in your life . . .

and in our world!

December, 1983


This "Dear Everyone" Christmas letter is quite a tradition in the Burrow family.  It may lack a bit of the personal touch, but it does serve to send a warm greeting to all of you and to tell you a bit of what's happened to me during this past year.

Nineteen eighty-three was in many ways a year of transition for me.  In the past year I've advanced from the collegiate realm to the so-called "real world", and I don't think I'm much the worse for wear.

Last January I was living in a student apartment in Cedar Falls, I was a senior in mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa, and I was vice president of the UNI Student Association (UNISA).  Little by little all those things changed until now I'm living in Algona, Iowa, I'm teaching Spanish at the local Catholic high school, and my politics are a bit more confined (though as strongly felt as always).

My job at UNISA officially ended March 31.  My last official duty was to be the "impartial" election commissioner for the student elections.  It was a tense, hotly-contested race, one which really made me glad to be leaving.  Three years of that sort of thing really gets on one's nerves.  I didn't get a gold watch on my retirement, but I did get a silver pen and pencil set--which now sits on my desk at school, inviting occasional questions from the students.

I finished up my coursework last spring and stayed home in Mount Pleasant this summer, the first time in three years I'd done that.  I did as little as possible this summer (mostly reading and writing), taking time out from my "busy" schedule only to go to Philadelphia where my brother Paul was attending the national NEA convention, and to Mankato where my father had a week-long computer seminar.  It wasn't a terribly productive summer, but I enjoyed it.

Having my courses out of the way, all that was left for graduation was student teaching.  I thought I would be student teaching in Charles City, and I had made plans to live with my sister Margaret and her husband in Floyd while there.  Through some very fortunate fluke that didn't happen.  Just after I learned that Margaret and Brian were moving to Meservey, I found out that I would be student teaching in Ottumwa.  I ended up living with Paul, Nancy, and baby Rachel in Oskaloosa for the eight weeks of student teaching.  While driving the 30 miles between Ottumwa and Osky did get a bit tiring, I was glad to live there.  I enjoyed living with them, and it was good to have other teachers around to share problems with when things went wrong.

I finished student teaching in mid-October, three days after my birthday.  Then I began the job search that eventually led me to Garrigan High School in Algona.  My thirteen letters and résumés brought me interviews in Steamboat Rock, Schleswig, Norwalk, and Farnhamville, Iowa, and in Ten Sleep, Wyoming.  While I was a bit surprised to be asked for an interview out in Wyoming, the advertised $17,200 base salary made it difficult to say no.  So I made a flying trip out across Nebraska and back through South Dakota.  En route I got my first traffic ticket (actually just a warning from the Wyoming State Police)--for passing in the vicinity of a runaway truck ramp.  It does make sense not to pass in such an area, but on an unmarked road how is a flatlander supposed to figure that out?  I also hit an antelope with my father's car on the way home.  And if bad luck comes in threes, I lost the job to a Westerner.  Aside from all that, it was an enjoyable trip.

When one is looking for a job, the interviews all tend to blend together.  To a large extent, every interview is the same as every other.  Garrigan, though, was different.

I was a little hesitant to apply for the job at Garrigan.  It was advertised as a Spanish position, and it was a Catholic high school.  I did apply, though, and somehow the superintendent of the school managed to get a hold of me on my way back from Wyoming.  So I went for an interview.  The interview was on a Sunday afternoon (which also seemed a bit odd to me), and while driving northward I listened to Rachel's baptism on the radio broadcast of Paul and Nancy's church service.  Somehow I knew from the interview that this was the job I wanted, and when it was offered I quickly accepted.

. . . Which brings us to the present.  I am currently at home at 1011/2 East State Street, Apartment #2, in Algona, Iowa 50511--a rather microscopic efficiency, but the price is right.  For trimesters II and III, I am teaching first and second-year Spanish at Garrigan.  If things work according to the tentative plan, next year I'll be teaching both Spanish and math--which is exactly the type of position I was looking for to begin with.  I'm really quite happy here in Algona.  It's a little odd adapting to the Catholic school, but I'm doing fine.  Stranger still is living in a community where virtually everyone is white.  As the ed. psych people would say, it's very "homogeneous".  I do like it here, though, all in all.

May this reach each of you in good health and happiness.  The happiest of holidays to all of you, and may you avoid Big Brother all through 1984.



The background music on this page is the Iroquois carol "'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime".