When I was still seventeen I left Salem (Illinois) to go to nursing school in Indianapolis, Indiana. I don’t remember how many miles there were between home and school, but I do know that in 1948 no one jumped in their cars and started off on long joy rides just for the sake of riding on the roads. Route 50, specifically, was pretty terrible between Salem and Indianapolis in 1948, so my trips home during the three years that I was in nursing school were infrequent. My father and my brother-in-law were given the responsibility of coming after me, so I was driven home and returned by car on every trip. At that time my father was still working building houses for the influx of employees of The Texas Company, which was the major oil company in town.
We lived on a farm about seven miles outside of the town of Salem. When the oil fields were being put down we could read a newspaper outside late at night from the light of the oil field flares. This was a very interesting situation to experience after living in the darkness of night for so many years. We did not yet have electricity when the oil fields were being created. We had not yet been designated as an area that had enough human beings living in it to make electricity a money-making project, so we had to wait our turn which was pretty much at the end of the line. My parents did get electricity about late 1950, but I was still at school. This putting in of the electricity had my parents so excited that they called and told me they were coming to get me and bring me home for the weekend. Their surprise for me was the electricity, which of course they loved and so did I because they deserved this modern convenience, and also the convenience of the indoor bathroom that they had built. Most of all, I was excited because I could read at night after everyone else was asleep.
Somehow electricity made me less worried about my parents when I returned to school after that trip home and I felt the change in myself and my academic concentration. When we stop worrying, we can think better and focus more carefully on what we are doing, which I experienced and which I continue to appreciate today. I have had ample opportunities to experience life in the dark and life with light all around me. Living in the country itself was a marvelous experience that I will never forget. When you do not have central lighting in your house, you find yourself staying in closer groups and doing things that you might not do any other time. Sometimes the moon would light our way.
I was extremely close to my father and I loved to hear his stories about baseball, the army, how he spent his time in France when his leg was too “sick” for the army to put him on a ship to come home. It was my father’s stories about the “coffee houses” in France and how they talked about philosophy that triggered my interest in philosophy as a child. For some reason, which was probably their lack of interest, my father talked to me more about Spiritual Philosophy as he had learned it than he did with my sisters. Later as I got older, I went to work in town in a local drugstore. I made the trips to and from the drugstore with my father as he went to work and came home from work, which was a perfect time for me to listen to his stories. These were wonderful years for me where my father and I could talk consistently about the things that he had learned when he was wounded in the Army and was living in France. He always told me not to share our conversations with the rest of the family because they were religious and we were discussing Spiritual Philosophy as he had learned it, and I never have until this moment in time revealed any of our communication. Now I hope they are open to understanding as I reveal my life and thinking during my early years that have so intensely shaped my later years in life.