After returning from California, after the cross country motorcycle trip, the discovery trip after my discovery of the Bahá’í Faith McLean, I went back to school. So in 1971 in Oxnard and Santa Barbara California, I decided I wanted to go back to school. I looked at options in California, but returning to Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia was the logical choice until I could do something better. So in the autumn of 1971 I returned to Old Dominion as a Bahá’í, no more counter-culture free living, it was time to decide what I was going to do with my life. Mostly I was oriented on the advice of the Huddlestons, and with a little help from Geoff Hougland, I transferred to Virginia Tech and started in the Agronomy/Soils Department.
Before getting to Virginia Tech, I remember mostly a period of self-study of the Bahá’í teachings. I read just about everything I could find in English. I also connected to other Bahá’í youth, and one that stands out is Francie Higgins White. She was raised a Bahá’í and I used to tell her how lucky she was, and how many things are “natural” to her because of her family, and how many things I had to work hard to achieve.
I decided to start playing the violin in Norfolk, and continued on and off up to the present. And that is the reason I don’t play well. To play the fiddle well you have to start young, and never stop. But I did play student recitals in Norfolk, played in a quartet in Blacksburg, took my violin to Haiti and Ivory Coast and Starkville (but didn’t do much with it), played in the University symphony in Raleigh, played with a small group in Kandy, and I’m thinking to get serious in my dotage.
When I moved to Starkville/Virginia Tech I roomed with Geoff Highland, first in a house full of alternative types. Geoff and I made a soup on Sunday, and added to it all week. I eventually got tired of roommates and decided to lease my own flat, and sub-lease it to others with conditions! If they didn’t keep the place reasonable, I sent them packing. Besides Geoff, an Indian from Madras (Srivivasan), and a classical guitar player (forget his name) shared the basement flat until my marriage to Carolyn.
There is a song, “Almost heaven, West Virginia”. Blacksburg was near the border of West Virginia, the same culture, and it was heaven to me. I loved the mountains, the activities, the University, the life. The small Bahá’í community was close, loving, and mutually supportive. I’m forgetting names, but maybe they’ll come back one day. I remember Barbara and Jerry Craig, Bruce Cotton, 2 faculty members at Radford University, a engineer student, a forestry student, a student who played the bagpipes, etc.(forgot names)
The students created a Bahá’í Club, in 1972 which was very active during my time at Virginia Tech in 1975. I have heard that this period had the most number of Baha’ students and faculty, and in the last 20 years most have moved on to other areas.
The club was recognised by the University administration and used rooms at the student union for firesides an other meetings. We also set up a booth at the beginning of the semester with the other clubs to invite other students to learn about the Faith.
Picture of Stanwood Cobb. He was 90 something when he visited Blacksburg. The Bahá’í Club invited him for some lectures and he stayed with me in my flat for a few days before I was married. This always meant a lot to me, because Stanwood Cobb knew ’Abdu’l-Bahá and often gave talks about his recollections. Important to me because it demonstrated just how recent the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, so recent that I could listen to a person who had personal contacts from the heroic age of the Faith.
The members of the Bahá’í Club, probably 1973. I think this was before my marriage to Carolyn in 1974. Carolyn was living with the engineering student behind her right shoulder. Raymond Campinoli (sp?) is in the middle of the back row, both Carolyn and I knew Raymond from our time in McLean. Barbara Craig is in the middle of the front row.
Carolyn and I, and other members of the Bahá’í Club, belonged to an international dance club. We danced a couple of times of week, and we were even invited to “perform” for others from time to time. We were happy in Blacksburg and the Bahá’í Club was a united and wonderful group.
Carolyn transferred from Tuffs to be with me at Virginia Tech. She arrived in the fall of 1973, and we were married on Naw Ruz in 1974. More about this in the section on Carolyn.
Married Naw Ruz 1974
She doesn’t look like this today. She was known in the Bahá’í community as a quiet, and pleasant girl. I was told by one of the Persian Bahá’ís before our wedding that I needed to protect her character. All this is true, but part of what was not obvious is that she had self-esteem issues, resulting in my opinion from her mother and older sister. Over time a mismatch in characters started to play a role in our marriage, especially when the tests with Aileen and pioneering impacted our lives heavily.
This is a picture of the Va Tech campus and surrounding mountains. I loved this place. On the right is a picture of Dr. Thomas Hutcheson, Department Head for the Crops and Soils Department.
Our house after marriage. My friend from Colombia, Carlos Castilla, rigged the door during our wedding so that, when we arrived home in the middle of the night after the wedding party, a bucket of water would fall on our heads. Then, he hid all the light bulbs in the house. Fortunately for me, I didn’t carry Carolyn across the threshold and sent her ahead while I took care of the bags. So, I heard a scream and rushed to see what happened.
hiking, biking, caving in the mountains
This is Hutcheson Hall, named after the father of Dr. Thomas Hutcheson who started me on a pioneering life.
When I arrived at Va Tech, I received $100 per month support from my parents. I think more precisely, from my father’s child support payment to my mother. So I had to work for the flat, food, books and tuition expenses. I worked in the student union at least 20 hours per week, probably more, and then I found a job at a research lab in the Agronomy department and Soils Lab.
Up until Virginia Tech, I was not a good student. At Va Tech, I moved to the top of my class with a 5.0 average. This allowed me to receive an academic grant for the last 2 years of my first degree (BS), and a graduate research stipend for the MS.
When I finished my MS, Carolyn and left to pioneer in Haiti as a faculty member at Va Tech (“Research Associate”), my first University job.