I want a puppy


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Over the years I had the pleasure of meeting a number of my father’s students. Each of them were unique and special people in their own rights but a number have reached out to me to tell me how much my father changed their lives. When you are someone’s child its much harder to see the impact they have on your. You see them at their best but you also see them at their worst.

My dad and I caught the NASA bug in 1967. I think my dad caught it long before I did but he started watching with me and we talked about what was happening often. My father came to Indiana University on a National Science Foundation post man in space scholarship so I suspect he was into NASA as early as 1959 if not even earlier than that. But he acted as if I had discovered something amazing.

In 1969 he and mom got me a wonderful lunar lander set. The funny thing about that was they had set them up the night before. Sorry mom, Santa had set them up the night before using the last AA batteries in the house. Then Santa that very tired person that he was left the toys on and in the morning (Christmas Day) there were no batteries in the toys. Today there is probably a store open that you could urgently go buy batteries but in 1969 I had to wait a couple of days to be able to play with my new toy. I played with it with or without batteries it was the best toy.

Over the years dad and I had a number of talks about space. Dad was an administrator for the school program for NASA (region 6) for many years. He helped teachers determine what types of science experiments their kids could have preformed by astronauts in space. I wish I had a number you know the teachers and students impacted but sadly I do not. In the end a lot of teachers I knew were impacted so at the very least dad impacted thousands of young science students.

Mom was a teacher as well. Her style was a little different than dad’s sometimes which was always nice. In 1968 I suspect based on doing the math somewhere around early march mom came into the kitchen asked my sister and I a question. “If you could have anything join our family that you wanted what would it be?” First off I doubt that is anywhere near what mom actually asked that day. My answered however is a family legend. I replied “A puppy.” I know my parents talked to me awhile about what was actually coming (a little sister whom I adore but she was never a puppy – mom wouldn’t even let us put a collar on her).

.Your loving son

Learning to read


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My father loved John Kennedy. For most of my childhood he had a bust of JFK in his home office. 1523 Dunstan Drive. I remember that office as being huge then but in reflection now it was probably small. Dad has his principles desk on one wall of the office. (He gave me that desk when we lived in Cincinnati Ohio and they moved out of their house in the country). Dad taught me to read at that desk with Dr. Seuss. My teacher Mrs. Brown told mom and dad that she had one every year and for my first grade year I was that one. A student that would never read. I struggled unbeknownst to Mrs. Brown more with the way she taught reading than the ability to read. But at that point she had been a teacher for more than 30 years and it couldn’t be here. It has to be me that was not capable. Her system worked for everyone (except me).

So dad started teaching me to read. Sitting by him at the big principles desk in his home office.  He would pull the arms out of the desk (it has wooden arms that extended out from the desk. I suspect based on size that they were made for typewriters. Or some machine. I use them as pull out laptop holders today. Dad spent hours with me on the weekends teaching me words and what they meant. I started out first grade in the lowest reading group Mrs. Brown had. By the middle of second grade I was beyond the highest reading group. I never had to read in a group again. All of that because of my father’s patience and unwillingness to accept that his children wouldn’t read. Or at least his son couldn’t read. We never talked about the gift he gave me in all the years after that. It was just part of his being dad. In fact like all the other gifts my father gave me we never talked about them again. There never was a tax with my dad (I taught you to read so do this now). Certainly there were a number of things I did that he didn’t understand. But he would at least listen to me and let me build my case. It wasn’t often that in the end he relented and we did it my way. But he taught me to think through what you wanted carefully and present your arguments without emotion. To this day Cat in the Hat remains one of my favorite books.

I also never had to be in a reading group again.

My mother introduced me to Peter, Paul and Mary. From the time I was six or seven years old the songs they sang filled everything. I later drifted on to Neil Young as my favorite but I still listen to Peter, Paul and Mary. As by the way do my children. Mom had many of the original PPM albums released in Mono and I have played those 100 times a piece. I wonder if she regrets introducing me to music.

Mom used to read books to me at night. The one I made her read 200 times was “Where the wild things are.” Like the Cat in the Hat I still love that book. Although I have to admit that when I hear it read aloud I do tend to get sleepy. That book is a treasure to me and remains my other favorite book.

.your loving son…

Bouillabaisse and sadness…


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My father had to return to the United States while we were in Bangkok. His father, my grandfather was very ill and the family wanted dad to go over and say goodbye. I remember vividly the look of sadness in his eyes as he left.  A few weeks later dad was back in Bangkok and Grandpa Andersen died. I remember mom and dad telling me because the Gilbert O’Sullivan song “Alone Again, Naturally” was playing on armed forced radio when they told me.

Dad didn’t fly back for the funeral. He didn’t talk about Grandpa Oly often. He kind of walled that off I guess in the end so it wouldn’t hurt. It was a really hard time for him (I understand that now and looking back it must have been earth shaking).

The first time we went to a movie in Thailand I did my normal movie thing. At the end Dad stood up (for a second I thought it was an IU Ball game) and then he leaned over and said to me “get up.” At the end of a movie they show a picture of the King and it is a sign of respect to get up. So from then on we got up at the movies end. I did that for about 3 months when I got back in the US – more embarrassing than you can imagine.

Dad learned a lot of Thai while we were there. I didn’t learn quite as much and struggled with the language. I was also learning French at the same time so in the end it was a little harder to learn two languages than I was prepared for.

We would go on Friday nights to a restaurant to eat. One time Lynne and I wanted pizza really badly. We ended up going to the Playboy Pizza place. I think my mother was mortified. Often we would go to a little restaurant on Sumkumvit just off Soy 12. It was called Barney’s.  Barney wasn’t a purple dinosaur he was a French Vietnamese refugee that had opened a fusion restaurant in Bangkok. It was little more than a hole in the wall but Barney could make anything. My mother in particular loved his Bouillabaisse. I turned my nose up at fish stew for a long time but did eventually try it and she was right it was the most amazing tasting dish.

.your loving son

Turn down that music…


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My father didn’t listen to music often. We had a hifi in the living room that was used most often for mom to play records on (not very often though) or to listen to IU ball games. We had season tickets but we listened to the ball games when they were away. My dad wasn’t however fond either of the volume or of the type of music I listened to. Dad didn’t listen to radio in the car often. He liked to sing the various songs I’ve mentioned before (Detour there’s a muddy road ahead. And his other favorite Over there.) Dad would walk to the door of my room (door shut of course) and say turn down that radio!!!!

There are two dad music stories I most recall. The first is my 11th birthday on the way to Thailand dad and mom gave me a shortwave radio. Why do I love music so much? That radio in Thailand connected me to Armed Forces Radio out of Saigon. I could listen to Neil Young, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other great songs played out of Saigon. For me that was a connection back to the world. At times my dad would borrow the radio to listen to the news as well.

One day my father who didn’t often listen to music asked me if I had a Harry Chapin album. It was Living Room Suite. I didn’t at the time have that album so I asked him why. He said I should listen to the song Flowers Are Red. So I got the album (and played it for him as well). That song impacted me as a developing teacher (I was still at IU at the time we had the initial conversation). I wanted to become a teacher like my father and be open to new and exciting ideas.

I did manage to be a teacher for 7 years. Every year I was a teacher I could feel my father’s guidance. I did science as part of reading, math and social studies. I launched rockets into the air with 2nd graders. We tested the impact of acid rain. We gathered all the garbage around the School and turned our display window into a trash can for Earth Day. 1 day’s worth of garbage we collected form around the school it filled the entire display window. I remember telling dad and showing him the pictures. why? It meant something when he smiled at me. He did so many times in my life, smile at me and each one remains special. I never had the passion for teaching my father had. I was a good teacher but my calling was technology.

That is the greatest gift a father can give a son. Releasing him from the expectations of the past. Releasing him from the desire we all have that our children will follow in our footsteps. When I left education my dad hugged me and was happy I had moved towards my passion.

My mother has a sense of humor that many people never see. Mostly because she is very careful about when and where she lays out a zinger. Its one of those situations where once she has you in the web you are done. I can’t tell you how many times I fell pray to that sense of humor. Of course mom will deny that completely. But I know its there. I keep watching now – I am not going to be gotten as easily mom.

.your loving son

Changmai–and your boat is sinking,,,


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We went to a city in Northern Thailand called Chang Mai. It was the capitol of the Northern Thai Kingdom. I remember that trip for a several reasons. The first was our family touring a hill tribes village. While we were walking through the tribesman offered to sell my father everything. He kept saying no. He wasn’t there to buy souvenirs. Knowing my father he was probably upset at the horrible conditions the people lived in. But we (my sisters and I) needed to see things like that otherwise our little wool world would always keep us safe in the belief that everyone lived like we did. Finally they led dad and us into a dark building. There was a man he seemed to me to be older than the very ground we were on. He was smoking a pipe. My dad smoked a pipe when I was little but dad looked at our guide and said no.

Afterwards mom and dad told us the person was selling opium. I guess when there is nothing else to sell you try what’s left. As we drove back to Chang Mai we saw the King’s apple orchards. We should have realized then and there that dad was an intense apple lover. Every house we ever owned had at least one if not many more than that apple trees.

One evening while we were in Chang Mai we were offered an opportunity to go on a boat ride. I was given the opportunity to ride in a traditional Thai canoe with one of dad’s students. The rest of them rode in a large boat with a motor. The canoe sank over and over. Literally the slightest wave would swamp it. So we would empty it, get back in and paddle a little further. Once we got out of the canoe and the river my father said to me “weren’t you scared of the crocodiles?” First off the water was too cold for Crocodiles or Alligators for that matter. Second it would have been nice of him to tell me that was a potential before I got into the river. Typical dad.

I never saw mom’s face that day as we entered the opium den. I did see her face when dad mentioned the crocodiles. Sometimes dad would say things like that just to get mom to look horrified. For a second she was horrified then she realized dad was pulling all of our legs.

Chang Mai was a magical city the northern heart of the empire of Siam. I remember going silk shopping with my mother. I was never sure why she took me fabric shopping she spent most of the time reminding me how to behave. But I do recall her wanting some northern Thai silk. My mother is the most amazing person with a sewing machine. She is an amazing person anyway but give her a sewing machine and miracles happen.

.Your loving son

Paris, to Tehran and then Bangkok


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My father struggled with the conversion from transparencies to PowerPoint. In the end he was a great presenter and no matter what the medium it was going to be a fun presentation but he missed the ability to stop and draw on his slides to expand upon a point. He also struggled with the computer for a long time. He would ask me questions that were so far beyond my knowledge of power point I had to go find experts at Microsoft. People who wrote the application to get the questions answered. I never told him the last part, just got the answers he wanted. Dad firmly believed in the concept of being a life long learner.

We left Paris in 1971, stopped for one night in Tehran (long lay over due to plane issues. We then boarded the plane and flew the rest of the way to Bangkok. It was a magical place and would be magical for the rest of that year and the rest of all of our lives. We drove into the city exhausted from the flight but ready for this new adventure.

We were in a hotel for the first month or so (it may have been less). The institute where dad was working sent a van with a driver every day to pick dad up. I asked him if it was because he was important. He laughed and so “No its because they are afraid I will get lost.” We would leave the hotel in the evening and wander over to the Café American – a place with literally a blend of the world’s cuisine. My dad was happy every night when he came home. I wouldn’t remember that until years later when he stopped coming home happy for a couple of years. He loved Thailand.

Mom took us swimming every day. I think I was at the hotel all day every day on an extended break for the first two weeks. After that I rode the bus to Bangkok Patana School every morning. (BPS). I would come home every day around 3 pm. The school day started much earlier due to the oppressive heat. After the first day mom let me go down to the hotel restaurant with my new friends and order my own breakfast. I learned to love omelets because that was what my friends at. I got to be a big kid because my mom let me go.

Mom started looking for apartments. Lynne and Barb went with her. I was at school most of those times. Eventually they found an apartment on Soy 12 and we moved out of the hotel. The school bus (a tiny Mercedes Benz bus) still came and picked me up at 5:30 in the morning.  But we had a place to live and it had a pool!

.Your loving son

 

IF my father touched your life in anyway and you wish to remember him, please consider his favorite educational place on earth. We are starting a fund there in his memory.

In honor of Dr. Hans O. Andersen

The WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology

308 W. Fourth St.

PO Box 996

Bloomington, IN 47402-0996

After Ireland–Paris the city of lights…


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At the Shannon International Airport as we were leaving Ireland I made a purchase that well you couldn’t today in the way I did. My father and I went into the duty free shop and I purchased a Victronox Champion Swiss Army knife and put that in my carryon bag. We left Ireland in December 1971 and flew to Paris. I had a long list of places I wanted to go to once we got to Paris. From Napoleon’s tomb to the Museum de la Armee it was a loaded list. We landed late in the evening and took a taxi from Charles De Gaulle Airport and into Paris. The cab driver had the most beautiful dog that sat in the front seat with him. We had left Phoebe at home at our house in Bloomington Indiana. The taxi was a Citron. What a cool car at the time one of the safest cars in the world.

My parents (and my sisters and I) were starving so we went to a restaurant. My father was told “we don’t serve them here” by the maître de. He was tired so the man repeated it several times. In the end my dad got that he meant us (my sisters and I) so we went to another restaurant. Dad was offended at first but realized it was a different world and he relaxed. We had a wonderful first meal in Paris. That incident has shaped my impression of France ever since.

Dad went off to meetings preparing for Thailand. We went off to see Paris. We had so much fun that week. We saw things that I had read in history books. Napoleon’s tomb was the coolest thing I had ever seen – a massive marble tomb that filled an entire room. Dad was ecstatic when we got to Paris as he found multiple uses for my Swiss Army knife. It had a bottle opener and a knife blade that we used to open wine and cut cheese and bread in the room.

Dad and I shared a room – mom and the girls shared the other room. Dad said I slept like a “helicopter.” Each morning he and I went down to the restaurant and got warm milk and croissants to share. Warm milk was required because they did not pasteurize the mile. (Louis Pasteur was French and I never really got a straight answer on that one from my dad). We walked to the bakery around the corner for fresh baguettes. Sitting in the little sitting area of our hotel room that had a view of the Tour Eiffel.

I think we were there for two weeks. It may have been more or less. In the end it was a great family trip.

My mom and dad always encouraged me to read. I read Papillion while we were in Paris. It seemed someone the perfect thing to be reading. I don’t remember any of the other books but I am sure we had many books. Finding bathrooms while we were out and about in Paris was also an adventure.

Dad would often discuss the books with me (if he had read them). He wasn’t interested in Science Fiction that became my passion after Thailand but back then Mom and Dad would read a book and then offer me a chance to read it next (hence Papillion). To this day I love reading – my Kindle always has at least three books in progress at any time.

In the Thai Buddhist tradition we have passed the 15 days of family remembrance. If my father touched or changed your life in some way and you would like to remember him please consider donating to his favorite educational place. On the donation please note that you are donating in his name.

In honor of Dr. Hans O. Andersen

The WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology

308 W. Fourth St.

PO Box 996

Bloomington, IN 47402-0996

.your loving son