Saturday, October 19, 2013

Joan Bochmann—early adult years

In the previous post, I shared the first part of Joan's Toastmistress's speech where she told about school days up to her graduation, which took place in the spring of 1952. Although she was valedictorian, she didn't go to college—at least not right away. I never knew why, and guess I still don't, exactly. But here, I'll let her tell you, in the rest of that speech.

"Shortly after I was offered a scholarship to Colorado University, a family crisis arose and I was forced, or at least I thought then I was forced, to turn it down. I tell you this with much pain, as it was one of my greatest disappointments."

(I don't know what the family crisis was. I suppose at age 10, I didn't need to know, and my family shielded me from it. )

"So, I went to work for the County Agent. Now, for the benefit of any of you city lasses, a County Agent is the man who tells all the ranchers how to vaccinate their cows, dip their sheep, rotate their crops, etc. I worked exactly one year until June, when I was married and entered an entirely new dimension…service life."

(This is when, as I mentioned in an earlier post, her brand new husband, John Zimmerman, took her to faraway California, breaking my heart. The many months that passed before she returned seem like forever to me.)

"My husband was sent overseas and I returned to Steamboat to give birth to my daughter, a lovely feminine replica of her absent father. Two years later, the family again intact and civilian, my son was born.

"In 1959 we moved to Boulder and I found my second home. Not quite so safe and sheltered, so small and cozy, but alive and part of the world, a place to grow and live. 

"Perhaps it is because I love the mountains, because they have been such a part of my life, that I think of my goals and values as a range of glittering, shining peaks. Not goals attained, but prizes I still have to earn. Let me show you my majestic, mental mountains. The oldest peak in the range is called, 'sheepskin.' It represents the diploma from C. U. which I had to give up when I was 17. But I'm still going to get it. It may well be after my children have received theirs, but I am going to do it. Next, snow-capped and a little remote, we have 'Writer'. The day I stand on its summit I will have published something…not necessarily famous or best-selling, but something I know is good. But wait. A new peak is arising on the horizon, perhaps the highest, most formidable of all. It's title is 'Speaker'. It represent the day I stnad before you all and Dazzle you with my eloquence." 

"Thank you." 

Joan and I talked a lot, when not face to face, then on the phone, but now I see there was still so much I could have asked her if I'd only known the questions. I am grateful beyond words for the folders of her old college papers and other writings that give me further glimpses into the life of my sister, Joan, the person I most admired in the world. I am proud that she stood on the summit and saw the publication of many short stories and essays as well as her novel, Absaroka. Her many fans will attest to just how good it is.

Janet Muirhead Hill

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