This is a complete and accurate transcript of the oral history interview of Margaret Joan Larson Carlson (CN 263, #T1) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations, such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers should remember that this is a transcription of spoken English, which, of course, follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Edgar Diaz and Janyce H. Nasgowitz, and completed in August 1992.
Collection 263, #T1. Interview with Margaret Joan Larson Carlson by Esther Braly on November 2, 1983.
BRALY: This is an interview with Mrs. Margaret Joan Larson Carlson by Esther Braly for the Missionary Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place at the Archives office in the Billy Graham Center on November 2, 1983, at 1:15 PM. [Pauses.] First of all, I'd like to know why you were born in a mission home rather than in a hospital in Ecuador.
CARLSON: It was commonplace at that time for babies to be delivered at home. There were not very many obstetrical facilities in Quito [Ecuador]. And just as now the wheel is turning back and people are having their babies at home, that was standard procedure.
BRALY: Oh, okay. What kind of work did your parents do with the Indians at the headwaters of the Amazon?
CARLSON: They did what is called pioneer missionary work. They went into an area which had no Evangelical witness whatsoever and began from scratch to try to make contact with the Indians. This was on the eastern slopes of the Andes in the northern jungle of Ecuador, northeastern side. And their method of operating was to set up a kind of hacienda. The mission had bought property there. Are you familiar with the term hacienda?
CARLSON: It's like a ranch or a farm, a working farm with cattle and crops on it. Which is a very ambitious name for what they had. What they had was several hectares [one hectare = 10,000 square meters] of jungle. And as my dad used to say, "The furniture was all there." It had leaves and branches and twigs on it. They just went in and chopped it out of the woods. They made their home-made furniture. Their idea was to have enough crops and cattle to be a self-sufficient operation and use that as a means of contact with the Indians, by hiring them to work for them and by giving them a reasonable wage so that.... At that time, the jungle area was a real outpost of Ecuadorian civilization. And the laws on the books in the capital city were excellent, but it was a little hard to enforce them out in the outer reaches, which is where my folks were. And their idea was simply to go and live a normal productive life there and earn the interest and respect of the Indians and introduce them to the claims of the Gospel. My dad had a little store that he set up eventually, after they had built a, oh, bamboo house with thatched roof. The first one was washed away. They built it too close to the river [chuckles] and when the flood season came it was washed away. So then they learned to build a little higher up the hill. And on the lower level (it was kind of up on stilts)...on the lower level there was a little enclosed area that became a trading post. And when Indians would come to buy cloth or beads or candy or whatever they wanted to buy, then they would pay for it by working and clearing the land for him. And they saw it as a service. He saw it as a way to contact the Indians. That was their plan.
BRALY: Do you remember much of your time in the jungle?
CARLSON: Oh, yes. Those are some of my most treasured memories. I've gotten homesick for a lot of people in my life, but as far as places goes, the one I really, really long for is...is the Ecuadorian jungle. It's a beautiful place for a child to grow up.
BRALY: Why is that?
CARLSON: Well, [train noise] I have to say this from the perspective of someone who wasn't carrying responsibility. If I went in as a parent, it might look different to me. But as a child there was everything in the world to interest you. People used to ask us if we had any toys. Well, we had live monkeys and parrots and all kinds of strange animals, strange to other people but which were a normal part of growing up there, that were lots of fun to play with. I had a little parrot that used to ride on my shoulder and perch on the head of my bed at night and first thing in the morning come down and just sort of peck at my ear and wake me up. And I carried my monkey on my back like they used to do with their babies. The only problem was that, if you ever had anything to do with a monkey, they have the most tenacious hands. They grab your hair and the monkey liked it back there. They never want to let go. [Both laugh.] [The monkey] got tufts of my hair. But that kind of thing was very enjoyable to a child. And, if all else fails, you could go down to the river and rearrange the course of the river by chucking a few rocks around. And there was always something to do. And the Indians would teach you how to pull up the heart of a palm and there's a nice white tender chunk there that you could eat.
CARLSON: And, oh, they lived off the land. We learned some of that and enjoyed every bit of it. The hedge on either side of the path (that was eventually built up to the chapel, where the folks had meetings) was the pineapple, which were very prickly. If you remember, they have spikes on them.
CARLSON: You know how pineapple grows. It looks like a great big century plant...
CARLSON: ...with pineapples in the middle?
CARLSON: So it made a good hedge.
CARLSON: But you could also take your machete and cut off a ripe pineapple and peel it and eat it as you went by [?].
BRALY: [Both chuckle.] [Two words unclear.] When you were a...a small child, you traveled to the United States for the first time. And what was that like?
CARLSON: [Chuckles.] I was only two the first time I came to the States. But I have some very vivid memories, because I was naughty. We traveled with fellow missionaries, the John Clarks. And among the families there were five small children, the two families. So when we were loading onto the ship (back then everything was by ship and that was a lot more fun than in these days going by plane), Auntie Ruth Clark had charge of all of the little kids. And the only way she could handle that was by using harnesses. These are not as much in fashion as they were then.
CARLSON: They're wonderful for children. Just a little harness that fits over them and you get like a little leash. And the child is free to move around, but they can't hurt themselves. So she had five of us on these harnesses. And standing on board the ship, while the rest of the people, my mother and dad and her husband, were settling things in the cabin and doing that, and I leaned over and took off my shoe and put it over the edge. [Chuckles.] Which was the end of that shoe. But I have vivid memories. I...I realized that I was...shouldn't have done that. And I was ashamed when we went to...down to meals and I had to go in my bare feet. So that shows what a two-year-old remembers. That was the trip to the States. I don't remember much else...
BRALY: Oh. Well, h...
CARLSON: ...for my first trip.
BRALY: Yeah. Do you remember any of your relatives?
CARLSON: Not from the first trip.
BRALY: What about the second trip?
CARLSON: Oh, the second trip would have been a good five years later. Oh, yes. Then that was a very enjoyable time to get together with our relatives. I lived with...my brother and I lived with my auntie and uncle, who were.... My uncle was a minister in the Covenant church. And we lived with them while my folks traveled around doing deputation work.
CARLSON: And I remember that auntie and uncle and a number of the cousins around having a real good time.
BRALY: What did you think about the United States during that second trip?
CARLSON: Oh, it was a very enjoyable time. I don't remember specifically contrasting it with Ecuador. I remember enjoying the family very much. And somewhere along in there, let's see, the second trip was after my baby brother died. My...my parents had a child after me. There were three of us all together. And he died just two days after birth. And my mother was very ill after that. And so for that second furlough we had two full years, maybe almost three years, in the States while she recovered. So the first year was in Seattle. The second year was in the Twin Cites and that area, the second and third years, and then a little time in New York. So memories of Seattle are very vivid. I was in second grade then and I remember the hills, and the hollies, and the fact that you could buy at Easter time candy eggs in the store.
CARLSON: That's about all I remember about Seattle. And, you know, things like that. Then in, let's see, Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, I remember going to my uncle's church. I was baptized there. That's a very vivid memory. And happy times with my grandmother, who was a very beautiful, transparent Christian. She taught us memory verses and it was a lot of fun.
CARLSON: Yes. [Unclear.]
BRALY: How did she do that?
CARLSON: Well, [she] appealed to our sense of accomplishment, I think. That we...she appreciated it so much when we would do well, that we would just want to do it for her.
CARLSON: And just...she enjoyed her Bible so much that we...we valued it. She was a wonderful lady. We called her "Nana." She had six children. My mother was the third from the bottom. Just about in the middle.
BRALY: How did you find the...did you...did you find the children in the school in America any different than the children in Ecuador?
CARLSON: We didn't have nearly as warm a bond because the time was shorter. The children in school in Ecuador were like our brothers and sisters. It was an extended family. All their parents were called our aunties and uncles. Many missionaries do that.
BRALY: Oh, uh-huh.
CARLSON: So that the Clarks were Auntie Ruth and Uncle John, Auntie Erma, Uncle Stu. This type of thing. And I think probably the...the friendship with their children was like cousins would have here if they lived close. Maybe even a little closer, because many times we were at boarding school together. And that was like a large family. So to contrast the two friendships, much closer in Ecuador, and...but I enjoyed my friendships with American kids, and...particularly in Seattle, no, both places. There weren't that many children who had lived outside the United States, and so we were kind of special. And if they had an amateur program, or a talent show, or anything, all we had to do was sing in Spanish. And that did it. And, you know, "Oh my, isn't that amazing." But it's not amazing at all, you know. But it was a lot of fun. And if they ever needed costumes, they always came to me and we'd dress up like Indians, or Spanish peasants, or something like that.
BRALY: You mentioned a boarding school in Ecuador. What kind of boarding school was it and what was it like?
CARLSON: This was a school set up by the Christian and Missionary Alliance for the children of their missionaries and other non-Ecuadorian people. The reason for that was that the government did not want Ecuadorians to attend a school which was not under the Ecuadorian school system. Fair enough. You know, they wanted their citizens to have the same requirements. And this [the boarding school] was set up on the American school system and run by dedicated, delightful women at first. It's now expanded until it's quite a large school. And it was only about fifteen students to begin with. It was a one-room school house. It was upstairs in the large house where it was. The teacher that I remember for grade school was Miss Ruth Popejoy. Tiny little lady. And she just put us through our paces from first grade right straight up though.... By the time high school came around, when the students were ready for high school, they eventually went to a...a correspondence school system so that it would be equivalent exactly to what people had in the States. That was very useful, because it...we...it taught us how to study. We had to write everything out, and by the time you look everything up and write out the answers, you've learned a study method.
CARLSON: The students whose parents lived at some distance lived in this home and [pauses] they missed their parents. I missed my parents, but we had loving matrons. There were times, of course, when we all rebelled and were mad at them just like people get mad at their parents. But I think my parents were very wise. They introduced us to the matron and the teachers long before we went to school as beloved aunties. And they visited us for their vacations and we went out and did things with them. And I loved them and they loved me. I was convinced of that. I...I would go to them as I would to any auntie. And this was a very definite advantage when I went away to school, 'cause I went very young. I was only five. And I had just turned five in August when I went to school in September. And I needed that kind of love. Some of the older kids who were sort of appointed to supervise, for instance when you learned to make your bed.... You can imagine a five year old does not do too well at making a bed. I remember distinctly I hated one of the big girls because she made me come in and make my bed over and over and over again. And, of course, I suppose she was feeling her oats and had a sense of authority and she was going to make me do it right. I think, looking back now, it probably was a bit excessive. A few lumps wouldn't have hurt. [Chuckles.] Oh, I hated that. But it...on the whole, I have very happy memories of the school. I also remember crying myself to sleep because I wanted my mother. But in retrospect I know that there are a lot of children who have their parents who cry themselves to sleep. And they don't know why. I could pin it onto a definite cause. I missed my folks. And perhaps it was easier to take because of that.
BRALY: How often did you get to see your parents?
CARLSON: Ecuador is a small country. However, when they were in the jungle it was a four day trip, in and out. So, two or three times a year in the long vacation we'd spend with them. There was a time at Christmas, sometimes at Easter, and there was a long vacation. Later on, though, my folks moved to the capital city and I lived at home and went as a day student to school, which I considered a great privilege [chuckles].
BRALY: [Pauses.] Did you find the rules strict at the school?
CARLSON: I had nothing to compare them with. My parents were...I don't call them strict. I mean, I didn't think they were strict. I just thought you obeyed, that's all. And you were expected to obey and you did. There was a [pauses] ruckus. [Chuckles.] One of big boys (again, remember I'm from the viewpoint of a five-year-old)...one of the big boys decided that he was not going to obey. There was a big sort of a creek, just over the wall of the school, which I realize now must have been kind of a drainage ditch. It was not clean. We were not allowed to go there. For very good reasons, I'm sure. The pigs went there and you could get chiggers and all kinds of stuff there. But we weren't thinking about that. It was just forbidden territory. And this guy was going to go out there no matter what. So he went out into the...the cebrada, as we called it, the broken place in the earth, and found an old buggy tire, which he stuck in his pocket as a trophy. It was broken so it was like a rope sort of, you know, a rubber thing. Well, he got caught. And, rightly or wrongly, they decided that the punishment would be to give him a tanning on his nether regions with that buggy tire. They just took it and went bop, bop, bop on the seat of his pants. Well, he decided that would be the end of that. So he stole it, the rubber thing, and threw it away. Well, it must have become sort of a matter of discipline, because they got a soft rubber thing to use in its place which was to be more of a threat than anything else. And it became a big terrible threat, the rubber hose. I mean you would do anything not to get the rubber hose. Nobody got it very often, but this was the threat. And I remember, for some reason my brother didn't get his arithmetic done for several days in a row and finally [unclear phrase] by matron went to get the rubber hose. Well, this was to be a humiliation in front of the whole class and he went in terrible trepidation down to get the rubber hose, plop, plop, plop, down the stairs. Along the way down, when he was gone out of the room, I realized what was happening. I was two years younger than he was and I adored my brother, my absolute all-time hero, and somebody was going to hurt my brother with the rubber hose, you know. I know now that it was very soft. It was not [pauses] abusing the children in any way. By the time Dick got back up the stairs I was crying, and when he came in the door, I started really bellowing, boo-hoo-hoo-hooing. Well, that was too much for my very best friend, who joined me. And then her little boyfriend joined her and by the time Dick finally got his whipping, [chuckles] the whole first, second, and third grade was in [chuckles] sobs and tears and wailings. So I think Miss Popejoy thought very long before she ever sent anybody for the rubber hose again. And Dick did get his arithmetic done.
BRALY: You said you...you finally moved to the city...to...the capital city. Your father opened up a radio station there, didn't he?
CARLSON: Well, that's another part, a very interesting part, of the...the way God times things and meshes one apparently totally unrelated part of your life with another. I mentioned that my folks were at the edge of the Ecuadorian civilization.
CARLSON: The government did send inspectors in to check up on these outposts. And when they got out there, the nicest place to live or to stay was my folk's house. Because they had built a nice....it was bamboo, but it had walls inside it. It wasn't just a hut. And they had arranged it so that there was an open area up at the top under the eaves where air could go through. And they had screens on the windows and it was a well-designed, but very simple, what we would call appropriate technology to the area. But it was comfortable. And Mother grew up in Canada, in a very...what we would call a refined home and her standards were the same in the jungle as they were anywhere else. She did things as nicely as she could anywhere. And Dad said if she were cast loose in the jungle she would have gotten a banana leaf and set it on a log for a tablecloth. Mother just did things that way. So what she had with her she used. And the only china she owned was her wedding china. They took it with them. That's what they had and she took it into the jungle. But that was unusual in the jungle. So when these people came and sat down at a modest but well-laid table, and were treated the same way they were in the capital city as far as manners were concerned and the courtesies of life, it made a very deep impression on them. And they always came and stayed with my folks in that area. Well, these were representatives of the duly constituted government of Ecuador. And the folks enjoyed having them. It was a chance to talk about their beloved Indians and gain an ear among officialdom for the plight of the Indians, which was difficult at that time. And they saw it from that side. They never thought of the fact that these men were their fast friends. In fact, that developed into such things as my dad being named inspector of schools, inspector of roads, administrator of the salt monopoly, which was a monopoly of the government. This type of thing, because they knew they had a...a reliable, honest, steady person to do this for them out there. And Dad saw it as a way to get in touch with the Indians. The other side of the coin was that it established good will. So later on, probably on their first furlough, my folks became aware of radio and thought of it as means for mass evangelism. And Mother laughed a little at Daddy, saying that he probably would hang receivers on the trees to play music for the monkeys or whatever, you know. And she teased him. And he kind of, in some ways, quit talking about it, but it was always in the back of his mind. Then, I'm not sure, I would have to look back in my chronology, exactly when it was that he and the Jones family got together. Clarence Jones was working in the United States with Paul Rader's Tabernacle and they had a radio program. And he wanted to do radio...missionary radio. He had already gone to Venezuela and been turned down on a...getting a contract. When my folks got together with the Jones's, the first thing Clarence Jones wanted to know, is whether we could have a...get a...a radio contract with the Ecuadorian government. And that's when the other side of the coin suddenly flashed open into view. Of course, they had friends in the government who would give them a hearing. And not that it was [pauses] using their friends in any way. It's just simply it helps to have somebody who already had established that you are honest and not trying to pull anything. So that was the other side of that coin. When they went back, they were then able to get the contract. D. Stuart Clark was the chairman of the Christian and Missionary Alliance at that time in Ecuador, and he and Dad did a lot of contacting. And eventually they did get a twenty-five year contract for HCJB. Then my folks were seconded by the Christian and Missionary Alliance to the new radio work. The Christian and Missionary Alliance was offered the opportunity to have that as a...a sub-department of their work, but they realized that it was going to grow and that it would become a vast ministry in itself. And they didn't want to take on that specialized a thing, so they said better it be an independent ministry. But they did second my folks to it for a number of years. And then later on a church in Michigan, Dr. Jake Savage's church in Michigan, a Baptist church, took them on as their missionaries. And they became independent of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and worked with HCJB. And so, yes, he was
in on the founding of it, with other people.
BRALY: [Pauses.] What impact did the radio station have on Christian work in Ecuador?
CARLSON: A very great one. It was the only radio station in Ecuador when it began. And it became the voice of Ecuador. It's called the "Voice of the Andes." That's sort of a slogan. [Pauses.] It has always maintained a neutral stance, so that the government in power could use it to promulgate its edicts, its...any news that they wanted to get out. It stayed out of politics and it'd become a servant of whatever legally constituted government was in power. And this has given them a good reception. They've had courteous reception by all the governments that have been in power in Ecuador ever since they began. And because it's an international radio station, I think it has become the...the voice of Ecuador around the world. It was...oh, at one time they had (I'm not going to quote the exact number) well over fifteen to twenty languages they were broadcasting in. I think it's ten or twelve now. And, for instance, much later on, my dad (by his name Larson, you might know he was Swedish, his folks emigrated from Sweden, and he spoke Swedish)...and one of the languages that was instituted was the Swedish language broadcast. And it was very popular by short wave in Sweden. And one time my dad was to do a...kind of a deputation tour in Europe to contact interested people there to support the radio station. And one of the places he went was Sweden. He got in a taxi cab and asked to be taken somewhere, and the taxi driver says, "Oh, I know that voice. You're from Ecuador." It was that well known. In Europe there's a lot more listening to short wave than there is in the States. And later on another lady, who...a good friend of ours who worked on the Swedish broadcast there, was decorated by the government of Sweden for her work on HCJB. She became Lady Ellen Campagna. [Both laugh.]
BRALY: [Pauses.] I [pauses] heard that you spent a trip...a extensive...you took an extensive trip through Central America. And I was wondering what kind of impact that had on your life and what you remember of it?
CARLSON: I was in high school at the time, and again my folks were to do a sort of deputation trip through Central America on our way to the United States. My brother stayed in Ecuador that furlough. That was a very useful, enriching trip for me. We went by car through Colombia. And when you travel by car you see a lot more of the country. That sounds so easy now because there is the Pan-American highway. This was forty years ago, and there just were not the roads that there are now. So that we traveled...we hired...but there were taxis that run back and forth all the time for, you know, a set fee. Not a great deal of money. Not a great deal more than a bus ride would be. So we hired a taxi, and the roads were so narrow that there were times of the day they went one direction and then at a given time they'd switch and they'd go the other direction. And you waited in the queue until it was your turn to go the direction you were going. So that was a very interesting trip. We had a...an amazing driver. He would swing way out to the edge of this narrow thing and there'd be a drop of, oh, several hundred feet down this side, and then a cliff up the other side maybe fifty sixty feet. Just...just a shelf on the side of the mountain. And he'd swing way over here and say, "A bus went over here." And you would look down and think, "We could go over too." [Chuckles.] It was an interesting trip. We stopped at many places along the way. And we saw a Christian and Missionary Bible Institute in Popayan [Colombia]. We stayed in Medellin [Colombia], we went to Bogota [Colombia] and we had, I think, a month in Bogota, which is a mountain city much like Quito where I grew up. But you got the feel of the country and, for a teenager, that was a very interesting trip. And then from there we flew, short hops. This was during World War II, and we had intended to go up to Aruba [Island] and take a ship and stop at ports all along the way. But they were sinking ships when we were there, so we flew. And that was interesting. They were prop planes and it was rough riding a lot of times, but it was also very interesting. And we stopped and...well, in Panama, of course, which we always did. In Costa Rica....
BRALY: Why did you always stop in...?
CARLSON: That's...all ships went through the Panama Canal if they set sail from New York.
BRALY: Oh, I see.
CARLSON: And so Panama was a fantastic place to visit. We loved it, going and coming. Fascinating place. The canal itself, and then the Canal Zone, and all the interesting foreign families and friends that we had there. We went to Costa Rica, to Honduras, to Nicaragua, to El Salvador, Mexico. And in Mexico we bought a car. It was a 1929 Buick, I think, a really fancy car [both laugh]. It was old even for then. [Chuckles.] And pulled a trailer. Some friends had driven a trailer down there, a little house trailer. And we drove it back up to the States, and we used it all the way along [unclear word] to Minnesota. So that was fun for a kid.
BRALY: Did you see any differences between the other Latin American countries and Ecuador?
CARLSON: Yes, I forgot to list in there Guatemala, which we thought was beautifully clean and modern and gorgeous. It might not have looked quite so outstanding if we'd been going the other direction. But we were really impressed with that. Each country has its own personality. Common to all of them is the courtesy and openness of the people, especially if you speak the language. And my memories of it are happiest of that whole trip. We stayed in very modest places and very humble circumstances. But everyone was just very, very kind and gracious to us.
BRALY: You spent a year in a...in an American high school, didn't you?
CARLSON: [Laughing.] Yes, I did. [Laughs.]
BRALY: What was that like? [Chuckles.]
CARLSON: Well, that was a...a growing experience for me. I stayed with an aunt and uncle. My uncle was a teacher in that high school. He taught typing and all kinds of secretarial skills. And I took typing from him. He was a Pennsylvania Dutchman, very [pauses] fair, absolutely bent over backwards to be honest, to be just in all his doings. And I remember such things as...you can imagine a teenager now, from my point of view, not the adult's reasonable point of view, that he would not let me ride to school with him in his car. He thought it would look like I was....he was showing favoritism. And when he went to grade my papers, if there was any doubt, I always got the lower grade because he didn't want to show favoritism. And that made me angry. Later on it made me respect him, very much. And I learned to really appreciate what he stood for. That was a...a loving family. They had a wonderful daughter, younger than I, and she very much needed siblings and they only had one child. So after that year she was even more lonely, because she had no one. So they adopted a girl. And that was a lovely, lovely aftermath of that. I learned to cheer at basketball games. I learned to roller-skate. I learned to snowball fight. I learned how to loyally wear the school colors. It was just a new experience. We didn't have a big enough school to do that sort of thing in Ecuador. So it was very interesting.
BRALY: Did you go through any cul...any culture shock?
CARLSON: I don't think I fit in particularly well. I don't think I cared.
CARLSON: I wanted friends, but I was very used to being different. There were very few Americans, relatively, in Ecuador as I was growing up. And many, many, many now. The international colony there has grown immeasurably. But when I was a kid, we knew every foreigner of every ilk in the city, really. So we stood out and I was used to being different. And at that time it was a distinctive advantage to be a North American in Ecuador. That has changed. It's no longer to be sought after. At that time, it gave you a privileged position. And so I was not afraid of being different. I knew I was different and I was happy to be different. I don't think I ever felt rejected because I was an American, for the reasons I just stated. And I also felt very warmly accepted as an Ecuadorian. That sounds like a paradox, but they knew I had been born there and spoke their language. My brother even more so. Boys had a lot more freedom than girls in the Ecuadorian society and culture at that time. So my brother could go out with his friends a lot, and we always had to go in groups and be chaperoned. That's part of the culture...was at that time. I don't...I can't speak for what it is right now. So I had a lot of friends there, but I was accustomed to being slightly different from the rest. So it didn't bother me, being different, at Proctor[?] High School.
BRALY: Did you make the friends that you want...hoped to make?
CARLSON: I thought I did. Maybe other people looking on might have thought this was a queer stick, but I enjoyed myself.
BRALY: Were you sad to leave any of them?
CARLSON: Yes, and I kept in touch for a number of years with a couple of them. I mean through college even, that every time I'd go back to that area, I'd look them up. And they were nice...they were nice people.
BRALY: When your brother left for college, did home seem...seem very different?
CARLSON: Yes. I've already mentioned that my brother was my hero, all through my childhood. He's a very creative, outgoing person and he made everything so much fun. And he always included me. When we were in boarding school, I think we got together more because our parents were far away. And that time he [unclear]. So I missed him very much. However, that year was the year I had just finished high school. And I was working for the first time, full time outside the home. I had grown up at the radio station and worked every free minute at the radio station all through high school, doing everything from writing to producing to performing to everything on the radio programs in Spanish and English. Busy, kept you up...an interesting way to grow up. Very...never bored. We sang, we spoke, we...you know, we did everything. If you could play a chord, you played on the piano, so that was fun. Then I needed to earn money to come to college. My brother had already worked a year and then he went to college. That year I worked as secretary to the military attache in the American embassy, with those famous typing skills I ac...acquired in Proctor High School under my beloved uncle. [Chuckles.] I also had shorthand in high school. So that was a whole new life. The diplomatic core is quite heady stuff for a seventeen-year-old. And I was working for the military attache, so I had to have security clearance. And we had to observe security measures, like burning your carbon paper and never leaving stuff around, and this was all sort of cloak and dagger. I realize now that they were very elementary security measures. Anybody could have broken into the cupboard where we put stuff. But they were, for the day, what they were. So I was busy. I had interesting things to do. Life was very different anyway. And the fact that my brother left was one part of that.
BRALY: Did you think that the ambassadors that you worked with showed an appreciation for the Ecuadorian society?
CARLSON: Oh, that's a tough question. You're talking about the people at the embassy?
CARLSON: [Pauses.] A generalization would be that it was "us and them" approach. The Ecuadorians were no...were...the Ecuadorian people who worked for the embassy were kind of second-class citizens. They didn't get the same pay, the same consideration, because they were Ecuadorian nationals. And they were paid in sucres [basic monetary unit of Ecuador, equal to 100 centavos], not dollars. And they were not privy to anything that required security clearance because they were nationals of another country. I'm not faulting the embassy for that, but the attitude of the people toward them was as if they were in fact second-class people, which is not true. And this used to make me very angry. Later on, when, as an adult after I was married, my husband went into the army, I went back and worked for almost two years for the American and Ecuadorian governments, while my husband was in the army. And at that time it made me extremely angry, because these were my friends and.... [Pauses.] For instance, I'll give you an example that really upset me a great deal. One of the [bumps microphone] perks of an American staff member was to be [bumps microphone] picked up by a staff car and taken to and from work. I lived out at the north end of town with my parents-in-law, who were the...the principals of a school for missionaries' children by that time. The Carlsons were asked to go there after their tour of duty in Vietnam and various other places. And...they had been in China. When China closed, they sent them to various other places, including Ecuador, okay? So we were out at the north end of town, which is where the school for missionaries' kids was located. Right a half a block from where I lived, lived one of the other secretaries, an Ecuadorian girl who worked [paper rustles] in my office. And I was not allowed to take her in the staff car with me because she was an Ecuadorian. Now that was, as I understood it, because of the insurance coverage. If there'd been an accident, there was no way to cover her. But the effect it had was of overweening arrogance. So as a consequence I never rode the staff car. I rode the bus with her. And it would have been nothing to take her along. And I think that was very poor policy. They should have done something about the insurance or made some sort of arrangement, because that was bad news. That kind of thing was very poor. I do understand rules and regulations, however. And they...they were in between a rock and a hard place. The discrepancy between pay scales is another really tough one to handle, because Americans were paid in dollars and Ecuadorians were paid in sucres and the dollar exchanged very, very much more favorably in the open market. And it was just a different pay scale for virtually identical work. But that was the way it went all over the world. And it has always been profitable to be an American citizen.
BRALY: What do you think you've learned the most by working at the embassy?
CARLSON: The embassy? I learned a lot in office procedure. I gained poise through some very difficult situations. I learned that the glamorous life is not always as glamorous as it seems. My friends, some of the daughters of the diplomats of the embassy personnel, attended the school for missionary kids. And at...remember that I had just graduated from high school, and some of them were still in the school, in high school, and we were still friends, even though I had just graduated and was working. And they would take me to their homes and I would invite them to my home. And I remember going to their homes, and meeting their folks, and enjoying them, and having dinner at their homes, and spending the night one time. And I'll never forget the first cocktail party I attended, which was a command performance, Fourth of July or something like that, where everyone was to go. And I put on my best bib-and-tucker and, very scared and gangly, went to this very sophisticated cocktail party. Well, I did not drink. I had never been...our....we never drank in our home. And I just never considered that I would. I forget what I drank there, orange juice, coke, whatever they had at the cocktail party. But everyone else was drinking. And I saw the parents of these friends, whom I had enjoyed in their home as host and hostess, gradually dissolved in the blurred, drunken slurred speech that goes with one too many cocktails and become really repulsive. And thinking all the while that they were clever, laughing and silly manner, for that's what happens when your inhibitions are blurred. And really the only good way to have a good time at a cocktail party is to drink, because then you...your jokes sound funny to you, too. And other people's jokes sound funny to you, too. But if you're not drinking at one of those, it's just appalling [laughs] because they're so stupid and vapid. And that took...removed from me any desire...any curious desire to join that cocktail circuit, because in a very cold-eyed sober, literally sober, way, I could see what happened. And I was scared to death to try that out for myself. [Laughs.] I wouldn't ever want to submit myself to what I would turn into. So that's one thing I learned.
BRALY: Would you say you grew up more as an American or an Ecuadorian?
CARLSON: I think I was an...an American...a guest in Ecuador, a very well-treated guest and warmly-received guest. Our family and my...my mother...I mentioned her ability to have a gracious home at whatever level she lived. And this was very well received by Ecuadorian people. They are a gracious people. And so we had streams of people from peasants to ministers of the cabinet to the president himself in our home. And so we were very, very much worked in to Ecuadorian society. I never felt that I was an Ecuadorian. I was an American there, but very much enjoyed the interaction.
BRALY: You said the president came to your home?
CARLSON: He came to the radio Quito when we were there. I think I have a picture, but I'm not sure. I have several pictures that my dad had among his things when he died. And I'd have to go back and see if I have a picture of that occasion. Yes, the studio was in the home where we lived. And when these people came out...the ministers came out to do a radio program, or something like that, they would always have tea in our home, very often in the garden. Ecuadorian weather is beautiful. It's like spring time all year round. So we had tea out in the garden under the big tree. Yes, it was...seemed very normal to me, but I realize now it was very great privilege to have grown up in that home.
BRALY: And did the connections that you made with the radio station help you get your job in the embassy?
CARLSON: No. They were very helpful when I was working in the embassy, both as a very young person just out of high school and then later on, because I knew so many people in Ecuadorian circles, but they would have been no help in getting a job in the American embassy.
BRALY: Oh, okay.
CARLSON: However, that was through...in fact, it was through people who came to the radio station. There was a...a lady who worked in the military attache's office who also was an organist. And she came out and played the organ for them on the radio station. And when she was going to have a baby and quit her job, she suggested me as her replacement. And that's how I got in.
BRALY: Did you ever rebel against being a missionary's kid?
CARLSON: No, not...no. I considered it a privilege and just lots and lots of fun. I rebelled against [pauses] being considered a child of my mother, particularly, but after I was forty years old. That's when I consider I had my adolescent rebellion.
BRALY: Can you explain a little [chuckles]?
CARLSON: [Laughs.] Well, it's a....we had been by then in Hong Kong for seven years straight. And away from my folks for seven years at one whack. When we came back on furlough, my parents also were on furlough, and I realized that for Mother there was no...I mean that that chunk of time just didn't exist for her. She took up right were we left off. For me there were seven years of total independence from my folks on the other side of the world.
CARLSON: And when I came back, I didn't want...I wan...I...I...Mother just still thought of me as her child. That...that's the way I interpreted it. And I chaffed under that, and I think I was very nasty to my mother several times. The Lord worked in my heart about that, and gave me a chance to tell her "I'm sorry." And several years of warm fellowship and, in the latter months of her life, the privilege of taking care of her when she was in her terminal illness, which was a chance to act out love. And I'm very grateful for that.
BRALY: [Pauses.] Now I have a few questions about your college days. [Both laugh.]
CARLSON: If I can think back that far. It's been a while. That...do you realize that this is 1983? I graduated in '51, so just...you know how far back we're going. [Both laugh.]
BRALY: What was it about Westmont College that made you want to go there?
CARLSON: My brother was there and that was the reason.
BRALY: Oh. Did you have any expectations about the college and did it stack up to what you thought it would be?
CARLSON: I guess I didn't have any mental image of what college would be like. It was all a great unknown and having my brother there made a huge difference to me in terms of security. Dr. [V. Raymond] Edman...Dr. and Mrs. Edman, who were...he was then president of Wheaton College here, had been in Ecuador when my parents first went down there. Dr. Edman went a year or two ahead and Mrs. Edman went down with my folks, not married yet to Dr. Edman. She went down as his fiancee. And they had to finish language study before they could get married. And they always said that they went through language study in record time. He was their coach, Dr. Edman was [laughs]. So there was a...a strong family tie there. My folks stood up with the Edmans at their wedding in Ecuador. And they were their friends. Dr. Edman was so ill and it was obvious that he couldn't return to Ecuador. They thought he was going to die. I don't know if you know that story?
BRALY: No, I'm not familiar....
CARLSON: He had a tropical fever. I think it was typhus. And they had told Mrs. Edman that he would be dead before morning. And the absolute rigorous custom of the day was to wear total black for mourning. And the person had to be marr...be buried the day they died by sanitary law. So that night she dyed her wedding dress black to wear. But he, of course, did not die [chuckles]. But he was told he could not go back to Ecuador. And my folks, then, got to go into the jungle, which had been their first love, but it looked as though the Edmans were going to do it. And then when the Edmans couldn't go, my folks got that assignment, which was indeed their first love. Well, anyway, it would have been natural then to come to Wheaton because of that family tie. I don't know why my brother went to Westmont. Sometime I'll have to ask him. It's kind of vague in my mind now. We did have an aunt and uncle out there in California. Maybe that was it. Anyway, he did go there. And he wrote back very enthusiastically. And it was a smaller school. It may have been a little less expensive. I'm not sure. But anyway, when I...we got out there for freshman orientation week, people stood up all over the freshman hymn sing, when you gave your testimony, and said, "Well, I tried to get into Wheaton, but I couldn't get in so I came to Westmont." "I...," you know. This went on time after time and it made me so mad so finally I stood up and said, "I could have gone to Wheaton and I came to Westmont cause I wanted to." [Both laugh.] I don't know whether I could have gotten into Wheaton, but I thought I could. Anyway...then later on, because of the Wheaton nursing program, I transferred.
BRALY: What kind of adjustments did you have to go through as a freshman in college?
CARLSON: Perhaps the biggest one would be a social adjustment. I grew up in Ecuadorian society where all boy-girl interaction is chaperoned. You don't chaperon yourself. They take care that there are witnesses all the time, the old fashioned duenna, that kind of thing. And you don't allow yourself to get into a situation which would...that would be compromising if you were not chaperoned. So I had grown up through my high school years going around in groups. My mother was...made very sure that we had banquets and social occasions where we learned to wear long dresses and use the right fork and things like that, so that we wouldn't be total misfits when we came to the Sta...to any sort of social situation in the States. But I had never dated one on one alone and I was eighteen years old. So that was something to get used to. And I had no background of experience to know whether I was having an active social life, a fun social life, whether I was a wall-flower or what. I later realized that I had an absolutely marvelous freshman year. Th...I just had lots and lots of fun. I went to everything. I was, you know, in on everything. A lot of that I think was due to my brother, who was a very outgoing and active person. And he opened a lot of doors for me. But I went to every banquet, every concert. I was on the May Queen's court. I was in....you know...I just...I didn't know that that was unusual. I though, oh sure, this is what you do in college. It was a lot of fun. I wish I realized how much fun I was having. [Laughs.]
BRALY: Did you find that the other students at Westmont had a missions world view?
CARLSON: A lot of them did, yes. That was a nice warm family feeling. I loved Westmont. Only about three hundred students at that time. And they had just moved to Santa Barbara on big estates and there were the formal gardens, and the lily pond, and the sea out in front of Santa Barbara. It's a beautiful setting. And yes, a very warm, active commitment on campus to not only foreign missions, but Christian service wherever they were. We went out on...with the American Sunday School Union on weekends. And just a very, very warm Christian family. Enjoyed 'em.
BRALY: Had you considered nursing before you went to Westmont?
CARLSON: Oh, yes. I had always thought I would be a nurse. My mother started nurses training. And you know how you play nurse and take care of your dolls and everything. And my...several girlfriends and I all figured we would be nurses. I don't know why I went to Westmont considering that. I think I just thought it was the first step.
BRALY: So what [?]....
CARLSON: It seems to me that I drifted into a lot of things that kind of show me that the Lord is ahead of you every step of the way. I never felt coerced into anything, but it turned out to be part of a pattern.
BRALY: So Westmont doesn't have any kind of nursing school or anything?
CARLSON: It didn't at that time. They had the basic sciences, but they didn't have any affiliation with a hospital.
BRALY: Oh, I see.
CARLSON: I don't know if they do now or not.
BRALY: What was it about Wheaton and the Wheaton nursing program that attracted you?
CARLSON: Well, the fact that I could have the nursing program and then a B.S. degree in...within five years. At that time we were the second Wheaton class to go through. At that time you could take your two years at Wheaton, either before...one before and one after, or do West Suburban first and then take two after. And I managed it with one year at Westmont first, then West Suburban, then Wheaton, which is a very nice way to do it.
BRALY: What...why exactly did you want to be a nurse?
CARLSON: I suppose because of my mom, that she had...she didn't finished nurses training, but she had always wished she had. And I think probably a rather starry-eyed view that nurses put cool hands on fevered brows and were upstanding, useful people. It was something of a shock to me, after three years of nurses training, to realize it was still the same me. I think I thought it was like a sausage factory; you put stuff in at this end and out comes a perfect person at the other. And of course it doesn't quite work that way. [Laughs.] It's the same old person. The change has to be internal. It isn't pressed on you, although circumstances and experiences do a lot to make you face up to things in nurses training. That's true.
BRALY: [Pauses.] During the years you spent at the West Suburban School of Nursing, did you and the other nurses in the Wheaton program associate with the students on the Wheaton campus?
CARLSON: Yes, they regularly bussed us out [paper rustles] for various events, sports events, Christian emphasis week when they had special services. There was one time when there was a real moving of the Spirit on campus during our time at West Suburban and they saw to it. Prexy [nickname for the president].... Dr. Edman used to call us his "lassies" [chuckles] and we...he would make sure that his lassies had transportation to get out here, if they could, for anything like that. And I had friends on campus, so I could come out any time I wanted to. The Clarks, missionary folks from Ecuador, lived in Wheaton at that time. And one of the Clark girls was my roommate in nurses training. The other one was out here on campus. So there was a lot of going and coming there. I felt very welcome on campus. We came out and sang as the nurses choir almost every graduation. And, yeah, I enjoyed it very much, that contact.
BRALY: Why did Dr. Edman have a special heart for the nurses?
CARLSON: Well, he was in on the forming of that program, and saw it as a...an area of education that Christian women were very interested in. And he wanted to offer that option to people who...to women who came to Wheaton. And I think he was a big mover behind the program.
BRALY: Oh. [Pauses.] What people were important influences in your life during your years spent at Wheaton on the Wheaton campus.
CARLSON: [Pauses.] Dr. Luckman [Cyril E., professor of biology and zoology, 1946-1985; emeritus until 1989] taught me at West Sub; taught micro-biology, but he taught a lot more than that. He's a Christian gentleman of [pauses] really fine stature. And he had a way of bringing...well, in his devotions, but as he was teaching along, his comments, above all his...his way of dealing with us was above reproach, just a...a beautiful example. Another one would be Frank Green [professor of chemistry, 1945-1975; emeritus until 1989], who taught chemistry there and came in.... [Laughs.] He would be in there by seven o'clock. You realize that's an hour's drive, or was at that time an hours drive, from here. He would be in there at seven o'clock to help us with bonehead math, those of us who were not very sharp and were having trouble in chemistry because we couldn't do the math. He taught a special class for us and he got no extra pay, no extra lightening of his course load. He just did that out of the kindness of his heart, to help us pass chemistry. Mrs. Kline, Jean Kline [Dean of Students, 1948-1980; Dean of Women, 1951-1968; professor of education and psychology, 1948-1989] was Dean of Women for West Suburban. A wonderful lady whose own husband was a patient in a mental hospital. And she had studied abnormal psych in order to be able to deal with his mental illness. I didn't know that. When we were....we had a three month affiliation at a state mental hospital as part of our training, and I saw some things there which I considered absolutely out of line. They were out of line. They were given treatment in a punitive way. And this is the sort of thing does happen in some...because you're dealing with human beings. Okay? So I would go back to West Suburban and talk to my dean of women, dear Mrs. Kline, and tell her these things. And then I found out later that her husband was a patient in the same mental hospital. And she never by anything indicated the sorrow that that must have been to her. But she was very able to help me over the bumps. The teachers there at West Suburban, not Wheaton teachers as such (they taught at West Suburban Hospital), Dorothy Lundburg [sp. ?] and Hazel Orr. Dorothy Lundburg was from Covenant Hospital, Swedish Covenant Hospital, just a beautiful person. And Hazel Orr was a West Sub. grad. long before the Wheaton program, a Lutheran, not quote "the Wheaton mold," but a woman of outstanding character and great love for the students. We all loved Miss Orr very, very much. On campus here I would cite as outstanding teachers [pauses]...oh goodness, [pauses] I can't remem...Dr. Kantzer, Ken Kantzer [professor of Theology, 1945-1963]. That's old age befuddling my brain here. Kenneth [loud noise in microphone] taught [unclear] apologetics. That was an outstanding course. And Dr. Simpson [Clarence J., professor of English, 1944-1951], who taught Shakespeare. A fascinating teacher. Oh, there were many, many others, but those were the outstanding ones.
BRALY: Why did you join the Spanish club at Wheaton?
CARLSON: Because of my Latin American background.
BRALY: And the Internationals Club? Did it meet some of the needs that you had as an MK?
CARLSON: That never was a big deal. Neither one of those was a very big activity on campus. We got together a couple times, maybe, a year and it was fun, but it was not a big extracurricular activity, either one. At those times the Lit Societies were the big thing.
BRALY: Oh. [Pauses.] What...what...what kind of things did the Lit Societies do?
CARLSON: They met every week and they would do different programs, debates or reading...what you would call readers' theater, or topical presentations. And it was a time to dress up, behave like a well-put-together adult as you went to dinner by candlelight and then the meeting was after that. It was a little bit of culture. It was good for us. [Both laugh.]
BRALY: Did the Foreign Missions Fellowship have a great impact on the Wheaton campus?
CARLSON: Yes, it was very active.
BRALY: What kind of things did it do?
CARLSON: Well, they had a weekly meeting. I think it was Wednesday nights. And they would have outstanding missionary speakers. And then there were regional prayer groups. And those were active prayer groups.
BRALY: And were you in a prayer group?
CARLSON: Seems to me I was. I know I was at Westmont. I was only on campus out here for one year.
CARLSON: And, yes, I was in a prayer group. We had a...a SMF, Student Missions Fellowship in...at West Suburban. And I was very active in that.
BRALY: Did your prayer group take a specific part of the world?
CARLSON: At West Suburban we didn't divide up that way because there just were not enough of us that could be off duty at the same time. So we...we were...had it all as part of the same meeting.
BRALY: What was the spiritual atmosphere outside the missions groups on Wheaton campus?
CARLSON: It would be hard for me to assess. I lived off campus. My parents were on furlough and I lived in their home. And I don't think I felt that warmly tied into campus for that one year. I wouldn't be able to assess that very well at all. That was the year that I started going with my husband, I lived off campus, and I just didn't get into it. And I carried twenty hours [of course work]. So it was all I could handle.
BRALY: How did you meet your husband, Bob?
CARLSON: [Laughs.] Well, his parents, whose family home is Wheaton, had a little home on top of Wheaton Avenue, that they had bought when they were ousted out of China. And when they returned to the mission field, they would rent it to missionaries who were on furlough. And my parents rented it that...my senior year. Part of the rental arrangement was to take two Carlson children as boarders. And that was my husband and his younger sister. So that's how we got to know one another. We had met before. Our parents were friends in school. But that's how we really got to know one another. He came along with the furniture, and the stove, and the furnace, and everything else in the house. It was completely equipped with Bob and Carol Jean. [Chuckles.]
BRALY: Why did you go to Ecuador rather than to Formosa [now Taiwan] with Bob while he was in the military?
CARLSON: I had...I wasn't offered the option to go to Formosa. He was an enlisted man and dependents of enlisted people were not sent.... I would have loved to have gone to Formosa because I'd never been there. And I couldn't live on a hundred and seventeen dollars a month with a baby in Wheaton.
CARLSON: His folks were in Ecuador and I knew I could get a good job there as a bilingual secretary and then I could be with his folks. So that was the choice, to go home.
BRALY: And what was it like being separated from him for two years?
CARLSON: Well, I thought it was the end of the world when it happened. I had prayed all the right prayers and sung all the right songs. [Intermittent microphone pounding noise begins here.] "Lord, I'll go where you want me to go" and "It's all up to you, Lord." But I was working on the theory that if I was willing, He'd never hold me to it. That all He wanted was a willing spirit. And lo and behold my husband was drafted anyway. And I just had a hard time dealing with that. And, in a sense, going to Ecuador was running away, although it was an economic necessity. It was going home to lick my wounds. In time, being home was a big help, mind you. And being with my parents-in-law was a big help. And my folks were down there, too. They were...for a few months at the time that I was there. In time, I grew to find out that I could exist without him. That was lesson number one. And the second lesson was that I could enjoy myself and have a productive life. That was a very valuable thing to know. It has made me appreciate more than ever the happy home that we have, but I also know that I can exist without it under the good hand of God. And that's necessary to know. [Pauses.] It's very strange to be a half couple. It's quite different from being a single person. And I had a little baby. So that that's a whole set of problems in itself. Very, very grateful for my parents-in-law. They were so supportive. And it meant that the baby had warm, warm family around her all the time. And she felt no lack. It was quite an adjustment to come back after that many months. And with a child who had been a little tiny baby when my husband left, and now was a toddler, speaking, almost two years old. And to have been the only parent to that child and now have another parent come in. All of that was an adjustment. I sympathize with women whose husbands travel a lot, because you have to be strong and do everything while they're gone. And then when they come back you make the adjustment of their being the leader in your home. And that's definitely something to face up to.
BRALY: What war was he being drafted for?
CARLSON: There was still a selective service while the Korean War...after the Korean War. There was a lot of ruckus going on in the Formosa Straits [now Taiwan Straits] and we had bases there. So it was while selective service was still going on at that time.
BRALY: When you both returned to Wheaton, what was your life like when Bob was studying at the Wheaton Graduate School?
CARLSON: Oh, very basic in term of economics. We had very little. But a lot of confidence. We didn't know how poor we were. A lot...we just enjoyed life a great deal. I don't every remember feeling poverty stricken, but I realize that we really had very, very little, a few coins to rub against each other. We [pauses]...my husband has always done surveying to earn money since he was in high school. So he had a very good weekend job, always. That helped. And we were able, during the time that we were both employed, he in the army and I with the government in Ecuador, were able to save a down-payment on a house. A very little, modest house, and it was only a down payment. But it was right over here on Liberty Drive. So that was our first home that we had owned ourselves and that was fun. And we took in boarders, roomers, and that helped. And we just had a good time. Then later on we...someone wanted to rent that house because it was close to the college and we moved back to the family home because his folks were out of the country. And then we had more roomers with us, the Padilla brothers [one may have been C. Rene Padilla], all of them...three of them lived with us at one time. And that was a very interesting time. Very worthwhile folks.
BRALY: Wow, what was that like?
CARLSON: Well, at that same time...by then we had had our second child and we were expecting our third. And so I needed to work at home if at all. A friend of mine from nurses training had gone to Africa with her doctor husband and he was tragically burned in an accident there. And so she was a widow with two little children, just six months older than my two children. And a long story short, they stayed with us and I baby sat them to earn a little money. And then she would come and pick them up and have dinner with us in the evening. So it was Betty and her two children and the three Padilla boys and our family of four around the dinner table every night. This was very good because those little boys had a strong male presence. And that was very helpful and by the end of several months in there...by the end of that year, she was engaged to marry to a widowed gentleman. And by then they had the families to put together. And I believe that was of the Lord. It was a very busy time. I worked like a dog. But it was in my home and I...I was privileged to be able to work at home with my children.
BRALY: Some of the time when...later your husband was teaching Greek at...at...at Wheaton...here at Wheaton....
CARLSON: He taught Greek as a...a graduate student and then later on as an instructor.
BRALY: Oh. And did you help in the infirmary some?
CARLSON: Um-hum. The year befor...the year after we were married, for a year-and-a-half there, I worked in the college infirmary when Miss [Ada] Rury, now Mrs. Winsor [wife of Earl A. Winsor, professor of mathematics and physics] was in charge. And it was a building located where the entrance to the quad is now. There was a whole string of houses along there from Buswell, which is now Schell Hall, east over to the...is it Evans or McManis Hall that's there? There were individual private houses and one of those was the infirmary. And I worked in that infirmary. It was a little creepy house, but it was a lot of fun. [Chuckles.]
BRALY: Did you get to know some of the students while you were there?
CARLSON: Oh, lots, lots. We had a lot of interesting things happen there.
BRALY: Like what?
CARLSON: Oh, I remember one Chinese student that came in one day and said, "What's wrong with me?" And I said, "I don't know, what's wrong with you?" [Laughs.] And he said, "Can't you tell?" Well, he was a very round-faced person and I had never seen him before, other than just seeing him walk by on the street. But he had huge mumps here and I just thought that's the way he looked. [Laughs.] I thought he was just a very round-faced Chinese person. Well, that was the beginning. We put him in isolation, which at that time was the basement. And of course he was to ha...be on a very special diet because of his mumps. And you wouldn't give him any food or anything like that, you see. And he kept turning back his trays virtually empty. And we were concerned, you know, thinking he was not getting enough fluids and all this and one day I went down to pick up his tray just in time to see an arm coming through the basement window with a full load of Chinese food handed in. [Laughs.] His friends were taking care of him. He wasn't going to eat any of that s...bland stuff we were giving him. [Laughs.] Yes, various things like that happened. [Both chuckle.]
BRALY: Did you notice any difference in the students when you were working in...in the infirmary from the time when you were a student?
CARLSON: Not particularly. I was...it was pretty close to the time when I was a student, so....
BRALY: Did...during the time that you and Bob...you and Bob were in the Wheaton area, did you maintain your missions perspective?
CARLSON: Always. We had gone to all the Urbana conventions [sponsored by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship] that we could go to as students. And we're both very much open to missions. We didn't know what...how it would work out, if it would work out. But we were always open to it, yes. We were from different sides of the world so we didn't know where it would be, if it did indeed work out. The idea was to get the training taken care of first. And then see what happened next.
BRALY: So...the...the Greek, the training and the Greek that Bob did was partly to prepare him for the mission field?
CARLSON: I don't think he thought of it as such. He felt that...that he vacillated between two majors. He's a very disciplined student and has all done...always done very well in school. He was...he did want to be a physics major or a Greek major, because he wanted to study the Bible in...in the original. He also took Hebrew in grad school. Eventually he settled on Greek. And he's a linguist of no mean ability. He took a lot of linguistics courses in college and all that is related to linguistics and the use of words. So that was his interest there. I don't know if he had a definite idea in mind that he would one day return to the mission field, but he felt this was valuable training. He wanted to spend his life dealing in these basics, which were the Bible in the original languages and with linguistics as a definite option.
BRALY: Hong Kong days on Mrs. Lars...Mrs. Carlson will be continued on a second tape.
END OF TAPE