If someone were to ask us if we have a hobby, our answer would probably be "Traveling." We have been very fortunate, and are very grateful, to have had the chance to take at least one major trip during each of our 30 years of marriage. Our memories include places that will never again be the way we first saw them, and many beautiful, fascinating, unusual, and even harrowing experiences.
Like landing in Beirut. Lebanon, to find ourselves surrounded by tanks and army troops. Soon we discovered that on the previous day three commercial planes had been hijacked and flown to Egypt, later to be blown up.
When we flew to Johannesburg our luggage was lost. We had to scramble desperately through a department store to buy clothes and other essentials to leave the next day to go on safari in the game reserve at Mala Mala. When we returned to Johannesburg, our luggage arrived from Paris.
Later on the same trip, I just had to see Victoria Falls. The last 30 miles into Rhodesia we flew just skimming the tree tops: jeeps mounted with machine guns escorted our bus to our hotel. When we got to our room. the sign on the door said. "IN CASE OF AN ATTACK, CRAWL UNDER THE BED AND WAIT FOR THE ALL-CLEAR SIGNAL"!!!! When we were ready to return a few days later, a very debonair British man we had met (a clone of Ronald Coleman) offered to drive us to the airport. As we drove through the jungle at 80 miles per hour, his eyes darting from one side of the road to the other, he had one hand on the wheel and the other on the gun at his side. (P.S. Within a year after that Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.)
In Buenos Aires we were in a taxi going to dinner, and were forced into a broad detour by roadblocks of soldiers. We could hear shooting nearby. The radio the next morning announced that Isabella, the second wife Peron had been overthrown. 13 generals had been killed, and a new government had taken over. As we drove in a taxi to the airport, a car with an open window pulled along side of us, and a hand came out with an enormous looking gun, pointed right at my head. After a breath¬taking 10 or 15 seconds, the hand went back, the window rolled up, and the car sped away.
With dinner Cuzco, Peru, altitude 10,000 feet, we had pisco sours and a bottle of wine. That night, instead of sleeping. we had huge sledgehammers pounding and beating in our heads. But even badly hung over, we were amazed and fascinated by Macchu Picchu the next day.
For most of our travel, we prefer going by ourselves with our own carefully planned itinerary, but we did have a wonderful Mediterranean cruise with "Club 44." Before we met the rest of the group, we spent 3 days in Florence, with endless visits to museums and cathedrals. Unbelievably beautiful, but very tiring. We stopped at a busy coffee shop for a respite, and pushed through the crowd standing around eating pastries, to place an order. A waiter offered us a seat, and brought us our refreshments. It was delicious, but the bill translated to about 25 dollars for 2 pieces of cake and tea. This was about double the price on the menu. When I questioned it, he showed me the other menu. Moral of the story: You can't afford to sit down in Italy!
Japan can also be a disaster. On our most recent trip there we had been cramped up for 11 hours on a non-slop flight, and were eager to get to the hotel and relax. I remembered the airport as a short distance from town, so I thought we would splurge, pass by the shuttle bus, and take a taxi to the hotel. As the taxi meter numbers spinning round and round I discovered we were coming in from the new airport, and one hundred and fifty-six dollars worth later we got to the hotel! I found it very difficult to relax! The shuttle would have cost about $10.00 per person.
A last delightful coincidence finds us in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the German Alps. It was holiday time. and the town was mobbed with visitors. We went to a favorite restaurant for dinner, but it was completely filled. In scouting around for a table. I spotted an obviously American couple that had room to spare, so I asked if we could join them. When I brought Ursula over to the table, they turned out to be very dear friends of hers that she hadn't seen for years, just happening to visit Garmisch that particular day.
I joined my father's insurance brokerage business after graduating from Cornell in 1947 with a history and speech major. My job then, as it still is today, is in sales. Along the way, when my older brother led our company to head up another enterprise, I became President. This was in 1963, and it wasn't exactly a vintage year. We closed with $562,000 in revenues. 19 employees and lost $10,000. However, good things happened. We worked hard. Wonderful people joined our company, and we were lucky.
So today, 51 years after joining Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. we are ranked fifth in the world's insurance brokerage industry. We are listed on the NYSE, have over 4,000 employees operating out of 15 offices worldwide, and will have revenues at the end of 1998 in excess of $500 million.
However, best of all, I'm still gainfully employed, and fortunate to have had only one employer since leaving school.
Bob first sent us his company's annual report - his 50th anniversary with the company. We would be remiss not to snatch from it.
The annual Stockholders Meeting paid tribute to Bob with a video of events and traits he exhibited - to the tune of Ella Fitzgerald's "Accentuate the Positive." "His impact is like trying to fit 100 pounds of sugar into a 5 pound bag."
For years on Chicago's Board of Education he placed a tough risk of bidding for fire insurance. His was the only bid and critics accused him of controlling the market. Six months later they got the contract. An anti-Board group marched in the streets depicting a grotesque gargoyle clutching money and saying "You're in big hands with Gallagher and Co." With no losses filed the "Citizen's Action Party" felt that Gallagher had sold a worthless policy. TV reporters came and Bob, confidant but scared, answered the reporter's question: "What have you got to say about this worthless policy?" Bob: "I pay premiums each year. I have a wife and five children and, boy, am I glad we haven't had a loss. I don't think that is worthless!" Issue silenced.
P.S. Lest we forget, Bob ,was captain of our intercollegiate basketball team twice - the only Cornellian ever to get this honor.
Since salt water runs in our veins. I'll relate a "meaningful experience" which occurred on the sea. We spent the first week of our honeymoon on a 29' sloop which we chartered in the Virgin Islands, sailing. relaxing, snorkeling and then sailing the boat to Sail Juan. There we picked up two friends as crew to help us on a passage sail of 900 miles to the Bahamas. We had 7 gorgeous days. taking down the spinnaker at night for a genoa jib. sailing by the stars, which made a path on the water as bright as moonlight. We put the anchor down only one night in Great Inaqua, standing watches all the other nights. My husband and I were getting off in Georgetown to fly hack to Miami and home to Boston. The last day of the trip we stopped briefly in a harbor en route to visit new friends on another boat and have tea and ship baked goodies. The weather was obviously deteriorating, but as we left the harbor another boat came in and said it wasn't bad outside. (Weather reports were practically non-existent in the Bahamas in the 60's and you had to leave or arrive in port by daylight in order to see the coral heads -there were few navigational marks.) We got to our point-of-no-return and decided to push on into the teeth of a storm, which was much worse for us than for the other boat. which had been coming down wind and was bigger than ours. We motored all through the dark night without stars to guide us. The compass light was broken and we used a flashlight to see the compass. One flashlight after another burned out. Without our realizing it at first, the last flashlight had a magnet to hold it in place, which made steering by the compass somewhat difficult to say the least. By dawn we were near our rendezvous point in Georgetown where we were getting off and two more were coming aboard. It was difficult to pick our way through the small islands leading into the harbor. One of our crew members was concerned about getting in on time to do his laundry, the rest of us were concerned with just getting in: at one time we found ourselves sailing through some surf. We finally tied up at Peace & Plenty's dock where we met the new crew and tried to stay awake through dinner. We look hack at our journal and realize what a testing experience we had been through - a sort of "Outward Bound" adventure and how it prepared us for sails to come.
"PARENTING - 50 YEARS PLUS!"
Dr. Ruth (Caplan) Brunton BS HE '44,
MS '48 Univ. of Colorado. Ph.D. Colo. State, Northwestern & Missouri U. Phoenix AZ
At Cornell, I dreamed of becoming a home economics journalist. "To help the World War II effort" we were accelerated to be graduated in February. By March, I was thrilled to get my first job on the "Women's Home Companion" magazine in New York City.
A few months later my editor suggested that if I hoped to have a byline. I should learn more about what women really want to know. "How?" I asked. She answered. "By working for Cooperative Extension."
Luckily, that Fall I was appointed Cornell Demonstrative Agent, in Wayne County. I loved it! I learned that women wanted to know better ways to cook, sew, manage their homes and money, but they knew the least about and wanted the most help in raising their children!
Parenting is our most important job and we gel the least training for it. So we organized a comprehensive county home economics program, including 20 Mothers' Study Clubs.
In later years, as we tried lo raise our own four children, without family support, we found that our children didn't "grow by the book." "What should we do?" We felt HELPLESS. No wonder there is so much family abuse, crime and mental illness in the world. Parents need HELP.
Our church offered Parenting Group Discussions that saved my life. I learned that each child is different, with special needs and interests. Nobody is a perfect parent, but we can help each other with experiences, suggestions, sharing and support. Wherever we lived I joined or organized parent Discussions Groups. Thank goodness our four children, eight grandchildren and three great grands are developing into responsible, caring people.
During the past 50 years, I have taught Nutrition, Health, and Parent Education through the Universities of New York. Colorado. Illinois. North Dakota. Oregon and Arizona. (Wherever my city manager husband served!)
As the University of Arizona Extension home economist in Maricopa county I have helped more than 12,000 older adults with programs of health and nutrition (in 31 senior centers) and have worked with 12,000 young parents to strengthen families (in 21 groups) at schools, churches, libraries and homes.
After poling parents and professionals in the topics they most wanted to discuss. I developed video and audio taped programs on those subjects. Later, in retirement, I put them together in a book "PARENTING PLUS" for leaders to use with parent groups.
When my editor asked me to follow up with a "nutritious-delicious cookbook." I wrote "MEALTIME MAGIC" for people of all ages and activities. These are being used worldwide, and are available at the Cornell Bookstore, Ithaca. NY.