George Immerwahr’s Memoirs


"With a song in my heart / I behold your adorable face"

I will never forget the evening that Jean and I met. For several months I had been living at a boarding house in Great Neck, Long Island, the home of a Mrs. Janis who had advertised her boarding house in The Christian Science Monitor and where one of her other boarders was Jean's older sister, Helen Moulton.  Helen was a teacher at the Great Neck High School and a Christian Scientist and who became a very dear friend. She often spoke of her youngest sister Jean who had been teaching in Southampton, Long Island, was transferring to Great Neck in a few months. Later Helen moved out of Mrs. Janis' house into the an apartment in Great Neck where she and Jean would be living.  Mrs. Janis herself decided to move away, and it was then that I went to live and board with Marion and Homer Wakerly, who lived in Flushing, Long Island, and were members of the Christian Science church in Great Neck.

Then came the evening of September 13, 1932, when Helen invited me to come to their apartment, and there I met Jean. I also met another of Jean's sisters, Frances, who was visiting from elsewhere in Hew York State.. Jean was such a naturally friendly person that we got acquainted immediately, and I learned that she liked to walk, play tennis, listen to music, and to do so many other things that I enjoyed doing.

Jean's background

Jean was born August 27, 1909 in a neighborhood in the Bronx, which may have been part of New York City at that time and is certainly part of it now.   Her Father Edgar L. Moulton is believed to have been of Irish ancestry, and we do not know too much about his forbears. He had both a brother and a sister who were still living when Jean and I met, and in fact we visited the sister, Jean's aunt, in upstate New York in 1967 and also briefly met the brother. Jean's father was an accountant, and had been one of the top accountants in Sperry Rand.  When Jean and I met in 1932 the family was living in Schenectady, NY.  Earlier the family had lived in North Tonawanda, NY, and still earlier in Hempstead, Long Island.

Jean's Mother, Adelaide Warner, was of colonial ancestry and was the descendant of one of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower.  She used to say that she came from a "long line of teachers and preachers," and in fact two of her sisters, Margaret and Marion Warner, were teachers in the New York public school system. Other relatives were ministers or missionaries, mostly in the Presbyterian Church.  Jean's parents became Christian Scientists during Jean's early childhood, and their children were raised as Christian Scientists and Jean's sisters continued to be Scientists.

Jean's parents had six other children, her sisters Helen, Frances and Emily, and her brothers Jack, Donald and Edgar Jr.  Frances and Emily were twins, and they and Helen and Jack were all older than Jean, Don and Edgar being younger than she.  Frances and Jack had gone to Principia, the college for children of Christian Scientists, Helen and Jean went to Buffalo State Teachers College, Don and Edgar to Union College. Emily went to college also, but we do not recall the name.  Don died before graduating from Union, and I had met him only on one brief occasion.

Jean was very athletic and was captain of her college's basketball team and also head of student government.  Because of being head, she was sent by her college to a meeting of student government leaders, the meeting being chaired by Edward R. Murrow who became famous in journalism in later years.  After graduating from college as a certified teacher, Jean taught one year in the Southampton, NY, school system, and then transferred to Great Neck, Long Island, where her sister Helen was teaching and where I met Jean in September 1932.

The story continued

Just about that time, my Mother came East to visit me, and I remember that she helped me decide where to live, and as I mentioned the choice was with the Wakerlys. Mother met Jean and Helen too, and liked them from the start. I also enjoyed meeting others of Jean's family, as her parents and brothers visited her about that time, though I had yet to meet her sister Emily..

     "Just a song at the start / but it soon is a hymn to your grace"

Jean and I dated for six months, and for me it was just heaven.  We played tennis, went to a football game at Princeton, talked and walked.  We walked over the rural Kings Point roads of Great Neck, and Jean always took my arm.  That was as close as we came together physically, as I suspected Jean didn't want any closer contact (Christian Scientist young people were trained to be very discreet in those days), and I didn't want to lose her. One Sunday evening in March 1933, just after FDR had been inaugurated, Jean accompanied me down the dark flight of stairs from her apartment to the street, and as we talked I hugged her and she hugged me back, though I still didn't venture to kiss her.  But as I returned to my room at the Wakerlys, I was just in ecstasy. .

But later that very week, Jean told me that she could no longer see me except at church. I do not wish to discuss this sudden breakup.  I did not understand it, and it was a shock to me, as I had fallen deeply in love with her. The next year, Jean's sister Helen left Great Neck to teach elsewhere in New York State, and Jean went to live with a Christian Science practitioner. Jean and I had friends in the CS Church at Great Neck who were as surprised to see our breakup as I was.

I had a close friend in the church named Joe Cornell, who lived very near me and whom I often visited.  Joe was a most self-effacing person and I was then the only church member who seemed to know he existed.  He would take me into his basement and show me all sorts of odd objects he collected.  He was interested in surrealist art and got me acquainted with the work of artists like Salvador Dali.  After I left the Wakerly home in 1935 I had no further contact with Joe, but later he became very famous in the art world.  At the time of his death about 1970, I read that his excellently crafted collage boxes were very prized by art collectors.


In 1935 I married Margaret Schlaugies, and we had a son George Jr. whom we called JR. We separated in June 1937, agreeing on joint custody of JR, though I agreed to full financial responsibility. As Margaret was then unable to care for him, he and I moved in with my parents. I did not tell her about my marriage to Jean when it occurred, and she did not tell me about any of her remarriages.  In 1940, 3 years after I last saw her she thought that Jay and I were still living with my parents in Highland Park, she sent her two sisters there to pick Jay up, and when they didn't find him with my parents they drove back home. But on the way they were in a car accident in which one of the sisters was killed.  By that time of course, she knew about my remarriage and wrote me (I was then in DC), telling me how glad she was that Jay wasn't in the car when the accident occurred.  Of course I answered her, expressing my sympathy to her and her family, but that was the last time I wrote her myself. I had phoned her a few times within a year after our 1937 separation.  I learned of her first remarriage (which I think was in 1940 or 1941) through my classmate Irv Pedly.

I think Margaret chose not to try to see Jay again because she felt that not seeing him was her fate, but I also suspect she already had another love interest.  However, I believe her second marriage did not last too long and she married a third time or maybe a fourth.

I had some good feelings about her, and I particularly liked one of her brothers and the whole family were intelligent people.  I particularly enjoyed the humor of one  of her older brothers.  She did a lot of good reading, herself.

Jay never expressed interest in seeing her or being with her until about the year 1999 or 2000.  At that time I tried to reach her siblings, but they were deceased, and the members of the next generation didn't know where she might be (I knew from Irv Pedly she had moved to southern Florida).  But finally I got in touch with the widow of her oldest brother, and I was amazed that she remembered me.  She had been in infrequent touch  with Margaret and gave me  her most recent married name and the latest phone number she knew.  That was out of date, but by paying $35 to USSearch, I got a more recent phone number and told it to George.  He phoned Margaret a number of times, but the last time he called he learned that she had recently died.  Talk to him for more details.  I believe this was in late 2000 and that she must have then been 89.

To Highland Park with George, Jr.

After the separation, JR and I moved to Highland Park to live with my parents.  I am everlastingly grateful to my parents for taking us in, and also for the Christian Science nurse Grace Bricknell whom we engaged to take care of George.  However, the two years I lived in my parents' home and worked with my Dad were not entirely happy.  I felt bad about not having worked out things with Margaret, but I actually thought of Jean more than of Margaret.  Also I realized I didn't want to make a career in the wholesale paper business, even though Dad was a very patient guide in my job there.  There were some times when I was so noticeably dis-tressed that Mother one day said to me, "Why don't you try to get in touch with Jean?"  Actually I had really written Jean off as forever out of my life, even though I very often thought of her.

This was in the spring of 1938, after my divorce from Margaret had become final.  When I wrote Jean, never expecting an answer, she wrote me a very loving letter, telling me (1) that the  practitioner died who had convinced Jean that no good Christian Scientist should ever marry, and (2) that the CS teacher, Miss G, with whom Jean had had class and who was then a maiden lady announced that she was engaged to marry.. These two events greatly changed Jean's views.  She became reconciled first to her family, from whom she had virtually broken off while living with the practitioner.  On Memorial Day weekend I drove east to meet her; she was then living with a family from the CS church named Minnick, whom I knew, and we became engaged to marry, and set June 24, 1939 as the wedding date.

Jean came to Highland Park as soon as school finished for the year, and I presented her the diamond engagement ring (which she still wears) at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.  In  the year of our engagement we wrote each other almost daily, and at Jean's Easter vacation she and her mother drove out to Highland Park and it was a wonderful occasion.  I rode back with them as far as Ashtabula, Ohio, and there we met our old friends the Kinnels who had already learned of our engagement.  .

During our engagement I got the happy news that I was to get an actuarial job at Social Security in Washington, DC, provided I report no later than June 30, 1939.  I had almost forgotten applying for this job years earlier.  Even the timing was just right.  It meant that we could marry on Saturday June 24, have a brief honeymoon and still report for work on Thursday June 29.

The wedding was outdoors, by a Protestant minister Jean knew, and many dear guests and relatives were there, including of course my parents and a cousin of Dad's who lived on Long Island, and most of Jean's family and many dear people from the Great Neck church.  There were two guests who took movies of our wedding, and we still have these films, assembled with some later films showing our children, into a video tape.  We still show these 63-year-old movies.  At the wedding Ed Moulton sang, "I dream of Jeanie  .   . " and my Mother thought that it was a song composed for the occasion.  Of the guests at the wedding, only two - so far as we know - are with us today, Ed - who was best man - and Tom Moulton.  Tom was then about 3, the same age as JR, and his dad Jack Moulton is seen carrying him at the ceremony.  The Wakerlys were there, also Irv Pedly who had been at Princeton with me and was my close friend for many years.

We had a brief honeymoon but a wonderfully happy one.  We stayed in Princeton two nights, one night canoeing on Lake Carnegie, and then two nights in Alexandria, VA., where we discovered mimosa trees for the first time.  In between Princeton and Alexandria we stopped in to see an elderly couple named Rosenbaum who had made a home for my Dad years ago.  On the way through Washington, DC, we stopped in a Christian Science Reading Room, saw an ad for an apartment available for the summer, and engaged it and moved in, and started the job June 29.

It was decided that on Friday afternoon June 30 Jean and I would set out to Highland Park in our car and pick up JR and return immediately to Washington with him and report back to the job on Wednesday July 5, July 3 and 4 being holidays.  We planned to drive all night that Friday night, taking turns at the wheel, and to arrive in Highland Park Saturday evening.  But in West Virginia our car was hit by a car coming from our left and we had to lay over for repairs.  So we phoned Dad and Mother, and a few days later they put Grace Bricknell and JR on a train to Pittsburgh and we met them there and drove to our temporary apartment in Washington.  Grace stayed with us for several days before returning to Illinois.  Thinking back over the experience, I feel extremely grateful to Grace and regret that I never thanked her enough.  She had been a loving mother to JR for two years, and noone could have helped us as she did.

Four Boys

To keep things in chronological order,  I will begin by telling of George, Jr. and his early childhood.  We then called him JR or more commonly Jay, and I still think of him as Jay. Since Don didn't come on the scene until Jay was more than 6 ½ years old, I had a long and happy contact with him as my sole child.

Even as an infant, Jay was a very active boy.  In his first summer when only about 7 months old he learned how to get out of his buggy by putting his weight on one end and tipping it over so he could get down and crawl on terra firma.  He was a very early walker, walking at age 10 months, and even before that he learned how to climb stairs. Later in Highland Park, when he was just 3, he decided that instead of my pulling him on the sled, he should pull me, which he did, calling out to all passersby, "Here comes my daddy."  Also his interest in cars began at that very time.  Cars were much more primitive in those days, and I could pull up the hood and show him the engine and he became fascinated with it.

When Jean and I married and Jay was age 3 ½, he was a very important part of our Washington, DC, household.  Even during our engagement, Jean became a wonderful mother to him, making a beautiful quilt for his bed, playing with him and showing him motherly affection. When we married, she was  singing lullabies to him, walking with him, teaching him to roller skate, and so on.  Much of this activity of those early years is shown in the movies taken in those days which were later added to our wedding movies to form a video which we continue to play.  In these movies we can see Jay at play with the neighbor children, some of whom were older than he was.  In fact, at our very first Washington home in the summer of 1939, Jay became a companion of a much older girl who took him off one day to the Washington zoo, and Jean was genuinely concerned over his long absence., wondering what I would think if he didn't get home before I did.

By the time the summer was over, we had found a house to rent in the northwest corner of Washington, just one block from the Maryland line.  Shortly after that we learned that a new CS church was being formed in Chevy Chase, just across the line into Maryland.  We became charter members, I became treasurer, and JR entered the Sunday School.  Jean and I still chuckle over the many amusing experiences we had with him in the years before Donald was born. One of the wonderful things about our marriage was that my family was so enthusiastic about it, as they admired Jean so much.  She became a bright star in Dad's life. Before Hitler had came to power in 1933, I seldom thought of Dad or of any of us as Jewish, but then Dad's whole thought was in Jew vs. Gentile terms.  But in Jean's presence this stopped, and he was genuinely happy. Another wonderful thing was the warmth and love between Jean's family and me.

Jean and I decided that we wanted a child soon as we were already 30 years old. But it wasn't until August 1942 that he arrived.  We named him Donald, after one of Jean's brothers.  He was wonderful and beautiful, a real cherub, and Jean and I loved to watch his development day by day.  JR (whom we then called Jay) loved him too. The video tape that shows our wedding also includes scenes of our early married life and of our boys.  During those years both Jean's family members and mine came to visit us, and we were able to provide a home for Jean's mother Adelaide during her final illness in late November, 1941.  Helen, who had been Jean's maid of honor at our wedding, died shortly after that. The war in Europe had started in September 1939, just 21 years after World War I ended, and at first it didn't seem to make much difference in our lives. 

Washington, DC, was a friendly and very uncrowded place, and we just loved the city and took in everything it had to offer.  At noon, Jean would often bring Jay downtown to meet me, and we would eat lunch in the cafeteria of the very new and beautiful Federal Reserve Board building.  I never visited the White House, but Jean and JR did, and in those days there were no security concerns, and if a woman visitor were to leave her calling card (Jean never did), Eleanor Roosevelt would send her an invitation for tea.  There was a lot of casual social life in our neighborhood.  If we walked past a house where there was a party going on on the front lawn, we would be asked to join it.  The house, which we rented (for $50 a month), wasn't fancy, and I had to stoke a coal furnace in the winter, but it was just right for us.  My office at Social Security and my job there were very pleasant, and I was ever so fond of my associates, John St. John, Ed Sellers, Al Kripke, Lib Hall, etc. and their families.

But the bombing at Pearl Harbor changed everything.  Hundreds of thousands of military and defense personnel and their families moved into Washington, and the real estate situation changed drastically.  We were told we must buy our house or move out.  And at almost the same time, most of the Social Security staff were told that their work would be in Baltimore rather than in Washington (the huge wage record operation was already in Baltimore).  So very early in 1942 - Jean was already pregnant with Donald - I had to start looking for a Baltimore home, and the one we found was on the old National Pike (then called US 40) about two miles west of the center of Catonsville, MD, a Baltimore suburb. The home was an apartment in a former nightclub, way out in the country, but it met our needs very well.  It was here that Don was born August 21, 1942

The apartment was part of a building which at one time had been a tavern, located on the old National Pike leading westward from Baltimore.  It was in a fairly rural area, but it was just over the hill from a Christian Science church which Jean  and I joined and to which we belonged for at least 26 years.

We eagerly awaited our baby, and in those days nobody know what a baby's gender would be until the baby's birth. I wasn't too surprised that the new baby was a boy, because we already had a boy (Jay) and in my own family I had had a brother but no sister.  But with every additional expected child or grandchild we had hoped for a girl.  But by the time great-grandson Vaughan was expected we realized that no girl would ever be forthcoming.

Don was a beautiful boy and we both loved him, the child of our married love.  Within a few weeks of his birth, he responded to our smile with a beautiful smile of his own, and he was always a joy to be with.  Unlike our other sons,  he loved every kind of food we offered him, and he knew one from another, soon learning the names of many foods.  He was born during WW II, when bananas were usually unavailable, but one night when I was on Coast Guard duty a banana boat came into the harbor, and I bought some.  When Don first saw a banana, he knew exactly how to peel and eat it.  Once Jay brought home an industrial thermometer he had found in a rubbish heap, and somehow Don got into it and drank the mercury.  I had always thought that mercury was a poison, but this time the mercury went right through him into the toilet without hurting him.

As Don grew older, however, he seemed to favor Jean over me, and when Jean became a reader of the church and studied and practiced a lot, he became quite impatient that she could not be with him all the time. He cried a lot when he could not be with her, and this continued for a year or two, but he gradually got accustomed to her being away.

I took long walks with Don and I learned to carry him over my shoulders, with his legs around my neck.  Nowadays I often see children carried that way, but in those days it seemed that I was the only parent to carry a child that way, and people would comment about it 

The day Don was born, Jean's sister Emily, who was our nurse for each of Jean's childbirths, urged me to take Jay out of the house for the entire day, so we set out on a long exploratory walk of the  area where we lived.   We took a rough path leading southward at the west side of our apartment, and we came to the crude house of a hillbilly family we had met before, finally getting to the cliff which formed the north bank of the Patapsco River.  We continued hiking eastward and finally found a place where I could get food for Jay and myself, but when we returned home we were both famished.

A few weeks later, it was time for Jay to enter school, first grade. So far as I can recall, he had never been to kindergarten. We learned that we were in the Catonsville school district, but we were at least two miles west of the Catonsville school, and no buses came as far as our place, so we didn't know how to get him to school.  We noticed that a school bus from the Oella school came into our driveway each morning to turn around. It did this because it couldn't make the sharp turn into Thistle Road, a short distance to the west where it had to go to pick up children from Ilchester, a small village on the  bank of the Patapsco.   We had to negotiate with the Oella school, but we finally got Jay admitted there so he could ride to school by bus.

(In August 2003, John and Kathy and I drove down to Baltimore, Catonsville and Relay to see the homes in which we had lived while there.  I recognized the Catonsville building in which Don and John had been born, but only from its location and shape; it had now become a Knights of Columbus building.)

John was another story.  I doubt that he preferred my presence over Jean's but he was very friendly to me.  John was conceived while Jean was the First Reader at church, and I guess some other church members wondered how a CS reader could become pregnant, but at least we were married.  I remember that at the time John was expected, I did a lot of piano playing, and maybe that's why John became so musical.  Don took piano lessons before John did, but I think I had hurt Don's musical career because I was critical of his practicing at times, and that may have led him to quit practicing. I regret that I did this, because I am sure Don had as much natural musical talent as John.  At any rate John was an excellent piano student.  When he came to a difficult passage, he would aim for perfection by playing it over and over again, so much so that Jean would ask me to tell John to stop that passage and play something else.  But John persisted, as he should, and this made him a fine pianist

It tuned out that Don became a drummer in his school band, and John played trumpet as well as piano.  One thing that gave Jean and me a lot of pleasure was that Don and John were very fond of each other and did many things together.  One would recommend books to the other, and both read a lot of fine books, such as the science fiction writings of Isaac Asimov.  I can't claim to have been much of a learning guide to either of them, as they both seemed ahead of me.  However, I knew Treasure Island and the Count of Monte Cristo, and I think I did read these books to either or both Don and John.  I believe I took both boys on short trips, and the two that I remember was a trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and a trip to New York, going there by train and returning to Baltimore by plane, their first flying experience.

What I remember most about Jay was his fascination with cars.  During 1942-47, we lived on the old National Pike, which was then US 40, and cars would appear coming into view over the hilltop about a quarter mile or so to the east.  As each car appeared coming down the hill toward us, Jay would call out the make of the car and sometimes other details about it.  I didn't know how he learned so much about cars, surely not from me.

The car we acquired in 1946 was a Hudson, a gift from my Dad, who also had a Hudson.  Before that, we had had a 1935 Chevy coupe with a rumble seat, also a gift from my Dad.  No civilian cars were made during World War II days, and cars were slow coming off the assembly line when peacetime manufacture resumed.  The Hudson that Dad bought for us had wooden front and rear bumpers, which were not replaced by steel ones until weeks later, so difficult it was to get automobile parts.

In 1947 we bought a house located on Arlington Ave. in Relay, a few miles from Catonsville.  It wasn't a fancy house, but it served my purpose anyhow because in those days I was shifting back and forth between workplaces in Baltimore and Washington, DC, and trains to each city stopped at Relay.  Relay was so named because when the B&O railroad first ran between Baltimore and Ellicott City, the train cars were horsedrawn, and it was at Relay that tired horses were replaced by fresh horses.

Our lot on Arlington Ave. extended to the street behind us, and across that street lived the Harkins children who became Don's and John's playmates.  Both adult and child Harkins generations were overstuffed people, but despite their weight they were nimble and fun playmates.  And right next door, facing Arlington itself, were the Schlesingers who have played a big part in Immerwahr family life up to this very day, Emily (EJ) marrying Don in 1963 and Kempy becoming a long time pal of John's, though he now lives in Germany.  The other two Schlesinger children were Frances and Martin.

I don't remember Jay having any problems at the Oella school, but when he went to school in Relay he began to have trouble with his teachers.  There was a Relay teacher named Miss McGuigan who became his nemesis, and from then on he and his teachers couldn't get along.  After finishing the elementary grades at Relay, he started at Catonsville High (I don't remember whether there was a junior high that he attended), and at this point he began to have trouble at home

In fact , even before his 15th birthday he started buying used cars for a few dollars and taking them apart and putting them together again.  He also began driving on the public roads illegally, sometimes getting a ticket for driving without a license but continuing to drive.  He also repaired other people's cars.  I had a fellow-worker who had trouble with his car that no service station could fix, so I told him to bring it and let Jay work on it, and Jay repaired it satisfactorily.

Jay had a number of difficulties as a teenager, but I'll let him tell the story of those years in his own terms.   But to this day he maintains his wonderful ability with all things mechanical.

Starting either in high school or junior high years, Don entered McDonogh, a private semi-military school for boys several miles northwest of our home in Baltimore.  This was Jean's idea rather than mine, and Jean urged it because she felt that Don was unorganized in his homework habits.  As I seem to recall, Don would get so excited about the difficulty of his homework that he would continue working at it well after bedtime, and Jean felt that McDonogh would help him manage his hours.  Don seemed very unhappy at the thought of leaving home, and I too had some qualms about it. 

Our youngest boy Dick was born in October 1948 at our Relay home.  As I mentioned in an earlier chapter, he was an entirely different child, eating well, but slow to learn to walk, and even slower to learn to talk.  Jean and I hoped that he would learn to talk in different pre-schools, but finally we put him in a private school in Connecticut run by Christian Scientists which was known for successful special-ed for children. Here within two years he did learn to talk and read and write, and at age 7 he was at a par with other children his age.  He then went to Baltimore Boys Latin school for a year or two but then moved into the Baltimore public school system, where he did well. By that time we were living in Baltimore on Winans Way, and Don and John suggested that they could help with Dick in some ways to solve his problems.  At an earlier stage while we were still in Relay, Dick had greatly admired Jay who became his "third parent."

Our son John had a pleasant boyhood and a good school experience.  When he and Don were growing up, they got along very well, and I was particularly glad about that, since I remembered that Ray and I didn't always agree and sometimes fought.  Don and John read the same books and exchanged ideas in a way that I greatly admired.

Don had stopped taking piano lessons and I felt guilty about that because I felt that I was sometimes critical of his playing.  Had I been more patient with him, I know he would have been a wonderful musician.  John on the other hand, did well at piano and then learned trumpet and joined the school band.  He plays piano well to this day.

Dick went to summer camp during several summers, including the Peabody music camp, where John himself had gone.  Even before that, Dick started lessons on viola and did very well, and he also learned violin.  But his greatest success was as an organist. He took lessons from a fine teacher, and he practiced mainly at the Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church which was on Winans Way, and he became excellent.  He also got to play on fine organs such as the Princeton chapel organ.  He applied to study at Princeton, as John had, but he was not accepted there, and instead he started college in 1946 at the University of Maryland branch college in Catonsville.  In the summer of 1946, Dick had the wonderful opportunity to go to Europe on an organ tour with his teacher and a number of adult organ students.  They were in several countries, including Germany where they got to play on the old organs used by Bach and Buxtehude.

In one of his summers at camp, Dick had learned to sail a boat.  I too had learned to sail as a teenager, but I never continued with it, though I did take Jean and the boys canoeing.  But during Dick's last year or two with us, he did sail and on occasion he took me and others sailing in the inlets of Chesapeake Bay.  He became a very well rounded young man in his later teen years. We had bought a 50-acre piece of land in western Maryland,  probably a foolish purchase, as the main reason I bought it was that one of the Mason-Dixon milestones was at a corner of the property.  The older boys were not attracted to the place, but Dick liked it, and he enjoyed the 55-mile drive to get there, and he was an excellent driver.  Despite the slowness of his early development, he turned out so well that Jean and I took great pride in his accomplishments.  In his very last few weeks, just between semesters at the U. of Maryland, Jean and he and I had a happy vacation together in Jamaica. It was on our last day in Jamaica that he had a return of symptoms which he had had some months earlier and which this time led to his passing, just four months after his 19th birthday. 

But as it happened,  a new event was awaiting Jean and me which eased the sorrow over Dick, though we could never forget him or lose our joy over how much he had achieved.   

Jean and I had occasional disagreements in our marriage, but for the most part we were extremely happy and agreed on most things.  Jean was not particularly happy about our housing, because in 1947 I had bought a house in Relay, Maryland, and took the family there.  Our Relay house had the advantage of being near the B&O railroad, which made for easy commuting to either Baltimore or Washington, as I had jobs in both of these while we were there.  But the house itself was like a railroad car, and even though Jean herself had arranged for alterations for it, she was quite unhappy there.. So in September 1952 we bought a house Jean had chosen on Winans Way just inside Baltimore's city limits, in a neighborhood which all of us liked. By that time I was working solely in Baltimore, as actuary for Monumental Life Insurance Company, and we felt much happier in this new home. The new location was good in all respects, and very near a fine public school which the younger boys attended. 

Jean's Work

One disagreement I had with Jean was over her inactivity.  Our helper Martha did all the housework, and Dick had finally become quite independent by the time he was ten years old.  I felt that Jean would be much happier if doing some outside work. Even though we didn't need additional income, I felt that if Jean had a job, she would meet fine people in the workplace in addition to the Christian Scientists who were about the only people she knew. But Jean simply couldn't agree to the idea of an outside job.

But in the late 1950s we met a Mr. Welch from New York who arranged musical concerts in neighborhood communities. Jean became very interested in this, and she organized and headed a community concert association in our neighborhood, and she and I were very successful in selling annual subscriptions and providing ourselves and our neighborhood with very fine music.  Mr. Welch had told Jean that these community concerts were usually held in school auditoriums, so to arrange this Jean contacted Mr. Rankin, the principal of the nearby Edmondson High School.  When Mr. Rankin learned that Jean had been a home economics teacher before our marriage, he persuaded her to join the Edmondson faculty, accomplishing what I had attempted without success.  By that time our youngest son Dick was 10 or 11 and very much on his own, so Jean was able to teach and later became head of her department and also completed credits for her master's degree and headed a committee to revise the Baltimore schools' home economics curriculum.  When she retired from this successful career to go with me to India, her associates and other school officials gave her a big sendoff.  I was immensely proud of her.

Jay (George, Jr.) eventually came back to live with us in our Winans Way home, though only for a short time.  Jean wisely recommended that we give him our Pontiac car, and legal ownership of a car turned his life around.  Later he met and married a fine young woman, Gigi Mallonee, though sadly the marriage lasted only about a year.  Not much later, Don married EJ Schlesinger, the daughter of our former neighbors in Relay. Our son Dick was "different" from many youngsters, but when he took up music, first piano, then viola and violin (we owned a violin that my Dad had played as a boy in the 1890s) and still later organ, he excelled and he became a superb organist.  We don't know what his ultimate career would have been, but in March 1968 he passed away with Hodgkins disease. This was a severe testing time for Jean and me. We were then alone, as Jay and Don had their own homes and John was at graduate school at U. of Michigan. But a very surprising development then occurred. 

Beginning in 1963, I worked only part-time at Monumental Life, relinquishing the vice presidency and the job of chief actuary. I got a master's degree from Johns Hopkins Engineering School in Baltimore in 1965, being handed a diploma by Milton Eisenhower. After that, I spent many hours a week at Johns Hopkins Public Health School and was on their payroll, researching in the field of Third World population. In the summer of 1968 the School learned of a position in India which seemed to be related to my Hopkins work.  I had already been a few weeks in Colombia in 1966 on a population project and then several weeks in Nigeria in 1967 where I succeeded under considerable odds in salvaging a Johns Hopkins project on population and health.  So the India position seemed to be just the opportunity for Jean and me to start a new life, keeping fond memories of Dick but still so absorbed in our new activities and surroundings, so I accepted the India work.  This meant leaving Monumental Life and actuarial work (though both Johns Hopkins and Monumental kept me on unpaid leave for a time) and renting out our Winans Way home to which we never returned and which we eventually sold. The India work and the subsequent assignment in Sri Lanka where Jean also joined me are discussed in another chapter.  But in January 1979 Jean moved into a mobile home in Kenmore, Washington, near Don and his boys Steve and Mike, and I joined her a few months later. We have continued to be happy both there and in the assisted-living home in Kenmore to which we moved in September 1998.

Jean was always very active as a Christian Scientist, both in her personal life and in the Christian Science movement.  Before we had been two years in Catonsville, she was elected First Reader of the church there, and following that she was active in other capacities.  (I was active there myself).  When we came to Bombay, Jean was active in the church there as well, and teaching Indian children in the Sunday School was a delightful experience for her.  Most of these children were of the Parsi community (more on Parsis later), and one child asked Jean whether Mrs. Eddy was a Parsi. In Sri Lanka, Jean devoted much of her time to Christian Science healing, and for our last few years there she was listed in the CS Journal as a CS practitioner.  Through the years of our marriage, Jean wrote poems published in the CS Sentinel and Journal, and these will appear in an addendum to this volume.

There was an American non-Scientist in India who wrote for the Monitor, but Jean also wrote for the Monitor.  Her articles were on such subjects as the family planning movement in India, the practice of arranged marriages there, the life of the sidewalk dwellers in Bombay, and so on.  Some of her articles also appeared in other U.S. Newspapers, and she also wrote for Indian journals, such as the Illustrated Weekly of India.

As I look back over the many years of our marriage, I am filled with gratitude for it.  In these latter years, though Jean has lost much of her memory and much of her eyesight, she has gained in affection and tenderness, and I have become more in love with her than ever before. Even the physical care I gave her in her last days, such as feeding her at mealtime, had become a joy. At present, I miss Jean terribly. I think of her not only daily, but often hourly, momently.

There were a few events in our life where she tested me, but I know there many where I tested her, and she was always unfailing in her love, and I marvel that she stayed with me, and am eternally grateful for her patience and devotion, her kindness and her humor.

A song that was popular in 1932 when Jean and I met was "With a Song in My Heart." I still love the song and think fondly of Jean when I remember the last few lines:

  "Can I help but rejoice / that a song such as ours came to be, And I always knew / I could live life through / with a song in my heart for you."

Actuarial work

Perhaps I should start on this topic by trying to explain what an actuary is and what an actuary does.  A definition which I would prefer today is that the work of an actuary is that of applying mathematical skills, including skill in the field of probability, to financial problems.  In the United States today, about one-half of accredited actuaries work in the field of insurance, and somewhat more than half of these in the field of life insurance or in the provision of pensions.

In life insurance,  the principal risk insured against is death, primarily premature death, or in some cases to the likelihood of disablement. Those who work in pensions are concerned with probabilities of survivorship, which are obviously related  to the probabilities of death . Others actuaries are involved in various forms of casualty insurance, where the risks they are concerned with are such risks as accident, ill health, destruction by fire, flood, windstorm, and so on.   Risks of death and risks of the various forms of casualty are in many ways related. In a life insurance company, the major responsibilities of the actuary are determining the rates of premiums to be charged for policies (depending on age and policy provisions) and to determine actuarial reserves needed for all policies combined, as a test of company solvency.

There are many additional duties, some very complicated. Because an actuary applies mathematical skills, in order to be accredited by one of the professional actuarial organizations, he must generally pass examinations which test these skills.  The initial examinations are in pure mathematics, with emphasis on probability and statistical analysis, and both aspiring life actuaries and aspiring casualty actuaries take the same initial examinations,  The later exams are of course related to whatever actuarial field one hopes to be involved in, and they can be very difficult as I found in my experience. The exams I took were given annually by the Actuarial Society of America (later merged into the Society of Actuaries).  There were then eight exams leading to the certification as Associate and after that four leading to full Fellowship.  Over the years, the exams have changed considerably to keep up with changing problems faced in the industry. 

I learned of these examinations while still at Princeton, largely from my classmate Gil Fitzhugh, who had worked summers at Metropolitan Life and had already taken and passed some of the initial exams.  I believe I took and passed one of the initial exams during junior year at Princeton and passed a second during senior year, so when I went to different companies to apply for a job to start at graduation, I already had some credentials.  I remember that I was offered a position by a consultant attached to an insurance brokerage, but I declined it because he himself had not passed any exams. Instead I accepted a job as an actuarial trainee at New York Life Insurance Company, starting about July 1, 1930, with a $125 monthly salary.  That was regarded as good pay for those days, and many of those employees in the New York Life actuarial department who had not passed any exams were paid salaries under $100.

There was another person hired at the same time named Lowell Dorn who had passed probably three exams, and he had not only graduated from college but had also a master's degree from a college in Canada which specialized in actuarial training.  It turned out that Lowell and I were near neighbors in New York City, as I had a room near Columbia U. in an apartment of a Christian Science family, and Lowell was in some other living arrangement nearby, so we went to and from work together, taking the 7th Avenue  IRT subway, and we were also in some other activities together.

My work at New York Life was quite varied.   One of New York Life actuaries named Walter Bowerman took an interest in me and gave me various interesting assignments over the years I was there, but this was a complication because I was assigned to another supervisor in the department.  The department had punch card records of every insurance policy in force, and it became my duty to pull out the files of every policy where the policy had become fully paid up 10 or more years earlier (no further premiums due) and where the policyholder was 60 or older, and then get in touch with each such policyholder by mail to tell them about the money available.  This work became very interesting, and I learned a lot from it, such as the culture and standards of living in various parts of our country.  But then I had other responsibilities, each assigned by a different company officer, so that it became difficult for me to satisfy my several bosses.

I also had several technical actuarial assignments.  New York Life had a form of agency compensation called Nylic, and I had to prove to the New York State Insurance Department that even with Nylic the company stayed within the expense limitations of the New York insurance law. 

New York Life also faced a lawsuit regarding unfair dividend practices, and I spent considerable time on data to defend the company.  Sometime before I joined New York Life, the company was sued by Russian policyholders who had fled the Bolshevik revolution and claimed their benefits, which New York Life had denied on the ground that the Bolsheviks had seized the company's Russian assets but later paid.  When FDR recognized the Soviet Union in the 1930s, Russians who had remained in Russia sued for their benefits, and when the U.S. court recognized their claims, this required payment of their policies, and I was involved in those determinations.

During my first three years at New York Life I succeeded in passing the rest of the Associateship examinations, and I was raised in pay to $200 a month.  It was during my third year at New York Life that I met Jean.  My friendship with Lowell Dorn continued, and he too completed the Associate exams the same year.  Meanwhile, Lowell had married, and there were occasions where he and his wife Ariel, and Jean and I, were on double dates.  But then Jean broke off with me, and some time later I married Margaret, who was a New York Life employee herself.

During my remaining New York Life years, I passed only one of the four Fellowship exams, and Lowell passed all four and became fully accredited as a professional actuary.  When I left the Company to live with my parents (taking Jay) and work with my Dad, I no longer tried the actuarial exams.

My next actuarial work with Social Security, began just after my marriage in June 1939. My responsibilities were much different there, but I feel that I accomplished a great deal of value and interest.  For one, I succeeded in creating the continuous work history sample consisting of one percent of all the millions of persons covered by the social security program, as this made possible the estimation of persons who would become entitled to social security benefits.  It also made it possible to determine the number of persons who could have become entitled but who failed to because they had not made timely application - a problem quite serious in the early days of the program.

Because Social Security was a New Deal agency and a very new one, its internal management was anything but smooth, and there were many conflicts within the organization, some involving jockeying for position and influence, there was some unpleasantness and internal fighting. Because most of the actuarial group had been trained in the private sector (as I was), while the various others involved in research came from a few colleges specializing in liberal economics, we actuaries were sometimes denounced as "reactuaries," a label ascribed to us by the Social Security economists with whom we worked.  So in 1946 when the Internal Revenue Service asked me to join the actuarial staff  headed by Ed Sellers, who had also been at Social Security before he had joined the air force, I was glad to accept.  As I have mentioned, I felt that I would be able to complete my actuarial exams, and that turned out to be the case. I had two exams yet to pass, and I finished them in my first year at IRS by staying four nights a week in downtown Washington near my work and studying for the exams each night.

The IRS work was less interesting, though I did learn a lot from it, not only about pensions but also about corporation taxes and taxation in general.  In our work, we dealt largely with tax attorneys and officers of large corporations. At this early stage of pension provision, it was primarily the large companies that had provided pensions for their employees, often for the purpose of wooing them away from other employers. Working in Washington, DC,  involved a daily commute from Catonsville or Relay, so when I was offered the job as chief actuary of Monumental Life Insurance Co. in Baltimore, I accepted it. 

There was a lot to be achieved at Monumental, because until I came there were only a few types of  what was called Regular Ordinary insurance policies to be sold, as the major activity of the company was the sale and collection by debit agents (agents assigned to a definite geographic territory known as their "debit") where they mostly collected weekly and monthly premiums house to house. It was my task to develop and expand the line of Regular Ordinary to include the types of insurance policies sold by agents of the major companies.  And of course, I also had the major responsibilities of calculating  policy premium rates, publishing agency rate books, determining reserves to test solvency, preparing quarterly statements for the Board meetings, and doing such new tasks as negotiating  agency compensation rates with the union of which half of our agents were members.  On top of all this was the supervision of about 20 actuarial employees, some of whom were themselves aspiring actuaries.

I served at Monumental for 19 years, though for the last five of these I was in part-time status, my good friend and assistant Dwight Bartlett taking my place as chief actuary,  also being a Senior Vice President. During those last five years, I was able to do some consulting actuarial work, as well as finishing my master's degree work in the Johns Hopkins Engineering School and also working in the Hopkins Public Health School as described elsewhere. 

But I also did some actuarial consulting.  Even before these five years, I had been a pension consultant to two small companies in Baltimore, the Finance Corporation of America and the Phelps Can Company.  I worked closely with the Phelps president, Henry Hohman and with their attorney, Fulton Bramble, and when my mother passed on in 1954 Fulton was helpful to me in the probate of her will.  Phelps Can was partially owned by the Art Metal Company, and I did some minor consulting for them as well.

I became acquainted with a Baltimore labor attorney Jake Edelman, and through him I took over the actuarial work of the pension plan of the women's garment industry, run jointly by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and the associations of women's clothing manufacturing employers.  Altogether, some 400,000 workers were covered by this pension plan.  At that time, the plan was not actuarially  funded but operated as pay-as-you-go.  After I left my work on this plan, the Federal pension law called ERISA was enacted, and I do not know how the ILGWU plan fared under ERISA.  I had some interesting experiences working with this plan.  The union was them headed by David Dubinsky who had been prominent in the New Deal circles during the Roosevelt administration. There were a number of things about the plan, and particularly its investment policy, to which both the employer associations and I objected, but the union had the real control, and there was nothing I could do but object.

I also was the first actuary of the National Football League's pension plan, which had been founded by the football commissioner Bert Bell and later run by Pete Roselle.  I got this work through my association with the Pension Planners of Baltimore, headed by Sig Hyman, and I worked also on a number of small plans established by Sig and funded largely through life insurance policies with auxiliary funds.  The NFL plan at that time had very limited funding (I believe that it got only the profits of the Super Bowl game) and therefore very small benefits.  The plan was greatly liberalized at a later date.

I also had a number of miscellaneous consultancies most of which I enjoyed.  These included valuation of trusts for estate tax purposes, done at the request of various banks and trust companies in Baltimore, and the work I did was always accepted without question by the Internal Revenue Service.  Also, I was occasionally called to court as an expert witness, mostly in damage cases, and it was here that I met the future U.S. Vice President who later had to resign, Spiro Agnew, who hung around the Towson courthouse in those days.

During the years 1946-50, I was one of the several actuaries who opposed the structure of the Social Security benefit provisions, feeling that benefits should not be tied to wage records, but be based primarily on age and economic conditions, particularly the cost-of-living index. Also that the many millions of elderly Americans who were no longer employed when Social Security began should be at once brought into full uniform benefit

W. R. Williamson, the first actuary of Social Security, led this move, though the same idea had been proposed much earlier by the actuary Miles M. Dawson.  Congressman Carl Curtis of Nebraska shared this view, and I helped him write a Congressional minority report.  The Townsend movement of the early 1930s also favored a universal flat benefit, though with many other rules attached to it.  When Congress passed the 1950 Social Security amendments confirming the existing benefit structure, most of us who had proposed a revamping realized we should give up.  I nevertheless recommend other revisions in Social Security and health insurance which may some day be adopted.

Monumental itself became involved in health insurance as well as life insurance and lost so much money on health insurance that it had to withdraw from it.  Thinking back on that experience and also on my years as an employee and retiree under health coverage, I have become convinced that insurance companies and HMOs have no proper place in a national health system.  I have studied the Canadian "single payer" system and despite some shortcomings I find that it provides more efficient and far less expensive coverage than what we have in our country. Its critics may love to denounce it as "socialized medicine," but it works. Some day we may wake up to our need for it.

I never became a full-fledged member of the armed forces during World War II.  I had had a hernia for some years, and I should have had it repaired even before I was married, though it rarely bothered me then.  Right after Pearl Harbor I applied for an Air Force commission in a math position but was rejected because of the hernia.  Later I was turned down in the draft  because of the hernia, which had become worse.  In 1944 I finally had it repaired and in early 1945 I joined the Coast Guard port security force as a volunteer; our work was guarding the port of Baltimore, largely in fire prevention, several nights a week.  But because this permitted me to keep my daytime civilian job at Social Security, it did not lead to status as an armed forces veteran.  I became so acquainted with the port of Baltimore that after the war I was useful distributing Christian Science literature to merchant ships in the port, and I enjoyed taking one or two of our boys with me.