Friday, September 30, 2011


The name "Baba" was used for Janice's grandmother on her mother's side. She lived with Janice's family since the day Janice was born. Since both Janice's parents were working full time, Baba was part of every one of the Fernalds' lives. She lived until the age of 104! Even though her last four years were a bit rough, overall she had a good life.
As I mentioned before, Baba came into the US from Nova Scotia, Canada. Since there was no official immigration at the time for people coming in from the north, she could be classified as one of the illegal immigrants. She and her husband, who worked as a Boston Trolley Car driver, sent their two daughters to be educated in Universities which they never could have attended, one to Harvard and another to Smith College. They had to work very hard and very determinedly to make sure that their daughters had the best education. It is amazing that they had so much faith in education during that time when higher education was not regarded as useful or statistically proven to be so!
Baba took care of everything at home when Janice and her siblings were growing up. Baba made sure that they did their home work, practiced the piano, went to ballet classes, and other domestic chores of every kind, including cooking and cleaning.
When I first met her, she gave me the best treatment she knew how for her granddaughter's friend. She usually tried to stay in the kitchen and only said a few words related to the food she cooked. This picture best describes the image she gave to me, puttering around in the kitchen and frequently singing old songs there. Over the many years, I went to visit only during vacation time and holidays. She steadfastly (and stubbornly) kept playing her role in the family as she had always done, regardless of her age. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How to choose your mate?

It is only relatively recently that individuals started to choose their own mates in the civilizations of the world, whether in the West or the East! Nowadays, most educated people have the privilege to  make at least part of the decision on the choice of their mates. In the West, most people gained this right about one hundred years ago. In China, some started to make their own decision in my parents' generation. Most of that generation, however, made their choice only after their parents had made the initial arrangement. So how does one make the choice? If everyone considers this to be one of the most important decisions in one's life, how come we never teach our children how to do it!
Let me suggest a few things you need to think about: (not that I knew them before I met Janice. I learned from her and I know now what I did not know then.)
1) Observe what personality matched up with yours.
2) Make a note on the faults you have, and learn how to minimize them.
3) Know what aspects you like in a person, and how to recognize them!
4) Learn to be patient, and more patient!
5) Hope that you are lucky, very lucky, and very, very lucky!

On a related note, when I grew up, the subject of sex never came up; or perhaps I should say that my parents tried to avoid it as much as possible. The textbook chapters on health and sex were totally ignored or had their pages sealed in the library copies. We learned quickly that this was a forbidden subject. How could such an important part of everyone's life be so much a subject of avoidance. What kind of civilization is this? We were so much entrenched in this culture, we cannot even talk about the subject even today, because we never learned how to do it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Janice's Parents

Janice's parents were both professionals.
Janice's father was raised in an educational family. His father was Merritt L. Fernald, the famous botanist who taught at Harvard University. Henry Grant Fernald graduated from college with a major in Mathematic. I do not know if that had anything to do with Janice's major in college. Mathematics definitely had a hold on her family. After a short stay during the second world war at Holston Defense in Kingsport, Tennessee, he worked for quite a while for American Optics until his retirement. (During the time he was in Tennessee, Janice's mother brought baby Janice to Johnson City, Tennessee, for a visit with her father. This was in 1942.) American Optical Company was located in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Therefore, Mr. Fernald  rented an room there where he stayed during week days. He commuted every weekend back home to Winchester, Massachusetts, for more than thirty years. It's quite a record! He was an avid photographer. He also liked very much to putter around the house, doing whatever chore needed his attention. Weekends did not allow him enough time!
Janice's mother had a degree in Latin. After a brief stint as a teacher in Martha's Vineyard (which ended sadly when one of her students committed suicide), she worked in the Physics Department at Harvard as an executive assistant for 19 years. She eventually returned to teaching and found  her niche in high school Latin classes. She was very good at teaching. Students literally flocked to her class. They were proud to be able to "speak" the ancient language. They sometimes had to get special permission to get enrolled. She was very strict, demanding, and well liked by her students. She created quite a following in her school and she was definitely a model teacher for anyone who wanted to teach! Margaret Rita Wyler Fernald was born to a Boston street car driver and her mother was illegal immigrant(just walked crossed the border) from Nova Scotia, Canada.
The picture below was taken when I first met both of them.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meeting the Future In-laws

When we had a break in the spring of 1965, we drove together to Winchester, near Boston, to meet my future in-laws. It was a long drive of 22 hours, but we did it without any problem. Janice's home was in a large house on a  hill. Her room, which she  shared with her sister, was in the front of the house on the second floor. I got a first-hand taste of how she grew up - very differently from me - in a vast house with plenty. There were things everywhere, from small decorative items on the tables to various things hanging on the walls. Large and small, they represented the very different backgrounds we came from.
I was trying very hard to let my future in-laws have a good impression of me at our first time meeting. Janice's Grandma started to cook dinner in the kitchen long before the dinner time. Since the cocktail party started at about four pm, everyone had a drink in their hand. I kept a glass in my hand as well. I tried only a small sip once in a while, but quickly I knew that I was going to be in trouble. After a couple of hours, with an empty stomach, I started to have problems. First I had to go to the bathroom to throw up, then more problems arose continuously and I had to stay in the bathroom. The more I tried to come out normally, the worse it got! What a first dinner with the future in-laws!
Janice's Grandma asked me if I liked her vegetable, which was peas. Of course , I  loved it! As you can imagine,  I had a lot of peas over the years later!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We took a Math Course together

In the spring of 1965, I do not remember what led us to decide that we should take a Math course together. It was  "Complex Analysis" at the graduate level. We both had the undergraduate course in Complex Variables before and perhaps we thought that we would be able to handle this course with ease. It turned out that we both struggled with this purely theoretical subject. We were trying to catch up with the professor from the beginning of the semester. Even after the final exam, we were so lost that we had no idea if we could pass the course or not. Certainly all the hours we spent at the IHOP did not give us any advantage. But who could worry about failing a course! We would be married soon! Believe it or not, we both passed the course with a "B" after we came back from our wedding! That professor was very generous!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Double Dating!

Janice had two roommates to share a small apartment off campus. While they had to drive to school, they had some freedom to cook what they liked to eat. The roommates were Adriane and Kathy, both were enrolled in the Chemistry Department, in graduate school. All three were Catholics and were very serious about their studies. Adriane's boy friend was on leave from the Chemistry Department in Australia  in 1964. Kathy's boy friend was  in Chemical Engineering. Four of us somehow decided to have a double date and go to St. Louis for a weekend. It was very cold that week, but we had a great time. We went to the botanical garden and the state capital building. We even went to the gas-light district downtown to eat dinner at a restaurant where all the waiters and waitresses were singing operatic or other musical pieces while they served. We were all impressed!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Picture Time!

Since I was not sure that one black-and-white picture would be a good representation of Janice for my parents, I asked Janice to devote two days for me to take more pictures of her around the campus,and in her apartment, in order to impress my family. She was nice looking and was studying Mathematics in graduate school. We did take quite a lot of pictures. I am going to post a few here to give you some samplings. I was hoping that my parents would be happy about my choice!