill. Obtaining payment was, to be sure, a frequent problem in the Depression. The store could not afford to demand cash upon purchase, and collecting the money was not always easy. There must be people in Willmar who still owe us money. But the most amusing instance was when Mrs. Whipkey came into the store, sat on a pickle barrel, and began eating an especially nice Delicious apple. "Will you sell me this apple for five cents?" she asked. "No," my sister replied, "it costs us more than that." But she did not have the dime, the asking price in this instance, or even a nickle.
Yet, for all our problems with the store, it kept us well supplied with food through the "hard times." My little friends sometimes were jealous of my family, since they knew we were always well fed, even if my little coat was made from hand-me-down cloth from one of my sister's cast-off garments. I did have two lovely dresses, so I did not quite fit the proverbial description of the Depression kid who had to go to bed when her one dress was being washed. I even had dolls that had nice doll clothes; one, which I named Carol, I still have. My mother, who had retreated into a kind of mysticism in the face of the family's hardships, nevertheless was still very clever with a sewing needle and possessed a Singer sewing machine that she put to good use. The fact that, as a benefit of the strong support system provided by uncle Lew and my extended family all of whom lived nearby, we always could have food on the table was especially lucky in view of my father's inability to hold a regular job. And for me, having a real need for protein on account of my bone disease, it was especially lucky. During World War II, I had extra meat rations.
The store was expanded in 1936, a year when it seemed that the end to the Depression was in sight. In fact this would not happen at this time, for the economy went into another slump. It was also the year that I enrolled in the first grade. I had not attended kinder-garten, as I had been judged too small and fragile, even though from age two I had been able to read. I recall vividly our dog Betty, a shaggy and uncombed Airedale which when I was three had to be put down. I can still see her sitting up proudly in the back seat of the car as she was taken off to the veterinarian and destined not to return. Fortunately, sad events such as this were soon swept away by the child's experience of the simple excitement of living.
These early years did seem to me to be charmed, in part I am sure because I was very much the center of attention as a bright, ebullient, and "cute" child and as yet one that really required to be coddled. There were times that I am sure I was insufferable, as when I took it on myself to wash the hair of a neighbor boy of my age, Donny Jenson, in the birdbath, or when I cut off the straps from my sister's shoes at a time when the cost of replacing them was no joke.
1936 was also the year that my sister Lorraine married. I was the flower girl, as her daughter Janet (DeeDee) was to be flower girl at my wedding eighteen years later. This was a loss to the family economy, but since her husband had a teaching position at Aitken, Minnesota, it meant that I could visit there -- something to be anticipated as much as our family stays at uncle Lew's cottage on Eagle Lake. Later, 'Raine would come to occupy the upstairs in our house when her husband was drafted, so the nuclear family would be brought together again, with the addition of Peter and Hugh, with whom I became fast friends. The upstairs had previously been rented out of economic necessity, and I do not know how my parents, sisters, and I managed in the limited space our downstairs provided. Half a large house is not necessarily large enough for so many. Others, who did not own property, fared much worse. How lucky in those days that a trip to the doctor could cost as little as fifty cents or a dollar! Things were changing even then, of course, and the store was closed in 1939 or 1940. Lucile then worked at a number of jobs, eventually landing at the radio station, WKLM, where she stayed for seven years. When Lucile married, Ione would set out for California by herself in our old Nash automobile.
I had already begun my career in performance, for at age three my sisters lifted me onto the piano bench in the Baptist church and had me sing. They said that my singing was all right, but that in my nervousness I had twisted up my dress in my hands. Before too long I was a real trouper, on one occasion singing for the Elks club and receiving a doll as payment -- a beginning, I suppose, as a pro-fessional musician. Music had always been present in our house, in the summer wafting in through the windows during band concerts in Rice Park across the street. Before her marriage, 'Raine, who had studied with a European-trained pianist, Miss Dahlheim, provided an example by her assiduous practicing and playing. She was an inspiration to me to learn to play the piano. I was enrolled at age six with Mrs. Stenberg, with whom 'Raine was secretly unhappy and rightly so. She used the John F. Thompson series, and would not let me go on to the next piece until I had thoroughly mastered the one on which I was working. I still remember one piece, "Lunchtime at the Zoo," with its a-b-c-d-e rolled together to make the sound "roomf, roomf." Only in the seventh grade would I change to Mrs. Sophus Larson, who, in spite of her own limitations, was a breath of fresh air as a teacher. Only then did I become really serious about my playing.
On the first day of school in the first grade, I still can remember after all these years how Russell Hillerman cried at being in his new surroundings, and how Donna Berklund put her arms around him to comfort him. My teacher was Miss Hazel Heini, who had a reputation for seeing to it that no child would come out of her class without being able to read. Needless to say, I was the most advanced at the beginning of the year and at the end. Yet for me school was a great help since she made us master the elements of phonics; when I graduated from the first grade there was no word I could not pronounce if it involved normal English pronunciation. As a fragile child, my fellow pupils looked after me, as one of them in old age reminded me not long ago, and my teachers, at least when I was in the first and second grades, often carried me when we walked any distance or up or down stairs. Whether or not I was compensating, I tried always to be alert and was very competitive so that, until I passed into junior high and had to confront science and math classes, I was always at the head of my class. Not surprisingly, I was accused of being teacher's pet, which naturally is what I wanted to be. But another sign of my fragility was a freak accident that occurred as I was riding in the car with my father on a Sunday afternoon when I was seven. For some reason, perhaps a flat tire since this was common in those days, the car lurched out of control. I struck my nose on the dashboard and knew that something was broken. When we arrived home, my mother was very angry, hit my father with a dishcloth, and put him out of the house onto the porch. Then we set out for the doctor's office.
My second grade teacher, Miss Cora Corneliusen, was promoted to the third grade, so I had her again for the next year. At Willmar, elementary school teachers, whether in their twenties or older, were always single women, for if they married they were expected to drop out and become homemakers, perhaps substituting in the classroom now and then if called upon. One day Miss Corneliusen had a very sore throat, and when it came time for reading the story that would end the school day, I prayed that she would ask me to read -- and she did. Of course, I was the child who could read sentences, not just words. In the fifth grade, Ruth Johnson, who was more pale as a teacher than the others, taught about the Greeks and the Romans, whom I still found inspiring when I saw the Elgin marbles in the British Museum for the first time -- and, for that matter, when I viewed the ruins of the ancient city of Rome on the one occasion when we traveled to Italy in 1983.
On Sundays there was church, both in the morning and in the evening. The morning service was fairly staid, with Swedish and American evangelical hymns predominating. At first I remember that only a piano was used for accompaniment, but then my cousin Latimer bought an electronic Conn organ, which my brother-in-law Hugo would call "Conn," also the brand name of a harmonica. Today we call such instruments "toasters." Of course, pianos and organs are tuned differently, which is why the use of these two instruments together sounds cacophonous to persons not accus-tomed to evangelical religion or to those with a good sense of pitch. Sermons were long, and communion, with leavened bread and grape juice, was added on the first Sunday of the month. This would add sometimes as much as thirty minutes to the normal hour-long service, but I always sneaked out as often as I could. I recall when Latimer complained because, he said, a lay assistant named Ekbom "put his hand in his dirty pocket and then handled the bread." But the afternoons were for relaxing or reading. You weren't even supposed to sew or mend. Sometimes my father took me to the ball game. This would have been the church baseball league in which the First Baptist Church to which my parents belonged sponsored a team, as I recall with the additional sponsorship to cover the costs by a local business. I had no sense of danger from a stray ball, but my mother, who was opposed to baseball on Sunday, was always angry. Now I understand that it probably was not only a case of her morality but also a concern for my safety.
Sunday evening services, occasionally reverting to Swedish, were quite different from the morning, and included a different kind of music. When I was very young, Pastor Alphin Conrad, whom I remember as a kind and gentle person, would sometimes play his guitar badly and sing songs such as "Let a little sunshine in; clear the darkened windows, open wide the door" in an untrained but pleasant voice. Hymns would not necessarily be from the usual hymnal, and would even include camp songs such as "Rolled away, every burden of my heart rolled away." From the hymnal might come the following:
Throw out the Life-Line, across the dark wave
There is a brother whom someone should save;
Somebody's brother! O, who then will dare
To throw out the Life-Line, his peril to share?
Throw out the Life-Line!
Someone is drifting away;
Throw out the Life-Line!
Someone is sinking today.
These services would often focus on prophecy, the Book of Daniel and Revelation. No one there had read John Nelson Darby on the rapture, now popularized by the books of Tim LeHay, but many had Scofield Bibles. Arguments were not unknown between pre-millennialists and post-millennialists. The end of the world and the Last Judgment were frequently the subject of commentary, with a spin that was out of touch with mainline biblical scholarship. It was not only the somewhat deranged Wallace Dahlheim who would stand up at the testimony services and talk about the Beast of Revelation which he identified with the Roman Catholic Church. There would be even more opportunity for the excesses of radical religion on Wednesday evening, the regular testimony service.
When I was nine, I was baptized. This was the usual age in our church, which did not believe in the infant baptism that had been practiced in the Church of Sweden from which my family had broken in the nineteenth century. To me this was a very dramatic and cheerful event, and, as expected, it meant being "saved" and having entrance into church membership. "Now," my father said in reference to our close-knit extended family, "we are all one in the church." In the ceremony, the baptistry, a tank that had been filled with water, was revealed to the congregation. Those who were to be baptized were dressed in white. As part of the ritual, the minister, in my case Pastor Horn, would ask a set of questions, the most important being whether you accept Christ as your Savior as part of the ritual. Then he would hold your nose and dunk you under the water, symbolic of a death to sin. Interestingly, the music accompanying the ritual might be "Children of the Heavenly Father" ("Tryggare kan ingen vare") by Caroline Sandell, a Lutheran; this hymn was sung across the spectrum of churches and sects -- and in Sweden is now even included in the new Roman Catholic hymnal, Cecilia: Katolsk Psalmbok. My friend Adina Lundquist insisted on being baptized outdoors in a lake, and her arguments for the authenticity of such a ceremony convinced the pastor to agree to transferring it to Eagle Lake, where her family and mine had summer cottages.
Our cottage, on the north side of the lake, was willed by uncle Lew to Arloueen Hanson Nyman when he died. She would sell it to Dr. A. M. McCarthy, the brother of Senator Eugene McCarthy who opposed the Vietnam war and made a run for the U.S. Presidency as an independent candidate in 1968. When we had it, the cottage was quite primitive, with a kerosene stove for cooking and sleeping quarters in the attic, which always frightened me because one went up the stairs and then closed the trap door behind one. I played in the water, splashed about, but never learned to swim. My friend Adina, who was somewhat of a madcap, happened to be related to Gunnar and Alva Myrdal, the great Swedish sociologists who did basic research on U.S. race relations before the World War II. They visited Willmar on several occasions, but I did not meet them. I was, after all, a young girl who only knew that they were very important people. Adina, very fair of skin, had a perpetual sunburn all summer. The short Minnesota summer nevertheless always seemed perpetual, as if the idyllic time would never end.
Partway through the sixth grade, taught by Miss Aileen Sanborn, a vibrant woman who wanted nothing more than to become a Methodist missionary, I broke my ankle when I tripped and sat down on it very hard. This occurred just days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, so after that for the rest of the school year I had a tutor and studied at home. A cot was set up for me in the dining room. The next year would take me to the high school.
As for pets, which can immensely cheer an ailing child, I always had cats, many of whom had kittens. Because of the prevalence of feline distemper and the lack of more recently developed methods of treatment, cats tended to be short-lived, and I always grieved for my furry friends when they passed away. One of the most memorable was a cat that I named Senator Black, after the senator who later became Justice Black of the Supreme Court. The feline Senator Black, however, was revealed to be a female when she had kittens -- on election day. Another favorite was Grace, and I will never forgive myself for giving her to my cousin Latimer to catch mice. I found her very ailing not long thereafter, and called the veterinarian. Instead of taking Grace back and nursing her back to health, as I should have tried to do, I thanked the veterinarian for his services and told him, "Send the bill to Latimer. It's his cat."
Then there were the chickens, Knobby and Ignatz. I bought them for five cents each, the going price for newly hatched chicks. They were not the greatest pets, since when holding them they were likely to commit indiscretions on my dress. Knobby would crow loudly every morning, much to the annoyance of Latimer, who lived immediately behind our house on Second Street. When it was time to kill them, I cried, and I cried all through the dinner when we ate them. Trying to keep us cheered up, Uncle Lew was very jolly.
At the high school there was plenty to worry about, since the press of students between classes could jostle even an ordinary student, and I needed to be especially careful. There were also stairways, and of course no elevator. Like many other girls, I would now be less competitive, and found subjects like science, of which I had no previous experience, silly. In math I had respect for Miss Polyblank and worked, though I laughed too much in her class. Nobody stepped out of line in Miss Emery's geometry class, however, and the same was true of Miss Seamer, who taught German and Latin. Instead of being fully engaged in every subject, I would at this time focus much more on music, though my attempt to master the alto clarinet, which was really too large for my fingers, was essentially unsuccessful. I showed much more ability in the junior high choral group. I was singing, along with my friends Verlene Gauer and Shirley Collier, in a sextet by the ninth grade.
Music was a good source of comfort in a period when it was hard to insulate oneself from events in the greater world -- events which included the deaths of so many servicemen, the destruction of whole cities, the revelations of the concentration camps in Germany, and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945, almost like birthday presents for my fifteenth birthday. I was deathly afraid (and in this I know I was not alone) that somehow one of these bombs could set off a chain reaction that would ignite the whole world. In time and knowing what we now understand about atomic weaponry and the possibility of nuclear winter, the fear was not all that unrealistic.
The more advanced choirs in which I sang were excellent training, at first led by Miss Olga Buslee, who led us to the regional competition, where we received an A+ in my sophomore year, and the state, for the latter singing at Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota. But the choral director who most influenced me -- and remained an influence on me throughout my life -- was a remarkable musician, Doris Larson, who was hired only before my senior year. Miss Larson was trained at St. Olaf College, which is still known as one of the best schools for choral singing in the United States, under the legendary F. Melius Christiansen. I was soprano section leader. The repertoire chosen by her that year was challenging, and included the Gloria, in Latin of course, from the Coronation Mass of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as well as several pieces composed by or arranged by Christiansen. This did not prevent her from including the folk song "Jeg er saa glad hver Jule kveld" ("I am so glad each Christmas eve, the night when Christ was born"), which, believe it not, was a big crowd pleaser in that Scandinavian community. Once again the choir went to the state competition and sang in the great auditorium at the University of Minnesota. Alas, Miss Larson, then Mrs. Olson, tragically died in an auto accident in 1962, the same year that I nearly suffered the same fate.
Along with piano, Mrs. Sophus Larson was giving me voice lessons. She was an Episcopalian and arranged that I should be invited to sing at her church. My mother, however, would not allow it, since she believed Episcopalians to be too worldly. Of course, in a small town word gets around quickly and rumors have a tendency of sticking. For years it was reported that one of the ushers at the Episcopal church had warned a parishioner or visitor "Watch out for the floor; it's slippery as hell" on one Christmas eve. It is hard for me now to understand why this was considered so scandalous. Unitarians were in the same category as the Episcopalians, and so it was perhaps ironic that while living in my present city I once gave a sermon in the People's Church, affiliated with the national Unitarian-Universalist denomination. Further, beginning in my forties I would attend and direct the music at an Episcopal church, and I am presently a member of St. Luke's parish in my city. Nevertheless, I was permitted by my mother to sing at the local Swedish Lutheran church and at the two Norwegian Lutheran churches in Willmar. I also sang for weddings on at least two occasions at the replica of a stave church at Norway Lake. Years later I would insist that my husband should struggle my wheelchair up the hill at the Oslo folk museum to see an actual medieval stave church.
When I was twelve, I started playing the piano for Sunday school, and after I was fifteen I gradually moved into doing three church services, including the Wednesday night prayers during which people got down on their knees and prayed. For the Sunday morning service, I played the hymns straight, but in the evening I put in those delicious nineteenth-century flourishes that Baptists liked. Part of the trick was filling in all the rests with these improvised flourishes. For my playing I was paid the handsome sum of $9.60 a month, and now and then I would need to direct the choir as well. I would pick up and play whatever music I could find in Willmar, and my repertoire included works by Chopin, played slowly so that they sounded like religious music. I continued in this job throughout my high school years except when prevented by health, as when I underwent surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul. I was still fifteen, and spent my convalescence wrapped in plaster in a small room off the kitchen that had once been a pantry. To cheer me up my sisters had placed stars that glow in the dark on the ceiling.
Though music was what I took most seriously, by this time I had many -- too many -- interests, to the point where my father asked, "Does Audrey run the school?" I had taken a journalism class and was involved with the school paper as well as the yearbook. I even went off by train to a high school editors' convention in Cleveland. I acted in plays, including Cornelia Otis Skinner's Our Hearts Were Young and Gay for which I dyed my hair black, and, as reported in the newspaper account cited in the previous chapter, I played the role of a French maid. Previously I had played a role in The Mousetrap in which I was required to imagine that I saw mice, to jump onto a chair, and to scream. This, and overextending my energies to such an extent, now seem to me obviously very foolish for a person with my bone disease, though I remain firm in my belief that one should achieve the maximum of which one is capable according to one's abilities.
All this activity did not mean that I was popular in the romantic sphere. On the one hand, I was a bit of an egghead. There was the occasion when my classmates, phoning up on a Sunday afternoon, pretended to be doing a radio survey. "What are you listening to," the person on the phone asked. I answered with a bit of pride that I was listening to the New York Philharmonic Sunday broadcast, and hoots of laughter went up at the other end of the phone line. On the other hand, I could also be very silly. But the fact that I never had a date all through high school stemmed from being physically different -- the disfigurement that my frame had suffered as a result of OI, for this made me seem odd to others. My nephews later even would call me Oddball, a further fracturing of a college nickname Ekdry Aud-dahl. Yet in spite of some reverse snobbism that one might expect in a small Minnesota town, my talent, especially in music, was well known and respected. I was only asked to two birthday parties, which proved embarrassing to me and actually dangerous because one of the games involved turning out all the lights and teaming up with someone of the opposite sex. I could have been hurt, and no one wanted to team up with me. But I did have an easy non-romantic relationship with many of the boys in my class. We worked together in a friendly manner on the yearbook and the school newspaper.
If I have any advice for other persons with OI or a similar disease, I would say that the best strategy is to develop such friendships and hope for the best sometime in the future. Ultimately, I feel that I had learned, perhaps too well, to cope during this period of my life. Overcompensation can have its price.
As explained in the previous chapter, I had a serious fracture just before the end of my senior year, and slow recovery, in part due to a second fracture thereafter. These, as noted, prevented me from proceeding directly to college. Through my illnesses I was cheered by a bevy of girlfriends who came to see me regularly, and during the fallow year I also did a little tutoring. One student was a rather recalcitrant and impetuous boy, Roger Stromme, who had lost his leg and needed assistance to keep up with his schoolwork. I had worked previously for a time during the school year as a soda jerk at Howie's Soda Lunch, also probably not wise considering the wear and tear on my already fragile leg and the low pay of thirty-five cents an hour. To be sure, this was better than the fifteen cents per hour one would be paid as baby sitter, also potentially hazardous duty. Then for one summer I had worked as a clerk in the law office of Roy Hendrickson, my second cousin LeRoy's lawyer.
In the interval while waiting to go off to college, I was invited by my sister Lucile and her husband to join them in a trip to California to see Ione, who had married Melbourne Wilson, a kindly widower who owned considerable property in Englewood. Lucile, whom we always called Tiny, had herself been married in 1946 to Clinton Knapp in a wedding that took place on a cold winter day at Aitken. Now I would go with them to a much warmer climate. I managed the trip by train to Los Angeles on crutches. We found Ione's affluent new friends pleasant but somewhat superficial. One of the nicest was a widow, Claire Nilsson, who, with Ione, arranged to have me give a concert at a local church. She later married James Minor, a relative of Carrie Jacobs Bond, the composer of "I Love You Truly." Life focused on one's house and puppy dog, for Ione had a Chihuahua, hardly seemed fulfilling to me. At night the little doggie slept in my bed, and I woke to find him covered with fleas. We also experienced a mild earthquake while we were there. I was anxious to continue my education. State senator Harry Wahlstrand, who also had been my history teacher, helped me to obtain a scholarship from the Crippled Children's Fund so that I could attend Bethel College beginning in the fall term of 1949.
Higher Education on Crutches
and Without, with Interruptions
My cousin Jim Nyquist drove me to St. Paul where Bethel College was then located. It was a set of six rather stolid buildings set on a city block on Snelling Avenue, north of the state fair grounds. The oldest were the seminary building and the classroom building, neither in mint condition. Once I would be engaged in reading in a little study room in the latter when the door handle fell off, and there was nothing for me to do but to pound frantically on the door and cry out for help. My shouts were heard by the beloved German instructor, Miss Effie Nelson, who reinserted the door handle so that I could replace the inner knob and let myself out.
Bethel had been a two-year institution, joined to the Swedish Baptist seminary which occupied one of the buildings, but now was to offer baccalaureate degrees. The influx of older men attending under the GI Bill for veterans of World War II helped to expand many institutions, and in the case of Bethel was just enough to make possible a four-year program. I probably expected far too much, and was willing to give back too little, to be fully satisfied with the year I spent there. In retrospect, I owe a great deal to this little college, which has moved to a new location and recently has grown to the point that it has decided to call itself a university.
To my cousin I said, "This is going to open up a whole new world for me." He maintained his reserved demeanor and did not seem particularly impressed with my effusiveness. But in a sense, in spite of the closemindedness that I encountered in some quarters at Bethel, it was there that I began my journey as an adult. I signed up for the usual freshman courses in English, history, German, and science, consisting of botany and zoology, though in neither of the latter did anyone dare to speak the word "evolution" out loud. And I am not sure that my history professor, Kenneth Norquist, quite understood the theological distinctions surrounding the Eucharist and similar issues as they impinged on events in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Otherwise, these courses were very respectable in the way they were taught, and I only wish that I would have practiced better study habits than the ones I brought from high school.
For my music study I was fortunate to be able to take piano lessons from C. Howard Smith, who also directed the college mixed chorus. He was new to the college that fall and brought with him a solid conservatory training. C. Howard was the music department. He would continue to teach at Bethel for the rest of his career. Along the way, in spite of a heavy work schedule, he eventually earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. His advisor was Johannes Riedel, who was also my dissertation advisor, and his topic was Scandinavian hymns. In revised form, his work was later published as an American Theological Library Association monograph. I was very touched when he wrote in my copy of his book "You have been a real inspiration for me to finish this book." It seemed remarkable to me that so many years later the small freshman on crutches who studied with him could in turn be found inspiring by her former teacher. I probably did not do his teaching justice when at the end of the year, with a raging fever and a sore throat that might have been symptoms of infectious mononucleosis, I played Camille Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre as if from a fog in my recital on the grand piano in the chapel in the seminary building.
Mrs. Sophus Larson, who was an excellent technician, had taught on her baby grand. It perhaps should have seemed like a come-down to have lessons on an upright piano, but C. Howard had arranged two uprights side by side in the tiny room on the third floor so that he could play along and demonstrate. Unfortunately, lessons were not nearly as frequent as in retrospect I would have liked, and voice lessons were not with him but with Mr. Edward Larson. In order to pay for my voice instruction, I accompanied his other students. One of these was reputed to be a lesbian, of whom in my ignorance I was afraid, but in bad weather once I was forced to take her arm to go back to my room in the residence hall. She and her roommate broke the rules by locking the door to their room, and of course rumors of their relationship generated a scandal among the students. We were all required to be in our rooms by 10:00 every night.
Most Bethel students were, of course, easily scandalized, and in such a small evangelical college there was bound to be considerable cattiness. One evening my best friends, Barbara Mullin, Kathleen Lewis, and Lois Mitchell, and I were invited by some of the other girls to their prayer meeting. The lights were turned down, and we kneeled. To my total surprise and absolute annoyance they prayed for forgiveness for talking about me and my friends. I fell back, landing on my posterior. My friends and I had laughed a great deal, and had been therefore the subject of their gossip. The men were just as bad. One day in the fall when I was passing by the football practice, crutching along with my books under my arm, my undies started dropping to the ground. On account of my poverty, I still often wore cast-offs. At last, after trying to maintain the undies in place without dropping my books, they fell down around my ankles. I was able to reach down to scoop them up, and to the football player who came over to help me I said, "My slip just came down." Later in the women's lavatory I overheard his girlfriend, Hazel, telling the story, along with his comment on it: "I don't think it was her slip." The gales of laughter stopped as I crutched in, and everyone became very quiet.
My other favorite teacher was John Purvis Woods, a Presby-terian minister and a part-time instructor at the college who had a reputation for being an exacting teacher. There were some readings assigned in his course, and included among these was Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. But the main thrust was English composition, which he made interesting and exciting. I am not so sure that my class paper on George Bernard Shaw was exactly a masterpiece of writing, but it passed muster with him. At the end of the term, he saw me crutching along and came up to me, and said, "I've given one A" -- then tapped me on the head with his grade-book, and added, "You're it."
As a choir director, C. Howard was also perfectionistic but in a kindly way. His repertoire for that year, I remember, included a composition by Samuel Wesley which was my first experience with fine Anglican church music, Johannes Brahms' "How lovely is thy dwelling" from the German Requiem, Swedish music, and the obligatory, for Minnesota choirs, African-American spirituals. The choir tour took us all the way to Denver and environs, where we sang at probably every Swedish Baptist church in the region. We went by bus, and stayed in parishioner's homes, where I was occasionally given special attention on account of my disability. On returning home in triumph I got myself mired in mud. Bob Stassen, also a choir member and the nephew of the progressive Republican governor of Minnesota, Harold Stassen, came to my rescue. Unknown to him, he had a long-time injury to his back, so that when he lifted me he heard a snap in his back which left him tilting to one side. The old injury was corrected, but one leg had become three inches shorter than the other, he later said.
My childhood friend Marilyn Bangston came to see me, and commented negatively on the five buildings on the block which, not counting the seminary, then made up the college. She was a student at St. Cloud State Teachers' College and encouraged me to transfer since she thought I would find that school more congenial. In contrast to my high school in which I had felt quite comfortable, I had never been fully accepted at Bethel -- and, to put it the other way around, I had also never quite accepted the atmosphere of piety that such close association with the seminary probably promoted. One student, who had helped me with my tray in the cafeteria, said to me after I had thanked him that I "would have a perfect body in heaven," a remark that I thought was officious and an insult. Yet there was a sense of loss when I did go away to St. Cloud, especially since there was no one there who could match C. Howard. Though I have long ago left my Baptist roots behind, I still feel a loyalty to Bethel above the other institutions that I attended -- except, of course, the University of Minnesota, which would grant me a doctorate in 1975.
So, with help from a Vocational Rehabilitation scholarship from the state of Minnesota, I went up by bus to St. Cloud in the fall of 1950, where I tried to enroll as a dual Music and English major. I remember that tuition was ninety dollars per year, plus $45 for music lessons. Harvey Waugh, a violinist who also had been given the task of conducting both the college orchestra and the choir, told me that I would have such a difficult time of it teaching music (for I would have to travel from one school to another in small towns where he assumed I would be employed) that I should plan on being an English teacher and take a music minor instead. Besides, he said, my scores in English were so high that the English department would not allow me to do otherwise, and further a double major would take too many years to complete. I had been able to put aside my crutches, but my walking was not particularly steady, so I acquiesced. I now regard this as a put-down on account of my disability. My major interest was always in music in spite of activities that I took on, such as writing for the College Chronicle, the weekly paper.
I should mention that it was when I was working on the Chronicle that I met my future husband. We had met but not talked until, when, while working on the paper in the shed-like World War II structure behind the old library which served as the editorial offices, we were overtaken by an early winter storm. Clifford escorted me home through the snow, which was already about six inches deep. He seemed very serious, and when he told me that he was thirty, I believed him. I think at the time he had just turned eighteen.
I roomed with Mrs. Hurley in a house immediately across from Stewart Hall, which housed many classrooms, rehearsal space, auditorium, and offices. She was, to say the least, stingy and crabby. When I whistled as I came down the stairs, she complained, and she made a point that toilet paper was to be used "for nothing else" than for what it was intended, for she resented the lipstick stains that she found on the paper scraps in the wastebasket. For each phone call one was supposed to put down a dime. But my roommates, Marcie Rinta and Marge Osaben, were congenial, and I found friends to go with me to attend cultural events, such as they were in St. Cloud. In addition to concerts, these included seeing Laurence Olivier's Hamlet and Sergei Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, with Sergei Prokofiev's music and its spectacular battle scenes, so different from the sanitized violence in the American cinema. Impressive as Nevsky was, its projection of violence could not fail to be a reminder of the conflict that had blossomed into a full-scale Cold War. The autumn saw General MacArthur's march to the Yalu River that would precipitate the entry of China into the Korean War, and this would cast a cloud over the student body, from which the draft would snatch a young man now and then if he were not enrolled in enough classes or if his grade point average slumped. Instead of rebellion, as would be the case during the Vietnam War, students turned inward and conformed for the most part. Most of the professors were likewise cautious, since many around the country had lost their jobs when accused of being Reds or Pinks, the latter being Communist sympathizers. Even at the University of Minnesota Paul Robeson would be banned from singing, according to an official statement that was reported in the press, because allegedly his presentation would give no one a chance to refute the ideas expressed in his songs, most of them simply African-American spirituals.
St. Cloud, with its heavy concentration of conservative German Catholics, was a very strange community at that time and supportive of the Anti-Communist crusade as it was playing out in the efforts of the House Un-American Activities Committee and of Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. I must admit that I hardly noticed. From time to time I attended the Swedish Baptist church across the Mississippi River from the campus and found it a source of both security and warmth. Yet I was already drifting away from radical sectarian religion in spite of my respect for much of what it stands. But I did, in spite of having many silly moments with my friends, take my music lessons seriously. Ruth Gant, my piano teacher, had studied with Rudolf Ganz in Chicago, and had therefore received first-class training. I was not as pleased with Helen Steen Huls, my voice teacher, whose ideas about voice production did me little good. She believed that the singing tone should come from the diaphragm, which to her meant that one should squeeze tone out of one like an accordion instead of allowing it to float freely. Others, who of course did not have my already constricted chest due to my OI, benefitted, and many were very devoted to her.
Miss Gant also taught music theory. I already had been given a good beginning in theory when I studied with Mrs. Sophus Larson, and now strove successfully to be the star student in the class. The class was taught in the music building, an old house next to the gymnasium that was mainly devoted to lessons. It was toward the end of the year, while laughing and joking with my fellow students as I was walking down stairs to theory class, that I fell down and broke both legs. Previously I had always been picked up and placed in a car to be taken to the hospital, so this was my first ride in an ambulance. Dr. Brigham, a skilled orthopedic surgeon, pinned my left leg and set the right femur. Many friends, including Clifford, came to see me in the hospital, but then I had to go home to my parents' home in Willmar for convalescence. I would not return to college until I could walk again, in the fall of 1952. Learning to walk, as always, was a slow process and caused another year of delay in my education. But by then I had received money from my uncle Lew's estate that allowed me to cover my own expenses, and enough additional money was promised by the executor, his nephew LeRoy, that I should have been able to finish my course of study. In the meantime, that additional money was invested in his turkey farm venture.
As an English major, I was required to take a course in World Literature, taught by a professor named Arthur Wormhoudt, who was without doubt the most controversial instructor on the campus. He had a Harvard Ph.D., and had worked with the psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler. Nowadays psychoanalysis is hardly news, but to the rather conservative students at St. Cloud Art's method of close reading and interpretation raised lots of hackles. He had worked out his own system, which as my husband reminds me was organic rather than mechanical. The works that were required reading in the year-long course, extending over three quarters, comprised great literature of the West and some non-Western as well. Because he knew all the languages, except I think Chinese, he was a remarkable source of knowledge, though not particularly appreciated by most of the students. In the year I left St. Cloud, he would be under pressure from the college administration, then led by a rather tyrannical president known to have threatened his faculty in order to maintain smooth public relations. Of course it was a time when there was a tendency of the public to support repression. If reports are correct, the president treated the professors, most of them better educated than he, like hired help, and had even less respect for students. The better ones all vigorously defended Art in a meeting with the department chair, but I think the last literature course he was allowed to teach was during the spring term that also was my last at St. Cloud. Art, who eventually was to teach at a small Quaker college in Iowa, would actually make a life's work of translating an immense quantity of Arabic poetry, beginning, I believe, with selections from the Diwan of the great poet known as al Mutanabbi. Once he gave us a large box of books at a time when we had little money to purchase anything ourselves. He has been our lifelong friend, though for many years at a distance. Only once did he and his wife Pearl, who was a voice teacher, stop at our house in Kalamazoo. We were happy to learn that their son Jody, whom we remember as a precocious pre-school child, had developed a serious interest in early music.
Of course I also continued studying music and singing with the mixed chorus. I do not remember Mr. Waugh as a bad musician, but his choice of music was designed to build up the kind of repertoire that one would need as a high school teacher. Then too I had to take an onerous number of required courses, including education classes. The music education classes were mediocre and ultimately not useful to me, and some of the others were definitely what we called "armpit" courses, respected by no one, and from the standpoint of my future development utterly worthless. There is a story that was passed around about someone listening under the transom (so this must refer to classroom buildings like Old Main, demolished before I arrived at St. Cloud) who heard an education professor patiently explaining: "There are three kinds of glee clubs: boys' glee clubs, girls' glee clubs, and mixed glee clubs." Tests were often multiple choice or true and false, and of the type that had baffled me in my history class at Bethel. On the other hand, my competitive nature came to the fore in my music classes and private lessons. And I continued writing for the Chronicle, for which I produced a few feature columns, and in my first year back the co-editor was Clifford. We still have some of my columns, which in retrospect were mostly silly but nevertheless at the time regarded as delightful, I was told. As an example, on 11 November 1952, I wrote: "You've probably heard about the hermit who was arrested for speeding, but did you hear what the judge charged him with? Recluse driving." Not very serious stuff, obviously. There was also an element of frivolity when I received a twenty-five dollar scholarship, a generous amount in those days, from a private donor. With the money I bought a concert dress for performance and also, I am afraid, a hat. The purchase of the hat still embarrasses me.
My roommate, at Shoemaker Hall, was Marianna Anderson, an art major, who was that kind of steady person whom one with a disability needs to have at hand. She was later to teach art in a suburban school system in the Minneapolis area until her retirement, and after both her parents died she continued to live in her parental home and to attend the same Lutheran church in St. Paul. In the summer of 1953, we went together along with my mother to visit my sister Ione in California. There was a scene on the way out when my mother caught Marianna and me playing cards with a Roman Catholic priest on the train -- a double transgression, since she approved of neither cards nor the Roman Catholic Church. Ione and her husband had purchased a house at Dana Point, where Richard Henry Dana, the author of Two Years before the Mast, had loaded hides onto a ship. We also took a side trip, by bus, up to Bakersfield to see Marcie Rinta, now Swords, who had shared the trials of living at Mrs. Hurley's and whose brother I had dated very briefly. In Bakersfield the temperature was 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the fall I took an interest in a literary magazine, nuance, that Clifford was editing, and was delighted when he would stop by Shoe Hall to talk. A coterie of more intellectual students had developed. In addition to Clifford, these included Betty Briggs, who would have a nervous breakdown that year, Bruce Bullard and Paul Bryan from my home town, Pat Goodhand, an art major, and Sam Wenstrom, who like me had a disfigured frame. I contributed a pair of short poems that echoed of T. S. Eliot, whose popularity was at its height then. Sam, however, was the one who created the cover for the spring issue, which caused all sorts of trouble because it was considered too risque (actually, it was quite staid) and caused the thunder of local zealots to come down on Clifford and the college, with the college president threatening the faculty to acquiesce in his suspension of the publication. Even the governor of the state, C. Elmer Anderson, denounced it, undoubtedly a political ploy to get re-elected, which he wasn't. Afterward some of Clifford's friends produced a small mimeographed publication called Fizzle, which was announced as claiming "complete independency from finance, jurisdiction, or otherwise harassing influences surrounding ordinary and mortal collegiate publications." As a vehicle for satiric commentary on the nuance affair, it was, though amateurishly produced, an oblique attempt at vindicating what had been really quite a nice little student literary magazine. Fizzle never went on to a second issue. Fortunately, Clifford had already graduated when the storm broke, and I had left, not yet finished with my degree, to marry.
After the fall term of my final year at St. Cloud, my poverty and sadness over my father's latest hospitalization led me to drop out for a term and to find work in Minneapolis at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, a church with eight thousand members who needed to be accommodated each Sunday. I was a research assistant to the Rev. Reuben Youngdahl, the brother of the then governor, though I am not sure how useful I was. But for me it was a good experience, and the Rev. Youngdahl was very comforting to me since my father was going through a mood swing that had necessitated institutionaliza-tion once more. I sang in the choir under a very good director, Edith Byquist Norberg, and was able to study voice with Eileen Bellino, the leader of the soprano section and the best vocal technician with whom I had yet studied. Clifford had offered to come to see me. On Christmas eve he sat with me when I had to answer the phone in the church office, and when we went over to a service (for there were many) he was careful to take a program to show his aunt, with whom he was staying. When Mrs. Norberg directed Brahms' German Requiem, I sang in the choir and enjoyed her precision. And Clifford came back to visit several times through the end of January. We heard Walter Gieseking, the great German pianist, play a Debussy concert at Northrup auditorium. We left when he started to play Claire d'lune, since we knew that this would be his last encore. By this time it was obvious that we were very much attracted to each other. At first I lived in a small apartment near Lake Street, and we would go to a pub where we could talk long into the night. I still remember the man who stood up by the bar and proclaimed, "I am Timoshenko, the great Irish-Russian general." He seemed, at least in my memory, always to be there. The Soviet general Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko was not, of course, Irish in any sense.
After I returned to St. Cloud for the spring term, Clifford and I were inseparable and took as many classes together as we could. One was St. Cloud's only philosophy class (I know this is hard to believe), but to give the instructor, actually a well-educated clinical psychologist, credit, we received a good introductory survey of various schools of philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the early twentieth century. Neither one of us had any money beyond what was needed to complete the term. Somehow Clifford scraped up enough to pay for an engagement ring, which later we allowed the jewelry store to take back until we had paid for our gold wedding bands -- and then later sold, which will tell you how poor we were in those days. We were married by my family's minister in a small ceremony on 4 July 1954 at my sister Lorraine's house in Litchfield, Minnesota. Betty Briggs played the piano, and the best man was Sam Wenstrom. Marianna Anderson was my maid of honor, and my niece Janet was of course the flower girl. I had made my own dress, and, aside from my sister's contribution to the event, I think the total cost was thirty-five dollars. I was very happy to be marrying someone whom I admired so much. We rode to St. Paul with Clifford's aunt and her stepdaughter and her husband, and of course thereafter would need to rely, as we had before, on public trans-portation, which was much better in those days than it is now. Clifford had a summer job at the municipal hospital and had a few days off only, but before long our time was spoiled by a recurrence of mononucleosis, from which several weeks were required before I felt fully well again.
Thus with my marriage the first phase of my higher education had come to an end, and without a diploma. In time, as we were living in St. Paul, I would take an evening course in the novel at the University of Minnesota while working at the state capitol for the department of public property. In those days there was no thought about security, and one could see the governor in the building from time to time. My job was very boring, though I was happy to have it and to be among pleasant co-workers. I had earlier been turned down for a job, on account of my disability, by Montgomery Ward, and I confess I wept. Other businesses were less open about their unwillingness to hire a person with my condition.
In the summer, I had enrolled for some non-credit organ lessons from Theodore Bergman at McPhail Conservatory, though I lacked an instrument on which to practice, and then later for several months I studied voice with Robert Holliday, who helped me immensely with repertoire. I was able to add to my knowledge and love of the German Lied, and he introduced me to the songs of Elizabethan lutenist school that were then available in the editions of Edmund Fellowes and to the songs of Charles Ives, who was then almost unknown. I was especially delighted by Ives' "At the River," which transformed an old gospel song into a modernist masterpiece, and John Dowland's "In Darkness Let Me Dwell," which might have been written when the composer was in residence at the court of the king of Denmark -- and certainly was worthy of any king's court. Mr. Holliday had a phenomenal sense of pitch, and was the best sight-reader I had yet met. It was said that he had no need of a tuning fork to tune up his choir at Hamline University, and that, as the saying is among musicians for such people, he could read flyspecks on the wall. He was obviously very pleased with me, and confided that, when he saw a lazy or incompetent student crossing the campus to his class, he wished that he or she would break a leg.
Good concerts were, in spite of our poverty, sometimes within our reach. We heard Elizabeth Schwarzkopf on her first American tour as well as the Minneapolis (now Minnesota) Symphony, but we missed Fischer Dieskau, who would also become a legendary singer. I longed for a piano, and was able to obtain one only in the spring when we moved from Holly Avenue to another apartment in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. I was able to buy, for a very small sum, an old but very serviceable Knabe piano and to fit it into the tiny two-room apartment with shared bath. I could again practice my music. Clifford was very involved at first with his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and then, when we were too short of money for him to continue in the spring, with substitute teaching. Things changed in May 1955, as I have explained above, when I fell on the sidewalk and was transported by a city ambulance to St. Joseph Hospital, where my right femur was set by Dr. Chatterton. For a time I would be returned to the small apartment in a body cast until I could be moved by being lifted into Everett and Arloueen Nyman's large car, placed crosswise in the back seat, and driven the one hundred miles to my mother's house, where we would stay for the summer.
In the fall, Clifford took a high school teaching job at Howard Lake, Minnesota, located on U.S. Highway 12 and about forty miles west of Minneapolis. I first borrowed a wheelchair, then learned to walk, somewhat unsteadily, on crutches again. The Presbyterians, whose church was accessible to me, invited me to sing in their choir, and I taught piano privately. I particularly enjoyed the company of the librarian, Herbert Rowe, and his wife Fran. Of Cornish descent from tin mining stock, he was a marvelous story teller, and I wish I could remember all the tales he told. Herb had joined the Navy before finishing high school by lying about his age, as many did during World War II, then after the war had gone through the University of Minnesota on the GI Bill all the way to his master's degree in library science. I was inspired to return to the University, and the next summer both of us were off to the "U" again for a summer session -- one of those pressurized five-and-one-half week sessions that I was myself later to teach as a visiting instructor there after I received my doctorate. With help from Clifford's aunt Lena, we had been able to purchase a car, a 1953 Hillman Minx which we imagined would be cheaper to run than an American gas hog. Clifford and I had a class together, and I also enrolled in a course on John Milton, about whom I thought I should know something, if only whether it was true that he was a terrible misogynist. But my main effort went into piano, which I studied with Bernard Weiser, a distinguished concert pianist who had also been a regular with the Boston Pops for many years. I practiced as many hours at my Knabe as I could -- more than the three hours a day that Mr. Weiser said Artur Rubinstein had suggested to him to be optimal.
My hopes of continuing my education would be put "on hold," as the saying is, for nearly three years. My husband had only been able to receive a deferment for the last year on account of my health, and now, contrary to our hopes, his draft board decided in favor of conscription. After basic training, he was sent to the Granite City Engineer Depot where he became editor of the post newspaper and eventually would be promoted to corporal. We lived the whole time in a tiny and grubby apartment on the first floor of a small building back of a house in the steel town of Granite City, Illinois. The only good thing about the apartment was that there were no steps. The dust from the steel mills was black, and came in daily. At first we received only $145 per month on which to live, though after the first year of his tour of duty and Cliff's promotion to the equivalent of corporal we were getting a princely $225, with enough to buy (on time payments) a Steinway upright piano, which had to be brought into the apartment through the window. Even though we still were not able to afford a telephone, I did manage to take some voice lessons with William Heyne in St. Louis across the Mississippi, but his ideas about vocal production were quite disappointing. I was still using crutches for walking any distance, and really could not venture out without help. The trips to my voice lessons were at times facilitated by Sally Krischke and Jane Smith, two warm-hearted young Southern women, also wives of draftees. Jane is now an ordained Episcopal priest at Asheville, North Carolina. I was not able to find employment as a church musician, in part I think because I lacked a college degree but also because of my handicap. At last I took on the task of organist at the post chapel, which was a temporary building outfitted with an electronic Wurlitzer organ, the worst "toaster" I have ever tried to play. I was too poor to buy music, so I wrote my own compositions based on traditional chorales and improvised until a colonel and his wife gave me money to take to the very good music shop in St. Louis, where I purchased some books of organ preludes. Twenty-five dollars would buy a pile of music in those days. Parking on the street outside the store was still five cents an hour.
The chaplain at the Depot was Philip Schroeder, who also was a professor at Concordia Seminary in the days before it was purged of all "liberal" (including all ecumenically-minded) faculty. He and his wife Hattie became our fast friends, and we were frequent visitors at their apartment in St. Louis. The Rev. Schroeder was, at a fairly advanced age, still working on his dissertation on Philipp Spener, the German pietist, and hence he had a great interest in the outpouring of chorales and hymns by such composers as Johann Crüger, whose music I found inspiring, as once it had been for Johann Sebastian Bach. He also introduced me to the seventeenth-century Norwegian Thomas Kingo, on whose hymn "On my heart Imprint Thine Image" I based one of my compositions. At Concordia, we met Walter Buszin, then one of the most respected musicians in the church music field, and Clifford was treated to a visit to the seminary library with its collection of very rare books. After leaving the army, we saw Phil only once again, when he read a paper, on Spener and medieval mysticism, at the third conference on medieval studies held at our university in 1966.
In May 1958 we moved back to Minnesota, temporarily to Clifford's uncle Anton in St. Paul while Clifford took further classes at the University. We could live with him free, except that we had to take care of the food and cooking. He had been a machinist, and a very good one who had kept the street cars in the Twin Cities running until eventually they were all replaced with buses. His hearing had been impaired by the work, and this could lead to some confusion at times. For example, I temporarily took in a homeless kitten, and he said, "You shouldn't take in a stray like that; it might have rabbis." I tried in a loud voice to explain, in terms that he would understand, that "you mean rabies; a rabbi is a Jewish priest." "It's the same thing," he said. Obviously he had not heard me at all. Then in the fall Clifford took a position teaching at the Atwater schools, within easy driving distance, even in Minnesota winters, from Willmar, where we rented a house on Olaf Street on the north side of town. We moved my piano and other furnishings from my parents' house, and I began again to build up a piano practice. We even had interesting neighbors in Karl and Helen Thurn, who had written a book of local history together. And we started singing in the choir at Bethel Lutheran Church since I had been leaning toward Lutheranism with my organ repertoire and study of the music of Bach. Clifford also had a Lutheran back-ground. I also did some ghost writing for the pastor -- something I now would not feel to be honest in spite of the fact that I helped him keep some commitments.
It was in this house, on one evening coming in out of the cold while Clifford parked the car in the garage, that I was careless and fell, with even more dire results than previously. Now I would need to be confined to a wheelchair, though when somewhat recovered, I could walk with assistance, sometimes with the additional help of crutches. My mother was again called on to help take care of me at her house. But Clifford's decision to take the Atwater job turned out to be a mistake since the whole Atwater school system was in serious disarray. The superintendent was an alcoholic who would be fired a year or two later, and there was a very bad attitude among the students. Clifford told me that one of them, who thought classical music sounded all the same, asked if there was enough available to extend over a week of concerts. He should have said, "Yes, and enough for different repertoire every night for the rest of your life." He and the school system came to a mutual agreement to release him from his contract so that he could return to his studies -- and have the use of the medical facilities, including the university hospital, at the "U" -- in the spring term. This was a good thing for me as well, since I would be able to take a class in Bach's compositional style, offered in the evening by Paul Fetler, a fine composer whose work I respected very much. We were staying at uncle Anton's again, where we would remain through the summer. Clifford had applied for a graduate assistantship for the fall, and was accepted at Wayne State University, which had been recommended to him by Betty Chmaj, a doctoral student we had met in 1956. She had studied and taught at Wayne State, and Clifford was told later that her letter of recommendation had made the difference in their evaluation of his application.
In the summer as we were preparing to leave Minnesota, I worked for a time as a rehearsal pianist in the Kugler ballet studio. The proprietor also possessed an amazing collection of old instruments, ranging from broken mandolins and Civil War period brass instruments to harmoniums with mouse-eaten bellows, even old mechanical phonographs. These were all placed helter-skelter in his private museum, if one could call it that. Nothing was restored so far as we could see, and many of the instruments were covered with dust. His ballet school was even more chaotic. Arrangements had been made for a fine ballet teacher to come in from Cairo, but in very short time she decided to return to Egypt. This left a male dancer, who really was quite good, as their principal teacher. As we sat with him over coffee in a nearby restaurant, he confessed that he was extremely worried about himself since he was losing track of time. When fairly soon after this he descended into a schizophrenic state, teaching had to stop for the rest of the summer so that the school could reorganize and new teachers could be hired.
Singing My Way Through
We set out for Detroit in late August 1959, and arrived to find that through a misunderstanding our friends, Betty Chmaj and her husband John, had not yet returned from their vacation. We stayed in a hotel near Henry Ford Hospital overnight, quite uncertain whether we were making the right decision to come to this city. We were exhausted, since the trip was much more tiring in the days before the expressway system was completed, and Clifford arrived with an infection, related to the illness for which he had been treated at the University of Minnesota Hospital. The next day we easily found an apartment on Rochester Avenue, an area where, we found, crime would start to rise. While we were very opposed to segregation, the area was beginning to experience not only white flight but also an influx of people from a high crime area that had been leveled by urban renewal. During the riots of 1967 we saw a photo in a Detroit newspaper of the nearest intersection to our apartment, and there was an army tank in the middle of it. The apartment itself was small, only two rooms, with a Murphy bed that folded down out of the wall, but it was furnished and inexpensive, I think fifty-five dollars per month. I then set out to find a job, since Clifford's assistantship only paid $1800, for which he would be expected to teach two classes of freshman English each semester.
The job that I found was as a clerk typist at Ford Hospital, where I assisted the head of nursing, Miss Moran. I would work the evening shift, which meant that I would be finished with work at 11:00 p.m. This left me time to take classes in the day at Wayne State University, but, unlike the University of Minnesota, entrance to the university involved more than just signing up. However, I was told that if I entered through the College of Education as a provisional student, I could then transfer to the College of Liberal Arts, and this is what I would do. I signed on for another class in music theory and composition, from Dr. Margery Stomne Selden. She would remain a lifelong friend, at the last settling, after many detours, in Portage, a suburb of the city where I now live. Her Ph.D. was received at a young age from Yale, where she had studied with the famous Leo Schrade -- so she was not all that much older than I! I also was directed into the Girls' Glee Club, which was conducted by Malcolm Johns, who had begun his musical career as a chorister at the Episcopal cathedral in Detroit and, after his military service and education at Oberlin College, had been an assistant to Robert Shaw. Very soon I was acting more or less as Malcolm's unpaid assistant.
When the glee club was asked to perform for an event which the university president, Clarence Hillberry, was organizing, one of his underlings suggested to Malcolm that it would be a good idea not to invite women of color to sing. Malcolm himself was partly of Arabic descent, for his father had been brought to New York by an uncle whose consignment of rugs had been stolen, after which he disappeared, leaving the young boy alone and abandoned in a hotel room. Adopted by a Baptist couple, he had gone into the ministry and served a church in Flint, Michigan, until driven out by the Ku Klux Klan. His son was staunchly in the civil rights camp. For the president's event, we recruited every African-American girl in the group to sing. Charlayne Hunter (later Gault), who later would be an interviewer for the Public Broadcasting System, may have been a member of the glee club at this time. A more lasting accomplish-ment for the glee club was the cooperation with the Detroit Symphony under Paul Paray to record Claude Debussy's Sirens. Malcolm was of course the person listed on the long-playing record, and later on the compact disk reissue, as the glee club's director, but I had a significant share in the preparations for the performance, for I even would arrive at the university's music building at 7:00 a.m., before any classes were scheduled, to run rehearsals. The final recording, which was done by Mercury in the auditorium of Cass Tech High School, is not flawless, but in many ways pleases me more than any other recording of the Sirens and the other nocturns in the series that I have heard. Paray, an old man at this time and nearing the end of his career, was simply a wonderful interpreter of impressionistic music. And, being only twenty-four years younger than Debussy, he had imbibed the milieu of impressionism as later conductors of course had not.
When we arrived in Detroit, however, I do not think we felt at home until we were invited to an English Department picnic in September 1959 and I met the Schuellers. Herbert, the department chair, and his wife Gertrude were from Minnesota. It was when Gertrude said to me, "You are from Minnesota; let me touch you," that I felt we were in the place where we belonged. When they found out I loved to sing the Lieder of Schubert, Schumann, and Hugo Wolf, they very soon invited me to their house. They had two grand pianos, and both were very competent pianists. Herbert, who had studied at Juilliard, spent his childhood on a farm near Mankato. When he was asked what he would like to be when he grew up, he replied, "A bishop," because bishops live not in the country but in the city. He once accompanied my singing for a public performance; it was a concert in which I also did some duets with his daughter Barbara. But until we moved away from Detroit we often just read through music at his house, and after we left for Kalamazoo we visited them, or they visited us, until Herbert's health and mine became too frail to travel.
After a time, Herbert hired me to tutor in the English Department's composition clinic, where students were given help to pass the English literacy test required for graduation from the College of Liberal Arts. I resigned from my hospital job, but was asked to continue on a part-time basis. Because I could spell I had got on well with Miss Moran, who was a harridan and not above pulling the hair of a nurses' aide when she was angry. By this time I also had yet another job, for I was singing professionally at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, where Malcolm Johns was organist and music director. Finally, when I was no longer needed at the hospital, I came to work and found all my things dumped out of my desk onto the floor. This surprise was a rude way to terminate one's employment, but it was typical of Miss Moran. It was adding insult to injury, since this job had by then become an unnecessary burden, and I was only continuing to work as a favor. I am sure that she never learned that I had become friends with Dr. Frank Sladen, formerly the head of the hospital and a member of the church where I sang professionally.
The church was a really fine stone Gothic structure which had been funded by a single family as a memorial in about 1929. After a guest appearance in the fall of 1959, I started singing there as a member of the all-professional chancel choir in the new year and, with a hiatus after my injury in the auto accident that occurred in 1963, I would continue until we left for Western Michigan University in 1965. Grosse Pointe Memorial was affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, but the layout of the building and some aspects of the services seemed more Anglican than Presbyterian. The starting salary at first was $1200 per year, later $1350, for singing for two services weekly, at 9:00 and 11:00, with a five-week vacation in the summer. The raise in salary took place about the time when Clifford would be signed on as a full-time instructor in English for $5600 for an academic year. Substitutes, however, had to be paid out of one's own fees for singing. There were eight stalls in the chancel that always had to be filled in the regular season. On the Sunday morning when my mother died in 1964, I was told I had to come in and sing. Naturally I was crying, but the singing, as Malcolm had believed, was therapeutic.
People at the church were always kind to me, and, though I had to be helped into my choir stall, no one seemed to mind. There were, of course, tensions, since this was the early 1960s during the civil rights struggle, and the suburb of Grosse Pointe as yet had no African-American residents. The head minister, the Rev. Bert Atwood, used his pulpit to further the cause of reconciliation, and he did so powerfully, sometimes Sunday after Sunday, for he knew he was speaking to some influential individuals such as the CEO of Hudson's Department Store who always sat in the front row as well as various automobile executives from the (then) Big Four auto companies. Fred Adams of American Motors, and also a trustee of Western Michigan University, and his wife Mary Grace became my special friends, and I was briefly to have as a friend Marcelline Hemingway Sanford, the sister of Ernest Hemingway. In fact, I think I was the last person outside her family to see her in the hospital when she was dying of cancer. I still have an autographed copy of her book, At the Hemingways: The Years of Innocence, which she presented to me as a gift.
The parishioners at Grosse Pointe Memorial were also very supportive of Malcolm's music program. When he arrived, the organ was quite unsatisfactory, so it was decided to have a new one built for the church. The then minister (this was before my time also) asked during a worship service if anyone would be willing to donate a new instrument, and one lady volunteered. After the organ, built by the Möller company, was installed, she confessed to Malcolm that she did not initially know what she was getting into. She thought that one would go down to Grinnell's music store and pay down $20,000, and that would be it. But, she said, "when I received the bill for $90,000 it set me back a little." This was, of course, in the mid-1950s when one could still buy a soft drink for a dime. Unfortunately, Malcolm was not at all satisfied with the new organ, for it was troublesome and also tonally not as satisfactory as he could have wished, even considering the taste in organ design of the time. For several Sundays running it was necessary to have the Möller technician sitting in the congregation in case of a cipher or other problem that might be serious enough to shut down the instrument. Later, the congregation would replace this instrument, and my friend Mary Grace Adams would be on the organ committee that made the choice. I have only heard the new instrument on a recording since it was installed following the one time I was back to the church after leaving Detroit so many years ago.
By 1959-60 when I came on the scene, Malcolm had already introduced much new and better repertoire, some of it very demanding, and I encouraged him in this. His expectations were high. There were times when we sight-read a piece without previous practicing, and were expected to turn out a perfect performance. I still remember, however, the time that, at the beginning of a service, Malcolm handed us the score of a polyphonic motet by Adriaan Willaert which we had not rehearsed. The piece was a tricky one, and by the end we were not at all together -- rather catastrophic for polyphony. He held up two fingers. We started again -- another catastrophe. Then he held up three fingers, and we knew we could not afford to fail this time. By now some of the people in the front pews were laughing, but this time carry it off we did. Malcolm was a wonderful conductor who could make sense out of any piece of music, for he worked from the internal meaning of the piece outward, while other conductors too often tended mechanically to work the other way around. I also learned from him to shape a piece without regard for the dynamic markings, which often enough were added by editors rather than by the composer himself. Nor did Malcolm suffer incompetence lightly. At one point, just before going away on a sabbatical, he had hired a bass with a fine voice but somewhat shaky musicianship. The bass kept singing wrong notes, much to Malcolm's annoyance until finally he shouted to him that "you'd better hope my plane goes down when I go to Europe, because I'll be gunning for you when I come back." Though I was considered the lead singer and a very good sight reader, he could even make me cry on occasion.
Christmas and Easter were naturally very special. When Malcolm returned from Europe, he brought with him two very nice motets by Heinz Werner Zimmermann, whom he had met in Berlin. We performed This Day a Child is Born Here and Praise Him, O Servants of God, both influenced by Renaissance music but rhythmically based on American jazz. I thereafter helped Malcolm's wife, Marian, to translate the text of Zimmermann's Psalm Concert, which was published by Concordia Publishing House. Later yet, after we had met, Zimmermann dedicated a setting of the Twenty-Third Psalm to me, and he told me that this was his most popular work. I would prepare a little monograph for Chantry Press on his early work that was published in 1969, after I had left Detroit. When I was commissioned to write a Latin Mass for St. Barnabas Catholic Church, I had found myself very much influenced by his style. My Mass in D was premiered on Christmas eve in 1962, and we had to rush from Grosse Pointe Memorial to St. Barnabas in order at least to hear the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. This was of course before Vatican II when the Mass was still always sung in Latin in Roman Catholic churches.
I could not have succeeded as a soloist in Detroit if I had not found my way to the studio of Avery Crew, who was, I am convinced, the best voice teacher in the Midwest. At first he wondered how much he could teach me since on account of my shortened right leg I could not stand up straight. But he directed me to a shoemaker who would construct a built-up right shoe, and he also worked very hard to see that my posture was corrected as much as possible. His lessons were not part of my academic program, but I stayed with him until I left Detroit. This meant climbing, always with Clifford's help, up the steep flight of steps to his studio each week, and hours of work on my voice each day. I had the determination to sing every note absolutely perfectly and with the support needed to give resonance to the tone -- a very different mode of voice production than used by pop singers, who rely on microphones and electronic amplification to project their sounds. Avery's bible was Lilli Lehmann's How to Sing, and the technique he taught was translated by two of his students, John McCurdy and Shirley Love, into long careers at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
He was not, however, very adventurous with regard to repertoire. When I was engaged to sing the solos in Handel's Messiah using the more-or-less original version as edited by J. M. Coopersmith, he could not refrain from indicating a preference for "the way it was always done" -- that is, the essentially nineteenth-century version designed for a very large chorus and with redistributed parts. The rehearsals for this concert were brutal, since the director, Stephen Klyce, wanted the long lines sung without taking a breath whenever possible. This should have taken more lung capacity than I had on account of my OI, and I developed a punctured lung. Clifford rushed me off to the emergency room at Ford Hospital. In spite of still feeling a little tentative, I sang the solos in two performances on successive evenings. The tenor was Ed Kingins, another Avery Crew student and later a regular star in the Michigan Opera Company, while the baritone, Tom Pyle, had a national reputation, having been a soloist and recording artist with the Robert Shaw Chorale.
In the August of 1962, nine months before I sang the Messiah solos, I had, as I have described above, nearly lost my life in a gruesome auto accident. We had made the mistake of purchasing a year-old Chevrolet Corvair, which we thought again would be an economical vehicle that we could afford on Clifford's salary as a beginning instructor in English on a four-year term appointment. We were coming back from Minnesota and were intending to return to Michigan by way of the upper peninsula. Clifford was driving at the legal speed, or very likely less fast since it was raining, down the long incline into Duluth when he found the front wheels of the car not responding on the slick highway as we approached a slow-moving grain truck. The Corvair was a very badly designed car, unsafe, as Ralph Nader said, at any speed. The car responded only so that it was aimed at the rear tires of the truck, and, to prevent an even worse accident, Clifford managed to pull it over so that we hit the iron bumper in the center. I had screamed and tried to clutch at the steering wheel. My seat belt was loosened for comfort, but even so it saved my life. If shoulder belts had been available, I could have avoided the serious facial damage that I sustained. I am immensely grateful to the surgeons at the Duluth hospital, where I spent nearly a month beginning my recovery. It is hard to believe that the daily rate for a shared room in those days was only $22.00. I was then flown back to Detroit, where Dr. Sladen and Bert Atwood of Grosse Pointe Memorial Church were waiting for me, along with an ambulance, on the tarmac beside the plane. My teeth were still wired, and of course my left leg was still in a large plaster cast. Dr. Sladen was the one who had arranged for Dr. Campbell White, also a member of Grosse Pointe Memorial, to look after my leg at Henry Ford Hospital. Since it was actually healing fairly well though not quite in place, he sensibly pinned it with screws that are still holding the bone. To the reconstructive work of the plastic surgeon, to whom I introduced the drawings in Lilli Lehmann's book, I owed my ability to sing at all. In the following February, fitted with temporary dentures to replace the three teeth I had lost and seated in my wheelchair (I still had a cast), I sang the soprano solo in Johannes Brahms' German Requiem with the University Choral Union and University Orchestra under Valter Poole in Ford Auditorium, with a full house of 3500 people. People still remember that performance all these years later.
Over the next couple of years it seemed that I was always singing. My name appeared in the Detroit Free Press, which devoted a feature story to my struggles and my successes. I performed numerous times at the Community Arts Auditorium at Wayne State, at Immanuel Lutheran Church of which we were members, at the University of Windsor, and for various organiza-tions. I was soloist with Malcolm's university groups, including singing in the first such concert ever allowed in the historic St. Anne's Church, when I participated in the beautiful Requiem by Maurice Duruflé and Zoltán Kodály's Missa Brevis. The latter may have been the work that the musicians of Budapest had sung as bombs were falling at the end of World War II. According to the director of the Wayne State radio station, Dr. Boehm, who was among them at the time, they had gathered in the basement of the Budapest opera house, where the music was used at a Mass. A tape of our performance was sent to Kodály in Hungary. For a while I also sang as a member of the Kenneth Jewell Chorale, which sometimes performed almost weekly.
In the midst of all this activity, I had completed the residency for my bachelor's degree in 1961 and had gone on to Graduate School. On the whole I was lucky in the courses that I was required to take, including work in composition with Ruth Wylie, whose music was being performed even by the Detroit Symphony. All my course work could be in music except for a single science course, in astronomy, that I took from Dr. C. Ettinger, a man who was in the news not for his legitimate science but for his interest in preserving the body by deep freezing until new remedies for illness, even death, could be developed. He was not given tenure. Then there was a bizarre music history course taught by a tenured professor of long standing. The course was required, and we "learned," for example, that Beethoven wrote ten, not nine symphonies (though his composition of the Jena Symphony had long been discredited). Of course my friend Barbara Catanese and I had to team up in order to know what oddities would appear on tests. On the rare occasions when we have been able to get together recently, we still laugh about this, though I did not find it funny at the time that I had to pay out-of-state tuition for such a course.
I had started work immediately in the fall of 1961 on my master's degree, and I think Barbara also began her graduate work at this time. I was often invited to her parents' home, where we could laugh and have a good time. Barbara would decide not to continue beyond the M.A. and would marry, then teach at a suburban community college. She is a splendid musician, as are her sisters Virginia and Rosemary. At present she is editing previously unknown piano works of Muzio Clementi in meticulous editions.
The master's degree would take three years instead of two on account of my accident, but always I was competitive, always at the head of the class. Some courses were extremely difficult, as in the case of the theory course taught by Roy Will in which I was asked to play a Tchaikovsky symphony from full score on the piano and to perform theoretical analyses of other scores by a range of composers. Arnold Salop, a recent Indiana University graduate, taught medieval and Renaissance music in his idiosyncratic way. My thesis on Henry Lawes was directed by Margery Selden, but with help from John Cutts, who possessed formidable expertise on the music and poetry of the seventeenth century and who also would be Clifford's advisor for his Ph.D. dissertation. Lawes had an association with Milton on Comus, a dramatic piece presented at Ludlow Castle in the west of England and considered one of his finest early poems. My commentary on Lawes' music for this entertainment, which in a sense I now see as an allegory of achieving freedom from one's disability, would later be published in the Milton Newsletter and then reprinted in my first book, Substance and Manner. Though as a musicology major I was not required to do a recital, I nevertheless teamed up with Jim Tocco, a tremendously talented young pianist who I think was then still a freshman, to perform in the Community Arts Auditorium. In spite of being a dropout at Wayne State in his sophomore year, Jim eventually would teach at the University of Cincinnati and would be a well-known concert pianist, playing more than once with the Kalamazoo Symphony as well as with more prestigious symphonies.
In spite of the frenetic pace of things during much of my study in Detroit, we had nevertheless wanted to have children and applied to Lutheran Social Services for an adoptive child. I tried to soft-pedal my OI, which may have been a mistake, but even so we are certain that my disability was the reason for our rejection. We had by then moved away from the Wayne State area and had rented a very nice brick house in Detroit's Chandler Park neighborhood for a hundred dollars a month. We had a room that would have worked nicely for a nursery. Instead the room was to be occupied by my mother when she came from Minnesota to be treated for cancer. My father had died the previous year, in 1963, and she had known then about the very large lump in her breast but felt she could not have it treated because of her duty to care for her husband. Since the current security measures were as yet unheard of, when she arrived at the Detroit airport we were able to go onto the plane to help her walk down the steps to the tarmac. Before she left the plane, the pilot would show her the cockpit. It was of course her first flight. We had arranged for treatment by an oncologist at Henry Ford Hospital, and she was able to be present for my graduation from the M.A. program. She enjoyed meeting some friends of ours from India whom she liked. In the summer, it was decided that she needed to have surgery, so she was admitted to the hospital. We bought her a television, which after her death we would inherit as our first TV set. She came home from the hospital to our house with a feeding tube, and rapidly declined until she was actually comatose. Her death came early one Sunday morning as we were standing by, and I have already mentioned how Malcolm insisted that I should come to the church and sing. For Clifford and myself the experience made us both decide that, when that time came, we would not want any unusual or mechanical means used to sustain our lives. At the present, in the fragile state of my health, I keep a "Do not resuscitate" order posted on my refrigerator.
For the final year of our time at Wayne State, I decided that I would be in withdrawal if I did not continue. Since there was no Ph.D. in music, I applied for an assistantship in English. So, instead of working in the composition clinic, I now would be in a classroom teaching books such as High Wind in Jamaica to freshman students and taking classes in Renaissance literature and Chaucer. For the latter, I worked on the little clergeon's song in the Prioress' Tale and identified the Sarum version of Alma redemptoris mater that was actually sung in the liturgy in London in Chaucer's time. Eventually my transcription would find its way into the Chaucer Variorum volume on this tale that was edited by Beverly Boyd. It was a good year, since it broadened my horizons, and it also gave me the opportunity to take the German examination that would be required for my Ph.D. work later. My office was shared space in State Hall, and unlike the music building where I had needed assistance to get to many of my classes, this one had an elevator. I could wheel around and talk to persons of like interests, including the Pulitzer prize winning poet DeWitt Snodgrass, who would bring his lute so that we could sing. He introduced me to Alonzo Mudarra, whose lament "Triste, estaba el rey David" is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I would later have the opportunity of including it in a program of early Spanish music after I had founded the Society for Old Music, which performed for local audiences and the medieval conference that met regularly at Western Michigan University. This is the university that offered Clifford an assistant professorship in 1965, so we knew by the middle of the academic year that we would be leaving Detroit that year after the summer session at Wayne State was completed.
and Still Studying
There was a warm welcome for us from our next-door neighbor, Betty Anger, when we arrived at the large stucco house we had purchased in Kalamazoo, but at first I deeply missed Detroit and wondered what we were doing in this part of the state. The phone was utterly silent, and no professional singing job was available in any of the town's churches, for all choirs were strictly volunteer. I had been hired to teach as a part-time instructor, with a work-load that actually was equivalent to full-time, at the University. I was to teach a humanities class, Arts and Ideas, which was almost the only course that seemed to be required of all students that would introduce them to art, literature, and music -- and the focus was on the twentieth century only. The availability of television lectures that the instructor could use was the rationale for paying "part-time" instructors less. There was also the matter of being a "faculty wife," later judged to be an illegal category with regard to hiring practices. But the television lectures, in living black and white, were so many of them inferior that I dropped most from my course after the first semester. There was nothing like a great books course here, or even a close attention to reading such as had been available in the required English courses at Wayne State. The pay was so low that I had to teach a couple of extra classes in the spring term to earn $4600 for the year. The humanities class was offered in a new College of General Studies, a unit that eventually was to be abolished, at which time I happily would be transferred to the School of Music. But that transfer would be a long time a-coming.
In the first year, my office was located on the second floor of the administration building, approximately where the president's office is now situated and in the same room with two accountants, who must hardly have appreciated having students talking to me during my office hours. The classroom was across the hallway. There was no elevator, so Clifford would have to help me up the stairs in the morning and then carry my wheelchair up while I stood braced against a wall. No handicapped parking was available, so he drove up as close as possible in bad weather, then pushed me out in my wheelchair, sometimes through snow and ice, to the car. On one occasion an administrator tried to berate him for illegal parking, and he simply walked off to collect me. The administrator, who I believe had already called the campus police, later phoned us with his apologies.
As for singing, I worked at keeping up my voice, and was invited to sing in the choir of Zion Lutheran Church, where Kathryn Loew, the wife of the dean of Arts and Sciences, was organist-choirmaster. The organ loft where we sang was in the rear of the church and upstairs, so Clifford had to help me climb up there each Sunday. Kathryn was a fine musician with superb credentials, and we would together do an organ-vocal recital the next summer in which I would sing a florid oratorio by Antonio Caldara, a master of the Italian baroque who was rewarded for such works at the Viennese court of Charles VI. Subsequently we performed together quite a number of times, including a presentation of Olivier Messiaen's Harawi song cycle that I was studying at the time. This is a ferociously difficult work inspired by Quechua melodies from Peru and other sources but using Messiaen's own text. We also collaborated on bringing Heinz Werner Zimmermann and the Spandauer Choir from Berlin under the sponsorship of the American Guild of Organists, of which she was a very active member.
Like Heinz, I was interested in early music -- an interest that had already been stimulated by Robert Holliday and by several influences in Detroit -- and an unusual opportunity occurred early in 1966. A medieval conference, meeting every two years and sponsored by the newly formed Medieval Institute, had been established at Western Michigan University in 1962. The 1966 conference was scheduled for March. I think it was in early January that I phoned the director, John Sommerfeldt, to ask if he would be interested in a concert of early music. After the conversation, he told a person at hand that "some secretary from the College of General Studies" had phoned him to offer a music program. Not knowing anything about me other than what I had told him on the phone, he agreed to give me a spot on the program following the banquet, to be held in the east ballroom of the student center, later known as Bernhard Center. Casting about for a name for the group, I chose Society for Old Music, somewhat in imitation of some other ensembles but also influenced by the name of the local Bach Society. I then gathered up a group of local singers and instru-mentalists, and we began rehearsing at my house around my Steinway grand, which I had acquired in the final months we were in Detroit from a master rebuilder named Reinhold Zech, the piano technician employed by the Detroit Symphony.
The conference brought together around two hundred people, mostly from the Midwest. Our good friend Philip Schroeder, whom we would see for the last time, had come from St. Louis to read a paper on, as noted above, Spener and medieval mysticism. The concert, which also included a set of folk songs allegedly originating in medieval times and sung by a folk-singer colleague to fill out the program, seems to have been a success, so I decided, with strong encouragement from a number of people, to keep the Society together. In the fall I directed the group in a program of Elizabethan songs and madrigals, and twice or more times each year after that we presented music mainly from the medieval through baroque periods from most Western European countries. The conference prospered, and after 1970 became an annual event, at present bringing nearly three thousand scholars together in the largest medieval conference in the world. I am particularly proud of having a role in helping over the years to establish this important conference, for which I directed many further concerts.
But I felt that I needed more experience with early music. Hence I signed up for a two-week seminar at Oakland University with the New York Pro Musica, which had been led by Noah Greenberg until his death early in 1966. It was an intensive two weeks, made all the more strenuous by the uncomfortable living quarters offered by a motel to which we had been directed. I worked with Sheila Schonbrun, who had sung the role of Rachel in the legendary production by the Pro Musica of The Play of Herod, which amalgamated the Herod play and the Slaughter of the Innocents from the twelfth-century Fleury Playbook. Another of the participants was Mary Springfels, who was destined to become the director of the Newberry Consort, the premier early music ensemble located in the Chicago area. It was also a delight to hear the Pro Musica perform three concerts during the course of the workshop. These performances would seem dated today, but at that time the precision of the performers and the zeal with which they performed made the concerts genuinely exciting.
In November of the next year I met the person with whom Noah Greenberg had worked in preparing The Play of Herod, William L. Smoldon, at a conference at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and we were able to see for the first time medieval drama performed, in one case very well from a musical standpoint (the liturgical Easter play of the three Marys, The Visit to the Sepulcher, in the chapel of St. Jerome's College), and the first part of the Middle English play of Mary Magdalen, which introduced us to a theatrical genre of which we had only been aware as literature. When years later we happened to meet Larry Cummings, the convener of the conference and the director of the Mary Magdalen, on a street in Paris, we were able to recall the importance for us of the event that he had organized as a tribute to his teacher, Hardin Craig. Our return by way of Toronto from the Waterloo conference was on a flight that terminated in Battle Creek. On account of an ice storm it took as long to drive from Battle Creek to our home as our flight from Canada.
In the fall of 1967 I had become the director of the quite good volunteer choirs at a Methodist church, from which I had to take a Sunday's leave to attend the drama conference in Canada. But I was able to continue only for a few months. The catastrophic fracture I sustained late in the year effectively terminated my employment at the church. By then I had been offered -- and I had accepted -- a very slightly more secure and better-paying University position as an adjunct assistant professor of humanities. My good fortune thus did not even see me through a single semester, for that is when I fell on account of being tripped by a cat, whose mother, Imogen, would be our favorite for many, many years but spayed so that she would have no more kittens. As I remember it, my wheelchair, which Clifford had carried into the house, had collected not very clean snow on its wheels, and instead of waiting I had left it behind to avoid messing the floor. I had walked through the kitchen into the dining room where I fell, and Clifford found me lying beside the table on the blue rug we had brought from Detroit. I suppose I always was too free about jumping out of my wheelchair and walking unsteadily, and this was a habit that perhaps led me to take even more risks after Dr. Edwin Guise rodded my right femur the following summer. The interval between my fall and his good work, which lengthened my right femur and made possible my discarding of the raised shoe, was more than seven months. Lying in bed for such a long time is depressing, and certainly it was an experience that took its toll on my emotional life. I think such an experience would adversely affect anyone, especially since I saw my orthopedic surgeon as failing to match his local reputation. We privately (and surely very unfairly) spoke of him as "the plumber." With great luck Ed and his wife, who, as I have mentioned above, had been my neighbor Betty Anger's college friend, were visiting next door at about the time that the healing was definitely shown not to be taking place under the heavy plaster body cast. He had me wait until the summer, when a colleague, Harvey Overton, drove me to Henry Ford Hospital in the back of his station wagon. The surgery has been described above, but, in spite of the difficulty of recovering from the break, I was put back "on track," as the saying is. In the fall I was back in the classroom.
While I was lying in bed with the fractured femur in the spring of 1968, a year when the medieval conference started with a snowstorm, the Society for Old Music would perform the Officium Pastorum, a medieval liturgical Christmas play from Rouen, in the University's Kanley Chapel. Since the parts were not learned, the singers carried books, and a heavily ritualized style was adopted. Clifford was assisted as dramaturg by Otto Gründler, who would later become the director of the Medieval Institute during the period of the greatest growth of the conference. He also changed its name to the International Congress on Medieval Studies. The Officium Pastorum was to be the first of many such dramatic productions, to which I always looked forward in some dread since with a play it is so much harder to control all the details and therefore to do a professional presentation. I found it always difficult enough to produce acceptable performances with local singers, though I always strove for excellence. While I was encouraging, in my memory I do not believe I ever congratulated them for the quality of their work. There is a difference between a member of the Hollywood self-adulation society and the perfectionistic musician. Still, my singers' performances very often were acclaimed as more exciting than those of professional performers at that time. The reviewer for the local newspaper, the Gazette, was frequently impressed, and in the early days, when there was an effort to record the best local music for broadcast, our programs often were aired on the university radio station, WMUK.
I had planned to attend the University of Minnesota to work toward a Ph.D. in the summer of 1968, but of course this was not to happen and had to be put off until the next year. I traveled by plane to Minneapolis, since the trip by car would have been difficult for me as yet. Clifford, however, drove out in advance so that he could meet me at the airport, and I enrolled in classes for the two summer school sessions. My advisor was Johannes Riedel, who that term taught a course in the music of the Renaissance masters Orlando di Lasso and Palestrina. Though he had encouraged me to enter the Ph.D. program, at first I don't think he separated me from the other students, except that I was in a wheelchair and had to be helped in going up to the classroom in the building located across from Scott Hall, which then housed the Music Department and also was less than accessible. But I caught his attention when, on a performance day, I directed the other students in class in a polyphonic Mass. Unlike the other class performances that had taken place on previous Fridays, this one was polished and, according to Johannes, exciting enough that he would have been pleased if it could have been done in an actual concert. The pressure of a five-and-one-half-week session of course precluded that.
At the same time, I signed on for a class in South Indian vocal music, taught by Jon Higgins, the only American singer ever to have been able to learn and perform the intricacies of this musical tradition to the very exacting standards prevalent in India. One of the instrumentalists in Higgins' group that summer was T. Ranganathan, whom we called Ranga; he was a legendary mradangam player, a member of the Tanjore family that had been musicians in Madras state for centuries. His sister was the famed classical Indian dancer Balasaraswati, and his brother Viswanathan, who also came to Minneapolis that summer, played the Indian flute. The members of Higgins' class sat in a circle on the Scott Hall stage, with me in a wheelchair of course. Naturally one cannot master a whole tradition in eleven weeks, but I learned a great deal about Indian rhythms and tonal systems, perhaps the most complex in the world, that stood me in good stead when it came time to do research for my dissertation on Messiaen, who had absorbed something especially of their polyrhythmic structure. A course from Alan Kagan helped to solidify my all-around understanding of Indian music and to learn some astounding things such as the belief among some that certain Vedic chants by Hindu priests were required in the morning if the sun was to rise that day. After my transfer to the School of Music at my University, I belatedly was able to make good use of this knowl-edge too, since I was assigned to teach ethnomusicology. Clifford also benefitted, since he was able to acquire an article by Ranga's wife, Edwina, on a type of classical dance drama that honored the temple deities from Madras State for the journal Comparative Drama that he had begun to edit a couple of years before.
I had inquired about accessibility at the University of Minnesota, and had been told to apply for a special permit that would allow parking in normally restricted spaces. And we were directed to Bailey Hall, where many married summer school students, some of them enrolled in a summer workshop in criminal justice, were staying. There was no air conditioning anywhere, and in the hot Minnesota summer I developed allergies, which I had to ignore as much as possible so that I could do my work. Further, the space at the residence hall was crowded and not as accessible as we were led to believe. Bathrooms and showers were of the usual sort, men's and women's, that one might expect in such buildings built before 1950. But it was at least minimally satisfactory, and I was even able to make do while Clifford returned home to take care of necessary business. We especially remember Bailey Hall, which was actually located on the farm campus in St. Paul, as the place where we sat in a crowded little room and saw the landing of the Apollo astronauts and their first steps on the moon live on television, albeit on a small black and white set.
My advisor, Johannes, and I worked out a schedule that would give me full credit for previous graduate work but also permit me to complete the residence requirement the next year. There is no way that I could have handled the mobility problems on that campus during fall or winter since the weather makes wheelchair travel impossible for many months. So in 1970 I signed on for the spring quarter, arrived in late April after our winter semester at home had finished, and then attended both summer sessions, with the spring program of the Society for Old Music put in the hands of Ted Toews, who directed the Notre Dame Mass of Guillaume de Machaut, regarded as the first of its kind, for the 1970 medieval conference. Finally, to complete the residence requirement I enrolled in directed study for the fall. Unlike a number of my male colleagues, I did not drop out of teaching for a year or more to complete my Ph.D.
It was a time of turmoil at the University of Minnesota on account of the Vietnam War, which almost all the students opposed, many of them loudly in demonstrations. A small radical fringe even were attracted to Mao, so there were those who carried around his Little Red Book with its revolutionary slogans. But most simply were by then convinced of the folly of the war, for which they blamed President Johnson's duplicity in the Tonkin Gulf affair. They all seemed to know students who had been snatched away by the draft. And under the new President, the war was dragging on. When protestors at Kent State University were attacked by members of the Ohio National guard and several killed, the whole University was shut down. Thousands of students filled the great mall all the way from Northrup Auditorium to Coffman Union at the other end. Johannes asked our class if we should go on, and I spoke up to say that I thought we should join the general strike with the other students. No one objected. Johannes, who had dealt with the duplicitous German government of Hitler in his youth, naturally was favorably disposed to the strike, although obviously he knew that President Nixon was not the Nazi that some claimed him to be. Johannes was immensely learned, yet on account of his heavy teaching load and his other responsibilities he was capable of being mistaken about a fact on occasion. He was not arrogant, and could lecture at immense length without notes -- and with erudition. His early training had been in Germany, which he had left without a degree when he fled to Ecuador once he had managed to extricate his Jewish fiancée and her parents from danger. In South America he had been known as Juan, and had become a radio personality. He was also a researcher in the folk music of the region in addition to his teaching duties and choral conducting. On coming to the United States in 1948, he had quickly completed his education and upon receiving his doctorate in 1953 had been hired by the Music Department of the University, where he stayed the rest of his life. His interest in American music followed. It was for his class that I produced the first draft of my article on Charles Ives and the transcendentalist milieu in which this composer worked that was to be published in the American Quarterly. Later I collaborated with Clifford on a short biography of Johannes in the Festschrift that we edited in his honor (published in 1985), and it is an astonishingly impressive story of an activist scholar who achieved a great deal and influenced a very large number of students in his career. My own contribution to this Festschrift was appropriately an article on singing early music in which I analyzed the preference by medieval theorists for the qualities of high, clear, and sweet tone. I interpreted these as indicating a well-supported tone that would be at once strong, delicate, and bright rather than breathy or wobbly.
The downside of my study in the summer of 1970 was that Clifford had to teach one of the summer sessions at Western Michigan University in order to cover our expenses, so I had to live by myself in Centennial Hall for some weeks, where I was able to observe the new ways of co-ed dorm living. Friendly students such as Sister Anna Totta and Sister Joyce Klinger saw to it that I got to class and back to the residence hall again. They also helped me to negotiate the steps at Scott Hall so that I could get to my classes, one of which was a course in opera taught by Dom Argento, the highly respected contemporary opera composer. I confess that I was very nervous at this point, since I did not want to spoil the 4.0 average (i.e., straight A's) that I had built up throughout my master's and doctoral work. Thirteen years later when we were in Florence we happened to meet Argento and his wife attempting, like ourselves unsuccessfully as it turned out, to obtain entrance to a Claudio Monteverdi concert. We talked about my experience and nervousness about my grade when I had signed on for his course as we sat out of doors at a café that Henry James long ago had frequented on the Piazza della Signoria, and he then told about the work he was composing at that time for the soprano Theresa von Strada.
During the summer of 1970, I had the opportunity to sing some songs by Charles Ives as part of an Ives liturgy at the Ives Festival, with transportation provided to and from by Richard Axelson, who had been Clifford's roommate in college. My contribution included "At the River" and others, all of which I had loved since I had first learned about them while studying with Robert Holliday fifteen years previously. On one weekend I also flew to Detroit, where Clifford met me at the airport, for I was to sing at the wedding of Malcolm Johns' son Cort which was to be celebrated at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church. Later Malcolm would leave this church and begin serving as organist and choirmaster at Old Christ Church, also a beautiful structure which had been designed by the fine Victorian Gothic Revival architect Gordon Lloyd, who also designed our current parish church in Kalamazoo. When Malcolm, at age 72, and his wife Marian retired from Old Christ Church, I traveled to Detroit to sing with his present choir for the festive occasion. Also singing was Nick Batch, a fine tenor who frequently sang with my early music group, since while attending law school he too had sung professionally at Grosse Pointe Memorial. So we were able to ride together in his car to the event. Malcolm was a lesson in determination, for he thereafter accepted another organ job in a Roman church in Windsor across the river, saw the construction of a new Casavant organ there, and worked until, afflicted with prostate cancer, he retired once more, only to continue to play almost to the very end of his life even though he was in absolutely miserable physical health.
The summers of 1971 and 1972 were devoted to dissertation research, except that I had also to pass my French examination, a requirement for the Ph.D. Each of these summers I spent some time at the British Library, and from the French music shop then located around the corner on Montague Street I was able to purchase scores of Messiaen's compositions at prices that now seem ridiculously low, sometimes at less than ten percent of the list price current today. After considering work on his song cycles, I decided instead to focus only on Harawi along with the two other compositions linked to it in what has come to be known as his Tristan trilogy since they are loosely based on the medieval story of a tangled love story involving Tristan and Iseult and his uncle King Mark. These, as mentioned above, are the Turangalîla Symphony and Cinq Rechants. By the end of the first summer I had a draft of my chapter on Harawi, and I would proceed through the laborious business of analyzing the next two segments, one each summer, along with, of course, an introduction and conclusion. Once, when Messiaen and his wife Yvonne Loriod were scheduled to play a duo-piano recital in Minneapolis, Johannes called me and insisted that I come to hear them. They played Messiaen's ferociously difficult Visions de l'amen. I was surprised at his piano technique, since his hands seemed to lie almost flat on the keys. After the concert I met him, and we conversed a bit in my broken French and his broken English. This was still useful, since it helped me to clear up a loose point in my dissertation.
During this trip to Minneapolis, something very tragic and sad occurred. We were acquainted with two brothers from Kerala, students and members of a family that we had known since our days at Wayne State. I phoned, and Jacob answered the phone to tell me that Mohan, the elder brother, had been missing for two weeks. He was returning from choir rehearsal at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis, when he and some others stopped at a restaurant for a snack. Neither he nor his car was ever seen again. The Minneapolis police were decidedly unhelpful. Though they recognized that his bank account was intact, they pointed to his expired visa with the suggestion that he was trying to evade the Immigration and Nationalization Service. I strongly insisted that foul play must have been involved, but the response was something like "Lady, I have been an investigator for a long time. Don't tell me how to do my business."
As I was working on my dissertation, it was necessary for me to study for my preliminary examination, for which I purchased the fifth edition of Grove's Dictionary, in ten paperback volumes, and read through a large part of it. I was permitted to take the exam at my own campus under the supervision of the dean of my college on account of the difficulty I would have had in traveling to Minnesota. By the end of the summer of 1974 I had everything pretty much complete. The dissertation was in Johannes' hands, and I arranged to travel to consult with him about the final stages of revision and submitting it to the other readers. "Now," he said, "we need a conclusion." He had forgotten that I had already sent it to him, but without much hesitation shuffled through some of the myriad papers in his office and fished it out. Thereafter things went swimmingly. The other readers reported, I made the few revisions that they requested, and permissions for using quotes from the texts and music were acquired. In time I had the 423 pages of the dissertation prepared to be duplicated in accordance with the guidelines of the Graduate School, and it would be bound in two volumes. And finally, in the spring of 1975, I flew to Minneapolis by myself and faced the examiners, who passed me through without a hitch.
As indicated above, research and writing for the dissertation had gone along with teaching, including the development of a year-long historical Arts and Ideas course and, for a time, an overload, still on adjunct pay, as well as with directing the Society for Old Music, now a non-profit corporation in the state of Michigan. The use of the facilities of the British Library (not separated organiza-tionally from the British Museum until 1974), along with local inter-library loan, had worked out well. I believed that I never could have managed the more formidable Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, though later I discovered that many Parisians, noted for their surly attitudes, particularly to Americans, could be especially nice to ladies in wheelchairs. I did research also in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and found this more difficult, most of all for those items I wanted to see in Duke Humphrey's Library, which was built in the fifteenth century. In fact, I would return again and again to the British Library, still housed inside the British Museum, for twenty years, and when the new British Library was being built at St. Pancras in the 1980s I was invited by a librarian to give some advice on handicap accessibility. Unfortunately, I was never to be able to use that new facility, but Clifford has reported how accessible it all is and how much more "user friendly," as the saying is.
I still remember the friendliness of the British Museum guards, even in those years when the Irish Republican Army was setting off bombs and phoning in bomb threats in London. One guard, in the days when handbags were being searched, would always say to me, "Got any bombs in that wheelchair, madam?" One cannot imagine that being said by a security person at an American airport! The first year we were at the British Museum Clifford would help me down the steps to the coffee shop, where we chanced to meet the learned expert on English organs, William L. Sumner, who, when he learned we were friends to Will Smoldon, complained loudly that Will was WLS1 among the authors listed in the fifth edition of the Grove's Dictionary, while he had been relegated to WLS2. We did see Will at his home in Essex that year, and he took us on a car tour through northern Essex and into Suffolk. I remember the day since it was the one following the Sunday when President Nixon floated the U.S. dollar. We were looking for a bank in order to convert some of our travelers' checks. When we stopped in Lavenham, one of the great wool towns of the late Middle Ages and at that time one of the largest municipalities in the country, we saw a bank, but it was only open on Thursdays. Only when we had returned to London could we change money, I think twenty-five dollars at a time. Anyway, we had a good chance to talk with Will about liturgical drama, especially since my Society for Old Music had recently performed the Fleury Visit to the Sepulcher from the edition he had prepared for Oxford University Press. I had been able to make an audio tape for him to hear.
But, to return to the British Museum for a moment, there were times one year when the guards would take me along to a temporary coffee shop while the new one was being constructed. "The tourists are a trial," one said to me, "but the Americans are the worst." I still remember the example she gave of the American who wanted to see the Magna Charta, and stood nonplused before the exhibit. "Is that all there is?" he asked. "What did you expect, a statue," she said. "Yes," he answered. Then there was the matter of those who came to look into the great domed British Library reading room and to ask where Karl Marx had sat, since it was known that he always occupied the same seat each day. The guards would look about, arbitrarily pick out an unoccupied seat nearby, point, and say, "There." At first people from Eastern Europe almost kneeled down and worshipped at the spot, but they came to ask less and less over the years and at last hardly at all by the time that I made my last visits to the British Library. Of course, among the readers at the library there were always eccentrics enough among the natives. For many years Clifford and I would often take seats near the one occupied by Miss McDonald, an elderly lady who always wore tattered clothing and pored over learned treatises in many tongues. On the last occasion when I saw her, I was leaving Britain so I handed her a pack of blank note cards and asked her what she was working on. "I am searching," she said, "for the origin of all languages."
As I look over the programs of the Society for Old Music after 1971, I realize how important the British Library was, but also how much I gained from music available in English music stores such as Blackwell's when it was located on Holywell Street in Oxford. And I recall sitting in the loft, to which I had been practically lifted up, at Banks Music Shop in York where we spent hours searching through scores, many of them long out of print. Music in those days was amazingly cheap by today's standards, and I could fairly inexpensively build up a substantial personal library of scores upon which I could draw for concerts. The idea was to provide a different type of music in each concert, and to choose music not commonly done in the community. Of course, not all the music that we performed was imported from abroad. In the spring of 1973 we used Malcolm Johns' edition of Hugo Distler's Dance of Death, originally published as Totentanz in Germany. Distler was of course a modern composer who had the misfortune of suffering under Hitler. For our performance, we interspersed the sections with readings from John Lydgate's text of the Dance of Death, translated by him in the fifteenth century from the texts in the Cemetery of the Innocents in Paris. The reader was the manager of the University's radio station, Garrard Macleod. This part of the program was combined with more rare music that I had found: Geisslerlieder, or German flagellant songs that were sung during the plague years of the fourteenth century to ward off the disease; laudi, spiritual songs and flagellant songs from sixteenth-century Italy, many of them unpublished and provided to me by Cyrilla Barr; and a "Dance of Death" from the Spanish collection called the Llibre Vermell (Red Book). The latter, starting with the words "Ad mortem festinimus," or "Toward death we hasten," is a long and powerful song which gives the impression that it was danced in the fourteenth century, so in our case the local ballet company, directed by Therésè (Terry) Bullard who was knowledgeable about early dance forms, was called into service.
The previous fall the Society had performed, again with the help of the same troupe of dancers, the witches' dances "round about the cauldron" from act 4 of Macbeth, with choreography supplied by Terry, and using the music as edited by John Cutts, but I also directed the group in Christopher Tye's Western Wind Mass, based on the lovely melody of a popular song of the early sixteenth century -- before, that is, the change in religion which brought Latin service music into dispute. Then in 1974 we staged a Renaissance entertainment, Adriano Banchieri's Festino, complete with commedia dell' arte skits and pranks (the texts were adapted by Clifford) that were played by talented local actors for both the local community and for the (now annual) medieval conference. In spite of the unfavorable space used for the latter performance of the entertainment, we unexpectedly received a standing ovation. And then, looking ahead, in the fall of 1975, I directed the Society in a concert of early music from Spain and Latin America, some of which I found in an edition in the Bodleian Library. There were settings of texts in Quechua, the native language, as well as religious songs from the Zuola Commonplace Book originating in the old Inca capital of Cuzco in Peru. I also was able to offer the first example of polyphony that appeared in music printed in the New World -- dated c.1631! Press reports consistently praised the group for its beautiful singing. But it was the performances at the medieval conference that gave the Society a national, even international audience almost every year and hence an unusual amount of visibility for a group such as ours.
One of those in the audience at medieval conference time was Dom Jean Leclerq, monk of Clairvaux and a great scholar who had devoted much of his life to the study of St. Bernard. There was the time that he had cut his hand on glass from a cracked shower door in Spain and arrived with a bandage that needed replacing. Clifford brought him to the house, and we saw to it that it was properly cleansed and once more bandaged. Fairly early on other scholars also came from abroad, and these included Richard Rastall and Lynette Muir from Leeds, who have now been long-time friends. After each concert, we hosted a reception, at first at our old house on Wheaton Avenue. There was the time that my advisor Johannes came to read a paper, and after all the others had left our house we sat deep in conversation outside on our lawn in the balmy May night until after the dawn had arrived.
I received my Ph.D. in June 1975 in a ceremony for those who were being awarded advanced degrees on the stage at Northrup Auditorium. The president of the University of Minnesota at that time was C. Peter McGrath, who had succeeded Malcolm Moos, the man who was credited with writing Eisenhower's "Military Industrial Complex" speech when he was a speech-writer for the President. My sisters all came to the ceremony since I now was to join my nephew Peter in being the first persons in the family to receive doctorates.
Instead of returning home, I was to stay for the next six weeks and teach a graduate course in the Music Department at the University of Minnesota. Accessible housing was a problem, but we managed to rent a house on Lake Minnetonka that was being let for the term. The course, originally scheduled to be taught by Johannes, focused on the German baroque composer Heinrich Schütz, whose music I had long admired. I had to make myself an instant expert on his work for a class that met daily in the lower level of Scott Hall. On the first day, Clifford helped me down the steps, and we sat in the usual place where we had always eaten our sandwiches. I heard some students talking nearby, and one said, "I heard that Dr. Riedel isn't teaching the Schütz class." Then: "Some woman with a new Ph.D. is, and I'll bet she doesn't know anything." There was embarrassment when I wheeled up to the front of the room, but I also knew that I had to "perform" as an instructor. It was a fine experience, since I had some tremendously bright candidates for higher degrees, both masters' and doctors', in the class.
At the same time, we were able to spend considerable time with Clifford's aunt, almost ninety years old. She was having problems with her brother John, who had managed to have himself made her guardian. We believed, rightly or wrongly, that he had designs on her money and property. She had come up from being a poor Norwegian farm girl who had gone to work at an Episcopal school for privileged girls at age twelve, and by 1918 could afford, with considerable effort, to have a very nice house near Hamline University and thereafter a comfortable but not an idle life. Clifford, having lost his own mother in childbirth when he was born, loved her above all others in his family, surely as much as his own father. Within a year she would be placed in a nursing home, and eventually would be moved to her brother's town in Wisconsin, where fortuitously she was well cared for at a nursing facility run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church as she declined, though she was never happy again. Clifford made annual visits, and I came along when I could. Near the end, when we stopped to see her for an afternoon on our way to Minnesota, I could only penetrate her confusion by singing old Norwegian and Swedish songs. After she died at age ninety-eight in 1986, her guardian, by then Clifford's cousin Albert, failed even to provide an appropriate garment for her burial, and it was only through our intervention that she was clothed decently. But in the summer of 1975, in spite of her problems, we had a last and beautiful chance to enjoy her company -- and to help with numerous things, including buying groceries for her -- before her final illness had taken over. This too was a benefit of this summer. We still have the Swedish Christmas goat, made of straw, that was given to us by an elderly lady we knew only as Mrs. Gustafson, who for many years had been staying with aunt Lena (she had been christened Carolina).
I did not feel that, because I had my doctorate in hand, my education was over. I was especially anxious to learn about new developments in early music performance that were taking place in Europe. Hence I had signed up for a two-week workshop in early music with the Studium Musicae of Brussels. As soon as the summer session was completed, we flew by way of Chicago to Amsterdam, where we had an altercation with the personnel of KLM. First, and this was most unsafe, the stewardess had me walk forward to the exit door of the plane while it was still moving. I don't know why we didn't object immediately. Then, once we were in the terminal, after walking down the ramp -- my leg felt as if it would break -- the KLM personnel refused to get me a wheelchair so I could get to the next gate for the flight to Brussels. Finally, after we told them that their service was worse than Pan Am's, at that time notorious, a wheelchair was brought. On the flight to Brussels, a lovely and pleasant young stewardess gave us a candy bar, two parts chocolate but with a Dutch tile included instead of candy at one end. She pointed it out to us and said, "It's a stone. Don't eat it." When we moved to our new house, we cemented this tile into the wall of our bathroom.
The workshop was every bit as valuable as I had predicted. I worked with Barbara Thornton, then in her early twenties and fresh from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland. By the time of her untimely death at age fifty, she had made a permanent mark on the early music field with her role in the ensemble Sequentia. I learned new techniques of singing and some remarkable repertoire, both of which influenced what I was able to do with the Society for Old Music, though when one is working with local musicians it is not possible to carry out all that one would wish. The workshop was held in a monastery, formerly Cistercian until the time of the French Revolution and now inhabited by a few nuns only, at Marche-lès-Dames, a short distance up the hill from the Meuse River north of Namur. On the other side of the river, I was told, was the location where the Battle of the Bulge was fought during World War II and where Clifford had lost a cousin. We had a room upstairs, so Clifford or someone else would need to help me up the steps, but on the whole the facilities were remarkably comfortable, though the toilet and shower facilities were such that anyone afflicted with Anglo-Saxon modesty would be offended. The place was very peaceful, even if occasionally a NATO jet would fly overhead. Clifford was able to travel around Belgium to look at Netherlandish art at Bruges, Ghent, Tournai, and Huy. Barbara's coaching was supplemented by other sessions in choral and ensemble per-formance. At the end we had a concert in the church, which also served as the parish church for people living in the area. When we left, we brought away a medieval fiddle that had been created by one of the organizers of the workshop, Jacques Passauro, that we then had to carry with care on the airplane back over the Atlantic. But first we trekked briefly to Paris, then by way of the Channel ferry, to England. In London we by good luck became acquainted with the splendid music at All Saints, Margaret Street, where masses by Mozart and Haydn were normal fare for the Eucharistic service every Sunday of the year.
I would return to Marche-lès-Dames two years later for a second workshop. Then I would sing the solos in Claudio Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers at the final concert in the church, which, incidentally, possessed a beautiful twelfth-century statue of the Virgin Mary and Child that I still remember. But this was at the end of our journey. We had come by Icelandic Airlines with its very crowded seats, with a stop at Reykjavik, where I braved the cold rain to look at manuscripts housed at the University. I recall too how hard it was in Iceland to sleep through the night on account of the singing of birds at dawn after, I believe, only a couple of hours of real darkness. Between Chicago and Iceland I sat next to a large man who was even making my small frame uncomfortable by oozing over into my space, and of course I was thinking daggers, as the saying is. I asked him about his occupation, and when he told me he was working in parapsychology at Duke University I wondered if he could read my mind. After arriving in Luxembourg, we set out by rail for Denmark, with complications for someone such as myself with a disability. We had unfortunately been misinformed by our travel agent about the fare for a sleeper between Namur and Copenhagen so we had to spend much of the night in a compartment with two alcoholic Swedes returning from Cannes and sporting large bottles of hard liquor. They did not work, they said, since they were "sjuk" ("sick"). Then an American woman, a young student, and a young Frenchman came into the compartment, a twosome which one of the Swedes was challenged to break up. Fortunately this drew the college girl and one Swede out of the compartment, and we later saw them kissing goodbye when the train stopped at Copenhagen. The final leg of the journey as we passed through North Germany and Denmark was much more peaceful, and in the morning we arrived at our destination. There I would visit the Danish National Archives to examine the manuscript of the Danish St. John Passion, which I would edit for publication as part of a commentary on both the Danish and Swedish Passions and on the whole tradition of singing the Passion, a practice which culminated in J. S. Bach's St. John and St. Matthew Passions. It was interesting that the Danish Passion had been performed regularly at Roskilde Cathedral on Good Friday until in 1736 it was denounced by the king's chief secretary as "a ceremony which seems to be a relic of former Carnival performances and which strives against devotion, quietude, and seriousness." Though cheaply printed from typescript, as the practice was for many scholarly books in those days before the computer, my book would find wide distribution and fairly rapidly go out of print.
Our first crossing to Sweden was on the hydrofoil. Upon landing in the land of my forebears I nearly felt like crying. We had a short distance from the dock to the Malmö train station, but with the wheelchair and our luggage it was impossible to get there without a taxi. The driver, a law student, stood and looked with deliberation at my wheelchair. We said, "It folds up." "I know that," he said; "I am just thinking about where to put it." After taking the train to Lund, I looked at manuscripts of the Swedish Passion in the University library, and then I went on to Stockholm, where there were more. At the Royal Library I met Viveca Servatius, then a sub-librarian, who was destined to be perhaps the most knowledgeable student of Gregorian chant in the North. We found Stockholm accessible, even the tunnelbanen or underground train, on the whole. Less satisfactory was the train to Oslo, which we took on the wrong evening, the final day of school when everyone pretended to be a student and everyone was drunk. One who was sitting on a bench in the central station was having the DTs, stabbing out at the empty air and in Swedish saying, "Go away!"
Our stay in Oslo was brief, but we could play the tourist here. Clifford pushed me up the hill in my wheelchair to see the stave church in the folk museum, as I have noted above. We also saw Henrik Ibsen's study, which had also been moved to the museum, and the portrait of his rival August Strindberg over his desk. Ibsen is said to have remarked, "I cannot write a word without those eyes staring down at me." I was impressed that in Oslo the tram driver would come down out of his tram to help me board. The Norwegian capital city was, to be sure, only a prelude to the journey by train across the mountains to Bergen. Though it was very close to Midsummer, the snow in places reached almost down to the train tracks, but in Bergen we found the temperature rather too warm, an effect for which the Gulf Stream was responsible. Bergen was the town from which my mother's father had emigrated to the United States. We visited Edvard Grieg's house at Troldhaugen, and stayed at the summer hotel that had been made available at the Bibelskolen. Coincidentally, Clifford's mother's family had ancestors who had lived in Bergen in the seventeenth century, but they had come up from Holland and within a generation or two they transplanted themselves to America. The next day we were on a ship going down the fjords to Stavanger and were on our way to Newcastle. I was to stay in England for a month, mainly at Leeds, where Lyne Muir had arranged for us to live at Tetley Hall -- and, yes, there is a connection with the family that had founded the Tetley Tea Company. Clifford commuted daily to York, where he worked on an index of medieval art, including the marvelous stained glass in the Minster and parish churches. At that time I was well enough that he also could leave me alone and go off to a medieval drama colloquium at Alençon in France for a week.
But some of this is getting ahead of myself, since the trip in 1977 occurred during what for me were dramatic events at my university. This will be matter for the next chapter.
A Bump in the Road, and Onward
For the 1976 spring concert of the Society for Old Music as it was mounted for the annual medieval conference, I organized what was certainly the most complex program that I had yet ventured. We began with another liturgical play, the Sponsus, or Bridegroom, from St. Martial of Limoges. The play dramatized the parable of the Five Wise and the Five Foolish Virgins, with the latter going to sleep, allowing their lamps to be extinguished, and pleading for oil to replenish them -- and without lighted lamps they would be barred from the wedding feast, symbolizing mystic union with Christ, and taken away to the place of darkness by devils. The score was edited by William Smoldon, and the dramatic director this time was Nona Mason. Thereafter, following an instrumental interlude by the Wind Forest recorder ensemble, the Corpus Christi Mass according to the use of York was begun, following the ancient Latin service books and, with permission of our bishop, celebrated by Father William O. Lewis in the Cathedral of Christ the King with the help of cathedral clergy, including the Rev. Canon John Ferguson who would later serve the Jerusalem diocese and then the archbishop of Canterbury. I arranged the chants from the old York service books in modern notation for my group, and then imposed rhythmic patterns consistent with different modes of performance. For the opening procession we used Salve feste dies ("Hail thee, festival day") with the text for Corpus Christi, actually a feast that was celebrated forty days after Easter in honor of the Eucharist. The Kyrie was the common Orbis factor version, but the anonymous Gloria was chosen from a manuscript in the British Library. The Creed and Sanctus, in turn, were from the Missa flos regalis of Walter Frye. The famous sequence Lauda Sion salvatorem ("Praise, Zion, your Savior . . . with hymns and songs"), attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas, and the final hymn, Pange lingua ("Now, my tongue, the mystery telling, of the glorious Body sing"), were done in a snappy rhythm that made them seem very different from the usual versions with which some in the audience were familiar. To make following the Mass easier, we provided a thirty-two-page printed missal for the service, and a copy was catalogued for retention by the Western Michigan University library so it is available to all who might be interested.
In the previous February, Encore, the local arts magazine, had published a laudatory article about my work with the Society, but at the University the story was more complicated. Following a grievance against the University, I had finally been given a full-time tenure track position as an assistant professor of humanities, but was faced with intractable opposition by the department chairman, Philip Adams, a man who, when he first was hired in the English Department, had been categorized by the saying "To know him is to hate him." We found out later that he had rejected his own parents and had even changed his name in order to distance himself from them. Before his move to Humanities and his elevation to administration, he had been very good at forcing department and committee meetings to grind to a halt with his maneuvering. He was hostile in every way, and, as is sometimes customary in lesser institutions, he manipulated student evaluations to arrive at a negative judgment of his faculty -- never mind that his own were lower than anyone else's, or that the instrument being used was deemed unreliable, or that the best study of student evaluations demonstrated that there might be an inverse relationship between student evaluations and the quality of the teaching. As a performer, I always had positive responses from better students, of whom to be sure there was very often a shortage, though I particularly remember ones like Lisa Williams, who is now is leader of the second violins in the Kalamazoo Orchestra, and Larry Burns, who is an architect and at this date a neighbor. The poorest ones always were insulted that they had to write and even spell correctly. A particularly weak student argued about his paper with me once, so I said I would consult with a colleague, who in this case happened to have had some experience as an elementary school teacher. He told me, "I've seen sixth graders write better than that." He was not referring to the handwriting. Others objected to working at all in a humanities class, and I was gratified that football players on the whole stopped signing up. This was after I was phoned several times by the coaches to see "If there was anything that could be done to help" so-and-so. I would answer, "He is getting tutoring." These inquiries sounded to me as if I was being offered bribes, and I have no doubt that I was correct about my suspicions. In another instance, I was in fact offered a bribe overtly when an Arabic student said he wanted to give me a gift, I think in exchange for an A. He was not doing well in class, though I had already decided not to flunk him. Foreign students often put forth a great deal of effort without very positive results, and it is not unusual to take pity. I said I could not accept the gift while he was enrolled in my class. After the term was completed but before I turned in my grades, I found a nicely constructed small inlaid box by my door. I gave him the grade I had previously intended to give him, but was not able to return the box, which still resides on my desk. I did not know its intended purpose until a graduate student, Steven Chamberlin, who was helping me at home, asked me what I was doing with a hash box.
Nevertheless, I was forced to accept counseling on my teaching from a colleague, Larry Israel. This was one of these "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations, but Larry ultimately wrote a glowing letter for me supporting my tenure application that apparently was suppressed. Once while visiting the former dean's house, Adams had explained how he planned to see to it that I would not receive tenure, which would have been effectively to have me fired. In that conversation he revealed himself to be both anti-feminist and antagonistic to someone who was disabled, both of which were of course against official University policy. The dean's wife was so appalled that she phoned me and gave me a full description of what had been said. Eventually Adams would be divorced by his wife on good grounds and, severely alcoholic, would be pretty much persona non grata on campus. The last time I saw him he was weaving his way unsteadily up some steps between two of the campus buildings.
Apparently Adams, with the connivance of another professor who was a member of the tenure and promotion committee, had been able to manipulate the majority, all of them male, when I came up for tenure in 1977 so that I was given a negative vote by them. I never received an adequate explanation from them for their action, and obviously there was much embarrassment on the part of many of the committee members. I was rated on a number system that would punish me for having an office in another building from the department (necessary for access to the classrooms in which I taught) and for other matters of a similar nature that were later found to be discriminatory. One argument was that I was "too short" (I am under five feet in height, and additionally had to teach from a wheelchair) to be a commanding presence in a classroom. My research, including already a monograph, articles, reviews, and a forthcoming book as well as work in preparing scores for concerts, was clearly well ahead of any of my tenured colleagues, but this was apparently being dismissed as "esoterica." I am sure if someone else had published on Charles Ives, or on John Cage and game theory, that the judgment would have been different than in my case. Adams even complained that I lacked "outside activities"! So the situation was utterly bizarre but not untypical of what disabled people and, formerly, women designated as "faculty wives" have had to endure at times.
My dean, Norman Greenberg, strongly supported me, but the vice president for academic affairs (in later years called the provost) rubber-stamped the recommendation of the chair and the committee, of whom ironically almost all had less seniority than I. The vice president, Stephen Mitchell, amazingly told me that my qualifications were as strong as anyone who had come before him for tenure. So it was time for a major grievance and outside legal council. I retained a lawyer, Antoinette (Toni) Little, who refuted every unfair charge with logic and, when necessary, credible allegations. By September, Mitchell had been replaced as vice president for academic affairs for his management concerning a wide range of matters affecting the University, and the grievance was progressing to a satisfactory conclusion, even providing me with a pay raise to bring me up to the level enjoyed by the other tenured assistant professors. The first year of my pay raise covered the cost of my lawyer. A little more than two years after my grievance was settled my department, with a new chairman, recommended promotion, and I was promoted to associate professor.
During this time of considerable turmoil, I directed the Society for Old Music in two concerts, and I had also begun to develop a choir and to serve when needed as substitute organist at St. Martin's Church. I did not approach the press to make my grievance public, and I practiced smiling, as if nothing of significance were happening -- good advice for anyone under similar circumstances, I think. In the summer I left for Europe for two months, the longest stay abroad of my career. This trip, which, including the repeat of the Studium Musicae workshop in Belgium as well as research in Scandinavia and England, has been described above. And when my case was settled, we started house hunting in earnest, since we found the old house on Wheaton Avenue increasingly unsatisfactory, especially since our neighbor Betty Anger had gone away to the North Carolina coast but also because the neighborhood had changed drastically. Noisy fraternity and sorority houses had replaced the pleasant sounds of children playing, and crime was increasing.
Our new house, at 2006 Argyle Avenue, was designed by Will Willsey, and comes directly from the Frank Lloyd Wright workshop, though with modifications to suit the person for whom it was built, the architect Louis Kingscott, Sr., who saw it as a retirement dwelling. It retains the Wright style, with overhangs and natural-colored trim of cypress. Very much in the tradition of the Usonian house, it is built on a slab with heating ducts underneath and has distinctive Wright windows as well as lots of folding doors. The walls are brick on both sides over cinderblock, and Mr. Kingscott insisted on an attached garage, which we eliminated after we had been in the house for some years in order to carve out a computer room, another study, and storage areas. Most rooms have concealed lighting. In making changes, we tried to follow the original plans as much as possible so that only a trained eye can detect that these new rooms are not part of the original. Built in 1956, the house will be eligible to be designated as a historical site when it is fifty years old. But the joy of our new house was that it had a large living area for rehearsals, both for the Society for Old Music and, as time went on, for the St. Martin of Tours Church choir. But, as I have indicated above, the greatest joy for me was that it had no steps anywhere. It was entirely accessible. Some problems were encountered on account of changes made by Kingscott's widow. For example, the shower had been removed, and this eventually had to be replaced, fortuitously when I could no longer use the bathtub, in 1985. The room we chose for my study had also been vandalized; the brick interior walls had been covered with gypsum board and then pink plastic wallpaper. The wallpaper we of course stripped off. We heard that Mrs. Kingscott had always hated the house. Her taste in furniture was French Provençal, so one could see that there must have been a clash of cultures between her and her husband. We moved in during a cold week in February 1978 as soon as a man with a snow plow on a truck was able to push open a path through the ice-hard snow, and our regular helper, a student named Delores Erb who had received her apprenticeship as a cleaner by assisting her mother to run their family's motel, played an essential role in getting a thoroughly dirty house in order. Even the refrigerator had been turned off without cleaning beforehand. The outside had to wait for spring, when the cypress trim, which had been varnished and now looked as if it had measles, could be sanded and stained. We had no reason to complain, since the house, when expanded into the area that was formerly the garage, is over two thousand square feet in size, all on one floor, and cost us a measly $66,000 initially, a little over half of the original asking price. Over more than a quarter century of living in the house has made us love it more, not less, in spite of built-in faults that Wright houses (and Wright knock-off houses such as ours) always seem to have.
During the period of turmoil, I had of course to be preparing briefs, soliciting letters of support, and meeting with my lawyer. But the spring concert in 1977 still had to be rehearsed and the event organized, since again it would be a complex event. It was also one that returned me to my Scandinavian roots. Kathryn Loew, whose husband Cornelius would soon replace Stephen Mitchell as vice president, was the guest organist who played the new Casavant organ, which had been finished by our friend Gayle Monette, at the First Presbyterian Church where the concert was held. The singers under my direction sang the Swedish St. John Passion, followed by the "Hymn to St. Magnus" played on rebec and lute. Other instrumental accompaniments were provided by the Wind Forest ensemble. For the medieval conference I further organized an actual post-Reformation Swedish Mass with music from the Liber Cantus of 1620 but also with much taken from earlier efforts at adapting the Roman service to the Swedish language. Near the end some Latin chants were used, as would have been the case in sixteenth-century Sweden. A considerable amount of the music I had edited myself from the early editions. For this concert too we provided a small booklet so that people could follow the texts and translations.
Before and after 1977, the Society very frequently was asked to give concerts outside of its regular season. For example, in 1979 we performed locally at St. Luke's Episcopal Church as part of an Easter music series. In this case my participation also included singing a duet with soprano Jane Rooks in the cantata Salve Jesu Patris by Dietrich Buxtehude, who was J. S. Bach's esteemed predecessor and resident in the Danish province of Scania (now the Swedish province of Skåne, from which my family came). The previous summer we had even performed at a downtown summer fair -- not our usual venue, but indoors at the First Presbyterian church house, where we presented some selected songs from the medieval Carmina Burana, actually the codex known as the Benediktbeuern Manuscript. The texts which have music are mainly ones that seem more or less appropriate for monks in the monastery where the manuscript was copied. "Vite perdite," for example, has words which indicate reformation of character: "I have turned away from my former depraved life. . . ." Even "Sic mea fata" is a fairly conventional love song: "I am dying, because I love, and am not loved in return." These were not the kinds of songs for which this codex is reputed on account of the sampling in the Carmina Burana of Carl Orff, but their melodies are original, as Orff's are not. There were also concerts in those years as far away as Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Andrews University in Berrien Springs, and St. Mark's Episcopal church at Coldwater, Michigan. And we had participated in a sacred music festival in Saskatoon, Alberta, which would be the furthest from home we traveled until our participation in a conference at Viterbo, Italy, about which I will have more to say below.
As indicated above, the repertoire was always varied but focused around a unique theme. In May 1979, the Society presented a concert of carnival songs from Florence from the end of the fifteenth century and the Missa de Carneval of Franchinus Gafurius, who lived from 1451 to 1522. This mass was edited by Russell Hammar from nearby Kalamazoo College. Then for one fall, in 1979, I was briefly joined by Elise Jorgens as an associate director for a set of laments and love songs, followed in the next spring by another important event, a concert of Cistercian (Trappist) music, both old and new, the latter including works by my friend Father Chrysogonus Waddell from Gethemani Abbey, where he had known the famous mystic Thomas Merton. Altogether the music for this concert spanned eight centuries, and included, in addition to Father Chrysogonus' compositions, some modern works by Sister Edith Scholl of Mount St. Mary Abbey. As Father Chrysogonus noted in the program notes that he kindly provided, "the music chosen for this program . . . takes us to the south of England, to Champagne and Burgundy, to Upper Silesia, to Savoie, to Massachusetts and Kentucky. Other regions could have been represented just as well -- the Cameroons, Hong Kong, France, Brazil. . . . But as we listen to this music, may it take us . . . to regions within us that lie deeper and higher and beyond." This concert was particularly appropriate as an offering for both community and the Congress on Medieval Studies, as it was now called, since the Medieval Institute here has long existed in close association with the Cistercian Institute, headed by E. Rozanne Elder, an Episcopalian who later was to serve on the international ecumenical committee studying closer relations between the Roman and Anglican communions. The reviewer for the local newspaper exclaimed about the "pristine, elevated blend of voices." Unfortunately, the tape recording we had anticipated, and which was to be used for a film promoting the Cistercian Institute and for broadcast, did not materialize since the person running the tape machine failed to press the record button -- a person none other than the manager of the university radio station.
My association with St. Martin of Tours Church was also involving a deeper commitment at this time, since the choir, at first meeting only on Sunday mornings at 9:00 for practice in preparation for the 10:00 Eucharist, was doing very well. I tried to have the singers and, when available, instrumentalists make a circle about me so that all could see me, and I could see them, as the best positioning of the musicians. Whether I was directing Gregorian chant or an African-American spiritual (for the congregation had a proportion of African-Americans), I always insisted on taking total control of the interpretation of each piece, unlike perhaps most church-music directors who more or less allow the music to take its own shape, however messy. Some of the children in the congregation had musical training, so I organized a little children's orchestra to accompany on various occasions. We had a flute, two clarinets, and a 'cello regularly available, and I could also bring in my harpsichord, though after I purchased a larger model, a replica of a Netherlandish instrument -- it was a copy of an early seventeenth-century Ruckers -- this became more difficult. Further, Gayle Monette, using some parts I had bought at the Early Music Shop in Bradford, England, had also built me a small pipe organ to use in Society for Old Music concerts, and this too was available. The availability of this instrument was fortuitous, since the church did not have an organ, only a "toaster," or electronic organ, that was in the process of dying. It had vacuum tubes like the ones formerly found in radios before the advent of the transistor, and, with replacements no longer available, they tended to splutter, sometimes noisily, when the instrument was played.
For a time we "boarded" a small pipe organ, designed to be placed in a house but technically adequate in size to the space at little St. Martin's; this had been built by a rather incompetent local builder. It not only ciphered frequently, but one day the front board over the pedal keyboard fell off on the organist's foot while he was practicing. On a Sunday, during a service, the blower made a ghastly noise and stopped. Upon opening the blower chest, the organist found it filled with dirty sawdust and cigarette butts. Because we were afraid the instrument might be offered to us, we had it appraised. The present value was a shocking zero, since it would have cost as much to take the instrument entirely apart to fix it as to purchase the parts new. Luckily, the owner decided that he still wanted it, and took it to where he was living in Minnesota.
When we heard of some used organ parts from an old Hinners organ in Chicago, we purchased them for the church and drove down in a rented truck to pick them up. These, along with a tonally fine though damaged nineteenth-century principal set (rats or mice had even eaten through a couple of the pipes) that Clifford bought from the then organist at St. Luke's for five dollars, were used by our friend Gayle as the beginning of a pipe organ for St. Martin's that he was able to prepare so that it could be played early in 1979, though it would be years, following removal during some construction, before it would be put into its present state by him. Gayle, a rather colorful gentleman of French extraction from Louisiana and perhaps Clifford's best friend while he was living, was one of the finest organ finishers in America, and had worked for the great organ companies when they began experimenting with low wind pressure and mechanical action as opposed to the usual electronic connection between keys and pipes. The St. Martin's organ is designed to run on less than two inches of wind pressure, in contrast to organs that run on as much as twenty inches -- and sound like a bag of whistles. Since St. Martin's was not an affluent parish and since many there did not understand much about organs, a real effort was needed to finish this project. Clifford was an immense help to me in seeing it through, and the result was an instrument that shows how much can be done with a minimal budget.
The vicar in the late 1970s was Father William Poyser. He succeeded Father Lewis, who had sung in the Society for Old Music and, as will be recalled, had been celebrant in the Corpus Christi Mass in 1976. Father Poyser commissioned me to write service music, and this resulted in my St. Martin's Mass, which the church published. It was designed for congregational use according to the Episcopal rite, and was sung nearly every Sunday for more than two decades. Father Poyser was at St. Martin's for ten years, and saw the church catch up on its arrears debt payments and otherwise saw the congregation grow. At first he was very supportive of the music, but by the time he left he was less so. Even though, on account of the poor finances of St. Martin's, I did not take a salary, at the end relations were strained. I was reminded that elsewhere clergy-musician conflict could be dubbed the "war department." At another local church, the priest and organist-choirmaster hardly spoke, and, as Clifford found out when he was there to borrow a little pipe organ (for this was before I acquired my own), the person in charge of music was not even allowed to make phone calls on account of the (actually minimal, I think no more than six cents per call at that time) cost to the parish.
For a national conference of the Episcopal Church on liturgy and music held locally in 1980, my connection with the Church (I was a member of the diocesan music committee) and with the Society for Old Music came together in an invitation to perform another liturgical music-drama. This performance initiated a period in which Clifford would pitch in and serve as dramatic director on a number of occasions, even returning long after my retirement to direct the staging of the Play of Daniel in 2002 for the Congress on Medieval Studies. For the music and liturgy conference, held at the Cathedral of Christ the King where we had frequently performed previously, I chose the Lazarus from the Fleury Playbook and used the score prepared by Fletcher Collins, Jr. Vestments, ranging from plain white albs to colorful copes and bright red tunicles, were lent or, if tattered, given to us by the Cathedral; further vestments came from other Episcopal churches and the Roman cathedral in town, the latter loan being facilitated through the auspices of Scott Wilson, who wore a chasuble and carried a cross as he played Christ. The First Baptist Church sent bell ringers. Instrumentalists added rebec, recorder, fiddle, and small organ, played by the Cathedral organist, Donalee Williams. The set was simple, as would have been the case in an actual medieval French monastery. Clifford created a tomb for Lazarus' burial out of some material that had been left at our new house when we moved in a little over two years before, and he made a lid for it out of a piece of painted plywood. Into this "tomb" Lazarus, played by Kalamazoo College philosophy professor David Scarrow, would be placed in a white shroud. His sister, Mary Magdalen (in medieval tradition she combined three roles, including the sister of Martha as well as the repentant sinner who washed Jesus' feet), was sung by soprano Jane Rooks, who wore red and had very long hair as reminders of her previous life as a prostitute. The long hair was also necessary for her appearance when she washed the feet of Christ at the house of Simon, played by Nick Batch, who was then serving in the army reserves in addition to his lawyering and teaching at the University. During one rehearsal he arrived late in uniform, but not too late to sing his part precisely on cue. The play ended with the Latin Te Deum, the song of joy and praise that is at least as early as the ninth century. The audience joined in singing it as we processed, led by a crucifer, until we had passed up the steps onto the balconies in the manner of a heavenly ascent. The intent of the play was originally not to achieve realism but to make the members of the audience "able to stand as if in the presence of the miraculous deeds of Christ," according to the program notes that Clifford, based on his knowledge of medieval aesthetics, provided. The response to this play was very positive. One person in attendance, a very dignified person, told me that he almost wept. Doing plays such as this always made me somewhat nervous, since once the singers are trained and their roles learned, a director no longer has complete control, and even less control if one is confined to a wheelchair. But in this case particularly I feel my work with them was vindicated.
Our interest in producing more of these plays had nevertheless been piqued, and hence we accepted an invitation to join a group of others with similar interests, and in many cases less experience or ability, at Staunton, Virginia, during the second week of a workshop organized by Fletcher Collins, Jr. We all stayed at his great house, which, very large and too expensive for a retired academic to keep in good repair, had once been the property of one of Stonewall Jackson's aides, and in the main it was accessible, as Fletch had promised. In spite of some sourness on the part of a few of the participants, we met and became friends with Margot Fassler, who would later become director of the Sacred Music Institute at Yale University and produce stellar scholarship in early music and liturgy, and Clyde (Nat) Brockett, who told of writing an article that unwound a musical puzzle and of receiving a response from the reader for a journal that he should "write no more." There was also James Gibson, whose work on the liturgical Christmas play was accepted by Clifford for publication in Comparative Drama and whose most recent accomplishment is the Records of Early English Drama work on the county of Kent in three large volumes. From our acquaintance with these persons we have long benefitted, and we have reciprocated whenever possible. Each day at the workshop began with Latin Matins for those who wished to participate, so I learned to be more quick in reading the old square-note notation. The workshop concluded with a performance, I am afraid out of costume and in tee shirts and blue jeans mostly, of the Fleury Playbook Visit to the Sepulcher at one of the local Episcopal churches. Our return trip was exciting too, since I remember being helped onto perhaps the smallest plane in which I have ever flown for the flight to Pittsburgh. The cockpit was not separate from the passenger seating, and we saw the pilot maneuvering and zigzagging to dodge black clouds and lightning. It was one of the worst storms I have ever seen from the air.
By now I was organizing an extra concert every year by an outside group, sometimes local, as in the case of Fiori Musicali, a baroque ensemble organized by Judy Whaley who had long been involved in performing with Wind Forest and the Society, or ensembles from elsewhere in Michigan and Chicago. In 1981, the Society presented a concert of Netherlands music, beginning with Adriaan Willaert's polyphonic Tota, pulchra est, using a beautiful mystical text from the Song of Songs 4:1-9: "Behold, you are beautiful, my love, your eyes behind your veil are like doves. . . ." This concert was in memory of our first patron, Dorothy Upjohn Dalton, who had generously helped the Society even before its incorporation as a non-profit. The large work on the program was Orlando di Lasso's Missa "Il me suffit'," which was based on a popular song of the time -- a common practice for composing a Mass in the sixteenth century as well as earlier. I did not do the Mass à cappella, as is usual today, but with instruments, mainly recorders and capped reeds but also organ and strings, as was the practice in early times.
I was still teaching humanities, and would be for some time, but I also began to teach a women's studies course, for which I never quite felt qualified. In spite of my support for the idea of having women priests, for instance, I could never see myself as a raving feminist like the nuns in a convent in Wisconsin who refused in their liturgy to use any masculine pronouns or nouns in reference to the deity. Those who took my class in those days could still be fairly radical, and some objected to concentrating on the women in the arts who created and performed works that are regarded as elitist. I am not sure that many of them cared about hearing of the musical compositions of my teacher Ruth Wylie from whom I learned so much, and this in spite of the fact that she was very interested in jazz style and performance. My own world of music, particularly early music, seemed very remote to most of them.
One of the developments of the Arts and Ideas course had been evolution into a class in which students attended concerts, art galleries, poetry readings, and plays, preceded by lectures that would give them guidance, whereupon they would be placed in smaller groups for discussion with an instructor. The "direct encounter" idea, for which my colleague Penny David was responsible, was in fact a big improvement over the old television and lecture course, but students' expectations were still a problem. Nevertheless, from my point of view there were many good experiences, as when I took my students on a tour of the nineteenth-century houses in the local "historic district." They always helped to push my wheelchair and to move it safely over curbs, and even to help me up the steps into the houses that were open to them for examination. I even enjoyed seeing some of the plays and musicals mounted by the University Theatre -- for example, Pal Joey, at which Clifford joined me, since we had seen this show long ago on the Scott Hall stage at the University of Minnesota when one of the students from Clifford's high school teaching days was in the orchestra. At other times shows came to Miller Auditorium, but I am afraid Annie would hardly be one of my favorites, and for Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead one could not hear well enough in a hall that holds 3,500 people. As a structure designed by the same architect as Ford Auditorium in Detroit, it was hardly very good for serious music since it is necessary to use electronic amplification to overcome the dead acoustics. I never really liked sitting in the back seats reserved for disabled people. There the acoustics were especially bad and the electronic amplification obvious. But some very good offerings were regularly being presented to which students would go, even if some of them dreaded that which to me was a genuine treat, such as the appearance by soprano Joan Sutherland on her last tour. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, some of the students came drunk to concerts -- not a very good way of sharpening oneself to the sensory stimulation of an event. As for the lectures, I was the music specialist who could work with guests to see that they were organized and prepared for the kinds of students they would encounter. On occasion I was assisted down to the front of the lecture hall in Knauss Hall and did the talking myself, and more rarely I organized or presented short concerts for the students.
Among the university committees on which I served I am most proud of having been a member from 1970 to 1986 of the Handicapper Students Advisory Board, which served to assist the coordinator, Virginia (Ginnie) Norton. The layout of the campus was not very friendly to disabled students and faculty. Manually operated wheelchairs such as mine literally could not negotiate many areas of the campus without assistance, and even motorized wheelchairs could be under severe strain if too many inclines needed to be climbed. Automatic door openers were at first non-existent. I was lucky to be strong enough to be able to pull or push open the doors in the buildings in which I taught and even to go between some locations outside if the ground was flat enough; otherwise I had to have someone push me. This would often be a student volunteering his or her services. For a time there had not even been a ramp at the entrance to the main library, and the situation in the music library was even worse since it was placed atop the old music building where it was presided over by a librarian who refused to allow most books and scores to be circulated. There were no cut-out curbs anywhere -- an insurmountable barrier to crossing the street for one in a wheelchair without assistance, and of course truly hazardous without competent assistance. Many restrooms, even in buildings built in the late 1960s, were inadequate. For many years the restroom closest to my office was sufficiently cramped that I had to leave my wheelchair outside and hobble in, on one occasion returning to find that my handbag, which I had inadvertently left behind, had disappeared. Fortunately it was found at the bottom of a stairwell a few hours later, and better yet missing only the cash that I had carried. My identification documents, including my passport, and credit cards were not taken. For the blind, markers on rooms and elevators and so forth were not yet in braille, and barriers that they found confusing and dangerous seemed to be everywhere. Ginnie was indefatigable, and, as an important accomplishment, before long the University had a vehicle with a lift to provide a transportation service for students who needed it.
None of the students that I taught or advised ever had OI, but quite a number had other kinds of problems, including mobility. Scott Keeler, for example, had a severe motor impairment that came from an auto accident some years previously -- a terrible crash in which he was badly hurt and his mother killed by a drunk driver. He was essentially bright, but much slowed down by his disability, as when he found a computer course impossible since he could not understand the instructor, whose native language was Chinese. He spoke slowly: "I have to learn two languages, computer language and Chinese." A phone call from me was all it took to have him placed in another class with a native speaker of English.
There had always been plenty of events in my life to cheer as well as to challenge the spirit. One August day Margery Selden had called to say that her son Paul, fresh out of undergraduate school at Concordia College in northwest Minnesota, was coming to the University to seek a doctorate in psychology. Shockingly his father had just died of an embolism while holding their youngest boy on his lap, and the family was feeling the need for special attention. We met Paul at the airport and installed him in our house until he could find an apartment, and later even boarded his boa constrictor for some weeks. We kept it in a locked room upstairs in our old house, and we did not feed it. A neighbor boy brought it food, I think mice. We have retained Paul's friendship, and he would later be joined in town by his mother, who still maintains a busy schedule but visits me every week now that I am confined to the house.
A peregrinus is a pilgrim, one who travels, but also one who has a goal. And it is the title of a medieval music-drama that my Society for Old Music presented, of which more in the paragraphs below. But mainly I think of the following years as a pilgrimage, consisting of a good amount of travel, and also a happy peregrination within the University from Humanities to the School of Music, which I would join as a full professor. Until 1991, this period was marked by a single fracture, when in 1985 I tripped in the house shortly before a rehearsal was to begin and sustained a spiral fracture in my right femur, which, since the rod that had been inserted in 1968 by Ed Guise remained in place, would heal fairly satisfactorily. Of course, as time went on, warning signs were there, unfortunately too soon for some of the later developments in medicine to be available to prevent what was to come.
Very few of my travels could ever be regarded as the usual tourist thing. I have mentioned the trip that we took by train from Stockholm to Bergen, and the North Sea Ferry down the Norwegian coast and across to Newcastle in 1977. We had passed through Värmland, from which my mother's mother's family had emigrated, and of course my grandfather came from Bergen. But trips to museums, including the large as well as small, I always regarded as related to my profession. Architecture is crucial for music and performance, and it is such buildings that I visited, sometimes in spite of considerable barriers at their entry or in their interior. In London I can mention many buildings, from the Whitehall Banqueting House to the usual tourist traps like Westminister Abbey and St. Paul's, but for me the latter were as important as places to hear music as for their architecture. In the end my preferences for church music resolved down mainly to All Saints, Margaret Street, and St. Mary the Virgin, Bourne Street, where I could hear the most exquisite classical and renaissance music. But of course I had to visit York Minster when in York, and, when in Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, where a slightly tipsy verger offered to help me ascend the tower -- a temptation, but of course utterly impossible. At Windsor, where one year we were accompanied by my sister Ione, the only way we could enter St. George's Chapel was at service time, for we had not made advance arrangements, and at S. Maria Novella in Florence we heard singing that was so refreshingly different from what we had heard in Rome.
Conferences too played a role. In 1980, we set out from London by train and ferry to go to a medieval drama colloquium in Dublin. As we crossed Wales, we heard to our delight the voices of schoolchildren chattering away in Welsh. Ferries are not always easy to negotiate, but at Holyhead we were given a fairly convenient compartment, which, however, I remember as claustrophobic. Remembering Milton's "Lycidas," a lament for a fellow student who was lost when crossing the Irish Sea, I sang the sailor's hymn, then fell asleep, I am afraid fitfully. The morning came all too soon, and at landing at Dun Laoghairee we were surprised both at the palm trees along the shore and the cold, which dogged us all the time we were in Ireland, especially since our lodging seemed to have no heat even when the temperature dropped far below 60 degrees F. Entering Dublin, the bus took us past the post office made famous by the 1916 uprising and William Butler Yeats' poem which proclaimed the result of the event to have changed everything in Ireland. We then transferred to another bus, on the advice of the co-convener of the conference, and found our way to his apartment for breakfast with him and Jean-Charles Payan, the eminent French scholar who had been Clifford's host at Alençon three years before. On the way, we had missed our stop, and the driver drove the bus around the block to deposit us exactly in front of our destination.
We loved Dublin, in spite of the cold, wet June days. The conference, which met on the Belfield campus, was quite disorganized, since the co-convener had left Dublin for Paris with her new baby, I believe, and had left the colloquium in the hands of her husband and the faculty at University College. Still, there was much of interest to me. In Dean Marsh's Library, near St. Patrick's Cathedral where Jonathan Swift was dean in the eighteenth century, I was able to examine a manuscript of a unique Visit to the Sepulcher, complete with music and stage directions. It was from this manuscript that Alan Fletcher took his cues for staging the play, which he did in purely liturgical style as it would have been done in many locations prior to the Reformation. The three Marys, played by men in richly decorated copes and scarves over their heads, came, lamenting, through the audience to an Easter tomb or sepulcher, representing where Jesus had been buried on Good Friday. They carried not spices but censers on chains, and the University College chapel at Belfield was filled with smoke and the smell of incense. I was always a little allergic to incense, but the effect here was very good -- and, of course, authentic. "Who shall roll away the stone from the tomb?" the Marys asked. They were then greeted, as in other examples of the Visit, by an angel at the tomb who would say in Latin, "Whom seek you here, O Christian women." They replied, "We seek Jesus, who was crucified, O heaven dweller," whereupon the angel said, "He is risen and is not here; come and see the place where he was laid." This is the heart of the Visit, always followed by ritualized music of rejoicing, including in this case Wipo's famous eleventh-century Easter antiphon Victimae paschale laudes (Praise to the Paschal Victim), which contains dialogue:
"What, Mary, did you see on the way?"
"I saw the living Christ's tomb and the glory of his resurrection."
Finally, in the midst of the church, men representing two of the disciples, John and Peter, have come in, and, after receiving the news from the Marys, they literally race to the tomb. The conclusion is the Te Deum, sung by all -- an indication that the play was embedded in the Matins service on Easter morning. This play was different from the Fleury Playbook version that we had seen at St. Jerome's College chapel thirteen years before and that the Society for Old Music had performed.
Professional conferences are good places to meet people and to renew friendships that are often so important for professional life. Our friends from Leeds were there, but we also met others, for example George Szönyi from Hungary who would then invite Clifford to come to Budapest and Szeged University for a short stint as a visiting scholar when that country was still (very unwillingly) in the Eastern camp. I was not able to go, and had to arrange rides to get to my classes and some other help during his time away. But Clifford brought back music for two liturgical music-dramas from Hungary that we were able to use at a later time. I remember an intense conversation with Father Gerard Farrell, monk of the Benedictine abbey near St. Cloud and then permanently on loan to Westminister Choir College, on a bus as we were going up to Trinity College for performances of a morality and a Robin Hood play, the latter directed by the talented David Parry of Toronto and played on the college green. And, though we had met Alan Fletcher previously when he was at Leeds, we now had a chance to cement our friendship in spite of his busy schedule with the colloquium.
Later in the decade we met others at conferences who became important in our lives. In 1983 at Perpignan, where the dominant language seemed to be Catalan, we stayed at a seedy but delightful hotel (one corner of the bed in our room was propped up by a block of wood) on the town square, across from the cathedral, which had a remarkable array of relics in a dusty chapel. While Nat Brockett, whom we had met at Fletcher Collins' workshop in Virginia, brought a play from his college that was presented in the cathedral, otherwise the conference was situated at the university some distance away. Hans-Jürgen Diller and his wife, of Bochum in (then) West Germany, offered us rides that allowed us to avoid having to use taxis or public transportation. Afterward Hans-Jürgen came to our medieval Congress and spent some weeks as a visiting scholar at the Medieval Institute. Then to our surprise he dedicated his Cambridge University Press book on medieval English drama to Clifford and myself. But simple luck also might apply, as when we met the Japanese scholar Keiko Ikegami at the Penn Club in London. She too would later dedicate a book to us.
To return to 1982, in that year I organized a concert of pilgrim songs along with the music-drama Peregrinus from Beauvais Cathedral for the May Congress. This play, which remains one of my favorites, dramatizes two biblical episodes, first the incident in which two disciples, lamenting the death of Jesus, meet the risen Christ on the way to Emmaus and, not recognizing him since he is dressed as a pilgrim, invite him in to a meal. He blesses the food, and disappears from the table, whereupon they know who it was who had sat down with them. He then will appear again, in the second scene, when these two disciples are trying to convince Doubting Thomas that Christ has really risen. In the end he appears changed utterly, in our play in brilliant red and gold vestments over the simple robe that he had worn previously. The music is moving but less lyrical than the Sponsus and is adequately described as Gregorian chant, but for the final procession in the Cathedral of Christ the King I chose Salve feste dies, which is more "jazzy" and more appropriate for a processional. In the middle of this item, the audience was invited to sing along on the refrain, which may be translated: "Hail thee, festival day, glad feast that all ages shall hallow; day wherein, vanquishing hell, God to high heaven ascends." As dramatic director, Clifford had the most trouble with deciding how to stage the disappearance from the table. It was agreed that there would be no way to do this if all three singers were facing out toward the audience. So the table was set up in front of the centrally-placed altar, with the disciples at each end and Christ seated behind it. When it came time for Christ to disappear, he simply slipped away while the disciples were concentrating on their food.
The pilgrim songs that I chose for the program included a conductus and a motet in honor of St. Thomas of Canterbury, the saint whose relics were to be venerated by Geoffrey Chaucer's pilgrims on the pilgrimage described in The Canterbury Tales. The conductus was reputed to have been composed only about three years after Thomas' martyrdom in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Then there was a set of songs from Montserrat in Spain taken from the marvelous Llibre Vermell, and another in honor of the apostle St. James, believed to be enshrined at Compostela. Some of these items one can easily imagine medieval pilgrims singing as they walked, often barefoot, across the countryside to venerate the saint -- a pilgrimage that is still being done, as the medieval musical instrument expert Mary Remnant assured us in conversation during a visit to Kalamazoo. Then too "Palästinalied," a crusade song by Walther von der Vogelweide, seems designed to be sung in expectation on the way to the Holy Land: "Only now I find myself contented; my sinful eye has seen the land, the holy ground that has at all times been praised most highly." Finally, I programmed three cantigas, all focusing on miracles of the Virgin Mary, from the collection of Alfonso X el Sabio, who was given credit for writing them. One of the cantigas will surprise people today since it tells the tale of a pregnant abbess, whose shame was taken away by the merciful Virgin Mary. For these songs and for the play we used a variety of instruments, from medieval harp and fiddle to recorders and capped reeds as well as the marine trumpet, an exotic one-stringed instrument that makes a wonderfully raspy drone sound.
In the next season we performed music by English masters, mostly William Byrd and Henry Purcell, and, in the spring, early women composers, including work by Hildegard of Bingen (medieval) as well as Francesca Caccini, Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, and Isabella Leonarda (baroque), all of these masters of their craft. At this time I was particularly interested in Isabella, for I had obtained microfilms of her work from the very rare early editions so that I could make transcriptions. One of her psalm settings was a featured work on the program. But we also sneaked in some really fun pieces from the eighteenth or early nineteenth century by women only known as Mrs. Arkwright, Miss Abrams, and Mrs. Miles, whose titles are "Rose! thou art the sweetest flower," "And must we part forevermore?" and "Brignall Banks." I had found this quaint music and more in a dusty bin in a used-book shop in London near the British Museum. I can confess that I still have it stowed away in my piano bench. In the course of the year we were also invited to bring Peregrinus to the medieval drama colloquium at Viterbo, Italy. I had a grant from the American Society of Learned Societies, but we needed support for the singer-players, so we organized a fund raiser and applied for local grant money to cover their air fare. Once we arrived in Viterbo we were assured of lodging and food.
There was a bad moment at the Rome airport when the skycap wanted to roll me down the stairs in my wheelchair. He had apparently done this with other passengers, but I of course refused, since I had no interest in being in an Italian hospital as an OI patient with multiple broken bones. I got out of my wheelchair, and the skycap got very angry, even starting to push the chair down the hallway without me. We shouted at him, and finally he turned around and returned. Then, after the train ride into the city, a taxi driver tried to charge us the equivalent of sixty dollars for a short ride from the station; he had let his meter run from his previous customers. I guess we soon enough recognized that we were in Italy, a country of contradictions, for another taxi driver gave us a ride without asking for pay, indeed even refusing to take a tip. We only had time for a brief stop at St. Peter's and a walk along the exterior of the old city near Hadrian's column. The next day, a Sunday, we went to Mass at S. Maria Maggiore, which visually was almost like a step into the Roman past, though we found the singing disappointing. Then we boarded the train with the other members of our troupe for Viterbo, which, we learned, was the town where popes vacationed during the Middle Ages when they wanted to escape the hot, humid, and unhealthy summers in Rome. Upon our arrival there, we gathered at the appointed place, then dispersed to our lodgings. Clifford and I were given a room with private bath in a very acceptable (though hardly luxury) hotel. As soon as we were settled, I asked directions to the Center for the Study of Medieval and Renaissance Theater, and was told that "it doesn't exist." This turned out to be true in a sense. The convener, Federico Doglio, was a professor at Rome and simply had political connections with the provincial government that allowed him to support conferences and publish books. Our support was certainly very generous, since we were given meal tickets to cover more than we could eat and drink. Further, there was an excursion on Wednesday that took us all around the province of Viterbo from Etruscan caves, to a medieval hill town, to a Renaissance palace, and to the highest point in the region, where a restaurant had prepared for us a feast unlike any we had ever eaten, all part of the generosity of the provincial government. We were famished, however, by the time that we reached the restaurant, and Tim Benedict, who would play the role of Doubting Thomas, had plaintively said that he was only hoping for a stop long enough someplace so he could have "a coke and a hamburger," as if such fast food were available anywhere in Italy at that time. But we otherwise could not complain about our meals, which were always sumptuous and healthy. We could take our meal tickets to any number of restaurants, all of which were more or less accessible. Sometimes I needed to be helped over a step or two. At our favorite restaurant the owners had a dog which was able to open the door for entrances and exits, or so we believed. We never actually saw the dog do this, but Italy, we found, is a stimulus to the imagination.
We spent a good deal of time rehearsing and polishing our play, though it was not very long, only thirty-five minutes, in the church chosen for us. We were to present a twelfth-century music-drama in an eleventh-century church, S. Maria Nuova, appropriately in the Pellegrino district of the city where in medieval times pilgrims had lodged on their way through from the north to Rome or Jerusalem. The district still had many medieval buildings, and the cobblestone streets, which were difficult for wheelchair transport, created a picturesque appearance. The church itself is not large but has fine acoustics and, since it has side aisles, in spite of the presence of pews provided a good routing for processions. This was necessary because a large part of the play is done walking around on the way to Emmaus, which we placed in the raised chancel, and, of course, we wanted to have a splashy final procession, during which we sang Salve festa dies, around the nave. There were glorious thirteenth- and fourteenth-century frescoes in the nave that served as backdrop for various points in the action. Our Kalamazoo cast was joined in Rome by Nat Brockett, and we enlisted one further singer, Diana Wyatt, from England. But Clifford still had to sing with the chorus when he was not otherwise engaged, as of course I did myself throughout. In addition to Tim, the principals were David Senecal (Christ), Nick Batch (Cleopas), and Robert Nicholson (St. Luke). Rob's wife Marilyn was a member of the chorus and played some brief instrumental parts on a wheezy and almost non-functioning electronic organ, disappointingly perhaps the worst "toaster" I have ever heard. It could not be left turned on because it would start spontaneously to make crackling sounds after a few short minutes. Fortunately, we were able to have Nick, who had brought his recorder, fill in at one or two points. The play was scheduled for Thursday evening, 14 July 1983, as bright yellow posters posted all around the city proclaimed.
In the meantime, there were other performances, beginning with a Herod play by a troupe from Rome in the cloisters of S. Maria della Verità on the opening night of the colloquium. They had built an elaborate structure for Herod's palace that seemed artificial against the stonework of the cloister, and they had a real donkey for the escape of the Child Jesus and his parents to Egypt. Unfortunately, on this night there had been a decision by the colloquium convener to make a videotape of the performance. As the donkey was crossing through the audience on the way to Egypt, the trio was being followed behind by the camera, which overloaded the electrical circuitry. The lights went out, darkness descended -- hardly the right effect. Yet I was impressed with the singing and also with much of the acting, to the point when there was an opportunity to return on Friday evening for a reprise, without the video camera, we went. Another impressive performance was presented by a pair of performers from Madrid who had revived an ancient form of semi-dramatic recitation and song, accompanying depictions of miracles of the Virgin in large illustrations, which were changed as the stories progressed. Of course, the performances were taking place against the background of scholarly presentations, of which mine would be a well-received paper on the music of Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum, a play that I was planning to perform.
On Thursday morning we were to have a video tape made of our performance, since I had forbidden cameras from being present during the actual performance in the evening. This turned out to be a day-long struggle. The electricity in the church was inadequate for the one video camera that the crew brought, so arrangements had to be made to bring a cable in from the street in front of the church. This took until 11:00 a.m. Then, with the single camera, the crew under the direction of Miriam Chiabò had to split the play into pieces and film segments from different angles. We had lighted the candles in the chancel, and hence taking different segments at somewhat arbitrary times meant that the candles in the final version changed up and down in length as they burned, but not in the sequence consistent with the progress of the play. The members of the crew agitated for a chance to smoke, for being inside a church did not seem to matter to them. Their director and I insisted that tobacco smoke was bad for the singers, and we prevailed except that one young man, late in the filming, yanked out a cigarette and said, "Just one" as he sat down in the middle of the nave to light up a cigarette. What could we do? It was good that this was not when a French woman came by to visit the church and was offended anyway that we were not treating holy space with sufficient respect. We explained that we had permission, and that doing a play involved giving directions and a certain amount of talking. I do not think she was satisfied, but she left. After all the effort, the final result was not the professional video for which we had hoped.
The presentation for the members of the colloquium and others was delayed until around 9:00 p.m., I think because Professor Doglio had organized an unscheduled viewing of some of his films of early drama. I had my chorus, except for Clifford when he had to serve as an acolyte at the meal or as crucifer, with me situated at all times in the front pew. Things went relatively smoothly, though there was one serious hitch. To be sure, the disciples and Jesus had to navigate around an overflow crowd standing in the aisles, but a real crisis appeared at the moment when the bread was to be broken at the table. We had bought two loaves from a bakery on a nearby street that day. The one used for the video taping had broken easily, but this loaf was unusually difficult to break, so when the choir sang the Latin words meaning "he took the bread, blessed it, and broke it, and passed it out to them [the two disciples]," David Senecal, who was playing the role of Jesus, missed his cue ("fregit") since the loaf failed to cooperate. There was a little delay while the choir sang on, but fairly rapidly he recovered and was able to break away the pieces of bread to hand out. For the final procession we turned up the lights to their brightest so that the audience could join in the singing.
When the colloquium was concluded, we took the train to Florence, for I had never seen Brunelleschi's masterpiece, the cathedral dome, with my own eyes, or Ghiberti's doors for the Baptistry, or the Italian masters in the Uffizi, especially paintings such as Botticelli's Birth of Venus, which I had taught innumerable times. It was nearby, at the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, that we met Dom Argento and his wife, of whom I have made mention above. We were staying in the Minerva Hotel, which in those days was expensive but not confiscatory -- and it had air conditioning, so we were protected from the gnats which seem to infest Florence at night.
On Sunday we attended Mass at S. Maria Novella, where I was impressed by the tight-throat singing, so different from the bel canto style; this was the tone that felt right for Renaissance Carnival songs as well as other music from Florence. I imagined that it was the kind of singing that would have been familiar to Lorenzo the Magnificent, the most cultured of the Medicis. The church also possessed spectacular religious art, including a crucifix by Giotto and a fresco of the Trinity by Masaccio, surrounded by classical columns and on account of his use of perspective almost as three-dimensional as a carving. In the Spanish Chapel, we stared at the terrifying demons in the scene below the Passion, while on another wall St. Thomas of Aquinas looked down on us.
We visited the Academia since it was open that Sunday afternoon. This is the gallery where so many tourists simply trot over to gape at Michelangelo's David and then leave. At least those who waited and then traipsed briefly to the back of the gallery were not so crass as the tourists who came to the city merely for the flea market. Our stay in Florence was all too short before we had to board the train for Milan en route to the airport and a flight to Paris. It must have been at Milan that the lock on my suitcase was broken open and my luggage rifled, but nothing taken. I was not a rich American carrying expensive jewelry or furs. It was on this visit to Paris that Clifford and I went down to Chartres, but we remembered vividly a previous time when we drank wine at a place on the Champs-Elysées. We were with Rose Marie Janzen, who remarked, I think in polite Parisian disapproval, when we raised a toast and touched glasses, "Do Americans click?" She presented me with a copy of Polyphonie that had belonged to her friend Jean Barraqué. This number of the journal dealt with rhythm, relevant to my work then on Messiaen; I was supposed to share it with Joyce Chaplin, the keyboard person with whom I so often worked in concerts of the Society for Old Music.
Our brief stay in London was less than happy, since Clifford had a cold and my wheelchair developed a problem. He took it to a shop in north London where we had gone before, but failed to get it fixed properly. This was before Rosemary Heaword, whom we had met at a play -- a National Theater production of Georg Büchner's Danton's Death at one of the theaters on St. Martin's Lane -- some years before, introduced us to the Covent Garden Bicycle Shop much closer by. At least our lodgings in London were more congenial than earlier since we would now stay at the Penn Club on Bedford Place, close enough to the British Museum that I could manage, with only a little help, to get to the library myself, as I did when Clifford was doing research on the early art of Coventry and the medieval county of Warwickshire. There had been changes, including a better lift in front of the museum, but the most convenient entrance for me would still be the north entrance, which would not, unfortunately, open until 10:00 a.m. The lavatory for disabled readers was in the museum, across from the Rosetta Stone, which I thus passed several times daily. I think this was a year in which we may have seen no more than one play, and no concerts as such, though I know we were able to hear music at one of our favorite churches on Sunday mornings. Usually we did better. We saw operas when available in the summer at both Covent Garden and the National Opera, and these included not only spectacular productions of Peter Maxwell-Davies' Taverner and Wagner's Lohengren (though the plexiglass swan seemed a long time a-coming in this production) but also English-language versions of Carmen and The Magic Flute, the latter absolutely delightful. We heard early music whenever possible, most memorably in the 1970s by David Munrow and his consort. I don't think I have ever been as impressed with a countertenor as with James Bowman, who had got stuck in the London traffic on the way to the Christopher Wren church of St. Vedast, arrived at the last minute, and yet turned out a spectacular performance. I should mention that on account of my disability we always had to take taxis in London, usually, it seemed, with friendly drivers who always knew where they were going and never cheated us. The London cabs in those days were easy for me to enter, with a bit of gentle help from Clifford or somebody else.
My summer research over the 1980s was largely focused on music for use in concerts or in church, though I always tried to keep in mind learning about matters that would be useful in my teaching. In 1983, my main interest was Hildegard, since, as noted above, I had every intention of mounting a production of her music-drama. When I received the microfilm of the Wiesbaden manuscript, I would realize that it would be necessary to make an entirely fresh transcription of the neumes. Her notation was of course a form that was common enough in the twelfth century prior to the advent of square-note notation, but to non-specialists it looked like hen scratchings. Even Drew Minter, a colleague at Vassar College and a fine musician, wrote to me about his amazement that I could figure it out. But the system is not really all that arcane, if one has the key, with the only disadvantage being that I had to work from the microfilm and would be delayed in seeing the actual manuscript until some years after my production and the subsequent performing edition, now, however, issued in a second edition by the Hildegard Publishing Company, specialists in publishing music by women composers.
The production of the Ordo Virtutum for both the community and the International Congress on Medieval Studies took place in May 1984 with dramatic direction once more by Clifford. We advertised the production as the American premiere, and the turnout for the Congress performance filled the Cathedral of Christ the King. In spite of the doubling of parts, we had a larger cast than usual. All principals involved singing roles except the Devil, played by Nick Batch, who wore a bear-like fur garment, even black gloves, and roared unmusically since in Hildegard's view the Devil was not capable of either melody or harmony. Fay Smith played the Soul, who naughtily erred as she slipped away with an interpolated character, Mundus, and who then returned to the circle of the Virtues at the end with her garments tattered and torn and dirty. The Devil, the enemy of all goodness, was now chained up, and Victory sang, "Rejoice, the old serpent has been bound." Chastity then stomped on his head and proclaimed that his "belly has been confounded." The queen of the Virtues is Pride's opposite, Humility, who had a crown and presided over the entire play. I myself sang the role of Fear of God from my wheelchair, though admittedly it hardly looked like something that would have been available in the twelfth century. Costumes were fairly simple of necessity but each was inspired in some way by the designs in Hildegard's Scivias. The staging has been described quite fully in Clifford's article in the book I later edited, Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum: Critical Essays, which also includes my technical description of the music as well as other discussions of various aspects of the play. Barbara Thornton and Sequentia, who staged the play at Cologne and made their first recording of it, slightly preceded our production and at about the same time were becoming a sensation. Hildegard was someone I could import to my women's studies courses, no matter how secular some of the die-hard students happened to be.
By way of a change, in the fall the Society presented a program of early American, Michigan, and Kalamazoo music. This came out of a discussion over lunch at our house with local businessman and philanthropist Irving Gilmore, who encouraged me to include some early popular music along with more serious works such as the Moravian Johann C. Geisler's "How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings." I visited the local museum and archives, while the University music library also had something to contribute. Nick Batch transcribed three trumpet tunes from The Sacred Harp, the famous tune book of 1844. There were three temperance songs, including "Cheer, All Cheer, or the Union Prohibition Battle Cry," "'Twas Rum That Spoiled My Boy," and "Set Down That Glass," the latter by a composer named Supply Belcher, who lived at the time of the American Revolution. Quite amusing was a song entitled "Let the Songbirds Live!" by someone named A. W. Ulrich from nearby Mendon, Michigan. This, dated 1929, was advertised as the most recent of the items on the program. But one of the local compositions, I must confess, was a fake. I found the text in the University archives, and set it to music in the style of the period in which it was written. Until now only Clifford has known my secret.
For the next May, I chose music of quite a different sort, from Central and Eastern Europe by such composers as Johannes of Lublin, Thomas Stolzer, and Johannes Nucius. But I also included another Visit to the Sepulcher, in this instance the one from Hungary that Clifford had brought back in 1982, followed by a Magnificat by Mikhaij Radomski from Poland, and a Hungarian Tractus Stellae (Play of the Star) that George Szönyi had given to us. Nick Batch as the first Magi, guided by the star suspended from the balcony of the Cathedral of Christ the King, led the travelers (on foot) to the court of Herod, played by Peter Lewis, who was of course the surly monarch of tradition. His anger at receiving solid and honest advice may remind people of many of the world's rulers whom they have observed in our own time. For Mary and the Child we obtained the loan of a sculpture, an image lent to us by the rector of St. Martin's who had purchased it at the ancient pilgrimage site of Walsingham. The image was treated as if it were the persons represented and was attended by two midwives, who appeared in tradition long before the fifteenth century. There was no distinction here between the two, unlike in some cases when one is a believer and the other a skeptic who insists on a gynecological examination, at which point her hand is withered -- but then restored by miracle.
Amateur musicians usually take a long time for rehearsals if they are to do a creditable job at performance time. But I was terrifically pleased to be invited to present a concert of the music of Heinrich Schütz for the Bach Festival at Kalamazoo College with only a single month of rehearsals to work up choral pieces from a range of Schütz's corpus, and these included some really wonderful compositions that I had long wanted to see presented. I don't think that anything can be more beautiful than his Wer will uns scheiden, which has the text "Who shall separate us from the love of God? . . . Neither death nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God." An even more exciting occasion for me came when I was invited to direct a small group of singers in the Swedish St. John Passion at the Chapel of the Cross at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary in St. Paul under the sponsorship of the Friends of Minnesota Music, which had also published the Festschrift for Johannes Riedel. Clifford had been asked to show a few slides and explain the development of Passion in art, especially the trend toward emotional and graphic depiction of Jesus' suffering, and there was an organ offering of small Swedish preludes, played by organist Steve Westcott. My little chorus was absolutely professional and had rehearsed in advance, so when I came to town I only had to coach them in interpretation, not in note reading, as would be the case, for example, with my church choir. The singer who sang the role of the Evangelist, Kevin Baum, later became a member of the highly acclaimed vocal ensemble Chaunticleer, which is indeed a peregrinating troupe with much of the year spent on the road.
Other concerts were mounted in more humble surroundings, as when we did medieval Christmas carols and other Christmas music in 1986 at little St. Martin of Tours Church, where of course I was also music director for so many years. For the Society's twentieth anniversary concert, however, we returned to the Cathedral of Christ the King, and here we repeated some of our favorites, such as the chant Alma redemptoris mater ("Gracious mother of the Redeemer"), the antiphon in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary that will be remembered as the little clergeon's song in Chaucer's Prioress' Tale, and again songs from the Carmina Burana manuscript as well as cantigas attributed to Alfonso X El Sabio and a selection of renaissance songs and madrigals. After the interval, I programed some American songs, beginning with William Billings' Chester and two trumpet songs edited by Nick Batch, and some Renaissance and baroque songs and motets. The final work on this program was Isabella Leonarda's Laetatus sum, which I had edited from the original part books and which was given its earliest American performance. Isabella was a nun from Novara, Italy, and was a very competent composer, even if her notation in the part books could sometimes be baffling.
In 1987 it was time for a repeat of the Sponsus from St. Martial of Limoges, this time with Clifford as dramatic director. After an introductory section and an interval, we began Vespers for the First Sunday in Advent in chairs set up to resemble the seating in a monastic church. For the medieval Congress, the audience was invited to sing along with the hymn Creator alme siderum ("Creator of the stars of night"), but otherwise the psalms, done in medieval psalm tone, and antiphons were sung entirely by our troupe. I was seated in my wheelchair in a position so that I could "wave" my hands and keep the music together. Then we began the Sponsus, as it will be recalled a music-drama that ends with the foolish virgins being repulsed by the Bridegroom, Jesus, and told "I know you not. Because you lack the lamp-oil, take yourselves and your lamps away from this regal door." A painted hellmouth that Clifford created was hanging over the door to the liturgical north; this is what awaited the foolish ones, while the wise were welcomed by the Sponsus or Bridegroom into the great wedding feast of reconciliation and joy. The antiphon Ne timeas Maria ("Do not fear, Mary") was followed by other responses and songs, including the Magnificat.
Then in the fall I was anxious to break some new ground again with a set of wonderful St. Nicholas plays from the Fleury Playbook. In one of the plays, the saint rescues three boys from a pickling tub after their murder by a wicked innkeeper and his wife, and in the other he provides dowries to three young women from an impoverished family to keep them from having to resort to prostitution for a living. The event was designated as a St. Nicholas day celebration. Then the spring brought a set of plays and ceremonies for Holy Week and Easter from medieval Sweden. Wind Forest, the instrumental ensemble which had performed in so many of our concerts, was again present for a prelude of Swedish music, and then we sang a set that was comprised of the beautiful Brigittine antiphon Rosa rorans, by Nikolaus Hermansson, selections form Piae Cantiones, the first music book published in Scandinavia (in 1582), and two early Swedish hymns. Cathedral organist Donalee Williams played a pair of pieces by Buxtehude. Further pieces by Olaus Rudbeckius, Vincenzio Albrici (for whom Sweden was an adopted country), and Gustav Düben completed the first section of the concert. These I had found in Swedish libraries and collections, except Rosa rorans ("Rose which droppeth goodness down on us, / Star, whose brightness leadeth us, / Hail Birgitta, vessel of grace"), which had been given to me by Sister Patricia at Vadstena, where I had of course visited several times. In the monastery at Vadstena was where Birgitta's relics had been deposited, along with those of her daughter St. Catherine, in the fourteenth century. They are now in the Vadstena parish church, which is of course officially Lutheran but filled with an impressive array of religious art, including two large images of St. Birgitta herself. With Clifford's help, I studied how the medieval church designed by Birgitta was laid out liturgically, and considered how the Holy Week and Easter ceremonies and music-dramas would have appeared and sounded. We know not only that they were performed here but also that some of the ceremonies survived into the twentieth century. So I was informed by my friend Sister Patricia, who told of a special rite of "burying" a large image of Christ in a sepulcher after carefully preparing it as if it were a person especially beloved to them. Patricia, originally from New Zealand and widowed two weeks into her marriage, had first joined the Brigittine convent in Holland. At first very unhappy, she knew that she had found her place in life when she began to study and perform the ancient Brigittine music, on which she is expert. At that time the Swedish nuns in the order had no convent in Sweden, and indeed had not been present in the country since they were expelled in 1595 in a virulent outbreak of Protestantism, long after the official break with Rome. In the 1960s they returned and built a new church, and also began offering bed and breakfast to provide a living for themselves. Unfortunately, the lodgings were not accessible, so Sister Patricia found alternate rooms for us on the occasions when we visited, and then we ate breakfast at the convent each day. Here we met congenial people such as Flemming and Birgit Poulsen from Denmark, who would later invite us to visit them at their home in Stuby, near Vordinborg. They took us to visit a church nearby where the famous Danish hymn writer Nikolai Gruntvig had spent his childhood and where his father was pastor. I could not resist allowing myself to be lifted up onto the bench to play the organ, which was truly a fine little instrument. We have on our wall a lovely woodcut image of St. Birgitta that was created by Flemming.
Other friends in Sweden were of course very helpful to me in my research, and these, among others, include Viveca Servatius, whom I had met years before at the Royal Library, and Gunilla Iversen, whose article also on the purpose and performance of Hildegard's Ordo Virtutum in the Early Drama, Art, and Music Review would supersede the speculations presented in the book of criticism on this play that I edited. It was Viveca who insisted initially that I must go to Vadstena, as indeed was necessary in any case in order to see a manuscript of the Swedish Passion, and I am indebted to her for some ideas concerning how Gregorian chant should be performed. When her Gregorian Singers were still performing on Sundays at the Roman Cathedral in Stockholm, I had occasion once to sing with them to fill out the group. Singing the psalms in Swedish was a bit of a problem for me since the words need to trip easily off the tongue, but the majority of the chants were in Latin. We sang the Missa Angelis, which is a truly beautiful Gregorian Mass, from the balcony.
Our May 1988 concert, then, concluded with the ceremonies and Easter play mentioned above. Catherine Niessink, who had sung with the Society for many years, was Mary Magdalen, and David Senecal, who was now also singing with the St. Martin of Tours Church choir, was one of the angels at the tomb. At about this time I also was completing my edition of the Holy Week and Easter ceremonies and plays from Sweden, which now would be tested by performance so that I could feel more confident concerning them. Interestingly, though I had taken Clifford down into the cold temperature-controlled lower depths of the Royal Archives in Stockholm to search for more examples, I had turned up none, but not long thereafter Nils Holger Petersen was able to make a surprising find of yet another Swedish Visit to the Sepulcher -- a sign that there might be more among the uncatalogued fragments that had been torn from medieval service books to serve as covers for military and provincial records. At the time I was working in Stockholm, there was surprisingly little interest in these fragmentary holdings. I like to think that I had a role in bringing these back to attention, for they are now being properly listed so as to be available in the future to both researchers and performers. After my book was published, there was a showing of fragments and service books in the Medieval Museum in Stockholm that would also receive a very fine exhibit catalogue entitled Helgerånet från Mässböcker till Munkepärmar, which contains essays by scholars with like interests, including my friends Viveca and Ann-Marie Nilsson.
There was another interest that I would like to have pursued more and that had occupied both Clifford and myself when in Sweden. Our curiosity had been piqued by a visit to the musical instrument museum in Stockholm, then located near the royal palace in the old city, in the 1970s when I went there to look at a manuscript. Two or three times we were fortunate to be able to have a pilgrimage around Skåna with my relatives Bengt and Gertrud Hernsell in order to search for musical instruments depicted in wall paintings. The most exciting was the trip we made with them from Limhamn, a suburb of Malmö, where they live across the province to the Baltic coast and up into Blekinge, where we visited with Bengt's sister Gurli in her country house. She was then very old and somewhat disabled already, so the Swedish government would give her transport to Blekinge by taxi at the price of train fare. But along the way we had stopped at various sites, including Kiaby, where my grandfather's family had lived. The tidy little church with its twelfth-century font would have been where my ancestors were baptized, and the churchyard where they were buried. Kiaby itself had fine medieval wall paintings, as I have mentioned above, and these include depictions of an organ and a lute player. At Fulltofta, for example, there were a fine devil trumpeter (probably meant to be a rather incompetent musician) and an angel playing a trump at the Last Judgment. The wall paintings at Fjälkinge showed an entire orchestra. A Devil horn player appeared with the damned, and there were trumpets and an organ. When we were in Sweden for the final time, Bengt and Gertrud invited us to stay with them, and this in retrospect was a precious time since, unknown to me, I would not be able to return again to the land of my forefathers and foremothers. Their home was very near the ferry landing, so we were able easily to slip across to Denmark, where we met up with Brian McGuire, the expert on St. Bernard, and his colleagues at Copenhagen University. We also could conveniently go back from their house to the library at the University of Lund, where I had worked several times in the past. Bengt is an architect, recently retired when we were there. Interestingly, the ambience of their house is not so different from ours, though I am afraid with our scholarly activities ours has always been more cluttered.
After my peregrination to the School of Music, I would teach courses very much more congenial to me, and would have fewer complaining students like one who cried on my desk. When I told him to stop crying and asked him if he wanted "to be treated like a baby," he said, "Yes, treat me like a baby." Music courses assigned to me included ethnomusicology, at last an opportunity to use professionally the knowledge that I had acquired at the University of Minnesota. I had previously gone on my own to meetings of the American Musicological Society, only in one case reading a paper, at Denver. For my final AMS conference I was able to travel with colleagues; this event was at New Orleans, where I even dared to take a river boat cruise on the Mississippi. One of the others on the cruise was Don Franklin, one of the three musicologists (including myself and Lowell Lindgren) from Willmar, Minnesota. I chalk it up to my broadmindedness that I took in both Preservation Hall and a Zydeco virtuoso, Dewey Balfa, who was famous for performing Cajun music.
Eventually I would also team up with the Collegium Musicum, directed by Matthew Steel, in the fall of 1989 in a concert featuring Carissimi's oratorio Historie di Jephte but also including other works such as William Lawes' Suite from The Royal Consort, played by the instrumental ensemble. That same season the Society had as its guest performer Penelope Crawford, the fine fortepianist from Ann Arbor, and additionally, together with Wind Forest, my troupe presented a concert for students at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids at Fountain Street Church. In the spring we returned to Cistercian music since this was the anniversary of St. Bernard of Clairvaux's birth eight hundred years previously. Again the Cistercian Institute was a co-sponsor of the concert, which concluded with office music of 1635 from a Swiss congregation of nuns and choral music by contemporary Cistercians.
I expected to be able to continue as director of the Society until age sixty-five at least, so I had no idea that my tenure would be coming to an end and another segment of my life's journey would be beginning. Again with the Collegium Musicum and Matt Steel's assistance with instruments, the Society staged the Beauvais Play of Daniel, the same play that would serve almost as the swan song of the troupe before finally the non-profit corporation was disbanded. On this occasion, as for the final performance, Clifford served as dramatic director, so the 2002 production may in turn be seen as his swan song. With grant support from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and from Irving Gilmore, a fairly elaborate production was possible. It will be recalled that Irving was the inspiration for one of our concerts in which early American music was made also to include some popular songs, even from local sources. I was always grateful to him since he was not only a dear friend but also a strong supporter of early music. He would phone up and ask if I needed $500 or $5000, and of course I always chose the lower figure as covering our needs, even if I had to do some subsidizing myself. A modest man who lived a simple "lifestyle," he was a graduate of Yale University, where he had studied piano with a distinguished teacher. He would come to our house for lunch and, wearing twenty-year-old off-the-rack suits from his department store, would criticize Clifford's taste in clothing. Productions such as the Daniel and many others could not have been possible without his support, and in addition he was always in the audience. Nor was he alone in his support. Edwin and Mary Upjohn Meader faithfully continued to be patrons of the Society up to the end.
In August 1990 I had passed my sixtieth birthday, and one night in March of the next year I woke up in bed in the middle of the night with a spontaneous fracture of my left leg. The Society had sponsored a concert by the Battle Creek Boychoir in an Anglican Evensong of the time of Queen Elizabeth I the previous month. The spring concert of baroque music, again with the Collegium Musicum, had to go on without me. Fortunately, rehearsals were well underway by the time of my fracture. And of course I had to take sick leave and was not able to return to students that I had particularly enjoyed during this semester. The leg, apparently weakened because of all the years that I had favored it in order to spare my right leg, which had always been the weaker, had snapped in a spot where the only solution would be to have a hip replacement, which the local orthopod could not do in this case. It was clear that my bone density had become a serious problem. Still, with help from Dr. William Mundell, whose specialty was internal medicine, I was able to control other factors, including high blood pressure, and in the fall I taught a reduced load of two classes. When I needed to go to the lavatory at the music building, Clifford would need to drop everything to come over to help lift me onto the toilet. My colleagues were very good about our knocking on the faculty ladies' room to see that all was clear, then about not minding that we would block the door open so that we could enter and not shock someone who might inadvertently come in. However, I continued to work with the Society for Old Music. Yet I was able to do less and less for the Society, though I did organize concerts by other performers, including a fine presentation of organ and instrumental music by organist Betty Pursley and the Wind Forest early instrument ensemble at the Cathedral of Christ the King. In the fall of 1992 Matt Steel and I collaborated on preparing a concert of early music of the New World to celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus' arrival in America, but Matt of course had to conduct. In December I wrote to all the Society's members and supporters to resign from the position as musical director. I thanked both those who had performed and those who contributed in other ways, including financial, for their loyalty over the years. At this time also Edwin Meader resigned as board chairman of the non-profit corporation after long service. He had been elected board chairman when the Society was first incorporated as a non-profit in the state of Michigan. The Society was to continue, sometimes with vigor but often sputtering, yet offering some interesting programs and bringing in guest artists. The highs included the visit of recorder player Bob van Asperen and Marion Verbruggan, a concert which I could not attend. But Bob practiced on my harpsichord at the house, and then sang with my church choir at St. Martin's on Sunday when we presented "If ye love me, keep my commandments," the beautiful anthem by Thomas Tallis. This work represents the high standard of Elizabethan church music, and, along with "Lord, for thy tender mercy's sake" attributed to "Farrant" (maybe the rascal John Farrant of Salisbury, though some believe it to have been written by John Hilton), is my favorite. Other highs among the concerts sponsored by the Society were soprano Rosa Lamoreaux and the ensemble Hesperus in a recital of Hildegard songs; a guest appearance directing the Society's singers, augmented by talented students from the University, by Dr. Joe Miller of the School of Music; and, of course, the final staging of the Beauvais Daniel, with Eric Strand as music director and, as noted above, Clifford as dramatic director. I perhaps should mention that Clifford and I produced a short history of medieval music-drama productions by the Society under the title Performing Medieval Music Drama in 1998, so this will be a resource for those interested in further details, though not of course about the 2002 Daniel. When after thirty-seven years the Society for Old Music was disbanded and the corporation dissolved, I think everyone felt comfortable about the fact that it had served the community, and the medieval Congress at the University, long and well. Its remaining financial assets were transferred to the Audrey Ekdahl Davidson Early Music Endowment to cover modest scholarships for student assistance for the Collegium Musicum.
I officially retired from the University in 1993 and was granted the permanent title of Professor of Music Emerita. The School of Music held a very nice reception for me, and presented me with a compact disk, a reissue of the Detroit Symphony recording of the Three Nocturnes, including the Sirens, the chorus for which, it will be recalled, I had a part in preparing many years ago. I also received a gift of jewelry, an elaborate Norwegian silver brooch that I treasure. Finally, to my complete surprise, the state representative from this district, Mary Brown, entered in a wheelchair (she had been injured) to present a framed certificate of appreciation from the Michigan legislature which said that I had been "an example to all." I think this is the path that I always wanted to walk, figuratively of course, but coming to this point surprised me. I then had to pass onward in life as best I could.
After retirement, I envisioned teaching on a part-time basis and continuing as I was able to help Matt Steel with the Collegium Musicum. I was not one to be easily defeated, but I found lecturing and dealing with audio equipment to play musical examples to my classes very difficult at this stage in my life. My hearing, originally very sharp (unlike many with OI, type I) but now deteriorating, made it difficult, even with hearing aids, to hear students in class. By the end of a year I found myself exhausted and with severe pain where the bone had more or less disintegrated in my leg and hip. In the previous December, we had managed to attend my sister Lorraine's funeral at the small Presbyterian church near Spicer, Minnesota, where she had ended her career as an organist, and I even was able to be lifted in my wheelchair up the steps to the condominium that she had shared with her husband Hugo on the shores of Green Lake, at that time of year studded with fish houses on the ice.
It was with the help of my local physician that I made contact with the person who would treat my broken leg at last. Dr. Mundell had Minnesota connections, and located the person he felt would be the best bone surgeon available to do what could not be done locally. This, of course, is when I was referred to Dr. Roby Thompson at the University of Minnesota clinic. My first visit to his office was combined with our last social visit with friends and relatives in Minnesota. We flew on a direct flight from home to Minneapolis, then rented a car. My sister Ione was then confined to a nursing home in Fairmont, where Lucille also still lived with her husband. On the way north, we were even able to stop for a day at the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, which holds an immense collection of microfilms of medieval manuscripts. At one time I could be helped down the flight of steps to the entrance, but now I had to go through the main library of St. John's University to have access. Clifford helped me to use the lavatory, and took me to lunch. We were able then to attend Vespers at the great Benedictine abbey church, a striking modernist building, nearby and across from the library. The next day we drove from St. Cloud, where we had stayed overnight, to the house of Clifford's sister, Rosella Wolvert, south of Brainerd.
Dr. Thompson did not offer serious hope of restoring my mobility, though he believed that I should be more independent with surgery. But he did offer pain reduction as a minimum, and this was enough for me to agree to surgery in the fall. Remarkably, I was well enough then to allow myself to be lifted into the seat in the plane by the airline personnel and to fly by myself to Minneapolis, where I was met by my nephew Hugh Heimdahl and his wife Ginny Averill, who transported me to the University of Minnesota Hospital, where I was well cared for by the staff, friends, and relatives. Clifford, who had kept in close contact by phone with the doctor and the hospital, came toward the end of my stay, and because my leg required careful handling following the hip replacement, we had to travel in the first class compartment in the plane for our return.
In the difficult time following my hip replacement I worked with a physical therapist, a native of Argentina, who tried to teach me to walk, at first with a walker and then a little without, at home where there was a rug for safety. She was as yet a young woman, but still old enough to have lived through the brutal military dictatorship that had ruled her homeland. As she was assisting me, she told how one evening she had arrived at the street where she lived with her parents to find herself challenged by soldiers, who had blocked off the street. They asked her what she was doing there, and she said, "I live here," then walked toward the door of her house. They could have detained her, and she could have been among the disappeared or at least among those who had been brutally tortured. As soon as I was able to go out, my physical therapy was continued at Borgess Hospital, where it was not so successful. I was trying to walk when I heard a snap. I suspect I had a hairline fracture where the bone was trying to heal. When in the fall of 1995 I next saw Dr. Thompson, he confirmed again that the bone where he had inserted the prosthesis remained in very poor condition, soft and not actually brittle, but until 2001 there were no further breaks in that area. Emotionally, this was a turbulent time as well, for now I would no longer be able to teach even on a part-time basis, and even personal relations were put at risk by my suppressed anger at my situation -- anger which, fortunately, dissipated as I came to accept my situation and fully appreciate my helpers.
There were, however, in addition other physical problems to be encountered. As I have mentioned in an earlier chapter, these included several vertebra compression fractures, beginning in July 1995, which kept me from being able to lie down in bed and thus further separated me from a normal life. Being forced to sit up in my wheelchair with my head supported on a pillow at night inevitably caused edema. My legs swelled, and I had to wear shoes more than two sizes larger than normal for a time. The shoes, even though oversize, also needed to have plenty of stretch to them, so I gravitated to sandals and canvas shoes of the kind that Chinese women often wear. On the times when I had to be rushed to Emergency with breathing or heart problems, we had to argue very hard with the ambulance company to explain that making me lie down on a stretcher would be dangerous since more vertebrae might break up. The condition of my legs improved when Clifford found a solution at a store that specialized in equipment for people with back pain. Made in France, it looked very much like an old-fashioned lawn chair, but was extremely comfortable and adjusted so that I could be very nearly lying down flat. Clifford, sometimes with help from a foreign student staying with us, lifted me into it each night, and the effect on my edema was remarkable, though some permanent damage had been done, as I have explained above.
Our decision to invite foreign students to live with us in recent years has been generally a very happy one. The first was Gosia Sieminska, a ship captain's daughter from Gdansk, where Solidarity was founded at a church dedicated to St. Birgitta, whose reliquary at Vadstena I have noted above. Gosia is now an engineer working out of Toledo, Ohio. Through her and the others we have met quite a number of other foreign students from East and West, including her friend Wilson Wong from Malaysia -- and, delightfully, even his mother and father, who at the time was managing the cafeteria at the Kuala Lumpur zoo. Joining us later was Revathi Murugappan, who had been a professional journalist in Malaysia, and who returned in order to study dance, and was on hand to perform in the 2002 production of Daniel in which Clifford was involved. Also from Malaysia is her friend Swee Sin Ng, who has been volunteering some help in a time of need -- help which is much appreciated. Then staying with us at different times were two talented pianists from China, Wenli Zhou, whom I had first met when she was the rehearsal accompanist for the St. Martin's choir, and Yi Wang.
My work resolved down to being the unpaid director of music at St. Martin of Tours Church, for which I had long ago been honored by the Bishop with the Service Cross. When plans were being made for some expansion of the building, I sent Clifford to see that the organ would be protected and the music program given priority. He found the building committee oddly unable to comprehend the problem with having construction around the area of the organ, but ultimately they agreed to have it moved. The treasurer, a specialist in internal medicine who happened to be my former physician (he had refused to treat my dangerously high blood pressure, and this is when I transferred to Dr. Mundell), was determined to put the changes to be made in the location of the organ and some upgrading of it out for bids. The rector, Father Bill Spaid, even had the audacity to suggest looking into the local incompetent "builder" who had been responsible for making the shoddily constructed instrument that had been lent to the church some years before. We held firm, and Gayle Monette was retained to do the work. Most of the pipes as well as the windchests, blower, and other parts were taken carefully down to a basement room, which was sealed from dust with plastic. Some of the pipes, however, were sent to Gayle in Wisconsin for restoration, and new pipes were also ordered by him from the J. W. Walker organ company in England. Now it was possible to set some things straight that were improvised the first time around. During the interval of the building of the great hall and the expansion by a few feet of the sanctuary, we used an upright piano, about which our tuner commented that it had been "around the world a few times." I also was able to arrange the choir area the way I wanted it, though I lost the battle on where I desired the organ console to be. I still had the choir sitting and standing in a U-shaped formation on a space of wood floor so that I could see everyone from my wheelchair, and everyone could see me. Music that is made from looking at the page mechanically is in my view not very musical; it needs to be pried free from such dependence and to take on a freedom that makes it live. A musical piece needs to be created anew every time it is performed, and this includes the dynamics. An editor's dynamic markings may be a guide, but the director needs to shape the piece to make it come alive, as I learned from Malcolm Johns years ago.
One of the disappointments of working with Father Bill is that he became less and less supportive as time went on. Perhaps, and I think he would agree, this had something to do with the way his private life was unfolding. For years, though not every year, I had been scheduling the traditional introits for Advent and Lent, and I also had been writing antiphons to be used with the psalm in the Mass. Suddenly he took a dislike to these, and canceled both in the middle of a Lenten season -- so much for his appreciation for my efforts! We had a committee to pick the hymns for each month, and he allowed me free reign with regard to supervising the choices. He never interfered with my choice of anthems, which continued to be limited by the ability of the singers, who nevertheless were capable of doing very well in many ways. They were better at doing chant than the singers in the Society for Old Music, at least until the latter had gone through sufficient training, and they even were exposed from time to time to square-note notation when they might be expected to sing an antiphon, for example, from the Liber Usualis in Latin. When we performed early American hymns and anthems, I eschewed the roughness of the sound of shape-note singing but retained the rhythmic structure which is so important to them. I was always sensitive to the makeup of the choir, and continued to schedule African-American spirituals, which actually I had loved since my childhood in Minnesota. It was an argument with one of the members of the choir over the performance of one of the latter that precipitated my final altercation with the rector, of which more below.
I still had some involvement with the Medieval Institute, particularly with the Congress on Medieval Studies. One year I organized a session, for example, on the lyric and song which would be continued by others in subsequent years. I was always willing to read proposals for papers or to give advice on the choice of evening concerts during the conference. Further, I still was serving as an advisor, though after 1997 unofficially and not as a board member, for the Early Drama, Art, and Music project that Clifford headed in the Medieval Institute.
Hildegard of Bingen remained one of my interests, and my transcriptions of antiphons by her in honor of the Blessed Virgin were published by the Hildegard Publishing Company. I agreed to edit a collection of essays that had initially been read at the Hildegard sessions at the Congress, subsequently published as Wisdom Which Encircles Circles, though the second edition prepared for a different publisher, Peregrina, did not materialize on account of the faltering of that company. Clifford and I reported on our production of the Ordo Virtutum at the New School (now New School University) in New York as part of a larger conference on music by women composers. Together we also wrote the little monograph, previously mentioned, on the Society for Old Music's music-drama productions, including Hildegard's Ordo. I contributed reviews of some scholarly music books for the Sixteenth Century Journal. At times when I could not get out to hear the concerts of the Collegium Musicum, Matt Steel brought me tapes (later compact disks) and programs so that I could listen to them at home. When Gayle Monette was dying of terminal cancer, I promised him a composition, Fanfare and Contrapunctus, for his funeral which, though not finished at that time, would later be arranged by Jeremy Ribando. By this time I could only write out the notes with great difficulty, and I used an electronic keyboard as a checker to see that I had got things right. I did not any longer have the strength to play my piano, nor was I able to tune my harpsichord so that I could use that instrument.
At my retirement the University president, Diether Haenicke, himself an authentic academic as more recent presidents have not been, called me to tell me that there would be a named Medallion Scholarship in my name. It was a pleasure to meet and to get to know the recipient of this scholarship, music student Holly Hughes. Matt Steel and Nick Batch, with Clifford's connivance, assembled a selection of early music that I had transcribed or edited as an unusual sort of Festschrift which they presented to me -- and which was a delightful surprise -- in the offices of the School of Music. This book, which had been supported in part by President Haenicke's office, included as an illustration a pencil drawing that my friend Victoria Littna had made of me as a conductor with baton in hand in 1977. As late as 2003 the Collegium dedicated a concert to me and to all those who had performed over the years with the Society for Old Music, which then had recently been disbanded. This concert began with the premiere of my Fanfare, scored, as Jeremy Ribando had designated in arranging the piece for me, for two trumpets and organ. The Fanfare was repeated at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Christmas Eve the same year, when it was adapted for trumpet, oboe, and organ. And, for its December 2003 concert, the Michigan Bach Collegium programmed my "Song to Mary," which, of course, had been frequently included as an anthem in the liturgy at St. Martin's at Christmas time.
In 1999 Clifford had my "Song to Mary," "An Heavenly Song," and Mass in D, the latter written so long ago for Ralph Baxter's choir at St. Barnabas Church in Detroit, copied and printed. An ensemble, drawing mainly from the St. Martin of Tours Church choir, was formed to perform the music included in this little private edition at my house for my sixty-ninth birthday. Matt Steel directed the group, and accompaniments were provided by Mary Ross, 'cello, and David DeVries, organist at St. Martin's. They practiced at the church, so I knew nothing about their plan. People from St. Martin's and others had been invited to stop by the house for birthday cake, so I was not surprised until Mary came with her instrument and the group of singers assembled. Yet it was not until they began singing the "Song to Mary" that I realized what they were up to. This was followed by the Kyrie from the Mass, "An Heavenly Song," and then the Agnus Dei.
That was also the year that my friend Margery Selden visited Cuba -- a trip which oddly opened a channel of communication that led to the discovery on my part of Pamidronate treatment for OI and my contact with the office of Dr. Henry Bone in Detroit. But, while I was having health problems of a serious sort (an echo exam of my heart showed advanced mitral prolapse) and other difficulties with my physical well-being, I was able to travel by van to church (for a not exactly modest fee) as well as across the state for chemotherapy for my collagen. It had been years since I had been able to be present actually to direct my church choir during services, though I had rehearsed them at home during the whole time. I was unhappy that in the interval they had become unused to my church style, but it was an argument, I am sure misunderstood on all sides, that was used by the rector to organize a crisis. One of the singers objected to a tasteful use of dialect for an African-American spiritual that I had worked out with Musette El-Mohammed, herself an African-American member of my choir. I took the singer's response as racist, but the ensuing conflict was really unfortunate. During an exhausting return trip by the ambulance company's mobility van from a Pamidronate treatment in Detroit, I thought seriously about what I wanted to do, and realized that on account of my health and the fact that I was now closing in on the age of seventy, I simply wanted out. The members of the vestry, in spite of prodding by Clifford, never expressed any gratitude for my nearly twenty-five years of service, entirely on a volunteer basis though my credentials would have allowed me to hold a good-paying position at another church. The rector, Father Bill Spaid, apologized, and we accepted his apology. Clifford chose him to be thurifer in the 2002 production of the Play of Daniel, and I think any bad feelings have been smoothed over. I was pleased to learn that he had been appointed to a new position in the diocese, apparently as an assistant to the Bishop, that will surely be more suitable to his personality than had been that of rector of St. Martin of Tours Church. The experience at St. Martin's, however, made us draw closer to St. Gregory's Abbey, a Benedictine monastery affiliated with the Episcopal Church, at Three Rivers, Michigan, since Abbot Andrew was very kind to me during this period.
My final service at St. Martin's was on Christmas eve in 1999. My cousin Jim Nyquist, his wife Ruth, and their son David, then a physician in nearby Vicksburg, and his wife Janet as well as my cousin Arloueen Nyman came to the midnight Mass. I programmed for the sequence the lovely anthem "Before the Marvel of This Night" by Carl Schalk. It was a very festive occasion, and actually my tenure at St. Martin's ended with the spirit of good will that I would have wished after all. In lieu of an honorarium I asked that any amount collected by the church should be given to the Next Door and the Open Door, shelters that give up to several months of lodging to homeless men and women. The amount, for a small church, was substantial. St. Martin's also had purchased an image of St. Cecilia with a message on it honoring me for my long service. This would be installed in the choir area near the organ. So all is well that ends well, though in retrospect I now see the wisdom of being a paid member of the church staff rather than a volunteer for professional services such as I provided. Kelly Monette, Gayle's son, still comes to town to service the organ, which was tuned according to a baroque tuning system that no local technician would understand, and Clifford has even held keys while he has tuned in recent years.
My final effort as a scholar was to see that my work on Olivier Messiaen was updated and issued in the form of a book entitled Olivier Messiaen and the Tristan Myth. The main effort had to be to survey more recent scholarship as well as to prune away portions that are appropriate only to a dissertation but not to a study for actual publication. There also was an extensive job of revising and recasting so that the individual chapters are well written and accessible. Permissions needed to be sought for both quotations and musical examples, in the case of quotes from Messiaen's works from the publishers and his widow, Yvonne Loriod. Fees were usually waived, but for one of the illustrations I had to pay a $125 use fee, ironically for a photo that was not of the highest quality and for a reproduction that in the book also was inferior to what I had hoped to have. Because of my health at the time I was doing this, I could not have done these things without Clifford's help. Fortunately, the Praeger editor was excited about my proposal as soon as he read it, and he expedited acceptance so that, as noted above, it would be proofread before my terrible accident of 11 September 2001. To be sure, there had been the usual battles with the copy editor. I have only seen one review, in a major journal, but it was highly favorable, for which I am grateful. Perhaps I should feel lucky that Messiaen's reputation has grown so that he is considered one of the most important composers of the twentieth century. It is a reputation that is fully deserved. As Heinz Werner Zimmermann said of his music already a generation ago in an article that I translated into English, "in Messiaen's method of constructing melodies, we find a technique of astonishing originality."
The story of Tristan and Iseult, or Isolde, which is a love triangle, may seem an odd choice of a place to conclude my own story, but it is one of the great myths of the Western world. It is known usually through Wagner's great opera, which I had the good fortune only once to see, fortuitously in a fine production, with Jon Vickers in the role of Tristan, at the Chicago Lyric Opera. Messiaen's version, born out of his own tragedy and brought into being by reference to analogues from the "third world," involves an infinitely more complicated and many-layered approach to the myth. The three compositions in Messiaen's trilogy -- Harawi, Turangalîla Symphony, and Cinq rechants -- are thoroughly cosmopolitan, even international in scope when we consider the sources of his rhythmic and melodic practice.
As I listen to the songs of birds outside my window, I am reminded of Messiaen's intense interest in bird songs as he found them wherever they were in their natural habitat. Birds are great symbols of hope, of optimism. For me they are certainly a challenge to the powers of darkness and an invitation to strive instead for the heights. Birds are surely messengers of God, who has been caring for me all my life.