CHAPTER 4: COLLEGE / SEMINARY
I. NORTHWESTERN COLLEGE PREP
Recollections of Roland A. Gurgel via emails to family, 2000-2001
Even though our high school years were lived under the dominance of the college boys or men as you will, they were not unhappy years. I have many pleasant memories of those days at Northwestern in Watertown. There were good friends to spend time with. One of those was a young man by the name of Franklin Dobratz. He came from a small hamlet just outside of Watertown by the name of Concord. His parents operated a small store that offered the necessities of life including a small beer room at the back of the store. I often went home with him on Saturday afternoon and for a Sunday. He was a tall, well-built boy and I a small growing lad. We must have looked like a Mutt and Jeff combination in the early years of High school. By the time I was a junior I had added almost a foot to my height. Another friend was Ted Hoyer, a very gifted fellow with an outgoing personality. That name brings me to another close call to leaving this world. We, Hoyer and I and 4 others were on our way to watch our high school football team play a neighboring school. We were riding in an old Whippet owned by a classmate, Sigesmund. A few miles out of town suddenly a bang and the next thing I knew were blue skies above me. Apparently a tire blew, the car rolled over through a ditch clipping a light pole and the car was demolished. Five of us stood up and looked around for the sixth one, Hoyer. He was taken to the hospital in Watertown where it was discovered he had a broken neck. The light pole must have clipped him when we rolled over. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Over the years he did learn to use his hands and type by holding a clothespin in each hand. He operated a magazine business, married, kept his spirits up, but died fairly young.
I can recall walking the streets of Watertown trying to regain composure after that incident. One thing that bothered me was the newspaper story that we had skipped school to go to that game. That was not the case we had been given permission by the proper authorities. Some of the professors read the newspaper account and took us to task without first determining whether the account was true or not. I was also concerned what my parents might think. I cannot remember whether they ever saw the story in the papers. I am certain that I explained to them just what did happen.
Another friend came to school in our senior high school year. Robert Steffenhagen came from Hastings, Minnesota. He had a gift for languages. He continued with our class through college years and the seminary. He was somewhat of a Romeo finding a girl in every port and leaving them to chase him. He did marry the girl he met in that first year he was part of our class. She was a cousin to the girl my brother Karl married, but she was not like Lydia. The girl spent money like water and plunged them into debt. He resigned from the ministry and went to work in Alaska to gain financial balance again. A man of many talents but talents squandered.
In our college Freshman year we had an influx of students from DR. Martin Luther College, Saginaw Lutheran High School (often called Saginaw Seminary, since it had been the seminary of the Michigan Synod at one time), and from the Wisconsin Synod High School at Mobrige, South Dakota. Among these additions was Arvid Gullerud whom you know well. Another was George Baer. He came from Mobrige. I had been the only one in that school to take Latin. So well versed in that language that he could fluently converse in Latin, which was a dead language, he made it come alive again. I can remember him conversing in Latin with Professor John Meyer when we were in the seminary. He was also chosen to give the Latin address at our college graduation ceremony. Still another addition was Wally Sauer from Michigan. His father gave him no choice. You are going to be a pastor. Under duress he spent four years at Watertown and three years at the seminary. When he graduated he was assigned to teach at Winnebago Academy. There he committed suicide. It taught me to be careful in giving direction to my children. Influence, encourage, give opportunity but be cautious about demanding that this is the only choice you have.
One more addition to our class came in the junior year of college. That was Paul Knickelbein. He had graduated from Concordia College in Milwaukee, which was a two-year college. He came as a highly touted basketball player for he was well over six feet tall. We struck up a friendship very quickly. It lasted through the last two years of college, the seminary years and many of the years in the ministry. Many of you will remember him as the man who drove you to Phoenix, Arizona when I left the Wisconsin Synod in 1959. I spent many a weekend with him and his family who lived first in Milwaukee and then worked at the Lutheran Childrens Home in Wauwatosa. Wisconsin. The family were members of Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. That was a church that had their pulpit on a track. During the hymns and liturgy the pulpit was off to one side of the sanctuary. Just before the sermon one of the elders would roll the pulpit on its track to the middle of the sanctuary so it would be in place for the sermon. I had the opportunity to preach in that church during my sem years.
Pleasant years, as a high school student at Northwestern, there were, pleasant because of friends. But there were also other reasons that made those years pleasant. I have mentioned the hours walking the streets and parks of that tree filled city, the hours spent at the clay pits swimming, the hours playing hockey on the frozen waters of the Rock River, hours playing softball and basketball on the class team, hours with a book in hand, yes even hours with text books before me, hours practicing with the band and marching with the band, hours on a Sunday evening listening to the Ford Sunday Evening Hour, an hour of classical music always introduced by the Evening Prayer of Hansel and Gretel, hours of listening to the broadcasts of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball games (they were in the AAA association at that time), and a few hours spent watching them play in the old Borcherts Field , watching with distant cousins Mardell and Shirley Lang. Pleasant hour indeed in most of the classrooms listening to interesting teachers or when they were not so interesting seeing how long I could hold my breath and build up lung power.
One other bit of information from those days: In my quinta, sophomore year, we had a coach added to the faculty. A man by the name of Umnus. He had played football on the Illinois University team with the renowned Red Grange. He introduced us to the art of boxing. I a little sophomore went up against a college student named Delton Tills. Delton was a never stop punching machine like Sugar Ray Robinson of later years. I never got hit so much so often in my life as I did against Mr. Tills. I doubt whether I ever got in one blow.
Fond memories of years gone by. Dad
II. FAREWELL TO HIGH SCHOOL DAYS
A bit of cleaning up to do on yesterday's edition. Speaking of friends how do you miss some very important ones? I did. I noticed it after I had sent the email in your directions. Jack Petrie came into our class as a Quintaner and stayed with us for 10 years graduating with us from the seminary. He served as best man at our wedding. He ranked high on my list of friends. Then there were two others that joined us in the fall of 1940 as juniors in the college department. They came from Bethany College here in Mankato. They were members of the ELS, the small Norwegian Synod. Until that year the ELS had sent its students to Concordia St. Louis to finish their training for the ministry. The ELS was getting a little leery about Missouri in those days as was the Wisconsin Synod. So after two years of college at Bethany (that was all they had at that time) their students came to Northwestern and then to the seminary at Thiensville. The first two who came and joined our class were Juul Madson and Joseph Peterson.
You older children may well remember Juul Madson's father. He came to our home in Belle Plaine on several occasions. He would gather you children about him and tell you stories from Hans Christian Anderson's tales. I can still hear him relating the story about the boy who went to the Northwind as well as others. You sat there enthralled. When he mounted the pulpit the congregation listened intently. His sermons were filled with hymns from different languages. Of all the preachers I have heard over the course of many years, I would rate him number 1. His son Juul became a good friend of mine. The father left the ELS when it would not cut off relations with Missouri and he joined the CLC. He was buried from Immanuel here in Mankato. He served as seminary dean of Bethany Seminary for many years before he severed relations with the ELS. Sad to say his son, Juul, has taught at Bethany for many years. I have thought that somewhere I would run across him in the 15 years I have lived here. Never have. He did not follow in the footsteps of his father. In watching what goes on at Bethany I would guess Juul would have to wonder what his dad would say to him in these days. Juul never did have the gifts of his father, but he was a good student and a friend that I enjoyed during the last five years of my schooling. The last time I saw and talked with him was at Professor Reims' funeral here in Mankato at which I officiated. Juul and Joseph came to that service and we spoke a bit after the service was over.
Joseph Peterson was not what one would call a close friend but we did associate from time to time. His nickname was Captain Midnight. When mother and I got to Rochester, New York in the summer of 1988, lo and behold there was a picture of Joseph Peterson in the utility room of the church together with pictures of the other pastors who served that congregation. They put my picture in that assortment also.
A few items yet about high school days at Northwestern. Our life was well ordered. Get up at 6 in the morning. Go into the washroom and get cleaned up, but be certain you got out of the room by 6:15 when the collegiates would take over. Breakfast at 6:30, then study hall after sweeping the rooms and halls. Classes from 8 till about 3 with dinner at 12. From 12:30 till after 1 was the time for band and orchestra practice or class meetings. After 3 was time for practice of the various sports or class basketball or softball. Supper at 6, chapel at 7 and then some 2 hours of study in your room. For first two years of high school bed time was 9:30. Juniors and Seniors (high school) were allowed to stay up till 10 o’clock. We were allowed one night out per month, as I recall, it might have been two. To get permission to take those heights out took a lot of persuading the powers that be that it was worth the while. If you did manage to get permission to go to a movie or whatever, you had to be back and be in bed by 9:30. Well ordered that was nothing new for me. My father had a well-ordered household during my first thirteen years on this earth. It has served me well. Regular sleeping hours, regular meal times, regular study times, regular play times, all these things make for a healthy living. The body needs organization.
How did I keep busy during the summer months? After my Sexta year I went home and joined my brother Ernie in carrying papers. He had taken one year at DMLC and did not go back rather went to Wonewoc High School for his last three years. After my Quinta year I worked on a farm for $20.00 a month. Worked hard and enjoyed it for the most part. Would walk 3or4 miles home after chores on Saturday night and walk back to the farm on Sunday night. After the Quarta year I worked in a grocery store for the summer. What I did after graduating from the high school department, frankly I do not remember. It was depression time and jobs were not easy to come by.
While at Northwestern I did make an occasional dollar or two by shoveling snow for people in the city, by raking lawns for the city in its parks, by spading a garden or two in the springtime. Somehow I managed to survive.
So farewell to high school days. Will take a look at college life in the next edition of this boy’s story.
It just came to me that in the summer of 1938 I worked in a prefabricated house factory in Wonewoc. Glued plywood together, unloaded boxcars of lumber, pounded nails etc. Made $412.00 a week for 40 hours of labor. Made enough that summer to pay my first year of college costs.
When I looked at the copy, I see it says at the very end that I made $412.00 dollars a week. That would have been nice. But instead of the four there should have been a dollar sign. I made $12.00 a week. You would have guessed that was a mistake. We got 30 cents an hour. ]
Saw the doctor this afternoon. He said all was going well. A bit of blood in the pelvic cavity. Should dissolve over the weeks. If not in four weeks back to see the doctor. Can drive the car again. No heavy lifting and take it easy for a month. Walking is fine so what else is new.
Thanks for your concern and well wishes. Keep the emails coming. Always happy to hear from you.]
III. COLLEGE DAYS
In the fall of 1938 I began my college years. Again, those years were spent at Northwestern College at Watertown, Wisconsin. I had many of the same professors that I had in high school. In a way, that was a positive thing, for I did not have to learn how to deal with new teachers and new teaching methods. That learning had taken place throughout the high school years.
Courses to an extent were the same. Four more years of German but more authors and more works to discover. Latin at least three more years of new literature and one year of Church Latin. History four more years of more intensive study of former nations and peoples as well as modern English and American history. One year of College Algebra and one more year of College Science. A course in Logic, and another in Philosophy. Also a bit of Psychology. The main push was in four years of Classical Greek. Meeting all the Greek writers from Xenophon through Homer, Socrates. Aristotle, Plato, and a host of others. In addition to Classical Greek we were given 2 years of New Testament Greek. Added to that we were required to take 2 years of Hebrew.
We were afforded much more freedom in dormitory life but the catch was the amount of work required for the classes kept us so busy that the freedoms offered were swallowed up in additional hours needed to meet the classroom demands. My senior year I dropped out of band to find more time for Greek and Hebrew. No complaint, for I enjoyed the work load especially the Greek under Professor Franzman.
When we entered the College Freshman class, one of traditions of the college scene had been abolished to a large extent. There had been a club known as the Vesuvius Club. It controlled the college clubroom. To gain admission to this club and the clubroom, one had to go through a period of initiation. Over the course of decades this initiation had become quite severe and at times dangerous to say the least. Because of some unhappy experiences the faculty outlawed the club and its practices.
So when I arrived at the gates of the college years no more initiation with one exception. For the first months of the freshman year we were required to wear a green beanie with a button on the top. When an upper class man would call button our hand had to fly to the button on the cap to show difference to the upper classman. That I could take in stride without resentment. Somewhere in my trunk that green cap lingered for a time.
College years meant no more sweeping the dorm rooms and hallways. No more hurrying to get out of the washrooms. No more mowing campus lawns or shoveling campus sidewalks. No more bed checks at 9:30 or 10 o’clock. Even an occasional free period during the classroom day. No more German grammar on Saturday at 11 o'clock. But it did require that we saw to it when we became juniors and seniors that the high school students met their responsibilities in these matters as we had when we were the high school students
As college students we were allowed to stay out until 11 p.m. when we could provide a good reason for that hour to the dean or inspector as we called him in our day. It took a lot of persuasion to be granted the right to stay out until 12. I cannot recall ever asking for that right. I needed my sleep.
I do recall one night out. One of our classmates decided he was leaving the college to return home. He was quite homesick. So we decided as a class to see him off on a late evening train as I recall. Before that train would leave we had some time to spend so we all went to the local theatre, it was Halloween night, to enjoy a spooky show. We scattered throughout the theatre and each in turn set up the appropriate howls during the course of the movie. The ushers went berserk trying to track down the source of the unwanted noises.
It was during my sophomore year that I met a family by the name of Marks. I had been home for some holiday or other and was hitchhiking back to Watertown when a man and wife picked me up. They also were headed for Watertown since that is where they lived. Got to discussing Lutheranism. They belonged to the American Lutheran Church in Watertown. They invited me to visit them in their home and this became a regular event. They had lost a son to death and I guess I kind of replaced that boy. They offered me the use of their car for various occasions, one of which was to bring my folks to my graduation in 1942. Mr. John Marks was a carpenter and cabinetmaker. He would dig a basement for a home every fall put up the outside walls and during the winter finish off the interior. He worked alone but always saw to it that he would have something to do the year around. He visited us In Rib Lake and New Ulm. Our second son got his name from John Marks.
During those Watertown days, I got to know Pastor William T. Naumann, the chaplain of Bethsaisda Home quite well. This because my brother Karl dated his daughter. I was invited to their home occasionally. The family devotion that pastor Naumann conducted made an impression on me. After the evening meal the entire family and guests would get down on their knees, head bowed on the chair, and Pastor Naumann would lead them in prayer. In his prayer he would mention each of his children by name and would have a special thought for each of them. Many were already gone and married by the time I knew him but they and their families would be remembered. We may not always be so vocal in our prayers but do not ever think that you and your needs are forgotten. Your names and needs spiritual and temporal are oft brought to the throne on high the source of all help and all proper aid.
With that thought, it might be well to leave you for today. Dad
IV. SPORTS, MUSIC AND CULTURE
When Umnus became the college coach there began series of years that were outstanding especially in football. He did coach basketball and baseball as well but his main love was football and to a lesser extent baseball. Basketball was at the bottom of the list for him.
In my last high school years he had a college football team that was outstanding. The raw material was there and he developed it to the nth degree. Some names may be familiar to some of you. In the line was Fritz Naumann, son of Wm. T Naumann, brother of Karl’s girlfriend. He was well over six feet tall and well built. The one fault that Umnus found in him was that he could never get him angry. Fritz Naumann was a roommate of mine at the seminary. I served at his wedding as best man. He was married at Prarie Farm a little village just outside of Eau Claire. That was my first visit to Eau Claire and there were many years before I came back to that city. In the line was Vernon Greve, father of Norman, Wendy, etc. Also in that line were two bruisers by the names of Haben and Horn. At one end was a tall drink of water by the name of Emil Toepel. I later had the pleasure of installing him in a congregation at ONalaska, Wisconsin. In the backfield were Otto Pagels, Harold Hempel, Traugott Bradtke, and at Quarterback was Harold Sauer. Orville Schlenner, another close friend of my brother Herman, was also on that team as well as Gil Sydow. These young men played a mighty fine game of football. One game stands out in my mind. It was on a beautiful, crisp, bright autumn day. The opponent was a team from River Hills Concordia College team. That school was quite a bit bigger than Northwestern. It was a Missouri Synod teachers' college.
That Saturday afternoon we had tremendous turnout of people from the city. Partly because it was an ideal day for football, partly because the Missouri Synod people of the city were interested and partly because the Wisconsin Synod people were also interested in what could Northwestern College do against a larger school. It was a forerunner of the Green Bay Packer Minnesota Viking games. When all was said and done that day it ended in a 7 to 7 tie. The crowd went home happy for an afternoon well spent. That team played many another excellent game but none compared to the defensive struggle of that particular Saturday afternoon.
In baseball the college had an outstanding pitcher by the name of Herber Koehler, known as Hep Koehler. During the summer he played on a Northern League team. His brother, Phil Koehler, was a classmate of mine. Even though he was still in high school he played catcher on the college team. A brother combination as and catcher.
This same Herbert Koehler played center for the college basketball team. He was quite tall. In those days there was a center jump after every basket made. So a tall center was a great advantage.
I have pictures of those teams. Someday when you are visiting have me dig them out and you will see what grand looking athletes they were.
The faculty also promoted musical events. Concerts by our band, orchestra, male chorus, and smaller groups of singers were offered. On occasion they would bring in outside musical groups to give us a taste of culture. I remember the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra playing on the stage set up in our gymnasium. The highlight of this practice took place before I arrived on campus. Fritz Chrisler, a violinist of world renown, played a concert in the gymnasium. We often heard told that more than 1200 people packed the place for that concert.
The faculty concern for our growth in culture revealed itself on Sunday evenings. There never was or hardly ever was an excuse for not being found at your desk during the evening study halls. Radios were strictly forbidden. But on Sunday evenings we were encouraged to go to the clubrooms, turn on the radio, and listen to the Ford Sunday Evening Hour, a program of classical music. I did enjoy those programs.
So you see it was not all work and no play at Northwestern College. But again I will reiterate that it was mostly work at studies with a bit of relaxation on the side.
V. FINISHING OFF WATERTOWN
There are a few things about my eight years in Watertown that you may be interested in. During my college days at Northwestern the USA instituted the drafting of young men for the armed services. The drafting began with a lottery picking numbers that had been assigned to those required to sign up for the draft. When the numbers were drawn my number came up number 13. Fortunately there was a draft board in Watertown and they were well acquainted with the law that exempted pastors and students who were clearly preparing for the ministry. One quick trip to that draft board and I was exempted from serving in the armed forces. The USA was not yet in World War 2 when this drafting began. My brother Herman enlisted in the air force and was first trained as a mechanic but was soon accepted for training as a pilot of the B 17s that were being built. Ernie also went into the service. He was in the army first of all in the band and then later moved to being a cook. During much of the war he served as cook in the officer’s mess. He went from Africa to Sicily to the Anzio Beach Head, up through Italy, into France and into Germany. After the war he was stationed at Berchtesgarten, Hitler's famous retreat. Herman went to England and from there flew over Germany in daylight bombing. It was not long before his plane was shot down. He went down with the plane. I was home for Christmas vacation in 1943 when my folks received the telegram from the government stating that Herman was missing in action. Karl of course was also exempted. He was teaching in La Crosse and helping out in the congregation. I recall very vividly Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. It was on a Sunday afternoon Central Daylight Time, I was in my study room listening to the Packer's football game. The program was interrupted with the announcement that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. That was December 7th, 1941. My reaction was give the USA armed forces a few weeks or months and the Japanese will beg for mercy. How wrong I was.
Life even at college changed in many ways. Austerity programs were introduced. We became involved in Europe as well as the Pacific. Some students quit school and joined the armed forces. Others were drafted since they were not in the ministerial program. Jobs opened up for us that had not been there before.
In the first three summers of my college days I worked in a pea-canning factory, and for two summers stayed on campus cleaning, painting, and repairing classrooms, study rooms etc. In the summer of 1942 I worked at Merrimac, Wisconsin building a powder plant for the war purposes. Worked a late afternoon and evening shift seven days a week. Earned enough money to pay off Northwestern debts and take care of costs at the seminary for a year. I pushed endless number of wheelbarrows containing cement up a ramp to be dumped into forms building walls and walls surrounding walls so that if there were explosions they would not destroy everything. The one thing that left me wondering was that Indians had to be employed and they could not be fired. Big Indian braves would push maybe one wheelbarrow load and then stand and watch the rest of us go and go.
After seven or eight weeks of this I decided to take a Sunday off and go fishing with my dad. My brother Karl who was visiting at our home that day thought I had lost my senses. Give up double time pay to go fishing. When you need a break you need a break and I did need a day off money or no money.
A week or so before graduation in June of 1942 a classmate who had a car and a trailer offered to take my trunk, books and personal belongings that would not be needed for the summer months to take them with his own and haul them to Thiensville where the seminary was located. So away we went to view the buildings and surroundings where we would spend the next three years of our lives. Goodbye Watertown, Hello Thiensville. Goodbye college, Hello seminary.
Thiensville was a small, unincorporated village. It had a post office in the days I was there. Today the address for the seminary is Mequon, Wisconsin. The seminary was located on a hill above the village. Below that hill ran the interurban tracks. That interurban ran from Milwaukee through Thiensville, Cedarburg (the home of Mrs. Marty Beekmanm, if I am not mistaken) Sheboygan and ended in Manitowoc. Over the course of years it cut out Manitowoc then Sheboygan and finally after my days in that vicinity it ceased running altogether. It was for those of us who did not own a car, a lifeline into Milwaukee. The cost of a ticket was something like 30 cents into Milwaukee. After we had preached our first sermon the price was cut in half, clergy discount. When we could not afford the 30 cents hitchhiking was always available.
The area around Thiensville was very much of German background. Many of the villages and towns had German names. I can recall children coming into the drug store, where I worked at times, with a German catechism in hand. They could not speak or in many instances understand German but their congregations required that they be confirmed in German
The Wisconsin Synod had congregations in Mequon, East Mequon, South Mequon, and West Mequon. Students usually attended the church in Mequon which was within easy walking distance of the seminary property. In 1949, I believe, I had the call to be pastor in the West Mequon church. It was in the country located on a beautifully terraced property. The man who had been pastor there when I was at the seminary had accepted a call to Stetsonville, Wisconsin, a village not far from Rib Lake where I was serving at that time. His name was Holzhausen. I remember him from having attended services at West Mequon. He would make a deep bow when he approached the altar.
Not too far from Thiensville was a little German town called Freistadt. There was an older pastor there in a Missouri Synod church. He was known as Bishop Wehrs. He ruled that congregation with a firm hand. He made an impression on me for two things. On a Sunday morning between the reading of the Epistle and Gospel lessons, he would come down from the altar area and conduct what was known as "Christen Lehre" The whole congregation would join in reciting portions of the catechism. On one Wednesday evening Lenten Service, I heard him preach on Peter taking the sword and cutting off the servant's ear. It was so dramatically done that I remember ducking as the sword swished through the air. He was a powerful speaker and did have a great influence over that congregation. I believe the title Bishop Wehrs was complimentary rather derogatory. While I am giving you a tour of the vicinity let me speak for a moment of another little town. It was called Lannon. A man by the name of George Boldt was pastor there. He had been a schoolmate of mine at Northwestern, and although some years ahead of me we had been good friends. It was not unusual for him to give me a call on a Saturday night and request preaching help for the next morning. He would have lost his voice cheering some basketball team on and so needed someone to preach for him.
One thought leads to another. I had helped out at Lannon before George Boldt became its pastor. The previous man had been quite elderly and also needed help on occasion. During the times I had helped out there I must have made an impression on a young lady, I received an invitation from her to enjoy a meal at her expense in a German restaurant where she worked in Milwaukee. I believe it was called the Schwabenhoff. At the time I was already dating your mother. How to answer the invitation from a girl I did not know? So I took your mother to that restaurant bought our meal and so let the young lady know that I was not free to take her invitation.
The seminary property as previously mentioned was located on a hill. It had been purchased in 1928 I believe. Before that time the school had been located at Wauwatosa. By the way those of you who may know a bit about Wisconsin Synod history may well have heard of Wauwatosa Theology. There had been three men on the faculty there in Wauwatosa who were 'giants' in the field of theology. They were August Pieper, John Schaller, and Philip Koehler. They had produced some monumental writings in their day. Very evangelical in their teachings and writings. There came a division between them in connection with the Protestant controversy. So when the new seminary was built at Thiensville Pieper and Schaller moved with it but Koehler identified with what was has been known as THE FAITH LIFE GROUP.
The building at Thiensville was but one building, and was patterned after the Wartburg in style. It had three wings so to speak. A classroom, chapel and library wing, then a professorage, dining hall and kitchen wing, and continued on to a dormitory wing. Between the classroom wing and professorage dining hall section was an opening, doorway so to speak. It became known as the "Pustloch' wind tunnel, The winds were caught between the various wings and found escape through that one opening. They could reach a pretty good force. On the open side of this three-sided building was a hill leading down to a creek. On the way down that hill was located 'JacobsBrunnen' Jacob's Well
There were three professorages outside of the main building on the road leading down to the village. When I arrived at the seminary in the fall of 1942 these homes were occupied by Adelbert Schallert, brother to Egbert Schaller, by John Maier, dean of the Seminary, and by August Pieper. Although he was no longer teaching August Pieper was allowed to live there for that year. Professor Reim, who had been called to replace the aging Pieper, lived in a rented home down in the village. Prof. Peters lived in the professorage that was built into the main building.
Since the property was still relatively new when I came there, Professor Schaller had us plant a multitude of fruit trees on the land around his home. Peach trees, pear trees, cherry trees, and I would guess also apple trees were dug in. The peach and pear trees made an impression on me for as far as I knew they belonged to areas far from where I grew up. I doubt that that orchard is still there today.
The faculty of the seminary in my day consisted of Prof. John Maier (by the way in an earlier edition I think I spelt it Meyer. That is not correct) Prof Maier was the one man that made me stick out three years of seminary studies. He was very gifted and very studious. One quality that was both an asset and a fault was his insatiable curiosity. He could never leave a question unanswered. He dug and dug until he found what he thought was an answer. The positive side of this search was that he diligently searched the Scriptures and searched them in the original languages. His New Testament Isagogics course was done with the Greek New Testament in hand. It led him and us to an understanding of nuances and should I say delicate meaning of Greek words in context. He opened my eyes to meanings that would have been difficult to come by through the use of a dictionary.
His Dogmatic Course was entirely on the basis of his own notes, endless pages of them presenting Scripture Passages, references from the Latin Dogmaticians and a host of so-called Church Fathers. You had better be awake in those early morning classes or he would commission an angel to pull you out of your slumbers, the angel would be the classmate sitting next to you.
His insatiable curiosity led to a warning from upper classmen when you arrived on campus to warn any who sent a postcard to you to make certain they realized that it would be read by Maier. He always journeyed to the post office and brought back the seminary mail.
One example of his seeking an answer to questions I have often related to you. In one class he threw out the question, "Why did Jesus say He could call on 12 legions of angels?" We awaited his answer. It was one legion for each of the disciples. One astute member of the class shot back quickly. "Judas had left so there were only 11 disciples left."
He was married but I cannot recall what his wife looked like. She had a reputation for severity in keeping the house smoke free even if it meant taking some noted pastor to task. He told us once that the first thing he did when became a professor was pay his brother's funeral expenses. Then he saved money for his own burial and then he finally got married.
He patrolled the hallways of the classroom and library building frequently to make certain there were no lights left on needlessly. One year for Christmas the students gave him a bunch of burnt out light bulbs and switches that did not work.
He lived through the days of the Protestant Controversy and it, so I am told, left him skidish of controversies. That tendency showed up in 1959 when he did quite an about face in the controversy with Missouri Synod and the inner struggle within the Wisconsin Synod.
For years the Wisconsin Synod tried to have him publish in book form his Dogmatic Course. He refused saying there were enough Dogmatic Books on the market. He did agree, however, to publish an exegetical book on Corinthians. Some of you may well have that excellent book on your shelves.
The shortcomings that may have evidenced themselves in Maier's life never diminished my tremendous respect for what he did for me as a teacher in the seminary. A man of tremendous abilities and a willingness to give much of himself even into old age.
Adelbert Schaller was the son of John Schaller. John Schaller had taught both at Dr. Maritin Luther College as well as at the sem. The same was true of Adelbert Schaller. He was at the sem when I arrived there in the fall of 1942. He taught both homiletics and exegesis of the New Testament. His course in homiletics, sermonizing, was well done. I learned much from him both as to outlining and developing a text. His exegesis classes were mainly built on the work of Lenski. Lenski and John Schaller had been friends even though they came from synods that were not in agreement. Lenski taught in the Ohio Synod Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. One of the big differences between the men was on the doctrine of justification Lenski would never agree to what is known as Objective Justification. There were also differences in the Doctrine of Election Lenski had written volumes of exegesis on the New Testament. We heard so much of Lenski that I never bought one volume of his works. But my library did have a considerable number of books bearing his name. The reason, I served as assistant librarian to Prof Schaller during my seminary years. Regularly as a gift from him I would receive a volume or two of Lensi's works.
Adelbert Schaller also taught a semester on hymnology. He tried to get us to see a relationship between the words of a hymn and the musical melody. It was not too well liked. I am told the course had been very well liked when Koehler taught it. It was dropped after that one semester.
Schaller also supervised the class sermon classes for our first two years. We were required to produce two sermons a year to be delivered to the first two seminary classes. One sermon was in English the other in German. He gave the students the opportunity to critic what their fellow students did in preparing and delivering their sermons. One criticism that I offered to a sermon delivered by a classmate got me into some trouble with the good professor. I had mentioned that the delivery seemed cold and too intellectual. Schaller thought that was too judgmental. It was interesting to me that after the class was over the student who had delivered the sermon came to me and agreed that my observation was indeed valid.
Some of the purchases that Schaller made for the Seminary Library left something to be desired. At one time he bought a 39 volume set of books on the history of the Jews in the German language. I would be willing to bet that set is still sitting on the library shelves gathering dust. As assistant librarian I soon learned the best place for me to study was in the library for I would never be disturbed. Very rarely did I see a student browsing the library shelves.
If you want to find me I will be retreating to the library for a spell. Dad
VIII. SEMINARY TEACHERS
I have been introducing you to the teachers that I had in the seminary. So far I have spoken of John Maier with a great deal of respect. Then I took you into the classroom of Adelbert Schaller with appreciation for his homiletical abilities, Let me add here that it was not too long after I left the seminary that Professor Schaller was killed. Below the seminary hill on the way to Thiensville there were railroad tracks as well as interurban racks. It seems that Prof. Schaller's car and a locomotive met on those tracks resulting in Schaller's death.
We were living in New Ulm, Minnesota at the time. When the call for names to replace him on the sem faculty came out. Lo and behold among the names placed on the list was yours truly. Obviously I did not receive the call. That went to a Hoenicke who was pastor in Sleepy Eye at the time. He accepted the call and the Sleepy Eye congregation called Paul F. Nolting. So we who had shared years together at Watertown and Thiensville were within shouting distance again. The beginning of the Nolting, Hallauer, and Gurgel study club. Later when the controversy began within the Wisconsin Synod that study club expanded to include Egbert Schaller, Harold Duehlmeier, and Prof. Martin Galstad. Prof. Reim came to the seminary the same year I came there as a student. Breaking into a teaching position takes time. The first years are years of learning to know your subject matter and students may well have to put up with someone who is growing into a position. Believe me for I have gone through that experience myself. So when I speak of Prof. Reim as not always living up to what I expected of a sem. prof, you will have to keep in mind that we both were growing.
Professor Reim taught Church History (Ancient History). He made use of a book on the subject written by Prof. P. Koehler. Koehler had taught the subject at Wauwatosa. His book written in learned German was also used by me years later when I taught the subject at ILC. Reim took Koehler's material and condensed it to an outline form from which he taught us.
I think I have mentioned previously that his delivery was slow, always searching for the exact word to convey his thought. One had to pinch himself ever so often to stay with him. When I served on the faculty with him at ILC I appreciated his insights much more. He also taught the senior year homiletics course. One remark that he made has been a guiding principle to me down through the years. When studying a text, he said, look for the Gospel element and let it dominate your sermons
Liturgics was also a part of his work at the seminary. Again a bit of advice from him has been helpful to me over the years. Do not tamper with the order of the service on your own. If a change needs to be made work with the congregation until they come with the request for a particular change. As I view the approach to the liturgy in our circles today, it seems that too many pastors look upon the order of service as their province to do with as they please. The order of service was slowly developed in the early years of the New Testament era. It took form with thought. Perhaps we need to study the history and acquaint our people with the significance of each part of the liturgy.
I guess change is something that comes very slowly to me. Perhaps it does so because of training that goes back over the years.
During my years at the seminary many meetings were being held between the Doctrinal Committees of Wisconsin and Missouri regarding the Scout Question, the Chaplaincy, World War 2 was on, and meetings on Missouri's part with the ALC. Professor Reim as well as John Maier, and President John Brenner, and others were on that committee. Prof. Reim, I believe served as secretary. Many articles came from his pen during those years, articles entitled, As One Man Sees It.
I did learn to appreciate the work of those men. They were able to hold their own in a time consuming and often stressful situation. You will see from the foregoing that I learned much outside of the classroom during those years as well as in the classroom itself.
There were two more teachers. I will give you a bit about them on another day. Dad
I just did a double check on the Meyer at the seminary and the spelling of his name. There are so many Meyers in this world and they spell the name in many different ways. I started spelling John Meyer this way. Then I had second thoughts and changed it to Maier. I was right the first time. The Maier who is spelt Maier was the Maier of Lutheran hour fame. So correct all my editions with the proper spelling. It was John Meyer. Sorry.]
IX. ADDITIONAL FACULTY
There are two men on the faculty at the seminary whom I have not pictured. The one was Prof. Paul Peters. A bit about his background might help a bit in understanding him. He came originally out of the West Bend, Wisconsin area. He spent many years teaching in a seminary in Germany. It was affiliated with the Synodical Conference (part of the Lutheran Free Church of Germany, not the state church). The teachers in Germany spent a lot of time on what is called Higher Criticism. There were many theologians in Germany and Europe who were not content to accept Scripture for what it is God's Word and God's truth. They had to examine and reexamine it from many different perspectives. Faithful teachers in Germany dealt with the works of these men in preparing their students for the ministry. They did not accept what these critics had to offer but they felt it advisable to acquaint their students with the errors being set forth.
Dr. Peters was greatly influenced by the German approach to teaching theology. He was in Germany until Hitler began to make his move into Poland etc. He escaped to Norway and from there back to the states. When he arrived here an opening was available at Thiensville Seminary.
He received a call to teach Old Testament Exegesis and Church History. I had him in Genesis, Isaiah, the Psalms. Frankly I do not remember a thing he held out to us. We were not interested in the so called Higher Criticism. We wanted to see what Moses, Isaiah and David, the inspired writers had set down. The going observation concerning Peters was, when asked have you had Perters in class, yes we slept with him hours on end. He finally caught on that the students were not too attentive. He became quite angry and wanted to know what was the problem. One of the boys told him that since his class was late in the morning and the students did not have a good breakfast it was difficult to pay attention. He promised to take care of that. He saw to it that the breakfasts were better.
His Church History classes were not of a great caliber either. Someone once said to me if you have two or three great teachers during the course of your schooling you will be fortunate. Counting my father I would guess that I have had 5 or 6 good teachers in the l9plus years of schooling.
Peters' wife came out of Germany. While the war was going on she worked in a factory in Milwaukee to support the war effort. We knew her as Rosie the Riveter. There was a popular song by that title during those years.
The fifth professor was a man by the name of Max Lehninger. I had him in some New Testament exegesis and pastoral theology. I cannot say that I was highly impressed with the content and the manner of his teaching. One incident that I do recall in the pastoral theology course was this. He had announced that beginning with the next period he would discuss dating and marriage. So before he came into the room for that period we all pulled up our chairs and surrounded his desk. When he came in he looked puzzled until we reminded him what the subject matter was for that day.
Another day in his class he was discussing Paul's letter to the Ephesians. He lectured for some time on a particular passage. Then he asked if there were any questions. I had been following him with Stoeckardt's work on that epistle. I simply said It seems you and Stoeckardt do not agree. I had my ears blasted for reading Stoeckhardt and not listening to Lehninger. I had been doing both and simply observed that they saw things differently.
Let me revert for a moment to Dr. Peters. One day we saw the carpeting from his house hanging on the clothes lines apparently drying out. We asked him what had happened. The seminary buildings and his house were all on a private well. His wife and daughters had turned on the water faucets and got nothing but air. So they took off for shopping. The pump began to work again and water flowed from all the open faucets in his house. He said he was in the study reading of all things the Koran. He knew Arabic as well as Hebrew. He told us he was so deep in concentration that he was unaware of the water rising on the floor until it came over his shoe top. If you knew the man you would have believed him. He could get lost in thought. Most of the time even in class he was so lost in thought we could not find him.
You have now met all the men I have had as formal teachers in my many years of schooling. They all have had an effect on me in one way or another. Some have done much to shape me others have done much to teach me patience. The Lord called them all and they were His servants. One owes Him thanks for the good teachers He has sent and one also owes Him thanks for those who have taught us what not to be.
In the coming edition I will get down to matters that may be of more interest to you than classroom gossip.
X DORMITORY LIFE AT NORTHWESTERN
We came to the seminary with high hopes in many ways. Dormitory life at Northwestern had always been under some supervision. In the early years very much supervision both from upper classmen as well as from called authorities. The last years had been relatively lightly supervised. Now at the seminary no deans, no room bucks, no rules. All on our own. We had reached a pinnacle so we thought. When we came to the seminary we were greeted with the promise of initiation.
The upper classes had divided themselves into two factions. One appeared to be completely against a continuation of initiation, the other faction for not letting up one iota on this score. The debate raged in the dining hall day after day. The picture of what was to take place was very vivid from both sides. It was in reality a psychological initiation well planned and quite effective. The professors were very much aware of what was happening to our nervous systems. One would think that highly educated young men would see through the scheme, but we didn't. There was a group of five in our class who somehow had been tipped off on the whole matter, but rather than revealing what they knew to the rest of us they played along and helped dupe the rest of us. Those five were known as the HUNGRY FIVE. They were somewhat of an isolated group from that time on.
As mentioned the whole thing was purely psychological. It was supposed to bring us back down to earth after having reached a pinnacle the last years at Northwestern. It all ended in what was known as Gemuetlicher Abend. On that evening a special meal was prepared and duck dinners prepared for all the faculty. The student body as a whole went from professorage to professorage delivering the meal to the professors. The student body president who was called THE PAPST made a little speech at every presentation. The Papst on that occasion was Gerhardt Franzman, brother to Martin Franzman. When we came to Prof. Pieper's home, he came out and asked who was speaking to him. Franzman identified himself. He got a berating for speaking in English. He should have addressed the good professor in German. That was my one sight of Pieper at the seminary. After delivering the dinners to the professor and enjoying our own. We had a special program in the recreation room. Much of that presentation had been developed a few years before by Martin Franzman when he was a student there. One of the things I remember was a debate supposedly between Luther and Zwingli. The thought was now that you have been humbled properly you are a part of the student body.
It was 'fun' in the second and third year of seminary life to be either on the side of the proponents to the initiation or those who opposed it. I do not know if the practice still goes on or not. The professors were not too much in favor of it since it made teaching the incoming class quite difficult.
I mentioned that the student body president was called the Papst. Most of the time their hold on the office was not long. At times one or another wanted to be rid of that office. I can recall how Walter Schumann JR. had himself deposed. The Papst always said the table prayers. Schumann decided to use the General Prayer before the meal. That lasted one day and he was willingly deposed.
There was a whole list of offices assigned besides that of Papst. One was Rockanschieber, that was to help Prof. Pieper put on his coat after class. Another was mid-wife (a Hebrew word was used) for the cat. Still another was to control the winds in the Pustloch etc., etc.
More of seminary life coming up.
XI. SEMINARY AND SERMONS
We went to the seminary to prepare ourselves for being a pastor. A very important part of that preparation was learning to write and deliver a sermon. From September through March of our first year we had an intensive course in homiletics, sermon writing. As a class we worked together with Prof. Schaller in working out an outline from which to produce a sermon. I can still see in my mind's eye the results of that work. The final product was to a large extent the work of Schaller. Our response was, that's an outline? If you leave out a few ands, buts etc. you will have an half hour sermon. It was an outline in tremendous detail. It really left nothing to be developed. It did teach us a lot about writing a sermon and we were soon on our own.
By Easter of 1943 I had completed my own first sermon. With that completion and that date, namely, Easter, we were allowed to begin delivering sermon that had been corrected by our homiletics professor, to whatever congregation might be looking for a substitute preacher.
Thiensville was very close to Milwaukee and a host of suburbs. It was in relative easy traveling distance of a host of Wisconsin Synod and Missouri Synod congregations. There was very often weekly requests to the seminary for students to conduct services in one congregation or another. To my surprise not too many students were interested in accepting these opportunities. I figured this was something I would be doing for many years to come, why not take advantage of the opportunities to prepare yourself for such work. I cannot ever remember turning down an opportunity. When I start adding up the number of congregations that I served in the two and half years of seminary life I come up with many dozens over the course of the 58 years since that first sermon besides the weekly sermons in the congregations to which I had been called, I have preached in well over a hundred churches for mission festivals, anniversaries, vacancies, etc. It has always been a joy to be in the pulpit proclaiming the Gospel.
Let me take you to the first pulpit that I occupied as a student. It was in Watertown, Wisconsin in the chapel of Bethaisda Lutheran Home. I had been invited by Pastor Wm. T. Naumann to speak there for a Sunday service. With manuscript planted in the Bible in front of me I looked out over hundreds of handicapped adults and children. They waved, they twisted, they moved around, they spoke out, I came through it without a problem even though my manuscript fell to the floor and I walked all over it. I decided if I could deliver a sermon to such an audience without depending on a manuscript, I should have no problem elsewhere. With rare exceptions I have left the manuscript in my office down through the years.
Be well aware that there has always been much effort to memorize the sermon in advance. It has been my practice over the years to get into the pulpit on a Friday evening and to go through the sermon visualizing the congregation that would be there on a Sunday morning. Those of you who had me in speech class at ILC will remember the advice, Do what you are going to do where you are going to do it. I might also add that the sermon kept me awake many an hour going over and over it to make certain that it was Scripturally sound and easily understood
In the early nineties, I delivered a paper to the pastoral conference entitled THE SERMON THE BEST MEAL EVER. Some of you may have it in your files. It sums up my whole approach to preaching and the sermon.
Even during my years at ILC I took advantage of many a vacancy to keep active in the pulpit. Since my retirement 15 years ago, I have been in many parts of the US helping congregations during their vacancies.
We also had a course in Catechetics at the seminary. We were required to teach the Juniors on several occasions on some portion of the catechism. At times that could be quite trying for they could play at being dumb or so it seemed to the teacher. I can recall one very difficult session where I thought the guinea pigs were deliberately fouling me up. The professor assured me that the fault was mine for not being clear in my questioning.
It taught me to watch the eyes of the students. They will tell you whether they understand you or whether you are leaving them in doubt.
What about social life during the seminary years. I will give you some insight into why your mother is your mother in the next installment of ancestors.