Stories From
1960 - 1974


Known as "The Activism Era," alumni of this time period had a front row seat to some of the most iconic moments in modern American history. 

Peace

Stuart Pawsey (IH 1964 - 66)

Mixing it up at I-House (Featured in Fall 2015 I-House Times, page 9)

In the early sixties, even with the tumult around us on campus and in the streets, the issue of the separation of the men’s and women’s sections was never far from the minds of the I-House residents. Evening farewells to that special woman were (supposed to be) said at the door opposite the women’s library as she climbed the stairs alone to the women’s section.

As a gesture to the maturity of the residents, however, I-House Director Sherry Warrick magnanimously allowed women into the men’s section for a couple of hours in the afternoons before Sunday Suppers. These were jolly occasions, even without legal alcohol. It was said that one of the rules was that everyone had to keep two feet on the floor, but I suspect that was just a legend.

I was on the Resident Council in 1966 and we discussed the gender barriers with Mr. Warrick on various occasions. He felt that, although we Westerners might be happy with allowing folks to cross into the territory of the opposite sex, it was not fair to the people from Asia, Africa and maybe Latin America, who might be deeply offended by the closer mixing of the genders. So (what else do you do when confronted by a problem?) the Council took a poll of the residents. We analyzed the results and the inescapable fact was that it was the Americans who were most against removing the barriers.

We duly reported our findings to Mr. Warrick and, as I think we really expected, he said the current situation would remain. Democracy in action!

It was left to a later year to change this.

Donna Rosenthal (IH 1968 - 70)

The Spirit of Activism (Featured in Fall 2015 I-House Times, page 10)

As I was eating lunch under the olive trees at the International House patio with Ilana from Lima and Paulo from Florence, a boisterous blond man sat at our table. His outrageous jokes captivated Ilana and Paulo, but for me, his loud German accent stirred the ashes of the Holocaust.

Feeling uneasy, I left, ignoring him. During that semester in 1968, I continued to avoid the German, and it was easy with 600 students and scholars, half international and half American, living together.

But it wasn’t so easy the next semester when I joined the I-House Resident Council, because the German was its most politically outspoken member. Although I could no longer avoid him, I still remained aloof. But one night he snuck onto our all-women’s floor “disguised” in a flowered scarf and pink bathrobe and leading a few other men dressed in drag. After an “invasion” party, the zany German led a group of us on a secret raid: we brazenly stole the doors separating men’s and women’s sections. That night, my barriers of prejudice started to break down. Chris Sander became my first German friend – and I became his first Jewish friend.
(Originally published in the May 3, 1992 issue of IMAGE.)

Kathleen Costanzo Riley (IH 1971 - 74)

In 1972, my friend Lorne Temes invited me to join Ken Davidson for game night. We played a very memorable Scrabble game that in which I laid out the word "tickets." I scored many points since I used all seven letters, the K was on a triple letter score and the word itself was on a triple word score. Ken, both brilliant and competitive, still beat me in the end. This July, when I appeared on Jeopardy!, the Final Jeopardy! category was "Scrabble and Chemistry." Asked to name the noble gas worth the most points in Scrabble, I recalled that game and came up with the winning answer, krypton, beating out a professional chemist and a young woman who led the entire game. Thanks to Ken's invitation and to I-House, I can say, " I am a Jeopardy! champion."

Learn more at http://www.theledger.com/article/20150625/newschief/150629592

Susan Baird Kanaan (IH 1967 - 68)

The Universal Language

The first time I walked into International House, the sounds of a mandolin greeted me from the wide terracotta stairway leading to the residential area. It was early 1967, and I had come to interview for a job in the Program Office. Later, I learned that Bora Ozkok had created that magical start to my I-House experience.

Music remained a theme throughout the year I spent there between undergraduate and graduate school. I still have my copy of "Musicanto," a book of songs from around the world that Madeleine Wulffson, Hedy West, and I collected from residents. Madeleine had the idea and was the editor. Since I knew a tiny (and I mean tiny) bit about musical notation, I had the delightful task of having friends sing their chosen songs to me while I noted down enough of the melody to get a singalong started. These notes appeared in the book with several verses of the words, in the original languages. Hedy, who knew far more about notation than I, also wrote up a few of the songs. Altogether, we collected 121 songs from 46 countries or regions plus Yiddish and Latin.

In those days, two Program Offices sat side by side down the hall from the mailboxes. I worked as Program Assistant in the office that coordinated in-house programs such as dinners, performances, dances, and lectures. Barbara Lynch worked in the other one, which connected international students to local families and arranged field trips and other adventures for them.

I’m sure several amateur troupes shared their national dances from the auditorium stage. The one I remember is the one I was part of―the Dabke group, in which Lebanese and other Arab men and women (plus a ringer or two) glided and stomped to exuberant Middle Eastern music. This was just one of many opportunities to dance at I House. At our social dances, I was thrilled to find cosmopolitan partners who knew how to waltz, rhumba, foxtrot, and cha cha cha ― dances not then in fashion with American youth. Best of all were the folk dancing evenings when we moved in long lines and circles to the music of Greece, Yugoslavia, Israel, and other countries, or grouped into squares for American square dancing.

Nearly 50 years later, the I House experience goes on for me through abiding friendships and family relationships. And I can still sing some of those Musicanto songs―”Oh Mariyana”… “Massom, Massom”… “Zum Gali Gali”… “Eres Alta”…..

Susan Baird Kanaan―Ukiah, California

Nhan Thanh Nguyen (IH 1968 - 69)

Happy 85th Birthday, I-House!
I've got a couple of stories to share with you. They really happened during my time there...
Carol, a friend of my roommate Grace told us, at breakfast, she had met a student from Italy. She introduced herself and asked for his name when he was having a mouthful. She could hear him say "I'll tell you...". So she waited and waited. But he never told her his name. She then asked again. Again while sipping his orange juice, he answered "I'll tell you...".
Carol began to wonder why he could not tell her his name. It turns out his name is Atelio!!!

My second story...

Erich, a German student was telling me that he must be the only one in the house to be able to close one eye and open the other wide without either eye blinking. Gerold, another German student, sitting at our dining table, calmly said, "That's why this place is called Eye (I) House!".

Here's wishing you the best, I-House!

Vera Shadi (Worked at I-House 1966)

After graduating in the 1965 class, I took a job as secretary to Miss Baden when Mr. Warrick was Director. At that time he was considered "too high up" for me to meet him, as I was "too far down on the totem pole!” Actually I felt comfortable there for the first time in my life. I was one of the first mixed-race people on campus. It seemed as though many people (classmates and professors) weren't sure how I'd react to things—and weren't certain if I was a whole person or not. But the foreign students made me feel welcome.

While I was there, I was sent to the old records, located in "the dungeon." There I found my father's (Sundar Singh Shadi) original I-House application. He must have registered in 1930, as he came to this country from India in 1921. He married my mother, who became a Spanish Professor at UC Berkeley (Dorothy Clarke Shadi 1968 Berkeley Citation), and his folk art is now displayed at Christmastime in the El Cerrito Hills, and some went to the Oakland Museum. As for me, I enjoyed working at I-House so much that when I went to graduate school at The University of Chicago, I lived at the I-House in Chicago and loved it there as well.

Edward M. Dickson (IH 1964 - 65)

When I opened the door around 3 pm in early fall 1964, Narendra Kumar Dhand was lying in a on his until-then unoccupied bed in my double room. With Narendra clad in jeans and soiled T-shirt, my first thought was "Oh no, this roommate is lazy!" Then I learned that he had just made his way from Wawona Hotel in Yosemite (where he had summered working as a busboy in the restaurant) completely by public transportation. No wonder he was exhausted after such a long, arduous multi-segment journey.

Narendra turned out to be ambitious, energetic, ebullient, and extremely popular. We became fast friends and I became a honorary Indian eating most meals at the informal Indian table in the refectory. I became Edj, emulating the name of our friend Raj. Several of the Indian table married American girls they met at I-House and stayed on working as engineers in the U.S. But Narendra, after graduating and gaining several years work experience in Southern California, returned to India!

With the backing of his self-made middle class family, he and a Sikh engineer opened a business to make cylindrical grinding machines of their own design. Eventually, as the company gained market recognition, the Sikh and Narendra parted company amicably, agreeing to compete. After several name changes, Narendra's company became known as Micromatic Grinding Technologies and settled in Ghaziabad. It sells mostly to the auto industry, and even has a joint venture with Toyota. Joint venturing with and Indian machine tool company ACE, headquartered in Bangalore, Micromatic opened a second factory in Bangalore. They now call themselves the Ace Micromatic Group. Narendra has applied many of the business and personnel policies he observed in the US, making Micromatic an unusually fine place to work. I am very proud of what my "lazy" friend has accomplished and his contribution to the industrialization of modern India.

Narendra and I began our friendship in 1964 and it continues today with monthly or bi-monthly telephone conversations. I have traveled to India twice, the first time in 1969 shortly after his arranged marriage to Neelam an artist who has long served on the Board of Micromatic and has wonderfully astute business sense. My visit in 1969 was for a month, domiciled at Narendra's parents' home where he and Neelam still lived. Narendra has visited me in the US numerous times, we have rendezvoused in Europe for travels several times, and in 2009, my wife and traveled to India to travel around for several weeks on a journey that introduced the Dhands to many new places in their own country.

I-House was the beginning of a wonderful, 51 year long friendship.

David Seaborg (IH 1973 - 74)

I made many friends, some American, and some from foreign countries. I got exposure to foreign cultures and people beyond what I already had. I grew, learned, had fun, and learned the importance of understanding between people from different countries to world peace at I-House.

Paul Hockings (IH 1960)

When I arrived at I House from Canada in 1960 there was a young law student on the front steps greeting all the new arrivals and carrying their bags inside for them. He was the first American I got to know. And his name was Jerry Brown. Newly arrived students from Asia were amazed, for it quickly became known that he was the Governor's son. "You would never see a Governor's son carrying bags in India!" people said.

Suchitra Abel (IH 1969 - 71, 1973)

One of my important memories of I-House is that I got the first marriage proposal of my life there, in 1973! He was a foreign student living in I-House, who fell sick and had an operation at Alta-Bates Hospital. We were somewhat romantically involved at that time, so I went over to the hospital to take care of him. When he got better and came back to I-House, he proposed marriage! (Yes, to me!).

To the best of my knowledge, he did make the Guinness Book of World Records by this act, since no male from his country had ever proposed marriage or actually married a female from my country (at that time I was a citizen of India).

Of course, we both realized that the marriage will not work out (his parents and fellow country people would have objected). So, we did not marry. I would like to withhold his name and the name of his country, for the sake of privacy.

Madonna Hudson Mahurin (IH 1963 - 64)

Becoming acquainted with both new Peace Corps volunteers and with fellow Public Health Graduate students from India, Pakistan, and Canada etc. during the summer of 1963. That fall they shared our concern when JFK was assassinated. A few months later we shared their sorrow when Nehru died. How I wish I had not lost touch with everyone!

Carol Snow (IH 1971 - 72)

How else would a girl from the Orange County suburbs rub shoulders with
Christian and Muslim Lebanese or go dancing in the Mission with a group of
Latinos from south of the equator? Answer: dinner conversations nightly at
I-House. Nothing was more real than living in I-House when East Pakistan
became Bangladesh and being able to talk to students from both parts of the
former Pakistan. Everyone should have this experience. And I so miss folk
dancing with our dapper Austrian instructor!

Wei Eihn Kuan (IH 1974)

As a visiting scholar at Math Dept at an old age of 41, I was glad to find residence in I-House. There I mingled with young graduate students of multi nationalities. They energized my visit, chatting, eating, and experiencing young scholars' ambitions.

Russell Kalmacoff (IH 1965)

The greatest value of I House was sharing meals at random with international graduate students from all over the world. It was an invaluable experience, along to getting an MBA.

Robert Brinkley (IH 1963 - 65)

During semester break during the winter of 1964 a New Zealand I-House resident and I traveled to southern California for a Knott's Berry Farm outing with three I-House female residents. Afterwards the two of us traveled to Las Vegas where I was shocked to learn that my friend had not brought any expense money. This was before credit cards, so we ended up staying in an extremely cheap downtown hotel where you had to sit on the lobby steps to watch the tiny TV atop the cigarette machine. As we were doing so, because of lack of funds to do anything else, we saw a familiar face looking in the hotel window. It was a German friend from I-House who with some other residents also wanted to check out Vegas. He loaned us $50 to get back to have something to eat and return to campus, and we showed them the Vegas strip, which they did not know existed, thinking only the downtown had attractions (which had been very fortunate for us). My friend and I made it back to I-House with only 50 cents between us because of the gas expenses, even though we had left Vegas with pockets full of newly released uncirculated silver dollars. We had made the ignorant mistake of trying to return via Reno in winter, and were lucked out again in that US 50 had just been reopened when we arrived at Donner Pass. When in June I tried to drive cross country from campus using the same route, Donner Pass was closed due to snow!

Patrick Spagon (IH 1968 - 69)

I stayed at I-House from 1968-1969 as a grad student sent to Berkeley by Bell Telephone Research Labs. While other students from Bell Labs wanted to stay in apartments, I chose I-House because I wanted the opportunity to meet and get to know people from around the world. It was there where I met Patricia Nakasone (now Tanimoto) from Hawaii and Nancy Nagase (now Kurahashi) from California. Patricia became my first wife. Nancy is a life long friend. I also met Yoshiji Kurahashi (Yoshi) from Japan also a lifelong friend who now lives in California. Mrs. Evans was the most gracious I-House employee and maid. She would invite us over to her house and serve the best fried chicken in the world. When we would clean up, it always amazed me that she would let us put away all the dishes and utensils wherever we thought best. I was there during People's Park riots and watched the moon landing on TV in the Great Room. I will always cherish those memories.

Marcia Fisher (IH 1961-63)

I met my Korean boyfriend at an I House dance. We went together for a few years. I had wonderful cultural experiences with he and his friends. I developed a love of soccer by watching the I House soccer games in which he was a star player.

Judi Shane (IH 1969-70)

Calling on my mind to try to recall something special from my residency at I-House, now 45 years ago… I was an undergraduate in the fall of 1969, and the tradition was that undergrads shared a room, a very small room. I am Judi, and my roommate was Judy. We laughed about that, when we first met. We talk by phone from time to time, and still chuckle about that.

Judy and I shared many dinners with a group of Japanese male graduate students. Judy´s favorite past time while jointly enjoying the cafeteria food was to ask them to translate their family names into English. The most memorable one that comes to mind was "Mr. Hippopotamus Man." Judy would probably still chuckle about this today, and would be able to recall the other translations, as well. They all had two extra-curricular goals. The first one was to learn how to play golf, because this sport in Japan was a very expensive venture, and in California it seemed economically within reach to them.

The second goal was to get a driver´s license and buy a car. For a recent university graduate in Tokyo, having a car was not a possibility in the 1960s. During the course of the endeavor to find suitable cars, we began to learn a bit of the philosophy of the Japanese culture. Tadao had found an ad for a promising used car, phoned the seller to make an appointment to see the car, and carried out a test drive. A price was set, say $700, and Tadao departed. (Don´t be shocked about the price, the car was in good condition. My new Toyota Corolla was purchased in 1969, with a sticker price of $995.) A couple of weeks later, after having completed his market survey of used cars in the Berkeley area, Tadao phoned the seller again, and told her that he wanted to buy her car. She explained that after Tadao had seen her car, someone else drove it and had a minor crash, so now, with the added feature of a small dent, she reduced the price by $50. We thought that this reduction was reasonable. Tadao did not: A deal is a deal. He made a deal at $700 and paid $700, and was very happy with the car for the two years that he was at Berkeley. Over the years, on a few occasions during my work assignments, contractors have tried to modify their original offer terms, with a weak excuse for having to do so, Tadao comes to mind, and I smile.

For the second year of Tadao´s master´s degree program, his wife, Kimiko came to Berkeley, because married students´ housing became available. We shared meals several times during this period, and somehow, kept contact by snail mail over the years. In 1982, while I was living in Washington, D.C., Tadao, Kimiko, and their two young daughters, Ayako and Akiko, visited me while on their way back from Paris, France, after the end of Tadao´s assignment there. The five of us had a slumber party going in my one bedroom apartment.

Without realizing it, reciprocity was practiced in 1987, when I visited Tokyo for a few days, and was invited to spend one night in their apartment. Oh, yes, now I recall that I experienced another element of philosophy different from how I normally function. The initial plan was that Tadao was going to meet me at my hotel after work, and we would make the one hour commute together to his apartment on the outskirts of Tokyo. At the last minute, he had to attend a late afternoon meeting, so he arranged for a colleague to meet me, and escort me through two of the three trains that comprised the route to his home; and Kimiko would be waiting for me at the end of the line. When we reached the platform for the third and final train, I was told to board the train that stopped here at 1707 hours. "But", I asked, "How do I know that it is the train that I need to take?" (…with panic in my voice not being able to read Japanese!) The response was, "Because it will stop here at 1707 hours".

Over the next years, we kept in touch sporadically, eventually by email. I never made it back to Japan, as most of my assignments were in Africa. Then, the terrible earthquake happened in 2011, and I immediately thought of Tadao and his family. I had to talk to him, NOW! I kept trying to phone, and when service was finally restored, the person who answered did not speak English.

I shot off a quick email, not knowing, and only then realizing that it had been several years since we last communicated. Tadao responded to my email, indicated a different phone number. I checked the time difference between Guatemala and Japan, and determined that the hour was decent for receiving a phone call. The bottom line was that he and Kimiko had moved more than twenty years previously to another apartment, and I did not have the details. Now, getting back to the main purpose of my call, everyone in the family was OK. Tadao had departed work, and was in a train, at the platform, when the earthquake occurred. He was able to find a taxi, which became a ¨colectivo¨, and arrived home after a ride lasting eight hours.

Tadao died 14 months after the earthquake. Despite the ease of keeping in touch with the modalities that we have available today, email, skype and phone, it would have been nice to have met him again, in Tokyo, and experience another session of his sensitive view on the world, on flowers, on music, on food, on friends…

 

 

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