Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Sixty-five years ago today, I married John Phillips Burnell, Jr. We met in the Spring  of 1948 in a lunch line at Lowry Hall at Kent State University. He was with my friend Jean Beckmann, who had met him in a journalism class. At the time I was dating my Holden Caulfield boy friend Dick, who had just bought a brand new, bright red 1948 Plymouth convertible that winter. I liked Johm's looks, tall and thin and very well dressed. I was impressed with his dark rimmed glasses, too, and there were very few people wearing that style in those days. I would see him around campus occasionally, and we would have coffee once in a while with others at the student union. I enjoyed his sense of humor and I made him laugh, too. But I was still going with my mixed up cynical boy friend.
When I came back in the fall, absence had not made my heart grow fonder for Dick, and I asked John to the dorm dance, and that was it. I must admit that I had kind of stalked him, in that I knew where he usually hung out for a smoke on a wall I walked past on my way to Spamish class. Or maybe he hung out on that wall because he knew I would walk by on my way to Spanish class. Sometimes I never made it  to the classroom, actually. The student union was close by and a person needed a snack or a cup of coffee, after all.
That was the beginning of our relationship. On our first real date we double dated with my friend Colleen and BF Chuck. Colleen was one of the few girls at school who had her own car.. We ended up that night at the Big House, which had a dance floor and a fireplace.  ( Many years later it became the hangout for the Chosen Few, a rough biker gang.) We danced and then John and I sat by the fire and talked and talked. I remember our mutual love for cats was a major subject.  Because I had to be in by 11 o'clock, the evening ended fairly early,but we fad a very fine time.
We went together at Kent State until John graduated a year earlier than I.he started grad school at Ohio State. He had switched from journalism to sociology. I had picked up  unsociology, too, along with continuing art. We both found that area fascinating, since we were interested in social issues, which at that period were creating tension by the proponents of McCarthyism and the rising civil rights movement.
Johm was a graduate assistant at Ohio State, teaching and loving it. He had an opportunity to get a research job for a year, at which point, dear reader, I married hum.
I don't intend to make this a story of our marriage, which was cut short by his death in a car accident when he was only thirty-eight. He was teaching at Kent State by that time and working on his doctoral dissertation We had three girls and a boy on the way when that happened. It was a terrible loss, of course. I had never thought that one could survive such a thing, but we did. He had given me that strength.
The portrait is one I did in 1948. I don't remember when, but it must have been the fall after we first met. I had forgotten it, but Emily found it when she was recently home. She had it framed for me. I am so glad she did.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


I wrote some time ago that I like to read obituaries, stories of ordinary people who have led rich, meaningful lives. There were two this past week which were especially of that sort. One of the people I knew, the other I wish I had known.
I was drawn to a picture of a sweet looking, round faced woman. She was born in 1917' dying at the beginning and f her hundredth year. Her name was Sadie. She was born in Ireland, lost her mother when she was eight, and helped with her younger siblings until her father remarried. Her stepmother was a kind and loving person, and the family grew. When WWII broke out, Sadie volunteered with the ambulance service and became a trained first aid provider. She met an American G.I., and they married, staying on in Ireland for a couple of years. Then she sailed across the Atlantic with him and their first child.
The writer of the obituary tells of the effects of the trauma of war, and the marital struggle that resulted in divorce. Sadie by then had two little girls, and was living in barracks that had been converted into apartments, in a town in the northern, rather isolated part of the county. She got a job at a small rubber factory, and, until she was able to afford a car, she walked to work. She eventually bought a house, and when the rubber company closed, she took a job at Hiram College as a housekeeper, working there until she was eighty. Apparently she never remarried, raising her two daughters on her own.
When she died last week, she left many descendants, down to great-great grandchildren. The writer tells how Sadie would hold and kiss the infants, giving them an Irish blessing. An extraordinary woman. One thing was not in the obituary, perhaps because the writer may not have been aware of it: Had Sadie come to American sixty years earlier, she would have found on most places of employment this sign " NO IRISH NEED APPLY." Immigrant bias is not new, only being revived.
The other obit was for T. N.  Bhargava, who came to America  from India for graduate school.. He came to Kent State University, a newly minted Ph.D in mathematics. I met him and his then wife Rama at a Thanksgiving dinner, the week after the JFK. assassination. I remember that he was shocked that the usual college football games were going to go on as usual after such a national tragedy.  T.N. was  larger than life even then. He always carried himself like a soldier, straight posture,  chin up. He had a good sense of humor and  natural dignity.
He literally dived into both the town and academic communities. He brought international scholars to the university. He became involved in social and charitable institutions, serving on boards for the library and mental leather institutions. Over the years he contributed his time, his money and his expertise to a wide variety of f projects. We traveled in the same group that f friends and acquaintances, and I always enjoyed seeing him. He enriched the lives of so many people I'm the city
as well as the lucky students he nurtured. He has left quite a legacy.
These two immigrants led different lives, but both left their homes far away and made lives here that have enhanced their new country, and honored us with their presence.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How's It Hangin'.

The short answer is "Not so good." It started with a sore throat shortly after I sat getting my teeth cleaned for about an hour. Two days later, naturally on a Saturday, my throat was really hurting. We have these neat little things called Minute Clinics at the local CVS pharmacies, so that's where John drove me. You can even sign in ahead of time online so you don't have to wait in line. I wanted to make sure that I didn't have strep. The NP did a swab, and it wasn't strep. Told me if it didn't get better to come back in a couple of days to make sure that the lab came up with the same result.
Two days later it still hurt like crazy, so I went back to CVS. The lab had also found no strep. The NP, however, told me that my uvula was very swollen and that I should go to an Urgent Care place, the clisest of which is in a city about 6 miles north of here. We weren't even sure it would be open on account of MLK Day, but it was. And I signed in and joined the queue.
When I finally got to see a doctor he looked into my throat and informed me that I had uvulitis. Never heard the term. Sounds like some kind of female STD. IT's that dangly thing in your throat. It's one of those words like "aiglet" that show up in crossword puzzles. He prescribed a steroid and gave me a breathing  treatment because I was getting wheezy, which sometimes happens when I have any kind of upper respiratory infection.
There was another medical visit and I am on antibiotics and more steroids, but the old uvula is back to its normal size. It's the usual sinus drainage aggravating my lung and all, but at least I picked up a nifty new word:"uvulitis." No sex is involved.