Category Archives: People and History

Crane Wife, Goose Husband: Konrad Lorenz, George Archibald, and Mozart the Gander

My daughter, Emily, and I used to visit the International Crane Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and later worked there briefly as volunteers. We were fascinated, as were millions of people by the work of George Archibald and Ron Sauey to save endangered crane species, especially the whooping crane, from extinction. With only thirty known whooping cranes left in the world, it became crucial to breed Tex, a female crane in captivity. Trouble was, she was imprinted on humans from an early age and had no interest in flirting, much less mating, with her own kind. But George she liked.

George Archibald tells the story of Tex and her egg.

So they would dance.

During mating season, George got up every morning and walked with Tex over a grassy hill of the Crane Foundation. She was, in her mind anyway, his crane wife, (also the name of a popular folk tale in Japan). The whooper was always delighted to see him. Together they would do deep knee bends and flap their appendages in the brisk Wisconsin air. Whooping cranes are four to five feet tall and have six to eight feet wing spans. Tex could hold her own with Dr. Archibald! The couple danced each spring for three years. Eventually, George’s assistant was able to artificially inseminate the bird as her attention was on George. George Archibald kept Tex company day after day and, like in the Japanese folk tale, his “crane wife” returned the favor. She laid a fertile egg! The egg hatched into a chick named Gee Whiz that carried on Tex’s genetic line. 

Though whooping cranes now number in the hundreds, they are still rare and endangered. You can see wild cranes in the wetlands of Wisconsin and you can see cranes of all fifteen species at the International Crane Foundation.

People over the centuries have no doubt observed the way newly hatched birds sometimes bond with humans. Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989) specialized in studying this behavior known as imprinting. Working with greylag geese, he stayed with some hatching eggs until the goslings emerged from their shells so that he was the first animate object they saw. The goslings attached to him as if he were their mother, following him all around.

Konrad Lorenz

Emily’s fiancé, Alex, had a similar experience with one of their geese on their Duck Duck Goose Farm on Whidbey Island. One spring day Alex heard a peeping in the grass a short distance from the nesting area of the geese. He found a tiny hatchling, cold and wet, and wondered how he got separated from his mother. When Alex returned the little guy to his mom, she pushed him away. As Alex put it, he “shopped” the gosling around to the other geese moms and none would take him. 

So Alex took the fluff ball inside the house, dried him off, and fed him. Once he warmed up, the little goose kept chirping for attention, so Alex turned on some music to try to calm him down. When a piece by Amadeus Mozart started to play, the gosling was entranced and peaceful. So Alex named him Mozart.

After that, Mozart liked being with humans and had to be babysat at all times. In fact, on Mother’s Day, Emily showed up for our celebration at my house, handed me the fluffy, peeping baby, and said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” He was my first grandchild, as it were. I tended to him while she and Alex cooked a nice dinner. At the Greenbank Pantry and Deli, you can see where Mozart’s image is painted (by our daughter Steph Terao) under the store sign on the side of the building. He’s now the mascot of the deli where Emily and Alex work, because he spent so much time in the yard there while they set up their new business. 

Napping baby goose
Mozart with Stephanie

This past spring, one-year-old Mozart bonded with a Roman tufted goose and she laid a nest full of eggs! Their offspring imprinted on their parents and followed them all over the farm. Even though Mozart is an excellent father and well-adjusted gander now, he still greets Alex and Emily with a big spread of his wings, happy to see them.

Mozart the gander watches over his offspring at Duck Duck Goose Farms.

As one of my mentors, Paula Underwood, used to say, what may we learn from this?

From George and Tex, I am reminded to dance. Sometimes it’s more than fun and exercise; it can be a bonding experience and help continue the species!

 Perhaps there is a warning in imprinting: don’t follow every animate object that catches your eye or soothes your vulnerabilities. It is disturbing to know that the Austrian Konrad Lorenz was an active member of the Nazi party during WWII. With that in mind, the charming photographs of him with lines of devoted ducks or geese behind him might conjure up the kick step march of German soldiers saluting Hitler. If someone appeals to our instincts and takes advantage of our innocence, we may be recruited as devoted followers. This is not usually done with our best interests at heart. 

What about Mozart? He found no kindness in the nest as a gosling, but due to human kindness became an attentive friend and parent himself. When given a chance, we can fly higher than our upbringing and origins. With fluffiness and fortitude, we bring smiles to those in the heart of an island.

Susan’s Bloomers and the Right to Vote

Before there were pantsuits, there were bloomers. Before there were female presidential nominees, there was Susan Brownell Anthony.

Pantsuits

Pantsuits

Susan B. Anthony was born in 1820 and grew up in Massachusetts. Her family, especially her Quaker father, Daniel, believed that everyone deserved freedom, education, and other rights, regardless of race or gender. So Susan received as much education as did the boys in her town. (On a personal note, Susan’s cousin, Sarah Anthony also received an education and in later years married my great great grandfather, Zaccheus Test.)

Inspired by news of the Seneca Falls, New York conference for women’s rights in 1848, Susan went to Seneca Falls herself a couple years later and met Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Amelia Bloomer, anti-slavery and women’s rights activists. They were both wearing bloomers! The outfits consisted of loose Turkish-style trousers gathered at the ankles and covered by a skirt that came down just below the knees.

150px-Bloomer

Woman in bloomers

Bloomers may not look comfortable to modern eyes, but they were more convenient than most women’s styles of the 19th century. A woman in America back then typically wore seven layers, including a corset to mold her figure and a skirt so long and full it made everyday movement such as climbing stairs a challenge. Women could never count on making full use of their hands, much less the rest of their bodies, as they managed their hoops and layers. Bloomers freed them up considerably.

In support of such freedom, Susan B. Anthony wore bloomers–for about a year. When her clothing attracted more attention and ridicule than her lectures about women’s rights, Susan went back to wearing her usual dark blouse and skirt, with her hair pulled back in a bun. That’s how we see her in the photograph that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Susan, wearing her most conservative clothes, decided to test the voting laws in a national election. It was illegal for her to cast a ballot for either Ulysses S. Grant or Horace Greeley, so she was arrested and tried by a hostile judge and all-male jury. As the New York Times reported, “It was conceded that the defendant was, on the 5th of November, 1872, a woman.” She was ordered to pay a fine and never paid it. She continued her fight for equality throughout her life.

Fourteen years after the death of Susan B. Anthony, women won the right to vote. The 19th Amendment passed in 1920 and stated, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It was known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.

That was 96 years ago. What will you wear to the polls on November 8 of this year? I’ll be wearing jeans and using a ballot with the name of a woman running for President of the United States. A woman wearing a pantsuit.

Here’s a flash mob celebration of pantsuit power.

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Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked on speeches together.

 

 

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Lily Terao: From Internment Camp to Military Intelligence

Lily Terao with twins Donald (my husband) and David

Lily with twins David and Donald (my husband) in Chicago, 1949

Today is the tenth anniversary of the death of my mother-in-law, Lily (or Yuriko) Terao. She was mugged by a purse-snatcher near her home in Los Angeles and died from her injuries November 8, 2005. As a nisei (second-generation) Japanese-American, Lily was born in Seattle in 1920 and returned to Japan many times in her life. In fact, she went to high school in Japan, then returned to the United States to work.

Due to the events of World War II, Lily was sent to the desolate Gila River internment camp in Arizona in 1942. She was imprisoned there merely for being Japanese and had to destroy her Japanese items, including her high school diploma. Anything Japanese was suspect at that time.  Fluent in both Japanese and English, Lily was soon recruited to go to the University of Michigan and teach Japanese to intelligence officers and others. She saw her chance to get out of the crowded, makeshift camp and she took it.

Gila River barracks 1942

Gila River barracks 1942

“I took a loyalty test to get out of camp,” she said in an interview transcribed by our daughter, Stephanie. “Then I was sent to Michigan to help teach soldiers Japanese. The student soldiers would come [for one year] and we would speak nothing but Japanese to them. I mostly taught military intelligence.”

I once went to the University of Michigan and got a copy of a document written in 1943 by Marine Major Sherwood Moran, Intelligence Division. It revealed what Lily was working on back then at the University, along with revealing a stark contrast between Moran’s approach and our recent treatment of prisoners, such as at Guantanamo Bay.  Moran’s attitude toward interrogation, or “interviewing” as he called it, was more about befriending than brutality.

A June 2005 Atlantic Monthly article, “Truth Extraction,” by Stephen Budiansky explained the impact of Moran’s work, revealing that “abusing prisoners is not simply illegal and immoral; it is also remarkably ineffective.” For instance, James Corum, an expert on counterinsurgency warfare, noted that the cruelty of Abu Ghraib personnel was not a case of the ends justifying the means. “The torture of suspects did not lead to any useful intelligence information being extracted.”

Moran’s attitude was, “I am a human being talking to a human being.” And, he noticed time and again, that human being wants to tell his story. He believed that “those interrogators who tried the hardest to break down the morale of POWs were actually revealing their own fear.” Such “hard-boiled” tactics rarely yielded results.

What was effective during WWII was following Sherwood Moran’s suggestions, recruiting second-generation Japanese Americans, including Lily, and having them teach both language and culture to interrogators. The interrogators could then get to know the prisoners and help them open up to the point where they’d share important information.

Lily made friends with the other nisei women in Ann Arbor and enjoyed teaching the young men how to speak a new language. According to James Corum, “the graduates of this course were among the most effective interrogators in the Pacific Island campaigns of 1944 and 1945.” For instance, it only took Marine interrogators 48 hours to obtain the complete Japanese battle plans in the Marianas in June of 1944. Perhaps some of them were Lily’s students.

Medal honoring Lily (Kobayashi) Terao's service to Military Intelligence, received by her sons, David and Donald.

Medal honoring Lily (Kobayashi) Terao’s service to Military Intelligence, received by her sons, David and Donald.

Mom in our backyard in Evanston, IL

Mom in our backyard in Evanston, IL

Dad and the Atomic Age

GONE FISSION

On July 1, 1946 my dad, Sgt. Frank Wolf, sent a letter to his grandmother from Bikini Atoll with a special postmark for that day: “Atomic Bomb Test.”  “Be sure and save this envelope,” he wrote, “as it may some day be quite a collectors’ item.”

On July 1, fifty-four years later, Dad died of a type of cancer associated with radiation exposure.  And in July of 2013, I received a letter informing me that the U.S. government would be sending a check to me and my siblings in compensation for our father’s exposure to nuclear fallout.

Dad was what we’d nowadays call a nerd.  A skinny guy, his nieces and nephews called him Uncle Peewee.  To his math students, he was Professor Wolf.  We four kids just knew him as Dad, the one who got us up early to go fishing and who couldn’t resist a bad pun.

He took keen interest in his work as an engineer in the Army’s technical division, producing U-235 from uranium—even if he was kept in the dark about WHY he was doing it.  Stories of the U.S. atomic weapons project came out after the fact—from Enrico Fermi’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago, until the first successful test of the bomb three years later.  Terms like “nuclear fission” were coined by scientists as they gleaned what the split atoms could do.   Secret nuclear research accelerated to a hectic pace with the events of World War II.

TESTS ONE AND TWO

In July 1945, J. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan Project, sent two of his fellow scientists a cryptic letter inviting them to join him for “our fishing trip.”  They knew what he meant: the new device called the Gadget was about to go off in New Mexico.

The blast on July 16 was equal to 15,000 tons of TNT, surpassing all expectations.  People in three states reported seeing the flash.  Brigadier General Thomas Farrell, a close witness, admitted that when the test began, “there was in everyone’s mind a strong measure of doubt.”  Its success “was a justification of the several years of intensive efforts of tens of thousands of people—statesmen, scientists, engineers, manufacturers, soldiers, and many others in every walk of life.”  He called the effects of the bomb unprecedented and terrifying, yet also “magnificent.”

The success of the Manhattan Project in producing and detonating its astonishing gadget meant it could then be used in warfare.  The atomic bomb let loose on Hiroshima, Japan was essentially the second trial of the new technology.

My husband’s cousin, Reiko, lived in Hiroshima.  She was at her desk on the morning of August 6, 1945 when the bomb fell.  She was eight-years-old.  The other third-graders rushed to the window to see what caused the big, white flash.  Reiko did not look up from her schoolwork until the glass in the window shattered.  As the atomic cloud swelled over Hiroshima, tens of thousands of her fellow citizens were already dead.  100,000 more were injured, including many of her classmates.  Almost half of the 320,000 people of Hiroshima would die from the effects of the bomb by the end of the year.

Reiko walked to her home on the outskirts of the city.  She and her mother went out in the evening and took food to the ash-covered people fleeing the devastation.

TESTS THREE AND FOUR

The next use of the atomic bomb was three days later in Nagasaki, causing more devastation and killing more than 70,000 people.  On August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan.

The fourth use of an atomic bomb was the one celebrated with the special postmark on Dad’s letter, after the War.  Four days later, at a Paris fashion show, a new swimsuit named after the bombsite debuted: the bikini. A cartoon series depicting the atomic age of 2062 was developed called “The Jetsons,” imagining a tricked-out, high-speed world of the future: a hovercraft in every carport, a robotic maid in the kitchen.

Having worked at Oak Ridge laboratories for the Manhattan Project, Dad wanted to see the uranium-fueled technology in action.  For that fourth test, he was watching from the U.S.S. Haven beyond the lagoon.  With the lightning-bolt insignia of the Special Engineering Detachment on his shoulder, Dad must have felt part of the power surge carrying America into a new age, ready to apply his training.  He got his chance when he was assigned to be a radiation monitor for the next test in the lagoon of Bikini Atoll.

TEST FIVE: A MAJOR MISTAKE

Dad wrote about that day, “It was an interesting mix of people in the Radiological Safety Section.  My particular team of radiation monitors consisted of a Major from the Army Field Artillery, myself, and two others.  The Major was appointed senior monitor.”  This appointment, Dad told us, was based on rank and not expertise.  The Baker explosion (click to see photos and video) was detonated underwater in the Bikini lagoon at 8:35 on the morning of July 25, 1946.  Two hours later, my dad and his team entered the lagoon in their small landing craft, accompanied by a gunboat.  They had a Geiger counter and an ion chamber for measuring radiation.

The team headed for the middle of the lagoon, keeping their eyes on the Geiger counter.  Dad noticed, “As we got closer to the target center the readings went up.  Then rather suddenly they dropped to almost nothing.  I told the Major I thought we might be in heavy radiation.  He looked at the dial on the counter and said that I must be mistaken since the needle was at zero.  As we headed closer to target center, I decided that this was not the time to explain how Geiger counters work, ignored the Major, and went to the cabinet in the rear and got out the ion chamber.”

Radiation levels were actually beyond the capacity of the Geiger counter to measure.  When Dad got the ion chamber set up, its needle climbed and kept on climbing.  The Major saw they were in radioactivity ten times above the recommended limit and ordered the landing craft and gunboat to get out of there.

“We headed back to the entrance of the lagoon as fast as we could go,” Dad wrote.  Their boat, it was found later, was so contaminated from radioactive fallout it could not be used again.

My father, in his youth, was optimistic about the possibilities of the Atomic Age.  As he grew older and worked for peace and environmental causes, he would have agreed with Enrico Fermi who said that scientific advances have certainly “led to technical and industrial applications that have revolutionized our way of life. […] What is less certain, and what we all fervently hope, is that man will soon grow sufficiently adult to make good use of the powers that he acquires over nature.”

We now know the horrifying consequences of nuclear warfare and can, with maturity, wisdom and united effort, prevent its use in the future.  May we make good use of the knowledge and powers we’ve acquired and work together for a healthy, beautiful world. 

news of Dad at Bikini Atoll

News of Dad at Bikini Atoll

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Muir and Me in Marquette County

A new version of my blog post about John Muir Memorial Park appeared in Orion Magazine’s “Place Where I Live.”  I like visiting the park to appreciate John Muir and his hard work preserving beautiful places in America.  Drive north of Madison, Wisconsin to the little town of Montello and you will find the park nearby.

Mom, Zaccheus, and the Quakers

Joy by her aunt's and grandparents' graves, with Earlham Library in background

The day after Thanksgiving, we had a service for my mom who died October 20, 2010, a week after she turned 85.  Daughter Emily and I were asked to speak about Mom’s Quaker heritage, followed by a minute of silence and a Quaker hymn.  Here is what I said and the gist of what Emily said.  For those who knew Joy, I hope it resonates with you.  For those who didn’t know my mom and Emily’s grandmom, here’s a glimpse of her and her ancestral roots.

My mother, Joy Wolf, was committed to spiritual exploration and also to the written word.  (She was a librarian.)  These two priorities are apparent in her ancestors as well and, at one point, led to profound conflict for her great-grandfather Zaccheus Test.  Before Emily explains about that, I want to share a couple anecdotes about Mom that are special to me and that, I think, help introduce the subject.

Mom spoke fondly of her Episcopalian upbringing and particularly Emmanual Episcopal Church in the St. Louis area where she and Dad were married.  Later, she and Dad became Unitarian-Universalists and were happy to be part of the UU Fellowship of Northfield.  Like many Unitarians, she and Dad were eclectic and open-minded to many different paths, reading omnivorously and always learning.  When I became Buddhist 34 years ago, I often found them reading my Buddhist publications before I got to them myself.  To them, it was all very interesting.

In 2001, a year after Dad died, Mom and I took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for some Native American-related events and workshops.  During a presentation about the three clans of the Bear, Wolf, and Turtle, we learned that the Bear Clan tends to have the R & D folks, the ones with new ideas.  Like the curious, omnivorous bear, they explore widely—and from multiple perspectives, the way Bear can stand on 4 legs or 2.

Now, I know that Mom married into the Wolf family, and loved it, but on this day she felt connected to the ways of the bears.  When we broke into three groups, I went with the Wolves (the planners who put Bear’s ideas into action) and Mom went off with the boisterous Bears, feeling quite at home, and I didn’t see her for a while.

The only sticking point came the next day when it was time for a closing circle, a Talking Stick.  Before we sat down under the azure New Mexico sky, I told Mom that people take turns speaking and only the person holding the stick gets to talk; everyone else sits quietly.  Mom told me, “Oh!  I don’t know if I can do that.”  She so relished dialogue with people that she didn’t know if she could keep from commenting and making relevant points!  I’m here to tell you she did fine and was an excellent listener.

Because Mom enjoyed dialogue so much and was sometimes uncomfortable with silence, it might come as a surprise to hear how much she valued her Quaker heritage, since the Quakers traditionally sit in silence at their meetings until moved by spirit to speak.  Mom would sometimes point to a painted portrait she had of her great-grandfather, Zaccheus Test, saying that he was a patriarch of the family and that he had once been Quaker, but for some reason that she did not know, he left the Society of Friends.

When my daughter Emily went to Earlham, a Quaker college in Richmond, Indiana, we had an opportunity to solve this mystery.

Emily will continue the story from here.

EMILY:

Actually, I chose Earlham for its science program and the horse barn right on campus, not because of family history.  It wasn’t until I walked in the Earlham Cemetery with my parents and saw more than a dozen graves of Tests and Giffords, including my great-great-great grandfather Zaccheus Test, that I realized that Grandmom used to have a lot of family in Richmond, most of them Quaker.

After that, we found more links to our ancestors such as Test Road that goes by the stables and over to the remains of the Test family woolen mill.  When I studied birds in Peru one May Term, I noticed that my program was partly funded by the Test family, my relatives.  When Grandmom visited me in 2008, we were able to take her to many family history sites around town.  She especially enjoyed seeing a stained glass window dedicated to the daughter of Zaccheus Test and Sarah Anthony Test.  (Sarah was Susan B. Anthony’s cousin.)

The biggest surprise came when the library archivist told us that Zaccheus Test was not only a professor at my school, he was a founder of it and was the one to name it “Earlham” after a Quaker estate in England.

Zaccheus left Earlham in 1866 and started going to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which is how Grandmom’s family became Episcopal.  The archivist solved the mystery for us when he explained that Zaccheus got in trouble with the Friends by “writing his remarks” and reading from them at the Sunday meeting.  This was not the usual practice; even readings of the Bible were not permitted in meetings.  His fellow Quakers tolerated this only under protest and did not approve of his reliance on the written word.

Joy's children, grandchildren and great grandchildren on 11/26/10

That is why he left the Quakers.  Zaccheus, like Grandmom, had great affection for both the spoken and the written word, and was not willing to give up either.

I’ll be thinking of Grandmom when I graduate in May.  I have a feeling she’ll join all those ancestors in the Cemetery to keep an eye on me.