I was a Volunteer

From AFSC's Oral History Project

I had a draft notice [but] because of the Quakers that lived in the area I had no problems getting a conscientious objector status. I was assigned to the Ashburnham CPS (Civilian Public Service) camp up in northern Massachusetts...and then in Nevada.

It was an important experience. …My whole life was opening up and I felt a deepening going on and I became more aware of my own spiritual nature.

From [working out west], I ended up in New Lisbon, New Jersey, at an institution for mentally handicapped. That was the most trying experience. I was coordinator of that unit and it was my job to see the superintendent every week and he was not very sympathetic to CO’s. We were doing a valuable piece of work--which he appreciated--but he didn’t otherwise want much to do with us. His son was in the South Pacific flying an airplane. I remember waiting outside his door for hours for him to see me.

It was there that an opportunity came to volunteer for the semi-starvation experiment at the University of Minnesota. Two of us from that unit went, Sam Legg and myself. [Afterwards, as a newlywed] I had not completely recovered from the semi-starvation. What we found out was that it takes about a year to gain back your stamina. It was a bit of a strain through the first year of marriage and first year of teaching. When I volunteered to go to Gaza. I recognized some of the behavior that comes from living in a state of semi-starvation among the people I encountered there.

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