Bloomington, Indiana

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(Indiana University, Bloomington)

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(Campusview Married Student Housing)

We arrived in Bloomington, Indiana, to a completely empty apartment.  We bedded the children down as best we could and fashioned a bed for ourselves out of a few blankets we'd brought in the car.  Chris went with our friend Boyd up to Terre Haute to pick up the truck we'd shared with some other couples and bring it back to Bloomington.  I remember propping myself up against the cinderblock wall to try and nurse Taggart.  We slowly added a couch and a few chairs that we picked up  from people moving out of our student housing complex.  We also bought a 5" thick pad of foam for ourselves, and that became our bed for the next four years. We lived at the end of a long hall on the ninth floor, so everything that entered our apartment had to be carried up the elevator and down that long hall.

The university was within walking distance, but to be truthful, I have very few memories of it.  I do remember discovering Rudy's bakery where they made heavenly macaroons on Friday.  I do remember some things about the music school.  For a period we were going there every Monday night for  different performances of  Beethoven piano sonatas by various faculty members.  The music school was determined to feature EVERY SINGLE ONE, and I think we heard most of the 32!  We also attended a superb Andre Watts piano concert as well as a performance of the world famous mime, Marcel Marceau, in a huge concert hall.

Bloomington was where we really upped our music game.  The studio Chris was admitted into was taught by a Hungarian professor, Dr. Gyorgy Sebok (shay-bock).  Chris was the token American in this studio--the rest were Japanese, Chinese, and European.  We gathered frequently for recitals and parties.  I remember the Seboks being wonderful hosts. Mrs. Sebok served exotic Hungarian dishes. Dr. Sebok is the one who told me about the Japanese method for curing a cold--have someone hold both of your elbows in one hand.  One will be colder than the other; plunge it into hot water.  In addition to the concerts and recitals I mentioned in the previous paragraph, we attended recitals given by other students in the studio.  Chris accompanied flutists, clarinetists, and vocalists, so we attended those recitals as well.  It was a full musical wonderland.  Indiana University is world-reknowned as THE music mecca!

As part of one of his classes, Chris became a member of the chorale to perform Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" #8.  Of this symphony Wikipedia says, "Mahler had been convinced from the start of the work's significance; in renouncing the pessimism that had marked much of his music, he offered the Eighth as an expression of confidence in the eternal human spirit."  

We lived and breathed this work for over a month.  I remember coming home once and finding Chris sitting on the couch listening to it and just sobbing.  It had the exact same effect on me.  I used it in a Relief Society lesson back in the days when we taught cultural refinement.  It still remains one of the most inspiring spiritual things ever written, in my opinionThat was a highlight.

Living in Campusview during the late 70's was a truly unique experience.  The building was predominantly occupied by Middle Easterners--Saudis they were called for some reason.  This was during the time of the hostage crisis.  Once I experienced a mild protest of a bonfire when I was in the parking lot one night.  Emotions were running high.  When word got around that I sewed, Middle Eastern women approached me and commissioned me to sew long dresses for them.  I used the scraps to make sleepers for my kids.  And THAT is how This outfit came to be!  I also sewed a Halloween costume for another friend, Jeri.  I sewed most of the clothes for Shelly and Taggart--what I couldn't grab up at a yard sale.  I was never so happy for good sewing skills as I was at this time in my life.  Living in this building was also my first exposure to Islam.  I had to do some hasty research when I saw goats being led down the hall into apartments and heard the subsequent sounds of death and mayhem.

(Maria and baby George)I met Maria Papandopoulous one night when I found her wandering around lost in the hall looking for the washing machines.  We bonded like super glue.  Her English was passing; my Greek was non-existent!  Her husband had brought his wife and two little boys to the U.S. to study mathematics for a year.  Maria was fascinated by my sewing, so I took her to a fabric store.  That really blew her away.  She wanted to learn!!  I shared some lessons with her.  She went home and sewed by HAND deep into the night!  I could look across the complex and see her light on.  Maria had no car; I was happy to take her shopping. Her experience in the U.S. was very challenging, and I was so happy to become her friend.  When she was preparing to return home, I hosted a little picnic for her.  You can imagine her surprise to learn that you eat the stalks of celery!  She had been using the leaves and throwing the stalks away!  I have a couple of her recipes that I use--"salad of eggplant" and apple cake in which I am instructed to "deduct" the skins of six apples.  What a beautiful friend.

Once again the highlight of our experience was the people we met.  We involved ourselves thickly with the full-time missionaries and participated in the teaching of a lovely family of four down the hall from us.  We befriended other young student couples at church.  I helped start a group of mothers who met monthly and shared home evening props and ideas.  Every member of the group made enough of one thing for everyone else in the group, so we left each month with a stack of awesome teaching aids.  I also discovered an educational supply house in Indianapolis that was going out of business where I bought wonderful puzzles and games for Shelly.  I began collecting some paperback children's books which we read every day as well as visiting the public library where we also watched a snake shed his skin!

We joined a food co-op.  As part of that experience I was required to work there for two hours every Saturday.  It was a pleasant experience meeting such down to earth people and learning to cook with the food that was available at the co-op. We also joined a cheese co-op at church and received monthly heavenly cheeses from Wisconsin.  Bloomington Ward was a validating experience.  Once a month a truck would arrive from Wisconsin, and we would take our turn meeting it and cutting the cheese into different pieces depending on the order. EVERY student family there was eeking by on a sub poverty level budget.  It was just the reality under which we all operated.  We traded children's clothes and babysat each other's kids.  I have concluded that my university years in Provo, Bloomington, and Austin have prepared me to live the law of consecration better than anything else ever could!

On a domestic note, Shelly turned two on a Sunday, and next morning we started potty training.  I had read the book that the mothers were passing around, so we took off with it.  A box of popsicles and countless Smarties and marshmallows later and a couple weeks later, the job was done!

Across the hall from us lived Aurora Rodriguez, a doctoral linguistics student from Puerto Rico.  She had a young son, Julio, who bounced back and forth between Puerto Rico with his grandparents and Indiana with his mother.  Aurora was an indoor gardener EXTRAORDINAIRE!!!  She shared starts and know-how with me, and our long window was soon flourishing with plants!!  When we left Indiana, I had a yard sale and earned quite a bit off of the plants alone!  Aurora was also a sport about listening for the kids when we went out late at night.  We used her to good advantage sometimes because we discovered a pub--Bear's--which featured old-time black and white classic movies!!  We left the doors open between the two apartments, shared meals and became like sisters.  When Julio came he rode the socks off of Shelly's rocking horse!

Down the hall we also befriended June and her husband from Barbados.  I babysat their beautiful daughter quite regularly.  I also took care of a single parent blind piano tuner's daughter, Andrea, for an entire summer.  She was old enough to be good help carting the kids in and out.  I enjoyed her.

(You either know who this gentleman is, or you don't.)

We fell right into place in the ward.  I taught mother education in Relief Society there, and Chris was the Elder's Quorum president.  The stake president and his wife , President Hollis and Greta Johnson, became our friends.  He was an astronomy professor at the university, and Greta was Danish.  They invited us to take a temple trip to Washington DC in our second year.  We farmed the kids out to a voice student and took off.  Ten hours later we arrived, slept a bit in a dorm, did five sessions, slept a bit more, did five more sessions, and then made the ten hour trip back.  These people did this ALL the time!!!  Such stalwarts.  

We took another trip to Washington DC with our best friends (and home teacher), Bob and Janet Galbraith.  They had four small children and alternated their time back and forth between Palo Alto where they played violin in the San Francisco Ballet and Bloomington where Bob was pursuing a doctorate.  They had had identical homes constructed in both locations!  They figured this would ease the disruption for their kids!  During our spring break trip to DC we were right in the thick of the attempted assassination of President Reagan, and we also figured Thomas was conceived there!  T.M.I...

We were also very involved in the Institute program on campus--weekly classes for the women during the morning and night classes for couples.  They built and dedicated a new building which had a kitchen and  a ping pong table.  That became a gathering place for student families as well. The kids all became a pack.  Chris entered a ping pong tournament and did quite well.  So in addition to his music books and his lunch, he carried around a paddle in the cowhide backpack my friend Shirlene had sent me from Switzerland--army issue.  I still grieve its mysterious disappearance.

 I taught early morning seminary in that building for a year our second year.  The course of study was the New Testament.  I found teaching seminary a constant challenge.  Some mornings the car was encased in a blanket of ice--impossible to chip through, so I had to cancel the class.  Some of the kids were difficult to engage.  My engagement skills have become finely honed over the years, but at the time I wasn't all that interesting.  I had to spend so much time studying and preparing. Then I became pregnant with Thomas, so the morning sickness added to the challenge.  But, at the end of the school year and the conclusion of Chris' masters degree,we were preparing to leave.  We had decided to sell all our furniture and just ship boxes back through a shipping company.  The truck had arrived, loaded our boxes, and the driver was standing waiting to be paid.  Literally, the mailman pulled up, and in the mail was a check from the Seminaries and Institutes department that covered the exact cost of the shipping...  A miracle.  I had no idea they were paying me for mileage and supplies!

We stayed one year in Campusview.  Then we moved to a government housing project south of Bloomington that had just been constructed.  Friends of ours from B.Y.U., the Maxwells had just arrived from Utah to begin their I.U. studies.  They were initially scheduled to live in student housing close to Campusview.  They called us the morning after they had arrived and lamented that their U-Haul truck had been stolen out of the parking lot during the night!!!!  All they had on them was a diaper bag!    The deserted truck was found north of Indianapolis a day or so later, but it was stripped.  We rallied around and outfitted them as best we could and even hosted a "shower" for them in the Institute building.  Maxwells learned about the government housing and immediately moved there.  We followed a few weeks later.  We qualified for THREE bedrooms because we had both a male and female child.  We had two stories AND grass!!!  Heaven!  The Plautzes soon moved in as well!  Jerry and I met with both of these couples in North Carolina a few weeks ago.  Good good friends.

(Kayleen traveling with us in Tivoli, Italy 2016)
We attended the church's last area conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Back in the day, the church used to hold conferences in huge huge stadium-type settings.  Imagine my delight to run into an old college roommate in the hall there!  Kayleen Seaver!  She was an engineer in one of the car companies there in Detroit. We met again RANDOMLY in church in Princeton, NJ, and then AGAIN RANDOMLY as B.Y.U. China teachers!!!  No accidents.  Now we are fast friends.  She stayed here with us for several days in September and recently returned from a long long trek to Everest in Nepal!!   I know!!!!

In the spring of our last year in Indiana, Chris was invited by Maurice Abravanel to play a Mendelssohn piano concerto with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City.  He made that trip alone but came back bearing some positive news/rumor that there would be a piano department position open soon at the University of Utah--a department, incidentally, started by his grandfather, Thomas Giles).  We moved forward with preparations to leave.  During the final stages of that move, I found myself overwhelmed with the enormity of the task coupled with accompanying fatigue morning sickness.  In the midst of that I prayed for help.  Lou Shelton from church arrived.  I committed to God that from henceforth I would become a moving helper any time I got the chance.  And THAT is how I became Bonnie Wolff's friend--a happy circumstance for which I am eternally grateful.  

I will always remember Bloomington as my first exposure to some cultures so different from my own.  I will remember it as a time of delightful mothering.  Shelly and Taggart were such a huge part of my world.  They progressed so quickly.  It was all so interesting to watch them!  I will remember Bloomington as an intensely musical education even though I never stepped foot into a classroom.  I grew in my teaching skills, and my testimony was fed constantly through my intense study and my opportunities to serve.  I will never forget the saints--one sister, Martha Taysom, who read the Book of Mormon through in its ENTIRETY monthly in addition to taking care of multiple aged parents in her home and teaching institute.  I will not forget the roaches or the periodic complete emptying of the ENTIRE kitchen contents required for the roach treatment!  I won't forget how sick I got smelling the cooking gluten steak emanating from a GNC store in the mall when I was pregnant.  Ever.  I won't forget the glorious autumns--strolling with a large English baby buggy with my beautiful babies around our grassy acres neighborhood.  I won't forget new faces, new cultures, new foods, new ideas, and the mind-expanding world I found myself delightfully planted in for two years.


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