Year in Review 2003
This Year's Card
As usual, I review hundreds of cards to find something special. This one, entitled "The Christmas Broadcast" exudes the American spirit of progress. Here an extended family is gathered around the marvel of the 1920s: radio. Note the antenna. This card reminded me of my father, D. M. Parrish, Sr., telling me the story of building a crystal radio when he was 14. He was thrilled when he received a letter from the Chief Engineer of WGN in Chicago thanking him for his report that WGN could be heard in Charles City, Iowa. Engineers appreciated this feedback as they worked to perfect radio transmission by trial and error. Don't forget to click on the image.
One of my major activities for 2003 was attending my local community college, the College of DuPage to complete a second year of Spanish while maintaining my perfect 4.0 GPA. See the Donald Parrish College of DuPage transcript. I had fun using class assignments to talk about some of my favorite topics such as Cuba and Immigration to New England in the 17th century. It takes a lot of effort to polish and deliver a PowerPoint presentation in another language. I invented an insightful way to display the interrelationships of the 14 conjugations of Spanish verbs and created laminated study sheets for 20 irregular verbs as a contribution to my fellow students.
I was selected to be the male student representative on the committee of 7 people that choose the outstanding male and female COD graduates for 2003. Both received a cash honorarium and delivered a speech at commencement, which I attended. I was impressed with the committee's selection process. I read 41 applications -- an emotional experience -- and interviewed 16 students. One of my takeaways was understanding the function of a community college. I view COD as the school of the second chance. Many people have used it to turn their lives around. It is really heartwarming to see young people take responsibility for their lives and not give up on childhood dreams in spite of adverse circumstances. I recommend the College of DuPage. The tuition cost is reasonable and I have found the faculty knowledgeable and caring. There are students from dozens of countries attending COD.
Addendum. A copy of my transcript at College of DuPage (COD) from the Fall of 2001 thru the Spring of 2003 shows straight A grades with 2 years of Spanish and one year of Web development. One entry is an A in Transcultural Studies for my paper on Vietnam after a trip there with COD. Also shows I was a Phi Theta Kappa member.
I visited 6 U.S. States and I spent more than a month outside of the United
States visiting 9 countries in Europe and Asia. I've spent between 4 and
5 years of my life outside of the US so far. This year I created a Trip
Reports section on my website to share my photos and observations.
This was my sixth trip to Russia and I hope you read my analysis
of the changes between 1969 and 2003. Overall I'm very encouraged by the
progress in Russia and the Baltics. To celebrate the 100th anniversary
of the airplane and the last year of the Concorde, I took my first supersonic
flight. This was my first year to cross the Atlantic by ship and I discovered
it is a good way to meet interesting people.
I have one more item to add to your check list of things to do to convert to the Digital World. Most people use Google as their search engine. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it. You will be amazed what you can discover using it. Now what do you do when you can't find something in cyberspace using Google? Answer: you should create it! This is the beauty of having your own website. If you don't have your own website, what are you waiting for?
This year I tried to find the grave of Elisha Gray, one of the cofounders of Western Electric and thus of Lucent Technologies. Elisha Gray was one hour behind Alexander Graham Bell to register his work at the U.S. Patent Office for the invention of the telephone and I worked with his great great granddaughter, Mary Gray Zajac. Elisha Gray is a famous man and I was unhappy that he had been ignored. So I went out and found his grave, photographed it, and published it on my website. Go to Google and do a search on "grave of Elisha Gray".
You can also honor your friends and give them visibility. Try a search on "Esther DeMerritt" or "Al Barshefsky" or "Latimas". (Hint: put names in quotation marks for precise searching.) Others will discover your work and link to it increasing the odds that it will be the first choice in a Google search. So as you plan your conversion to the digital world, don't forget that you could be a content creator.
One of my major accomplishments last year was uploading all of the names of my known ancestors to the Family Tree section of my web site. This information represents more than 20 years of extensive research in the US, Sweden, Norway and Scotland. There are over 700 ancestors! I hope all of my cousins and other relatives are as thrilled as I am to have this treasure trove of information available to the whole family. I still have a lot of additional information on these ancestors that is not yet in electronic form. This year I did the basic restructuring of the family tree section which will allow me to start adding that material.
Once again I was in Dallas for my father's birthday. The two of us with my nephew PJ Parrish, his wife Amy and their son Cortlan celebrated his 89th birthday at dinner. Cortlan is four now and he has his own Mac computer. In preparation, for creating a page in the family tree section for my brother and mother as well as adding to my father's page, I scanned in about 150 photos mainly from the early 1950s that my father and I located stored away in his home. Some of these are literally award-wining photos since my father would occasionally win the best photo award and have his pictures published in the newspaper in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
This year my contribution to family research occurred in Normandy, France. I'm honored to have 5 ancestors on the Mayflower, but before they arrived in North American in 1620 my earliest immigrant ancestor, Jacques Hertel, a boy of 10 or 12, departed Normandy with Champlain, the famous explorer of Canada, in 1613 or 1615. Jacques was one of Champlain's top 4 interpreters living among the Mohawks to learn their language and he sired a child with the daughter of a Mohawk Indian chief giving me the gift of native American blood. I journeyed to Honfleur, the picturesque port in Normandy, to view and photograph the commemorative plaque where he departed with Champlain to Canada. Jacques Hertel with his French wife is also the founder of one of the famous families of Quebec.
In July, I flew to Minneapolis to attend the wedding of Dave Wahlstedt and Gretchen Shaffer. Dave is the host of the famous Club Dave long weekend featuring water sports, studies in spontaneous order and long discussions around the campfire. This was a classic Midwestern wedding held in a small town at a Bed and Breakfast Dave had invested in. It was like being married at home. His mother had created a new family heirloom for Dave and Gretchen - a quilt, and each guest signed their name on a square. This gift is a piece of Americana harking back to our pioneering roots. Another delightful and educational element was the talk that each of the 4 parents gave on their parents and grandparents. This innovation demonstrated the power of genetics. In this case, pro-freedom and rugged individualism genes are dominant. I took video, but no still photos so there is unfortunately no trip report.
In August, I traveled to Germany for the wedding of Jan Eilers and Bianca. I traveled over in style on the Queen Elizabeth 2, took the train thru the chunnel, saw the WWII beaches and medieval treasures of Normandy before arriving in Germany. I was honored to be the Best Man in the church ceremony while brother Lars Eilers was the Best Man in the civil service. It was a special privilege and very educational to be the only real foreigner in this delightful wedding. One thing that really surprised me were the impressive speeches given by the bride, the groom and the parents - they were all carefully typed out and read word for word with no ad libbing. Read my report to learn about some of the games at the wedding reception. On the return, I took trains back thru the chunnel to London to see the London Eye, the National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery. I returned in elite style on row 2 of the Concorde.
This was the 6th year that the Anderson Scholarship, set up to honor my mother, was awarded to the salutatorian of the senior class of Sioux Rapids Community School. This year's winner is Alison Sichelka who is now studying at Iowa State University where half of the Anderson Scholarship winner have gone and where my father graduated in 1937. I attended the Texas Ex-Students Association's annual banquet in Austin in September and met Shan Wang, this year's winner of the Parrish Computer Science Scholarship. At the banquet, I had a chance to reminisce with Darrell Royal the legendary football coach who took UT to 3 national championships. The following day, I introduced Eleanor Moore to Laura Luthy. It was amazing that these 2 wonderful women, who had helped me so much in setting up the scholarship and who work a few hundred yards apart, had never met each other in person. We had a delightful extended chat over lunch at the authentic East Side Cafe.
I continue to be active in the Circumnavigators Club and was reelected as the Treasurer of the Chicago Chapter. I'm also the webmaster for the chapter - www.chicagocircumnavigators.org - and headed up the nominating committee again this year. The trip I took to Russia with the Circumnavigators was a highlight of 2003. We got to visit the, formerly super-secret, center of the Russian space program Star City, and we had lunch with a Russian Cosmonaut and an American Astronaut. Our final dinner was in Saint Petersburg at the Yusupov Palace. Our group of 15 were the only guests and we got a private tour of the palace before dinner. We were serenaded by a classical string quartet and served by white-gloved attendants in 18th century costumes. The Yusupov family were one of the richest families in Russia and their son Felix, married to the Czar's niece, killed Rasputin in this palace in 1916. We saw the scene recreated with wax models. It was just brilliant to celebrate such a memorable trip with a fantastic dinner in such an historic venue!
Once again I attended the summer seminar of the Objectivist Center. These are always delightful, intellectually stimulating, week-long conferences held on college campuses on philosophy and its application to today's world. This year's location was sylvan Bentley college in Waltham, MA outside of Boston. This was a campus on a hillside so you got your exercise. I was surprised to see a small memorial plaque at the base of a tree near the cafeteria to the 4 alumni who were killed in the 9/11 attack. A group of us spent a day in Boston taking the freedom trail seeing the sights like Paul Revere's house. While walking across the Boston Common, I saw my first Segway and chased after it! My grandmother, Victoria (Peterson) Anderson, had a similar experience chasing after her first car in 1896 in Sioux Rapids, Iowa.
In March, I became President of the Fox Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. This year I have attended the state convention, the National convention, the 25th anniversary of the Kishwaukee Chapter, a Board of Manager's meeting and all of our chapter activities. I have been working closely with the other officers to revitalize the chapter. As part of that process, I created a website for the chapter with an easy to remember web address, www.foxsar.org. One of our accomplishments, still in progress, is to located the graves of Revolutionary war soldiers in our area and document their biographies. So far we have discovered and photographed 6 patriots.
I attended the celebration for Al Barshefsky in honor of his becoming a Bell Labs Fellow and chatted again with his famous sister Charlene. I had lunch in Algonquin, Illinois with Francisco Priento, my Spanish tutor. He presented me with a wonderful and insightfully chosen gift of one of my favorite books, For Whom the Bell Tolls by my distant cousin Ernest Hemingway in Spanish translation. I attended the Libertarian Party of Illinois convention as usual. At Ravinia, I finally got to see Peter, Paul and Mary. It was fun to relive the 1960s.
On a sad note, I report the deaths of my contemporaries who passed away this year: high school friends, Mike Smith and Joe Pat Mattingly; work colleagues, Shashi Shah and Dave Darsey; and my barber, Ron Liacone.
All the best to you in 2004!