This is an exceptionally difficult letter to read. Growing up during the Great Depression must have been tough. We’ve all read Grapes of Wrath, but this was someone I knew and loved. It was no longer an abstraction. These days we look at the tension between Sunnis and Shia and wonder how they could be so intolerant. Not that long ago that tension was right here. Catholics vs. the Baptists. Those fights existed when Judy and I were growing up, but not to the extent that we ended up on the bottom of the pile.
The instability of life can have a great influence. In Jim’s case, it looks like being adopted out, forced off the farm, then a succession of step mothers and being literally farmed out led him to the Navy and the best practical education his generation could have had. Somehow he came out of all those difficulties as a loving and generous person.
The travel bug certainly bit Jim hard. He was always dreaming of going to places that were just out of reach. When he was working at the North Dakota Credit Union League in the late sixties they partnered with Credit Unions in Tanzania. Jim was in his prime talking to the folks from Africa. He wanted to learn everything about the place. He even named his basement rec room “Dar Es Salaam,” “Here is Peace.”
In the spring of 1931 we made the trip from Flaxton, ND to Mass. The big Olds sedan survived the trip, despite being heavily loaded, and I think I was the only one sorry to see the trip come to an end! For me it was the greatest adventure I’d ever had. From that time on I would be bitten with the urge to travel to new places. …