Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center
Happenstance or Providence: How I found all my jobs
Page 4

William W. Guth.
William W. Guth.

By now time was running out and I thought perhaps I should look for employment as a garage mechanic. But first I sent that calling card to Professor Meyer in Baltimore. He had just returned from a summer vacation in northern New Kngland and told me to come and see him. Maybe to test my fluency he spoke to me in English, yet with an unmistakeable accent. After two sentences of his I knew he came from the neighborhood of Zurich. Probably he could have spotted the place of my own childhood the same way. He invited me to dinner at his house in Homewood. Mrs. Meyer and their little daughter were still in New England but the black cook and butler were there. After dinner Meyer asked me did I know Dr. Hans Froelicher, the professor of German literature and of art history at Goucher College. I had never heard even of the college, but by now I had become wise and immediately asked Meyer would he phone Froelicher. Hans Froelicher came from Solothurn and had taught at Goucher since 1899. He was often homesick and was delighted to have a young Swiss call on him next morning. He was the Secretary of the Faculty and knew that Goucher had no vacancy. Yet he showed me around the complex of Goucher buildings a few blocks north of North Avenue. As we came back to the main building he happened to pause and he said, "I may as well introduce you to our president. If he has seen you he may better remember you, should there be an opening in the future. I'd like to have you locate here." So we entered the president's office. His secretary announced us and Dr. Guth appeared, a tall, heavy set man. At Froelicher's suggestion I showed Guth the letter which the Oregon deans had given me, assuring whom it might concern that I was a scholar and a gentleman. Guth glanced through it and said: "Today is Wednesday. Next Tuesday the fall semester begins. I cannot hire you today but if you can be back Saturday morning at nine, I may be able to offer you an instructorship."

Thursday I went to Annapolis and found St.John's College had no opening. Neither had George Washington University in Washington. Friday I met the same thing in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia where the dean most courteously showed me around, accompanied by his huge St. Bernard dog. Saturday morning I was back at Goucher. While I was sitting in Guth’s outer office, a kindly looking woman about ten years older than I came in and took another chair. After a couple of minutes Guth's secretary said: "By the way, Dr. Bussey, this is Dr. Marti." Gertrude Bussey who knew as little of my existence as I knew of hers, said, "Oh, is he?" At that moment Guth came out and called her in. By now I gathered she must be the head of the philosophy department. She had returned from her vacation Friday night and found only Guth's summons for her to meet him at nine. In 1924 she had been in England and met Valmai Evans, a promising Welsh girl who had a bachelor and master from the University of Wales, a B. Lit. from Oxford University which had also given her a stipend for a year's study in Rome. The Goucher department consisted of Gertrude Bussey and Raymond Hawes. Valmai had been invited to be a third member but now had cabled that the new immigration laws kept her out. Guth informed Miss Bussey, told her of my availability and asked her to look me over. This she did and felt I might do. So Guth called me in and offered me $1500 for the year. Of course I accepted, found a room and started to teach Valmai's classes on Tuesday. Only in December did Gertrude Bussey find out that Guth had slyly made use of my plight and cut $300 from the $1800 promised to Valmai Evans. This should have made me wary in 1927.