On Saturday night, December 7, the Oberlin Yeomen played their first home game of the basketball season. However, I wasn't in attendance at Jones Field House as usual.
I wonder why it is that my memory allowed the entire operetta to be erased, yet preserved this little bit somewhere.
Not Good Traveling Weather
It snowed steadily all weekend, and though there were only about four inches on the ground by Monday, December 9, I was sure that more than that had fallen.
Normally I would have gone to Cleveland on the basketball bus to broadcast Tuesday night's game at Case Tech. But, I wrote, a meeting came up, and then when that meeting was switched to Wednesday night, another meeting came up to take its place on Tuesday. So we're sending another guy in my place; he was really eager to do a game, anyway.
The Quantum World
I would finish my first-semester course in nuclear physics in December. January had been reserved for Oberlin's first-ever Winter Term, an unstructured month before the second semester began. Students would work on independent projects, an arrangement that continues to this day.
My physics professor suggested a Winter Term project for me: to collaborate with him in writing a workbook on angular momentum as it applies to introductory quantum mechanics. It would be called
Momentum Operators, Eigenfunctions
A Programmed Learning Unit
According to Mr. Warner's foreword, during that semester we seniors had experienced difficulty in following derivations and solving practical problems in atomic and nuclear physics which require the use of angular momentum operators and wave functions. He said the book was designed to bridge the gap between formal instruction and problem-solving competence.
To do so, we would make use of programmed learning. This was a relatively newfangled idea involving step-by-step development and drill, with students encouraged to work through it steadily and without looking ahead.
Next, sliding the shield down the page would reveal the answers; in this case, dynamical quantity and differential operator. Whenever the printed answers differ from those you gave, figure out what you did wrong before proceeding. Sliding the shield down would also reveal the next frame (A2).
During January Mr. Warner and I would compose 255 of these frames. I tried to maintain a conversational tone.
Then I recruited Jan Olson to test a preliminary section of our book by working through these baby steps. Today, of course, half a century later, it's all Greek to me.
From the Earth to the Moon
On Saturday, December 14, as the first semester was drawing to a close, WOBC's 9th semi-annual classical music marathon began at 5:30 pm. It continued through a week of final exams. Then we left campus for the holidays.
On Saturday, December 21, just after I arrived home, the mail brought the card below.
It had no viewfinder, so Mission Control in Houston had to radio up frequent instructions concerning aiming or exposure. But we marveled at the pictures from a quarter of a million miles away.
With the whole planet listening, the crew took turns reading from the book of Genesis. Frank Borman closed with Good night, good luck, a merry Christmas, and God bless all of you all of you on the good Earth.
A year before, Jan and I had conducted a silly correspondence in a Runic alphabet. For this Christmas, I revived the idea but with a variation that I called Anti-Runic. Jan had no trouble decoding my letter and using my alphabet to reply with three pages like this:
The translation of what she wrote:
Isn't this a nice blue pen from Union Park Pontiac? Why doesn't Vernon Thomas Chevrolet give out such nice pens?
On Christmas Eve, all of us traipsed over to our next-door neighbors' to visit. Suddenly a car drove up and Mr. Defrade, another neighbor, ran up to tell us that our burglar alarm had been set off! The six of us, plus the Hamms (more neighbors), all arrived at our house at about the same time. The siren was screaming and the huge beacon on top of the roof was whirling and flashing.
Art Defrade and Mr. Hamm quickly ran around the house to see where the burglar might have entered. The living room door was unlocked, though closed. The burglar probably closed the door quickly when he heard the alarm go off, hoping to make the alarm be quiet. Of course, the alarm kept on being alarmed for twelve whole minutes.
You surely must have seen all the Apollo 8 telecasts. Wasn't that whole flight simply fantastic? It's the most exciting event of ante-Runian times! Imagine actually orbiting the moon and with an apolune of only 60 miles!
It has been good to have everybody home except that everyone but me has had the flu! No one has brought up the subject of boys (and me) yet, so all has been relaxed and peaceful in our house so far. This will probably change soon, as I plan to talk to Mom about a certain young man who lives in Florida.
Apollo 8 returned to the good Earth on December 27. Two days later, I brought my favorite year to a close by playing the organ for the morning worship at the First United Methodist Church in Richwood.
I still have the bulletin for that service, which noted that the chancel flowers had been provided by my parents. On the back of the bulletin, perhaps bored by the sermon, I doodled some wordplay such as don't hatchet your count before he chickens ... I come to seize your berry ... knighting an awl-puller.
My music began with a Praeludium by George Böhm. Then the processional hymn was Come, Christians, Join To Sing: Alleluia, Ah Amen, set to a tune we all recognized as the Ohio State alma mater Carmen Ohio. Later I closed the service with a Postlude in D Minor by Gilbert M. Martin.
In between, I played an offertory from a two-year-old issue of The Organ Portfolio. There it was labeled A Christmas Pastorale by Johann Mattheson (1681-1764), arranged by Van Denman Thompson.
was that for the service on December 29, 1968, I listed the offertory
in the bulletin as Wake, Rejoice, for Love Is Born
King. No one sang the words I had written, but I was
reading them to myself.
In 2003, I
played the same piece again on the same organ at the First United
Methodist Church, although by then I was 35 years out of
practice. Click on the box at the left to hear a recording of
my slightly awkward performance at that centennial celebration.
Don't be afraid to turn up the volume. The words are below.
the weary village doth sleep,
Ye who slumber now, and do dream,
is but a striving for gold,
Work we then, and labor, and strain,
But now we hear the angelic refrain:
mans soul is planted this rod: