Galen Royer Frysinger
I was born on August 21, 1931 in the southwest front bedroom of Grandpa Frysinger's house at R.D. 1, Harrisburg, PA. Since I was early, I arrived before Dr. Horn could come to help in the birth. Even before that, however, I had caused problems in that my mother Irene lost her first job as a school librarian since they considered it unprofessional to be pregnant during the school term. Father brought some gladiolus to mom during my first days so mom always told me that they were her most favorite flowers.
My first residence in Colonial Park didn't make any impression on me, but after one year my parents moved to a second floor apartment in Penbrook where I started my adventures. According to my father I knew more names of butterflies than any kid on the block and helped dad feed flies to our pet knute. My biggest adventure was my unauthorized visit downtown (three houses away). While looking at the traffic and the streetcar in front of the barbershop, I was spotted by the barber who took me in and returned me to my parents.
According to Mother, my life almost ended at a very early age. On one of those Sunday trips to the Royer's in Lititz, I went strolling alone in the back yard and decided to take a swim in the goldfish pond. Mom rescued me and made me well again, since I was found face down in the water. From that day on the pond had a fence around it high enough to keep little guys out, a great inconvenience in later years when I sailed my small boat in it.
before my swim
after my swim
In 1934 we moved to the farm next to Grandpa Frysinger and starting fixing up the barn to raise chickens.
Photos of Old farm
I helped as I could while learning carpentry. Creating the second floor in the barn was the real fun. Going up the half finished stairs was the challenge. After that the drudgery of agricultural employment took over. Dad had this idea that pulling weeds in the garden could surely be mastered. Over the next few years red beets became my specialty. Washing them clean to sell in Steelton was my job. Grading and bunching was left to Dad.
The biggest impression during my early years was the cellar door, which dropped on my head creating a wound which took some time to heal, and which some say, affected the way I thought about things for the rest of my life.
the cellar door
me with head bandage
When I was old enough to make change I not only got a chance to collect the eggs, but also to go along on the Saturday truck route in Steelton to sell the eggs and the produce.
My early school days were not too exciting. Since dad taught in the same building, I was the first kid to arrive on the first day of school, all decked out in my best knickers. No long pants until third grade. Had a tooth broke in second grade from being punched and a major wood paddle spanking in third grade for causing harm to another kid. Forth grade teacher was very old-fashioned in learning styles and was endlessly complaining to father about me since he was still teaching upstairs in the biology laboratory in the same building. This caused quite a bit of misunderstanding at home.
By late grade school the daily activity was set. First thing in the morning was to put on my bib overalls and go wake up the chicken, give them some food and clean the water pans. After breakfast (Kellogg's something or the other), I waited in front of the house for the school bus. After, school and the bus ride home was the evening chores of feeding the chickens. Sister Anne helped with gathering the eggs. Mom had to do it at noon when we were in school.
In sixth grade I had the honor of having the same teacher, Nevin Moyer, who had taught my grandmother when he first started. He was OK, but he was often sick so his wife, not OK, taught most of the time.
Photo of Nevin Moyer
My favorite summer vacation was going to Lititz to live with Grandma Royer for a week. It was my introduction to "city" life. There were playmates. At home only a sister. We played cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, and in those days Yanks vs. Japs and Germans. Fourth of July in the Lititz Springs Park was a high event, only topped by Rosie's daily round to sell ice cream cones from the back of the truck on the long warm evenings on Lincoln Avenue. The frightening thing at Grandma Royer's house was the two big pictures in the upper front bedroom where I often was put to sleep. Later I learned to love them as grandma and grandpa's wedding pictures, but as a small child they were very scary. The house had other compensations in that it had several "secret passages" and many hideaways.
Travel photos at age 10 in Western US and Florida
After becoming 12 I rode my bike 5 miles to Colonial Park and became a Boy Scout. I took my scout advancement very seriously and passed all tests up to the swimming test. Since I never had the chance to go swimming, once a summer for a picnic by the creek being the only time I got wet except for the tub and the sprinkler, the swimming test was a roadblock. Finally with some lessons, at the island in the middle of the Susquehanna at Harrisburg, my scoutmaster "passed" me. Since I didn't really know how to swim, the big nightmare of summer Boy Scout camp was the initial swimmer test where I looked very ungraceful and ended up confined to the non-swimmer crib. Even though I had 23 merit badges and advanced through Life Scout, the full Eagle skills of swimming and life saving I did not master until in graduate school. At home my winter hobby was my stamp collecting, and tinkering with my radio. Late in WWII some parts became available to make simple diode receivers and I had my first home built radio. In junior high I took up photography, first with dad's camera and then a press camera I was able to buy. Mom gave me the dry sink to use as a darkroom bench and I closed off a part of the dirt section of the basement to make a darkroom. Here I developed and printed many photos, some of school groups to make some money. The main source of income, however, was from the chickens and the produce which I helped prepare for the Saturday selling. I learned to drive in the 1936 farm truck. My first "authorized" trip was, at 14, when dad said "go get", so I drove across the field from Grandpa's to our house and return. My on road driving started in the 1939 Studebaker coupe, which had belonged to Grandma Royer, but which she no longer drove. It had overdrive, a fifth gear which it would enter automatically when you let your foot off the gas going over 42 miles per hour.
To counter what is now known as the wimp factor, I decided to play high school football. In ninth grade, I was a tackle on the Jr.-Varsity team and had a lot of fun playing the games. In those days we played on both offense and defense, so you got to play the whole game. Tenth grade was also fun. In the last two years, I was backup for the Varsity team, got to start in several games because the coach, Bo Capello, thought I was smart, so therefore, I should be a good player. Since I played without my glasses my planning range was about 6 feet. I was real fast as a pulling guard, and did good pass blocking. On defense, I played what is now called nose tackle. My major activity, however, was watching the game from the bench (good 50 yard line seats). Mother got concerned because all I did when I was at home was sleep and eat. But you must remember, I still had my work with the chickens, normal school, football practice until dark, and then a two mile walk home from the bus line.
Uncle Harry, my sometimes playmate, got a pilots license and later became a flight instructor. During WWII this was an advantage because fuel for general aviation was not rationed by gallon but by flight plan. With some very inefficient flying in the Piper CUB, some fuel was always left over to put in the gas tank of the car. I enjoyed flying with Harry, and went whenever invited. Most of my informal flight instruction was at age 14. By age 16, at which time I could have gotten a formal student license, my enthusiasm and money were being spent on other things.
Photos of Harry
entrance as seen in 2005
original building at Camp Swatara
one of the cabins for
(where I was a counselor for several years)
Summers included a week at Camp Swatara. Since Dad was a trustee, we also put in time helping to build the new camp located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Frederick. I spent many days with Dad and the contractor in laying the piles and building the first main building. Later, I was a counselor, teaching nature and simple pioneering activities. Another of Dad's building projects was the brick addition to the Hanoverdale white frame church. My jobs included catching the bricks off the elevator and stacking them for the masons. I also did the mowing of the cemetery grass for one season for a minimum wage (75 cents/hour) rate. Since I wasn't as efficient as a man I couldn't bill all the time I consumed, since it would not have been "fair" to the cemetery board. Also involved in the building project was the demolition of the Honerstown church so that the lumber could be reused in the main church construction. This helping I enjoyed, becoming quite efficient in tearing things apart in such as way that they can be used again.
Galen as high school Student wearing Sports Letter gained in Football
High school graduation was a non-event. I gave the Valedictorian address, a slightly different version then some people expected. This was during the Korean War, and I was quite involved in pacifist thinking. I hitchhiked to Chicago along with Armond Snowden for a Fellowship of Reconciliation meeting and met Bayard Rustin, later of civil rights fame. During that trip we had dinner with Miriam, later my Dad's second wife and formerly mom's roommate in college.
Lower Paxton school
(photos from 2005)
now owned and used by a church groop
the original portion where my father was the
(second floor right side was the science room)
built in 1921
(my father was in the first class to complete the 4 high school grades)
the grade school addition (see photo above) added in 1936
the front door
(where I stood long hours as a crossing guard)
My major hitchhiking adventure was on my own to Annual Conference in San Jose, CA. Mother packed sandwiches which got me west of the Mississippi. I came home with about as much money as I had when I left since I was a caddie for a golf tournament in CA to make a little money, a skill I learned at the Colonial Park Country Club. The trip was endurance rather than varied, the one exception was the day rest I took in Denver on a Sunday. I went to the Unitarian church, was invited for a day long picnic on Flagstaff Mountain above Boulder, CO and met the whole Socialist Party of the state of Colorado. Not bad for a rest day. The result was to give me a confidence of not being confined. I now knew that if I wanted to get somewhere, I could.
Undecided as to career, I chose Juniata College, since it was an allowable chance to get off Dad's turf. At college night, the recruiter, suggested a chemistry major, since Juniata had done very well with that field of study. My Freshman year was a bit of a shock. I had not had to work very hard in high school, expect for English class. The college Profs. assigned massive amounts of work and expected it to be done well, and on time. Also good writing was not only stressed but insisted upon. The weekly English conference reviewed all the papers from all courses for their grammar, presentation style, spelling, etc. It appeared that English had taken over my whole life just when I had to learn to work faster.
By the middle of my second year I finally felt that I was getting ahead. Chemistry turned out to be a good choice. We had a good class with a keen competitive spirit, hence were given more work and accomplished much more. As my minor I chose a Professor, Wayne Glick, because I found everything he taught to be very interesting. By default the area of study for my minor was religion and philosophy.
Summer employment during college was unplanned at best. The most interesting was my summer as an Intern in Industry sponsored by the Friends Service Committee (Quakers). As part of this program about twenty of us lived in south Philadelphia, in a former German seaman's home, found our own jobs and participated in discussions and special activities. I tried the usual thing of registering with job service, chasing newspaper leads, until one day I gave up and just started pounding on doors. Within two hours I found a job as the forth man on a four man lithograph press. I learned about paper and printing inks, especially about cleanup solvents.
My roommate was Alphonso Smith (Billy), a black from Baltimore. I learned much from him, trying to understand the roots of my work ethic. Visited Haverford, Swarthmore and Pendel Hill, meeting many "pinks" and liberals who were then being pushed since we were in the middle of the McCarthy era. As my means of defiance I subscribed to the Daily Worker and the National Guardian, and had it delivered daily to my college mailbox. Because of this I thought I may have gained a FBI listing, but in later years when I got a Top Secret government security clearance, it was clear that my record had stayed clean.
Another summer, I got a job in the chem lab of the steel mill. Several days before I was to report to work, Harry Truman nationalized the steel mills and the workers went on strike. After reading books for awhile, I got a labor job in the shipping department of a steel boiler fabricator. It was an interesting experience to see the workings of a heavy metal shop and to participate in a corrupt local of the Steelworker's union.
My last year at Juniata was very rewarding. I managed to get to New York (Opera and plays) and Washington (politics) for long weekends. I had a course that year, Advanced Physical Chemistry, where I was the only student. The book was excellent, but Dr. Davis and I had to both fight to stay awake in class.
After Graduation from Juniata I spent the summer living in Lancaster with Grandma Royer on East Ross Street. I found a job in a malleable casting shop. Although my job was sorting castings, I observed the mold makers, and the metal pouring process. My last task at the end of the shift was to change the mold weights, while the mold maker poured the hot molten metal. I came out ringing wet with sweat. Meanwhile across town Elma worked in an air conditioned room at RCA, and made more pay than I did in my foundry job. The importance of a Father who knew someone in management became very clear.
As student at Yale
On to Graduate school with Elma.
Jump to Graduate School Days
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