In the first section below, Marvin Hanson’s reminiscences lead him to break into verse, which he asks that Char read on his behalf at the reunion. In the second, Jerry Mills takes his young protagonist, Stephen, into ever more embarrassing and frustrating situations in Chapter 6 of My Heart Is Like a Cabbage. (Go to “Pages” on the right of the blogpage and click on “My Heart Is Like a Cabbage” to read the full chapter.) Somehow my sense of life as a PCV in Sierra Leone will have to combine these two wildly different takes on the Peace Corps experience. Enjoy! - Tony
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I can't think of anything that will be more fun than sitting around, drinking a beer (or ten) and talking story with our colleagues and friends from our Sierra Leone days as you have planned.... I bet the nostalgia will be flowing. I don't know if
it is part of getting a bit older, but I find it a lot of fun to sit
(preferably on the beach) and to exchange stories from times past. Just this past week I had a visit from one of my closest friends from the seminary days well over 50 years ago. It was a blast, with lots of laughs and lots of memories. The only problem (as my Masako pointed out) was that I tended to repeat myself, I tended to repeat myself, I tended to repeat myself. I know you are all going to have a most wonderful time, and I wish I could be there with you to share in the happy times. But Washington D.C. is a tad too far for us Hawaiians to travel. So for the 60th reunion, let's do it here in Paradise.
I wanted to write a poem for this special occasion and ask that you share it with the folks. Sadly, my poetic skills have definitely failed me in recent times. The theme I wanted in my verse is that I am happy. And much of the happiness is due directly or indirectly or not at all to the fact that I got to be with you guys in 1962-1964 in New Paltz and in Sierra
Leone. (Char, please share this on my behalf when you are all together talking about your past and your present lives.)
I am happy for that experience in Sierra Leone. (Who else can say they taught
Latin in the bush schools in West Africa?)
I am happy that I got all those graduate degrees out of the University of Michigan, which loved having returned Peace Corps Volunteers back in the 60's.
I am happy with all the diverse and varied careers I have had throughout my life (social worker, health planner, auditor, chief financial officer of a hospital, sumo wrestler, and gigolo in Waikiki).
I am happy that I met my wife, Mary, a PCV in Venezuela. Twenty years together before she passed on from cancer in 1987.
I am happy for the two kids I have and the three grandchildren who are smarter and cuter than any of your grandchildren.
I am happy for all the world travel I have been able to experience. When younger, it was exciting to travel to the places like Cambodia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China but now that I am a bit older, I definitely prefer the Mediterranean cruises.
I am happy for having moved to Hawaii 24 years ago and now have retired to the beach to meditate on the "eternal variances of life." It don't get no bettah.
I am extremely happy for now being with Masako for over 23 years. She is definitely the ultimate life companion and is the major reason why I am happy.
I am happy that because of the Peace Corps, I got to meet some super wonderful people like Bob Rawson, Char, Kay White, Mary Mullin, Dave Frame, Tony. Please give all these folks a great big hug (kiss) for me.
I am happy for all the memories that I have enjoyed this past year from the
stories shared by Tony Russell, Gerry Davis, Char, and Jerry Mills. Thanks so much.
I am happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy. (Sorry, did I
mention I tend to repeat myself?)
- Marvin Hanson
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In late November, the lab equipment arrived. As was the case with the sea chest of my personal belongings, shipped from St. Louis even before we departed for Sierra Leone, so, too, the shipment of lab supplies and chemicals was weeks tardy in its arrival—this after the urgency pressed upon me to prepare the order. And just as I had managed to get by with a single suitcase of belongings for nearly two months, in my role as Science Master I had to make do for all those months by drawing on my meager knowledge of chemistry and physics, and botany, the only college level science course I ever made an A in.